Tag «High Fantasy»

Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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:

Rule Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rule (from Goodreads):

Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett.

Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.

breakdown

Series: Rule
Author: Ellen Goodlet
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Rise, to be released June 2019
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won’t lie, it was the cover that drew me into this read. I was browsing my library’s new additions when I scrolled across this one. I actually checked out the hardcover from my library but never got around to it. But the premise was promising. I love the drama and secrets of Pretty Little Liars (well, the TV show at least; I never read the books) and Three Dark Crowns won me over with its sequel so I was optomistic I would enjoy this one.

What I Liked:

–Multiple POVs–

I love books that follow multiple characters. I find it gives the novel a 360-degree view of everything that is happening and keeps the story moving. Even if you don’t enjoy one POV, at least you have some others to look forward to.

–Diverse Cast–

When books mimic real life (especially by highlighting prejudices and the like) I’m always invested. This book has quite the group of characters. All the girls come from different family styles, races and castes (travelers, maids, etc). You’ve also got characters that are LGBTQ (in a very normalised, not token kind of way). So in that respect, I truly found this book to deliever on diversity without it feeling like it was simply checking all the marks off.

–The Magic–

I liked how straight-forward the tithe system seemed to be. Not only is everything magic-wise easily explained but it also has limitations. One of my biggest peeves about magic is the almost unlimited power it can have but the magic here makes sense.

–The Blackmail–

I think this is where the Pretty Little Liars comparisons come in because there is someone taunting these girls with their secrets. And the secrets are pretty juicy–and contribute to the plot in a rather strong way. These aren’t petty “I know about your secret relationship” type of secrets; they run much deeper (and more complex) than that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Seems Needlessly Drawn Out–

Perhaps starting this book the week I was working nights wasn’t the best idea–my concentration is pretty crappy. However, I found the chapters used a lot of words to deliver very little in the grand scheme of things. I would get lost in text at times. But I will say that each chapter ended in a way that had me eager for the next one so I was a fan of that.

–Blending of the Characters–

While I praised this book for its diversity earlier on, sometimes I couldn’t tell Zofi apart from Ren from Akeylah. The “problem” is the third person narration. It isn’t very personal as it lacks the depths a first person POV can provide (ie the inner character monologue). As a result, I often had to reread the synopsis just to remember that Zofi was from “A” and her secret was “B” so I wouldn’t get the girls mixed up.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really started to enjoy how the various plots were starting to weave together so I am very curious to see how everything with wrap up (or unravel) in the finale.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Rule 3.5/5 | Rise TBP

overall

While nothing immediately stands out about this fantasy novel, fans of the genre will enjoy this solid and diverse story.

Read if You Like: multiple POV, wordy stories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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 Falling Kingdoms (from Goodreads):

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA Series 2018, Canadian Author
Series: Falling Kingdoms

There is a spin-off series titled Spirits and Thieves

Author: Morgan Rhodes
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: December 2012 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve seen this series floating around over the years but for some reason, I’ve never looked further into it. But when I saw that my library had the audiobooks, I decided to read the synopsis and see if it was something I would like (and possibly enjoy as an audio series)

Clearly it was! I mean it’s a high fantasy–one of my favourite YA genres–, rich with lots of politics and it features multiple character POVs. It’s almost like it was written for me! And that’s not even including the fact that the author is CANADIAN! So I couldn’t wait to dive in and get myself invested in a longer series once again.

The Concept / The World:

In a lot of ways the world here reminded me of Game of Thrones. You’ve got lots of main characters in various kingdoms all vying for dominance. Each kingdom is unique in its lifestyle, rule and religion so it just enriches the world in a way that sucks you in. It’s easy to follow despite the many attributes because it is so well thought out and Rhodes writing style reminds you in case you forget. It’s been a long time since I’ve read and enjoyed a world as much as I did with this!

The Plot:

I will be the first to say that I found the plot in Falling Kingdoms (Book #1) to be pretty weak–especially when you compare it to the sequels which are very strong. Weak in the sense that you don’t have a lot necessarily going on and there aren’t too many big twists. However, where this book succeeded was setting up the incredibly solid foundation for the rest of the series.

The rest of the series is just thrilling to read! Thanks to the multiple character POVs you are always getting a 360-degree view of the world and a plot that just keeps building and building. Twists and new plot developments come out of nowhere and you are stuck to the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. Honestly, these books never have a dull moment.

The Characters:

The development of the characters in this series is also super impressive. I think Cleo is the best example of a character that grows tremendously from book to book. She is by no means the same princess we started the series with by the middle of the series; she went from being a character POV I enjoyed to one I LOVED by book 3.

Magus though is the real star of this series for me. I just loved him and his journey right from the start. I would fangirl so hard anytime the new chapter POV was his. He’s got that bad-boy brooding thing going on and you constantly toy with the idea that he does have a heart and morals. He was just so endearing to me.

But all the characters are fabulous here. Of course, certain storylines appealed to me more than others but I found that always changed from book to book given the various twists. What I really enjoyed is the unpredictability of all the characters. They are constantly evolving and you never know who you can trust given the plot so it adds the suspense of it all.

