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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

Release Date: August 9, 2016
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Length: 429 pages
Source: Purchased Book

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

    

Review:

Protagonist: Mia Corvere lost her family in one night due to her father's failed rebellion, now she needs to get revenge on those that killed her father, but she cannot take on this task without training first. Mia seeks out the Red Church, a school for assassins where she needs to be honed to a razor's edge. I love Mia and all the shades and shadows that make her a great morally gray character. Mia's not a good person, sure she has a bit of a heart, but she won't let anything stop her from getting the revenge she feels she rightly deserves. Mia's a complex character that I just love to read from, she's a bit unpredictable, which always makes for a good time, and she has a lot of something I feel more and more protagonists are lacking and that's common sense. Mia's smart and practically already an assassin when this story begins, yet I never felt like her character development was held back because of that, this is more about honing Mia's skill and her journey to avenge her familia and discover the secrets of what she is.

Romance: One of the things I loved about the romance in this story is that it doesn't infringe on the rest of the story, sure it matters, it has its place in the story, and it's not shoved toward the back or the front, it's just there and how it plays into the rest of the story I felt was brilliantly handled. Mia's not exactly a warm character so it was really interesting to see how she approached the romance she has in this story. There is a bond between the couple and I really enjoyed seeing that explored. Everything felt so natural, I mean, it was almost unreal how natural the two characters feel together and how natural their romance and relationship progresses in the story.

World Building: The world building in this tale is incredible. All over this story are footnotes that give additional information on the world and the mythos of this dark fantasy world. Well, I say dark but really this world hardly sees a truedark, most of the time it's day, and that's only the base surface of this world. I'm a huge sucker for a school or test setting where a group of characters is brought together and only a few will succeed in the task set before them, and this is probably the best version I've ever seen of that trope. Plus there's a murder mystery aspect to the story that blew me away, what else did you expect to happen at a school for assassins? This story is a bit dense towards the beginning, it took me a while to really find my groove with the story but once I got the hang of things, everything went a lot smoother. I will also say that I listened to all of this story as an Audible audiobook and I'd warn if you're thinking about listening to this story as an audiobook, I'd follow along for the first couple of chapters because it goes back and forth in time quite a bit and it's harder to follow on the audiobook at first.

Predictability: I don't think I predicted a single thing in this story, not even joking, there was this one moment where I thought the story was going in one direction, I thought that something pretty tropey was happening, and in the space of a couple seconds everything changed and the story barreled on in a different direction and it was glorious. With some of the twists I'd play around with the truth, but things never truly made sense until minutes before the reveal, if not seconds. Also, I listened to this story in six chapters at a time, so I don't know if it's that or how the story is told but it's so complex that I'll forget about plot points at certain times so I never really had a lot of time to truly consider what would happen when certain things were revealed.

Ending: The end of this tale is glorious. I mean, action scene after action scene, amazing twists, possible foreshadowing to bigger things and a LOT of death, what more could you ask for? I can't even really just talk about the final climax because there were a few different climactic moments toward the end and all of them need to be praised because that is some of, if not the best, action scene writing I've ever read. I was completely sucked into the story, into the carnage and death all around, soaking it in. Then, when the dust settled and losses counted, there was one of my favorite things to see in books, an epilogue, and this epilogue was truly something. It gives a lot of closure on the events of this story and teases what's to come for the next book, or at least I hope it does, and while this story doesn't leave off on a cliffhanger, I'm desperate to know what happens next.

Rating:


This is by far one of my favorite books of all time, I loved the complex characters, the intricate and detailed world building, a romance that felt just right, and a mystery and path of revenge I cannot wait to continue following!

