Tag «fantasy»

Fresh Fridays: Fable (#1) by Adrienne Young

Fresh Fridays: Fable (#1) by Adrienne Young

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Fable Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Fable (from Goodreads):

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

breakdown

Series: Fable Duology
Author: Adrienne Young
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Namesake, will be published March 2021
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Coming of Age, Pirates, Adventure
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 1, 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Fable at 20% (start of Chapter 9) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was trolling Twitter one day and noticed a tweet by Wednesday Books that a vast majority of their Netgalley library was available as Read Now titles. Like any sane book reader, I immediately when to Netgalley and browsed for any titles that would grab my attention. Fable was one that was mentioned many times in the replies to the Tweet so I made sure to grab it. I love the idea of a female pirate ruling the sea so I was excited to dive in and check it out.

What I Liked:

–Pirates!–

I love the idea of a lady pirate novel. Pirate novels are great for a lot of reasons–action, adventure, scheming, curses–but when the lead is a lady, that presents a whole other set of challenges. Watching a lady take charge in a “man’s world” is what great books are made of.

What I Didn’t Like:

–World Building–

From the start, I found myself struggling to get invested in Fable’s story. Part of the reason is that I got lost in the lack of world building. It almost felt like I should already know who this cast of characters was and I was getting people mixed up constantly.

–Fable–

I also struggled with Fable herself. She is far too angsty for me. I think every chapter ended with some doom-and-gloom thought by her. I get why. Her character background is explained well enough to know that she has a massive chip on her shoulder. I just felt like she was trying to hard to be a badass?

Will I Finish It?

I think I wanted a badass, take no prisoner lead from the get-go but that isn’t Fable. This is her coming of age story as she literally navigates the messy waters of her life and reality. In time she will get there but that wasn’t the story I wanted to read and so I am ending my trip here.

My Rating: DNF

Fable DNF | Namesake N/A

overall

If you go by the other reviews on Goodreads, I’m in the majority for this one. If you don’t mind slower starts this would be worth your time.

Read if You Like: slower stories, coming of age, pirates
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories

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Series Review: Blood of Ra by M Sasinowski

Series Review: Blood of Ra by M Sasinowski

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Heir of Ra (from Goodreads):

TEN THOUSAND YEARS BENEATH THE SAND. TWO MYTHS ON A COLLISION COURSE.

An excavation of the fabled Hall of Records beneath the Sphinx unleashes an ancient disease that leaves Alyssa’s father fighting for his life.

As Alyssa races to find a cure, she stumbles upon a haunting artifact–and trespasses into the mind of an Egyptian god.

ANCIENT HISTORY AND PRESENT TIME INTERTWINE.

A global epidemic looms. Alyssa relives memories of an advanced race and unravels clues hidden within the relic, as she evades ruthless adversaries set on exploiting the power of the ancient genes. Then she makes a staggering discovery…

The world is not quite what it seems.

WILL YOU QUESTION YOUR ORIGIN?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Best Series Reads of 2020
Series: Blood of Ra
Author: M Sasinowski
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: August 2018 – December 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you M Sasinowski!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was a kid I loved learning about the Ancient Egyptian world. From the curses to the culture, it’s a fascinating history to explore. I also adored the movie The Mummy. It just had a great blend of action, comedy and history that captivated you as you watched.

The Mummy Run GIF by PeacockTV

So when M Sasinowski asked me to read his debut novel, Heir of Ra, I couldn’t wait to dive in. I don’t get to read a lot of fantasy adventures laced with the curses of Ancient Egypt so it seemed like a no brainer.

The Concept / The World:

I love Egyptian history: the idea of curses, rituals and royalty makes a lush backdrop for a novel. Which is why I find it odd that we don’t often get to explore this world in fiction. The blend of science and mythology is great. You’ve got all the classic elements of Ancient Egypt mixed with advanced (yet easy to follow) modern day science and it’s simply great.

The best way to describe this series’s feel overall is if you mixed “The Mummy” with “National Treasure” together. Everything just continuously builds as you uncover the next plot point.

The Plot:

Each book literally hits the ground running and the plot keeps moving at a great pace. Honestly, there isn’t a dull moment here thanks to the multiple POVs you get; helping to build a 360-degree view of everything that is happening plotwise. Yet I was never overwhelmed by following multiple characters. It just helped built up the tension and suspense of what will happen when everything inevitably crashes together.