The Romance:

I would never say this series is a romance at the core of it, but the romances do contribute to the story in a positive way. Like many things in this series, they are constantly evolving and changing so I liked that nothing was cut and dry. There were many “ships” I jumped aboard but I definitely had my favourites 😉 (ie anything involving Magnus <3)

My Audiobook Experience:

I will admit I was worried to take on a series of this length (and genre) as an audiobook but I’m so glad I did! Fred Berman is the narrator and he is absolutely fabulous! Every character has their own unique voice; different regions have their own accents. It’s just very well done. I felt like I was watching a TV show instead of just listening to the words. I highly recommend the audio version!

Series Rating: 5/5

Falling Kingdoms 4.5/5 | Rebel Springs | Gathering Darkness 5/5 | Frozen Tides 5/5 | Crystal Storm 4.5/5 | Immortal Reign 5/5

overall

This series is a must for YA fantasy fans (I also think it is perfect for Cassandra Clare fans as well!) or anyone looking for a rich, multiple POV series.

Read if You Like: multiple POVs, fantasy, Game of Thrones
Avoid if You: dislike long series, dislike fantasy, want more fantasy

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Series Review: Frostblood Saga by Elly Blake

Series Review: Frostblood Saga by Elly Blake

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

Frostblood Saga

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Frosblood (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

breakdown

Series: Frostblood Saga
Author: Elly Blake
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 10, 2017 – August 21, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC (#1); Library–Audio (#2); Library–eBook (#3)

A review copy was only provided for Book #1, Frostblood

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Since 2015, I’ve been devouring any YA fantasy novels that I can get my hands on. They’ve replaced my dystopian obsession (which had replaced my paranormal YA obsession). So, I think it goes without saying that I am a little picky about my fantasies and what I want to see in them.

World-building is a big one. Recently, I’ve found newer series to be lacking that in particular. I don’t want to be thrown into a world and having to figure it out on my own. I also want a heroine or hero I can root for. I don’t need them to be perfect or all powerful, I just want them win me over to their side. And of course, a little romance never hurt anyone. Unless it becomes an unnecessary love triangle: nobody wins with those.

What I Liked:

–The Worldbuilding!–

I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels lately that have something to be desired when it comes to the worldbuilding–but that isn’t the case with Frostblood. I loved that the world was straight-forward but complex all at the same time. Ice vs fire is a battle that is so simple but has a lot of play with it, and that’s what Blake does here.

It takes the time to explain the history of the world and how the magic/powers work, which I greatly appreciate. It also adds a unique flare to the world as well. While readers will probably see parallels to other YA fantasies, this one still had its own refreshing take on the genre that made it so much fun to read.

–Ruby–

I really, really liked her as a heroine. She’s got this sassy, independent side to her that you can’t help but love and root for. Her passion and drive to control her own destiny is exactly what I want to read about in a heroine.

But she also has her flaws and her weaknesses and that makes her a well-rounded heroine who can only grow as this series continues.

–The Pacing–

This novel always felt like it was building. While some of the events might be seen as minor, they all contribute to the plot overall. Whether that was establishing character relationships, giving background on the world or leading to the ultimate plot climax, this story kept me on my toes.

–The Romance–

While not a huge aspect of the novel, it was more than enough to keep me satisfied. The banter between Ruby and Arcus was fantastic.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

It really isn’t that big of a deal but I did think the story was going to focus more on this “king’s tournament”. So I was expecting a lot of physical action. But truthfully, that particular aspect doesn’t start until past the halfway point.

And in the end, I much preferred the story we get instead building up to that point. There was plenty of action even if it wasn’t of the variety I was necessarily expecting.

In short: don’t expect this book to be about a heroine fighting her way to the top in a tournament, there is so much more at play!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This was a solid start to a series! I’m not sure what exactly the future will hold but I’m excited to see more of these characters!

updates

–June 22, 2019– Book #2: Fireblood

I’ve been super excited to finish the series, even if it has taken me awhile to get back to it.

Despite that, it took me a few chapters to get into this sequel. Part of the reason is that I needed to reorient myself into it since it had been awhile. But the other part is that this is one of those sequels where our heroine has to find herself and so we take a bit of a break from the action that captured my full attention in the first novel. Like I mentioned about the first book, I really love Ruby as a character and her development is something I adore about this series so I liked getting to know her deeper.

The last quarter of the book is when things pick up and WHOA, do they ever! I thought I had things figured out but I was wrong (bonus!). Looking forward to the finale.

My library had an audio version for this installment (and only this one) so I thought I would try it out. I really loved the production and I really wanted to read the last book as an audio as well but I couldn’t find a copy.

–October 21, 2019– Book #3: Nightblood

It’s truly unfortunate that I wasn’t able to give this book my full attention for a long time. I do think that impacted my enjoyment of this finale.

But there is a lot to like about this final book. That great character chemistry is still here and I loved the scenes we got along the way. The plot was always building and while I think some of the finer details were lost on me, I was very satisfied by how everything wrapped up.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Frostblood 5/5 | Fireblood 4/5 | Nightblood 4/5

overall

From the sassy lead to the rich world, this is a fantasy series that will surely entertain!

