Category Archives: Fantasy

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan Turner

I had seen The Queen’s Thief series around Goodreads for a long time and even picked up the first book at a used book store, but it wasn’t really high up on my TBR being that my TBR contains over 1000 books, so I was really excited when I had seen that Harper had the audiobooks available to request for review when this series was introduced on audio for the first time a few months ago! I took a shot and requested them all and miraculously, they were all approved! So I went on a hard series binge and essentially read them all almost back-to-back (to back to back, etc)! Plus, Steve West narrates the audio so how can you go wrong?

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: The Thief (The Queen's Thief #1) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: December 27, 2005 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 7, 2017

The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king's prison. The magus is interested only in the thief's abilities.

What Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.

THE THIEF was not at all the book I expected it to be, though not in a bad way. I had many incorrect assumptions about it based on appearance and general reading experience (it is not, in fact, a book about a female thief and it is not a light and snarky read). These weren’t bad things but due to the fact that I like going into books blind, I didn’t re-read the synopsis before I started so I was surprised!

I really enjoyed THE THIEF and not in the way that I expected. It did get a little slow with a lot of uneventful traveling (we all know how much I get bored with travel stories) but I loved the little bits of mythology to break it up and those were actually my favorite parts. The creation stories were really interesting, vivid, and created a solid foundation for this world.

THE THIEF is also a fantasy world that is fantasy but without magic, similar to books like THE WINNER’S CURSE. There is a presence of religion/mythology and part of the plot does deal directly with the gods so there’s the concept of the involvement of gods but it’s more deities and less magic system. I know this book was written before the majority of the YA fiction out there but since I’m only reading this for the first time, I found the change in pace in fantasy refreshing. I liked the blend of mythology and politics and how they played their roles within the plot.

The characters became more and more interesting as the book went on. Gen got more personable, we see the true colors of Sophos and Ambiades, and the Magus gets really fleshed out and I actually thought his character development was the most interesting of all. At first he’s played out to be the villain (and even has a villain voice, as voiced by Steve West. For those of you who are avid Steve West audio fans, it’s along the lines of Benjamin Malvern in THE SCORPIO RACES so you just know he’s a snooty bad guy) but the more he gets to know Gen, the more you see of his true character and how he treats people. I actually loved it and thought it was wonderful to see something that was much less black and white, good vs evil.

The beginning and middle were a little slow because a lot of it was working up to the big finale, which was definitely big! Megan Whelan Turner did a fantastic job of sneaking in little details that the reader doesn’t know are important until you realize what all has been going on and I loved the surprises in the end.

I also really loved Gen’s voice and his narration throughout the book. I always love listening to Steve West narrate and it feels especially personal to hear his narration in first person, I think in part because of my love for THE SCORPIO RACES. Although it was a bit slow for a while, by the time the book ended, I was ready for more! I received the entire series for review on audio from HarperCollins so I immediately jumped into book two upon completion of THE THIEF!

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #2) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: January 24, 2006 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 12, 2017

Revenge
When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

...but
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

...at what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago...

THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA was actually quite a different experience than THE THIEF! It started off in a very different but good way with a POV switch from first person to third person. I don’t normally like structure changes mid-series BUT I actually did appreciate that Megan Whelan Turner made that decision for this book, and I’m assuming, the rest of the series. THE THIEF was very much a Gen-centric story while THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA started getting more into the political side of this world, involving Attolia, Eddis, and Eugenides’ role between them.

Things were INTENSE right off the bat. I totally wasn’t expecting that given that the first book was… well, not light but it definitely had a lighter tone and nothing too crazy happened. THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA really stepped it up with a reality check for the characters and brought a whole lot of serious to this series.

I sort of started to drift towards the end. There was a… well, I guess it was a twist since it was only revealed in the end of the book but I wouldn’t really call it a twist — but anyway, it was something that didn’t really sit right with me. I had a hard time coming to terms with it, and since it was involving Eugenides, I couldn’t tell if it was a lie/con at first so I spent some time not believing it, but it seems to be the real deal. It’s hard to talk about since I don’t want to spoil anything but essentially it felt a little out of character for a few of the characters and it just didn’t really fit for me. I got a little used to it when the book ended, especially since it seems like it’s going to be a major part of the next book, but I may have a rough time adapting. I guess we’ll see what happens next!

I also found myself wanted more world-building in this book. I loved the mythology stories in THE THIEF and the gods were still involved here but the politics were the main focus of the world-building aspect here. I don’t have an issue with that because I actually loved the political motives in books like GRAVE MERCY, but for some reason I just didn’t feel like it was quite moving things forward and giving me that world-building satisfaction like I was wanting. I can’t quite put my finger on it but there was just something missing.

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #3) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: January 24, 2006 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 20, 2017

By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king's caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.

These books have all been good and enjoyable but still nothing that’s totally wow-ing me. In each book, I hit a point where I get a little bored. It’s interesting to see where the book finally ends, but it’s such a round-about way (which is truthfully actually very cool) to get to the end point, and the end goal isn’t always something massive. It ends up feeling a little anticlimactic and I would have loved to see a few of these elements written in together with one final larger goal instead of each of these being a different book (if that makes any sense at all).

I’m really enjoying the characters but I just wish the story was pushing forward a little bit more. I feel like some things are thrown into action too quickly and others take a long time to happen.

I am enjoying the series, though. I do still think the hype built this up too much but they’re fun reads, I love the tone, and the characters really make the books. I’m just not quite finding myself as impressed as I had hoped.

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief #4) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: March 23, 2010 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 21, 2017

Sophos, under the guidance of yet another tutor, practices his swordplay and strategizes escape scenarios should his father's villa come under attack. How would he save his mother? His sisters? Himself? Could he reach the horses in time? Where would he go? But nothing prepares him for the day armed men, silent as thieves, swarm the villa courtyard ready to kill, to capture, to kidnap. Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears without a trace.

In Attolia, Eugenides, the new and unlikely king, has never stopped wondering what happened to Sophos. Nor has the Queen of Eddis. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.

Across the small peninsula battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Darkening the horizon, the Mede Empire threatens, always, from across the sea. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Sophos, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the Magus and Eddis, sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.