The Characters:

I liked Alyssa as our lead a lot. She reminds me a little of Indiana Jones and how she doesn’t let anything stop her when it comes to obstacles and getting what she wants. She’s this great blend of thoughtfulness yet reckless all at the same time. She’s what you want in a strong female lead.

The rest of the cast is just as solid. I found even as Alyssa’s story becomes the focus as the series moves forward, the supporting cast evolves just as much. Getting those extra POV along the way, in addition to Alyssa’s, helps to shape the story.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge focus of the series but there are little dashes along the way.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Heir of Ra 5/5 | Daughter of Ra 4.5/5 | Legacy of Ra 4/5

overall

If you want a series you can sink your teeth into and binge read (honestly, I could read all of these books in one sitting, they were hard to put down!), this is it. A great blend of fantasy, science and myth unlike anything else I’ve read in a long time.

Read if You Like: Egyptian mythology, adventure
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike multiple POVs

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Series Review: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

Series Review: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Seven Black Diamonds (from Goodreads):

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.

From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.

Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.

Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there.

breakdown

Series: Seven Black Diamonds
Author: Melissa Marr
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Faeries, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2016 – February 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Melissa Marr is the one I credit with introducing me to the wonderful world of Faeries. Wicked Lovely is a series that has stuck with me over the years and in some ways, it has become my gold standard for Faerie novels. I had marked this series on my library wishlist but never found the time to read it. So when I needed a new audiobook and this popped up, I figured this was the perfect time to dive in!

The Concept / The World:

I loved the mix of dystopian and fantasy. This isn’t the world we know today and thanks to the interference of Fae, it’s quite the place. I loved the mixing of fantasy and reality.

One thing I love about Melissa Marr is her ability to create these layered worlds yet have them be totally accessible and understandable to the reader. She weaves quite the tale!

The Plot:

This plot moves very fast thanks to the multiple POVs we get. You get that 360 view of all these plots happening at once and the anticipation for how they will all cross over is addicting.

I think Seven Black Diamonds (#1) has a faster paced dramatic plot whereas One Blood Ruby (#2) is more character driven. Both have their strengths and weaknesses as a result. I think Book #2 feels a little rushed at the end because the drama is so concentrated in the last few chapters. And I also felt like some things were left too open-ended because there are so many characters to resolve with.

The Characters:

There are a lot of them but it was crazy how quickly I became invested in all their stories. Even if we only spent a few moments with them, I thought they were quite layered. Which is why I would have liked a fuller ending with more closure because we do meet so many great characters that you become attached to.

The Romance:

This is weaved so seamlessly throughout. I loved all the romantic interests.

My Audiobook Experience:

The narration is beautiful to listen to. Where I struggled was with the multiple POVs in third person. If I was listening for an extended period it was good because I would get the character name we were focusing on at the start of the chapter. But if I stopped in the middle of a chapter, it took me a while to reacquaint myself with who I was following at that moment. And there are a lot of characters to remember and not having the true ability to flip back and forth to doublecheck things provided a learning curve.

Series Rating: 4/5

Seven Black Diamonds 4/5  |  One Blood Ruby 4/5

overall

Perfect for readers who love multiple POV and fast paced stories!

Read if You Like: multiple POVs, Faeries
Avoid if You: dislike third person POVs

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Series Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Series Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dread Nation (from Goodreads):

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

breakdown

Series: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Alternative History, Zombies, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2018 – February 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first book of the series, Dread Nation, and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember if I learned about this series via other blogs or simply from browsing my library catelogue. I’m going to go with the latter because I didn’t mark it down as a blog find.

Anyways, I love horror/fantasy spins on historical events and this sounded like it would be a kick butt novel!

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

Like I said, any twist on a historical event automatically gets bonus points in my eyes. I loved the idea of zombies in the Civil War era. But what I loved even more was how it was used to highlight racial tensions throughout the novel. It just emphasized even more the ideals that brought about the war and why it was so divisive to the United States.

–Girl Power–

I always love it when girls can fend for themselves and Jane is a strong heroine to get behind. She doesn’t need anyone to save her yet she isn’t afraid to get help along the way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Slow Start–

I think I wanted to jump right into the action and get to slaying the zombies sooner than later. I found the first third of the novel to be very slow. But once the plot went in a direction I wasn’t anticipating, my attention was piqued once again…until I felt like it mellowed out. There just didn’t seem to be a lot happening all the time and I could feel my attention waning.

