Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Summary:
It’s been only months since Eragon first uttered “brisingr,” the ancient language term for fire. Since then, he’s not only learned to create magic with words—he’s been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.
When danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices—choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimaginable sacrifice.
Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?
Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle, #3)Review:
I’m going to be honest here. I had a really hard time with this book. It didn’t keep my interest like the first two did. I don’t know if that’s because of the different perspectives or something else, but I kept putting it down and really had to convince myself to pick it up again. Part of me is wondering how I’m going to get through the final book.
Things I liked are as follows; I love that we’re seeing some really great character development from Eragon. He’s grown so much from the annoying boy he was in the first book. I’ve really grown to care about him and his journey. He’s making better choices and really thinking about the effects that his actions have on the world around him. I also really enjoyed the big reveals we were given. We learn a few things that pull the story together. I thought they were unexpected and I really enjoyed the plot twists. I also enjoying seeing more of the world this story takes place in. Eragon travels all over and I love seeing the world because it’s full of so many interesting characters and places. There are some great relationships that have been developed over the time line of the story and the just get better and better.
What I didn’t like; no surprise here. Roran, Eragon’s cousin. I just don’t care about him. I think I might have cared had we learned about him in another way, but when the story is in his perspective it just makes me want to put the book down. I don’t care what he thinks or says. Katrina is annoying with always worrying and him never wanting to worry her. I just don’t care about him. I don’t know what it is.
Overall, I’m still hooked enough into the story, especially since I’ve read three of the four books. So, I’ll be continuing onto the fourth book because I need to know how Eragon is going to defeat the villain. I am excited to see how this saga is concluded and what Eragon comes up with to beat the big bad.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

Summary:
Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.
But having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilizing the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.
Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…
The Song Rising (The Bone Season, #3)Review:
The third book in The Bone Season series. I think I should have read this a bit sooner after finishing the second because of all the terminology. I was a smidge confused for the first few chapters because I didn’t remember what everything was. Despite that, I really enjoyed this book. I cannot wait to see where this series will go next. I’m going to say now, if you haven’t read any of the books in this series, you shouldn’t continue reading this. This is the third book in the series so, if you haven’t read books ONE and TWO, please leave and I’ll see you after you enjoy those wonderful stories.
So, in this book we follow Paige after she’s kicked ass and taken names and made herself Underqueen of the Mime Order. I loved Paige in this book because she’s fierce and full of fire. She hates being pushed around and skirts the rules and restrictions at every turn. She’s passionate and determined, she’s smart and loyal. She does what she needs to in order to protect her people. I gained so much respect for her in this book because she never once puts herself ahead of anyone. Even though she’s the leader and she could just send people to accomplish things, she insists on doing the dangerous things herself. She will not put her people at risk. I think this is so admirable. She really proves over and over the lengths she’s willing to go for the people she leads.
There’s so much going on politically in this story. There are so many pieces in play at this point that it’s hard to even explain so I’m not going to. The politics were interesting and complex and had me completely involved in the story. I felt for these people we saw suffering. I wanted to help them just as much as Paige did. I think this world is so incredibly well-built and I loved seeing more of it. We did a fair bit of traveling to places outside of London and I thought it was so interesting to see how other places had been affected.
Finally, the Warden. The slowest slow burn I’ve ever seen. I can’t even handle it. I just want them to get together already. I’m a suck for forbidden romance. I’m really intrigued to see where this relationship is going to go and how things will end up. They are already irrevocably connected and I love it. I loved their few moments where they allowed themselves to show their feelings, but I wanted more. I want them to be together forever already. I don’t want slow burn anymore.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The politics are getting serious. Paige is proving what kind of leader she is. Things are really getting thrilling. With that ending I’m dying to know where the next book is going to go. I hate that I have to wait until next year to find out.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Summary:
The queen has returned.
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…
She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.
The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
Review:
I am currently experiencing ALL THE FEELS. Queen of Shadows might actually be my favorite out of all of these books because there’s just so much love within the pages. I don’t know how Maas does it, usually the sequels are okay or alright, but the further this series goes the better it gets.
Queen of Shadows was full of drama and friendships and forgiveness and I loved every page. There were so many new characters that made new friends and mended fences with old friends or enemies. The character development was excellent so was the storyline and the pace of the story. We get to see so many of the things we learned about in the first three books finally come together. The start of the many different pieces falling into place.
I loved getting to learn and explore more of this world. We learn more about the traditions of Terrasan. I liked learning more about the world that Aelin was meant to rule.

“Stones were eternal–flowers were not.”

The characters were absolutely my favorite part. I love seeing Aelin really develop into a leader and the Queen she is meant to be. I love seeing her mend fences with others she previously swore to kill. I definitely died a little seeing her reunite with Aedion. She’s grown so much in the last few books and I don’t even want to be writing this I just want to read the next book.

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.”

Rowan, sigh. I just really adore him. That’s all.

“You make me want to live, too, Aelin Galathynius,” he said. “Not exist–but live.”

