Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena’s unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before…
Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

Book Cover

Review:
I absolutely love this series. Yelena is such an interesting main character. I mentioned in my review for the second book that it felt like the overarching series plot was getting a little lost, it felt a bit slow. But Fire Study really pulled it all together. There were a few things I didn’t totally love, like Yelena has gone through all this stuff. But she doesn’t seem to learn anything or improve until the final third of this book. It’s been almost three books, she should have grown and developed some right? It felt like she regressed in book two and so in this book she worked to get all that back. And then, we didn’t really even get to see that growth because it all happened so quickly. I still love her though. My other issue with Yelena was that she didn’t take the time to feel things. At one point, someone she loves dies and we don’t see or feel any of that grief. I get that she’s just pushing it all away because there’s a lot of other things going on at the same time, but it would have been nice to see her take a moment for herself to feel that loss.
That’s really all that I didn’t like. I loved the revealing of all the secrets. I said this in my review for the first book, but some of the plot twists were predictable and others took me by surprise. I don’t mind this as I always feel smart when I predict things that are going to happen. I think the finale of this series was pulled together so nicely with all of the bits and pieces wrapped up in a satisfying way. I really enjoyed the world and seeing people from both Ixia and Sitia come together to overcome the big bad. I felt like we got more of the characters I love from the first book which made me happy.
Overall, this was an enjoyable conclusion. I love this world. I think the magic system is complex and fascinating. Yelena is a main character I could get behind (most of the time since she runs full on into danger entirely too often). I loved the romance and would have loved to get more of that. I think the world is compelling and I’m excited to read the companion series that follows someone we met in book two. I absolutely recommend this series to any fantasy lovers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
You know your life is complicated when you miss your days as a poison taster…
With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be united with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But although she has gained her freedom, she once again finds herself alone – separated from her lover Valek and suspected as a spy for her reluctance to conform to Sitian ways.
Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magic training – especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes embroiled in a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince – and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.
If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.

Book Cover

Review:
Magic Study is very similar to the first book. It follows the same sort of journey as Poison Study. Yelena is now in Sitia where she’s come to the magicians keep to be trained in magic. Yelena is reunited with her family that she was taken from as a child. She has a lot to deal with emotionally. She’s meeting a family she doesn’t know. She’s now living in a territory she doesn’t remember. She must learn to control her magic. She’s always adjusting to a completely different culture than what she’s grown up knowing.
But then, because it’s Yelena, several someone’s want to kill her. So, she’s still not fully trained and once again on edge constantly looking over her shoulder. But she’s growing. She working on trusting others and not just taking matters into her own hands. She’s not always succeeding at this, but she’s trying. She’s trying to see the bigger picture, starting to think about what the future can hold for her.
The characters are really what made this story. We get to see characters we loved from the first book like Valek, Ari, and Janco. I loved getting to see Ari and Janco again. They are such good friends to Yelena. I liked seeing them outside of Ixia. But we also have some new characters like, Leif, Dax, and Irys. Irys we met in the last book, but we get to know her a little bit better in this one. Though, now that I’m thinking about it, I feel like we didn’t ever actually learn anything about her. Not like we did with the Commander in the first book anyway. I really liked Dax. His was a bit of a superficial friendship, but he added some humor and levity to the story which I liked. Leif was a really interesting character and the more we learned about him the more I wanted to learn even more. I’m already very excited to see him again in the third book.
Overall, this story was similar to Poison Study because it follows the same plot line of Yelena learning something knew and getting taught about that as well as training and learning to ride horses. Side note, Kiki was absolutely my favorite character in this series. But once she’s learning magic, she realizes there are political things going on around her that she just can’t help but get involved in. So, there’s lots of issues in the world and Yelena always manages to make it her problem. But she learns a lot about herself and her abilities. I liked that we got to see a bit of her and Valek together again. I’m also very intrigued to read the third book and see where this is all going. So far, the first two books have had their own contained plots with mysteries to be solved. But the overarching series plot seems a bit slow so I’m interested to see where all of this is going.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
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…

