Legendary

Legendary by Stephanie Garber is the second book in the Caraval series.

At the end of Caraval, Tella took a leap of faith and died so that her sister, Scarlett, could win the game and free them from their abusive father. Now it is Tella’s turn to play.

Celebrating the Empress, Caraval is happening again and this time Tella will play the game for her mother’s freedom. After making a terrible bargain with an unsavory character, Tella must win Caraval and divulge the creator of Caraval, Legend’s, real name. And so she is thrown into a world of secrets and betrayals, love and loveless stories, magic and horror and a world where reality may be anything but real.

But this time… Caraval is more than just a game and for Tella, winning could cost her everything but win or lose, the game must be played.

This is a prime example of a series that doesn’t do it for me as a book, but is one I actually really enjoyed in audio. I wasn’t even going to read this one because Scarlett killed me at the end of the book… and improve much in this one but it was available at my library and I needed something else to listen to. And I really, really liked it.

I mentioned Scarlett… she was such a force in the first book but ended timid and run down by the game. Well guess who is still fragile in this one? Scarlett. But this was Tella’s story and Scarlett was only at it’s fringes. We get hints that she may have found her backbone again toward the end but I really hope the third book will be told from both Tella’s and Scarlett’s perspectives because I’d love to get that strong, adaptable sister back.

For me, Legendary was a bit more predictable than Caraval. Caraval surprised me and I was taken down several different paths, whereas in this one, I could see where things were going even if I wasn’t a 100% sure how we would get there. Which is why this one gets bumped down half a star for me.

I can’t wait to see where this world is going and what costs our cast of characters still have to pay. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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A Reaper at the Gates

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir is the third book in An Ember in the Ashes. In this one we pick up a few months after A Torch Against the Night.

The Empire is in danger and the Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, must face political strife, poison, a deranged emperor, an evil entity and threats from literally all sides. While attempting to hold back the darkness, Helene must also protect her last living family member, her sister, and this may just be the hardest task of all.

Across the Empire, Laia of Serra, will stop at nothing to take down the Nightbringer. While Laia and her brother search for ways to stop the Nightbringer, they find themselves pulled into the Scholar Rebellion and Laia is torn between helping her people and saving… the world.

And in the forest between the living and the dead is Elias, a Soul Catcher in training, who is reluctant to let go of his worldly ties and embrace his duty. But with the world of the living and the dead in the balance, does he even have a choice?

But each of our protagonists have a part to play in the greater war looming nearer with each page. Will Helene, Laia and Elias be able to keep the darkness at bay or will their actions push them closer to the brink?

Man, it felt like we were waiting for this book forever! But the wait was definitely worth it. I love how Helene, Laia and Elias’ stories are so different, with them each facing different difficulties, but that they are also tied so closely together that the actions of one affect them all. There was a real delicate balance here.

I also loved how this book ended with strong female characters uniting in ways I cannot wait to witness in the next book. The strength we find at the end, almost makes me forget that we now have to wait at least a year for the next one… almost.

My only semi-negative critique would be the relationship interactions between a few of the characters. Budding romances, unrequited love, hesitation, lust, etc. these are all staples of YA romance and a few of the interactions felt a little forced. Not all, but a few of these romantic interludes felt almost rushed or, like, I wasn’t ready for them yet. I needed more build up.

I’ve been listening to this series in audio and I’ve got to say, it is so well done. Fiona Hardingham, Katherine McEwann, Maxwell Cualfield and Steve West — literally all the best readers were part of this one.

I really enjoyed this one. It get’s 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Only Human

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel is the third and final book of The Themis Files.

We left off in the second book with Rose, Vincent, Eva and the General being transported in Themis to another planet. Now, more than nine years later, Rose, Vincent and Eva have returned and the planet they once called home has changed… and not for the better.

The world is on the brink of war and it’s people are being shoved into camps based on the amount of alien DNA in their system. The earth is one step away from genocide and one conflict away from nuclear war.

It is up to Rose, Vincent and Eva to pick up the pieces and find a solution to the chaos reining. But the years on another planet have wreaked havoc on the trio and their own personal conflicts may blind them from doing what is right.

Can a world forever altered by the truth of the statement, “we are not alone,” ever find a way to come to terms and move on?

I felt like each of these books ended in a satisfying way and yet this one did a great job of concluding the story as a whole. We get our intro and build up in book one, our big conflict and resolution in book two, and the repercussions and consequences in book three. I also liked that each book stayed true to the narrative structure being written in the form of logs, letters, recordings, etc.

After the first two books, this one did seem to lack a bit of action for me but a scene toward the end of the book picked up speed for me. I also didn’t really see the need for the “new” interviewer, Katherine. After our mystery interviewer’s death at the end of book two, we didn’t really need a new “person.” I think we could have gotten along just fine with the logs and recordings without Kathrine, whose character was only so-so for me.

Overall, I really liked this series and this book was a great conclusion to the trilogy as a whole. Gotta love a good sci-fi that feels authentic. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

War Storm

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard is the fourth and final book in the Red Queen series.

War rages on all fronts; Silver against silver, silver’s against red’s, red’s and silver’s working together… Norta is a nation in pieces, chaos reigns and no one is sure what winning will look like.

Mare Barrow, a new blood with lightening in her veins, has been betrayed by yet another Calore brother. Cal has chosen his crown over her and Mare has chosen the red’s over him. And yet, the two must work together to keep Norta out of Mavin’s hands.

Written from multiple perspectives, War Storm is the conclusion to the Red Queen series and we will learn who will rise, who will fall and who will win!

I’ll admit, this is a series where I really like the first book and then just sort of found myself stuck having to finish the series. It wasn’t bad, but I just wasn’t overly impressed with it after that first one. That being said, this was a satisfying conclusion overall.