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Book Review: Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron #1)

Release Date: February 27, 2018
Author: Ashley Poston
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 480 pages
Source: OwlCrate Book/Audible Audiobook

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

    

Review:

Protagonists: This story is told from four, third-person, POVs. We have Ana, the orphan girl raised by a crew of outlaws, Robb, the screw-up son of a noble family with a mission, Di, the Metal boy who's Ana's best friend and medic, and Jax, the best pilot in the galaxy with a tragic past, I quickly came to love most of these characters, though I have to say that I felt we didn't get a lot of time to truly know Di, and while I care for him because Ana and the others care for him, I couldn't really get invested in his character all that much. Ana is a fantastic heroine, sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, she's a force to be reckoned with, Robb has a deep sense of loyalty to those who deserve it, and Jax is pretty much the personification of my favorite character trope, the cocky yet damaged character. None of these characters are perfect, they each have their flaws, whether it be poor impulse control or an inability to move on, they're flawed, but each has the potential to grow.

Romances: So, I wasn't a huge fan of one of the biggest romances in this story. See, Ana has feelings for Di, or D09 as he's sometimes referred to as, and whether it was the fact that Ana has these feelings from the beginning of the story, Di's appearance not being very humanoid, the fact that he's a fairly emotionless robot, or some combination of the three, I just couldn't get into their romance. Eventually, it gets to a point where there's hope that I might get invested in their romance, but things happen and the book ends before I can really get invested. The other main romance in this story though, I did really enjoy. Robb, a cocky and rogueish noble, and Jax, the pilot with a dark past, have some really great moments in this story. There's one scene, that kind of reminds me of Star Wars, but their dialogue during that scene was fantastic and I felt there are so many fantastic moments between them in this story, yet not really enough. For what there is, it's fantastic, and it doesn't affect my rating that I want more, I just want more.

World Building: The world building in this story is fantastic, from the history to the mythology of this world everything was captivating. I don't read too much sci-fi, but this is the sci-fi that I love, space battles, outlaws flying through space, lost royalty, mysteries, I love it all. This story also has major Cinder by Marissa Meyer vibes, mixed with a little Star Wars. This is also an Anastasia story after all and while I think this story did a pretty good job in that area, it was how things diverged from the story being retold that really fascinated me. There are some fantasy elements mixed with the sci-fi in some of the best ways I've ever seen and the royal angle of this story and the secrets hidden in Ana's family history are astounding. There's a lot built out in just this one installment, so much that I'm wondering if this might be a duology.

Predictability: This story is on the predictable side of things, not only with it being a retelling but the foreshadowing was pretty obvious as well. Take, for example, there's something in this story that could have been a truly amazing twist, I mean mind-blowing, but I felt like I got all of the pieces to that puzzle quite a while before it was revealed, there are quite a few twists that went that way, though there were a few times, particularly toward the end where things were more shocking.

Ending: The final climax of this story is fantastic, it's intense and chaotic. There's a lot that goes into setting it up and everything leading to this final mix of scenes was fantastic. As I said earlier, there are a lot of shocking, and some not so shocking, moments in the end and I pretty much raced through this story until the ending because I could hardly stop. There is a bit of a breath after the final climax but still as things unravel and even though there wasn't really a cliffhanger, the ending does feel too soon, and I'm excited to see where things go.

Rating:


Even though I had a few problems with one of the characters and one of the romances, I still really love this story and cannot wait to dive into the next (and final?) installment!

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Book Review: Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)


Release Date: July 7, 2015
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: NAL
Length: 355 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Library Audiobook

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly--but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life--and soon both heretics and books will burn…

    

Review:

Protagonist: Jess Brightwell lives in a world where the Great Library of Alexandria not only stands the test of time but has grown in power as they control the flow of knowledge to the masses. Jess doesn't really want to work for his father as a book smuggler, as owning physical books is illegal in this world, and he doesn't want to take over the family business. So when Jess's father asks him to be a spy for his family within the Library, his father doesn't exactly give him a choice. Now Jess has to pass the Library's tests while not getting found out, but training for service in the Library can be very dangerous as Jess and his class soon find out. I really like Jess, he's a bit headstrong, slightly short-tempered, but he's also loyal and fights for what he thinks is right. His character development over the course of the story feels authentic with the challenges he faces on his journey to become part of the Great Library.

Romance: I actually really liked the romance in this story but it definitely didn't go as I had expected. For a YA book, there is surprisingly little romance, it's very light and innocent. Jess and his love interest are sort of shoved together because of circumstance, and while there are times when I felt the romance was a little forced for sake of convenience to the story, I actually did end up really liking them together, though I hope to see something more from their relationship in future installments.

