Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson | Review

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson | ReviewThe Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #3
Published by Harper Teen on August 27, 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

The epic conclusion to Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she's never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.

picadillyblueThe Bitter Kingdom, the final book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy, is perfect.  Fans of the series will not be disappointed at all.

The ending of The Crown of Embers was pretty much the worst cliffhanger ever.  Hector’s been taken by the Invierno assassin, Franco, and it’s up to Elisa, Belen, Mara, and Storm to get him back.  That’s only a minor part of the story though.  There is so much going on in The Bitter Kingdom that I’m astounded that Rae Carson fit it all in one book.

The characters have grown even stronger than before.  Elisa no longer requires rescuing.  In fact, she’s the one doing the rescuing now.  Belen has earned everyone’s trust again.  Storm is now willingly loyal to Elisa.  Mara has grown a backbone.  And Hector is willing to let Elisa save him every now and again.  They are equal in their relationship, at least in that aspect.

The story is non-stop action.  Like I said, there’s so much going on.  I’m not going to spoil anything but I’ll just say that the Inviernos aren’t the only ones that Elisa and her friends must challenge.

Overall, The Bitter Kingdom is such a perfect ending.  I was left feeling happy but super sad to say goodbye to all the characters.  This is definitely going to be a series worth re-reading.

What others are saying about The Bitter Kingdom:

Alexa Loves Books’ review: “If The Girl of Fire and Thorns lit my fangirl fire, and The Crown of Embers coaxed roaring flames out of it, then The Bitter Kingdom kept it steadily aflame.”

Book Lovers For Life’s review: “I can’t recommend this series enough.”

My Life is a Notebook’s review: “So many things about these books where so perfect.”

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge | Review

Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge | ReviewGilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Harper Teen on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 111
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale,Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author's debut novel, Cruel Beauty.

Orphan Maia doesn't see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia's father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother's approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they'll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn't believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What's the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she'll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn't believe in love. Anax can't help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can't help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother's deadly bargain?

picadillyblueGilded Ashes is a novella set in the same world as Cruel Beauty.  That was all it took to get me to give this book a shot.  While I normally don’t love novellas, that was not the case with this one.  If more novellas were like Gilded Ashes, I would be a lot more inclined to read them.

It was really easy to tell that Gilded Ashes was set in the same world as Cruel Beauty.  There is a cameo from the Gentle Lord but it’s more than that.  The setting has the same feel as Cruel Beauty.  It’s a gorgeous setting with more than a little bit of magic.  The magic in this universe isn’t all good though.  There is a lot of dark magic in Maia’s world and it’s the cause of pretty much all her problems in life.

Maia is not your typical Cinderella.  She’s strong and fierce and her fairy godmother is not one that I would want.  Her family isn’t like the typical Cinderella family either.  Her sisters can be cruel but they can also be kind.   And when they are cruel, it’s only because they are forced to be.  Maia and her stepsisters are all looking for the same thing; love.  They just have different ways of looking for it.  The relationship between Maia and her stepsisters was really great.  It starts off a little rough but all three of the girls really develop throughout the course of the novella.  All the characters are surprisingly well-developed for such a short story.

Maia and Anax’s relationship isn’t typical at all.  They become friends through a random stroke of fate and from there things start to become more between them.  While the relationship did come across as a bit rushed, I expected that.  You can’t go from complete strangers to two people in love in 111 pages without rushing some things.  However, I didn’t feel like it was a bad thing.  While I would have liked a bit more backstory from Anax, I still really liked him.  Not as much as Ignifex, that’s for sure, but a close second.

Overall, Gilded Ashes is a fabulous addition to the stories set in the Cruel Beauty universe.  I hope that Rosamund Hodge continues to write fairytale retellings because she is truly fabulous at giving them her own spin.

What others are saying about Gilded Ashes:

Paperback Wonderland’s review: “This novella was pretty much amazing, albeit too short.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson | Review

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson | ReviewThe Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #2
Published by Harper Teen on September 18, 2012
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 410
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

She does not know what awaits her at the enemy's gate.

Elisa is a hero.

She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.

If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

picadillyblueThe Crown of Embers, the second book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy, is a step up from the first book.  I didn’t know  if that was possible but Rae Carson far exceeded all my expectations.

The Crown of Embers does not succumb to the second book syndrome.  It’s not just a filler book.  There is so much going on over the course of the book.  There’s romance, a great adventure, betrayal, and so much more.

