Book Review: Breaking the Reins (Breaking #1) by Juliana Haygert

Book Review: Breaking the Reins (Breaking #1) by Juliana HaygertBreaking the Reins by Juliana Haygert
Series: Breaking #1
Published by Self-Published on August 14, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 401
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Goodreads
3 Stars
Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.

After a fire takes her grandma's life and kills her horse, Hannah's immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can't turn away even though she's not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.

Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.

But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.

Book Review:

BREAKING THE REINS was quite difficult to read at times, due to the main character being in an abusive relationship. Now, I did like that the author explored being in an abusive relationship, and the possible thoughts/excuses one might make, but I thought she went a little too far with the boyfriend’s behavior. But more about that later.

BREAKING THE REINS is an apt title for this book, as there are three characters who are struggling. Hannah’s stuck in a few ways: she’s inherited her grandmother’s ranch, a property her father and boyfriend want her to sell; she’s in that abusive relationship with boyfriend Eric; and she’s trying to rehabilitate an abused horse. Argus, the abused horse, is scared of people, but unless he makes some progress, he’s likely to be put down. And Leo, a super hot Brazilian polo player, wants to be Hannah’s rescuer, but he’s hiding some big secrets which could come between them.

I mostly liked this book. The horse bits weren’t 100% accurate, which was a disappointment, but I got so into Hannah’s story that I was able to mostly overlook that. I got so into Hannah’s story because for a lot of the book, it was realistic to me. I knew something was off about Eric almost immediately, and it’s never easy for me to read about a character that can’t see it, or tries to rationalize what’s going on. Did I want Hannah to stand up to Eric and leave him, especially once he started hitting her? Hell yes. Did I understand the excuses she made to herself to stay with him? Hell yes.

It’s impossible for me to explain why I thought Eric was a bit too out there without spoiling a majority of the book. So I’ll settle for saying that I think the author tried to make him too horrific, too over the top. Even before Eric was too much, he made my stomach turn, so I really wish she hadn’t gone as far as she did, because some of the things Eric supposedly did were just unbelievable. That affected my thoughts for the book as a whole, taking it down a star for me.

I do think BREAKING THE REINS is a good introduction to Juliana Haygert’s work, and I would read more of her books.

Socialize with the author:

Juliana Haygert:
Website
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Twitter

– leeanna

The Reading Machine [5]

reading machine

After a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided to join Stacking the Shelves. It’s hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, and you can find out all about it here.

Basically, everyone shares their book hauls for the week. I always enjoy visiting these posts on other blogs, so it’s finally time to join in the fun. You can visit this week’s hauls here.

But I’m going to do things a little differently. For my Stacking the Shelves, or as I’m calling it, The Reading Machine, I’m going to list the books I have that I’ll be reading in the upcoming week. Well, I’ll hopefully get to these. This is part of my new organization plan :D

I’m also doing a short life update in these posts, and sometimes asking about blogging stuff.

The Reading Machine:

stacking the shelves july 13 2014Since I wanted to buy CRACKED by Eliza Crewe and THE WIZARD’S PROMISE by Cassandra Rose Clarke before they disappear (if they do), I treated myself to an Amazon order earlier this week. I don’t have Prime anymore (boo! :( ), so I had to pick out a few extra books for free shipping. It’s funny – I haven’t bought books in a while and I have a really long wishlist, but I had a hard time finding books! One of the major reasons why is most of the books I really want release in hardcover first, so I’m waiting for the paperback versions.

I picked up UP FROM THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost, to finish up my Night Huntress collection. So sad that Bones and Cat are complete. I also got MERCY KILL by Aaron Allston. If you didn’t know, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. The first four X-Wing books are some of the best in that universe, in my opinion. Lastly, THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. I’ve heard such good things about this series, so it was time to finally get the first book.

Of course, who knows when I’ll actually read any of them!

This week, I’m hoping to read and review all of these:

THE TRAITOR’S BLADE by Sebastien de Castell
for review
RISE OF THE KING by R.A. Salvatore
for review
GATES OF STONE AND THREAD by Lori M. Lee
for review
A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS by Catherine Linka
for review

What Up, Life?

flower bedEven though it’s been a few months since I’ve done a Reading Machine post, not much has changed lifewise. I’m still pretty boring. I’ve been spending a lot of time doing yardwork… I feel like I’m turning into the cranky old guy yelling “Get off my lawn!” I really wish I could get into audiobooks, because I have never listened to as much music in my life as I have this summer.

My mom’s always wanted flowers planted alongside most of the barns, so I tackled one side. The picture is deceiving — it’s at least 14 feet long. The flowers I transplanted look pretty horrible right now (note to future self: July is not a good time to plant), I got a bad sunburn, and lots of bug bites.

