Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1)

Release Date: March 6, 2018
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Length: 525 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Audio Book

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.



Protagonists: In the land of Orïsha, magic used to be everywhere and exist in everything, that is until the day of the Raid when soldiers with majacite weapons slaughtered the maji, those who could wield magical gifts from the gods, and magic died. Zélie is a diviner, someone who was supposed to be a maji before magic went away. Now she's treated like trash by the monarchy and she wants to fight back. Incidentally, she bumps into a rogue princess named Amari who just so happens may know how to bring magic back. However, their quest will be perilous as they're being tracked by the crown prince of Orïsha, Inan, who wants to eradicate magic just as much as his twisted father. All three of these main characters were so brilliantly complex. There were a couple of times, specifically with Inan, that I thought his character development was moving along too fast, only to realize what the author was really doing which took me by surprise for a minute before everything sunk in, and I really enjoyed what she did with his character. I love Zélie, she's a bit hotheaded and impulsive, but she fights for the freedom of her people and over the course of the book she really comes into her own, and while character development is all about getting stronger, what I really like is that Zélie's strength and character arc doesn't always come from good moments, in fact, there are many horrific moments that define who Zélie becomes. Finally, there's Amari, who I also grew to love, though I felt she wasn't featured as much as Zélie and Inan, she probably grows the most in this story and while I don't want to talk too much more here, I will say that Amari's character arc pretty much blew me away.

Romance: Honestly, I'm not too sure what to write here, mainly because even though it's been a while since I finished this book, I'm still trying to figure out not only my feelings on things but what feelings are still applicable going into future installments. On the whole I really enjoyed the romances in this book, they don't distract from the main plotline, and instead really help to elevate the story being told here. First, there's the obvious romance, since it's heavily hinted at in the synopsis, and that is the romance between Zélie and Inan. I'm a huge fan of the hate to love trope and I really fell in love with these two characters, basically because of how realistic their romance eventually seems. At first, there's a lot about a "connection" between the two, but when their romance really starts to be tested, that's when I really found myself in awe of just how real the romance started to feel, warts and all. There is another romance in this book, though not as obvious and while it doesn't get nearly as much time in the spotlight as Zélie and Inan's romance, I'm definitely looking forward to how it develops in the future.

World Building: This book is dense. I mean, there's so much story packed into this book and while it's over 500 pages, there's still so much that happens in this story and so much about the world that we learn. I've been on something of a Fantasy kick lately and while I find myself enjoying most of them, I've become aware that most fantasy worlds share a lot of similarities that make it hard for certain fantasy worlds to stand out among the crowd, but not this world. This world is so rich and vibrant that it sticks out easily. I loved how everything in this world is described because I truly felt the world come to life before me, well after I did a bit of Googling so I could form a better mental picture because there were a few things I wasn't familiar with. The wildlife of this world is incredible and terrifying and every city in this world felt a unique from the last. I love the world of Orïsha, from the vibrant culture, the entrancing folklore, and fearsome fauna that roam the landscape, and that's not even getting into the fantastic magic system in this world. In this world there are, or were, ten maji clans, each boasting a different gift from the gods, some were elementalists, some healers, and others could connect with the souls of the living or dead. Each type of maji that we see in this world is fantastic and the powers they can wield are mighty, while I think there's still more to learn about magic, the story of where it went, which is the focus, more or less, of this book, was an interesting one to learn. Then there's the political intrigue as we have a very punishing monarchy that oppresses diviners who literally have no way to fight back. A monarchy that places taxes on diviners just because of who they are and who will put you into the stocks, a death sentence essentially, if you can't pay your taxes. This is a world that has a lot of faults, but I do like that the author really explores the complexities of this world and doesn't just have a right and wrong side.

Predictability: Reading this book was almost like taking a breath of fresh air. While I do like to see how authors will approach different tropes, such as the heir reclaims their kingdom trope, It was exhilarating to read this book, that, while it does have a few tropes, really comes off as something unique, while still feeling a bit familiar. I'm trying to figure out how many things I was able to figure out ahead of time in this book, and aside from the very obvious, there wasn't anything I was able to figure out. In fact, this story has some really phenomenal twists that utterly blew me away, and one that nearly made my heart stop.