I’m actually kind of enjoying that each book has a different POV! And Sophos! And the Magus! I love that the gang is back together… kind of. But I really enjoyed this one. I seem to reach a point every book where my interest wanes a little bit so still not quiiiiiite totally engrossed in this series but I’ve been enjoying every book and Sophos’ POV was very fun to follow! I do like him a lot and he has a lot of personality.

The story-telling is just a little different in every book which is actually kind of interesting. Usually a series sort of sticks to one style and this really changes with each character. Sophos was telling a lot of the story until it caught up to current events but I also really enjoyed his story and where it took the readers!

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: Thick as Thieves (The Queen's Thief #5) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 24, 2017

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

This has been by far my favorite of the series! I was wholly engrossed the whole story and the two main characters (The Attolian!) were amazing. Their relationship and tentative friendship was complicated and meaningful and I felt a little bit of a bromance there! It was fun to really see the two men kind of hate each other and then really develop a solid friendship. The characters were definitely my favorite part of this novel and that’s what really hooked me. I finally got super into it and I think the friendship was really what sold me and that bonding was something that I was missing in the previous books.

I love the little tricks that Megan Whalen Turner always has up her sleeve and there were a few emotional roller coasters here!! In previous books, there were some things that I didn’t see coming because they were revealed after everything happened, but these were exciting surprises that really threw me for a loop as I was reading! There was also a lot more action in this book than some of the others so all-in-all, this was definitely my favorite of the series.

 

SERIES THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed reading this series and getting to know this whole world! I didn’t quite connect AS much as I had hoped with the first few books but I really started to get into the swing of things towards book four and five. It’s really interesting getting so many angles of this world from so many characters and it’s actually fairly unique to other series that I’ve read. I actually enjoy seeing the “main characters” from a “secondary character’s” (which I put in quotes because the secondary characters become the main characters often times) and it’s quite different to see that from a totally different perspective! I really enjoyed this series overall!

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

These books were so interesting and the series structure was so different from what I normally read! I’m so glad I had the opportunity to review and listen to these audiobooks!!

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BOOKS LIKE THE QUEEN’S THIEF

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) – Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) – Renee AhdiehTitle: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 27, 2017
Related Posts: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

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Welp. The hype got this one for me. I actually went in with an open mind because I had no idea what to expect and despite not totally loving THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, I wanted to go into a new series with no reservations. I still ended up hitting some of the same issues that I encountered with WRATH though without even realizing it until I was done with the book.

FLAME IN THE MIST turned out to be a much slower-paced fantasy than I thought. I don’t mind slower pace BUT I didn’t feel like there was enough character development to create that sense of a character-driven novel when plot isn’t action-packed. The story was moving forward and things were happening but it wasn’t a whole lot to actually continuously keep the plot engaging. I don’t need all action, all the time, to enjoy a book but when action slows down, that’s where characters shine and it didn’t feel like there was a lot of dialogue to really get to know the characters or interact with them.

Most of the book took place in the first chapter and the last 25%. I feel like I barely got to know the main characters at all and most of the things I knew about them, I was told instead of actually seeing. The relationships were confusing until the romance was clearly outlined because there was a little tension with a few people until the romance finally started developing into what it was. The plot could have used some cleaning up and there wasn’t a really clear focus for a while. Aside from Mariko surviving the attack in the first few chapters (not a spoiler – it’s literally in the synopsis and happens in the first chapter), I wasn’t sure what her motivation was or what the point of the book was. Revenge? That’s it? Which is fine, but the reader can tell that more political motivations will also be involved, being the daughter of an important family, and I just wanted to explore more of that right off the bat. Instead of something being introduced and working it into the story throughout the book, it seemed like a concept was introduced and had to be expanded upon right away instead of letting the story naturally unfold over time.

The whole book felt a little too… open. Like I always say, I don’t need things clearly spelled out for me but I would like a better feel of what the book is, where it’s going, and who these characters are. I just didn’t feel like enough was developed. I got bored waiting for something to catch me and this just didn’t do it for me. Who else is not surprised I’m a black sheep on this book? Sigh.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-European fantasy. So many high fantasy novels are based on European concepts or settings and I really enjoyed the Japanese influence in this book! I can’t really judge how well it was done since I don’t know much about the culture in specific there but it was refreshing to take a fantasy somewhere else.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I love character-driven novels and I don’t always need jam-packed plots to keep me interested but I felt like neither the plot nor the characters were really developed enough to hook me into this world.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I know I personally won’t be continuing this series. Maybe I just don’t click with Renee Ahdieh’s writing? I had a hard time with THE WRATH AND THE DAWN taking a while to get somewhere and then BAM it finally did, a little similar to FLAME IN THE MIST, so maybe it’s just a me thing! I know many people who have loved both series so far but I just don’t appear to be one of them.

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BOOKS LIKE FLAME IN THE MIST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE STORY SPINNER

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn SkyeTitle: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2) by Evelyn Skye
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 23, 2017
Related Posts: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1)

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

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** Warning: This review DOES contain spoilers for the book! I will be talking about specifics! ** 

THE CROWN’S GAME was one of my favorite reads of 2016 and I absolutely loved how much it reminded me of THE NIGHT CIRCUS in so many ways (which I actually just finished re-reading and it cemented this feeling even more)! Naturally, I was very excited to read THE CROWN’S FATE and it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! It’s always so hard when I have an most-anticipate read coming up because I tend to hype the book up for myself so it was an interesting experience reading THE CROWN’S FATE!

There’s no way I can talk about this book without specific spoilers, so first I’ll talk about some non-spoilery things! I loved that this world felt the same! There are some times with sequels that it feels like a totally different book but I was able to fall back into this world right where I left off.
The world where we left it after THE CROWN’S GAME was much more political and while I don’t mind that, I did miss some of that fun and a “challenge” aspect of THE CROWN’S GAME itself (the game, not the book) because it was a fun structure and involved some creativity on the characters’ parts to explore their abilities.
And I still love Pasha. He was very different in this book because of all the political ramifications and situations that he had to deal with so he just wasn’t as much fun but I still loved his spirit.