Book Cover

Review:
I’ve just finished rereading Poison Study for my “Rereading Books I Loved as a Teenager” blog post which I will be wrapping up later this month. I read this series back in 2012 when I found it randomly at my local library. I remembered really loving them, so I bought the trilogy when I found them at one of my local used bookstores a year or so ago. But with all the moving I’ve done and will be doing in the future; I’ve been working on rereading books I don’t remember anything about other than the fact that I liked them so I could see if I still liked them or not.
Poison Study follows Yelena who is about to be executed for murder. But when Valek, the Commander’s chief of security, offers Yelena a position as the Commander’s new food taster. After Yelena accepts, Valek teaches her how to sniff out and taste poisons that might be used to kill the Commander. I thought Yelena’s training in poisons was a great part of the story. It was interesting to learn about the poisons but while she’s learning that, we’re also learning about how this world works and the governing of Ixia. We learn a bit about Ixia’s past. The start of the story is pretty slow. We know that Yelena killed the son of someone important. The fact that she’s still alive is something that this man isn’t happy with. Along with learning about how to identify poisons, Yelena is being targeted by several different people. So, not only is she trying not to be poisoned to death, but she’s also on the lookout for anyone trying to physically attack her as well. This is when the story starts to get more complicated and a bit political.
Yelena and Valek are suspicious of the man trying to have Yelena killed, but he’s in a position of leadership, so it’s complicated. I think the political twists and turns of the plot were interesting ones. There were some that were predictable, people that were so obviously ‘bad guys’ but what was interesting was figuring out how they were doing the things they were doing. You could see all of the pieces and it was pretty clear that they were all connected, but finding out how exactly the puzzle pieced together was a compelling story.
This story was way darker than I remember. Yelena’s childhood was filled with trauma, from torture (that’s pretty explicitly described) to rape. She was not treated well. But she seemed like a pretty well-adjusted person for someone that had been through all of that and then spend a year in a dungeon. We’re told about her trauma and shown what she’s been through and it seems that the biggest thing from everything she’s experienced is that she wants to learn to fight so that she’ll never be defenseless again. Also, she has a ghost following her that we don’t really know much about what exactly that means, so I guess we will find out more in the next book.
The romance between Yelena and Valek was one I enjoyed. I’ve read mixed reviews about this as many pictured Valek to me an older gentleman and Yelena is supposed to be only 19. But we learn more about Valek’s history it’s clear he’s not an old man. I think their romance was slowly developed and believable. I really enjoyed it and I’m very excited for the ‘forbidden romance’ aspect of the next book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was way darker than I was anticipating, but I enjoyed it. There is also a trans man in this first book that I believe we will see again later in the series, but I can’t speak to whether it’s good or bad representation, so if you’ve read this and you can speak for the representation, let me know. I’ve seen lots of people compare this to Throne of Glass and I can sort of see the comparison, but this series came first so. I’m eager to continue the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Rewind

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week we post our Top Ten for the weeks topic. This week’s is to pick a topic we missed or wanted to revisit. I chose to do my Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes. Antonia chose a different topic, but also liked this one so her top ten is here along with mine. Enjoy!

Amanda’s Top Ten:

1 – “True love will triumph in the end – which may or may not be a lie, but if it is a lie, it is the most beautiful lie we have.” –John Green, Looking for Alaska. This is one of my absolute favorite John Green quotes and there was no way I would leave it out.

2 – “When I look at my room, I see a girl who loves books.” –John Green, Looking for Alaska. Basically my life.

3 – “I’m in love and I like how that feels. And I hate how that feels. Because love is an invention of fiction writers” –Ellen Hopkins, Identical.

4 – “One must always be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” –Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel. There has never been a more accurate quote.

5 – “Everyone has choices to make; no one had the right to take those choices away from us. Not even out of love.” –Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes.

6 – “You have slipped under my skin, invaded my blood, and seized my heart. You have poisoned me.” –Maria V. Snyder, Poison Study. If you’ve read the book you know why I love this quote.

7 – “Anyone else feel like that? Like your life’s a big act. Like you’re trying to be a man when you’re just a scared kid, trying to keep under control when you really want to scream, cry, or maybe hit someone. Ever feel like you’re breathing underwater and you have to stop because you’re gulping in too much fluid.” –Alex Flinn, Breathing Underwater.