First up, the romance.  There were two romantic interests in The Girl of Fire and Thorns and both died.  I wasn’t sure where Rae Carson was going to go with the romance after killing both.  The new romantic interest isn’t a new character, just a blossoming of a relationship from friendship to romance.  Hector is this new interest and he’s by far my favorite.  Seeing Elisa and Hector’s relationship slowly start to change was perfect.  There was no insta-love between them and I greatly appreciated that.

Then there was the adventure.  Elisa is on a quest to find the zafira, the power from the earth which supplies the animagi with their magic.  Elisa knows that if she can find this power source, she will be the most powerful person and defeat Invierne.  Reaching the zafira will not be easy though.  Many dangerous tasks face Elisa and her companions on the quest for the zafira.  I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book.

As for the betrayal, I won’t give anything away but let’s just say that I didn’t see it coming.  I was so broken by the betrayal and I felt beyond torn  up for Elisa.  Just be warned, it will make you want to scream.  And possibly reach into the book and hit someone.

Overall, read The Crown of Embers if you haven’t already.  Rae Carson is quickly  becoming a favorite author of mine with this series alone.

What others are saying about The Crown of Embers:

Alexa Loves Books’ review: “Clearly, The Crown of Embers is a remarkable book.”

My Life is a Notebook’s review: “It was a solid follow up to The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and it left me screaming for more.”

Love is not a Triangle’s review: “She remains my favorite part of this series, and I continue to be amazed by her growth and strength.”

Friday, April 11, 2014

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4) by Miranda Kenneally | Review

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4) by Miranda Kenneally | ReviewRacing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #4
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on December 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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5 Stars

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

picadillybluePure perfection!  If I had to review Racing Savannah in only two words, those would be them.  Miranda Kenneally has done it again (and I’m sure you’re not surprised by that.)

Readers will immediately be drawn in to Savannah and Jack’s world; the world of servants, jockeys, horse racing, and lots of money.  It’s a world very unlike my own and I was drawn in from the very first page.  It’s clear that Miranda Kenneally did her research with this one because everything was so authentic.  I’ve never been a fan of horse racing (or even horses) but just like with football in Catching Jordan, Miranda Kenneally made everything about it supremely interesting.

Savannah and Jack might be my favorite couple from all the books so far.  They come from very different worlds but from the second they meet, they like each other.  I’m not talking insta-love though.  They respect each other, they find each other attractive, and they grow to be friends, even when it’s frowned upon.  Savannah is technically Jack’s employee so things aren’t easy for them.  Their relationship is full of twists and turns and I was flipping pages as fast as I could.

As for the actual characters (not just as a couple), Savannah and Jack were both strong, smart, well-rounded people.  Savannah was a little broken and unwilling to trust, at first.  Jack was very overworked but he didn’t’ let it get to him.  Savannah was mature, kind, and while she was selfish at times, she was also very selfless at others.  Jack was rich but didn’t let the money go to his head.  He was a good person.

Also, the cameos in Racing Savannah made me so happy.  Racing Savannah takes place a few years after the other books so the characters are older now.  There’s a big (happy) event at one point in the book that put the biggest smile on my face.  Fans of the first three books will love it.

Overall, clearly I highly recommend Racing Savannah.  Miranda Kenneally is an all-time favorite authors of mine and I love her books.  If I could give Racing Savannah more than 5 shoes, I would.  It really is just that good.

What others are saying about Racing Savannah:

Rainy Day Ramblings’ review: “Another terrific addition to an outstanding YA series!”

For Love and Books’ review: “If you like romance, YA and or contemporary this book is for you!”

Anna Reads’ review: “So, I’d say: If you liked the other books, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins | Review

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins | ReviewRebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #1
Published by Penguin Teen on April 8, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

picadillyblueRebel Belle, the first in a new series from Rachel Hawkins, is a fun, fresh addition to the YA genre.  Rachel Hawkins’ fans will definitely love this one.

Rebel Belle has a very unique premise.  Paladins (almost super-hero like people) have powers that must be used to protect someone with the help of a mage.  In this case, Harper is the Paladin and David (her worse enemy) is the person she’s  been tasked with protecting.  The powers are thrust upon Harper out of nowhere and not only does she have to protect David, she’s gotta do it all while trying to figure out how her powers actually work.