Oh well. At the very least it was an incredible workout, and I’m thinking of turning all the yardwork I do into some sort of crossfit program and get people to do it for me. :D

– leeanna

Book Review: Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) by Leah Cypess

Book Review: Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) by Leah CypessDeath Sworn by Leah Cypess
Series: Death Sworn #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
1 Stars
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

Book Review:

Dear DEATH SWORN,

I wanted to love you. I really did. You have some of my favorite things, including assassins and mages. But when it took me a couple of tries to read the first chapter, and then sheer determination to keep reading the rest of you, I knew we weren’t going to work out.

DEATH SWORN, when it comes down to it, you were, well, boring.

I can’t remember very much about you, and it’s only been a few days since I finally finished you. I feel like you are set up for the rest of the series, but you didn’t even accomplish much set up. For example, I don’t know very much about the world Ileni lives in. I needed to know more about that world to understand why the assassins operate. Just telling me that the guys in power are evil isn’t good enough. I need good worldbuilding in my fantasy reading, and basically all I know is the assassins live in a gigantic cave system.

Ileni losing her powers was a neat twist. I’ll give you that. I also liked your magic system, DEATH SWORN, because it sounds like the magic took a lot of focus and study, not just snap your fingers or shake a wand.

But when Ileni started having feelings for Sorin, I lost any liking I had for her. I don’t really know why either of them liked each other. Sorin is an assassin who survived his first mission and is waiting eagerly for another chance to prove himself. He believes in the assassins’ purpose, where Ileni thinks killing for any reason is super bad. I could have understood a friendship, because they did seem to be heading that way, but kissing and looooove? Sorry DEATH SWORN, but I’m critical of relationships, and I didn’t get this one.

DEATH SWORN, you just didn’t live up to your potential. You didn’t grab my attention or captivate me enough for me to want to continue your series.

Socialize with the author:

Leah Cypess:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Iron & Velvet (Kate Kane #1) by Alexis Hall

Book Review: Iron & Velvet (Kate Kane #1) by Alexis HallIron & Velvet by Alexis Hall
Series: Kate Kane #1
Published by Riptide Publishing on December 16, 2013
Genres: Adult, LGBT, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 277
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
First rule in this line of business: don’t sleep with the client.

My name’s Kate Kane, and when an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince came to me with a case, I should have told her no. But I’ve always been a sucker for a femme fatale.

It always goes the same way. You move too fast, you get in too deep, and before you know it, someone winds up dead. Last time it was my partner. This time it could be me. Yesterday a werewolf was murdered outside the Velvet, the night-time playground of one of the most powerful vampires in England. Now half the monsters in London are at each other’s throats, and the other half are trying to get in my pants. The Witch Queen will protect her own, the wolves are out for vengeance, and the vampires are out for, y’know, blood.

I’ve got a killer on the loose, a war on the horizon, and a scotch on the rocks. It’s going to be an interesting day.

Book Review:

I’m not really sure what took me so long to get into IRON & VELVET, but boy, do I regret waiting to read it. IRON & VELVET is one of those books I couldn’t stop reading — I felt as if it was written just for me. I adored everything about it, and there is one upside to not reading it when it was released — I don’t have to wait for book two, SHADOWS & DREAMS.

Kate Kane, paranormal investigator extraordinaire, doesn’t work for vampires. But with business being non-existent, and the Prince of Cups, one of the most powerful vampires in England, asking for her, she doesn’t have much choice but to take the case. Before long, she’s up to her eyeballs in vampires, werewolves, witches, tentacle monsters, and more. The whole gamut and then some. Kate herself has some supernatural blood; her mother is the Queen of the Wild Hunt, but that’s mostly an inconvenience.

I really liked the world the author created, as well as his twists on the different supernatural creatures, from vampires to demons to werewolves. Most of the creatures are true to legend, but upgraded for modern times. I also liked that three of the most powerful characters: Julian, vampire Prince of Cups, Tara, the alpha werewolf, and Nimue, queen of mages, are female.

Oh, yeah. IRON & VELVET is full of gay women, including Kate, Julian, and Nimue. This is an f/f paranormal book, possibly the f/f paranormal book I’ve been craving. There’s some pretty damn hot sex, and I couldn’t help but laugh every time Kate had to remind herself not to sleep with the client, or to keep her eyes on someone’s face when she was talking to them.

