Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hilyer | Review

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hilyer | ReviewSpindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hillyer
Published by HarperCollins on April 11th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 351
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

Lexa Hilyer impressed me with her previous novel, Proof of Forever.  Spindle Fire is such a departure from that story though, that I went into this one as if I knew nothing of the author’s work.  To be completely honest, this was one I picked up solely on the appeal of the gorgeous cover.  This was one of those instances where I’m glad I judged a book by it’s cover because the insides matched up quite well with the beautiful outsides.

I read somewhere that Spindle Fire is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with hints of Alice in Wonderland and that description matched up perfectly with the actual story.  The Sleeping Beauty aspects were quite obvious from the start and did match up quite well with the traditional story.  However, it didn’t take long for things to deviate from that classic and for Lexa Hilyer to really give this story her own spin.  The hints of mystery surrounding both the enchanted world where Aurora has found herself and the world of her home kingdom were intriguing enough to keep any reader guessing.  Little hints regarding the history of both worlds as well as the faeries themselves are dropped throughout the book but only really come to a head at the end.  As for that end, there won’t be a reader out there who isn’t left dying for the sequel, Winter Glass.

While the story is what originally captured my attention, the characters are what kept me coming back for more.  Aurora and Isabelle couldn’t be more different.  The sisters have very little in common except for their love for one another.  That never stopped them from being best friends though.  However, Aurora’s grand ideas for romance started to change things between them.  Aurora was eager to meet her future husband, the Crown Prince of Aubin, a neighboring land.  For Isabelle, this meant her time with her sister was over and her life was going to change irrevocably.  A rift formed between them and before either of them could fix it, the spell took hold of Aurora.  Aurora woke in a strange land and everything about her changed from there.  Everything she thought she knew had to be questioned and she finally had to rely on her own strengths.  As for Isabelle, she always knew her strengths but she hadn’t needed to put them to the test until it was up to her to bring her sister back from the strange sleeping sickness.  Throughout the course of the story, characters such a Gil, William, Heath, Wren, Belcoeur, and Malfleur were introduced and while each one had their own mysteries, most of the questions surrounding them were left unanswered.  I sincerely hope the pasts and futures of all of these characters will be explored in the sequel.

Overall, Spindle Fire sets things up nicely for this series (trilogy? duology?).  April 2018 cannot get here soon enough, in my opinion.  I’ve already become invested in these characters’ stories and I need to know what will become of them!  Fans of fantasy as well as fans of both the original Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland stories will find something to love in Spindle Fire.  The hints of the familiar are just enough to bring fans to find something completely new to love.

What others are saying about Spindle Fire:

Across the Words’ review: “If you tend to find the story of Sleeping Beauty uninteresting, I think you will appreciate how much more compelling and complex it becomes in Spindle Fire.”

The Story Sanctuary’s review: “I think fans of Forbidden Wish or The School for Good and Evil will find Spindle Fire to be a worthy addition to the genre.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater | Review

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater | ReviewThe Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Published by Scholastic Press on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 438
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey…and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

picadillyblue

I’m still a little in shock that this series is over so forgive me if my thoughts are all over the place.  I finished this last week and this is the first time I’ve even felt like I could string together coherent sentences about it.  That should tell you plenty about the finale to the Raven Cycle.

Let me start off by saying that this will be spoiler free as far as The Raven King goes but I make no promises for the other books in the series.  If you haven’t read them, I urge you to stop reading my review and go read them.  Or just go read my review for The Raven Boys to see if it might interest you.

Pros:

  • Characters: These characters hold a special place in my heart at this point.  I’ve grown so attached to them over the past 4 books and I was so happy with how Maggie chose to end their stories.  I’m not saying that everything that happened to them was happy.  What I appreciated about how she ended everything was that it felt true to each of the characters.  I also loved that she could introduce new characters in the final book and make it feel like they had been there the whole time.  Henry Cheng may have been introduced in an earlier book but The Raven King is really where he made his grand entrance and he grew on me in no time.  I loved the relationship he built with everyone but Blue especially.
  • Romance: Y’all already know how I feel about Gansey and Blue (I adore them!) but I’ve never really been vocal about anyone else.  After reading The Raven King, I may like Ronan and Adam more than I like Gansey and Blue and that is really saying something.  Gansey and Blue have always had this chemistry that pulls them together and a curse that pushes them apart.  I’m a sucker for forbidden romance and that was another big appeal for them.  Ronan and Adam have a completely different type of relationship.  I wouldn’t even say they are that close as friends.  It’s more that Gansey brought them all together and they found each other through that weird friendship.  The tension between them just permeates everything they do and I just wanted to reach in the book and push them together.  Gah!  I can’t even talk about it anymore because I’m out of words.  Oh and then there was Maura and the Grey Man.  They were oddly cute together.
  • Writing: I bet this one is a big shocker to you guys.  Well, okay, maybe not really.  We all know I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing.  It’s a style that might be a little more wordy than some authors but I love that.  I feel like every word she writes should be savored and she somehow manages to string them all together perfectly.  She is beyond talented.  It’s no surprise that the writing in The Raven King is flawless.

Cons:

  • Story: The story was not bad, it was just a little all over the place.  I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t quite what I got.  I said no spoilers so this part of the review is a little difficult.  Maggie Stiefvater tied up all loose ends which pleased me, definitely, but how she went about it wasn’t perfect, in my opinion.  And to be quite honest, if I took my time and re-read the whole series, I may not find the story to be a problem at all anymore.  I think it may have been that I took so much time between the first 3 books and this one that the confusion was only on my part.  I know there were things I forgot from the first books and when I eventually go back and re-read them, maybe things will make a bit more sense.

Overall, The Raven King will surpass expectations for fans of The Raven Cycle.  Maggie Stiefvater impressed me once again and I cannot wait to see what she does next.  The Raven Cycle will forever be up there on my list of favorites.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | Review

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | ReviewThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

picadillyblue

The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel, will have you shaking your head in disbelief that it is, in fact, a debut novel.  The Star-Touched Queen reads like Roshani Chokshi has been writing her whole life and I’m sure this will not be the only wonderful, heartbreaking book we get from her.

Pros:

  • Romance: While it might come across a bit like insta-love at first, that really isn’t what is going on. Amar and Maya didn’t really have much of a choice when it came to starting up a really quick relationship.  They got married the first time they met.  That’s just how it was.  However, their attraction made their marriage not quite as tough as it could have been.  Amar and Maya’s personalities fit together and they each brought different things to their relationship and their roles as leaders.  While Amar was quite closed off and a bit hard to read, Maya was the opposite.  She had a bit of a temper and she wasn’t afraid to say what she wanted and to go after it.  It also didn’t hurt that once they got to know each other, their chemistry was even better.  Roshani Chokshi managed to make all of their scenes together both steamy and sweet.
  • Characters: It’s not often that I like all the characters and find them to be well-developed but that was the case with The Star-Touched Queen.  Maya was dealt a poor hand in life due to her horoscope and the kingdom she lived in.  It was predicted that she would bring death and destruction to whoever she married.  It made many people scared of her and needless to say, made marriage kind of out of the picture for her.  Not that she minded that.  She smart and witty and fierce.  Amar, like I said, was kind of mysterious, in a tall, dark, and handsome way.  His personality was hard to gauge at first but once in his kingdom, he started to come out of his shell more.  He was sweet but also smart and cunning.  The harem wives were all very superstitious women who were pretty terrible.  Gauri, Maya’s half-sister, was adorable at first and fierce later on.  She was strong and smart and willing to do whatever it took for her kingdom and the people she loved.  Gupta was funny and a little odd.  Kamala had to be my favorite though.  I can’t even begin to describe her but she was funny in a morbid and quirky way.  She was fiercely protective of Maya and yet managed to keep a sense of humor even when defending her.  I wasn’t sure it was possible that even demon animals could be well-developed characters but Roshani Chokshi proved me wrong.
  • Setting: The Star-Touched Queen is set in both the kingdoms of Bharata and the kingdom of Akaran.  Both settings were extremely vividly detailed.  Bharata was both a gorgeous kingdom and a kingdom torn apart by war.  The Night Bazaar seemed like an awesomely creepy place but maybe could have used a little more development.  Akaran was, by far, my favorite though.  There were mirrors showing everything but your reflection, gardens made out of glass, and a tapestry full of mystery and fate.
  • Plot: At first, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get with The Star-Touched Queen.  The synopsis on the back of the book doesn’t really say much and I actually really like that about it.  I went in not knowing what to expect and I felt like I got more mystery out of it.  There were a few things that I guessed along the way but I think if I had actually read the full synopsis, I would have guessed them a lot sooner.  However, I think I only guessed those things because of my knowledge of some Indian folklore.  If you don’t know any Indian folklore, you are in for a lot of twists and turns and I was still shocked by a lot of things.  Things are a little slow to start but not very.  Maya’s story really starts to take off early in the book and since it is a standalone, everything has to happen pretty quickly.  That’s not to say that anything is rushed though because it’s not.  And since it is a standalone, everything was wrapped up quite nicely and while I would never say no to more stories set in this world, I was happy with how things ended.