Ending: How is it that this ending was so epic? Well, honestly I know how it was. The author shows a phenomenal final climax from multiple perspectives to really fill out the scope of what this final clash means for not only these characters but the world as a whole. What I'm personally annoyed about though is that there's a gigantic cliffhanger at the end of this book and there's so much left up in the air and I just need to know what happens right this second and I can't wait to see how our heroes move forward in the next installment.


Okay, I'll say it, this is hands down the BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ. No joke, the fantasy world is rich and dense, the characters are phenomenal and flawed, and the story is just so unbelievably epic and I can't wait to see what happens after that climactic ending.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Blog Tour Audio Book Review: The Flames (The Feud Trilogy #2) + GIVEAWAY!

Release Date: January 18, 2018
Author: Kyle Prue
Narrator: Jon Eric Preston
Publisher: Cartwright Publishing
Length: 434 pages/12 hrs. & 16 mins.
Source: Audio Book Review Copy

To survive incredible odds, one teen may have to trust both his former enemies and his fire-forged destiny…

Neil Vapros is one of the last free warriors of the great city of Altryon. He and his brother’s only chance of staying alive involves trusting an uneasy alliance with their former enemies. But in the world beyond his city’s walls, Neil’s life is much more dangerous than he ever imagined possible…

The Emperor has hired a ruthless madman and a vicious pack of assassins to hunt down the last supernatural survivors. As the allies attempt to hide from their enemies, the leader of a rebellion singles out Neil as the answer to a prophecy. Neil isn’t sure he believes he’s been “chosen,” but he knows one thing for sure: their only chance for survival lies in sticking together. While treachery and pain wait around every corner, Neil and his allies may win the day, but victory without casualties could prove impossible…

The Flames is the second book in the award-winning Epic Feud trilogy of young adult fantasy novels. If you like rich fantasy settings, imaginative supernatural abilities, and tough-as-nails characters, then you’ll love Kyle Prue’s electrifying adventure.



Protagonists: After being nearly hunted to extinction the last of the Lightborns from the city of Altryon have escaped into the outside world, a world they were once taught was a wasteland filled with savages, but is, in fact, full of thriving civilizations. With their hurt still fresh they aren't ready to fight back against the Empire, but sometimes the fight will come to you whether you want it or not. While Neil is arguably the main character of this book, and of this series, I really loved that all of our main characters have really well developed and defined character arcs in this book. I never really felt that one character was more important than the other, even when Neil starts to get pulled into a "Chosen One" storyline, I never felt that he became the focus of the story. Each character has a great deal of character development in this book, and what I found interesting was that the author definitely made it clear what it was that each character had to learn over the course of this book, but their character development still felt very natural and not like it was being shoved down my throat, which is usually how it is when the "lesson" our protagonist(s) has to learn is made obvious.

Romance: I wasn't sure if I was going to comment on this as the romance in this book is definitely on the lighter side for a YA novel, which is great honestly as I've kind of gotten a little romanced out lately. In fact, at first, I wasn't sure what to think about the lack of romance in this book, especially when the feelings between characters were growing a tad too fast for my liking, though with the time jump between this book and the previous one, on top of the fact that what we know about what transpired during that time jump is limited. Anyway, there are actually multiple romances in this book and I have to say I really enjoyed them both. Again, they weren't touched on a whole lot, and they never felt like anything more than a small subplot, but I felt it was handled well, and the little we do see makes an impact.

World Building: Woah, once we left the city of Altryon this world got a whole lot bigger. In fact, not that much of this book, if any, takes place within the Industrial City. There is so much of this world to still learn about and the complexities of this outside world are an interesting place to start. I was rather shocked going into the outside and just seeing how much story potential there is for these characters as they explore the world beyond the city. There's so much world building to talk about, from new villains to new discoveries surrounding the Lightborns, but unfortunately, I don't want to give too much away. I will say this though, it doesn't take too long in this book for things to get interesting and that's only the tip of the iceberg. Even after the phenomenal expansion to the story and the world that this book is there's still more I want to know, and if the next book is even half as story and world dense as this one I know I won't be disappointed.

