Furyborn by Claire Legrand

51cl1gq0zul-_sx332_bo1204203200_Title: Furyborn
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Empirium Trilogy
Date Started: October 17
Date Finished: October 18
Format: Hardcover from local library

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

Oh, oh, oh. It has been a long time since a debut novel has struck me this hard. I think the last time this happened was when I read A Court of Thorns and Roses three years ago. And what do I mean by “struck me” you might ask? Well, most of the time when I’m reading at work I’ll get easily distracted by the internet or something else, and it will take me a bit to get back into the book that I’m reading. Furyborn was not that book. Instead I was hooked from the second set of chapters – which is odd since I really don’t like dual POV and time jumps – and I literally had to tell myself to stop reading yesterday or else I would have been at work far longer than my schedule dictated. Yes, this book is that good.

This book deals with two women – Rielle and Eliana – only their stories are told over 1,000 years apart. Rielle is best friends with the crown prince and his betrothed, but she secretly harbors the fact that she has powers over the elements. Unfortunately, for her the secret comes out as she tries to save the crown prince – Audric – from a band of assassins. Now, under suspicion, she must prove herself to the king and his council that she is the prophesized Sun Queen who will stop the angels when the Gate finally falls. Only problem is that there is an angel in her head and he is making her life very difficult.

Eliana is an assassin who is about to be picked for the Emperor’s elite forces. She just has one job to do. Track down the rebel Wolf and turn him in. Except the Wolf has already found her and strikes a bargain with her. He’ll help her find her mother – who, like a lot of other girls has been mysteriously taken in the middle of the night – if she helps him rescue a prisoner from the palace. Along the way though, she learns a startlingly revelation about the secret that she’s been keeping.

Like I said, this book had me hooked. The whole Angels being locked behind a Gate to stop them from overcoming the humans reminded me of something from the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy. The fact that our heroines were so bad ass was another awesome plot device. And I especially loved the plot – the prologue in particular really drew me into this story. How is it possible that Eliana can exist one thousand years in the future? Unfortunately, we don’t really get an answer to that question in this book (along with a lot of other questions) but I’m really looking forward to the next book.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I’m hooked. The characters really jumped off the page. The world was so well developed for a first novel. And I especially loved the slow burn between Rielle and Audric, and Simon and Eliana. Also the character of Corien intrigues me. I’m very curious to see how everything from the prologue comes to be…

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Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

81qgcvgko4lTitle: Two Dark Reigns
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns
Previous Books in the Series:
1. Three Dark Crowns
2. One Dark Throne
Date Started: October 15
Date Finished: October 16
Format: Hardcover from local library

Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne. Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn. And while Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katharine all have their own scores to settle, they aren’t the only queens stirring things up on Fennbirn Island. Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.  This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.

This was probably, unofficially, one of my most anticipated books of the year. After the way One Dark Throne ended, I really wanted to know what happened next to the three sisters, especially with Katharine. Since the last we left them things were…intense is definitely one way of putting it. Arsinoe and Mirabella have escaped Fennbirn to the mainland to live with Billy’s family, but not without a few losses along the way. Joseph died during the journey and Jules – Arsinoe’s best friend – elected to stay behind to learn more about her legion curse. With no one to contend for for the throne, and with the help of the former queens inside her, Katharine has taken the throne. But not everything is as she expected it to be.

One of the things that always bugged me during the last book was how Katharine’s king-consort died. Everyone thinks it’s because of Katharine’s powers as a poisoner, but I wasn’t a hundred percent sure. I mean, it was a very plausible explanation, but too easy. After reading this book, I really have to wonder if it’s because of the spirits of the other queens inside of her. I’m not sure what happened to Katharine down in the ‘pit,’ but I really, really don’t think she made it out of there completely alive. I think the queens had something to do with it and when Pietyr tried to take them out… well, let’s just say bad things happened.

Mirabella and Arsinoe’s story line really just annoyed me. While it was cool to learn more about Fennbirn’s history through the dreams that Arsinoe was having, I still felt that the two sisters were more side characters in this novel than the main characters they were in the previous two books. Instead, Jules became a new MC and her story was more interesting than the two sisters. Legion-cursed and believed to be the one to take Katharine off the throne. I don’t know what’s going to happen now that her curse has been unleashed, but I guess we’ll find out in the fourth book.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Okay, so…you have a mist that used to protect the island that has now gone rogue. The only way to destroy the mist is to kill the elemental sister, who has now gone on a mission of her own. The Legion Queen has gone mad now that her curse is free, and the actual Queen who sits on the throne may not be alive anymore, but a puppet for the former could-have been queens. I’m very curious to see how Blake ties all of this up next year.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