World Building: So, going into this story all I knew about this world was that it took place in a world where the Great Library of Alexandria survives, I was expecting it to be more of a fantasy, but in fact, it turns out to be more of a dystopian story instead. Still, I was fascinated by a world controlled by the Great Library where owning a physical book is illegal and if you declare war on the library, you’re wiped from existence. One of the fantastic ways this author introduces you to how power hungry the Library is, is through letters between chapters between Library personnel. I was drawn into this world from the beginning, the book smuggling, the Burners, and even some things that we don’t get very much information on in this book, but are more than intriguing enough for me to continue.

Predictability: I will say though that this story is pretty predictable, I felt like all of the twists, save a small few, were spoiled before they were actually revealed because the foreshadowing was so heavy just before the revelation. Also, it’s a good thing I didn’t read the synopsis before starting the book because I feel it gives just a little too much away.

Ending: This story does have a very tense ending. There are moments I experienced such pure emotions, both good and bad, towards and about some of the characters. The final climax isn't exactly an action-packed one, it's more about the tension of the moments without any physical confrontation. It's really great and leads to some amazing twists that will affect the future of this story. This book doesn't exactly leave you on a cliffhanger, but there's so much left unresolved here and I'm actually looking forward to seeing where this series goes.

Rating:


I really enjoyed this story, I wasn't expecting the dystopian element so that threw me off a little, but I am really intrigued by the world and the power-hungry Library, it can be a tad predictable and the story didn't suck me in as much as I'd like, but I'll be interested to see what happens next.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Book Review: Worlds Collide (The Land of Stories #6)

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Author: Chris Colfer
Publisher: Little, Brown Book for Young Readers
Length: 480 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Audible Audiobook

The epic conclusion to Chris Colfer's #1 New York Times bestselling series The Land of Stories!

In the highly anticipated conclusion to the Land of Stories series, Conner and Alex must brave the impossible. All of the Land of Stories fairy tale characters--heroes and villains--are no longer confined within their world!

With mayhem brewing in the Big Apple, Conner and Alex will have to win their biggest battle yet. Can the twins restore order between the human and fairy tale world?

Breathtaking action mixed with laugh out loud moments and lots of heart will make this a gripping conclusion for many fans!

    

Review:

Protagonists: After Alex's disappearance Connor has been out of his mind with worry about where she might be, meanwhile Morina has begun her plan to invade the Otherworld with the witches from the Land of Stories and the Literary Army. When the worlds begin to collide, hopefully, Connor and his friends can save Alex, and their world, before it's too late. What can I really say, I love these characters, I've loved following their journey through this series and while their character development was a bit heavy-handed and could have been more subtle, I still enjoyed our characters journeys through this finale, and their actions felt very authentic to their characters.

Romance: As this is the final book in this series and there has been a touch of romance since the third installment, there is still a touch of romance in this book as well. Alex has had a couple flirtations and while she does have more important things to do than worry over her love life in this book, and I love that the author never pushed the romance too much, especially in times of crisis, except one but it completely fit and was a spectacular moment, but it was neither Alex nor Connor's moment. Anyway there is a level of conclusion to her romantic drama, and of course, there's Connor who, while there's technically only one girl he's had feelings for this entire series, does find some good closure on that relationship as well, though the prologue kind of spoils things, we'll get to the prologue later.

World Building: In this book worlds truly do collide as the Land of Stories is set to collide with the Otherworld. One of the things I really commend this story on is showing a true battle and following various groups of heroes as they take on the threat to New York City. While the battle does feel a bit formulaic, it was still a lot of fun to experience. We do get to see more characters from the past as well, although one of my biggest frustrations is that there are aspects of this book that have way too much of a recap feel to them. This story is also very message heavy, while I'm not opposed to stories having specific messages, I especially understand having them in fairy tale-inspired stories, the messages here are far too heavy handed. I mean, instead of following someone's journey where they learn from their mistakes and it's left at that, this story makes sure that you understand just what it is that those characters learn, though that may be just an unfortunate side effect of the writing. I'm not saying the writing is bad, in fact, there are some spectacular moments in this story that I loved but the writing can be a bit rough and direct at times and lack a certain finesse.

