Tag Archives: fantasy ya

Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Onyx and Ivory

Onyx & Ivory

Release date: May 15th 2018

Goodreads: They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father, the former royal Master of Horse, after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now, Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt.
Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals, like the horses she rides. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.
The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who would assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death, and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of a remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.
With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king, and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.

Why I’m excited: Mindee Arnett is taking on high fantasy! I’m pulling for Kate and Corwin already!

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Book Review: Fireblood by Elly Blake

Fireblood

Fireblood

Release date: September 12th 2017

4 stars

All hail the Fire Queen.
Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past…
Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fire Queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax—which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, Ruby no longer knows whom to trust. The fates of two kingdoms are now in her hands.

This sequel picked up not to long after Frostblood left off, with Arcus on the throne and Ruby attempting to navigate the Frostblood kingdom where many, most, people hate her and fear her. With the Minax loose in the kingdom, she was determined to find a way to stop it, to defeat it once and for all, but doing so would mean leaving Arcus and traveling to the Fireblood kingdom.

I really liked seeing the Fireblood kingdom and how different it was from the Frostblood one. There were many great additions in this sequel that made me like it even more than the first. Hopefully that trend keeps up and the third one is also amazing. I loved the introduction to Kai, his flirtation, his confidence, his backstory, his unwillingness to treat Ruby as fragile. He did need her just as much as she needed him and them training together and helping each other were great scenes. And there were many of them. I loved seeing the relationship between them, whatever it was turning into, develop.

Ruby was fierce in this book. In the first one, she had a lot of growth with regards to becoming stronger and trusting herself and her powers. In this one, it was more about her determination to fight and destroy to Minax, even if she still wasn’t convinced she was the prophesied Child of the Light. I loved seeing her learn to push her powers even more than in the first book and her learning more about the Firebloods.

I also loved the way the mythology has been worked into this series and continued to be important. It wasn’t just a quick explanation at the beginning of book one and then forgotten about, it was a huge part of the prophecy and was something that kept getting elaborated on through this sequel. I would definitely read a spin-off series of the Gods of this world. It’s going to be way too long until the next one comes out but at least we already have a title and cover!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten Books with X characters. I did Top Ten books with royal characters.

10. wintersong Wintersong – S Jae-Jones. I was completely sucked in by the Goblin King.

9. throne of glass big Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas. Love this series even though I am way behind. I will catch up. One day.

8. great hunt The Great Hunt – Wendy Higgins. This is an auto-buy author and very well deserved. This duology was great.

7. three dark crowns Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake. I love dark books and I know Kendare Blake tends to get darker as the series goes along so I can’t wait.

6. the crown's game The Crown’s Game – Evelyn Skye. I loved both books in this duology. They were very different from each other but still worked together.

5. shadow queen The Shadow Queen – CJ Redwine. I love re-retellings  and this one had a great twist plus some great sibling moments.

4. queen of the tearling The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen. I don’t venture outside of YA as much as I should but books like this one is a huge reason why I should do it more.

3. vampire academy big Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead. This series will always be a favourite and I loved the whole political, royal family drama that was in the background.

2. orphan queen The Orphan Queen – Jodi Meadows. It’s literally in the title that this book is very royal. I loved the magic, the characters, and just everything about this book.

1. girl of fire and thorns big The Girl of Fire and Thorns – Rae Carson. I read this one a while ago but it still remains one of my favourite books for character growth.

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Book Haul

It’s been way, way too long since I’ve done one of these posts so in lieu of a review today, I’m doing a book haul. A large one.

Bought:

Saints and MisfitsDazzling HeightsThe Broken WorldIf there's no tomorrowThey Both Die At the EndCrystal BladeReturnedWarbringerWhen It's Real

Buying soon:

Tower of DawnWarcross15797848One Dark ThroneLanguage of ThornsAutoboyography

ARCs:

Queen's RisingLove, Life, and the ListHonor Among ThievesHeart of IronEverlessDangerous Art of Blending inKat and MegOtherworldMoxieFireblood

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Book Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints

All the Crooked Saints

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

I loved Maggie Stiefvater’s books that I’ve read so far so I was very excited for this one. It’s so easy to get lost in Maggie’s writing and the worlds and characters that she builds. This was no exception. The book was slow, but not in a way that dragged. Instead it worked perfectly with the world she was creating to completely draw me in and fall in love with her characters.

The plot centered around the Sorias family, in particular three teens, Daniel, Beatriz, Joaquin. Daniel was the Saint of Bicho Raro who granted miracles. Joaquin dreamed of being a radio DJ. Beatriz was the one who tied everything together, the engineer, the builder. The three of them started an illegal radio show and right from the beginning, their bond was evident. I really liked all three of these characters and they each had their own journey. The supporting cast were all great as well and I liked seeing all the little insights into them all that tied back into the overall mythology of the story.