Okay, so here are the spoilers. While the world felt the same, why why whyyyyy did we have to have Nikolai turn bad?! Nikolai was too pure and sweet and precious and he was my favorite part of the whole darn book, so I was SO SAD to see that his character was essentially removed from the story line since his whole personality changed. I know it was because of REASONS, yes, but still. My favorite part of this story was changed and to boot, that affected the romance too which I wanted to see developed even MORE but that got put on hold because “bad” Nikolai, of course, wasn’t pursuing romance. SIGH. The book was still enjoyable but this changed so many things and took away those little nuances that really had me enjoying the series so much!

I also just wanted more magic…? The magic involved in this book was kind of dark, which is cool, I can appreciate dark magic… But I missed that sparring between Vika and Nikolai so much. I guess I’m just tired of everything ending in war or battles (which is silly considering that this series is also kiiiiind of historical fiction, with magic) so I didn’t really want to see things come to that. I just really loved the structure of the Game itself, which encouraged the enchanters to grow and explore their powers and THE CROWN’S FATE was more of a desperate battle for power or to stop that power, so it lost that magic and that spark that I loved so much. I didn’t feel as enchanted, no pun intended.

I DID appreciate that things didn’t turn out too sunshine-y though. I actually liked what happened to Vika in the end, actually. There has to be something in the events of war because no one comes out wholly unscathed and it’s a great shock to readers when something happens to a main character, even if it’s not a death. I applaud Evelyn Skye for taking it there like so many other authors have avoided. I know it’s hard to have something difficult happen to your characters without a way to “save” them but these things need to be done to keep things realistic or at least not a cheesy happy ending.

When it comes down to it, this was not the ending I was expecting or hoping for the series but I also appreciated how it wrapped up. I think I just wanted more romance and more Nikolai. Always more Nikolai.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical fiction meets magic. I never used to enjoy history or historical fiction so I’ve really been appreciating books that combine it with magical elements! It’s kind of a way for me to catch up on some historical events or at least feelings, even if they are fictionalized and combined with other things.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. I don’t always need romance in a book but I was so delighted by the relationship between Vika and Nikolai in the first book and things were heading in a great direction… until the end. But then they didn’t really continue in this book!! I almost feel like THE CROWN’S GAME should have been a stand alone in many ways, but maybe that’s just because I didn’t totally love the finale here.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you loved THE CROWN’S GAME, it’s definitely still worth the read! It was different than what I was expecting and I would have loved just a bit more but I also did appreciate so many things still!

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BOOKS LIKE THE CROWN’S GAME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GRAVE MERCY

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini TaylorTitle: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor
Publishing Info: March 28, 2017 by Hachette
Source: Audible, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 18, 2017
Related Posts: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1), Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2), Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5), Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

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When you write a series as epic as Daughter of Smoke and Bone and then your next release gets delayed even more (to make it that much more perfect, that is), it could be really, really hard to live up to the hype of the book… But Laini Taylor had no such problem with STRANGE THE DREAMER! To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect because I hadn’t know what to expect with Daughter and it constantly surprised me so I knew I was ready for some more magic of the same quality!

STRANGE THE DREAMER was actually quite similar to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE in some ways. There was a distinct separation from the humans and the magical beings, some bad blood to draw up that tension, and a star-crossed romance, so in that respect, I did wish that STRANGE THE DREAMER did venture out on its own plot-wise and away from the world of Eretz. The books aren’t of the same world but Laini Taylor did say that they’re of the same multi-verse and may cross paths one day, but for now, two totally different things so I was hoping for a bit of a difference in big picture.

That really is the only “disappointment” I have about this book, which isn’t really a disappointment so much as something else I was looking for. STRANGE THE DREAMER really swept me off my feet with Laini Taylor’s ever-gorgeous writing. She’s one of the authors whose writing style I just love to read and I just get lost within the pages (along with Maggie Stiefvater and Neil Gaiman who also hold that magical ability to suck you into their books). The world is amazing and gorgeous and I love that the humans are even still in a different fantasy world, not Earth as we know it, to add that extra sense of magic and wonder.

All of Laini Taylor’s characters are poetic and deep. From Lazlo Strange, the dreamer whose nose was broken by a volume of fairy tales, to Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares with a gentle softness. They compliment each other and bring a wonderful balance to the book, and each character serves a real purpose to the story. Every character is so unique and Laini Taylor does an amazing job at bringing each one to life. I always feel like I’ve really gotten to know each one of them!

I won’t really get into the story itself because like all of her books, it’s one to experience, but I just loved being wrapped up in her stories again. I’ve missed that feeling of being so involved in a story and being in kind of a reading slump, it was wonderful to enjoy something so much again!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Pretty prose. Some authors just have a knack for story-telling and putting gorgeous words on the page and Laini Taylor is one of them. It doesn’t always work with such vivid descriptions but I could read Laini Taylor’s details forever.
Left Me Wanting More: Uniqueness. The only thing I would have asked for was to have more of a different big picture plot than DoSaB!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is such a beautiful book and a wonderfully heart-breaking start to a new series (only two books! We think). It’s a must-read!

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BOOKS LIKE STRANGE THE DREAMER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    shadow and bone

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I had put off reading A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC for a while now, for a couple of different reasons. I had some personal reasons involved, some worries that it might be too much like NEVERWHERE, and I actually wanted to let some of the craze die down because hype really kills a book for me and I didn’t want to be caught up in it. I started A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC on audio because I really wanted to listen to Michael Kramer narrate the 2nd and 3rd books (along with Kate Reading) because he’s one of my all-time favorite narrators. It was funny though — I actually preferred the 1st books narrator on a lot of things so that was a surprise! I think he just got those voices all set up in my head and then I couldn’t shake them.

Anyway… I binge read all three books on audio and decided to review them all together instead of one-by-one!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 24, 2015 by Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 24, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1)

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

This was really good! I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect because I had really enjoyed VICIOUS and didn’t like THE NEAR WITCH (I never finished it) and I also had some personal qualms about starting this book… but I’m really glad that I did because it was actually really enjoyable! I actually enjoyed that some things were set up in book one that weren’t resolved. They weren’t cliffhangers but things that will be important to the plot in future books (I’m pretty sure I know what’s up with Lila) and I like that it wasn’t all resolved in ADSOM so it keeps me pulled to keep reading (even though I would anyway).