Predictability: Like I said, this book doesn't take long for the story to get interesting and what better way than with a twist or to from left field. I mean, I'm thinking back on this book and trying to figure out if I was able to predict any twists, in a reasonable amount of time before they actually happen, and I can't really think of any. There are a couple that I got before the actual reveal, but within a second or two doesn't count. The twists and turns this story has are phenomenal, there wasn't a single one that I wasn't invested in, and while they aren't all good, in fact, I feel there are very few that were good for our heroes, they were still masterfully executed.

Ending: Going into the end of this story, and with it being the penultimate installment, I knew things were going to get good, and they sure did. The final climax, or honestly climaxes as we got different climactic events from different points of view, was amazing. It was a fantastic way to wrap up this adventure, while still leaving a great deal open for the next installment, or installments as this story opened this world up a lot and I could see more than one installment following this one. Anyway, the final climaxes were amazing, full of excitement and tension and I truly felt there was a lot at stake. While the very end of this book wasn't as game-changing as the previous one, that doesn't mean that it isn't as impactful, as a few things are revealed after the dust has settled and let me just say I'm happy it has taken me a while to get to this installment because that cliffhanger is just plain evil!

Audio Book Notes: As I've said ad nauseam, I'm not very well versed in reviewing the presentation of audio books. That being said though if you're going to pick up an audio book, this series definitely has some fantastic ones. While this audio book doesn't have a lot of production value put into it (ambient sound, background music, etc.) the narrator puts his all into presenting a thoroughly invigorating performance. It's hard not to get swept up into this world with such a masterful storyteller conveying the tale, every emotion the characters had I could feel in the narrator's performance, and at the end of the day, that really makes an audio book stand out.


I'm quite surprised with how much I fell into this story and couldn't get out. This world is so rich and dense, the characters are phenomenal, and the story is way too easy to get swept away in. While I did greatly enjoy the first book, this installment was everything I was looking for in this series and I (literally) cannot wait until the second installment.

About the Author:

Kyle Prue is an award-winning author, actor, and comedian. Kyle wrote The Sparks: Book 1 of the Feud Trilogy when he was just 16 years old. Kyle has spent the past year on a national book tour visiting over 80 middle and high schools and meeting over 60,000 students. Kyle is now a freshman at the University of Michigan, studying acting and creative writing. He still visits schools and is a keynote speaker for conferences.

Kyle is the founder of Sparking Literacy, a non-profit dedicated to lowering the high school dropout rate by inspiring teens to read, write and follow their dreams.  The Sparks has won numerous national awards including Best YA Fiction awards from: The Florida Authors and Publisher’s Association, the Florida Book Festival, New England Book Festival, Midwest Book Festival, Southern California Book Festival, and the International London Book Festival. Kyle also won an International Moonbeam Award and IndieFab Award for Best Young Author.

About the Narrator:

Jon Eric Preston received his Theatre degree from Florida State University after returning from the London program. He earned top honors narrating in the Dramatic Interpretation category on the Speech and Debate team, and performed professionally in Children’s Theatre companies and did National Tours of A Christmas Carol, Twelfth Night, and Othello.


The Flames Giveaway: Kindle Fire


I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Kyle Prue. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: The Angel Trials (Dark World: The Angel Trials #1)

Release Date: March 19, 2018
Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Length: 266 pages
Source: Review Copy From Author

She thought magic didn’t exist. She was so, so wrong.

Raven Danvers is a typical college student… until she’s attacked by a demon on the night of her twenty-first birthday. Luckily, she’s saved by Noah—a mysterious, sexy wolf shifter who appears and disappears in the blink of an eye.