Chaol really comes a long way. He forgives Aelin for a lot of things. He tries not to hold the whole world on his shoulders like he always did in the past. (He mostly fails, but he tries.) I like seeing his relationship with another rebel grow despite his subconscious attempts to sabotage it.

“Let’s go rattle the stars.”

Oh, Dorian. Dorian’s chapters were honestly so hard for me to read. Poor poor Dorian. I don’t want to say too much, but he really gets the shit end of all of the sticks.

“They were infinite. They were the beginning and the ending; they were eternity.”

Kaltain is another that didn’t deserve what she got. But she proved that she was stronger than anyone knew. She bided her time before ruining lives and taking her own revenge. I loved her, even though I wish her story ended differently.

“She’s forgotten the name she’s been given, but it made no difference. She had only one name now: Death, devourer of worlds.”

Manon is the one that has the most growth. She’s growing and maybe even has a heart. I love reading her chapters because she really has changed so much and I’m so proud of her. I think some of my favorite parts of this book were seeing her interact with the other characters, especially Dorian. Any time she and Aelin met there was chaos and excitement and I loved it so much.

“I loved her in a way I cannot describe–other than to tell you it was the most powerful thing I’ve ever felt, greater than rage, than lust, than magic.”

Elide was another new character that I really just adored. She was broken and seemingly frail but proved in every page that she was exactly the opposite. She was strong and brave and willing to do whatever it took to gain her freedom and returned to her queen.

“Blue,” she whispered. “My blood runs blue.”

Lysandra yaaaas. She’s fierce and sassy and loyal and all the good things. She’s such a good friend. She proves herself over and over again. I loved her attitude and bravery and I can’t believe I’m still writing this and haven’t started the next book yet.

“Please,” Lysandra said, waving a manicured hand, “you and I are nothing but wild beasts wearing human skins. Don’t even try to deny it.”

This has been my favorite book out of all of them, but there are still three more books so, I guess we will see. I’m going to go read the next book and probably die inside now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Summary:
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.
Review:
I believe I mentioned in my review of the first book, City of Bones (read it here!), but I’m doing a reread of the whole series in anticipation of Queen of Air and Darkness being released this December. Who else is as psyched as I am?

“You are mortal; you age; you die,” the Queen said dismissively. “If that is not hell, pray tell me, what is?”

Let’s get down to it. I think because I’m rereading this series so many years after originally reading it my feelings have changed. Along with how popular and discussed these books have become I’ve heard and read so many other viewpoints that I’ve come to look at this series in a different light. I don’t love these books as much as I used to. I see more of the flaws in them. That’s not to say that they’re not still good books, because they are. I still enjoyed the series (so far) for sure.
I really like the twist with Clary’s powers and abilities. I think it’s really interesting. It’s cool because, on top of her being this super cool shadowhunter, she’s also more than that. I think this twist was written into the story well. When it comes to Clary, I still love her. She tries to do the right thing for as many people as she can (most of the time.) Every now and then she throws all sense out the window, but in a way that works. She’s being crazy for good reasons. I honestly thought I was going to find Clary annoying in this reread because it’s been so long since I last read the books but she’s a well-written character that is smart (mostly) and caring and passionate.
Jace however, was a little annoying. He’s headstrong and macho. He’s snarky, and not always in a good way. He always has to be right or have the last word and it got on my nerves a little. I think the attempt was to make him the ‘bad boy’ but it didn’t work. He was just kind of an asshole, even with his tragic backstory of abuse and lies. Though I do like that everyone keeps assuming the worst from him and he proves them wrong every time. So maybe its the facade of bad boy that I don’t like because it’s fake. He shows us that he’s really mostly a good guy.
The rest of the gang adds hilarity and entertainment like usual. The lightwoods will forever be excellent supporting characters. I love how kickass Isabelle is. She’s funny and snarky and sassy in all the best ways.

“Isabelle shrugged philosophically. “I’m pure at heart. It repels the dirt.””

I love seeing Alec develop more and more. He starts to come out of his shell in this book. Taking more risks and being more open about who he really is. The same goes for Simon. I’m enjoying seeing him develop and grow and I’m glad the whole Clary/Simon relationship is over. I forgot about that and it was weird. But Simon is finding his place in the craziness that is the shadowhunter world and I like who he’s growing into.
I liked this book well enough. I didn’t love it to pieces but I definitely didn’t hate it either. It was a fun story with good development for most of the characters with of information that helped them grow and a few little tidbits that left the reader saying, hmm I wonder how that will play into the story in the next books. There are also a few excellent quotes (like there is throughout all of Clare’s books.) If you haven’t read this series, I recommend it for sure.

“Maybe it was true what the Seelie Queen had said, after all: “Love made you a liar.””

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Silver Queen by Josie Jaffrey

Summary: The last city on Earth is contaminated. Now blood is the only thing that can wash it clean.

Julia is trapped inside the Blue as the Nobles fight over the few humans who are still alive. When the dust settles and she finds herself shackled to a new master, she knows she must escape or die.

Meanwhile, Cam has gathered a handful of comrades and is on his way into the Red to rescue his queen. But not all of his friends can be trusted, and not all of them will make it back alive.