Predictability: Looking over this story I can't say there was much, if anything I was able to predict, there were a few small things I was spoiled on, but they were a tad predictable, to begin with, but everything else, well while I can't say I saw it coming, nothing wasn't a huge surprise. There were a few moments that almost caught me by surprise but even if I was able to predict something shortly before it happened, it didn't change how some of those twists affected me.

Ending: Sigh, the end of this book... See the final climaxes of this story are amazing, like I said before there's a really fantastic battle and things are intense and awesome, and then there's the final threat. I like the way it was dealt with and it really speaks to the themes of this series and it fit very well, there's even a great scene just before the end with the twins in a specific office... Things begin to settle down, we get some great closure on some of our favorite heroes and the stories ends very well, then there's the epilogue. Many of you may know that I love epilogues, but both the prologue and epilogue felt unnecessary in this book. The prologue just felt out of place and while I understand the purpose the author had for it, it really didn't need to be there, much like the epilogue which brings a sort of full circle ending to the story and while it's possible this may not be the last series in this world, and while I wouldn't turn my nose up at that, I still don't like how open-ended this book is for the final book in a series.

Rating:


While I still really enjoyed this final installment in one of my favorite series, between how open-ended the story is, especially for a conclusion, and how heavy-handed the messages are in this story, I did feel a little disappointed in this finale.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Book Review: Hunted

Release Date: March 14, 2017
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 384 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Library Audiobook

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

    

Review:

Protagonist: When Yeva's father loses his fortune in a venture ransacked by bandits, they and Yeva's sisters have to move to their father's old hunting cabin at the edge of the woods. Yeva feels happier there than in the city and hopes to go hunting with her father, but he urges her not to follow him. When he doesn't come back from one trip, Yeva follows him into the woods and discovers the horrors of the woods, including a monster who has trapped her. On the whole, I like Yeva, she's a headstrong and capable protagonist, she knows how to take care of herself and hunt, and she doesn't back down when challenged. Still, I do wish that I cared about her more, I mean, like I said I like her, but there was something holding me back from truly connecting with her as a character and I wish I knew what that was but unfortunately I don't, still as I've repeated already she's a great character, I just couldn't connect for some reason.

Romance: The romance in this book is a slow burning one, at least for Yeva, the Prince trapped in the Beast softens to Yeva rather quickly. Much like with the protagonist, there isn't anything about the romance that I don't like, it's slow burning and I can tell that the two characters truly grow to care and love each other and that love feels earned, but unfortunately, I couldn't connect with the romance very well. It may be because I couldn't connect with Yeva, but I wanted to love this romance, and in some aspects I do, but emotionally I could never get invested in the romance, try as I might.

World Building: This is one place this book truly shines. As many of you may know, my favorite fairy tale, and thus my favorite retelling fodder, is Beauty and the Beast, and I've never seen one set in Russia or based on Russian folklore before and I really enjoyed how this author wove those folktale elements into this story. I think this story takes place in a version of our world, though I'm not quite sure as I don't think it was said where this story takes place, only some mentions of real places every now and then. Still, the valley of enchantments that the Beast is cursed to, feels lush and beautiful full of creatures of all sorts, some I'd never heard of before. While the retelling itself had some unique qualities to it, unfortunately, it read as a very simple Beauty and the Beast retelling and while I loved the Russian folklore elements to the story, I wish there was something more unique about the retelling itself.

Predictability: As this is a retelling, pretty much everything in this story is predictable, save a few things but they are small and I mostly didn't predict them due to not remembering certain parts of the story from before. I mean, every major twist in this story was completely obvious, I really wish that the author had kept some secrets to herself because the foreshadowing in this tale is very obvious.

Ending: So, the end of this tale really serves to drive home the "lesson" of this story. It tries so hard to drive that lesson home that there are aspects to this tale that sort of crumble just to serve this supposed lesson. Don't get me wrong, I like the lesson and it does fit with this story, but I felt the message was very heavy-handed at the end of this tale. There is an epilogue to this tale that while appreciated, isn't really needed, and that's coming from me who loves epilogues.