Read if You Like: fantasy, sassy leads
Avoid if You: dislike action/violence, want more romance

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Series Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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

Six of Crows Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Six of Crows (from Goodreads):
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Series: Six of Crows

This is a spinoff of the The Grisha Trilogy.

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 2 (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Heist, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s not a secret that I didn’t really enjoy the Grisha Trilogy. The pacing was off, I couldn’t stand the lead character and I felt like nothing ever happened. And that was a shame, because I loved the Grisha universe and liked a lot of the secondary characters–it had a lot of potential but just didn’t live up to the hype surrounding it for me. So the idea of reading a spin-off, with a completely new cast of characters but set in the exact same universe was appealing to me.

When I read that this was going to be a heist novel, I was stoked! I’ve been looking for a great heist novel since I read the Heist Society novels years ago and have come up disappointed every time. But this one sounded like it could be the next fantastic heist novel for me.

What I Liked:

–Multiple Character Perspectives–

I like my books to have a lot going on in them so that I am never bored. I found the Grisha Trilogy really didn’t have that much else going on other than the main plot line and the romance, so it was a little dull at times. It was especially difficult for me because I didn’t like the lead heroine who was also the sole narrator. I didn’t particularly care for her story but I did like a lot of the side characters and wished their story was told.

My wish was granted here…in a sense.

I really enjoyed reading about multiple characters. It kept things interesting and kept the pace faster. I also liked that each character had a bit of a mystery surrounding them that we got to uncover more as we read. Plus, these characters were infinitely more interesting than Alina ever was and that helped immensely.

–The Heist–

A good heist is hard to write and I think this one was done exceptionally well. I loved the many twists and turns and I liked that it kept me on my toes.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Still Feel like I’m Missing Something

Naturally, heist novels leave stuff out. You always learn about things after the fact because it is more suspenseful that way–and I really enjoyed that about heist novels. It’s also the reason why I understand that they are more often than not third person POV (it just makes things easier).

But at the same time, there were a few things about the characters that I wish were made clearer earlier on in terms of personality. As I said before, one of the things I liked was that their past was slowly revealed and that is completely true. But there were some things about some characters that I felt should have been elaborated on earlier (it’s hard to give an example without giving a spoiler). Because when it was revealed, it was like getting kicked in the face–it just seemed to come out of nowhere and it made me feel like I was missing something.

I still feel like I don’t have a full grasp on what really happened. And to be honest, I had the same problem with the Grisha Trilogy where I felt like things weren’t properly explained. Whether that is a fault in the writing or a fault in my reading abilities–which I tend to lean towards because I am a fast reader–I’m not sure. It could have also been the result of a residual assumption from reading the first series and not really enjoying it. Regardless, it prevented me from getting fully immersed in the story and really made it hard to rate this book overall.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to see what happens next! I became really invested these characters and their stories and I’m looking forward to learning more about them all. With the way everything ended, I’m not sure what is in store, but it if can keep building the momentum I think the sequel will be fantastic!

updates

–November 17, 2016– Book #2: Crooked Kingdom

I picked this book up earlier than I intended just because everyone was so “wowed” by it on Twitter. But I also really wanted to see how everything was going to wrap up and I didn’t want anything to be spoiled for me.

This book was a little up and down for me.

I thought there was wayyyy too much detail at times. Bardugo goes off on these tangents throughout the novel and while some are beneficial for character development, others just threw me off course and made me forget what was happening. You could have easily cut out a few pages and had a totally solid novel. So I found myself getting bored at times simply because we weren’t moving the plot forward because of this excess detail.

What I loved about this book was discovering how attached to these characters I was. One of my biggest problems with the Grisha Trilogy was not loving the leads (minus the Darkling and Nikolai of course) and I really didn’t have that problem here. There were romances I was rooting for; characters I wanted to see come to their full potential; scenes that made my heart stop. This is quite the crew assembled here and they were fabulous!

So overall, it was a solid novel to wrap up this series. Maybe we will get to see this crew in another adventure somewhere down the line but I think everyone will be satisfied with this finale.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Six of Crows 4.5/5  |  Crooked Kingdom 4/5

overall

This series is very different from the Grisha Trilogy. Fans of the Grisha Trilogy will enjoy this alternate look at the world but it is much darker and almost a more grown-up version of the previous series. And even if you didn’t enjoy the Grisha Trilogy but enjoyed the world, this is a great read and definitely not as generic as the inaugural series.

Read if You Like: heist stories, multiple character perspectives
Avoid if You: dislike long books, third person narration

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Series Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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

Orphan Queen Series

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Orphan Queen (from Goodreads):
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: YA Favourite 2015
Series: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 2 (The Orphan Queen, The Mirror King)

There are 4 short stories. Find them all here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Magic, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Jodi Meadows has been on my radar for a long time with her Newsoul Series (though I wasn’t able to read them until I finished this series). Earlier this year, I really got into high fantasy YA and this was one of the many books floating around. It was getting great reviews and from the synopsis, it seemed like it was my kind of story:

  • Political intrigue ✔
  • Independent heroine ✔
  • Undercover premise ✔

Needless to say, I was super excited to start this one!