91jeFsaFYSLTitle: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
Date Started: October 4
Date Finished: October 11
Format: ebook from the digital library

Empress Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne. Fugitive Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life. Madman With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

Oh, let me count the ways that I did not like this book. When this book first started I thought that it was going to be like Cinder, only instead of the ‘lost princess’ not knowing who she is, she does know who she is and she knows that her parents and older sister were wrongfully murdered by the one person that they trusted the most. And in some respects, yes, that is kind of the plot of this story. But at the same time it isn’t. Rhiannon – or Rhee – is a complete ignorant brat. She was young when her parents and sister were killed on their way to another planet to ratify the peace treaty that her father implemented that wasn’t well received. Rhee believes that his best friend and advisor and now Regent Seroita was the mastermind behind their deaths. Now that Rhee is old enough to resume her rightful place on the throne and become empress, she is ready to exact her revenge on Seroita. But on her way home, her most trusted guard turns on her and tries to kill her.

Now, because this is a quick read – less then 350 pages – things are not paced right and everything gets rushed together into one convulted plotty mess. I still am not sure what Aly’s role was in this story other than the scapegoat who turned out to run into the formerly dead princess who isn’t, but who doesn’t remember who she is. But in between all that craziness was Rhee being completely idiotic and jumping to conclusions and a brewing war because the new Regent is a power hungry tyrant, but what else is new in the world of science fiction YA?

Final Rating: 1 out of 5 stars. This story needed more than 300 pages to flesh itself out. Things were way too rushed, characters were poorly developed and the world itself was not well thought out or explained.

Bookshelf worthy? Read Cinder instead.

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The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

51SM9GMJXBL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Ruby Circle
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines
Previous Books in the Series:
1. Bloodlines
2. The Golden Lily
3. The Indigo Spell
4. The Fiery Heart
5. Silver Shadows
Date Started: October 4
Date Finished: October 10
Format: Hardcover from my shelf

Their forbidden romance exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, she and Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world and alter their lives forever.

The conclusion to the Bloodlines series was satisfying, to an extent. As you know I really don’t like final books in series just because sometimes things are tied up too neatly, or there are too many loose story lines. The Ruby Circle was actually a good mix of the two. Sydney and Adrian are dealing with the new constraints of married life, and most of that has to deal with the fact that they are stuck at Court and Adrian’s mom is living with them. Jill is still missing and no one can seem to find her. Adrian is still dealing with Aunt Tatiana’s voice in his head and Sydney really wants him to go back on his meds to help with the spirit.

And then things get a little crazy. Sydney’s former teacher comes to visit them with a box that only Sydney can open. This leads everyone on a crazy goose chase and a character reappears who everyone thought was dead and has it out for Sydney. And this is where the loose ends not tied up comes into play. This character does get captured and gives the gang information on where Jill is being held, but that’s the last you see of that character. The coven that Sydney belongs to says that there is a magical prison for this character and that she’ll get what’s coming to her, but still I would have liked to know how that ended.

The rest of the story is tied up relatively nicely. Adrian and Sydney do get their happy ending, but with a little twist. I’m still a little miffed that we didn’t get to see Dimitri Rose’s engagement. But I’m really hoping that another book will come out that shows their wedding? Hopefully?

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This was actually a really good conclusion to the series. Everything was tied up together pretty well and things didn’t really come too easily for the couple.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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Every Exquisite Thing by Cassandra Clare

51fezbm-8llTitle: Every Exquisite Thing
Authors: Cassandra Clare & Maureen Johnson
Series: Ghosts of the Shadow Market
Previous Books in the Series:
1. Son of the Dawn
2. Cast Long Shadows
Date Started: October 3
Date Finished: October 4
Format: Kindle book from my collection

Anna Lightwood, eldest child of Gabriel and Cecily, is mad, bad and dangerously dapper. Every rake has an origin story, though: now under Brother Zachariah’s eye we see Anna’s doomed love story unfold.

I am conflicted about this novella. I mean, I really liked it. The story of Anna Lightwood trying to find herself and falling in love – even it was relatively fast – was cute. And I especially loved the way Cecily and Gabriel handled her heartbreak afterward, but I kind of wished that Brother Zachariah had been in this story more. Especially now that I know why he’s been haunting the Shadow Market. He’s trying to find out about Tessa’s demon father. And I found that a lot more interesting than Anna’s story of heartbreak.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. While it’s fun to see the children of the main characters of The Infernal Devices series, I really wish that there was more to Jem’s investigation into Tessa’s father. Who is he exactly? And what does it mean for Tessa and her children?