The Silver Queen is the second book in Josie Jaffrey’s Sovereign trilogy, set in a dystopian Europe where vampiric Nobles control the last remnants of the human race.

Review: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
This is the second book in the Sovereign series. You can read my review of the first book here.
So I just reread my review of the first book to remind myself of which points I’ve already spoken about so I don’t repeat myself too much but I’ve just confused myself more. My feelings about the second book are practically opposite of what they were from the first; at least as far as the characters are concerned.
Originally I felt more connected with Cam and Felix’s relationship than I did Julia and Lucas’s. However, after the second book that’s been reversed for me. Maybe it’s because I started liking Felix less and less the more I read but I no longer support their relationship.
My favorite part of Julia and Lucas’s relationship is that, after he abandoned her in the Blue, she still loves him but no longer trusts him the same way. She’s learned to be independent and even after they’re reunited she questions their relationship. Not just because of the way he left her but because she realizes they’re different people now.
That being said, the romances are still my least favorite part of these books. They feel a little forced to me and I would’ve liked the story more if they weren’t part of it at all.
I like Julia even more now than I did after the first book. Things have changed. She’s had to learn things about herself and the world the hard way, make tough choices, fend for herself. I really admire the strength of her character after everything she’s been through.
Cam is still one of my favorites (except where Felix is concerned). Even after all this time he still tries to believe the best in people. He’s a soldier but doesn’t really want to be and I think those two aspects of his personality were blended really well. I can’t wait to see how the events of this book affect him in the next one.
Another problem I had was the maturity of the characters. Julia, Claudia, Lucas being immature sometimes I can understand. They’re young and emotional, it makes sense. Cameron and the other immortals being immature though? Many of these characters are close to a thousand years old. I could forgive it once or twice, especially where love is involved because people do stupid things when they’re in love and I don’t believe that gets better with age. That wasn’t the case here though. The immortals made the same kinds of decisions that the teenagers did and that didn’t seem realistic to me at all. It felt like some of their actions were forced to steer the plot in a certain direction and not because it was natural for that particular character.
My absolute favorite part of the book was the world-building. It really feels like a dystopian world. Travel takes weeks or even months because the closest thing to vehicles they have are horses and there aren’t many of them. There is no communication over distances because there’s no internet or mail system and they can’t train birds to send messages because animals have contaminated blood.
Even the different cures and contaminations were well thought out and interesting. (I won’t go into too much detail about that though to avoid spoilers.) I think Jaffrey did an amazing job on the world-building aspect of it and kept really great continuity throughout.
I only wish I could have seen some of what’s happening in other parts of the world. We really only get glimpses into a handful of settlements in what seems to be Europe. I’d love to know what’s happening in America and Africa and to find out how different places might be handling this new world. I can’t really be mad about it though because it would ruin that communication continuity I was just talking about.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I had a few problems with the characters but the plot and world-building more than made up for it. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA, dystopian, and paranormal. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Summary:
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve. Either you’re his true love…or you killed him.”
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them-until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, and he’s a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven  Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Review: I’m going to keep this review pretty short because I just finished The Raven Boys despite the relentless crying of my very overtired daughter that is now asleep in my arms as I attempt to type this in my phone.
I liked this book. I liked Stiefvater’s other books too so liking The Raven Boys isn’t a surprise to me. The surprise is that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I was going to. I think I had some pretty high expectations because of the hype surrounding this series (though I’ve heard it gets way better in the next books.) I definitely liked it, but not as much as I thought I was going to.
The characters were my favorite part. The raven boys (as Blue calls them) were a great friend group. With Gansey being the glue that keeps them together, they each bring a very different personality and set of circumstances to the table. I think it’s because they’re all so different and unlikely to be friends that the dynamic works so well.
Blue is also great. She’s a girl that has grown up in a pretty weird household. Never knowing her father, living in a house filled with psychics, you’d think she might even be a little whiney about her circumstances but she isn’t. She accepts what she’s given and (mostly) goes after what she wants. She added yet another different and interesting personality to the group of raven boys.
I have to say, I really loved women that Blue lived with. A house full of psychics makes for some funny times. This was a fun and creative addition to the story for sure. It added a sense of family for Blue, just not in the usual way at all.
As for the plot, I’ve seen many reviews that said the reader didn’t really care about the storyline but I liked it. They found themselves on a quest to wake this mysterious king, except what they really find themselves in is so so much more. They get themselves into something where they really have no idea what’s going on and how dangerous it might be.
The book ended without giving the reader answers about a few things so I’m interested to see where the story goes and to get those answers when I read the next book. I will be continuing this series for sure. I’m excited to hear that it only gets better.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Summary:
If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.
Mare Barrow’s blood is red-the color of common folk-but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.
The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince-the friend- who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: She is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.
But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known-and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.
Review:
Glass Sword was a story that kept me trapped within the story until the very last page. There were tears and laughter and all of the other emotions as well. I fell even more in love with the characters in this story.
I reviewed the first book of this series, Red Queen, here. Feel free to see what I thought of the first book and how my feelings for these characters have changed. My favorite part of this second book is the development that Mare Barrow has undergone since the beginning of the series. She is strong and clever and passionate and feisty. She’s grown from a girl who’s decided that her fate is to fight in a war that isn’t hers and will likely die for it. Now she fights for something she really believes is worth fighting for. She’s found herself made into a leader and a symbol of a revolution that’s getting a bit out of control. I like Mare because she’s flawed. She does what she thinks is best, even if it may cause some problems before it proves to be the best choice in the end. There was so much about Mare that I liked. She was betrayed and hurt and it was shown by her actions. She was dealing with horrible events and she didn’t just get over them like too many other books do. There may be a lot going on, she may be starting a revolution but she’s still a bit broken inside and that’s shown. She’s finding that there’s a darkness alive inside of her.