What I Liked:

–The Layers–

Compared to other novels in this genre, I didn’t find the action to be completely overwhelming. This book was a lot of learning about the world and the journey Wil takes to get to her throne. When there was action, it was great but I never found myself bored between those scenes. Instead, you had Wil working undercover at the castle or Wil doing her vigilante work or her learning more about the wraiths. The plot always kept moving and kept my attention. It never felt slow to me (well, besides the first chapter) when it easily could have been.

–That is it going to be a duology!!!–

I’m loving this trend of having books that only have one sequel! While I think this series could definitely have a third book, I like that everything is going to be wrapped up in the sequel. It makes the story a lot stronger in my opinion–you don’t get filler fluff to pass the time away.

–Wilhelmina–

What I really liked about Wil’s character is that she isn’t invincible or egotistical. She’s passionate about helping her people but it doesn’t cause her to be impulsive or take stupid risks. She thinks about things, can admit when she is wrong and can take care of herself when she needs to. She can fight, but she isn’t some world-renowned fighter. I like that she is more subdued–it really adds to her character development as the story progresses.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Predictability–

For the most part, this book wasn’t overly predictable. There were some plot twists (mainly the ending) that I didn’t see coming so I liked that. It has me on edge to see what is going to happen next.

However, I knew Melanie’s secret behaviour within five seconds of its first appearance; and it was totally obvious to me who the Black Knife was. Perhaps my over indulgence in this genre has made me hyperaware of the various plot twists/elements authors use and so I knew right away.

My other hypothesis is that the reader is supposed to pick up on these things while Wil isn’t–thus adding to her character development/flaws. By having her oblivious to what is happening around her, it does make her more human rather than some untouchable heroine who can do no wrong. I liked that about her but it did make me frustrated at times because it just seemed so obvious to me what was happening.

The Novellas:

I read The Hidden Prince and The Glowing Knight after I read The Orphan Queen and I think that is the best way to go about these novellas. While they are prequel novellas, they kinda give away spoilers about a particular character and I liked that he was a bit of mystery when I was reading The Orphan Queen. I grew to love him in The Orphan Queen so reading these novellas is a bit of a treat for fans of his character and I like that aspect.

The novellas are chronological, meaning they follow the progression of a certain plotline so you do have to read them in order. They add depth to the world and its characters and I think they are very well done. Plus, they are a great way to pass the time while waiting for The Mirror King (and they have teaser chapters!)

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I read the last page, I really, really hoped it wasn’t going to be the last one! There are so many aspects still waiting to be solved and I am super excited to see how it all wraps up in the final story.

updates

–May 13, 2016– Book #2: The Mirror King


The Mirror King was one of my most anticipated sequels of 2016 so I went in with high expectations, egged on by the teaser chapters in the novellas that were released prior to the publication.

The Mirror King was a little slower than I thought it was going to be given the ending of The Orphan Queen. It starts with a bang and then proceeds at a somewhat slower pace. It has a similar pace to the first novel but has a few “WHOA” moments along the way. I wanted more action but everything has to go through the motions.

Overall, I really enjoyed the ending. While parts were predictable–though there were some things I never saw coming–I still enjoyed reading everything and I never got bored. The characters are what drive this series for me and getting to spend that time with them in this book is great. I felt a whole range of emotions reading this novel–and that’s what I want in a grande finale. A great ending to a great duology.

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Orphan Queen 4.5/5 | The Mirror King 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this book and I feel like my review doesn’t reflect that! This one was really hard to write. While it isn’t my favourite book ever, it is one of my favourites in the genre for sure. I just loved the way it built and the various layers to it. I never got bored while reading it. Highly recommended for those who want to get into High Fantasy and have little exposure to it.

Read if You Like: world-building, lost princess stories, independent heroines
Avoid if You: easily predict stories, want more romance

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Series Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch

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 Snow Like Ashes (from Goodreads):
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2015 (Snow Like Ashes)
Series: The Snow Like Ashes Trilogy
Author: Sarah Raasch
# of Books: 3 (Snow Like Ashes, Ice Like Fire, Frost Like Night)

You can read the deleted prologue (Icicles like Kindling) here! Flames Like Vines is a companion story to Ice Like Fire, read it here!

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single; First & Third Person (Ice Like Fire onwards)
Source & Format: Public Library, eBook

thoughts

Snow Like Ashes caught my eye after I saw the cover on a few blogs. I had seen it before when browsing various book sites but I never bothered to read the synopsis. I’m SO glad that I decided to read it–because I absolutely loved it!

When I started reading Snow Like Ashes, I wasn’t totally in the right mindset and the slightly slower pace of the first two chapters didn’t keep my attention where it should be. But, that QUICKLY changed when Meira leaves for her mission.

I was initially worried that Meira would be like Celaena from the Throne of Glass Series: a jaded, take-no-prisoners kind of girl. And while I do love Celaena’s character (and other kick ass heroines like her) it was refreshing to actually watch a character develop into that strong female heroine role like we do with Meira.

Unlike Celaena, Meira isn’t so great at the  hand-to-hand combat aspect, but what she lacks she makes up for in passion and intelligence. Her passion to save her kingdom is there right from the get-go and she doesn’t let it jade her in anyway–she keeps pushing forward and I loved that tenacity. I find a lot of heroines–especially in more dystopian novels–are reluctantly thrust into a rebellion situation and their dislike of being in the “leader” position shows, giving the books a sad, more negative feel. With Meira, I never felt that because she is so optimistic about everything and that was so refreshing to me.