The author’s writing style pulled me into the book. If you like any combination of sarcasm, dry humor, and dark humor, you’ll probably enjoy Kate’s narration. “Here lies Kate Kane. Eaten by big bad werewolves. Beloved daughter. Sorely missed (Chapter 3).” Kate’s an alcoholic, has trust issues, is attracted to almost anything female that moves, but she does sincerely care about the victims. Kate usually tries to do the right thing, fucks up here and there, but keeps trying until things are right (or as right as they’re going to be). Yeah, in case you can’t tell, I kind of loved Kate.

Everything about IRON & VELVET kept me flicking the pages, from the murder mystery to Kate’s voice to Julian’s sexiness to well, everything!

Socialize with the author:

Alexis Hall:
Website
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Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika JohansenThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1
Published by Harper on July 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

Book Review:

THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING is a book with a lot of hype behind it. The film rights have already been sold, and supposedly Emma Watson is “attached to star” (whatever that means). Books with so much hype behind them usually fail for me. THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING is an okay fantasy — it’s not great, it’s not horrible. It’s somewhere in the middle. A very long middle.

I’ll address the length of this book first: it’s over 400 pages. I swear it’s 200 pages too long. Now, don’t get me wrong — I read a lot of epic fantasy. Books that I could use as bricks. Books that have 800 or 900 pages, and I want another 800 or 900 pages because I love the characters and the world. Not so with THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING. There are a lot of boring bits that I wanted to skim, parts that could have been pared down or left out altogether. There’s an abundance of detail, describing what Kelsea has for dinner or what a building looks like.

Too much detail, and not enough worldbuilding, because I was super confused on how the Tearling and other countries came to be. At first, it seems like a standard European-based medieval fantasy, but then there’s a mention of the Harry Potter series. The Tearling supposedly started as a utopia, but somehow it’s now a medieval world complete with serfdom and slaves. There are vague mentions of “The Crossing,” which I guess is when Americans crossed into the Tearling, but it’s not given enough explanation. And, oh yeah, all the doctors were on the same boat, so when that boat sank, so did all medical knowledge. Riiiiight. The more I think about the world in this book, the more confused I get.

I could say more critical stuff about this book, but … even with the multiple issues I had (beyond length and worldbuilding), I actually did get into THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING. It’s not a memorable book, but the author did rouse my curiosity enough for me to want to see what happens next. I just hope the follow-up makes more sense and isn’t as wordy.

So, in conclusion: an average fantasy.

– leeanna

Monthly Summary: June 2014


in june…

In June I read 18 books. For a while I was averaging a book a day, then I decided to finish Jacqueline Carey’s Imriel Trilogy and Moirin Trilogy. KUSHIEL’S DART is one of my favorite, favorite books of all time, and I’ve read the Phèdre Trilogy countless times. I never read the next two trilogies set in the same world, but I finally have … to the tune of approximately 7,171 pages. I kind of want to do a video, because I have feels for this series (and they’re older books, which I want to promote), but I’m worried about butchering the characters’ names.

I’ll think about it. I keep coming up with possible vlog topics but never actually sit down and do them. I always feel like a dork when I make videos. Any tips on how not to feel dorky?

And with that, here are the books I read:

   

Reviews Posted:

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) by Kelley Armstrong.
Unwrapped Sky (Caeli-Amur #1) by Rjurik Davidson.
Life in Motion by Misty Copeland.
Deadly Curiosities (Deadly Curiosities #1) by Gail Z. Martin.
Avalon (Avalon #1) by Mindee Arnett.
Dark Metropolis (Dark Metropolis #1) by Jaclyn Dolamore.
The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson.
White Heart of Justice (Noon Onyx #3) by Jill Archer.
The Herald (The Sundering #6) by Ed Greenwood.
Essence (Essence #1) by Lisa Ann O’Kane.
Fiery Edge of Steel (Noon Onyx #2) by Jill Archer.


in july…

I planned to start this on July 1, but good intentions and all that… I also got a wicked sunburn that is currently making me feel like a crocodile. Anywho!

For the rest of July, I’m going to try to visit at least 5 blogs a day and comment, as a way of getting back into being more involved in the book blogosphere. I haven’t been very social lately, and it’s kind of weird but also kind of nice to be disconnected. The main benefit is my TBR pile hasn’t really grown. Hah!

– leeanna

Book Review: The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa

Book Review: The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie KagawaThe Forever Song by Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden #3
Published by Harlequin Teen on April 15, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 393
Format: eARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Vengeance will be hers.

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.

Monster.

Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions - her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost - the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

THE FINAL HUNT IS ON.