“The girl I see is both familiar and foreign, Mare, Mareena, the lightning girl, the Red Queen, and no one at all. She does not look afraid. She looks carved of stone, with severe features, hair braided tight to her head, and a tangle of scars on her neck. She is not seventeen, but ageless, Silver but not, Red but not, human-but not. A banner of the Scarlet Guard, a face on a wanted poster, a prince’s downfall, a thief…a killer. A doll who can take any form but her own.”

I liked Cal in the first book but I like him even more in Glass Sword. He’s just lost everything he’d ever thought he had. He’s just trying to figure out who he is now that he’s lost his family and his crown. He still manages to do his best to help even though he’s not sure if he’s ready to fight for a cause that’s fighting his brother and the only life he’s ever known. I really enjoyed seeing the crown prince try to figure out who he is now and what his next step is supposed to be.

“His bright flame has grown dark indeed.”

These two characters had the most significant development and I loved watching them grow. There were so so many new supporting characters introduced. The variety of abilities and personalities all together was an interesting addition to the story but I feel like it didn’t really allow for much development of these supporting characters. There was just too many. I have a feeling we will get some more in the next book, but who knows.
This story is fast paced and exciting. There is so much action and adventure I couldn’t put it down. We get to see and explore more of the world. I’m excited to continue on with this series and dive into the next book! There was darkness within this book. Characters doing and feeling things they didn’t know they were capable of feeling or doing. It was a dynamic that kept me interested in the story for sure.

“Lightning has no mercy.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Summary: When kingdom come, there will be one.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Review: I have very mixed feelings about this book. Overall I enjoyed reading it, but I had a few problems that kept me from loving it.
One of my main concerns before starting the book was how Blake would be able to make triplet queens who have to kill each other for the throne while also making them likable. I could never imagine harming my sisters so the idea seemed ridiculous to me, though it makes more sense when you find out the queens are separated as small children.
I found that it did make me like them less. Mirabella at least struggles with the thought of killing her sisters because she has memories of them as children (the others do not). Her fight between what she’s been taught her whole life and how she feels seemed more realistic to me. However, she still kills an innocent girl as a sacrifice to the goddess.
Katherine seemed sweet at the beginning but she’s killed many people and is the most willing to kill her sisters. She’s the only one by the end of the book to actively make an attempt to kill one of the others.
Arsinoe is my favorite of the three. She’s the most down to earth because of how she was raised; not like a future queen but more like the way children should be raised. She has actual friends and free reign of the village while her sisters have basically been locked up their entire lives. Unfortunately, her only real qualm about having to kill her sisters is that she’s the one most likely to die because she’s ungifted, not because murder is wrong.
Which is my main problem with this society. Literally no one thinks that a succession based on children murdering each other is wrong. People constantly look at the queens sadly because it’s just so tragic but no one ever says outright “Hey, this is wrong and we need to change”.
My other issue with this society is how the succession works. The last queen standing becomes ruler of Fennbirn; until she gives birth. So if they’re sixteen when they ascend the throne they rule for maybe about ten years since women had children at much younger ages in societies like these. Then once she’s given birth to the next queens, she immediately steps down as queen and leaves Fennbirn forever. Until the queens come of age at sixteen and start killing each other, the council rules and the council is generally made up of whichever people supported the last queen. So, since poisoner queens have sat on the throne for a few generations, this society has been ruled entirely by poisoners the entire time. Though it’s mentioned at the beginning that people with the poisoner gift can also heal, none of the poisoners are shown with any redeeming qualities. They’re only ever portrayed as ruthless murderers.
So generally, this council rules longer than the queens do and it only ever changes after three teenage sisters viciously murder each other. My main thought for the entirety of this book was that this society could not be sustainable.
I liked most of the other characters though some were a little two-dimensional. I liked Joseph particularly until he does something that seemed vastly out of character to me and for the rest of the book I found him extremely annoying.
Jules and Camden were amazing; I’d read a book just about them.
The story was a little slow, the only thing that kept it from dragging for me was that the POV changes happened pretty quickly so it felt like it was moving faster than it was. However, all the POV’s made it so that I didn’t get to know the characters as well as I’d like to.
The plot was certainly unique. There were several twists (especially the one at the end) that made me like the story more and more. Despite the problems I had, I’m definitely invested enough to read the next book and am extremely curious as to where the plot could possibly go next.
I’d recommend this to anyone who likes YA fantasy, especially those who enjoy darker themes. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