Harper is a busybody.  She’s in charge of almost every group at school, she’s head cheerleader, homecoming queen, and preparing for Cotillion.  She is the quintessential southern belle.  When the powers of a Paladin are given to her, she decides that she can manage those too.  She’s a bit annoying in her quest for success in everything but you can’t really fault her for that.  She’s funny, smart, and kind (to everyone but David.)  She also has the perfect boyfriend, Ryan, and a wonderful best friend, Bee.  Then there’s David.  He’s quirky and smart and he can’t stand Harper.  Working with her is just as big a problem for him as it is for Harper.  However, they’re both good people at heart so they eventually start to work together to possibly save the world.

Harper and David have such fun, witty banter going on between them.  It’s easy to see the chemistry between them even though they will do anything to deny it.  They are a lot alike and working together starts to show this.  I loved them together.

The story is fast-paced and fun-filled.  Discovering the extent of Harper’s powers right there alongside her is quite the adventure.  She’s energetic and enthusiastic even in the face of danger.  She definitely cracked me up.  And there are quite a few shocking twists that will have you flipping pages as fast as possible.

Overall, Rebel Belle is beyond awesome.  If you’re looking for something that hasn’t been completely overdone, give this one a shot.

What others are saying about Rebel Belle:

Step Into Fiction’s review: “If you’re in the mood for something light and funny, let me tell you something, Rebel Belle is the book for you!”

Bibliophilia Please’s review: “Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is my favorite novel to have a protagonist with superpowers in a long time.”

Books and Swoons’ review: “Rebel Belle was a great book to get lost in.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

Into The Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3) by Veronica Rossi | Review

Into The Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3) by Veronica Rossi | ReviewInto The Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #3
Published by Harper Teen on January 28, 2014
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 392
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do--and they are just as determined to stay together.

Within the confines of a cave they're using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival--he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her earth-shattering Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

picadillyblueInto The Still Blue, the conclusion to the Under the Never Sky trilogy, brings everything to a head and ends the series with a bang.  Veronica Rossi managed to write a perfect ending to the trilogy that will leaver fans eager for more from her.

Through the Ever Night set things up perfectly for this final book.  It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger with Cinder being taken, Reverie collapsing, and the “dwellers” and “savages” being forced to work together to save themselves.  Into The Still Blue picks up immediately after that ending and things are tense.  The world as they know it is ending and if they don’t reach the still blue, they will die.  The stakes are higher than ever and no one is safe.

I’ll keep this short and sweet because I don’t want to spoil anything.  Into The Still Blue is fast-paced, action packed, and will have readers on the edge of their seats.  Everyone is in danger in this final installment and each injury and death is crushing.  I definitely shed some tears and bit off some nails while reading this one.

The characters are still just as awesome as always but they are all very changed.  Liv’s death has changed Roar’s outlook on life.  Roar’s attitude changes both Perry and Aria even more than they’ve already changed.  Perry is still young but he’s forced to be a  leader and put his people’s happiness and lives above his own.  Then there is Cinder.  He’s so different from the Cinder in previous books.  He’s grown so much.  He definitely took center stage in Into The Still Blue and he shined.  I loved him.

The ending wasn’t as neat and tidy as I had hoped but it was far from open-ended.  It’s not a book with an overall happy ending but there are happy pieces to the ending.  The one thing I would have liked to see was a romance for Roar.  Can we get a spin-off for him?

Overall, Into The Still Blue will please fans of the trilogy.  I’m excited to see what Veronica Rossi does next.

What others are saying about Into The Still Blue: 

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “Overall if you have not read this series but are that weirdo reading my review, I don’t know why, do yourself a life favor and pick up the Under The Never Sky series.”

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “Into The Still Blue is the final conclusion to the Under the Never Sky trilogy and delivered a lot of kick-assery, sweet romance, unforgettable friendships and higher stakes for all the characters.”

Christina Reads YA’s review: “Into the Still Blue is both satisfying and enjoyable for Rossi fans.”

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman | Review

Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman | ReviewJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Published by Penguin Teen on October 10, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 323
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

picadillyblueJust One Year, the continuation of Allyson and Willem’s story from Just One Day, is the perfect conclusion to the duology.  Gayle Forman has a gift for storytelling and that gift really shines through in Just One Year.

Just One Year is the same story as Just One Day, just told from Willem’s point of view.  Readers finally find out what  happened to Willem that fateful morning.  Not only that though, you also find out what Willem was doing the year following that wonderful day in Paris.