What is even better is that she actually thinks about the consequences of her actions before she gives in to her impulses which wins her major points in my books. I also love her narration: she was sarcastic, witty and just a lot of fun to read about which made this book so addicting to read!

I could probably go on for days about why I loved Meira but I’ll touch on some of the other great aspects of this book.

The “dangerous politics” portion of the synopsis is probably overlooked by most potential readers–I know I sure overlooked it! While this book does have some great action sequences in it, the real focus (at least it seemed to me) was the politics of the world these characters find themselves in. It’s been a long time since I read kingdom focused book a la The Girl of Fire and Thorns or The Iron King and while I did initially have issues sorting out all the places/people (use the map in the books my friends!) it was easier to pick up on as you went.

updates

–November 6, 2015– Book 2: Ice Like Fire

I was super excited to start this one but my excitement died a little once I actually started to read it. Compared to Snow Like Ashes, this book has a more melancholy feel to it and less action…at the start. Given the ending of Snow Like Ashes, I should have expected that and I did to a certain extent. I just kept waiting for it to amp up a bit and get to the good stuff.

Even though most of this story is the politics of the world (something I LOVE in my High Fantasy stories), I did get bored with it. It was just so expected and ordinary that it made me worry that this book wasn’t going to deliver.

Patience is a virtue and in this case, it is your best friend. The last 100 pages were intense, oh so very twisted and action packed. Suddenly the very dry, level story reaches an amazing climax that makes you connect the dots to everything you previously read. In hindsight, it is a beautifully crafted story but it isn’t until the end that you appreciate that. 

–November 6, 2016– Book 3: Ice Like Night

I’ll admit, I went into this book wrong. Despite my excitement to start this, I had briefly read someone’s observations that this wasn’t that great of an ending and so I lowered my expectations.

I could see why someone would be disappointed. I thought the first half of the book was terribly slow. A lot of talking and not enough action–which sucks because I associate this series as the perfect blend of action and political intrigue. It was boring at times and I was thankful we had two other POVs to counteract the somewhat dull Meira POV.

Once I got to the halfway point, there were little blimps of excitement. But it did start to build and I really did enjoy the last 75 pages of so.

Overall, a satisfying ending but not as strong as I had wanted.

My Rating: 4/5

Snow Like Ashes 5/5 | Ice Like Fire 4/5 | Frost Like Night 3.5/5

I hesitated for a long time between giving Snow Like Ashes a 4/5 and a 5/5 (on GoodReads–man I wish they did half stars!). I found that it did lag in places but the slower bits were necessary to the story. I think if I didn’t have to study for exams–which caused my reading to be broken up into large and small chunks–I would have finished this book in one sitting guilt-free. So I opted to give it a 5 on GoodReads and I’ll do the same here.

overall

It’s a solid series that starts to move away from the action into the political sphere of things, slowing the momentum down at times. But even when I thought I had things figured out, I was quickly turned in another direction–so I loved that it kept me on my toes!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, world-building, political intrigue, kick-ass heroines
Avoid if You: dislike action, dislike magic

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Series Review: The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo

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 Shadow and Bone (from Goodreads):
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

breakdown

Series: The Grisha Trilogy

There is a spin-off series set in the same word: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 3 (Shadow and Bone, Seige and Storm, Ruin and Rising)

There are numerous short stories. See Goodreads for full list and order.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2012 – June 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Truth be told, The Grisha Trilogy has been on my TBR list before I ever joined Goodreads. I mean, just look at that cover! But the blogosphere has serious love for this trilogy and I just had to see what all the fuss was about.

Like all books that are endlessly pumped by my fellow bloggers, I tried to keep an open mind and keep my expectations at the level they would have been at before I started blogging/heard all these awesome things. Still, I was really excited to read this!

The Concept / The World:

The Grisha world is so cool! It’s a great blend of science and magic so it’s not very “witchy”, which (no pun intended) always worries me when I pick up a magic novel (for some reason I don’t like witch series).

What I didn’t like about the world is that I felt like it was never fully explained to me. Sure, the hierarchy breakdown on the page at the start of the novel is helpful in classifying warriors, but I felt lost throughout Shadow and Bone trying to keep all the colours, abilities and roles each Grisha group has straight. Maybe it was explained and I just missed it–it is possible, I do read fast–but I don’t think it truly was. Personally, I like books that take those few pages early on to explain how the world works and that disappointed me with this first book.

The Plot:

Shadow and Bone is your typical first book. I think I was expecting more action given the world but a lot of that first book is watching Alina discovering her powers. Which is fine and great for character development, it just wasn’t very thrilling. The last 100 pages are where things get really interesting. That’s when the plot twists, politics and action happen.

Unfortunately, Siege and Storm wasn’t able keep this momentum going for me. And that is a shame because the 2nd book started off so promising! It’s faster paced, has new exciting characters and we get these great mini twists that propel you forward. But then suddenly we get a lull again–and I get why we do, truly I do. It’s needed to build up the rest of the plot for the end of the series. I just wish it didn’t have to be so boring and dry to do that. Perhaps my low tolerance was a result of my reading slump but I think this book would have been slower to me even if I was in the right mood.