That being said…

This was a fantasy world that just totally came together as my kind of book. I LOVE anything with parallel worlds and I really liked how it was incorporated into fantasy instead of just sci-fi. The magic system is really interesting too. It’s not just magic and non-magic… there really are shades of magic and each world has varying degrees of how magic is incorporated and affects its citizens. I am still suuuuper curious about Black London and I kind of hope we journey there in a future book. I just have to know!!

ADSOM wraps up nicely and closes out a story line which is nice not to be left on a cliffhanger! There’s a lot more to discover so I’m sure the next book will get into that and also dip into what spiraled into play here so I thought it was nice on world-building side. There was a solid foundation but there’s still so much more to discover, and everything was nicely built into the story and I didn’t feel any infodumps about this world-system.

I also liked that the romance was slow and steady. Obviously there’s something building between Lila and Kell but it wasn’t instalove and their relationship is built on a friendship — that almost isn’t even a friendship! They butt heads, Lila is stubborn, Kell is kind of a loner (minus his affection for his brother), and yet their sparring and jabs totally work. I do love banter in my book relationships and although this was less flirting and romantic banter, it was just perfect for these two.

I’m actually surprised how much I enjoyed this because I really hadn’t expected to. I listened to the book on audio, having purchased it in an Audible sale, and mostly wanted to listen to the audio because Michael Kramer narrates the second and third books and he is one of my all-time favorite narrators! (Okay, and Kate Reading but Michael is most important.) I actually did like the narrator of this book so I’m not sure how the switch will go, even though I love the narrators of the next books! Steven Crossley is British so it was perfect for a book about Londons and I really enjoyed his narration and will actually go seek out more books that he voices. I didn’t like how he voiced the spell casting (it was much too formal because it wasn’t described as “said”, not anything that had to be so formally announced and pompous) but really that was the only thing I didn’t like about it.

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 23, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 31, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1)

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games--an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries--a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

Wow, I am so sorry for anyone who read this book when it first came out and had to wait for the third book. That ending was EVIL.

A GATHERING OF SHADOWS was very enjoyable! The beginning was good but the first half sort of felt like a book one instead of a book two. SO much happened in ADSOM that when things slowed down to this pace again instead of continuing on and escalating, it felt a bit like a step back.

The games/competition was really fun, but also felt like a book one thing that could have set up the magic system, worlds, and characters so it didn’t really feel necessary at all for this book. Unless it plays a big part in the third book, I don’t really think it pushed the plot forward much at all. The characters from the neighboring lands don’t seem to directly play an important part in the book and actually, Kell even said it himself that there was a totally different way this could have all played out (that’s vague, I know, but if I say more, it’s definitely a spoiler).

I did LOVE Alucard, who is my new favorite. (I think I just love all privateers. They’re so sassy and are always involved in banter.) And I also loved where Lila and Kell’s relationship went in this book. We had a bit of book-two-forces-the-lovebirds-apart syndrome here but it actually resolved nicely which is better than a lot of books!

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 21, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 6, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1)

Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED...
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

And so I say anoshe to this series.

The ending to this book was just beautiful and a wonderful way to wrap things up. I loved the finality of everything and yet the openness to allow the characters to go off and pursue other things. The series was complete and yet there could totally be more books or a spin-off series with more things to come.

I will say, though, that the thing that struck me the most about this book was HOW MUCH happened. It’s the last book in the series so of course things will escalate but there were so many things that could have been put in the second book — like backstories, more world-building, explanations, etc — that felt a little too crammed into the final book when this would have been more suited for the action and not building things up at the same time. I would have loved to have learned more about Holland in AGOS instead of ACOL, as a specific example, and some of the revelations could have been developed in AGOS with a final reveal in ACOL instead of it all happening at once. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the length of the book but it just did feel like a whole lot was flung at me at once, especially in the beginning. It’s not that it was hard to follow but it was a lot to constantly take in.

Definite (mild) spoilers for the series in the rest of the review below so skim to the bottom if you want to avoid them! 

I also still have some questions that weren’t really answered… I understand the unspoken concept of the one black eye for Antari but I also wish that was more directly addressed. I wish we had known who Kell’s parents were and what his name was before he came to the royal family but I understand leaving that one open because who he was is not who he is and he chooses to be present instead of dwelling in the past. I also wanted to know more about Lila’s past, how she lost her eye (it was said to be an accident but I always wondered if it was more to cover up her true nature), and what led her to where she was. There were so many hints that Lila was so much MORE than basically everything but it was never said that she was more than an Antari… so was she more or was she just Antari? Or an exceptional Antari? Or am I just looking for too many answers that I should attain for myself? I figured out that she was Antari pretty much immediately once it was revealed that she was missing an eye but then the actual reveal wasn’t even an event. It just kind of… happened. Like oh yeah, Lila is doing magic now and she’s doing crazy stuff so I guess she’s an Antari and everyone else was just like, okay, guess so. Maybe because Lila does whatever she wants so people weren’t surprised when she broke all the rules anyway, but still. Again, I understand not wanting to go fully into each character’s past and reveal every little thing but just a few words of wrap-up could have left things more final, I think.

Then there were the THINGS with the magic system. I’m a huuuuge magic-system geek and I love learning about all of the rules and what a magician/wizard/whoever can and cannot do. It felt a little inconsistent to me with new abilities popping up where they were convenient. I did like that average citizens of Red London were able to wield magic and how differently it was accessible to the “common” people and also how its accessibility was different from world to world. I did love that Antari were next-level magic users and the only ones who were able to use blood magic to perform extraordinary feats and that they could use every element and not just one or two or three. Does the black eye signify black magic? It seemed like it should due to the story line here but that really wasn’t addressed. Was it a piece of black magic within them or was it just magic and the essence of Black London had just turned bad? Was it a coincidence that the three Antari were from the three different Londons? Was there a Black London Antari and there is only allowed one from each London? Was it a coincidence that the three Antari had three different colored eyes (Lila: brown, Kell: blue, Holland: green)? Was this all planned and the rules of magic or was it all just randomly coincidental? Maybe I’m just naturally too curious but it seemed like these things were rules but never talked about. Maybe the characters don’t even know themselves. I’m just a total sucker for learning as much as I can about a magic system so that really felt incomplete to me. Maybe I’m just spoiled with Brandon Sanderson books that detail everything so much that I’ve eaten it all up and come to expect it in other books. (The Antari reminded me of Mistborn in a way, with their ability to use all types of magic so there was a minor association for me there.)