When Raven returns home, she discovers her mom has been abducted by the same demon who came after her. And who turns up at the scene of the crime again? Noah. He’s hunting the demons who are taking humans, and he’s ultimately heading to the place where Raven needs to go to save her mom—the mystical island of Avalon.

Now Raven’s tagging along on Noah’s demon hunting mission whether he wants her there or not. And he makes it no secret that his journey would be a lot easier without her dragging him down. But Raven isn’t going anywhere, so she and Noah will have to learn to work together—if they don’t kill each other first.



Protagonists: Really, this section should be called Protagonist, as Raven's POV chapters take up nearly 90% of this book, I did the math, and worst of all after chapter fourteen it's only Raven's POV until the final chapter, but we'll get to that later. It isn't like I hate Raven, I don't, I like her no-nonsense, straightforward personality and she's a great character to read from, especially if you're new to The Dark World Saga, but at the same time, one of the selling points for me was getting to see more Noah who I was really intrigued by during the Vampire Wish season. We do get to see a lot of Noah, as not only does he have a few chapters in this book, but he's Raven's main love interest, but I really wish we got to see more from his POV as this is technically his series too and it would have shaken things up more after it became all Raven all the time.

Romance: Going into this story I was a bit skeptical about the romance of this series, but I was optimistic since I really want to see Noah end up happy (can you tell which character I favor?). Raven is a fantastic counterpart to Noah and I really like their dynamic together. While we don't get too much development towards a relationship between these two, the situation they're in, in regards to their feelings, is very exciting and I can't wait to see how it will progress in future installments.

World Building: So, this is totally and completely a setup book, in fact, I'll go one step farther and say that this really felt like only half of a book. Much like the second book of The Vampire Wish season, this installment felt like a whole lot of setup and zero actual pay off. I mean, it's called The Angel Trials and there aren't any actual Angels or Nephilim in this book. With this being the first book in the series, and since the author is usually very quick and turning out new installments, It's not a HUGE problem, but with how excited I was for this book I was hoping the story would develop further. I did really enjoy the additional world building in this story, most of the world building is a retread of what we learn in The Vampire Wish season, but there's a lot of new stuff about shifters that are revealed in this story that I was practically captivated by. Oh, and let's not forget a cameo appearance from one of my favorite characters, Rosella, which, I won't say how she's involved, but I nearly exploded with joy from seeing her return.

Predictability: I mean look, this book isn't that hard to figure out. While it's definitely an enjoyable adventure, or partial adventure, there isn't all much that I felt was surprising because honestly, I can only think of a couple of twists in this book at most, and they weren't all that hard to figure out. Since this book has so much set up in it, I'm sure the next installment with have a lot more twists and turns, but this book just sort of felt rather unsurprising. Scratch, that, there were two twists in this book that caught me off guard, but they were more detail based and came in the final chapter so I'll talk about that then.

Ending: Much like some of the books in The Vampire Wish season, this book ends with a new POV, who narrates the last chapter, and boy is this chapter a doozy, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Before that final chapter, we have a final climax... sort of. Honestly, the final climax of this book, while interesting, wasn't much of a final climax since it more felt like a climactic moment in the middle of a book rather than the end of one. The final chapter though, that was pretty interesting, while I figured out the gist of what was going on before this chapter, the specifics are really interesting and while it's not the same as a cliffhanger, I am left wanting more.


When I read this book I couldn't help but draw parallels to The Vampire Prince, which I had a lot of the same problems with, but this is a promising start, and while there's really only set up in this story, at least it didn't feel like filler like The Vampire Prince nearly did.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Book Review: Ever the Brave (Clash of Kingdoms #2)

Release Date: December 5, 2017
Author: Erin Summerill
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Length: 464 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Ever the Divided. Ever the Feared. Ever the Brave.

After saving King Aodren with her newfound Channeler powers, Britta only wants to live a peaceful life in her childhood home. Unfortunately, saving the King has created a tether between them she cannot sever, no matter how much she'd like to, and now he's insisting on making her a noble lady. And there are those who want to use Britta’s power for evil designs. If Britta cannot find a way to harness her new magical ability, her life—as well as her country—may be lost.