I really liked the mythology of the Saint of Bicho Raro, the granting of miracles, and having to face a fear before that miracle is granted. The Sorias family was forbidden from helping the ‘Pilgrims’ face these fears under threat of being confronted by their own darkness. The imagery Maggie Stiefvater used to decribe the darkness of the ‘Pilgrims’ was fantastic. It was so easy to picture what was happening and so easy to get lost in her story.

The book was very character driven, which I didn’t mind because I loved these characters. It made the pacing slow but again, it didn’t mater because I was so lost in the story. As long as Maggie keeps putting out books like this and The Raven Boys, she remains on my auto-buy list.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Release date: September 5th 2017

4 stars

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

I love fantasy books and I love re-tellings so this book seemed like it would be a perfect choice. There was definitely a lot that I found entertaining about the story, the characters, and I enjoyed the dual POV, especially in the beginning when we saw Mina’s childhood versus Lynet’s childhood. I thought it still worked well later in the book when Mina was grown and Lynet was still a teenager. They had an interesting dynamic and having seen that glimpse into Mina’s childhood made her a more sympathetic character than beginning the book with her as an adult.

Both girls had very distinct voices so I found it easy to tell which POV I was in, which was good since there didn’t seem to be a clear format(like switching every chapter). Both girls also had similar journey arcs through the book, different enough so it didn’t feel like I was reading the same thing from a new POV but similar enough so they felt connected. The relationship between Mina and Lynet was key to the plot and was my favourite part of the book. Their dynamic was so much more than just a stepmother who hated her stepdaughter for a seemingly shallow reason. Instead they had a complex relationship where Mina had known Lynet for years, helped raise her, and Lynet had always admired her.

The romance was slow burn, very slow burn, so anyone reading simply for the romance might be a little disappointed in the lack of it. It focused on Mina and Lynet’s relationship, their growth as individual characters, and their desire to be their own person instead of the people their parents wanted them to be. I would have liked to have seen more world building, especially in regards to magic and how it was used, and it would have been nice to have seen more interactions between more characters instead of most of the character interactions being between a small group. Other than that, it was a very enjoyable read.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara

Release date: October 1st 2017

4.5 stars

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

I was really excited to get my hands on this book. It was one of my most anticipated to come out and I will definitely be buying a hardcover when it hits shelves. This book had an interesting world, plenty of interesting characters, and dragons. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think after the first chapter with Asha being a dragon slayer but the plot turned into directions I enjoyed.

Asha was the only daughter of the king, the youngest child, and had been declared the Iskari, a title that made people fear her and a way for her to atone for the destruction she caused as a child. She was the kingdom’s dragon slayer and each dragon she killed was one step closer to making up for breaking the law she had when she was younger. The Asha at the beginning of the book was so different from the Asha by the end. There was so much character development that it will be interesting to see where the character goes in the sequel. She was very protective of the people she cared about, though she counted few among that group, and I loved seeing her open up to knowing more people and questioning the laws and her beliefs as the story went on.

There were a few main dynamics in the book. The most prominent was the one between Asha and Torwin, a slave belonging to Asha’s betrothed. Torwin challenged her to think for herself and was a great partner through the book. Secondary was the dynamic between Asha and Jarek, the jerk she was supposed to marry and I loved seeing Asha finding ways to show her independence even as Jarek tried to control her. There was also great dynamics between Asha and her cousin Safire, and Asha and her older brother. They both showed glimpses that they were not exactly who Asha thought they were so I’m excited to see more of that developing.

I loved all the old stories that broke up a lot of the chapters. It was a great way to show some backstory and historical content without feeling like an info dump. It was reading folk lore for this kingdom and learning why the people had their beliefs. The book started off a little slow but not in a bad way. The pace picked up the more Asha found herself outside the walls of the kingdom, hunting, and by the end, I had to finish the book even though I should have been asleep hours before. It really was a book I just couldn’t put down.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows

Release date: August 29th 2017

3 stars

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.
Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

I was really excited for this book when I first heard about it. A fantasy book with a gender-fluid main and an assassin competition? Yes please. The idea of the competition to find a new assassin to join the Queen’s group, with the competitors killing each other off, was reminiscent of Throne of Glass and The Hunger Games. I loved both of those books so if felt like I should have fallen in love with this one. But I didn’t.