Rating:


While I did enjoy this tale, I, unfortunately, couldn't connect with the characters and story as much as I wanted to and while I love Beauty and the Beast retellings, this one was, unfortunately, despite the interesting Russian folklore elements, rather basic in its story structure.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings #1)

Release Date: June 27, 2017
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Length: 513 pages
Source: OwlCrate Book

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

    

Review:

Protagonist: After getting thrown out of boarding school, Henry "Monty" Montague is preparing to go on his Tour of the Continent. When he comes home his life will be different, he'll have to take over the estate from his abusive father, his best friend who he might love will be going to Holland for Law School, and even his sister who he doesn't always get along with won't be there to pester him since she's off to finishing school. Monty hopes this tour will be a yearlong journey of debauchery before his life changes, but when Monty stumbles into some trouble, everything snowballs out of control. I love Monty so much, so many times in this story I just wanted to hold him and tell him he's worthy of happiness, his father has messed him up so much, and he does so much to hide it. Monty is by no means perfect, he's selfish and entitled, he's reckless and a bit of an alcoholic, but the best thing about this story is how he changes and at what rate. All the character development for not only Monty but all of the characters felt very natural and authentic, and the authenticity really lends itself to telling this complex tale.

Romance: As I mentioned above, Monty feels he's in love with his best friend, Percy, and while the romance didn't progress as quickly as I'd like the pacing does fit well with the overall tale so I'm not upset. I really love how Monty's sexuality was explored. At the start of this story, Monty knows he's bisexual, though they didn't have a word for that in the 1700s, and I love how well that's established, as someone who's bisexual, I love seeing that represented so wholly, we see Monty flirt and canoodle with both men and women and how he explains his feeling to his sister later in the book felt so freaking relateable I almost cried. Then there's the Percy of it all. From the start, Percy is the light of Monty's life, though since Monty's not so great with feelings or expressing them, Percy is unaware. They're best friends who've known each other since they were young and with that comes a very special relationship that I love seeing evolve into a romance. While Monty and Percy's romance comes with a whole lot of drama and a little miscommunication, I just love it and really enjoyed the ride.

World Building: First off, I love that this story doesn't take place during a specific year, it just takes place in 17--, which for someone like me who isn't all that interested in history and specific dates but gets swept away by romanticized historic time periods, this was perfect, and the time period isn't even romanticized, well maybe a little bit, but this story shows a harsher side of history, there's racism in this book, slavery, abuse, homophobia, etc. This isn't a story where the setting is perfect and beautiful, but as with great characters, I'd rather have realistic over idealistic. The settings are fantastic, as our group travels across Europe we see a variety of settings and I was swept away but the imagery and locales, I've always wanted to travel around Europe so I loved doing it vicariously, even if it's 1700s Europe. Going into this book I had thought there were no speculative fiction elements and I guess to some degree this isn't speculative fiction depending on what you believe, but when the story gets started the plot seems to move in a bit of a speculative direction and while I wasn't prepared for that, I ended up really enjoying the plot and how it fed into the subplots of this book.

Predictability: When it comes to the story on the whole, since I pretty much read this book in one sitting, there wasn't a whole lot of time for me to do speculating beyond what I pretty much go into any book understanding, characters are introduced, shenanigans happen, it ends happily. I did do some speculating about the spot of trouble our Touring group finds themselves in, and I was way off, I was also trying to figure out how this story will end, besides happily, and I'll get to the ending in a second, but pretty much right up until the end of this story, I had no idea how everything would play out. This book caught me off guard so many times and I loved mostly just following the story along as we Toured Europe.

Ending: I have so many favorite scenes from this book, but one of them is how this story comes to a close. The final climax is awash with action, adventure, shocking revelations, and devastating choices. As I said I wasn't sure how this story was going to end, but how everything is resolved blew me away, and there's something a bit poetic about something specific that happens to Monty that I'm still a little shook by. There is also a bit of an epilogue portion of this book that gives a small view into the future of our heroes, one of whom has an adventure of her own coming soon, and wraps the story up very nicely.