The stakes are higher than ever in the sequel to Ever the Hunted, as Britta struggles to protect her kingdom and her heart.



Protagonists: Unlike the first book in this series there are three narrators to this tale. Britta, after saving the king and her kingdom just wants to live on her father's land, her land, and live a simple life, but she still needs to hide her gifts and her tether to the king doesn't really make life easier for her. Cohen has been hot on the trail of the Spiriter who enthralled the king, but his trip into Shaerdan only leads to more questions as young Channeler girls have been disappearing from Shaerdan. Back in Malam, King Aodren is free from a nearly year-long thrall of the Spiriter and now hopes to be a king that his people would be proud of and respect, but with unrest still in his kingdom can he be the leader his people deserve? I love all three of these characters, even more so than in the previous book, and honestly, I wasn't expecting to like Aodren that much, but while I wasn't so keen on him toward the beginning he definitely wormed his way into my heart. Britta is such an amazing and strong character in this book and I loved seeing her grow and learn more about her gifts in this book as well as figure out her place in this world and where she belongs.

Romance: Going into this book I wasn't a huge fan of how it seemed that the author was going to introduce a love triangle, especially since, while there is a third book in this series, this was the end of Britta and Cohen's story, so adding in a love triangle at this point felt very unnecessary and wasn't something I was going to take seriously, especially knowing, who the focus of book three is. That all being said, I actually really enjoyed the romance in this book, it can get a bit angsty and Cohen's jealousy and overprotectiveness can be insufferable at times, but one of the things I love about this story is that we have a character like Cohen who has these glaring flaws, but his development in this book is remarkable and while I won't say too much, I'm actually glad that the author added this little wrinkle to the story and really liked how he used the love triangle in a very interesting way.

World Building: So... I'm a bit confused. As I looked back on both this and the first book in the series, something about the main villain's motivation doesn't make sense, in fact there are a few things that don't quite make sense, unfortunately since it all has to do with spoilers I can't exactly talk about it here, but I sort of feel like there was a disconnect somewhere in the villain's logic or I just missed something because I'm still not 100% certain of what they were trying to achieve. The world itself was fine, I mean, again there wasn't anything about this world to really make it pop, much like the first book, but I've sort of come to see that this series is much more about the characters than the world, which I'm not complaining about because the characters of this series are awesome. That being said though, the world does develop more and we come to understand the magic system more.

Predictability: So, near the end of the previous installment there was a little bit of foreshadowing that I picked up on and thought it was maybe going to be a big revelation pretty far into this book, except, it was revealed early on in this tale, and worst of all, I never felt like that twist reached its full potential for the story. Looking back on this book there wasn't much I was able to predict as long as there was even a small bit of foreshadowing. The only times I was genuinely shocked by something in this book is if it came out of nowhere or nearly out of nowhere.

Ending: The final climax of this book is spectacular. Where the final climax of the previous book was more subdued and full of revelations rather than action, this climax is chock full of magical action and combat. The cooldown period after all the excitement and tension does a fantastic job wrapping up this story and while there are still avenues to explore in this world, obviously, I was pleasantly surprised with how okay I was that Britta and Cohen's story ends here.


While I feel this installment did a fantastic job when it came to the romance and really enjoyed what the author did there, the motivations of some characters, mixed with some seemingly obvious missed opportunities when it comes to one twist, disappointed me. This is still a fantastic adventure in this world and I'm excited to continue the story through another Point of View.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Review: The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events #8)

Release Date: January 31, 2001
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 255 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Library Audiobook

Dear Reader,

Before you throw this awful book to the ground and run as far away from it as possible, you should probably know why. This book is the only one which describes every last detail of the Baudelaire children's miserable stay at Heimlich Hospital, which makes it one of the most dreadful books in the world.

There are many pleasant things to read about, but this book contains none of them. Within its pages are such burdensome details as a suspicious shopkeeper, unnecessary surgery, an intercom system, anesthesia, heart-shaped balloons, and some very startling news about a fire. Clearly, you do not want to read about such things.