This is going to sound awful but, too many people made it out alive for such a confrontational, war-torn, battle heavy book… series. Without giving any spoilers, it just wasn’t believable to me that there wasn’t more of those shocking losses like you get in the second book. There were characters that I was just shocked to see make it out alive. Again, usually I wouldn’t say that; I don’t like my heart broken when my favorite characters die. But in this series, where death and war are so prevalent, I expected it and it was lacking.

Another criticism I have for this one is the narration. About two-thirds of this book was narrated by female protagonists and I thought this was great! I liked seeing the three women, all on different sides with different motivations, telling their piece of the story. And then all of a sudden Cal and Mavin have their own narratives. It felt very out of no where and fractured the story for me a little bit.

This series just didn’t do enough for me, but I did finish it and overall was a decent read. There are a lot of people who will love this series. For me I give this book 2.5 stars and the series as a whole about 3.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Winter Glass

Winter Glass by Lexa Hillyer is the sequel and conclusion to the Spindle Fire duology.

In this one we pick up where we left off. Isbe and Aurora have been reunited and that reunion has caused a domino-like effect on the kingdom of Deluce. Aurora has been torn from her dream world, where she could talk and feel, and brought back to a world where she is but a pretty symbol. Isbe has returned from Aurbon with Prince William in toe and even though the pair share an intimacy that neither want to give up, the prince must now marry Aurora to hold the alliance.

Amidst this all is Queen Malfleur, who is turning the people into monsters and determined to get… well.. more. More power. More control. Nothing is enough for this evil queen.

And in this fairytale world, as in most, the only way out is through… Isbe and Aurora must look within themselves to face the battles ahead as well as truths neither want to face. Will Isbe and Aurora beat Malfleur or will the cost be too great?

Just like my review of the first book, there was just something missing here for me. It was an interesting fairytale retelling and I still really like this idea of fairy tithes, but it was just a book that I could finish and not think about again. Something that kept me entertained for a bit but made no real impression on me.

I was actually a bit confused by the book actually… well mostly Aurora’s story. In the first book, Heath was such an important part of her story and Wren was more of a side character for her and yet in this one the roles are completely reversed and Heath is sort of pushed to the side. Almost like the author didn’t know what to do with him outside of that fairy dream world. This bothered me.

I was also bother by the fact that it was such a big deal in the first book that William marry Aurora and he an Isbe can’t/can/can’t/can/can’t be together but in this one the obstacle again like fluffed over, just like Heath. It’s almost as if the author finished the first book and wanted to keep the same characters but also wanted to write a different story. THAT’S what this felt like to me, a different book.

Not a bad read but meh. This one gets a middle of the road 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black is the first book in a new YA series.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she, her twin and elder sister were whisked off to Faerie. Ten years have passed and although Jude hates the man who killed her parents–now her step father–she wants nothing other than to belong. But mortals are looked down upon in Faerie, if they are even looked at, at all. And Jude has caught the cruel eye of Prince Cardan, the youngest son of the High King.

Jude will do anything to win her place in Court and give up more than she realizes. And so begins Jude’s journey into the intrigues of Faerie, where politics play and secrets rule. But Jude has one talent that the fae do not… she can lie.

Will Jude find her place among the fae? And as she journeys down this path, what will she learn of herself and what will she do with that knowledge?

I read this book in two, spaced out, sittings. And for some reason, both times, I was hesitant to start. I’d heard great things about this book but wasn’t so sure it was up my ally. When I finally started, I got sucked in but my loan expired and I had to wait for the book again. Three weeks later, I knew I liked what I’d read so far but still was hesitant. Then I started reading again and got sucked in again. I don’t know what it was about this book but even though it took me a while, it was worth the read. Especially, the last quarter of the book.

I liked this book. I think a lot of people will like this book. BUT I don’t have much else to say about it. I did really like this book and a lot of the reviewers I follow are saying some really great things about it but not much else comes to me other than “I liked it.” I’m not really sure what that says about the book but hey, I’m still giving it 4 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Iron Gold

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown is the fourth book in the Red Rising series.

Iron Gold takes place 10 years later. Ten years of war has raged. Ten years of politics and planning. Ten years of integrating the colors and attempting to forge the world Darrow and his friends dreamed of. Ten years, it seems, wasn’t long enough.

Darrow is determined to finish this war once and for all, the republic be damned. But ending this war could lose him the very family he was fighting for in the first place. Will Darrow give up his wife, his son, and all those he loves to save everything else?

Entwined with Darrow’s story is three others…

A young red girl filled with tragedy and brimming with hate, who has become disillusioned with the republic and any hope for change.

A grey ex-soldier with a broken past that has lead him to a life of crime and the biggest, most dangerous heist of his life.

And an exiled heir, haunted by what might have been and what may still be.

Iron Gold expands upon the universe we know and begins a new saga and a new battle. But this time, we aren’t sure who the winner should be.

Sooo… I could have sworn this series was a trilogy. I was so, so happy and content with the way the the third book ended–questions and all–that I was thrown when I found out that there was a fourth book. Fine–I thought–it’s a book set in the same world but with different characters, I can deal with that. Nope. This was the same characters, plus new ones, only ten years older. Because of this, it took me forever to get into this story. I was so stuck with the idea that this was becoming another series that would drag on when it should have ended, that I almost ruined a book that I ended up actually liking.

I really liked the new storylines that were introduced. These were interesting and dynamic and I want to know where they were going. I was less enamored with Darrow’s continued saga, although I did like seeing the fatherly side of Sevro. Darrow’s internal struggles just didn’t make me feel anything like they did in the first three Red Rising books. He just doesn’t feel like the same Darrow to me.

I don’t really have much else to say about this one. Overall, it kept me entertained, even if it took me awhile to let that happen. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-