Book Review: Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Book Review: Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie GoldenDark Disciple by Christie Golden
Series: Star Wars
Published by LucasBooks on July 7, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Based on unproduced scripts from the blockbuster TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

The only way to bring down the dark side's most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.

But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force's power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku's side still runs deep, Ventress's hatred for her former master runs deeper. She's more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos's quest.

Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don't compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior's spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.

Book Review:

I’ve been a fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe books for years, but I never got into the comics or Star Wars: The Clone Wars. So I didn’t have a lot of knowledge on Asajj Ventress or Quinlan Vos that I had to ignore, now that the EU is considered “Legends.” After finishing DARK DISCIPLE, I did go to Wookiepedia and read about both characters; if you are a huge fan of either, be prepared. There’s some definite changes.

DARK DISCIPLE was a mixed bag for me. I think Golden does a good job of developing Ventress and Vos and growing the relationship between them. The author also explores the consequences of the Jedi sending Vos on a mission to assassinate Count Dooku — is preserving one life worth the millions he’s killed? Lastly, I liked that Ventress shows Vos how there’s more than one aspect to the Dark Side.

But by the middle and especially the end, DARK DISCIPLE started slowing down for me. The characters flip flop allegiances without a lot of explanation, and the book drags. Ventress faded into the background, which I didn’t like. She’s the kind of character — morally ambiguous, flawed, powerful — that I want to see more of. I feel like Vos got way more page time, which I didn’t enjoy, since some of the important stuff that happened with him we didn’t get to see. I hate being told about important events — I want to read them for myself!

I really did not like the ending. I can’t say why, because that would be a huge spoiler, but it verged into a bad trope. I’m not sure if the ending was decided by the author, or written in the unproduced scripts the book is based on.

Socialize with the author:

Christie Golden:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Book Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia BoeckerThe Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Published by Brown Books for Young Readers on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

Book Review:

THE WITCH HUNTER is described as “The magic and suspense of GRACELING meet the political intrigue and unrest of GAME OF THRONES in this riveting fantasy debut.”

Uhm, no. It’s not.

First, let me say I’m really tired of publishers describing books as “X meets Y.” I understand why they do it, but when the book is neither, it’s incredibly misleading. And believe me, most of the time those comparisons are untrue.

So what is THE WITCH HUNTER? It’s an average YA fantasy. There were times it was good and times I wondered why I wasn’t in love with it like everyone else seemed to be. The writing is decent and the book is readable. But the plot is predictable and there’s not a lot of memorable stuff.

Elizabeth is a witch hunter, one of the best, but lately she’s been distracted and has made mistakes. When she’s discovered with herbs in her pocket, she’s sentenced to death, just like all the witches she’s captured. And then when she’s rescued by Anglia’s most wanted wizard, she starts to question everything she’s been told.

THE WITCH HUNTER has a historical setting, but it’s not really developed. Anglia is basically 16th century England with witches. Elizabeth is sexually abused by the king, but her feelings on this are never explored; it’s just a thing to get her into trouble. I would’ve expected some reaction, especially when she crushes on John, the cute wizard healer. The plus about their romance is the author doesn’t go the insta-love route, but I’m not sure why John liked Elizabeth.

For me, THE WITCH HUNTER is one of those books I enjoyed while reading and that’s it. If I thought more about it, I’d probably rate it lower, so I’ll stop here. It’s not a book that’ll stick with me, but that’s okay.

Socialize with the author:

Virginia Boecker:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Book Review: The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan GriffithThe Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith, Susan Griffith
Series: Crown & Key #1
Published by Del Rey on June 2, 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey, Jr.

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

Book Review:

A couple of years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed a wickedly good vampire book, THE GREYFRIAR, by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. Ever since finishing the Vampire Empire series, I’ve kept my eye out for new books by the authors since I couldn’t wait to read something else of theirs.

THE SHADOW REVOLUTION kicks off a new urban fantasy series set in Victorian London, Crown & Key. Simon Archer may be the last scribe around, but he prefers to squander his time attending parties and finding his way into corsets. He and mentor Nick happily stick to the shadows until one of his old paramours is killed in front of him … by a werewolf.