I have sworn to research this story, and to write it down as best I can, so I should know that this book is something best left on the ground, where you undoubtedly found it.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket



Characters: Okay, so I've been really bummed that the Baudelaires were extremely underdeveloped in the previous books. One of my biggest problems with their characters is that all of their conflicts come from an external source. We don't get to see them really struggle with certain things or have a large range of emotions, a lot of the time they're either scared, happy, or just content. Also, going along the lines of the fact that they are severely underdeveloped, we don't get to see a range of interests, it's gotten to the point where, when we are reminded of the children's individual talents, I sort of just groan and go, "I get it, Violet's an inventor, Klaus is a researcher, and Sunny likes to bite things!" That all being said about previous installments in this series, this book does slowly, and honestly not that much but I'll take all I can get, develop the kids and we finally get to see a bit of internal conflict with them as, now that they are on the run, and apparently live in a world full of idiotic adults, they make some morally gray decisions to understand what's going on.

World Building: Have I talked about how bland and boring the world building is yet. I mean in the series overall. I liked the sort of timeless or I guess a more apt description is old-timey, not timeless, feel to the world when I first started rereading the series, but it's just sort of gotten boring at this point. I get that this is a series for children, but I've read plenty of "children's" books that don't dumb things down, or resort to the "children are smart, adults are idiots" trope. Actually the more I think about it the more I feel that it would be amazing if the author rewrote the series for an older audience, expanding the stories and adding a sense of authenticity to the plot. He could flesh out the characters, build out the world, and really dive deep into the fascinating lore of the world. Though I guess the Netflix series does a pretty good job of that, so maybe not.

Foreshadowing: So, I never really noticed this in the previous installments, and maybe this installment is just a turning point for the series as a whole, but there's a lot of foreshadowing in this book. Not just for this particular installment, but for most of the rest of the series as a whole. There are little things that, if you're rereading the series like I am, they kind of make you pause and think about certain plot points for the rest of the series that you wouldn't think about before. Certain descriptions, similes, or anecdotes the author provides in this book really caught me by surprise and made me smile in that nostalgic way when I read them/or a guess listened to them since I read the audiobook (which I highly recommend as Tim Curry is a brilliant narrator for these books.)

Ending: This has got to be one of the best endings for the series as more so than ever the formula is shaken up, We see the children take some agency in their story and it leads them to a very interesting shelter, or I guess makeshift shelter. The final climax of the book was rather typical and honestly didn't have a lot of real-world authenticity to it, but again it's a kid's book, I just wish some of it was grounded in reality because if children reading this book tried to recreate something that happens at the end it could lead to some very serious injuries. The ending is a fantastic cliffhanger as the children find themselves in the most dangerous situation yet.


I'm honestly surprised that I'm giving this book as high a rating as I am. I always thought that The Austere Academy was my favorite from this series and I do believe that there are a lot of great things about that book, particularly the setting, but in terms of finally feeling like this series is going somewhere and shaking things up, this might be the best one. Woah!


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Book Review: Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1)

Release Date: December 27, 2016
Author: Erin Summerill
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Length: 392 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.



Protagonist: Britta begins this book in a place of despair, after her father's recent death she's been left with nothing, her father's lands are about to be repossessed and she has nowhere to stay in the winter. After getting caught poaching she's offered a deal, her life in exchange for her father's killer. The only catch is that his alleged killer is none other than Britta's only friend, and the boy who broke her heart. One of the of things I love so much about Britta is that she has the capacity to focus and not let her emotions cloud her judgment too much. Since she's been gifted with the ability to distinguish truth and lie, it makes things easier for her to decide where her allegiances lie and find out the truth. I was surprised at how Britta's powers never really affected her character, her abilities, though very reliable, never made it feel as though she ever had an upper hand, it more enhanced her natural abilities and character.