I also for some reason didn’t totally love the Osaron concept… maybe because I didn’t love the concept of magic taking a human form? I’m not sure. There was just something about it that I didn’t love and something just felt “off” there for some reason. Maybe because it seemed like some sort of a turn in the concepts and I was expecting a different direction regarding the escalation of the black magic. I was also hoping for more time in Black London because I’m just TOO DARN CURIOUS. So I guess most of my disappointments were just hopes and my curious brain demanding more answers!

Despite all of the thoughts I’ve just expressed, I did enjoy the series. I actually think the first book was the strongest in terms of plot and structure and it still remains my favorite. If things hadn’t gotten derailed with the games in AGOS and had continued with strong plot development, I think the series could have been even stronger and more cohesive. All of the books were entertaining and the characters were really just wonderful. I really loved the character dynamics, the personalities, and the wonderful relationships. As a series, I think AGOS just really killed the plot momentum and while it was still highly entertaining, it could have pushed things so much further and more time could have been dedicated in ACOL to tying things up along with the action instead of jamming everything into a final book. I loved every character and the ways that they all interacted with each other and I did think that was so well done. I really connected with each one and just loved the feelings that I got from their relationships. The ending of the series was bittersweet and just the perfect way to say goodbye, or rather, anoshe.

SERIES THOUGHTS

The first book in this series was definitely my favorite. I thought it was the most solid in terms of setting up the book’s overall plot and kicking off the series. I was disappointed with the lack of series development in A GATHERING OF SHADOWS (book two) because of the games involved and that really ended up taking the spotlight. It was still very entertaining but I’m such a world-building nerd that I can’t get enough of it and I don’t feel like things kept developing until the end of the book. A CONJURING OF LIGHT was also still very entertaining but things took a biiiiit of a weird turn for me and mostly, I just wanted more answers about this world. I feel like some were implied, some we could infer, and others were maybe coincidental? I thought things could have shaken out just a bit more to really settle all those burning questions, although the overall wrap up was very nice!

Now I just need to own the series in print so I can put them with my As Travars candle…

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

To my surprise, I really enjoyed this series. I had no idea what I was going to find within these pages (or I guess… audio files in my case) and I think it’s a solid series that could benefit from a little more plot and world-building.

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BOOKS LIKE SHADES OF MAGIC

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Closer to Home (The Herald Spy #1) – Mercedes Lackey

Closer to Home (The Herald Spy #1) – Mercedes LackeyTitle: Closer to Home (The Herald Spy #1) by Mercedes Lackey
Publishing Info: October 7, 2004 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 13, 2017

Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King's Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds' Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.
Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds. The situation becomes dire after the life of Mags' mentor, King's Own Nikolas, is imperiled. His daughter Amily is chosen as the new King's Own, a complicated and dangerous job that is made more so by this perilous time. Can Mags and Amily save the court, the Heralds, and the Collegium itself?

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This was my first Mercedes Lackey book and I had high expectations because of so many reviews! CLOSER TO HOME was actually nothing like I expected. It was lighter than I thought it would be and I actually was really surprised with the plot… And that there wasn’t one…?  I purchased this book in an Audible sale because I had heard so much about Mercedes Lackey and Nick Podehl narrates and he’s one of my favorites so this is how I ended up here!

I really didn’t know what the point of this book was, to be perfectly honest. It wasn’t until halfway through that the focus really started to shift to Brand and Violetta, but Mags and Amily are the main characters so it was confusing for a while what was really happening. I really did love Mags and Amily — Mags even more so — so it was kind of disappointing that they were more helpers of the plot and that the book wasn’t even really about them.

I have been told that this book starts a new series BUT it is also part of a kind of series of series about the world of Valdemar… But while a series of series is fine, it really did feel like it picked up in the middle of story instead starting its own series or a portion thereof. There was a mention of how Amily and Mags ended up coming back home but it was never elaborated on and so it felt really unfinished. There was so much more to discover as far as world-building, especially on the magical abilities, but I suppose that could be something I’m missing from a previous series of series.

I most just felt like I didn’t know what the plot of this book was. Even though things happened, it just didn’t seem like a large conflict and then at the end, all of a sudden it was this huge deal. It was a weirdly constructed book and I just didn’t quite connect with it, which was a shame because I really did like the characters and the world! As much as I’d like to spend more time with them, I don’t know what the rest of the series would be life and if it would be worth continuing.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mind speech. I enjoyed the concept of mind speech here and how it was a different ability and could be used differently too!
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. This just didn’t have a clear direction and I was left wondering what the point of this book even was.

Addiction Rating
Start at the beginning

Mayyyyybe you shouldn’t start with this book like I did. In my defense, I didn’t realize what exactly this series was all about but if you want to start with these books, check out the first Valdemar book.

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 2, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 12, 2017
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

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This read went pretty much about how I thought it would. I used to LOVE Sarah J. Maas books and I had a really hard time with the pacing and characters ever since A COURT OF MIST AND FURY and EMPIRE OF STORMS. I was wholly sucked into QUEEN OF SHADOWS and ever since then, I lost the magic. I feel like the books aren’t well-edited anymore and Sarah J. Maas is so big that she is allowed the freedom to write whatever she wants and things don’t get pared down when they should. I’m not saying that actually is the case but that’s how it feels sometimes. I’m totally okay with books being long, especially series finales like A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN, but there were several parts that could have been cut down and a lot of things in the past two books in this series could have used a fair bit of editing, from pacing to structure to dialogue. I felt very alone in these opinions with ACOMAF but it seems like this happened a little bit more with ACOWAR which actually surprised me, but I’m glad that I wasn’t alone in that feeling!

