Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy

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. ūüôā

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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‚Äôs hands‚ÄĒand 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.

 

 

Books · Favorites

Favorite Books of 2018

As we approach the end of another year, it’s time to look back and reflect on all the amazing books that I discovered. As of November, I had already completed my¬†Goodreads Challenge. I’m currently finishing up book #45 for the year. I probably would’ve been able to squeeze a few more in, had I not being spending so much time on my own book, but c’est la vie. It seems like a good trade off.

Of all the books I’ve read this year, a handful of them really stood out enough to make my list of “favorites.” If you’re a regular reader of mine, I’m sure you can already guess which ones I’m going to pick. ūüėõ

 

Darker Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab (My reviews: here, here, and here)

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Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (Review here)

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My Life in France by Julia Child (Review here)

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City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (Review here)

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Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (Review here)

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (Review¬†here)

 

It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few, isn’t it? What were some of your favorites this year?

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

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.

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

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My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood‚ÄĒand Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away.

This book was not what I expected it to be but I still enjoyed it.

Anouk is a sweet, innocent beastie, serving the witch who created her, Mada Vittora. Having only been in human form for one year, Anouk is rather naive to the ways of the world and the ways of magic. For this reason, I found her to be rather charming, especially in contrast to her companions who had already become hardened and jaded by life. I liked the other beasties and the way they all looked out for each other. Beau was the only one who I didn’t love. While his affection for Anouk was nice, sometimes it was a bit overkill.

I like the magic hierarchy that Shepherd created in the story. Even more so, I like that it was blended into modern Parisian society. The Haute were pretty awful, with all their politics and scheming. The Goblins were spectacular, with their glitter, high fashion, and penchant for partying. The diversity between all the different groups balanced out nicely.

Before purchasing this book, I didn’t realize that it’s loosely based around Cinderella. Even once I figured that out, it never really felt like a re-telling. There is enough substance and difference here that it becomes it’s own fairy tale.

At the end, magic and mayhem aside, it’s a story of¬† a girl and her friends who want nothing more than to live normal human lives. Who can’t relate to that?

 

Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Young Adult

Book Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?

You guys, the next time I put off reading a series for a long time, please kick me in the ass and remind me of this post. I freaking love the¬†Mortal Instruments¬†and I don’t care who knows it. So there.

After being super impressed by the second book,¬†City of Ashes, I couldn’t wait to see where the series headed. Honestly, even though I had some guesses, I did not anticipate even half of the plot twists and events that transpired in¬†City of Glass. (Hence the reason for my post¬†earlier¬†this week.) Cassandra Clare sure knows how to take a story and turn it upside down on its head.

I loved the way each of the characters grew and developed over the course of the three books that I’ve read. Jace, in particular, matured quite a bit and it’s made his character way more likable. I had no idea what was going to become of Clary and Jace’s¬†“tricky” relationship, but I like the way it’s panning out. I’ll admit, I was really disappointed that Clary and Simon didn’t end up together in the last book, but now I see why it was for the best. Speaking of Simon, I freaking love vampire Simon. I just love his personality and how he’s becoming so much more confident in himself now that he’s one of the Night Children.

It was interesting to finally learn a little more about Clary’s mother and see how learning the truth about her past has affected their relationship. She wasn’t in much of the story, but from the glimpses we got of her, I’d say she seems pretty cool. I’m looking forward to learning more about her in the other books.

Enough of the positives, let’s talk about the negatives.

There weren’t any.

I must get my hands on the next book.

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Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Review: Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sydney once had Serena‚ÄĒbeloved 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‚ÄĒbeing 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 ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings ‚ÄĒ 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.

Books · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

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Well, still no hurricane yet. It’s expected to make landfall in Charlotte sometime later today. I’m more than ready for it to be over already because I feel like everybody’s been panicking for way too long now.¬†If any of you are in the path of the hurricane, I hope you’re all staying safe!

Since it’s Friday, you know what that means. It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by¬†J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

If you’re a regular follower mine you’re probably thinking “Who are you and what have you done with Kiersten?” I hardly ever read contemporary fiction, of the adult or YA genre. The only reason I picked this book up was because it’s for the book club I joined. This is my first attempt at ever joining a book club. I’ve thought about it before but my anxiety has always held me back. It’s a YA book club. When I joined I was hoping it would be more fantasy based. I’m really not sure what it’s going to turn into going forward because the club is new and this is only the first pick.

I hate to say it, but nothing about this book is grabbing me. I’m trying to give it a chance, but so far I’m finding it very slow. The main character, Danny, is relatable with his insecurities and his family drama. I like Danny, but I don’t love him. All of the characters, thus far, are just okay. I don’t feel very connected to them or to the story, in general.

Honestly, I can’t decide if I even want to finish this book. There are some interesting topics discussed, which I appreciate, but I still can’t get past the fact that I’m bored with it.¬†If I don’t read it, however, then I pretty much fail at my first book club attempt.

Alas, I don’t know what to do.

Adult · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

In last week’s First Impression Friday post, I mentioned that Spinning Silver¬†was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I absolutely adored¬†Uprooted¬†back when I read it and I couldn’t wait to see what Novik came up with this time around. Having finished it, I am very happy to report that¬†Spinning Silver did, indeed, live up to my expectations.

For those unaware,¬†Spinning Silver,¬†is an adaptation on the Rumplestiltskin story. I hate to even phrase it that way, because a lot of people will roll their eyes and say “Oh great, another fairy tale re-telling.” This book, like¬†Uprooted, is incredibly unique in its interpretation and is a much looser re-telling than a lot of the counterparts out there. The¬†story and characters the author has created can stand entirely on their own as a modern fairy tale.

The story is steeped with Jewish history and lore, fiercely strong characters, and gorgeous imagery. I loved the three women that the story followed: Miryem for her ruthlessness, Wanda for her strong will, and Irinia for her bravery. I loved the way the three women’s stories wove together, despite all the unexpected curves thrown at them.

Spinning Silver¬†is more than a fairy tale re-telling, it’s a beautiful story about¬†perseverance, family bonds, and things more valuable than gold.