Romance: I have to say I'm a tad disappointed in this romance. Don't get me wrong I like Cohen as a character and I think he and Britta have a lot of physical chemistry, I just wish we got to see more of how their bond started out. We do get to see some flashbacks toward the beginning of the book that help to establish his character as well as the bond he and Britta had, but I never really got a good sense where the romance came from and because of that I'm just hoping for a bit more emotional development between the two in the next book.

World Building: For a fantasy story, this world felt a bit textbook, two kingdoms on the brink of war, magic seems to be common in one and nearly outlawed in the other, and a girl who's ostracized because she's from a foreign kingdom. I've seen these tropes many times before and while the adventure of a cross-kingdom fantasy murder mystery was fun, I was just hoping for something to make this world vivid. I like the political intrigue of this tale and I really enjoyed the magic system as well, but I just wish there was something to set this world apart more and really dive in because I feel like this was a very surface look at this world and I wish we had dived deeper.

Predictability: When I went into this story I thought I had everything figured out, it's pretty safe to say that I was wrong. I really loved how the synopsis of this tale doesn't give too much away and actually, most of what's written in the synopsis happen very early on in the book. However, there are a great deal of layers to this story that I wasn't aticipating going in and this book surely has a lot of surprises along the way. The large twist of this book, of course, relates to the main plot, the murder mystery and I was impressed with how the author managed to pull that twist off.

Ending: Going into this adventure I was expecting something that would feel more like the first installment in a series, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this story played very much like a standalone. I mean, the next installment is set up by the end of the tale and the words, To Be Continued are at the end of this adventure, but how everything settles into place after a very tense final climax in which much is revealed, made everything feel very solitary and while there is more to discover in this world, I like how the author didn't go for the easy cliffhanger ending and just let this adventure sort of stand on its own.


I really enjoyed this fantasy murder mystery, full of political intrigue, magic, and romance, but I just wish the world was more memorable and I wish I could have felt more of an emotional connection with the main romance.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Book Review: The Traitor's Game (The Traitor's Game #1)

Release Date: February 27, 2018
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Length: 400 pages
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won't stop her from being drawn back into her father's palace politics. He's the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well - and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what - and who - it is they're fighting for.



Protagonists: Kestra Dallisor is the daughter of the king's right-hand man, Lord Endrick, a cruel tyrant and Kestra's father isn't too different. After years in exile, Kestra's return home is ruined when her carriage is attacked and she's forced to make an agreement to find a legendary blade that's supposed to end Endrick's evil rule. Accompanying her is Simon, a boy from her past who's now one of her kidnappers. I was really interested in these characters toward the beginning of this book, Kestra isn't the type of girl you'd usually root for at the beginning of an adventure, she's hot-headed, stuck up, and rude and acts every bit the Dallisor she is. Simon's feelings toward Kestra at the beginning of this book are muddled at best and the bonus of having to actually be her protector and watcher on this mission doesn't make him too happy. Simon's more or less blindly loyal to his cause, as is Kestra and seeing these two individuals embark on this mission and discover more about who and what it is they're fighting for is amazing and seeing them come into their own over the course of this book was phenomenal.

Romance: The romance in this story is rather interesting. I mean, for a book that takes place over five days at most the romance moves rather quickly. I mean, I understand they have a history and it's not like I didn't root for them, but I do feel for characters that are supposed to despise each other at the beginning of this book, despite their shared history, wouldn't change their feelings as much as they do in the time that they have. Again, it's not as if there's nothing to root for when it comes to this couple, in fact, there's something about them that just fits so well and I really do hope these two can find a happily ever after, I just felt that Simon and Kestra's feelings changed too quickly and I wish there had been a bit more resistance on both sides before giving into their feelings.

World Building: The lore and history of this world are really interesting. This story takes place in a kingdom that still feels the effects of a dramatic take over as it hasn't been so long since the shift in power and finds thee groups fighting for control of this kingdom and those that get caught up along the way. I have to say, for a world that talks about magic and a magical tyrant a lot, we don't really get to see much magic at all, which I understand as not only is this the first installment in the series and that showing and explaining the magic system would prove difficult given nearly no one actually has magic, but I just wish I understood it a bit better to know just how threatening our main antagonist is. Still, I was captivated by the history of this kingdom and how it is that our main characters do what they can to carve their name in it.