Book Review:

Over the past few years I’ve been reviewing books, I’ve noticed a pattern: I usually don’t read the last book of a trilogy. I almost wish I hadn’t read THE FOREVER SONG, because it just wasn’t the best end to the series. I feel like I could have stopped with book two, THE ETERNITY CURE, as THE FOREVER SONG was mostly unnecessary. You can predict how the series will end, and the journey to the ending is rather boring at times.

At 393 pages, I swear the book could have been cut in half and told the same story, since so much of it was repetition: tons of travel, tons of rabid attacks, and tons of angst from Allie and Zeke. As with THE ETERNITY CURE, Jackal was the highlight of THE FOREVER SONG for me. I could quote line after line of his dialogue; he’s a perfect combination of dry wit, sarcasm, and unabashed vampireness. Unlike Allie, who is still adjusting to the fact that she’s a vampire and has to drink blood to survive, Jackal would paint a town red. Not in a crazy way like psychotic Sarren, but just because he would enjoy it.

Here’s an example, one of many I bookmarked:

“‘There you go again.’ Jackal sighed from the front. ‘Getting the puppy’s hopes up. More likely, every bloodbag in Eden is screaming and tearing their faces off, but oh, no, no one wants to hear that.’ He waved a hand. ‘So, go ahead, tell him that everything is going to be fine. All the meatsacks are perfectly content on their happy little island, Sarren has given up world destruction to raise kittens, and the magic wish fairy will wave her wand and turn shit into gold.’ (page 235).”

Don’t you just love Jackal? I do!

For the climactic book of a series, I guess I expected more than Allie and Zeke spending most of the book angsting over their vampire lives. The cure was almost stupidly simple, and it seems to me it’s something where the journey is more important than the end product type of things. But I just wish that journey hadn’t included so much traveling and repetition. One of the things that really captured my interest in this series was the bleak, dark, dystopian society Julie Kagawa created. One where vampires were the absolute power, and humans spent all of their time trying to find enough food to eat. I wanted to see more of that, or at least more of Eden, but no. It really felt like 97% of the book was spent on the long, dull road.

In the end, I’m just meh on THE FOREVER SONG. For me, it didn’t live up to the first two books in the series. It’s not a bad conclusion, but it was just missing something for me to feel really good about the end of the series.

Socialize with the author:
Julie Kagawa:
Website
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty

Book Review: The Bone Church by Victoria DoughertyThe Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty
Published by Pier's Court Press on April 15, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Thriller
Pages: 308
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.

Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.

bone church blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE BONE CHURCH by Victoria Dougherty. It’s a historical thriller set during the Cold War and WWII.

The tour is hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and you can visit all the stops here.

Book Review:

THE BONE CHURCH is my kind of historical fiction. Beautifully written with compelling characters, an intriguing, twisty plotline, and full of historical details. I love it when a book interests me enough in the subject matter to make me want to learn alllllll about what I’m reading. For example — Google “the Bone Church.” I bet the pictures you see will make you want to read this book, especially once I tell you there’s a very important part of the book set in the Bone Church.

THE BONE CHURCH seamlessly melds two timelines together, 1956 and 1943-1944. In both times, Felix and Magdalena are trying to escape Czechoslovakia, from the Germans and then from the Soviets. In 1943, Felix accidentally gets caught up in an attempt to assassinate Josef Goebbels. In 1956, he’s a Jesuit working with a corrupt cardinal to smuggle people out of Soviet controlled countries. In both times, Felix’s goal is to rescue Magdalena.

The whole time I was reading THE BONE CHURCH, I had no idea what was going to happen next. I always enjoy that, because it’s no fun to predict the end before you finish the book. The author continually surprised me with every twist and turn. She also made me feel like I was right there, hiding behind Felix’s shoulder, waiting for the next spat of gunfire. The author didn’t shy away from describing the worst of humanity and living conditions, but in a way that left you with a tiny bit of hope. Aside from feeling like I was in war torn Czechoslovakia, I also felt the paranoia of everyone involved, not knowing who to trust, and of having no choice but to trust, to put your life in someone else’s hands.

The book is gritty and dark, maybe even hard to read at times because Felix and Magdalena face overwhelming odds and incredibly dangerous situations. But along with the spark of hope that runs through the book, Felix has some angelic help. While some of the religious aspects probably went over my head, I thought everything tied together really well. I do wish the ending had more on what Felix and Magdalena face in the future, but looking back, I can’t really imagine a different ending.

About the author:

author victoria doughertyVictoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere. Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Buy links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | B&N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Website
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Twitter
Goodreads

– leeanna

Book Review: Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Book Review: Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) by Kelley ArmstrongSea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Age of Legends #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
2 Stars
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

Book Review:

I finished SEA OF SHADOWS a few days ago, but I barely remember it. I would have written my review right after finishing, but I was really underwhelmed by the book and didn’t know what to say. Unfortunately, I still don’t know what to say, which is indicative to me that the book was, well, blah.