Overall, The Star-Touched Queen has a spot on my favorites shelf, that’s for sure.  I highly recommend it, especially for fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.  While the stories are each uniquely different, I couldn’t help getting the same type of vibe from this one and that is high praise.  I look forward to more from Roshani Chokshi.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard | Review

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard | ReviewRoses and Rot by Kat Howard
Published by Saga Press on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love in this haunting debut fantasy novel from “a remarkable young writer” (Neil Gaiman).

What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.

picadillyblue

Kat Howard’s debut novel landed on my doorstep one afternoon and, after reading the blurb from Neil Gaiman, I decided I’d give it a shot.  Roses and Rot is unlike anything I’ve ever read and seriously impressed me.

Pros:

  • The writing: Kat Howard’s writing is by far the best thing this book has going for it.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about Roses and Rot but the writing just stands out.  It’s so atmospheric and haunting and will have you stopping to savor it as you read the book.  I really can’t do justice to how gorgeous it is.  I marked so many quotes and I don’t typically mark any.
  • The sibling bond: Marin and Imogen have an odd relationship.  They were close growing up but grew apart when Imogen left for boarding school.  Now they are both at the same art program and it’s sister against sister for an amazing opportunity that could make all their dreams come true.  While it doesn’t seem to affect their relationship at first, things quickly come to a head and secret feelings start pouring out.  I loved that they had a close relationship but they could still fight.  Their bond was stronger than it first appeared and I’m not sure about Marin but Imogen was willing to do anything for her sister.
  • The setting: I don’t want to give a whole lot away but Melete wasn’t the only place the book was set.  Melete, however, sounded spectacular.  Everything was so detailed that I felt like I was there with Imogen.  The houses, the moat, the rose garden, the river, nothing was left unexplained and I could picture every stunning image in my head.  And like I said, Melete wasn’t the only setting for the book and the other main focal point of the book was also pretty spectacular in a very haunting way.
  • The friendships: Imogen and Marin went to Melete already having each other to rely on but everyone else was an outsider.  That didn’t stop them from forming some rather unlikely bonds.  Helena and Ariel were their other roommates and while it seemed like they didn’t have a whole lot in common with each other, they made up a pretty great foursome.  Ariel was outgoing and fun while Helena was more moody and introverted.  They all brought out different sides of each other and I liked the friendships they formed.

Cons:

  • The romance: Imogen and Evan start a romance relatively early on in the book and it seems to come out of nowhere.  They clearly are physically attracted to each other and they can appreciate each other’s talent but they didn’t seem to have much more in common.  Most of their interactions were physical in nature and they really just didn’t seem to be able to sustain more than a physical relationship.
  • The pacing: Roses & Rot is not an easy book to get into.  It takes quite some time for things to really take off.  While I was intrigued with the story, it wasn’t enough to really capture my attention and hold it.  I had to push myself through the first 50 pages or so until things really started going somewhere.  Even then it’s not a fast-paced book.  Just know that you won’t be able to really rush through this one and I honestly don’t think you should. It’s definitely a book to take your time with and really think about.

Overall, I clearly have much more good to say about Roses and Rot than bad.  While it is classified as an adult novel, I think it holds great crossover appeal for older young adult readers.  I look forward to seeing what Kat Howard does next and I highly recommend checking this one out.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead | Review

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead | ReviewThe Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1) by Richelle Mead
Series: The Glittering Court #1
Published by Razorbill on April 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

picadillyblue

Richelle Mead made me fall in love with her writing years ago when I read Vampire Academy.  I never expected to find something of hers that I loved more than that series (c’mon, Rose and Dimitri?  Can it get any better than that?) but I was wrong.  The Glittering Court is Richelle Mead’s best book so far, in my opinion.