GoodReads Summary:
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
Review:
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare is a well-known book in a series that is loved by many readers. I am one of those readers that loves this series. I read this book for the first time years and years ago. Since then I have read all of Clare’s other books as well. I’ve also had to get rid of my books and recollected the entire series once again. Since completing my recollection, along with the upcoming release of the newest book (Queen of Air and Darkness), I knew I wanted to reread all of her books so that the stories are fresh in my mind but also so that I can finally take the time to review them all.
I’m really glad that I decided to do this reread because I found that I had forgotten more than I thought I had. I remembered the basic storyline. Shadowhunters (created by the angels) keep the downworlders (werewolves, vampires, fairies, etc.) accountable for their actions and make sure they’re following the laws. They also hunt demons that manage to find their way into our world. The story is set in a realistic world with the fictitious world belonging to the shadowhunters skillfully interwoven with our own. Clare builds an incredible world that is somehow hidden alongside the real world. The world is believable and almost makes me question whether or not something like that could really exist, hidden from most people.
The characters that make up this story are something else. Clary is our main character. A girl who finds out that her mother has been hiding her true heritage from her to keep her safe from her psychotic father. Clary will always have a special place in my heart, but during this reread she kind of annoyed me a few times. When she finds out that there’s this whole other world out there she doesn’t hesitate for a second before involving herself in as much crap as she can. I understand one of her loved ones disappears, but she does this even before that happens. She gets herself into situations that she’s completely unprepared for and with this, puts the other’s she’s with in danger to appease what she wants. Other than this, Clary is determined and strong. Being thrown into the insanity that is the shadowhunter world, she does pretty well for herself. She’s smart and clever with a tendency to find herself in ridiculous situations but also to get herself out of these situations. She’s fiercely loyal and just a little reckless. All of these things combine for a very interesting girl.
Our love interest, Jace Wayland. He’s everything you want from a book boyfriend. Attractive but also standoffish and a little bit of a jerk. Dangerous and full of secrets. Mysterious but also makes himself vulnerable to Clary with his horrible past that’s left him a little damaged. I liked learning about Jace and seeing him open up to Clary throughout these pages. I’m excited to reread the rest of the books and read more about him to see what else I’ve forgotten.
There are too many supporting characters for me to name them all but I want to point out that there here. They each have such distinct personalities that we see shine through the background. They all play their own parts and add so much fun and craziness to the story. I loved that they are all fully developed and each has their own dramas going on outside of the main storyline. We get to see these characters grow and overcome their own personal struggles and I loved that.
The plot twists in this story were crazy. I knew what they were because I’ve read this before but they still snuck up on me. There were a few minor ones I’d forgotten too. Cassandra Clare is an excellent writer. I’m excited to continue the series.
If you haven’t read any of The Mortal Instruments books you are truly missing out. I had the pleasure of reading the 10th-anniversary edition and the illustrations were beautiful. I liked having this special edition because it just added that much more to the story. Overall, everyone should read these books. They take place in an amazing world with wonderful main characters and even better supporting characters. I’d recommend to anyone for sure.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Earth’s End by Elise Kova

Summary: A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.

Review: I think this book is my favorite of the series so far. It was really fast paced for one; the first book had all the character and world-building necessary to lead up to all the conflict, and the second mostly consisted of the Imperial Army marching across the world for the first half. In this book, the war is here. The characters’ relationships have formed and you know how the world works so this book was mainly conflict of one type or another.
There’s tons of action; a combination of magical and traditional fighting (my favorite kind). There’s emotional conflict; Vhalla and Aldrik trying to figure out where their relationship is going while simultaneously keeping it a secret, Vhalla trying to come to terms with all the things she’s done and the loss of her close friend, Aldrik fighting his inner demons. And there’s political conflict. This is the type that I usually hate. I find politics so tedious and backhanded. Give me an honest fight any day. However I didn’t hate it as much in this book. Maybe because it was politics specific to the war; they’re in an army camp, there weren’t any courtiers, so it was a very basic form of politics rather than full-blown court intrigue.
Still, I hate the Emperor. Without him, none of this would have happened. He’s the reason the politics are necessary, he’s the reason Vhalla’s considered property of the crown, he’s the reason she and Aldrik have to hide their relationship. He’s the reason for the war. The more I learn about him the more I think he’s a horrible, irredeemable person. I don’t think I could forgive his actions at the end which resulted in something I know most readers are devastated about. (Sorry, no spoilers.)
Vhalla continues to amaze me with her strength. She’s grown so much since the first book. Part of her is twisted and dark, she kills and lies because she’s told to and to try to earn her freedom but she still tries to do the right thing when she can. I found myself sympathizing with her more than I have a character in awhile. I found some parts a little hard to read because her feelings paralleled some of my own recently. It gave this book a really personal connection for me.
Aldrik is amazing. Except when he’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I still love him but I found him frustrating at times too. He tries so hard to be a good prince and to do right by Vhalla but he doesn’t always make good choices. Sometimes his plans backfire and he doesn’t handle negative emotions well. His alcoholism gets brought up in this book as his coping mechanism and I particularly liked seeing it from Vhalla’s perspective. First off it takes her two and a half books to realize it’s a problem. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not just alcoholics who deny they have a problem but their loved ones do as well. They also try to justify it and make excuses because no one wants to believe someone they love is hurting so much they feel the need to self-medicate.
I still want Vhalla and Aldrik to have a happy ever after by the end of the series but there’s definitely some stuff they need to work on first, both individually and as a couple.
Overall I loved this book. I have no idea where the next book will lead because this ending of this one was crazy but I’m so excited for it. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA and fantasy. Please tell me what you think in the comments and thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Fire Falling by Elise Kova