Predictability: This author is brilliant when it comes to telling a story, she knows just what secrets each character will keep and just who knows what in this world and then sort of sets the reader on this scavenger hunt to figure everything out. While there were a few twists that were obviously coming that I was practically begging for something on, because it's bad when a twist comes out of nowhere and you're shocked beyond belief, but to know it's coming and having no real idea what "it" is can be pretty torturous.

Ending: There were quite a few facets to the end of this story. While the true final climax of this book was one of revelations and change, there were quite a few scenes prior to the end of this book that were full of climactic tension. In fact, I was surprised how many times it felt like the final climax was delayed but was still treated to moments of tension and action. There is a short cooldown period to this book, more getting things in order for the next book than really setting it up, but there is a rather exciting cliffhanger that will leave me waiting for the next installment with bated breath.


I loved this book, I thought the characters were fantastic and the world was really interesting, and while I there were a couple of things I would have wished to see different, I still cannot wait until I can read the sequel!


Friday, February 23, 2018

Book Review: The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events #7)

Release Date: April 24, 2001
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Length: 272 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Dear Reader,

You have undoubtedly picked up this book by mistake, so please put it down. Nobody in their right mind would read this particular book about the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire on purpose, because each dismal moment of their stay in the village of V.F.D. has been faithfully and dreadfully recorded in these pages. I can think of no single reason why anyone would want to open a book containing such unpleasant matters as migrating crows, an angry mob, a newspaper headline, the arrest of innocent people, the Deluxe Cell, and some very strange hats. It is my solemn and sacred occupation to research each detail of the Baudelaire children's lives and write them all down, but you may prefer to do some other solemn and sacred thing, such as reading another book instead.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket



Protagonists: Once again I'm sad to inform you that while the Baudelaire children are once again made subject to a dreadful tale of events, they still possess no more substance of character than in previous books. These smart and charming children once again use their personal talents to try as hard as hey can to thwart their pursuers for good. Honestly, I'm considering getting rid of this section on reviews for these books until there is actual character development. I was rewatching the Netflix series the other day and, while it's not perfect, the characters at least seem to have some substance to them as opposed to their novel counterparts. While I was reading this story all I could think was about how interesting the Netflix adaptation of this story would be with characters that felt more real.

World Building: In this story, our hero and heroines find themselves without any more family members willing to risk a run in with Count Olaf. As such they are given the choice of which village will act as their guardian, after all "it takes a village." After scanning the brochure they choose the most interesting one, V.F.D. They hope to find answers in this town but they may just be barking up the wrong tree. We don't learn more about the real V.F.D. here, or, well, we do, just nothing substantial. However, there are some interesting story developments. In fact, this is a pivotal installment in the series for multiple reasons, the least of which is that after this book the formula will be shaken up quite a bit.

Foreshadowing: The foreshadowing in this book is actually pretty subtle. In previous installments, it could get a bit heavy-handed, but here well, there isn't all that much to point out where things are going. As I said the formula is going to get shaken up a bit and because of that there's a lot in this story that I honestly believe if you've never read this installment, or any that came after this one, you'd really be shocked at how everything goes down.

Ending: This ending is one that has always stuck out to me since it's the beginning of this series break with conventions. This tale doesn't end like the ones previous and in fact, as I've said ad nauseam, sets off a chain of events that will ripple forward till the very end of this series. In fact, I was surprised that the Netflix series decided not to end season two here, as it does sort of end one arc of the story, instead, they pushed forward a couple more installments so I'll be interested to see how season two ends, mainly because I forgot how The Carnivorous Carnival ends.


Once again, I couldn't bring myself to give this book five stars. Even though this is one of my favorite installments, the fact that the children felt like two-dimensional characters is still something I couldn't get past. I get it, Violet is an inventor, Klaus is a researcher, and Sunny likes to bite things, show more depth in these characters, please!