I felt like most of this series was just waiting for something big to happen in order for the characters to react; especially in Ruin and Rising (when a conclusion book should be wrapping everything up if you ask me) . Which means great character development and world-building but very little action. And to me that is a waste of potential because these Grisha ARE SO COOL and could do so many other things that would keep my interest!

**My next statement might be a little spoiler-y regarding the last book**

I also have to say this: I feel like Ruin and Rising wrapped up too neatly. It was oddly reminiscent of my reading experience with Breaking Dawn; where everything fans want to see happens and I don’t really feel resolved with these characters. But I was also at the point where I didn’t really care what happened to Alina so it didn’t break my heart.

**End spoiler-y statement**

The Characters:

This is one of those series where I love the secondary characters (and the villain) more than the heroine. Everyone seemed 20x more interesting than Alina to me. She was just dull and I suppose that is part of the point. Like most heroines in a high fantasy, she is suddenly thrust into a world she never expected and discovers she isn’t who she truly expected. But unlike those other heroines, she doesn’t have anything that makes her stand out. Same goes for Mal. I mean I liked them and wanted to root for them but I found myself drawn to these other characters who have much more interesting lives, relationships and attitudes.

The Romance:

The romance is pretty typical. There is a love triangle/square and it’s executed fairly well in terms of driving the plot forward. Around the second book it gets a little tedious to read about  because it’s just jealousy-invoking situations. I also think it doesn’t help that Alina and Mal bore me so that potential pairing doesn’t have me jumping for joy whereas the other one (possibly the other two) suitors peak my interest a lot more.

The Short Stories:

I only read the one story, The Tailor, after Shadow and Bone because of the character it focuses on. I enjoyed it as an extended scene though it isn’t necessary to read. I didn’t pick up the other short stories but I may one day.

I did pick up The Demon in the Woods and The Witch of Duva when the eBooks became available at my library. Both are ~25 pages and give you a little insight into some characters and the world. I actually didn’t finish The Witch of Duva because I couldn’t get into it but The Demon in the Woods was an interesting and informative story. Again, not necessary but for fans of the series, I’m sure they will gobble these up!

Will I pick up the spin-off series?

Actually, I’m really looking forward to the spin-off series! Like I said earlier, I really loved the Grisha world and I think with a new cast of characters, I could easily become obsessed with this universe.

See my review of the spin-off series here!

Series Rating: 3/5

Shadow and Bone 3.5/5  |  Siege and Storm 3/5  |  Ruin and Rising 3/5

overall

This series just didn’t work for me. The pacing was off, the lead characters were typical and the romance was lacklustre. I loved the world but it wasn’t enough to keep my interest. I also think this book suffered from over-hyped syndrome and my expectations for something mind-blowing were at a maximum for this one and I feel like it didn`t live up to that expectation.

Read if You Like: multi-layered worlds, high fantasy, magic based on science
Avoid if You: don’t like slower starts, don’t like adventure paced novels

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  • Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (Worldwalker Trilogy #1)
  • Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (Arcane Chronicles #1)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorn Trilogy #1)

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DNF Series Review: Study by Maria V. Snyder

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 Poison Study (from Goodreads):

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

breakdown

Series: Study Trilogy; The Chronicles of Ixia

There are numerous spin-off/companion series. See Goodreads for book order.

Author: Maria V Snyder
# of Books: 3 (Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study)

There are 3 novellas: #1.5 Assassin Study; #3.5 Power Study & #3.6 Ice Study

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, High Fantasy
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2007 – March 2009
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

PLEASE NOTE: I did not finish Poison Study (I was about halfway through when I stopped). Find out why and if I plan to pick it up at a later time below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When the spin-off/continuation of this series (Soulfinders) was being released earlier this year, this series sparked my interest. I heard a lot of good things via Goodreads so I decided to put these books on hold at the library. Luckily I got them all around the same time; unluckily I had a lot of books to read and felt the pressure to read all of my books before their due dates.

What I Liked:

The Concept

The concept behind this series is very original to me.  The whole predicament Yelena finds herself in is very intriguing and something I have never come across before. I like the danger that’s at play. And I also like how Yelena is a murderer—probably not the nicest way to phrase it but I like that she isn’t a goody-two-shoes heroine and that she holds no apologizes for her actions.

The World

I really like the setup of this city. Instead of some tyrannical ruler, you actually have someone who seems like an OK guy in charge. I like how the hierarchy of the  world is laid out as well. It was very refreshing to read.

What I Didn’t Like:

Very Slow plot movement

This book just couldn’t keep my attention. I’m sure that part of the problem was that I wasn’t in the right mindset to read a slower book but I found myself drifting. And normally I like plots where a lot is going on but I just felt like too many things were thrown out at once and then left to ferment while another plot-line was worked for a bit. I’m sure if I was into this book like I expected and usually am, this wouldn’t have been an issue but this time around it was. I was halfway through and I felt like we were just scratching the surface when we should have been in the thick of something.

Will I finish it?