Summary: Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Review: I CAN’T HANDLE THAT ENDING. I need to start the next book so badly but I’m making myself review this one first – under protest!
First off, I’m seriously beginning to love Vhalla. She is so broken in this book, traumatized by the events from the first. I’ve mentioned this in many reviews, but I love when authors accurately portray characters with PTSD. So often they show a little to further the story line but then the character is magically cured; Trauma isn’t like that, it’s continuous and debilitating. You don’t know when or what might trigger an episode and it usually gets worse before it gets better. Vhalla has nightmares almost every night which results in her being sleep deprived constantly. She’s never had much of an appetite but now she barely eats. When something happens that reminds her of The Night of Fire and Wind or her imprisonment, she freezes. None of these things further the story line, if anything they’re tedious and redundant; but they’re realistic. This woman is traumatized and having friends who support her or falling in love don’t suddenly make it okay.
That being said, Vhalla is also an extremely strong character. Even when she breaks down she picks herself up again. By the end, I had so much admiration for her determination and growth.

“She had to survive if for no other reason than to spite the world.”

Aldrik. I don’t even know where to start. He’s broken too but in different ways. For him, he started breaking so long ago that he’s more resigned to it than anything. He doesn’t feel worthy because of it and especially feels like he doesn’t deserve Vhalla. He absolutely does. I loved getting to see the real him, the side he shows Vhalla, behind the mask he needs in order to be the Crown Prince. That contrast made it feel like I really got to know him in this book and I love all of it. He’s unapologetically badass, sweet, and cruelly apathetic when he needs to be. I particularly adored the flashbacks of his life we got to see. It helped me to understand some of the mysterious aspects that surrounded him throughout the first book.
I loved Larel. She’s an exceptional friend to Vhalla. She’s the one always picking Vhalla up when she breaks, holding her when she wakes up screaming from her nightmares. She’s simply an amazing human and I loved getting to know her better.
Daniel was a really fun character as well. He was the first person Vhalla meets after her trauma that she feels comfortable with. They both grew up in the East and visited the same places as children which sparks an instant friendship. I was worried for awhile that this was going to turn into a love triangle but luckily it didn’t. They gain that sort of intimate affection that comes from leaning on someone for comfort but they remain just close friends. I’m happy about this because I don’t think we see enough male/female friendships in books that don’t turn into romances.
The Emperor increasingly pissed me off. I expect it’ll only get worse over the rest of the series.
I really enjoyed the plot of this book. I’ve read quite a few reviews from people who didn’t like it, saying it’s just a filler book and nothing happens; and honestly that’s mostly true. But that’s why I liked it. Most of the book the army is just travelling from the capitol to the war in the North. This gave Vhalla a chance to learn who she is now and begin to come to terms with everything that’s happened. It gave her a chance to make new friends. It gave her and Aldrik a chance to actually form a relationship. We always hate when characters fall in love too fast, well this book gave them a chance to do it slowly. By the time they kiss for the first time, it’s months since they first met. That’s practically unheard of in YA world.
Overall I freaking adored this book. I thought it was a significant improvement over the first (and I liked that one too). I’d recommend it to any YA and fantasy readers. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on these books. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Summary: A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Review: I’m so glad I finally listened to Amanda and picked up this book. It starts off pretty quickly, with enough mystery to keep me turning the pages. The world-building was gradual enough to seem natural without being tedious. There were a few things I was confused about in the beginning but they were explained shortly after.
This world is one I find extremely intriguing. I’m not sure what time period to try to relate it to; it’s certainly old-fashioned, with the society rules, sword-fighting, and a pre-industrial feel to it but there’s also some aspects that seem more modern, mentions of plumbing and a generally more feminist society.
The magical side of things is what really got me though. I’ve always adored elemental magic especially. In this world, different regions tend to produce sorcerers of each individual element; countries toward the East have Windwalkers, the South have Firebearers, etc. The Windwalkers were eradicated decades ago until Vhalla suddenly manifests as one. (Note: Yes, I saw the parallel to Avatar: The Last Airbender but I assure you the similarities end there.) I just love all the things you can do with elemental magic and Kova executed it really well. I also really enjoyed her showing a more negative side to the magic (nothing’s perfect right?), particularly the way sorcerers are treated in this society. To the point where Vhalla simply doing research on sorcerers and their history was enough to earn the judgement of her peers.