Rating:


As you can no doubt tell by my gushing, I love this book so much, from the bisexual representation to the fact of a male protagonist, something that's a bit rare in YA stories, to the dazzling settings and the complex characters, I love this story so much and cannot wait to read Felicity's adventure soon!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Blog Tour Omnibus Review: Star-Touched Stories (The Star-Touched Queen #2.5)

Release Date: August 7, 2018
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Press/Wednesday Books
Length: 304 pages
Source: NetGalley eGalley

Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram's new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?

    

Reviews:

Death and Night

Recommend Reading AFTER The Star-Touched Queen

In a time long before the events of The Star-Touched Queen, Death needs to find himself a consort, but a curse cast on him causes him to seek companionship without love. Then he meets Night, a girl who would never marry without love. At first, I wasn't sure why this story would be necessary, given that most of it is at the very least alluded to in The Star-Touched Queen, however, other than seeing this world expanded even more and learning more about how this world functions, I found myself really invested in the stories of Death and Night. Even though I knew their story, I never really saw them fall in love, at least not the first time, and it was interesting to see how they originally came together. We also get to see more of their personal lives, Death's friendship with Gupta and Night's with Nritti and as much as I hate who Nritti becomes, I have to say that I really enjoyed her here which really only turns my rage for her into sadness, at the loss of what could have been. Still, even if I wasn't surprised by the events of this story, I was surprised by how much I was sucked into it and by how much I ended up enjoying it.

Rating:


Even with how much I love The Star-Touched Queen, I never really expected to love Death and Night as much as I do, going in I felt it was going to be a fluff piece, which in some ways it is, but I didn't expect to get so thoroughly invested in a story that I thought I already knew the ending of.

Poison and Gold:

Recommend Reading AFTER A Crown of Wishes

Aasha, the vishakanya who was given a choice to live two lives in A Crown of Wishes, is back and sets out on her own adventure when Gauri and Vikram need her to train for a new position in the palace. Her training is grueling and her new mistress is fierce, plus she needs to hide her true nature for the protection of her friends as well as herself, and lately, her power to shift between her human and vishakanya forms hasn't been cooperating. At first, I was a bit bummed by how tropey this story can be, I mean, I feel as though I've read stories of characters who suddenly lose control of a new power, and of an apprentice training under a seemingly cruel master or mistress. Then, almost suddenly I didn't care, I mean, that's one of the things this author does so well is to take classic tropes and show them her way, infused with her culture and it totally works on me. I love Aasha so much and her journey in this story is a great one and carries a powerful message. I will say though that I felt the ending was rushed a little bit and I wish that it could have had an ending that didn't feel so sudden.

Rating:


I love this story so much and was happy to see a little more of this world after A Crown of Wishes as I was completely over the moon when it came to that story and I love seeing Gauri and Vikram again as well as learning more about Aasha.

Rose and Sword:

Recommend Reading after A Crown of Wishes

This is a tale told in the past, just before Gauri and Vikram are to be wed, and the present, decades later on the eve of another wedding, though it isn't our main character getting married, it's her sister. Hira is sad that, after her sister's wedding, Meghara will leave to go live with her new husband and his family, so after a fight between the sisters Hira goes to see her grandmother and there her grandmother tells her a story. The story is about before Gauri and Vikram's wedding and the tragedy that shakes the palace. I cannot tell you how much I love this story, it's a story of love, both familial and romantic and how, even in anger love can still burn bright. I love seeing this world open up so much more, yet still, have a focus and a home base in Bharata or now it's called Bharat-Jain. As always the author's writing is lyrical and poetic and every moment feels necessary and full of life, even amongst death. Then there's the end, an end that leaves a small window open for more stories, stories that pray will someday be written, and an end to parts of the story that I never want to say goodbye to, but I know must inevitably come!

Rating:


I didn't have to think twice about this rating, I barely had to think once. I practically melted into this story while reading it and by the end, I was shedding tears, though whether they were tears of happiness or joy, well, you'll have to read this story for yourself to find out.