Willem is a mystery throughout Just One Day.  Readers don’t know much about him from that one day in Paris.  That all changes with Just One Year.  You finally get Willem’s full story, including the reason he was willing to postpone going home to spend the day in Paris with Allyson.  I obviously won’t give anything away but I will say that Willem is a lot deeper than he first appeared.

I think the thing I loved most about Just One Year was how it tied in with the events of Just One Day.  Admittedly, I read Just One Day immediately before Just One Year so the details were really fresh in my mind.  That probably helped me make a lot of the connections but I’m pretty sure that readers will get them even after a while between books.  All the connections between Allyson and Willem’s stories made me laugh  but also want to scream at them both.

Gayle Forman’s talent isn’t just with storytelling.  She’s also wonderful at capturing the voice of a teenage male and conveying it perfectly.  Just like with Adam in Where She Went, Willem’s voice in Just One Year is so true and will make readers fall in love with him even more.

Overall, Just One Year made me laugh, cry, and squeal with joy.  It is the perfect conclusion to the duology and I’m eager to see what Gayle Forman does next.

What others are saying about Just One Year:

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “With the more than beautiful writing of Gayle Forman’s, we get to see Willem’s side of the story of this accidental day in Paris.”

Love is not a Triangle’s review: “Just One Year is the brilliant companion and conclusion to Just One Day.”

Jess Hearts Books’ review: “With this duology it is definitely a case of journey over destination and by the end of Just One Year I felt like both Willem and Allyson had become who they needed to be and that was down to each other and the journey they took to find a way back to one another.”

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (DoSaB #3) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (DoSaB #3) by Laini TaylorDreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3
Published by Little Brown on April 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 528
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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5 Stars

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

picadillyblueThis review does not contain spoilers for Dreams of Gods & Monsters but does contain spoilers from the previous two books.

I was quite a bit nervous when I started Dreams of Gods & Monsters.  Don’t get me wrong, I expected nothing less than perfection from Laini Taylor.  That wasn’t what I was nervous about.  After only three books I’d come to love every character like they were my own friends and I was terrified of how their stories were going to end.  I’m pleased to report that while the ending wasn’t quite as happy as I’d hoped, I was very pleased with it, all the same.

To be honest, this isn’t a series where I actually expected a happy ending.  From the very first book it was clear that Laini Taylor wasn’t afraid to take chances and kill off some very well loved characters.  Knowing that, I kind of knew a little bit of what to expect from Dreams of Gods & Monsters.  I was on the edge of my seat through the whole book.   I laughed a lot, cried a little, and was left smiling like a lunatic at the end.  Like I said, it wasn’t exactly a happy ending but it was the perfect one for this story.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters is not an action-packed book.  From the epilogue of Days of Blood & Starlight, I expected to be immediately entrenched in this war between Jael and the Chimaera/Misbegotten.  I was quite surprised when instead we were taken back to before the epilogue and given a lot more detail about what exactly went down to get the Chimaera and Misbegotten together in those Kirin caves.  The whole book was like that.  There were times when I was expecting one thing (mainly some fighting) and instead I got negotiations and rational logic.  That’s not to say that there isn’t some fighting (and some deaths) but there was a lot less of it than expected.  However, that didn’t make me dislike the book.  There was so much going on and so many little pieces of the puzzle that didn’t seem like they could possibly fit together.  Laini Taylor has a way with weaving stories that completely takes readers by surprise.  Trying to figure out how everything was going to tie together in the end was enough to keep me hooked.

All of (well most of, RIP Brimstone) my favorite characters were back for this final installment.  Karou was as wonderful and brilliant as ever.  Akiva was his brooding self but with some new moods thrown in for variety.  Zuzana was her usual neek-neek  self (possibly even better than in the previous installments).  Mik was so super adorable.  He always puts a smile on my face.  Ziri didn’t play as big a role in this book as I’d expected but he definitely made an impression with his role.  Liraz played a bigger role than expected and I really came to respect her.  There were also a few new characters introduced and they really took me by surprise.  I don’t want to give anything away about them though so that’s all I’ll say.

Overall, I can’t possibly do this book or this series justice in a review.  Laini Taylor has cemented her place on my favorite authors shelf and I’m so eager for more from her.  If you haven’t already started this series (why are you reading this review?) you should really get on that.  And if you have started this series, finish it.  It’s one of the best trilogies I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

What others are saying about Dreams of Gods & Monsters:

The Bookish Manicurist’s review: “Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor, the final instalment in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, is epic.”

Reading Teen’s review: “I am utterly blown away by the brilliance of this book.”