It’s the kick Simon needs to realize he’s wasting his potential. But of course, he soon finds himself in a world of trouble when he helps Kate Anstruther rescue her sister from another werewolf. Because one werewolf just isn’t enough — they manage to find a whole pack.

THE SHADOW REVOLUTION has a magic system I like; I’m always craving inscription and alchemy! I do wish we saw more of both, but what was there was good. I was particularly intrigued by Simon’s tattoos (the cover is a great representation), which allow him to quickly cast spells. Aether sickness, which comes on from using too much magic, is a fitting downside.

The characters are also fun, and I look forward to seeing more of them. Simon’s described as a playboy, and there’s a little of that, but I was also happy to a deeper, more responsible side to him. Kate’s good too, a woman who bucks society’s conventions in favor of her interest in alchemy. I would have liked to see more about Nick, Kate’s servant Hogarth, cool inventor Penny, and werewolf hunter Malcolm.

There’s a LOT of action in THE SHADOW REVOLUTION, and so I found there was less character development because so much time was spent fighting. The action scenes were good, but after a while, I have to confess I wanted to drug everyone with a potion so they’d take a break. There was a lot of charging into danger when worn out and injured from the last fight, and the fights got a bit repetitive.

However, even if I did have a few quibbles with THE SHADOW REVOLUTION, I will definitely check out the rest of the series. I’ve never seen such creepy homunculi, for instance, and I’m super curious about the key, as well as if Simon and Kate’s fathers will have any importance on the story.

This is a great time to start, because book two, THE UNDYING LEGION, will be out at the end of June, and book three, THE CONQUERING DARK will be out at the end of July. No year long wait between installments!

Socialize with the author:

Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith:
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– leeanna

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 5, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Book Review:

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is the first book in a new fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas. A New Adult retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a world where faeries are the real power, the book follows prickly Feyre, who is stolen from her home after she kills a faerie disguised as a wolf. Now, instead of struggling to provide for her family, Feyre will spend the rest of her days in Prythian, the faerie lands. But are things what they seem in magical Prythian? Are the faeries as bad as Feyre has always been told?

This is my first Sarah J. Maas book. I’ve heard good things about her other series, but A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES hooked me because of that cover (perfect!) and that it’s New Adult. Basically, if you don’t know what New Adult means — it’s the next step after Young Adult. Older protagonists, more romance than just kissing, and more serious situations. I will say that this book doesn’t veer too deeply into NA territory. There are a few sexual scenes, but I personally wouldn’t call them explicit. Your opinion may vary of course, but compared to other NA, this book is somewhat tame and mostly reads like a YA book.

Okay, that aside, I mostly liked A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES. I liked Feyre. For years, she had the responsibility of keeping her father and sisters alive. It’s a thankless job, since they mourn the life of privilege they lost and don’t care that Feyre has given up her dreams to take care of them. So, in a way, when Feyre’s taken to Prythian, it’s an escape for her. I liked watching Feyre rediscover herself and having the chance to do things she enjoys, such as painting. I also liked how she gradually realized that maybe not everything she’d been told about faeries was true.

I liked the author’s vision of faerie courts and lands. I tend to like darker fae, and Maas definitely has some of those. The last quarter or so of A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES was my favorite part for that reason, since it’s where we get to see a lot of fae and their trickery.

I thought the book was paced too slowly. Yes, I know A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is fantasy, but there were portions of the book where it seemed like nothing happened other than Feyre and Tamlin staring at each other. 75% of the book is slow, leaving the last 25% and the final climax feeling too rushed for all those pages. By the time I finished the book, I could’ve sworn it was 600 pages, not ~430.

Some of that slow 75% was used for the development of Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship. While I’m happy it wasn’t insta-lust or part of a love triangle, I didn’t really feel the love. However, I did like that once Feyre committed, she committed big time.

Overall, A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES was an okay book for me. I had a couple of issues with it, but this is a series I will continue. The author interested me enough in her version of fae history/courts/politics that I want to know what happens next with Feyre and Tamlin.

Socialize with the author:

Sarah J. Maas:
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– leeanna

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Razorbill on April 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
I WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING I TELL EVERY SLAVE.