The highlight of this series for me is the Inner Circle! Azriel continued to be my favorite, I think because he was, well because he was broody first and foremost but I loved his quiet gentleness and yet he had a ferocity about him on the battlefield and also towards his friends and family. He is a warrior after all! Cassian is also a favorite with his lightness and humor to go along with his brute strength and warrior-mode. Amren is delightfully dark and I love her sass and Mor rounds out the “lesser” characters of the Inner Circle to add a caring and warm quality to the group. I love their squad goals and how well these four fit together. Yes, four… not six. I actually didn’t care about them being involved with Rhys and Feyre (even though Rhysand is the whole reason this group exists). They just had so much personality and I wanted to see them shine even more. I think they were really deserved more of a spotlight in this book after being introduced in A COURT OF MIST AND FURY because they were so important in so many ways and they really brought so much to this book/series. I felt more connected to Azriel and Cassian because I felt like their histories were detailed well and reiterated several times throughout the series. Amren was so amazing and she should have had more of a history in this book and not just the breeze-through conclusion in the end, and we get to know more about Mor but I felt like she was often pushed to the background too. Feyre’s sisters ended up being a big part of the book and Nesta did get much more “on-screen” time but I don’t think Elain got the attention she deserved either, nor did Lucien after setting up his whole part in this series in the second book. He did do big things in this book but again, it was like he was there for the “big things” and then pushed back into the background. There was a whole story line with him and Elain that was established and then not really developed.
These characters really were the highlight of this book for me and I really wished I could have had more from them, like their own chapters or something. This book, especially, being from Feyre’s POV only really limited what action readers could see and it just pushed my favorite characters in the background because the focus was on Feyre and Rhys. I feel like Sarah J. Maas has a tendency to introduce these characters that we love and then they get pushed aside for the main characters instead of getting their own development. Then more characters get added, and more characters get added, and readers get even less of that development that they’re craving (or at least in my case).

For some reason, I’ve never been a Feyre and Rhysand shipper. I loved Rhysand’s darkness and that forbidden allure to him in ACOMAF and he was just a little too perfect in this book. I know we discover in ACOMAF that there’s much more than meets the eye to Rhys and he’s actually a pretty good guy, which ughhh. I liked his darkness! He still has that snark and sass but the darkness is pretty much gone in ACOWAR which was something that really interested me. I especially felt this in ACOWAR and I got bored with Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship. It was like once they got together, the spark was gone, and so much of their relationship felt forced. The details of the relationship just felt like TOO much at times. Too perfect, too over-the-top, just too much. And speaking of too much, the sex scenes just felt way too forced as well. Not necessarily in content, although that didn’t feel natural either, but there were far too many and in random places. Every time something good happened it was like yay, let’s celebrate with sex! I just felt shoved in there for the sake of sex scenes and keeping it steamy the end and I would have rather had SOME fade to black scenes instead of every single instance being full detail. I don’t have a problem with those scenes at all (I read the occasional romance) but it was more the fact that I felt like I was reading a romance novel sometimes instead of a strong fantasy book with solid character, world, and plot development.

I also got really annoyed that every single main character had to get paired off into a couple or if not in a couple at the end, the single person had some unrequited love going on. I can see that war makes you want to be with the one you love or match up while you still can but I got annoyed that characters that I thought would be awesome on their own (I won’t say who because possible spoilers, I guess) ended up pairing off with someone and it very felt out of character. I was excited about the Elain/Lucien set-up in ACOMAF and was super disappointed that wasn’t used to its fullest potential here. It was set up and then never really went anywhere and I found myself wonder why it was introduced at all. If that hadn’t been established in the second book, it really wouldn’t have affected the third book or in the moments it had, the action could have resolved in some other way. It all felt forced and superficial and that bond wasn’t even there. It was a total waste of character development that could have been put towards something else since it wasn’t even developed anyway.

Mostly, I just wasn’t impressed with the writing. As I said before, I feel like the book needed much more editing. There were a lot of out-of-character things, strange pacing, an excess of characters, and the world-building was just off. To be honest, I feel like Feyre, Tamlin, and Rhysand all went through personality flips since the first book (at least in perception like in Rhys’ case, if not true character changes). There’s a difference between personality development and taking things to a totally different realm and I think it’s good that Feyre isn’t the same person that she was in A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES because she should be different and show some growth but I felt like the person that she became didn’t feel characteristic of the person she once was and it seemed like too much of a personality change.

I was also missing so many details on some really interesting things like the Weaver, the Bone Carver, and other unusual creatures/gods/immortals. I even found myself asking myself what exactly the Cauldron was all about. The Cauldron! A huge part of this series!!! It didn’t feel like infodump when I first learned about all of these things and yet I felt like I couldn’t remember any of those details later on in the series or recall learning more about them in other spots. Those are the parts of a book that I love and I just felt like a lot was missing. I think Sarah J. Maas missed a lot of world-building opportunities that really could have brought this world together even more.

The ending was a little too perfect and happy for such a huge war and giant conclusion. I felt like a few things were cop-outs even though they were happy things. I had set myself up for some Big Things and was disappointed for some reason when bad things didn’t happen to good people…? Truly, I just think it’s just realistic within a war that not all of the good people survive or end up mostly untouched. Things did happen, though I won’t go into detail, but I think we all braced ourselves for some really bad stuff so it almost felt a little anticlimactic! For some reason the Rhysand chapter at the end was also totally cheesy and I don’t know why but it reminded me of TWILIGHT… I think the observation and listening in on Feyre? I don’t know — don’t ask. But that was the vibe I got from it so it was just a little too sappy and not necessary (though I wished we could have had his POV throughout the rest of the book).

So yes, this was a lot of venting or however you want to take it but those are my feelings and my opinions. Although it was a lot of things I wished that would have been better, that’s actually what I expected to feel when I read this book. I wanted to finish to finish the series so I wanted to finish this book but I didn’t expect to love it and it actually went pretty much as I thought it would. After feeling a lot of the same things with ACOMAF and EMPIRE OF STORMS, I almost definitely won’t be reading the spin-offs for this series, and I guess we’ll see how the next Throne of Glass book goes. I definitely still want to finish that series since I’m so invested in it time-wise and I do want to know how that concludes but after Throne of Glass finishes, I’m not sure if I’ll be reading more Sarah J. Maas books.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Inner Circle. These characters were truly the best part about the book. Serious squad goals, banter, loyalty, ferocity, and a great mix of personalities. Truly the highlight of the book.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I just don’t feel like it’s there and I don’t know what happened! QUEEN OF SHADOWS was one of my favorite books from that year and I just don’t feel that magic anymore.