Bookshelf worthy? The hardcover of all the novellas will be out next year, but I kind of like the artwork on the novellas themselves.

Posted in Book Reviews, Cassandra Clare, Fantasy, Favorite Authors, Ghosts of the Shadow Market series, Paranormal, Romance, The Shadowhunter Chronicles, Young Adult Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

51caewre0al-_sx336_bo1204203200_Title: Heart of Thorns
Author: Bree Barton
Date Started: October 2
Date Finished: October 3
Format: Hardcover from a subscription box

Mia Rose wants only one thing: revenge against the Gwyrach—feared, reviled, and magical women—who killed her mother. After years training under her father’s infamous Hunters, Mia is ready. She will scour the four kingdoms, find her mother’s murderer, and enact the Hunters’ Creed: heart for a heart, life for a life. But when Mia is thrust into the last role she ever wanted—promised wife to the future king—she plots a daring escape. On her wedding night, Mia discovers something she never imagined: She may be a Huntress, but she’s also a Gwyrach. As the truth comes to light, Mia must untangle the secrets of her own past. Now if she wants to survive, Mia must learn to trust her heart . . . even if it kills her.

When it comes to book subscription box books lately, I just casually glance at the summary, put it on my TBR pile and just call it a day. My expectations don’t go anywhere with these books and I’m kind of glad that it didn’t for this one. The reviews for Heart of Thorns were mostly critical and negative and let me tell you, they’re actually right. I only tend to distract myself when I’m writing and I get stuck. Let me scroll endlessly through (fill in the blank of some social media platform here). But for Heart of Thorns, I felt like every few chapters I was on Facebook or Twitter and scrolling.

And that isn’t because this book was boring. I mean, it kind of was in parts, but it was just so slow. I mean, when it takes 70+ pages for the main character to figure out her hidden secret and then another 100 pages or so for her to find out her mother’s secret, I was yawning a little bit too much in between. I kind of liked Mia’s character. She was adamant about her beliefs and very stubborn about finding her mother’s killer, but once her world is flipped upside down she becomes very whiny and shortsighted. And sure, I kind of get it because she just finds out that she is what she’s hated/hunted for the last three years, but still. Take a chill pill dear and listen to your elders.

And then there’s Quin. Sweet, precious Quin. I did not like him at first. He was a cold, heir apparent who seemed to be following in his father’s footsteps. And that scene at the beginning where Mia and him come to an ‘understanding’ about their marriage was just so…. Ugh. But then Mia stumbles across him playing the piano with only his dogs – Beo and Wulf (creative) – and things get kind of adorable. I really, really like Beo and Wulf and despite my better instincts I also like Quin too. When he turns out not to be this pampered prince while him and Mia are on the run, I really grew to appreciate his character.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. So if I liked Quin and kind of liked Mia why is this book getting a meh rating from me? Well, there were parts that were just boring. They dragged on or there was too much of an info dump at once. I also really didn’t like the ending. For a ‘feminist’ book you don’t have your main character, her sister, and her mother’s former lover turn on each other. Okay? You have them turn on the evil oppressing king – although apparently, the sister already did that.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

91jchtfrzxlTitle: The Wedding Date
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Date Started: October 1
Date Finished: October 2
Format: ebook from the digital library

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist. On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other… They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

I don’t know why I keep reading books like this when they all go the same way. Girl meets boy in some weird/cute way, they start out as friends, they become something more, something happens to drive them apart, girl or guy realizes that they can’t be without the other, they end up together and live happily ever after. The Wedding Date was no exception. Although I have to admit being stuck together in an elevator and agreeing to go to Drew’s ex-girlfriend’s wedding with him was kind of a twist that I don’t usually see. But still. Drew not being into relationships and Alexa and Drew constantly hooking up and her eventually falling for him despite her best instincts? Totally called that.

And I know, I sound really bitter, but believe it or not I did like this book. Alexa and Drew got off really well for two strangers who just meet in the elevator. In fact, I think that’s what hooked me onto this book from the get go. The way their conversations so easily flowed, I was turning pages, smiling, and couldn’t wait for them to show up together again. I wish that Theo had as much page time as Drew’s friend Carlos did. Same for Maggie. It would have been nice to see Alexa in her life outside of Drew more. Even if her work did take center stage for those moments. It would have been nice to see Theo in it a little bit more.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I’m deducting a star for two things: a predictable plot line, and the ‘fight’ that broke Alexa and Drew up near the end of the book. Why does it always have to end in drama and a yelling match? But otherwise I did enjoy reading this novel.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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