Pros:

  • The romance: Richelle Mead’s books never lack in the romance department and that’s the same with The Glittering Court.  While the attraction between Adelaide and Cedric is immediate, the romance is not.  In fact, I was really hoping something would start up between them way before it actually did.  They built up a wonderful relationship as friends (kind of) before they ever became romantically involved and it just made it that much sweeter when they did get together.  They had some serious chemistry and some wonderful banter.
  • The story: The Glittering Court is classified as fantasy but it’s almost like an alternate history.  Adelaide and the other girls in The Glittering Court travel to a new land where they will no longer be bound by their original stations in life, whether it be a maid or servant like most of the girls or a noblewoman such as Adelaide.  While they do have to marry once they reach the new land, they get to choose their husband and can even buy their own way out of their contracts if they can come up with the money.  This new land offers religious freedom for some of them as well as a chance at wealth.  The Glittering Court almost reads like historical fiction which I loved.
  • The suspense: I never knew what was coming next and I’m still reeling over some of the things that happened.  Let me just say, if you want a neat and tidy ending with all your questions answered, this is not the book for you.  The Glittering Court is very much the first book in a series and it sets readers up with quite a few questions and only some of the answers.  Richelle Mead definitely knows how to keep her readers guessing and coming back for more.
  • The friendships: I think this is one of the big reasons The Glittering Court will appeal to Richelle Mead’s previous fans.  If you’ve read Vampire Academy, you know that Richelle Mead writes about strong bonds between friends (Lissa and Rose) and that those bonds are always amazing. That’s the same with Adelaide, Mira, and Tamsin.  They couldn’t be more different but they become fast friends during their time at the Glittering Court.  They have their fights and they keep their secrets sometimes but they always come back to each other and each girl has something unique and important to offer to the friendship.

Overall, there are no cons with The Glittering Court.  It’s perfection in book form.  Fans of Richelle Mead will find many things to love about it that will remind them of their favorite book from her.  New readers of Richelle Mead will seek out more of her work after reading this one.  You can’t go wrong with The Glittering Court.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Blog Tour: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr | Review + GiveawaySeven Black Diamonds (Untitled, #1) by Melissa Marr
Published by HarperCollins on March 1st 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

This riveting fantasy marks Melissa Marr’s return to the world of faery courts that made her Wicked Lovely series an international phenomenon.

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humans and faeries. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has always shielded her, but when she’s sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, she’s delivered straight into the arms of a fae sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite’s been chosen to join them...and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers at the edge of their seats.

picadillyblue

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book about faeries and that’s because I’m really picky when it comes to them.  Melissa Marr has always been one of my go-to authors for these types of books and Seven Black Diamonds just proved that she’s on that list for a very good reason.

Pros:

  • Characters: I’m all about the boys but I can’t help but love a book with a strong female lead and that’s exactly what Lily is.  She takes control, she knows what she wants, and she doesn’t let others get in her way.  Yeah there are some boys in her life but they definitely are not in charge when it comes to Lily.  I have to say that it’s a little weird that she didn’t have much of a soft side (she was definitely a badass) but I didn’t really have a problem with that.  Speaking of the boys in Lily’s life, let’s start with Creed.  Not only is he fae (totally enough to grab my attention), he’s also a rock star.  Melissa Marr managed to combine two of my favorite things so I definitely loved Creed.  There was also Zephyr (not another love interest) who was the leader and had quite a few secrets.  There’s a good mix of people in the group called the Black Diamonds and I really liked that.  I don’t want to forget the other main character in Seven Black Diamonds, Eilidh (not a clue how to pronounce that one).  She is the daughter of the Fae queen and her side of the story shows the Fae world.  While she is the queen’s daughter, she isn’t necessarily all for what her mother is planning and that’s kinda where her story intersects with Lily’s.
  • Fae powers: I’m not going to say a lot about this aspect but I was totally intrigued by it.  Everyone in the Black Diamonds had a different ability that related to an element or two.  I loved seeing how they used them and I look forward to seeing how they might come in handy in the future books.
  • Romantic tension: I’ve always thought Melissa Marr did a great job with romantic tension and Seven Black Diamonds is no exception.  I don’t even know where I would start with this one.  Lily and Creed are only one of the couples that have some tension between them (as well as secrets.)  I love that as I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to stick with Marr’s books and they almost seem to have grown with me.