Addiction Rating
Take it or leave it

It’s the last book in Feyre’s story so it’s worth finishing to conclude the series but I also think if you’re having the same issues, it’s not a huge deal if you don’t.

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    FALLING KINGDOMS

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: August 31, 2010 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 7, 2017
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), Snapshot

Speak again the ancient oaths,
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.
And return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.
Roshar is a world of stone swept by tempests that shape ecology and civilization. Animals and plants retract; cities are built in shelter. In centuries since ten orders of Knights fell, their Shardblade swords and Shardplate armor still transform men into near-invincible warriors. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.
In one such war on the ruined Shattered Plains, slave Kaladin struggles to save his men and fathom leaders who deem them expendable, in senseless wars where ten armies fight separately against one foe.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Fascinated by the ancient text namedThe Way of Kings and troubled by visions of ancient times, he doubts his sanity.
Across the ocean, Shallan trains under eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece Jasnah. Though Shallan genuinely loves learning, she plans a daring theft. Her research hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

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I listened to the audiobook of THE WAY OF KINGS and it was quite the long journey (I think it was literally 48 hours, give or take), but I am all about Michael Kramer so it’s totally worth it! It took me over a month to read between audio and print but I did it! My reading time has just been far too short and reviewing time apparently even shorter because it’s taken me three months to put this review together, but here it is!

THE WAY OF KINGS was enjoyable from start to finish but it still doesn’t top MISTBORN as my favorite Sanderson book/series. The beginning was maybe a little slower, the tone more serious, and things really did take some time to develop and get moving. I think I had an unfair preconceived notion about the book because Brandon Sanderson did a reading from book two (a part with no spoilers) at one of his events and so I was picturing a totally different time and place for these characters. I kept waiting for that to come into place and that was not a part of this book so it was hard to get the hang of!

I think my one… “let down” so to speak (I’m not really let down but I can’t come up with a better word right now) of the book is that ALL of the reveals were in the end. So much happened in the last few chapters that it was excitement overload and I would have loved a bit more of that throughout the whole book to keep excitement levels high, but that seems to be an evolution that happens in Sanderson’s later works rather than his earlier ones.

My Sanderson theory that the theme of pretty much everyone of his books (which I can’t share because it’s possible spoiler for pretty much any Sanderson book) seems to hold realtively true so far for THE WAY OF KINGS too! I figured it was coming, especially considering a lot of the world-building from other series but I really like it though! I’m catching on to it so it’s not as much of a shock or twist to see that coming in the ending of THE WAY OF KINGS (well, I guess it kiiiiind of started that way too) but I’m so, so, so anxious to learn more about it!

The characters in this book were fantastic! I LOVED Kaladin and for some reason I was surprised to see what his role was throughout this whole book. I was expecting a Kelsier sort of situation where his history involved a hardship and he ended up with that as a shadow of his past, but really Kaladin’s present ends up being one of his greatest hardships and he’s not on anyone’s favorable side throughout the book (until he takes matters into his own hands and starts to work on those leadership skills). I basically fell a little bit in love with him and I can’t wait to see what his future holds because it looks… bright *snicker*

I also love noble and wise and apparently super important Dalinar. Obviously he’s important as a main character but I loved what his fate ended up being and naturally, I can’t wait to see what happens to him in the second book and where things go from here. Readers are able to guess at what is happening to him throughout the book but I’m not quite sure what it REALLY means yet and why it’s happening to Dalinar.

I wasn’t the BIGGEST fan of Shallan but that’s also because I didn’t really care for her narrator in the audio (not that I have issues with Kate Reading (also how is THAT for an audiobook narrator’s last name!?) but meh. Female narrator. And I love Michael Kramer. A lot.) so I didn’t get into her character as much. I actually find myself not really liking a lot of Sanderson’s female characters except for Vin. I don’t dislike them but I just find the male characters much more interesting and apparently prefer their story lines much better, which is unfortunate because they are strong characters but not ones I seem to connect with. I think part of it is because the women are figuring things out (you go, gals!) and the men are in the action so there’s just a bit more draw to some of those action-based scenes.

I’m also enjoying the new world of Roshar and exploring everything that is has to offer! The cultures/races/people are interesting (especially with some recent reveals) and I love learning about all of the different people and places in Brandon Sanderson’s worlds. Book two looks like it’ll explore that history and creation even more which is totally my fantasy addiction and the reason I can’t put Sanderson books down! I haven’t felt as connected to a world since Scadrial but they’re all quite interesting and I have a feeling I’ll be learning much more about Roshar soon!

I don’t know why I thought this series was only three books so there goes my plan to binge read them all this year……. Well, I guess I can still binge read them (as long as Oathbringer is still on track for later 2017) but I just won’t be finishing the series when I do. Why do I do this to myself??? I’m in the middle of too many Sanderson series. Or rather, he seems to trap us in his series (okay, I’m not really that upset about being in the middle of all of his books) and won’t let us go! Just the waaaaait though. I’m so glad I was able to binge Mistborn because this is going to be a long journey with The Starlight Archive!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Loooong books. I have a hard time picking up chunkers lately because they just take so much time that I don’t have. I’ll do anything for a Sanderson book though!
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals earlier on. I would have loved to get a little more hooked from the start instead of SO many things happening in the end!

Addiction Rating
Add it to your TBR!

Okay, I can’t tell you to read it because not only is the book itself long, but so is the series… so instead I advise you to add it to your reading list!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE WAY OF KINGS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    shadow and bone

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) – Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) – Rae CarsonTitle: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson
Publishing Info: September 20, 2011 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 7, 2017
Related Posts: Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1)

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

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Well hello again from the black sheep side of the world! Sadly, it has not been long since I’ve been over here.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS has been on my TBR for so many years and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it… But this first book, man. I had a very hard time with it.