–Some of the Twists Felt Like An Afterthought–

I don’t like when plot twists are purposely misleading. There are some great mysteries to uncover about Jane’s past and the like, and slowly we get to learn them. Until you get to the end and realize everything you’ve been told has been a flat out lie. I don’t like it when a narrator you believed to be reliable suddenly isn’t. I would have much preferred that Jane had played the oblivious card and just not have said anything about the situation in her inner monologue until it was the right time to spring the truth.

It just made certain twists seem like an afterthought. Like an editor reading the book went “hey, you know what would be great?” and instead of reworking the little bits earlier in the novel, it’s just thrown out there near the end and you just have to take it as a reader.

Spoiler

I’m talking about Jane killing her father. That whole twist just didn’t seem cohesive to me when she had told us earlier in the book one version of the story.

[collapse]

My Audiobook Experience:

I love Bahni Turpin as a narrator for any novel. Her narration of The Hate U Give is award worthy. But having only really listened to her for modern/contemporary novels, her narration of Jane almost seemed too modern for my tastes. To be fair: that could simply be the actual writing of the novel and not necessarily her performance. But if I didn’t necessarily know the setting, I’d think it was a contemporary novel.

Will I Finish It?

While I’m curious to know what happens next, I also just don’t care. I felt like things ended in a way that I’m ok with stopping here and never knowing how this series wraps up.

Series Rating: DNF

Dread Nation 3/5 | Deathless Divide N/A | Book 3

overall

I think different readers will find different things to like about this series. I know that the concept itself will draw people in but I wonder if it acts as a bit of a blinder in the sense that you get so into the idea of what this novel means that you don’t realize it isn’t the strongest when it comes to actual plot since not much truly happens.

Read if You Like: fantasy spins on historic events
Avoid if You: want more action

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DNF Series Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

DNF Series Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Girls of Paper and Fire (from Goodreads):

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

breakdown

Series: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book #3 will be published in 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: November 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Girls of Paper and Fire (#1) at 41% (middle of Chapter 15) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It was definitely the cover that drew me to this book but the synopsis was intriguing. I was hesitant though because it is published by James Patterson’s publishing group and I’ve had both great success (Stalking Jack the Ripper) and great failure (Gunslinger Girl) with the YA titles in the past.

What I Liked:

–Reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha–

The story style here reminded me a lot of Memoirs of a Geisha. There isn’t a main drama driving the plot forward; rather we watch this young girl navigate this foreign world she never thought she’d be a part of.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing Monumental Had Happened–

Honestly, I felt like we regurgitated the same things every other chapter. Lei learns something that she needs to do as a Paper Girl. She describes everything in sight in incredible detail. She gossips in her inner monologue about the other girls. Laments about her family/old life. Repeats it all again.

I wanted scenes with the King. I wanted petty pranks with the other girls. I wanted a forbidden angsty romance. I wanted court politics. I wanted Rebellion. I didn’t get that. And I know that those things take time, but even the promise of them seemed to be lacking despite how far into the novel I was.

I suppose you’d say this is more character driven but I was nearly halfway through the book and Lei was only starting to show signs of evolution.

–Romance Was Slow to Start–

I think the tag this book often gets for genres is a big giveaway about who Lei falls in love with. But if I hadn’t seen that tag, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you at all who this all consuming lover would be.

Here are some of the thoughts I wrote on Goodreads:

October 31, 2019 –

39.0% “I cheated and read some reviews about the forbidden romance because nothing seems to be happening (though my suspicion was right about who she will fall in love with).” (Audiobook Edition)

October 30, 2019 –

35.0% “I feel like I’ve dedicated too much time to this now give up…one more shot tomorrow” (Audiobook Edition)

October 29, 2019 –

27.0% “Something exciting better happen soon or else this might be the end of this book for me” (Audiobook Edition)

If you list a book with Forbidden Romance, you better drive that idea home for me. I wasn’t feeling it at all even if the idea in theory was something I loved.

Will I Finish It?

Not at all. I even read the synopsis for the sequel and I still couldn’t get excited for it.