Once Upon a Bookcase’s review:  “But I’m so pleased to say it’s the most perfect ending to the most perfect trilogy!”

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas | Review

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas | ReviewThe Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Published by Harper Teen on September 17, 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

picadillyblueThe Burning Sky, Sherry Thomas’ YA debut, is a magic-filled fantasy novel that will greatly appeal to a wide range of readers.  Fans of the Harry Potter series will especially enjoy this one.

The Burning Sky surprised me at first.  It’s set in the 1880s and takes place between two worlds, Britain (the real world) and a magical world.  It’s a blend of historical fiction and fantasy which is something I’ve very rarely read.  It’s a combination I greatly enjoyed.  The fictional magical world was fabulous even though I would have liked a bit more worldbuilding.   The regular world, set in Britain, more specifically, Eton, was the best though.  Sherry Thomas really captured life at an all boys school in the 1880s.  It was fascinating.

Titus and Iolanthe (or Archer Fairfax) are wonderful characters who are marvelously well developed.  Titus is a very complex young man who has too much responsibility for any one person.  His destiny was told to him at a young age and it’s shaped his whole life.  Knowing he will die young, he doesn’t waste time with friends or love.  His life was lonely and Titus was very closed off.  I still managed to really connect with him though.  There was a lot more to him than meets the eye.  It was the same with Iolanthe.  She and Titus had a lot in common.  They were both forced to grow up at a young age and it’s made them wise beyond their years.  They fit together well because of this.  The secondary characters were surprisingly well-developed as well but lacking much backstory.  Hopefully that will be expanded on in the next book.

The story is fast-paced and fun.  It’s full of mystery and twists.  I was fully drawn in from the beginning and hooked until the very end.  It’s a fresh story that readers will want to keep reading.

Overall, The Burning Sky is a fabulous fantasy novel that I definitely recommend.  Check it out!

What others are saying about The Burning Sky:

Bookworm Dreams’ review:It feels like Sherry Thomas took a list of my favorite elements in young adult fantasy novels and wrote The Burning Sky.”

Nerdophiles’ review: “The Burning Sky won me over pretty early on.”

There Were Books Involved’s review: “The best way I can describe this book is like… if you took Harry Potter, some YA epic fantasy, and some animated Disney movies like Mulan and Sleeping Beauty; then randomly pulled out sections (or scenes from the movies) of varying length, and shuffled them all together and covered the resulting pages in extremely sparkly glitter.”

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman | Review

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman | ReviewJust One Day by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #1
Published by Penguin Teen on January 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the "accidents" of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

picadillyblueGoing into Just One Day, I knew I would enjoy it.  The story appealed to me, the reviews were fabulous, and I adore Gayle Forman.  Sure enough, my expectations were not only met but exceeded.

Allyson reminded me a lot of myself.  She was very much a good girl.  Rather than going out partying with friends, she spent her nights alone in the hotel room, not wanting to get in trouble and not really into the crowds.  She was smart and kind but rather quiet.  That changes when she meets Willem, an outgoing, fearless guy who does pretty much whatever he wants.  He’s a traveling actor at the end of his run and he and Allyson just happen to meet.  He brings out a new side of Allyson in the day they spend together.

Allyson and Willem’s story is key to the book but the time they spend together is actually very short (just one day.)  Following what seems like a magical night, Allyson wakes up alone and must go on with her life without him.  The year following brings a whole new Allyson and even though she constantly thinks of Willem, she has to learn to love herself without him.  College helps her with that, especially with the help of some new unexpected friends.

Gayle Forman’s writing is spectacular and her voice is spot on.  Readers will have no trouble getting hooked on Just One Day through the writing alone.

The setting of Paris (though only briefly set there) is so fabulous.  I felt like I was seeing everything alongside Allyson and Willem.  Gayle Forman includes the highlights of Paris but that is far from all she includes.  She draws attention to the lesser known attractions of Paris and it was so fun.  If you can’t make it to Paris sometime soon, read Just One Day and you’ll feel like you’re there.

Overall, read Just One Day if you haven’t already.  It’s a fabulous contemporary story that will leave you eager for the conclusion to Allyson and Willem’s story.

What others are saying about Just One Day:

Mad But Magic’s review: “Gayle Forman has yet to disappoint me.”

Book.Blog.Bake.’s review: “So many people love this one, but I found it problematic on multiple levels.”

Bookish’s review: “I don’t know whether I want to recommend this book to everybody I come across or to protect them all from the feels.”