The beginning was not a struggle. I enjoyed that Elisa was not perfect, not slender, not the favorite. She does bear the Godstone which brings about her important marriage to a king in another land. I appreciated so many things about Elisa but her character felt very young compared to other YA characters that have been thrown into the same situations and her naiveté just really bothered me at times. I appreciated that the romance was not a main focus BUT I was annoyed that there were three different non-romances that Elisa was involved in and it was bothersome for her to have at least some form of feelings for so many different people. I also had a hard time with knowing that Hector becomes such a big character in future books (because of everyone’s flailing) so the romances (or lack thereof) with other guys was just frustrating because I wanted it all to be Hector.

Can we just pause here for a second, though? Why. Is the stone. In her belly button. I don’t know why but that bothered me so, so, SO much. It was weird and annoying and she was getting some… intense sensations from it. (Okay, it was nothing sexual but the descriptions were weird sometimes.) I just really hated it.

I didn’t really ever get into the story either. I enjoyed the first part of the book and I was interested to see it go somewhere… and then in my least favorite plot turn ever in any book, everything is upended and the characters get taken somewhere brand new and are around 100% different people, totally changing everything that you spent time getting to know in the first third of the book. I also didn’t like the people that Elisa ended up with in the next part of the book when everything changed so it was really just all downhill from there for me. I also really didn’t like the ending of the book and I was hoping for something in a different direction.

Things just fell apart after the first third of the book for me and it was annoying enough that I don’t know if I even want to continue the series. I’ve heard such good things about the series but if I didn’t enjoy the plot and tone and where this one went… I don’t know if it’s worth continuing for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique heroines. I really liked the fact that Elisa wasn’t an easy heroine. We watched her learn and grow and struggle through some common things instead of being a perfect little snowflake.
Left Me Wanting More: Consistency. The story felt like it flipped halfway through the book and it just felt like a totally different story. I wished it had been structured much differently.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

So many people love this series but it just wasn’t a hit with me. I’m not sure if I’ll continue so I’d recommend checking out other reviews and not just mine!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE WRATH AND THE DAWN

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) – Alwyn Hamilton

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) – Alwyn HamiltonTitle: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by Alwyn Hamilton
Publishing Info: March 7, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 17, 2017
Related Posts: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)

Rebel by chance. Traitor by choice.
Gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.
When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

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TRAITOR TO THE THRONE was one of my most-anticipated reads of 2017. I absolutely loved REBEL OF THE SANDS when I read it last year and it wasn’t just an enjoyable book for me — it was one of my favorites from the entire year. I was so incredibly excited to read and ended up being quite intimidated by its size. Before I get into the actual review, let’s talk about some THINGS. The book is over 500 pages long and REBEL was only about 300 (320? Something like that) so 200 extra pages right off the bat was a LOT. Don’t get me wrong — I love long books. They’re amazing when you get lost in them and there’s so much an author can do with so many pages… but I didn’t think TRAITOR needed that many pages. There was a lot of pressure to read this for many reasons (anticipated read, long book, reading for a blog tour, reading on a time crunch, not having finished a lot of books recently and then starting a long book) and that did affect my read a little bit BUT I know that if I’m really enjoying a book, I’ll save something that is lengthy and not dread how much more I have to finish.

TRAITOR ended up being more intimidating than enjoyable and I reached a point where I didn’t feel like things were moving forward. The book is over 500 pages and it spent a lot of time in the same places with not a whole lot of plot moving forward. Some of it I really felt like could have been handled in a few chapters and then we could move forward with really anything. As I’ve said in many reviews before, I don’t “need” action to enjoy a book but this felt like the plot was stagnant. I didn’t feel like the story was moving forward and I really think it could have progressed in far fewer pages. I enjoyed REBEL in part because it was concise and didn’t add extra pages for the sake of drawing out a fantasy novel. Sadly, TRAITOR fell victim to the extra pages and I wonder if that’s because of the success of REBEL. If it was moving, I don’t doubt that I’d want to read all 500+ of those pages but it just didn’t seem to go anywhere.

This is where it will get minorly spoilery. Still just plot points, nothing like reveals or deaths or anything, but WARNING WARNING if you want to avoid any potential spoilers, skip to the next paragraph! 
Soooo I did not like where this book went. At all. Amani ends up being captured and taken prisoner in a harem which felt like such an easy direction to take this book and something I’ve already read so many times. I’m tired of girls being trapped by men, especially when sexually persecuted (although not particularly Amani, but that’s the general idea of being trapped in a harem) and just no, no, no. Amani was FIERCE. She was one of the guys! She was strong! She was independent! She was getting stuff done and JUST discovering her abilities in the first book! All of that got taken away for at least 50% of TRAITOR and I was just so disappointed. Why build up a power to have it taken away in the next book? Why create an awesome, strong female to have her become helpless and trapped? Literally, could not help herself. I guess in the end, she makes some stuff work, but that took for-ev-er to happen. The harem was literally half of the book so I definitely struggled for a long time.

Really when it comes down to it, I just didn’t feel like this was the same tone as the first book at all. The squad is all over the place so there’s a serious lack of squad goals. The author chose to do that book two thing where the couple is split up for half the book, even though the swoons and banter were such a big reason why I loved the first book. There are so many characters on top of the ones that were in the last book so I started to get lost with everyone. As with any series, I kind of got lost with some of the secondary characters since it had been a year since I read the first book and the addition of even more characters started to really lose me. The book also started six months after REBEL so those six months were just kind of summed up and I didn’t get to experience them. Things happened and I had to hear it secondhand… and a lot of stuff had happened. I can deal with time after the first book but it really felt like it was picking up in a whole different place and didn’t quite continue the first adventure.

I’m not sure if I’ll read the third book in this series which is such a shame. Once I hit this point, it’s kind of hard to go back to the point where I had loved this experience. So much of the middle could have been cut out or condensed and TRAITOR could have stayed as action-packed as the first, minimized time apart from Jin, and kept me way more interested. I just don’t even know what to feel about this series now so I guess I’ll wait until the third book comes around and reassess then. As of right now, I just don’t see it happening though.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Not much. You know, it’s sad when I don’t even know what the highlights of this book were for me. I just keep remembering my disappointment and struggle.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. This just need to be far fewer pages and keep the characters more together.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I can’t tell if I’m the black sheep on this one or it really did suffer from second in a series syndrome.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE TRAITOR TO THE THRONE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE WRATH AND THE DAWN