I really think this was just a case of bad timing. Because I felt the pressure to read so many other books I just didn’t have the patience to read something on the slower side of things. In the end, it was simply a matter of priority to decide what books to read and which ones to drop. And unfortunately, I opted to read the sequels to a series I had already started.

I plan on finishing Poison Study at the very least. When I stopped reading it was building really nicely so I think it has a lot of potential to keep my interest when I actually have the time to.

My Rating: –

overall

This one showed a lot of promise and I’m not quite ready to give it up. I hope to pick this series back up later when I have the time for this slower inaugural book.

Read if You Like: magic, slow building stories
Avoid if You: don’t like slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin Trilogy #1)
  • Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood (The Poison Diaries Series #1)
  • Defiance by C.J. Redwine (Defiance Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Series Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for An Ember in the Ashes (from Goodreads):
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

breakdown

Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4, will be published in April 2020
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Supernatural, Magic, Dystopian, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: cool *mature subject matter*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating; Multiple (#2 on)
Publication Date: April 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (#2)

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere around it’s release date but I had put it on my list in March when it was added to my library. In hindsight, it was great because High Fantasy novels have been my JAM lately and this fit the bill perfectly! But the key words that drew me in: “inspired by ancient Rome” and “spy”. Also, the promise of a forbidden romance–yes please!

So needless to say, I was really excited to read this book.

The Concept / The World:

I really liked the world this book takes place in and I’m sure I would have liked it more if I knew more about ancient Rome. I know general stuff but nothing to confirm this book has deep-rooted inspiration. Though it is important to note that the subject of rape is brought up multiple times within the book so if that makes you uncomfortable, just be aware.

The societal hierarchies were easy to follow with their Latin names but I found the supernatural elements to be VERY confusing. Confusing in the sense that I couldn’t remember what each creature did as I read because the names were in Latin and I have an awful memory. It would have been easy to rectify if I bothered to flip back in the book–though in the end it really isn’t a huge deal.

The Plot:

This book started really slowly for me. It took me a while to get into the story because the first quarter or so is used to build up the world. Which is fine, it just makes this book seem longer than it is (though it is long, even as an eBook).

But once this got going, man, I was hooked. It helps that we get to very well developed POVs. Elias’ POV is packed with action while Laia’s is more of the political side of things and in addition they each have their own plotlines. It’s almost like you have two different stories in one and the reader in me who loves lots of things going on really liked that. (Don’t worry, it’s really easy to understand what is happening and it isn’t very overwhelming!).

However, while there were some excellent mini-twists along the way, there were some points that were too predictable for me. That’s why this book is only a 4 star and not a 5 star to me because I really wasn’t WOWed by any of the plot points. Yes, those few twists we got were great and the battle scenes were hard to call; but I just felt like it was lacking that book-altering twist for me. Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed reading this book!

The Characters:

I loved Elias as soon as we met him. I just loved his personality and morals plus, I adored his friends. His POVs were easily my favourite to read about because they were so interesting and action-packed. Honestly, this book could have just been his POV and I would have been happy.

I liked Laia but she isn’t going to win any “amazing heroine awards” in this book; but at the same time, I don’t think she’s supposed to. Unlike other high fantasy heroines that I have been reading about recently, Laia isn’t prepared for the life she is thrust into in any way. She isn’t a fighter, she isn’t a rebel: she is a scared girl who makes rash decisions because she doesn’t know any better–which is so refreshing to me!  She reminds me that not all heroines are like Katniss or Celaena and that is A-OK! (Though I agree that as a reader she is hard to read about because there is a great secondary character who is like those two heroines that I think readers will/do like more). It was great to watch her grow into the independent woman she always could have been. Her passion to help her brother is her greatest strength and weakness and I can’t wait to see what happens to her in the future because of it.

The Romance:

This one is hard to review without giving too much away but I’ll give it a shot!

Normally, I’m not a fan of love triangles but I really enjoyed the interchanging ones in this book. I say interchanging because there a multiple suitors for multiple characters–and when I say ‘suitors’ I mean people who have crushes on characters but they aren’t all serious contenders in the end. What I really liked is that I don’t know who I want to “win” the main love triangle because I really like all the characters involved. But at the same time, I feel like all the possible romantic relationships need some series attention before they can be resolved–they aren’t fully developed because the romance really isn’t a huge focus of the book. It’s important but it isn’t the sole focus of the book–which is why it is hard to say who will end up with who in the end. The love triangles do their job of adding to the plot but they don’t take away from it so I really didn’t mind their presence.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to read the sequel to this book! This book didn’t WOW me but I really think the next one could because all the great lead-ups are there, they just need some fine tuning.

updates

–May 9, 2019– Book #2: A Torch Against the Night

After years away from this series, I decided to read the sequels as audiobooks to get me back into it. I have to say, it was a great choice! I loved the audio performances and I think it helped keep my attention.

This book was so-so for me. Laia grates on my nerves and I can’t stand the romance with Elias. I think that’s because I could read a book featuring only Helene and be more than satisfied. I loved her story line.

There were some great twists though! And while I’m not the biggest fan of the supernatural elements, I’m warming up to the idea now that they are being elaborated on more in this novel.