My Audiobook Experience:

I have nothing critical to say about the audiobook. It was an easy listen.

Series Rating: DNF

Girls of Paper and Fire DNF | Girls of Storm and Shadow N/A | Book 3 N/A

overall

If you like fantasy novels that are more character driven and take the everyday approach, this is a great series for you.

Read if You Like: character driven fantasies
Avoid if You: want more action
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DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 14: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Heartless (from Goodreads):

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

breakdown

Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Origin Story, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Heartless at 39%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I fell in love with Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I was eager to see what else she could write. While I’m not the biggest Alice in Wonderland fan, I’ve always been intrigued by the Queen of Hearts so I was more than curious to learn about her origins.

What I Liked:

–It Made Me Hungry–

Cath just wants to be a baker and I could see why: she comes up with some wonderful pastries. I have never felt so hungry reading a book before! Normally I wouldn’t want to eat anything in Wonderland but I’d make an exception for Cath’s baked goods!

–A Flawless Recreation of Wonderland–

Like I said above, Alice in Wonderland doesn’t do much for me as a story–it’s a little too weird for me. However, Meyer easily transports you back there as a reader. All those key elements (and I’m sure a few little details only true Wonderland fans could pick up) are there and it’s like having the story brought to life around you once again.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wonderland World-Building It’s Elaborated On–

However, in the same breath I want a little more explanation for why things are like they are in Wonderland. I know that this is an origin story about the Queen of Hearts so that’s what the focus will be on but why do lemon trees grow out of dreams? Why do certain foods shrink you? I’d have liked some logically background on the very illogical world of Wonderland.

–Aimless Plot–

One of the greatest weaknesses of an origin story (for me as a reader at least), is that they are rather mundane in the narration. You kinda go through the motions of the lead character’s everyday life and slowly you start to see how they transform into their iconic persona. But compared to their legend, the backstory can be a little undramatic and not as exciting as you want it to be.

I think about the story Blackhearts–the origin story of Blackbeard. Now I found that there wasn’t much to the plot there when it came to dramatics but I really loved the characters and their development so I didn’t mind as much. Here, I just found Cath to be a very boring character and the Queen of Hearts should be anything but.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook is a great production. I never got lost in the narration and I loved how everyone had a unique voice. It is a fabulous listen.

Will I Finish It?:

Nope. The only thing that could have kept me reading was the romance and it wasn’t really working for me either.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This was a miss for me. But I think if you enjoy the world of Wonderland and like origin stories, you’ll probably enjoy this!

Read if You Like: origin stories, longer stories, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike Alice in Wonderland

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Have you read this? Should I return to finish it? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 13: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (from Goodreads):

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

breakdown

Series: Rise of the Empress
Author: Julie C Dao
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2017 – November 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (#1) at 52% (Chapter 22) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually tried to read this book earlier last year as an eBook but knew immediately that I wasn’t in the right mind frame to start it. That’s why I made it a selection for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge. I’m obsessed with Asian folklore and I find very few books seem to have it (though more and more do lately!) so when I do find it, I’m so on-board. This one I stumbled upon randomly at my library but I was looking forward to it once I read the synopsis!

What I Liked:

–The Idea of the Prophecy–

When I first started reading this story, I actually thought Xifeng was Snow White and her aunt was the Evil Queen. But that’s not the case at all. I really loved the idea of a prophecy as the driving motivation for Xifeng and the questions it stirs up. Are all these things really happening because it is her destiny? Or are they happening because she makes them happen in order to fulfill her destiny? It made me think about things in a grand scheme and I love when a book can do that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Character Driven–

Normally I wouldn’t complain about a Character Driven story. In fact, it was kinda nice to have a heroine who isn’t physically strong and who has to rely on her wit and cunning in order to accomplish things. It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that isn’t plagued with battle scenes.

But I just didn’t like Xifeng at all and that makes it hard to follow a story that is just about her and her life.

It’s a tough line I think because she is going to become a villain. Now I don’t need a villain with redeemable qualities; I like them evil. But Xifeng is simply boring. I guess that’s part of her charm that she rises from nothing to be something but it was a dull journey to get there. I thought once she got to court the politics of the kingdom would draw me in but it was far too mundane (and cliche) for my enjoyment.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think I got further into this book because I listened to the audiobook. The narrator has a great voice that makes the minutes roll by, even if it is a third person narration. I had the same problem with Red Winter when I listened to it as an audiobook and that was the traditional names. To my untrained ear, a lot of the terms and names sound super similar so I sometimes got characters mixed up.