8 – “I wasn’t dating anyone. I was fornicating with Batman.” –Janet Evanovich, Hard Eight. oh Ranger, I love you so much.

9 – “It’s fucking hard to be classy.” –Janet Evanovich, One for the Money. The perfect quote to describe myself and Antonia here at Classy as Fuck Book Reviews.

10 – “People come, people go – they’ll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a favorite book. When you finally close the cover, the characters have told their story and you start up again with another book, complete with new characters and adventures. Then you find yourself focusing on the new ones, not the ones from the past.” –Nicholas Sparks, The Rescue.

Antonia’s Top Ten:

1) “If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be, and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte. I don’t think I need to explain any of my Wuthering Heights quotes. They just stuck with me years after finishing the book. I don’t usually remember quotes from books, but these wouldn’t leave me alone.

2) “Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you–haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe–I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

3) “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.” Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

4) “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. *Swoon* Enough said.

5) “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take.” Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien. I adore Tolkien and every word he wrote in these books.

6) “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.” The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien. This quote just always gave me this nice, happy feeling.

7) “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. Books are the love of my life. I don’t need to explain book quotes to you guys, do I?

8) “Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask for anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.” Inkheart, Cornelia Funke.

9) “If you would change a thing, first understand why it exists.” Outstretched Shadow, Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. I’m not sure why. I just really love this quote.

10) “And infatuated be damned. He was near to being blinded by his attraction to her. He was in love, damn it all. He disliked her, he resented her, he disapproved of almost everything about her, yet he was head over ears in love with her, like a foolish schoolboy. He wondered grimly what he was going to do about it. He was not amused. Or in any way pleased.” Slightly Dangerous, Mary Balogh. I love Wulfric. He’s fantastic and tries so hard not to love Christine. He reminds me a lot of Mr. Darcy which might be the entire reason I love him.

These are mine, but I love hearing new quotes so don’t be afraid to share your favorites too!

-Antonia.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Before Blogging Favorites


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This weeks Top Ten is favorite books before I became a blogger. These are my Top Ten favorites. There in no particular order. Let me know what you think.

1. Looking for Alaska by John Green – Looking for Alaska has been my favorite book for almost four years now. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. You’ll actually be getting a review on this book in the near future.

2. The Ugly Duckling by Iris Johansen – I can’t even explain in words how much I love this book. The Ugly Duckling is the book that pulled me into the reading obsessed world. It was suspenseful and full of action which I’ve come to expect from Johansen. Reading this gave me a thrill that never went away.

3. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder – I’m putting this on my list of favorites because when I finally decided to read this series I immediately fell in love. I don’t usually read fantasy type books but this book sucked me in so quickly. I didn’t out it down until I was finished.

4. Identical by Ellen Hopkins – The first time I read this book I was a mess by the time I finished. This book shocked me, made me think. I couldn’t put it down. I love everything about this book. You should too.

5. The Next Always by Nora Roberts – The Inn Boonsboro books are a fantastic read. The first is my favorite because, basically, Claire. I fell in love with Claire and her three boys and her bookstore very quickly. Read this book now.

6. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey – I’ve read this book a few times and it’s on my favorites list because the truth of this story blew me away. The powerfulness of this man’s struggles really got to me.

7. Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich – I love the Stephanie Plum series because they’re enjoyable and seriously funny books. Eight’s my favorite because lots of things happen with my favorite characters. Along with the new characters that are introduced and the crazy things Stephanie gets herself into.

8. Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn – This book was shown to me by my brother which, if you knew him, you’d know that he doesn’t belong in the same sentence as the word book. I didn’t know what to expect from a book my brother recommended but I gave it a shot. I’ve read many of Alex Flinn’s books and this is by far my favorite out of all of them.

9. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter will forever be a favorite of mine. That’s it. End of story.

10. Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – I have read so many books by her and I love them all but this is my favorite. It’s hilarious, heart breaking and suspenseful all at the same time.

Love them like I do, read them all.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.