The storyline itself also had a darker side, especially at the end, and I’m really looking forward to more of that later in the series. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy lighthearted, happy reads when I’m in the mood for them, but when I’m reading about war I want to see traumatized, broken characters because war isn’t pretty and I don’t think it should be portrayed that way in media.
I liked Vhalla quite a bit and it seems like she headed for some really great character growth. She makes mistakes and her indecisiveness could be a bit annoying; I think if she’d just accepted her magic and took steps to join the other sorcerers, none of her problems would have occured. Even when she was annoying though it was understandable. She’s thrown into an entirely new world, kidnapped, thrown off a roof, and told she’s something that everyone treats basically like lepers. I totally don’t blame her for trying to crawl back into her old life and pretend none of it’s happening.
I want to hate Aldrik, I really do, but I can’t seem to make myself do it. He can be an asshole, he’s arrogant, and keeps tons of secrets but then he turns around and says something sweet and I’m like, “awwww”. Since he’s so mysterious, I didn’t get to know him as well as I’d like but I’m very excited to learn more about him in the next books.
One thing I noticed were some typos and the occasional sentence that was worded a bit oddly; this might just be on the Kindle version, I’m not sure, but it’s definitely something that caught my attention. After I got into the story I didn’t notice them much or was able to ignore them in order to continue reading but if you’re someone who gets easily annoyed with things like that, you might have trouble getting into this one.
Overall, this book was amazing. It was fast-paced, with complex characters and a crazy plot. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA, fantasy, and magic. I can’t wait to read the next book and would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Summary:
You make think you know the story. It goes like this: once upon a time, there was a sixteen-year-old girl named Jane Grey, who was forced to marry a complete stranger (Lord Guildford or Gilford or Gifford-something-or-other), and shortly thereafter found herself ruler of a country. She was queen for nine days. Then she quite literally lost her head.
We have a different tale to tell.
Pay attention. We’ve tweaked some minor details. We’ve completely rearranged major details. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent (or not-so-innocent, or simply because we thought a name was terrible and we liked another name better). And we’ve added a touch of magic to keep things interesting. So really anything could happen.
This is how we think Jane’s story should have gone.
Review:
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book and it’s second that came out this summer (My Plain Jane). My bookish twin, The Bookish Chick (check her out she’s amazing!) ranted and raved about the audiobook and I knew I had to read it. I couldn’t wait for the audiobook to be available through my library so I bought the book when I saw it available on Book Outlet.
This story does not disappoint in the least. It’s full of hilarious and loveable characters. I knew I was going to love this book after ten pages. I was cracking up pretty much the entire book.
I adored Jane. A fellow bookworm that’s not afraid to speak her mind. She ends up in all kinds of ridiculous situations and manages to get herself out of them as well. She’s smart and clever, funny and sassy, but also kind and loving. She’s incredibly protective over those that she loves and will do anything in her power to make sure they’re safe. I adored everything about Jane.
Gifford, preferred to be called G, was entertaining, but slightly annoying. He doubted Jane for most of the story and it really bugged me. Instead of just talking to Jane and asking her about the things he was assuming, he just let himself stew and feel bad. Other than this, I liked him. He did what he thought was right. He tried to protect Jane, even if that meant causing her to be ridiculously mad at him.
Edward, King of England, was funny and infuriating. He had some really backward ideas for most of the story. Ideas about men being superior to women and such. I liked Edward only because of the wonderful development he did throughout the story. He met a girl that helped him see how wrong all of his ideas really were. I liked that we got to see this change and development. It’s really what made me like him.
Overall this book was hilarious and I just couldn’t get enough. I don’t know too much about the real story of Lady Jane Grey, but I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as this book. If you like historical fiction, you’re going to love this story. The characters were wonderful and kept me wanting to get the rest of their story. I also loved that the narrators kept chiming in with little tidbits. It just made the story that much better. I really liked that the narrators (I don’t know if it’s called the same thing as is it with the movies, but I’m going to go with it) broke the fourth wall and addressed the readers directly. It was a really interesting aspect of the story and just added that little extra. I think all different kinds of readers would love this story. I will for sure be recommending this book to many readers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

Summary: In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.