Will I Finish It?

If I wasn’t reading the audiobook, I probably would have toughed out the last half of the novel by skimming it. But since the audiobook had 5 hours left and I felt myself zoning out, I decided to leave it there.

I read the reviews for the read of the series and people who had a similar experience to me in book one had it repeated in the sequels. So I’m happy with my decision not to continue.

My Rating: DNF

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns DNF | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix N/A | Song of the Crimson Flower N/A

overall

If you are looking for a fantasy novel that isn’t brimming with battle scenes and you like watching the underdog achieve greatness, no matter the expense, you might enjoy this retelling.

Read if You Like: Asian folklore, fairy tale re imaginings, villains
Avoid if You: dislike character driven stories, want action

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DNF Series Review: The Daevabad Trilogy by S A Chakraborty

DNF Series Review: The Daevabad Trilogy by S A Chakraborty

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 11: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for City of Brass (from Goodreads):

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

breakdown

Series: Daevabad Trilogy
Author: S A Chakraborty
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Empire of Gold, will be published in 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading City of Brass (#1) at 34% and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This title first caught my eye when browsing my library’s ebook catalogue but it was a review by Uma @ Books. Bags. Burgers that had me convinced to give the lengthy first novel a try. I loved the idea as a con-artist heroine who gets thrust into the deadly world of politics and magic. So I added it to my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge and opted to try the audiobook.

What I Liked:

–Nahri’s Day Job–

The opening scene with Nahri scamming a man out of his money was great! I loved watching her character scheme. I could have read many chapters about her cons and schemes.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Ali’s POV–

Sometimes I miss things when I listen to an audiobook and I definitely missed the POV change to Ali’s character the first time it happened. I didn’t even know his character existed let alone had a POV after reading the synopsis many times. It just threw me for a loop that I never really recovered from because I was lost in what was happening and why his POV was even relevant.

–Slow Moving Plot–

I was a third of the way through and I could count the significant number of events on one hand. It was just so boring to listen to in terms of content.

I think part of my problem was Nahri and Ali’s plots seemed to be mutual exclusive to each other and I couldn’t figure out how they would intersect at all. And I didn’t have the patience to see if they would.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I read some other reviews from readers who experienced similar sentiments at the start who said it wasn’t worth it in the end for them to continue.

My Audiobook Experience:

At first, I was deterred from listening to this as an audiobook since it clocks in at 24 hours in length. In my experience, any audiobook close to 15 hours loses my interest. However, I wanted to give it a shot and since I listen to audiobooks at 1.5X, I figured it wouldn’t be quite as long.

While the narration was enjoyable, I think that having two different narrators for the main POVs would have helped distinguish the character voices. Because there were times when I would stop and forget who I was following. I also missed the first time we jumped POV because it’s just the same person reading.

Series Rating: DNF

The City of Brass DNF |The Kingdom of Copper N/A | The Empire of Gold N/A

overall

I think if you enjoy longer stories that take their time to build and you are super into the written prose, this is a series you will no doubt devour.

Read if You Like: long novels, slow building
Avoid if You: have a short attention span

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Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Synopsis for Realm of Knights (from Goodreads):

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Knights of the Realm
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released in December 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (7hrs & 58mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover drew me in, it was the synopsis that sold me. I loved the idea of exploring a character like Reid who has played the role of the opposite gender for all her life. Immediately, I thought about Disney’s Mulan and how she dresses as a man to save her family; challenging gender stereotypes along the way. And I loved the concept of this secret order of knights.

What I Liked:

–Reid’s Identity Struggle–

Reid’s struggle between living as a man versus a woman was an interesting dynamic to watch a character go through. The privileges of a man coupled with the expectations of women in the society here was an interesting lens to see everything through. And that is only heighten by the fact that Reid shifts between her two identities throughout the novel. It provides some fantastic character moments and a deeper layer to this novel.

–The Lack of Romance–

I’m a hopeless romantic and so I crave copious amounts of romance in my novels but I loved the lack of one here. Sure, there are some flirtations and attractions between characters but we completely avoided some cliches along the way and that was uber refreshing.