Cons:

  • I don’t even know how to label this one so I’m just gonna go for it.  There is a lot of info being shared in Seven Black Diamonds and it could be a bit much at times.  I get that it’s the start of a series and readers need to know these things but it was just overwhelming sometimes.  It also took away from the story and made it seem like there wasn’t a lot going on, plot wise.
  • POV: Just be warned that there are quite a few points of view and it can be a little confusing at first.  I got used to it pretty quickly but it did take me by surprise.

Overall, I definitely think Seven Black Diamonds is a promising start to this new series from Melissa Marr.  While it had it’s flaws, I look forward to seeing what happens next.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Week One:

2/22/2016- Gone with the Words- Scavenger Hunt

2/23/2016- Katie’s Book Blog- Review

2/24/2016- YA Book Madness- Scavenger Hunt

2/25/2016- Pandora’s Books- Review

2/26/2016- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Scavenger Hunt 

Week Two:

2/29/2016- The Best Books Ever- Review

3/1/2016- Me, My Shelf and I- Scavenger Hunt

3/2/2016- Rabid Reads- Review

3/3/2016- Once Upon a Twilight- Scavenger Hunt

3/4/2016- YA Bibliophile- Review

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard | Review

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard | ReviewTruthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #1
Published by Tor Teen on January 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

picadillyblueI contemplated writing a one sentence review for Truthwitch. Basically, I was just going to say ‘go buy the book.’  At this point it seems like that is the only coherent thing I have to say about Truthwitch.  I figured you guys might not appreciate that though so here goes nothing.

Truthwitch is your typical fantasy novel, at first.  It takes some to build up the world and it took me some time to figure out what all the words meant and how to pronounce things.  However, after that, it’s completely unique.  Susan Dennard has crafted a story full of wonderful new characters, creative abilities, and there are even clever curse words.  How can I start using ‘goat tits’ on a regular basis?

Safi and Iseult have a special relationship.  They are ‘threadsisters’ meaning they might as well be actual sisters.  They have a bond that is tested constantly but never breaks.  Safi would give up her life for Iseult and Iseult would do the same for Safi.  They couldn’t be more different though.  Safi is hot-headed and a smartass.  She was born into a powerful family but she wants nothing to do with them or her legacy.  Iseult ran from her tribe and Safi, Mathew, and Habim are her family now.  She’s quiet and methodical but she has a tendency to panic when Safi isn’t by her side.  Together, they make one great team.  They are strong apart but they are unstoppable together.  They also manage to get into a ton of trouble together.

Safi and Iseult spend much of their time on the run.  From the start of the book you know that they are in serious trouble and it only gets worse.  They have a vindictive Bloodwitch out to get them and he’s not the only one trying to find them.  They are on the run from tons of people and it’s up to the people on their getaway ship to keep them safe.  That’s not the ship crew’s only priority though.  Prince Merik, the captain of the ship they are on, as well as the Prince of Nubrevna, is out to save his people.  Safi is not his first priority and Iseult is even further down his list of people to worry about.  He’s not a bad guy, by any means, but he has a lot of worries without having to deal with Safi and Iseult.  That doesn’t mean he doesn’t come to care about the two of them though.  Let me just say, Safi and Merik have two very crazy tempers between the two of them and it makes for some explosive encounters.  Their first meeting is very memorable and they only get better from there.

The abilities that some of the characters are gifted with also help make this a completely unique book to read.  Not all people have a gift and some have gifts that are more rare than others.  Safi, for example, is  a Truthwitch.  She can tell truth from lie and she is one of the only (if not the only) Truthwitch.  Merik is a Windwitch which is more common.  Not only do the abilities differ by person but so do the powers that come with their abilities.  Some are much stronger than others.  It all depends on the person.  I look forward to finding out a lot more about the abilities of each character and exactly what they can do with those abilities.