Review: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I’m so glad she reached out to us about it; this book (and the prequel series Solis Invicti) hadn’t been on my radar yet and I’m so excited about them.
The Gilded King is the first book in Jaffrey’s Sovereign series. One thought I had throughout this book was that I really wished I’d read the Solis Invicti series first. The Sovereign series is meant to be standalone but I had so many questions about the history of this world and the way everything worked. Usually I like when world-building is added gradually to a story. I hate when a book starts with a giant chunk to explain the basics of that world to you. It’s frequently tedious and boring. With this book though, those details were added too slowly; I didn’t understand important details about this world until very late in the book. This just left me feeling confused for a lot of it and I kept going back and rereading sections to try to understand.
That being said, once I understood the world better I really enjoyed how unique it was. We’ve all seen enough dystopians that start with terrible plagues and vaccines that have unforeseen consequences but I thought the twist with the paranormal added a lot to it. The fact that the cure for the humans made their blood poisonous to vampires was something I wouldn’t have expected.
Another thing I thought was unique (at least from books I’ve read personally) was that humans have essentially become a slave race in certain parts of the world. There are still human settlements but in places where the Nobles (also called the Silver, depending on who’s talking) live, humans are treated like dirt. They’re called Servants but they have no rights. They’re not paid for their services and they have no choice in what they do. When Julia’s sent to serve Lucas, she’s going so he can drink her blood and she’s not allowed to say no. If they do, they’re exiled from the city which, as far as they know, is a death sentence.
I liked Julia for the most part. She was tough and intelligent. I liked that she questioned what the Nobles told the humans. One of the biggest problems for the humans living in the Blue was that the only information they’ve been given for centuries has been what the Nobles wanted them to think. Julia doesn’t always ask the right questions but at least she keeps asking them. The only thing I didn’t like about Julia was her behavior where Lucas was involved.
Lucas was a good character. He’s sweet, considerate, and tries to be true to himself even if it goes against the way Nobles are supposed to act. I was mildly annoyed that Julia happens to meet the only Noble who’s kind to humans; it’s a trope I’m a little sick of. When you have an entire race of people it’s not logical to think only one of them is morally good.
My main problem with Julia and Lucas though is their romance. First of all, it happens too quickly. Julia’s terrified of Nobles but is instantly attracted to Lucas and vice versa. Their relationship makes the mistake so common in YA, in that it progresses at an unrealistic rate. I also felt that I was being told-not-shown, if that makes sense. For most of the book, the romances (I’ll talk about Cameron and Felix later) felt very forced. I was not emotionally invested in these relationships.
Cameron was a really interesting character. He’s a member of the Solis Invicti, basically the guards of the Blue. For centuries he’s been exploring the Red (anything outside the Blue) looking for the lost queen, his friend Emmy. I found myself sympathizing with him quite a bit. No matter how long it’s been, he never gives up on Emmy or stops looking for her even when everyone else has. I’ve seen other reviews from people saying they were bored during Cameron’s parts but I didn’t have that problem at all. He was my favorite character so far.
I liked Felix for the most part. Seeing the difference between humans of the Blue and humans of the Red was really interesting. His attitude is bitter and resigned because he understands more about this world than others, like Julia. I particularly enjoyed seeing the contrast between them. He was also so mysterious that I just wanted to know more. His relationship with Cameron was also more believable, at least after the beginning. There was a sudden twist at the end about Felix (no spoilers, I swear) that I was extremely frustrated about. It just seemed so unnecessary.
Now to the part I loved: the plot. It was surprisingly intricate for the genre. There were times when I brushed something off as irrelevant or unimportant then it would suddenly tie into something later. It was also really cool watching Julia and Cameron’s opposite journeys. They never meet in this book and a lot of what happens to one sort of parallels the other but they almost always have one-half of certain information and the other has the rest. By the end I was screaming “If they could just have a conversation then everything would be okay”. It was infuriating but in a good way. I always like when I know more than the characters do. The ending also left me with so many questions half answered. It feels like this first book was just an opening for the second; it set the scene for all the craziness that’s going to happen next.
I wasn’t sure how much I liked this book and I definitely had some problems with it, but the ending made me really excited for the rest of the series. I think I’ll read the Solis Invicti series before the next book comes out and hopefully that will solve some of my confusion.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes YA, paranormal, or dystopian, though if you’re a reader who doesn’t like being left with tons of questions, this might not be the book for you. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

I Heart Characters!

I Heart Characters! is a weekly meme hosted by Dani @ Perspective of a Writer to showcase our book blogger love for characters! Each week she’ll supply a topic and we’ll supply the character. Post on whatever day suits you, about characters from whatever media you love (books, movies, K-dramas, television, manga, anime, webtoons, whatever!) and link up on Thursday so we can all blog hop and share the character love.

i heart characters

This weeks topic is – A Creature You’d Want to Adopt (An animal or creature character you’d want as a companion.)

Amanda- I’m going to choose Bryaxis from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. This is one of my absolute favorite series and there are so many different creatures. Bryaxis was one of my favorite creatures that I’ve read about in quite a while. So terrifying that Cassian won’t even describe what it looks like to anyone else, so old that the only thing it desires is someone to talk to and a window to see the stars. I would love to talk to Bryaxis and learn the things that it has seen through its life and get it to share some of its knowledge with me. I don’t know that I would want Bryaxis as a traveling companion or anything similar but I would love to be the person to spend time in the library fulfilling the agreement made with it for someone to talk to. I’m so intrigued to see where this part of the ACOTAR story goes once the next book/series comes out.

Antonia- For me, this will always and forever be Shalkan from The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. He’s a unicorn; you’re probably thinking pure, fluffy being of joy and goodness, right? Well you got the fluffy part right. Shalkan is sarcastic AF, stubborn, badass, and all-around not what you’d expect from a unicorn. I love him so much.

Thanks for reading bookworms! What creature would you choose for this week’s topic? Feel free to let us know in the comments!