–Continuously Built–

Everything just builds up in this novel. We learn all these bits and pieces at a time and by then end, we see how everything comes together for the sequels. It really made the book flow nicely from start to finish.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Needed a Little “Umph”–

I wanted a little more from the plot but I’m not sure what. Perhaps more physical action? There are a lot of subtle twists along the way and I never found myself being bored so I’m not sure what was lacking for me.

My Audiobook Experience:

Highly recommend the audiobook! This was such an easy listen that time literally flew by. The accents were great and everyone had their own voice. Sometimes I struggle with third person narration but this was incredibly easy to follow.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m dying for the sequel! I just need to know what happens right now!

My Rating: 4/5

Realm of Knights 3.5/5 | Shadow Knights TBP| Hidden Knights TBP

overall
If you love mermaids or want a different twist to your usual coming of age stories, pick this up!

Read if You Like: mulan, knights, realm politics
Avoid if You: want a romance

similarreads

  • Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh (Flame in the Mist Series #1)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)


Jennifer Anne Davis

Jennifer Anne Davis graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. She is currently a full-time writer and mother of three kids, one weimaraner, and a tortoise. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and lives in the San Diego area.
Jennifer is the recipient of the San Diego Book Awards Best Published Young Adult Novel (2013), winner of the Kindle Book Awards (2018), a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards (2014), and a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (2014).
Publishers Marketplace listed Jennifer as one of the best-selling indie authors in June 2017. She has also been ranked among the top 100 best-selling authors on Amazon.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pintrest

Kim Bretton (Narrator)

Kim is an accomplished and award winning actress and director with West End/Broadway theatre credits. Kim has narrated over 35 audiobooks and counting. She is also an in demand voice over talent in the commercial and corporate arena and owns her own class A recording studio in Nashville. Kim is from the UK but has lived in NYC, L.A. and now Nashville TN. She continues to work in Theatre, Film and TV as an actress and a director alongside narrating audiobooks and commercial voice overs.

Narrator Links: Website

Realm of Knights Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

Book Tour Organised by:

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Single Sundays: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Single Sundays: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for To Kill a Kingdom (from Goodreads):

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

breakdown

Author: Alexandra Christo
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Pirates, Mermaids, Fairy Tale Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book everywhere prior to its release but it was a review I read by Alyssa @ The Eater of Books that convinced me to give this book a try. I love pirate/mermaid/siren stories; especially ones with promises of forbidden love so I was eager to read this and so I quickly added it as a 2018 pick for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge.

The Concept / The World:

I really loved the hierarchy of the sea world. It was nice to have the distinction between sirens, merman and mermaids. And the pirate crew is everything you want them to be.

I suppose you could say that this is a loose adaption of The Little Mermaid since there are a lot of parallels. But it really isn’t the light-hearted tale you expect if you only know the Disney version. I think this story manages to carve out its own distinct voice.

The Plot:

I found the plot to be terribly slow. Truthfully, I would have DNF’d it but I was enraptured by Elian’s crew and the promise of a good pirate heist. And the book does pick up in the last third, but I was also a little over it by then. It takes a long time to get things in motion and I felt like, at times, there was more describing and travelling than doing (if that makes any sense).

The Characters:

Lira’s character development is great. I think part of the reason for that is that we spend so much time watching her in her own kingdom fighting with her mother’s rule over her. She definitely isn’t the same character at the end of the story.

Elian is the charming pirate through and through. But I didn’t find anything new to his character that I haven’t seen before. Truthfully, I enjoyed the scenes with his crew a lot more than his scenes with Lira. There was just better chemistry there.

The Romance:

The romance was probably the most disappointing aspect for me. Perhaps I read too much into it in the synopsis but it just fell flat to me. A forbidden romance between enemies (even if one person doesn’t know that’s what it is) should be charged and brimming with tension. Not so much here. I didn’t get many romantic vibes from them at all. It’s a shame because they did have some moments of good banter between them but it just didn’t get built upon enough.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I think those who enjoy adventure novels with a larger focus on character redemption stories will enjoy this. But if you’re looking for an action packed pirate romance (a la Daughter of the Pirate King), you might want to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: loose adaptions of fairy tales, adventure, pirates
Avoid if You: want more action, dislike darker stories

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