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:

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A Conspiracy of Stars

Release date: January 2nd 2018

Goodreads: Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.

Why I’m excited: I can’t wait to see a book about a girl scientist and this sounds like it’s going to take very relevant topics to today into its fantasy/sci-fi world.

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Book Review: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

Queen's Rising

The Queen’s Rising

Release date: February 6th 2018

4 stars

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.
Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.
With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

It really didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this book. I really enjoyed the school scenes at the beginning, getting to know Brienna and her fellow students, her sisters, as they all prepared to ‘passion’ in their chosen field(wit, drama, art, music, or knowledge). There was the immediate mystery to why Brienna was accepted to the school when the headmistress has already selected the five students and she didn’t have an aptitude for any of the five passions, as well as who Brienna’s father was and why her grandfather refused to tell her his name.

I really liked Brienna. She was making the most of her situation, knowing she wasn’t fairing well in any of the fields at the school but she always tried so hard. It couldn’t have been easy to find the motivation to try so hard when she was always suspicious that she didn’t get into the school on her own merits but she never gave up. I thought she was really relatable in that way. I also loved seeing her finding out more about her heritage and the growth she showed.

I do wish we’d gotten to see more of the passion sisters after they’d been chosen by their patrons because the beginning scenes at the school were so much fun. But I could understand why it focused on Brienna’s journey. She was the main character and important to the brewing rebellion.

With the inclusion at the beginning of family trees and lists of characters, passions, etc. I was expecting a great, complicated world and it was definitely there. It had history, families ruling over different kingdoms, rebellions, and I can see why it’s been said it’s good for YA Game of Thrones fans, though there was a lot less violence. There was a lot of political intrigue that was interwoven through Brienna’s discovery of her heritage and finding out more about the mysterious patron who’d chosen her.

I’m really excited to see where this series is going to go next.

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

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Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince

Release date: January 2nd 2018

3.5 stars

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

It’s been a while since I a book set in the world of the fae so I was interested in taking a trip back to Holy Black’s world. It was new characters, a new plot, but the same feel as previous books. It started off with a bang but then I found it slowed down quite a bit before picking up again right at the end. It was well balanced between lighter and darker moments with plenty of twists. I did find a lot of the twists to be predictable, which I was hoping my theories would be wrong just so I would be surprised.

Jude was an interesting character. She was human, born in the human world to human parents but after an incident with her half-sister’s fae father, she found herself with her sisters in their world. She was determined to prove herself to the court, to earn a place among the fae, and to make her adopted father proud of her. She was extremely protective of her twin sister and leery of trusting any of the fae, especially the youngest prince and his friends. She could be smart but she also made some reckless decisions, usually when it came to defending herself or her family.

There were a lot of interesting character dynamics in the book. Jude and her twin sister were so opposite, very close, but where Jude was fiery and in your face, her sister was quiet and more passive. The relationship she had with her adopted father was an interesting power dynamic. She was always trying to gain his approval and he always seemed to hold her at arm’s length. I wasn’t a big fan of the dynamic between Jude and the youngest prince, Cardan. He bullied her and was cruel to her in ways I can’t easily forgive just because he might turn out to be the love interest. A few of their scenes were ones that, on a re-read, I would skip over.

The plot was mostly Jude dealing with Cardan and her wanting to prove herself worthy to be a part of the fae court, not just a human who lived there. Once the political intrigue and court betrayals began, things picked up but these were the twists I found to be predictable. It could create some interesting plots in the next book but I’m more interested to see how the dynamics between Jude and Cardan is dealt with.

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

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Book Review: Everless by Sara Holland

Everless

Everless

Release Date: January 2nd 2018

4 stars

In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself. (less)

This was one of my most anticipated releases for 2018 and once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. It definitely lived up to the hype. The concept was very interesting and this was a world with such an amazing mythology that if Sara Holland wrote a prequel based on the Sorceress and the Alchemist, I would be very eager to read it. I fell in love with the world, the characters, and the dynamics created by the ever-changing relationships.

Jules didn’t have an easy life but she and her father did what they had to in order to get by. She was very concerned and protective over her father, who was running low on time-literally. She was determined to find a way to save him, even if it meant returning to a place where she could be in danger. I liked that she was willing to work in order to get close to the people who might provide answers, to find out why her father wanted her to stay away from the queen.

I enjoyed the different dynamics that were created as Jules got to know the other characters, or in some cases reconnect with them. It was interesting to see the difference in her relationship with Roan and Liam, two brothers she knew from her childhood at the palace who had also changed over the years. Roan was much more open and friendly while Liam was colder, harsher, and seemed to be hiding something. I also really liked the friendship that developed between Jules, Roan’s fiancée, and her handmaiden.

The plot with the mystery of Jules and the strange way time sometimes reacted around her was at times pushed to the background as other plot lines took precedence but it was never forgotten. There were many little things going on in the plot but they were all working together and I thought it was well done. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by all the information and I thought the pacing was good so it didn’t feel too slow.

As mentioned, the world building was really interesting and I really hope we get even more in the next book. If there was ever a prequel or a “World Of” type book for this universe, I would definitely read it.

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

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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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