The relationships in Truthwitch are varied and complicated.  Safi and Iseult have one of the easiest relationships of the book.  They’d do anything for each other and that’s all that matters.  Then there is Iseult and Evrane.  Evrane saves her life more than once and there is some kind of tie there that I hope will be expanded upon in future books.  Then there is Evrane and Merik.  They are family but they have a very strained relationship.  There is history there that I look forward to finding out about.  Then there is Merik and Safi.  Holy sexual tension, you guys! Like I said, they are kind of explosive and I meant that in more ways than one.  There is also Merik and his first mate, Kullen.  They have a bond very similar to Safi and Iseult’s.  They love each other like brothers and I think it hurts Merik more to see Kullen hurt than it would for him to deal with his own pain.  My heart broke for their struggles.  And don’t even get me started on how the Bloodwitch Aeduan ties into everything.  I didn’t think Susan Dennard could surprise me any more by the end of this book but she totally did.

Overall, Truthwitch has everything I could have wanted and more.  It’s a story featuring strong female and male characters, romance, magic, and secrets.  I’ll stop gushing now but guys, read this book.  Seriously.  It’s an epic start to what promises to be a unique and captivating series.

What others are saying about Truthwitch:

The Soul Sisters’ review: “You will not know what to expect with Truthwitch and when you finally dive into it and devour its words, sentences, and pages, it will blow out every expectation you have with its quickly paced and smooth story-telling, amazing, amazing characters and freaking out of this world magic-filled fight scenes, you will seriously be left begging for more.”

Vilma’s Book Blog’s review: “It’s a tale rife with magic, action, conflict and political intrigue, but at it’s core,  it’s a story of unshakeable friendship.”

Monday, December 14, 2015

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewQueen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
on September 1st 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 648
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

The queen has returned.
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

picadillyblue

If you have not read the other books in this series, this review will contain spoilers.  There is just no avoiding that.  However, I will not be spoiling any part of Queen of Shadows.

I’m gonna start off by saying that it’s been a month or so since I actually read Queen of Shadows so bear with me if this review is all over the place.  That being said, I’m still thinking about Queen of Shadows and all the twists Sarah J. Maas threw at readers this time around.  I wasn’t sure there was a whole lot left that she could shock me with but boy was I wrong!

I read the first four books (I’m including The Assassin’s Blade in that count) about two months before Queen of Shadows and I’m glad I took so long to read them.  This series has so much going on that it’s actually pretty important to remember what happened in the previous books.  All the books include hints of what is to come and I love that Sarah J. Maas plans everything so far ahead.  I know there are definitely some things that I missed but hopefully I’ll catch some more things next year when I reread the series to prepare for the next book.  That’s not to say that you have to reread the first few books every time a new one comes out but having a summary of what happened in the previous books is good so you can stay caught up.

Can I just say that Queen of Shadows was everything I hoped for and more?  Is that good enough for you guys?  I imagine most of you have already read it (I mean, who could wait?) but if you haven’t you should just stop reading my review now and go pick it up.  Sarah J. Maas managed to answer a few questions while posing some new ones that I hope to get answers to in future books.  I’m honestly amazed at her skill with weaving all these storylines together.  I don’t know how she does it (one of many reasons she is the writer and I am not.)  Everything from the first four books has been leading up to this one and I’m sure it will be the same with the next one.  While some huge things went down, there is still so much left for Aelin and her crew to do.  This series is far from over and I feel like the wait for the fifth book is going to be torture.

I loved all the characters (even Chaol) but Dorian definitely held a special place in my heart this time around.  After what happened to him at the end of Heir of Fire, I wasn’t sure what state he would be in when Chaol and Aelin saw him next.  I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say that my heart broke every time I got to a chapter from his POV.  I died a little inside every time I thought about what might happen to him.  He is the reason I spent so much of this book crying.  Just thinking about it now makes me want to tear up.

I did mention Chaol and I want to mention him again.  I loved him early on in the series but that did not last long.  I know some people love him but I was not one of those people and I’m still not really.  I like him and Dorian and Aelin as friends and that’s all I like them as.  Chaol had some serious growing up to do.  He needed to see that Aelin couldn’t just close off parts of herself because he didn’t like them.  She was a very independent woman and he needed to learn to accept that.  I did see progress on that front in Queen of Shadows and he really started to impress me again.  I also can’t fault him for his loyalty and friendship to Dorian.  They are more like brothers than friends.

