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Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

I enjoyed The Cruel Prince when I read it last year. Now, having read The Wicked King, I feel like first book pales in comparison. Jude’s grows from an angry, mistreated mortal living in the faerie world to a scheming, manipulative, powerful player in the fight over the throne. She’s not only determined to seize power from those who wish to steal it from her brother, but she’s determined to use every and anyone in the process. Jude is a freaking badass. (Although, I admit, I was still doubting her at the end of the first book.)

Not only do we begin to understand Jude better, but we see a different side of Cardan, as well. I liked him much better this time around than I did in the first book. While I’m normally indifferent to most hate-to-love relationships in YA books, I was totally on board with Jude and Cardan’s blossoming romance. Or hate-mance. Or whatever the hell it is. It’s a perfect mess.

We got to see a bit more of Taryn this time around, but never enough that I really developed much of an opinion of her. Throughout both books she’s kinda just felt like she was there as filler, which is weird, considering she’s the protagonist’s twin. That’s the only real complaint I have.

I loved every little twist and turn Black threw at her readers. By the end of the book, it’s clear that you can’t trust anyone. It’s faerie versus faerie. Human versus faerie. Faerie versus the sea. Sibling versus sibling. Father versus daughter. WHO IS GOING TO WIN!?!

I have no idea, but I want more!

 

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Book Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

In an Absent Dream was one of my most ( if not the most) anticipated reads for this year. After devouring it last weekend, I am pleased to say that it most certainly did not disappoint.

The world of the Goblin Market is one of the strangest and most complex worlds that McGuire has created for the series. It is both beautiful and terrifying, putting emphasis on the importance of rules and the consequences of breaking them. Through the market’s rules force its inhabitants learn to be better people and give fair value to the world around them.

Before Lundy finds her door she’s a quiet child, keeping her head down and trying to figure out what it means to blend in. She’s already accepted that her life is going to be mundane and like everyone else’s. Her visits to the Goblin Market help her figure out who she really is and who she really wants to be. Through the rules and her friendship with Moon, Lundy finds a place she belongs and a sense of family that she never experienced before.

This was an absolutely stunning and heartbreaking tale. I wanted to cry when it was over because I was not ready for it to end yet. This might be my favorite book in the series, so far.

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Book Review: Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

By the time you’re all reading this I will be on my way to New Orleans! I’m super excited about the weekend ahead of me. Don’t worry, I promise to take lots of pictures and eat my fair share (and your share) of beignets. 🙂

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.

The sequel to Assassin’s Apprentice was every bit as good as you’d want a sequel to be. No, never mind. I take that back. It was even better.

In the first book we were introduced to Fitz – bastard son to the former King in Waiting, victim of every shitty circumstance imaginable, pawn in the royals’ game. The second time around Fitz gets dragged in even deeper than he could imagine. King in Waiting Verity is off trying to save Buckeep from raiders, King Shrewd is on his deathbed, and wretched Prince Regal is vying for a chance at the crown. Fitz, the Queen, and all those loyal to the King must watch their backs as everything (and everyone) they know is in danger.

Always the victim, never pegged the hero. Fitz is worn physically and mentally thin as he struggles to finally master the Skill, while also trying to hide the fact that he’s has the ability to Wit. I loooooved the fact that we got to see more of Fitz’s Wit skills. His connection with Nighteyes is a better story of love and friendship than any I’ve encountered in a while. Nighteyes is such a brilliant character.  I was happy for Fitz’s reunion with Molly, as well, although I felt that their relationship was a pretty predictable one.

The story line and the characters are all fantastic and well-thought out. The side characters that we were introduced to in the first book take on more of a prominent role, sometimes stealing the spotlight entirely. The series is a bit Game of Thrones-esque (abeit a bit less graphic), filled with political intrigue, treason, family drama, and bastard sons running around trying to save the kingdom.

I love that this isn’t just another fantasy story. Sure, there’s magic, but there’s much more to it than that. It’s a story about endurance, loyalty, doing what’s right (even when it hurts), and looking out for one’s family/pack.

 

 

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Book Review: Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

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My Rating: 10 out of 5 stars

Live fast, die young.

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

THIS BOOK IS BLOODY BRILLIANT. Everything about it, from the characters to the jokes to the subtle, yet deft music references is absolutely perfect. Bloody Rose definitely jumps onto the list of my favorite reads in 2018.