Overall Rating:



I loved this small collection of stories so much and it really helped to fill in the hole of not having more novels in this series, though the window left open for more gives me hope, my only drawback for this collection, and as you can see it didn't affect my rating is that this collection isn't in hardcover, but c'est la vie!

About the Author:

Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen and A CROWN OF WISHES. Her middle grade debut, ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME, released April 3, 2018 from Disney/Rick Riordan Presents. Her next young adult novel, THE GILDED WOLVES, is slated for Winter 2019. Chokshi's work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She was a finalist in the 2016 Andre Norton Award and the Locus Top Ten for Best First Novel. Her short story, "The Star Maiden," was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.





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Monday, July 30, 2018

Book Review: A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2)

Release Date: March 28, 2017
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Length: 369 pages
Source: NetGalley eGalley/Purchased Audiobook

From the author of The Star-Touched Queen comes a beautiful lush fantasy, Roshani Chokshi's A Crown of Wishes.

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom's enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they'll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes - a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there's nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

    

Review:

Protagonists: Vikram is the crown prince of his empire, unfortunately since he is not the emperor's son by blood his father's council plans on making him a puppet king once he ascends the throne. When a sage tells him he's been invited to a tournament where he could win a wish, a wish to be a real king, he leaps at the chance, the only problem is that he needs to take someone else along. Enter Gauri, a princess turned prisoner of war after her brother squashed her rebellion. These characters are fantastic, I love that since I read the first installment in this companion novel duology I know these characters to some extent and I loved watching them shine in their own story. Gauri is a strong warrior, but she doesn't trust easily and can be a bit prone to paranoia, Vikram is sharp minded but feels held back by the matter of his blood. I can't express how amazing it was to watch these characters grow over their journey and grow into even stronger characters by the end. There is a third main character, but I'll let her be a surprise since she was one for me, suffice it to say though I really enjoyed her story as well.

Romance: I'm a sucker for a good "hate to love" romance and this story has a great one. Gauri and Vikram have a great combative aspect to their relationship and over the course of this story they get closer, and their walls come down. Now, usually I'm the kind of person that doesn't want to see a romance fully blossom in just one novel, I like seeing it drawn out a bit over the course of a series, but here, and with the first installment as well, their entire romantic journey feels earned and right, nothing ever felt forced or out of place. I will say though, that if you're expecting a passionate and electric romance, that's not going to be found here, the romance in this book is lighter and more emotional than it is physical.

World Building: I only have one problem with the world building in this book, and why that is, is that there are a few lines of dialogue in this story that seems to make it incredibly clear that there will be no more stories set in this world, at least no more novels set in this world, which is fine, but I wish that it didn't feel so final after only two books. Everything else was fantastic though. I'm still pretty new to Hindu mythology, but just working off what was established in the first installment, this story blew me away. I loved getting to see more from the Otherworld and learning more about the beings that inhabit it. Also, it's made clear early on that what happened to Maya in the first installment still weighs very heavily on Gauri's mind, so we do see Maya again, though not nearly as long as I had hoped we would. The world is built out so much and has so much richness to it that I was completely blown away.

Predictability: Going into this story I had only a few things on my wish list that I wanted to see and while I saw them all, they all unfolded differently than I had expected. That's kind of the general feeling for many of the twists in this story. I was able to figure out most of the more obvious plot points, but it was in how they were executed that really caught me off guard, though there were a few twists that completely blew me away they were the rare exception.

Ending: So, funny story, I experienced most of this story as an audiobook from Audible, and unbeknownst to me said audiobook also included the first Star Touched Novella in there as well, so when the final climaxes were going down, I had no idea that's what they were as there was still a whole lot more audiobook left. Still, the final climaxes were perfect for these characters as it really showed off how far they had come in this story and what they wanted for their future. Then there's a bit of an epilogue to fully tie the story of these characters up and if you've read some of my reviews in the past you know how much I love an epilogue!

Rating:


I love this story so much, I may even love it more than the first one, and that's saying something. It's a fun and exciting adventure in a lush and vibrant world, and while I wish things didn't seem so close ended with this story, that doesn't stop me from loving it as much as I did.

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