I don’t even really want to say anything about Aelin because she’s just as badass and awesome as ever.  And as for who she ends up with, I’m not even going to say anything about it except that he is perfect for her.  I think Sarah J. Maas really took time to see how each guy would match up with Aelin and she chose the one that not only was good with her but was also good for her.

One of the best things about Queen of Shadows was the development of Manon and the Thirteen.  I wasn’t sure about them when they were first introduced in the series but they have grown on me and I see how they are going to play a huge role in the battle to come.  Now don’t get me wrong, I always thought they were awesome I just didn’t want anyone that awesome on the side of the bad guys.  I’m not saying they are good but I think Manon has finally realized that she needs to look deeper into what’s going on and decide for herself who she wants to side with.

Last but not least, the plot!  Things move quickly in Queen of Shadows and they build up to a huge battle.  That battle scene was just brilliant and epic!  I might have had some issues reading it since I was crying at the same time but I still know it was awesome.  A lot of huge twists happened during that battle and my jaw dropped more than once.  Sarah J. Maas is one of those authors who isn’t afraid to kill her characters and that battle had me worried for more than one of my faves.

Overall, Queen of Shadows is just plain amazing.  If you haven’t read it yet, get on it!  I know the wait for the next book seems like forever but just join me in misery while we wait together!

What others are saying about Queen of Shadows:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “Queen of Shadows had some scenes that were just stellar: an epic girl fight, a reunion, a (bloody) witch savior, fucking badass witches, an insane finale, a tear-inducing but happy ending, death (obviously), the exploration of the “who is the monster and who is the man” concept, and discussions about nightgowns and underthings.”

Fictional Darkness’ review: “Sarah J. Maas has a special talent when it comes to sculpting characters.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | Review

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | ReviewFairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 222
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

picadillyblue

Oh gosh where do I even begin with this review?  I’m a huge fan of the whole Lunar Chronicles series and I will say that I’m also a fan of Fairest but it’s really hard for me to put it into words.  Whereas I adored the rest of the series for the amazing characters and fast paced storyline full of twists and turns, I loved Fairest for the depth it gave to such a terrifying villain.  I’m still quite horrified by what I just read and I don’t think that will go away for quite some time.

Levana is the evil queen of Luna.  From the time I first read Cinder, I knew I would never like her.  Unlike with other villains (think The Darkling), Levana really has nothing to endear her to readers.  She’s just plain nuts and she has been from the start.  Sure she went through some horrifying things in her childhood but I have a feeling she was messed up even before all those things went down.  I admit that I read Winter before reading Fairest so some things that maybe would have been revealed for the first time in Fairest were actually already revealed to me in Winter.  I didn’t mind that at all though because those things were shown with more detail in Fairest than in Winter.

I’m not sure why I thought Fairest was going to make me feel sympathy towards Levana but it definitely did not do that.  In fact, it actually made me dislike her even more which I wasn’t sure was possible.  Levana suffered at the hands of her sister, Channary, and from what little I saw of their parents, they didn’t seem to be much better.  She never knew love from anyone in her family and when it came to romantic love, she didn’t have a clue what it entailed.  She was more obsessed with Evret Hayle than in love with him and she was never able to see that.  She was so delusional.  Everything she did, she did for herself.  She wanted adoration from her subjects but she went about obtaining that adoration in all the wrong ways.

I think the only thing I got joy out of in Fairest were the interactions between Celene and Winter.  There is mention in Winter of them being friends as young children and I really liked seeing that friendship in Fairest.  Obviously Selene was very young when Levana attempted to kill her so she and Winter didn’t have a ton of time to become friends but since they were pretty much raised together, they became fast friends.  They were adorable together and it broke my heart knowing that they didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together or grow up together like they should have.

Also, Levana’s husband, Evret Hayle, is mentioned in the other books in the series and from those few mentions, I expected some great romance and a man that could see past her craziness to the woman underneath.  Early on in Fairest I realized that was totally not the case.  Levana had no qualms manipulating Kai because she didn’t know love and she wasn’t looking for it.  That’s made pretty obvious early on in Fairest.