This story follows Tam Hashford, who leads a somewhat boring life compared to those who patronize the local bar she works at. Seeing the bands of mercenaries that come to town is the most excitement that Tam gets on most days. But everything changes when the band Fable comes to town. By a brush of luck and her own determination, Tam lands the gig as the new bard for Fable.

The adventurous journey that she embarks upon is even more exciting than the stories and songs she’s heard. The band tackles everything from monsters to love, loss, and facing death head on. This isn’t just a story about a bunch of bad ass mercenaries, it’s a story about following your passion and your heart, wherever it may lead you. It’s a story about family, loyalty, and doing whatever it takes to protect the ones you love.

This one gets two thumbs up from me. If I had more thumbs, I’d stick those up, too.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Mini Book Reviews

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – This was such a great read! I loved Fitz and his ability to connect with animals. My heart broke for poor Fitz in this story, as he was the victim of shitty circumstance after shitty circumstance, simply for being born a bastard. His courage and perseverance were admirable given all the difficulties he faced. Burrich, Chade, King Shrewd, and the Princes are all fascinating characters and play a major role in Fitz’s character development throughout the story. At the same time, I hated every single one of them for worrying more about the poor kid’s loyalty than his well-being. I look forward to reading the other books in the series to see what happens to Fitz and see how his skills develop.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare – I didn’t love this book as much as the first three books in the series. There was nothing bad about it, but compared to the previous books it felt a little slower. One thing that I did love was that more of the story was told from Simon’s point of view. He’s such a great character! As predicted, there was lots of drama/tension between Clary and Jace, which is starting to get a little old. I understood the need for it in the other books, but now it’s just starting to feel redundant. I did like the introduction of new characters in the story and the bigger role that some of the minor characters played.

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Book Review: Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done

This book. Oh, this book. If you thought the first book, Vicious, was a sick, twisted little treat, just wait until you get your hands on Vengeful. The game is vengeance (duh), but Victor and Eli are no longer the only players. In this book, we’re introduced to Marcella Riggins, a mob wife who wants to take her husband and the rest of the world down in a blaze of corruption and fame. We’re also introduced to June, an EO shape shifter who has her eyes on Sydney.

Of course, our old favorites were there, too. Victor, Mitch, and Sydney are still together, moving around as they track down more EOs. Victor’s characters undergoes some major changes that affect him and his powers. I was happy to see that Sydney is finally growing into her own and isn’t just a little girl anymore. Eli, stuck in a jail cell, has a very different role this time around, as well. It was interesting to see how much everyone’s characters changed from the first book to the second!

The story occurs over the span of five years. Despite the way it jumps around throughout the timeline, it seamlessly picks up where the last book left off. I loooved the new characters introduced. Marcella’s character was especially fun to follow because she was so over the top. She’s an excellent villain and the perfect match for both Victor and Eli.

The only thing that drove me nuts was June. Even by the end of the story, I still can’t figure out what her motives are or what her relationship to Sydney is.

Definitely add this one to your TBR list!

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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?

After finishing City of Bones, I couldn’t wait to pick up the second book to see how the series holds up. I feel like there was potential for the story to become overly cliche, but, thus far, it hasn’t happened.

Everything is a little more complicated the second time around. The character’s feelings and emotions are all over the place, loyalties change, fingers are pointed, and there are demons everywhere. It doesn’t take long for the action and drama to pick up in this book.

I really liked some of the character development in this story, especially for Jace. Jace was a bit of douche in the first book, which made him hard to like. Jace deals with some pretty heavy stuff, after finding out that Valentine is his father. He’s been torn in a lot of different directions and for that reason I found it a little easier to sympathize with him. I still find the whole situation between he and Clary pretty weird, but, hey, I’m not judging.

Simon’s character also went through some major changes. I don’t want to reveal too much and spoil it for anyone else, but I will just say that I guessed it was coming. I’m still not sure if I like this new development, but it could definitely make the story more interesting later on. I really wish Clary would stop being a turd and realizes how perfect Simon is for her. Teenagers. Le sigh.

Overall, this was a great sequel. There’s still so much that can happen in the rest of the series. (I’m still waiting for the Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires, and faeries to finally join forces.) The cliffhanger at the very end has me eager to start the next book ASAP.