THE RESISTANCE HAS TRIED TO PENETRATE THIS SCHOOL COUNTLESS TIMES. I HAVE DISCOVERED IT EVERY TIME.

IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH THE RESISTANCE, IF YOU CONTACT THEM, IF YOU THINK OF CONTACTING THEM, I WILL KNOW.

AND I WILL DESTROY YOU.

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Book Review:

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a book with a great cover, a great summary, and a lot of hype behind it. I was excited for this book, but I think I’m in the minority when I say I wasn’t blown away by it.

But it’s hard to put my finger on exactly why. I also had a hard time picking the rating, when I usually have a gut feeling where a book falls on my rating scale. For me, 3 stars is good or okay.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is set in a very brutal, Roman inspired world. The author doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to hurting her characters, which is something I like. Laia and Elias both suffer a lot. Laia when her brother’s arrested and she goes undercover as a slave to try and rescue him. Elias when his chance at escape vanishes when he’s named as a candidate to be the next Emperor. The book is written from each of their perspectives, in alternating chapters, so you get to see both sides of the world.

You also get to see them both angst over each other, because there’s a plethora of love triangles in this book. Fortunately, romance isn’t the main focus, but I did find all the romantic entanglements a tad unbelievable. Which brings me to one other thing … the author mentions rape a lot. I’m not trying to be judgmental, but I feel like something else could have been used to move the plot along rather than the threat of rape coming up again and again.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is quite long, 460+ pages. It took some time to get going, and if I hadn’t been somewhere without another book in hand, I probably would have put it down. Also, I’m a fast reader, but the book read slow for me, indicating a lack of action and slow pacing. I think a hundred pages could have been cut and the book wouldn’t have lost anything important. Because, when you get down to it, I was left with the impression that not a whole lot happened in AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. Yes, some stuff did happen, but a lot more was left unresolved.

As of right now, the book is a standalone, but it ends with some big series bait.

Overall, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES was just okay for me. I skipped over a lot of the hype, which was a good thing for me, or my rating might have been even lower. As is the case all too often with YA lately, I was left wanting more from the book.

Socialize with the author:

Sabaa Tahir:
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– leeanna

Book Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Book Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon ThomasA Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 24, 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 337
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

Book Review:

Have you ever wondered what happened after the prince kissed Sleeping Beauty? Did they live Happily Ever After?

A WICKED THING is the first in a new YA fantasy series that explores life after The Kiss. When Aurora is awakened by Prince Rodric’s kiss, she’s thrust 102 years into the future. Her family is dead, the kingdom she knew is full of strife, and she’s expected to marry Rodric even though she barely knows him.

I really like the idea behind A WICKED THING. I think the book is a realistic exploration of what happens after Aurora wakes up. Aurora spends the first bit of the book confused and disoriented, unsure of what to do. She’s somewhat passive, which would usually bug me, but it made sense here. I like to think I’d be all kick butt, but I’d probably act exactly as Aurora did in this situation. I mean, what would you do if you were woken up by a strange prince, and then his family basically threatened you and made you marry him?

But somewhere along the way, A WICKED THING became boring. I feel like the book was missing something, even though there’s a lot in it. There’s cute rebel Tristan, shy and friendly Rodric, the enigmatic Finnegan, the wicked witch Celestine, etc. There’s a lot of storylines and a lot of possible love interests, but they don’t really go anywhere. The majority of the book is Aurora debating between running and marrying Rodric. I didn’t feel too connected to Aurora, likely because of the third-person point-of-view.

When I finished A WICKED THING, I was left wanting more. I wanted more to happen by the end of the book, and I wanted an idea of where the series is heading. The beginning of A WICKED THING was better than the last half, but I probably would continue the series because I like the idea of it.

Let’s talk about it:

What do you think happened after Aurora woke up?

Socialize with the author:

Rhiannon Thomas:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Sisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross

Book Review: Sisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady CrossSisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross
Series: Sisters of Blood and Spirit #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on March 31, 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Wren Noble is dead—she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living.

Lark Noble is alive but often feels she belongs in the muted Shadow Lands—the realm of the dead. Known as the crazy girl who talks to her dead sister, she doesn't exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt and time in a psych ward have proved to her she's not ready to join her sister in the afterlife.

