Red Sister

Little lag in my posting. Got caught up with a few projects. Preparing for Summer Reading is really getting in the way of my reading. Anyway…

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is the first book in a new adult fantasy series that seriously kicks butt. At eight years old Nona Grey is saved from hanging by the Abbess of the Convent of Sweet Mercy. Now young Nona, sold as child labor and accused murderer, is to become a novice at a convent even as her past chases after her.

But this is no ordinary convent. The Sisters of Sweet Mercy are trained in blade and fist, in the way of the path and yes, even as holy sisters. Nona has her sights set on becoming a Red Sister, the fiercest of warriors for:

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

But more than Nona’s training is at stake. An ancient prophecy has brought it’s own troubles down on the convent and war is brewing even as the sun dies and ice engulfs all but a slim corridor of land.

First, let me start off by saying that this book is so much more than just warrior nuns. I keep fumbling when explaining it to colleagues because hearing that a book is about a school for kick ass nuns… doesn’t necessarily say “read me.” But don’t let the sisters fool you, this is a fantasy world with a lot going on; it is character driven and a lot is happening behind the scenes.

The set up of the narration in this book, with a few peeks into the present, reminds me a little of Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. And just like Rothfuss, I wonder when the story-lines are going to meet and then what. Sometimes I really like knowing what is going to happen, the journey is the real sweet zone, but depending on how it is handled, it can be off-putting. We’ll have to wait for the next book to see how this one is going to go.

Holy cow did this book bring the tension. Talk about some intense action scenes! I mean, this book did have some flaws but the dramatic intensity of the writing in these scenes makes up for it. Lawrence really has a knack for filling his action scenes with suspense and drama. Really well done.

Finally, this book is all about the strong female character. It’s a book full of individual women/girls who are confident, strong both mentally and physically, and so much more. I also feel some LGBT relationships coming, on top of the few that are mentioned, which is great. By the end of the book Nona is finally getting a little more interesting… there is just something about a destructive, violent, yet ultimately good character that tugs at me.

On a gut reaction I gave this one four stars and I am going to stick with it. A good fantasy but if you don’t like serious cliffhangers, maybe wait until the next book is out.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Spindle Fire

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer is a YA re-imagining of sleeping beauty and is the first book in a new series. Half sisters Aurora and Isabelle are best friends and total opposites. Aurora is beautiful, sweet, heir to the Deluce throne and unable to speak or feel; Isabelle is the kings illegitimate daughter, head strong and without sight. They are closer than anyone and would do anything for each other.

One day a terrible curse separates the sisters and leaves Deluce at the mercy of an evil fairy with unimaginable powers. Aurora falls into a deep sleep and awakens in a magical world with a terrible mystery and a boy she feels a deep connection to. Isabelle is in a race against time to save her sister by finding her true love and true loves kiss, but Isabelle is unexpectedly drawn to Aurora’s arranged husband and the path they travel is dangerous.

Now Isabelle and Aurora must find their way back to each other and save their kingdom. Can they battle a sleeping curse and solve a mystery decades in the making? Can the bonds of sisterhood survive this separation and the changes bound to occur?

OK, so this book had a really interesting premise. I was really into this idea of half-sisters paralleling twin fairy sisters and having to sort out their story in order to save their own. There was magic and mystery and it was totally up my ally. But I just wasn’t wowed by the tale. I didn’t have to read it. It was interesting and unique but it was missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.

One thing I did really like about Spindle Fire was the fairy tithes. This isn’t anything new with fairy stories but the way the tithes worked was really intriguing. I like how each of the fairies had their own specialized tithes and how it played into their characters. I also think these fairy tithes are going to play into the series moving forward and if so, I like the way it’s heading.

Holy abrupt ending batman! Seriously, here I am listening along and all of a sudden I hear Fiona Hardingham say that this has been a audio production by… Wahhh! That’s one way to get someone to read the sequel, even if they weren’t really into it.

Overall, this one gets three stars from me. I think the sequel might have more potential but this was was just OK for me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas is the third book in the ACOTAR series. This one picks up a few weeks after the disaster in Hybern where the Court of Dreams was injured, Feyre’s sisters turned into high fae and the high lady of the night court left her mate to spy on their enemies.

Now Feyre is back in the Spring Court, painting flowers and pretending to be a perfect all-but damaged lady of spring. When really, she is playing a dangerous game, gathering information on Tamlin and the kings invasion of Prythian. Feyre must walk a fine line all while war inches closer and closer to the people she loves.