–August 21, 2019– Book #3: A Reaper at the Gates

If these novels only focused on Helene, I’d be giving them 5/5 every time. I find her story fascinating and it’s everything I want in a fantasy novel: dirty politics, action and a girl giving it everything she has. I lived for her chapters.

Otherwise, this book had some pacing issues. I’d find myself a little bored in the middle. I think part of the reason is that Laia’s story just seems so run of the mill to me and we go very little from Elias near the end. And once again, I’m getting lost in all the paranormal/supernatural elements but they are starting to mesh with the story.

I honestly have no idea how this is going to end–and that has me pretty excited for the finale.

My Rating: 4/5

An Ember in the Ashes 4/5 | A Torch Against the Night 3/5 | A Reaper at the Gates 3/5

overall

Like I said, this book was missing the WOW factor for me but I really, really enjoyed reading it! It has all the great elements needed for a high fantasy YA series that seem to build as the sequels progress.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance, don’t like supernatural elements

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Series Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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 Red Queen (from Goodreads):
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read 2015 (Red Queen), Biggest Disappointment 2016 (Glass Sword)
Series: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
# of Books: 3 (Red Queen, Glass Sword, King’s Cage, book 4)

There are two novellas: #0.1 Queen Song & #0.2 Steel Scars

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, King’s Cage, will be published February 2017
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Dystopian, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Find out why I DNF’d the Glass Sword (Book 2) below:

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Lately I’ve been really into High Fantasy novels–if you look at my 5/5 star books for the year, most of them are high fantasy YA novels. I’m loving this blend of dystopian tones, magic, romance and political intrigue. They are everything I love in novels and I’m so stoked that current YA trends are churning out these amazing pieces of fiction.

So, I think it goes without saying, I was super excited to read the Red Queen. I was actually excited for it before I even picked up the other High Fantasy books I read this year and dutifully ignored other reviews so nothing would be spoiled. I was hoping this book would be what I wanted The Selection to be: a politically focused dystopian read with a heroine who is actually intelligent. And after I read The Winner’s Curse and Snow Like Ashes, I was really hoping Mare would be in league with these fantastic leading ladies!

The Concept / The World:

The entire Red Queen world is a combination of lots of other fantasy and dystopian worlds but at the same time, I found it to be very refreshing. It took elements from my favourite books and used them to their full advantage without going over the top or feeling unoriginal. So while some people will definitely see parallels, I never felt like I was reading a regurgitation of another book. The book does a great job of building and explaining the world at the start and throughout the novel so world-building fans will love it!

I usually don’t love magical elements in my stories but I really loved the way it works here. It was very Avatar: Legend of Korra to me with their powers and I had a lot of fun learning about all the different types of Silvers.

The Plot:

While this book started very slow to me, it really kept my attention and I always felt like it was building up to something. And boy was it building up to something! This story is great! It truly kept me on my toes and I never knew what was going to happen next!

This book had a great balance between action and politics; though the political aspects are the standout feature to me. I’m not sure how many people watch Game of Thrones but I adore the political games that are always afoot with those characters. And this book had the same deceptive games. I loved that it kept me thinking five moves ahead but I was always surprised but what happened next.

And the last 100 pages—simply amazing!

The Characters:

When I first started reading this book, I was really worried Mare would be like America from The Selection: a girl thrust into a situation she never imagined yet does nothing as everything happens around her to resolve the world. That frustrated me to no end with the Selection Trilogy so I was very relieved that that wasn’t the case with Mare.

Mare isn’t an instant kick-ass character though she is a interesting character–and I really loved that. She isn’t flawless and she really has to work for what she wants which made reading so captivating.

And the same can be said about the other characters. They really kept me on the edge of my seat and they all had great character development.

The Romance:

Don’t go into this book expecting some passionate romance. While it definitely is there and has an important role to play, it isn’t all consuming which was great. Even the romantic in me was satisfied by what we had here.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Red Queen really set the stage for the rest of the series and I truly can’t wait to see what happens next!

updates

–November 17, 2016– Book #2: Glass Sword

I really hummed and hawed over DNFing this one or not. Even ran a Twitter poll…most people said to DNF it.

I was SO BORED by this book!

I LOVED the Red Queen! I was a strong defender of it, telling everyone to not be so hard on it and all that. So Glass Sword was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016.

But this was dreadfully dry. Nothing seemed to be happen except the passing of time.

Understandably, everyone is a little beaten down. Mare especially. I really struggled with her character. Cal was so dull; and there was very little Maven.

This is the very definition of a Book 2 slump if you ask me. It’s just one of those bridging books that is a necessary evil to the series. Seems like something big happens at the end that I am curious about, but not curious enough to pick this one back up.

It’s been 8 months since I stopped in the middle of the novel and I haven’t regretted it yet.

Perhaps I’ll finish it another time but as of right now, this is a DNF’d series for me.

My Rating: DNF

Red Queen 5/5 | Glass Sword DNF

overall

Even the slow start couldn’t deter me from loving this book! It’s perfect for readers who love political games with a dash of physical action. YA High Fantasy at its finest!

Obviously, my opinion has changed. Each book seems to have a slow start and really only climaxes at the end of the novel. Sorry, but I just need something that will keep my attention all the way through.

Read if You Like: characters with magical/supernatural powers, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow starting stories, want more romance

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