SEA OF SHADOWS is basically set up for the rest of the series. Almost an entire book of exposition. While I was reading, I kept wondering when something big or exciting or important was going to happen. Now, don’t get me wrong — there are battles, there’s some danger, a village even gets slaughtered. But it was all …. disjointed and slow. When I finally finished the book, I almost felt cheated because I expected more from such a best selling author.

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, I’m pretty sure you’ll be disappointed by this book. It’s just not on that scope. The romance is also the farthest thing possible from “heart-stopping,” although I did appreciate Moria’s attitude towards boys. She didn’t care for romance, but also didn’t see anything wrong with having some fun and experimenting if the time was right.

The world in SEA OF SHADOWS is some combination of post-apocalyptic setting, historical fiction, and fantasy, but I needed a lot more worldbuilding. The characters were also flat and 2-dimensional. Moria and Ashyn have alternating chapters, but their voices were very similar, with Moria being the headstrong, kickass warrior and Ashyn the nicer, romantic thinker. And don’t get me started on the love interests. I wanted to slap everyone and ask them WTF they were doing, falling “in love” days after almost everyone they know has been killed. Let’s try being friends first, and concentrate on the big picture, okay?

All that said, would I continue this series? Maybe. I am curious about what will happen next, and to see what the author has in mind with the world. That’s why I gave SEA OF SHADOWS 2 stars instead of 1 star.

Socialize with the author:

Kelley Armstrong:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Unwrapped Sky (Caeli-Amur #1) by Rjurik Davidson

Book Review: Unwrapped Sky (Caeli-Amur #1) by Rjurik DavidsonUnwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson
Series: Caeli-Amur #1
Published by Tor on April 15, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 430
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Caeli-Amur: an ancient city perched on white cliffs overlooking the sea; a city ruled by three Houses, fighting internecine wars; a city which harbours ancient technology and hidden mysteries. But things are changing in Caeli-Amur. Ancient minotaurs arrive for the traditional Festival of the Sun. The slightly built New-Men bring their technology from their homeland. Wastelanders stream into the city hideously changed by the chemical streams to the north. Strikes break out in the factory district.

In a hideout beneath the city, a small group of seditionists debate ways to overthrow the Houses. How can they rouse the citizens of the city? Should they begin a campaign of terror? Is there a way to uncover the thaumaturgical knowledge that the Houses guard so jealously? As the Houses scramble to maintain their rule, it becomes clear that things will change forever in Caeli-Amur.

Book Review:

I really thought UNWRAPPED SKY was going to be about minotaurs. Given that there’s a minotaur on the cover, and they’re mentioned in the summary, I figured that was a safe assumption. Unfortunately, they play a small role in what I’d call a philosophical fantasy.

UNWRAPPED SKY took me two attempts to read. The first time I wasn’t expecting such a serious book, so I had trouble getting into it and ended up restarting the book about a month after I first picked it up. The second time I knew what to expect, and had an easier time, although I did end up skimming some of the passages dealing with the different philosophies. The seditionists who wanted to overthrow the House system were a bit too thinky for me at times, but then, I tend to prefer physical action to mental.

The book is told from the perspective of three different characters, each in a different place in society in Caeli-Amur. Kata is a philosopher-assassin, an orphan trained to be useful in the debt of House Technis. Boris, a former tramworker, has risen higher than his fellows in the service of House Technis. Maximilian is a seditionist, devoted to overthrowing the House system. In Caeli-Amur, three Houses control the city, much like a feudal lord controlling his lands.

Honestly, the political aspects of UNWRAPPED SKY didn’t interest me all that much. There’s a lot of buildup and debating about power, human nature — that type of thing. None of the characters in the book are particularly good, but there’s something to sympathize about for each of them. As I said before, I sometimes skimmed when the characters got too cerebral, too into discussing how to change things or why the system worked (depending on the perspective). But something always came along that re-hooked my interest and made me keep reading.

I read fantasy for escapism, to lose myself in new worlds. In that aspect, the book was fascinating. I really enjoyed the world, which had fantasy and steampunk elements, as well as an interesting mythology. The idea of philosopher assassins? Super cool. I also liked the author’s writing style, which was quite descriptive without being purple prose. I felt like I was in Caeli-Amur watching everything unfold.

Although I didn’t love UNWRAPPED SKY, I would continue the series, as I enjoyed the world and am curious about what will come next for everyone. Book two, THE STARS ASKEW, will be published in 2015.

Socialize with the author:

Rjurik Davidson:
Website

– leeanna