Will Feyre be able to sabotage Hybern and it’s allies? Will she get out of Spring alive? Will the Court of Dreams survive the coming onslaught?

Hmmm what to say about this one? I loved ACOMAF so much, I read it three times and listened to the audio book once. But I do not see myself re-reading ACOWAR. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find myself as invested in it as I was the second book. In fact, I found myself feeling about ACOWAR the same way I felt about ACOTAR–not bad but not spectacular.

It’s funny, Maas has these fantastic gems within her series. Books that just cannot compare and I absolutely fall in love with her characters but I don’t always feel like the books are consistent. I’m still going to fangirl over ACOTAR regardless because I love the Court of Dreams so much!

If, in this series, we were only invested in Feyre and Rhys then this would have been a wonderful conclusion to their story. For those two, it was quite a satisfying end. But we aren’t just invested in Feyre and Rhys. We want to know what happens between Cassian and Nesta, Lucian and Elain, Mor, Azriel, Amren, even Tamlin and the other high lords. But we don’t and that’s what was really missing in this one. Even if we got a few chapters with a glimpse of whats to come for those characters, I would have been happy.

Normally, I don’t like when a series switches from one PoV to multi-PoV but in this case, I think it would have added a little something. I hope the future books do this because I really want to see some insight into other characters.

Overall, ACOWAR satisfied my thirst for more Feyre and Rhys but it will be hard to wait to get the missing pieces from the rest of our favorite characters tales. This one gets three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Crown of Wishes

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Ghokshi is the “sequel” to The Star-Touched Queen. Every hundred years the otherworld throws the Tournament of Wishes, an ancient tournament full of terror and wonder, where the risks are real and the prize is a wish of unlimited possibilities.

This year two contestants from different kingdoms must work together to stay alive and save their homes. Princess Gauri has been banned from her home by her brother, a twisted ruler whose thirst for power overshadows the good of his people. Prince Vikram is at the mercy of his council and will only ever be a puppet king while his legitimacy is in question.

Gauri and Vikram must come together despite their differences to beat the odds and survive a world of monsters and dreams. Can they solve these death defying riddles before time runs out? And what happens when reluctant allies become more?

Ghokshi does it again, all but a little differently. Where The Star-Touched Queen was a magical journey to find oneself and to rescue true love, A Crown of Wishes is a magical race against time and a journey toward self discovery and fate. These sound the same but the two books felt pretty different. There is an urgency to The Star-Touched Queen that we don’t really get in this one. This isn’t a bad thing but it does change the feel of the narrative just a bit.

A Crown of Wishes focuses more on the characters and the character development than the magic and mystery of it’s predecessor. Where The Star-Touched Queen only really develops Maya’s character, we get three fully developed narratives in this one. Gauri and Vikram play off each other really well. Gauri is serious and tactical with her warrior mind, whereas Vikram is sure of himself, intelligent and sly. It makes for an interesting dynamic and pairing.

I just love this world Ghokshi created; it’s magical and real and it feels unique. Ghokshi tells us in this one that the otherworld will soon be closed off from the real world and I wonder if there will be one more book about this. I hope so and I hope we see more of Maya her beau and Gauri and Vikram working in tandem. That’d be awesome!

Overall, this one gets 4 stars from me. It was a good read but I didn’t fall in love with the romantic relationship as much as I did with Maya’s. Still worth a shot.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Blood Rose Rebellion

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves is the first book in a new YA fantasy series set in 19th century London and Hungary. Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is an outcast of Luminate society; she hold no magic in a society where magic is a symbol of class and proves your Luminate bloodline.

Anna would give anything for even a drop of magic but instead magic tends to go haywire in her presence. Which is how Anna finds herself exiled to a small estate in her families native Hungary. Anna travels to Hungary with her grandmother and their meets her quiet uncle and two cousins she has little in common with.

In Hungary Anna learns more about the society she longs to belong to and these revelations confuse and frighten her. She is no longer sure what she wants, nor what is right. Discontent is sweeping the land and Anna seems to fall straight into the Romani conflict and the Hungarian rebellion.

I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty lackluster about this one. There have been a couple of these lately, that have really interesting magical premises but don’t really deliver. I felt the same way about A Shadow Bright and Burning not long ago. A book that is totally up my ally but just doesn’t quite deliver.

I was pretty bored throughout this one. I didn’t really believe Anna as a character; her convictions were so gung-ho one minute but in the same sentence she talk about needing society and finding acceptance in her world. She was a little wishy-washy and a lot of her actions weren’t always believable for the time period she was supposed to be living in–magic or not.