Overall, Fairest is just plain crazy and I loved it.  Marissa Meyer has been a favorite author of mine for quite some time but she really impressed me with this addition to the Lunar Chronicles.  It takes talent to get inside the mind of a person like Levana and I feel like she didn’t take away from the rest of the series.  Levana is still the villain and that’s pretty clear in Fairest.  It’s just a more in depth look at the villain we’ve come to know and hate.

What others are saying about Fairest:

Butterflies of the Imagination’s review: “Seriously. It’s only further proof that Marissa Meyer has a way with words that can’t be beat.”

Nice Girls Read Books’ review: “Fairest added so much more depth to Luna, Levana, Winter and even Cinder (we get to see baby Selene!) and I can’t wait to read the final instalment in this series now!”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | Review

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | ReviewVicious (Vicious, #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Vicious #1
Published by Tor on September 24th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability.

Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

picadillyblue

I’ve been a fan of Victoria Schwab’s since I read her debut, The Near Witch.  Her writing style just spoke to me and seriously impressed me.  I admit that I haven’t stayed up to date with all her new releases but I am trying to work on that and I figured Vicious would be the perfect place to start.  This is her first book writing as V.E. Schwab for adult readers and I loved it as much as I thought I would.

Victor and Eli’s stories fascinated me from the first page.  The prologue just grabbed me and did not let go.  I knew from the synopsis that Victor and Eli used to be friends but that’s about all I knew until I started reading.  From the prologue, you know that that is no longer the case.  Instead of the best friends that they used to be, now Eli and Victor are sworn enemies.  They have vowed to kill each other and they will do whatever it takes, including putting innocent others in the line of fire.

It’s hard to tell at first glance who is the typical “villain.”  Victor definitely has a darker side and he’s spent some time in prison that’s only made that dark side more prominent.  Eli, on the other hand, gets away with pretty much anything and, at first glance, appears to be a great guy.  In this case, appearances are definitely deceiving.  However, Victor and Eli do have something in common and it’s that one thing that tore apart their friendship.  Both Victor and Eli are ExtraOrdinaries (EOs) with special powers that came to them after some experimenting while they were in college (not that kind of college experimenting!).  Each person who is gifted with these abilities is given a unique power that some don’t even know they have.  Victor and Eli definitely know that they have these powers and both of them are searching for others like them, for very different reasons.

Victor may appear to be the bad guy but he has friends from his time in prison and one that he’s just met.  Sydney and Mitch don’t know everything about Victor but they know they are drawn to him and that they can trust him.  Sydney is a young girl who has a very special ability of her own and it’s that ability that makes Eli want to kill her very much.  Mitch was drawn to Victor from the moment he saw him in prison.  They didn’t start out as friends exactly but they do seem to be some sort of friends now.  Victor himself was a very confusing guy.  Like I said, he doesn’t exactly appear to be a good guy and his actions would sometimes appear to be not so great but he’s not like Eli.  Eli’s goal in life is to rid the world of the EOs (excluding himself) and he’s willing to do some pretty outrageous things to achieve that goal.  Eli was just nuts.  Clearly he wasn’t all right to begin with but the gift of his powers really screwed him up.  There was really nothing that endeared him to me and I really wanted to see Victor succeed in getting his revenge against Eli.

The story itself was a little slow but the writing made up for that.  Victoria Schwab just has a way with words that means she could write practically anything and make it come to life.  Vicious is a story that worked perfectly with the way she writes.  It’s dark and slightly creepy and just plain awesome.  And while some of the story might be a little slow, by the end, everything has built up and it’s impossible to stop reading!

Overall, Vicious is another stunner from V.E. Schwab.  If you’re looking to maybe check out something other than YA, this is a great place to start.  I think it can also definitely be enjoyed by YA readers even though it is a little bit more mature.  I just have to recommend it because, in my eyes, V.E. Schwab can do no wrong.

What others are saying about Vicious:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “Here’s what you need to know: READ VICIOUS.”

The Blank Page’s review: “Despite a couple of places where I had to suspend my disbelief farther than I would have liked, Vicious quickly grew into its place as one of the best books I’ve read this year.”