Sal was an orphan who worked as a thief but when they found a flyer saying there would be a competition looking for a new Opal, part of the Queen’s assassins, they decided to drop everything and hurry to prove themselves. They wanted to serve the Queen. Sal could definitely be likeable. I enjoyed their interactions with Maud, the servant assigned to them during the competition, and their interactions with some of the other competitors. Sal showed how determined they were to become Opal, it was almost all they thought about, but revenge was also on their mind. Revenge against the people they felt had abandoned them and their people during the war, who’d betrayed them and left thousands to die. Becoming Opal would make their revenge easier.

All the competitors were identified by numbers and they all wore masks. It made it more difficult to get attached to any of them and only the ones who Sal either made a connection with or spoke of a lot made any kind of an impact. Very few of them stuck out and were just faceless numbers in the way of Sal’s end goal.

One of my biggest issues with the book was that Sal told everyone that they dress as they are on any given day and to address them as such, which is fine, but when combined with a first person POV, I, as a reader who couldn’t see what they were wearing, had no idea how to think of the character unless it was said how they were dressed. It was also something that was accepted by most of the characters unless the character was a jerk so did that mean gender fluidity was something that was accepted in this universe or did Sal just happen to join a competition with a lot of really accepting people? I did like that gender fluidity did seem like it was accepted as just a part of who Sal was but I would have liked more context in regards to the universe they were in.

I read through the book pretty quickly. The competition and Sal’s quest for revenge felt a little repetitive after a while, almost formulaic. It wasn’t often I felt the need to slow down my reading pace in fear of missing vital information because it didn’t feel like a whole lot was being revealed. I do want to know more about the world, the shadows, and to see what will happen to Sal next, so there was enough interest in the book that I will read the sequel. It’s just not one I can see myself re-reading.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: a Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

Poison Dark and Drowning

A Poison Dark and Drowning

Release date: September 19th 2017

4 stars

In this seductive and explosive second book in the Kingdom on Fire series, Jessica Cluess delivers her signature mix of magic, passion, and teen warriors fighting for survival. Hand to fans of Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Kiersten White.
Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.
Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own. So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

This sequel picked up pretty soon after the first book left off. It felt like everything I loved from the first book, the darkness, the magic, the relationships between characters, the interesting society, was amplified in the sequel and it was great. I loved the little moments where the characters still tried to go on with their everyday lives even though they were sorcerers being called to battle monsters. The book was fast paced and ended up being a quick read because of it.

Henrietta was even more determined in this book to prove that she can handle herself as a woman with powers. She may not be the chosen one but she was still very badass and it was easy to see why her group of friends would follow her. Her strength was in her belief in herself and her friends, in her determination to save people even if it meant going against her vows and using the “wrong” magic. The dynamics between the group was great, just like in the first book. I did find myself missing a couple of the boys who had lesser roles in this sequel but hopefully the next book will have lots of scenes with the whole original group. If they all survive because the fight scenes were very intense and brutal.

The new characters introduced were great and it added to the dynamic of the group. I really liked Maria, a witch they found during a journey and who was more badass than all of them combined. Her addition to the group changed the dynamics a bit and it gave Henrietta another female character to interact with, which was nice.

There were many twists in the plot, some easier to predict than others, but all the twists made sense, which I liked. There was a lot done to set up the third book without sacrificing development of the plot and characters in this one so it didn’t feel like it suffered some middle book syndrome. It definitely has me excited for the third book(last one?) but with a big battle looming I do worry about losing some of my favourite characters.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne

Release date: October 4 2017

4 stars

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

This sequel picked up soon after Three Dark Crown’s left off and, in very typical Kendare Blake fashion, built on everything the first book delivered and added even more darkness, blurred lines, and engaging plot details. I liked that this series so far balances the big shock moments with little reveals that can be just as surprising. A lot of times I find myself more surprised by the little reveals since I’m not looking for them as much as I am the big twists. I really like the moral greyness of so many of the characters. They can be brutal but it would usually be for their survival or the survival of a loved one.

After this second book, I would say my favourite sister is a toss up between Mirabella and Arsinoe. Katharine was very interesting and I can’t wait to see where her story arc goes but so far, I feel more of a connection to the other two sisters. Mirabella, the original favourite to win who now seemed like the underdog, and Arsinoe, the one no one thought had a chance. We can see how devoted and loyal these girls are to the ones they love and they would have been the best of sisters if they’d been given the chance instead of being pit against each other. All three girls had a lot of development through this second book and it set up the last book so well.

Jules was a character who also got quite a bit of POV time and we see her dedication to Arsinoe through her arc. She discovered a lot more about herself and her family and I can’t wait to see where the third book takes her.

I loved that this sequel retained the elements I loved from the first book and pushed them even further. The magic, the dynamics between the sisters, the battle for the throne, all of it was more intense and darker. I’m excited to see just how dark it will get in the last book.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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