One thing I did enjoy reading about in this book was the authors take on the political upheaval in Austria-Hungary at the time and the Romani culture. The magic weaved into this, very loosely based, historical time period was interesting. Setting the book during this time period was probably the books one merit.

I don’t know, I guess I just don’t have much to say about this one, which should tell you something. It passed the time but I’m not sure if I can bring myself to read the sequel when it comes out. This one gets two stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Fate of the Tearling

Sorry guys, took a few days off. Reading with a sinus infection pretty much makes me fall asleep about two pages in.

The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is the final book in the Queen of the Tearling series. We pick up with Queen Kelsea a captive of the Red Queen in return for sparing her city from war for three years. Kelsea is now without her sapphires and at the mercy of a ruler who is slowly losing her grip on her country.

While the queen is gone, the Mace and the Tearling must overcome hunger, overcrowding, threats from the church and an evil beyond imagining. But can they do it without their queen?

The final chapter has begun and the fate of the Tearling is looking grimmer with each passing moment. Can Kelsea save her country and can she ever hope to find the better world William Tear imagined all those years ago?

Man guys, this one was long! It was long and a lot happens. So be prepared when you go into it. I don’t really have a lot of comments for this one. I do have one gripe that will probably not be popular, so get ready for a rant.

Unlike the first book, this one has a lot of different narrators. We see quite a few perspectives and we get several different storylines running at the same time. We get so much–so much story, so much action and so many loose ends and yet, the way the story ends… it is almost like all these stories you’ve got so invested in don’t even matter. I’ve never read anything like this before. The author was able to tie up the story with a fairly satisfying ending and yet not address a single one of the loose ends from any of the narrators other than Kelsea.

By the end of the book none of the other storylines matter because they basically don’t exist. Don’t get me wrong, I was surprised by the ending and I can see how it comes full circle… in fact, I am not sure it could have ended any other way. But I also felt like I invested a lot of time in the characters and not getting to finish their stories was somewhat of a disappointment.

One thing this book does well is address larger themes of society and makes you question what a society should look like. It makes you think about what could be done differently to make a better world and it makes me question whether or not such a society could ever be achieved. This book asks the question and that isn’t a bad thing.

Overall, this was a really interesting series. It was built layer upon layer and the fact that Johansen could keep this world straight without getting his readers caught in a convoluted web of detail and politics, was successfully done. This one gets 3.5 stars from me and the series as a whole would land somewhere between 3.5-4 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton is the second book in the Rebel of the Sands series. This book picks up a handful of months after the last book. Amani now wields her powers with ease and the rebellion seems to be gaining ground. She feels at home with the rebels and their bonds go deep. Even so, Amani is uncertain about her future with Jin, who disappeared after she was shot and almost died during the gap between books. Now Jin is back and Amani doesn’t know how to feel.

She doesn’t get long to think before the rebel camp is attacked and she is kidnapped. Now Amani is in a den of vipers, powerless and at the mercy of the very man she has been fighting to overthrow. Amani must walk a fine line between staying true to the rebellion and staying alive.

What secrets will Amani uncover in a palace of lies? With her powers gone, how will she ever escape? And what will happen to the rebellion without the blue-eyed bandit?

I was really looking forward to this one and it did not disappointed. At first I was hesitant with how quickly Amani was separated from the rebels and left to fight for herself. I wasn’t sure how the story would progress with her captive and enthralled to the whims of the sultan, but it worked. We were introduced to new characters and we learn more about the Djinni and their origins and place in the world.

There’s more intrigue in this one and the plot thickens. There is more going on then just a father and son fighting for power and the Djinni are at the center of it. We learn more about the sultan’s plans and the dynamic of the rebellion changes. Whereas the first book was action packed, this second one has action and depth–it sets the stage for more.

I also liked that this book addresses some of the loose ends left in Rebel of the Sands. We find out what happened to Tamid and Shira, we also find out more about Amani’s parents and foreshadowing of the future. I also loved that Hamilton kept Amani as the sole narrator. A lot of series these days have a single narrator in the first book and then add narratives in subsequent books. This has been driving me crazy lately, so it was refreshing to have one consistent narrator throughout.

Oh man guys, that ending! This book ended with a massive bang. The twist was both expected and totally out of left field. You knew something was up but Hamilton sets everything up really well. This book was worth reading just for the last 100 pages.

Overall, a great read. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-