Now the guy who saved Lark's life needs her to repay the favor. He and his friends have been marked for death by the malevolent spirit of a vicious and long-dead serial killer, and the twins—who should know better than to mess with the dead—may be their only hope of staying alive.

Book Review:

In SISTERS OF BLOOD AND SPIRIT, twins Lark and Wren take on a vicious ghost that’s targeted some of the town’s teenagers. Lark and Wren are uniquely capable of fighting ghosts because Wren is dead and Lark can talk to ghosts.

WHAT I LIKED:

–Lark’s personality. She’s abrasive, snarky, and speaks her mind. Understandably so, since most of the school sees her as a freak for talking to her dead sister and trying to commit suicide.

–Nan. It was great to see a supportive parent figure in a YA book. Nan is understanding, accepts Lark and Wren, and doesn’t try to talk Lark out of fighting ghosts. I also liked that Lark fessed up to her grandmother, because she didn’t want to keep secrets.

–The romance between Lark and Ben. Usually I’m indifferent on romance, but I could get behind this one. It was great to have a boy who came out and said he liked Lark without being arrogant about it. I also liked that they crushed on each other a bit and didn’t rush things.

–The concept. The idea behind SISTERS OF BLOOD AND SPIRIT is what made me want to read the book. Twin sisters, able to communicate and interact even though one is dead? Pretty cool.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

–A lot left unexplained. I see now that SISTERS OF BLOOD AND SPIRIT is the first in a new series, but I was still left with a lot of questions. What are the Shadow Lands? Why is Wren so powerful? Why does Wren stay with Lark? Why does Bent (the book’s villain) want to form an army? Who is Emily? And so on.

–Too many in the Scooby Gang. Most of the book is taken up with Lark and Wren helping their new friends hunt a ghost, but I couldn’t tell some of those friends apart. There’s Mace, Sarah, Gage, Ben, Kevin, and Roxi. Some have more page time than others, and maybe they’ll have more development in future books, but in this book, some of them are just chess pieces.

–Lark’s suicide attempt. The author mentions this a lot, as well as mentions that the ghosts at the psych ward wanted to recruit Wren. I feel like the reader needed to see this, rather than be told about it again and again.

–The ending is rushed. Lark and the others actually put some preparation and thought into defeating the bad ghost, but it’s over super fast. I expected more there, and hey, what happened to Bent’s razor?

Socialize with the author:

Kady Cross:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore

Book Review: Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. SalvatoreVengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore
Series: Companions Codex, Forgotten Realms, Legend of Drizzt
Published by Wizards of the Coast on March 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
R.A. Salvatore’s New York Times best-selling tale of the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden continues immediately on the heels of Rise of the King, with an expanding war and greater danger to the finally-reunited Companions of the Hall.

Bloody war rages across the Forgotten Realms world in the third book of the Companions Codex, the latest series in R.A. Salvatore’s New York Times best-selling saga of dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden.

In the evolving world of the Forgotten Realms setting, the Sundering has given way to months of cloud-cloaked darkness, and war rages under that oppressive sky. The orcs have broken a hard-fought treaty that's held, however tentatively, for a hundred years, and the time to settle old scores has devolved into an all-out brawl for control of the ancient realms of the North.

Book Review:

If you pick up VENGEANCE OF THE IRON DWARF, you know what you’re about to read. This is the third book in the Companions Codex and the 27th book in the Legend of Drizzt. Definitely a series for long-time fans. It’s classic R.A. Salvatore, with Drizzt and company fighting lots of battles against the orcs who have declared war on dwarves and humans.

I’m not 100% positive, but I don’t think VENGEANCE OF THE IRON DWARF is the last book in the Companions Codex. When I started, I thought the codex would be a trilogy, but with the amount of unresolved storylines at the end, I’m thinking this will be a quartet. As a result, VENGEANCE OF THE IRON DWARF ends up feeling like its predecessor, RISE OF THE KING: almost all filler with little substance. Honestly, 3 stars is a bit generous for this book, but I had a good idea of what I was getting into.

When I read book one of the Companions Codex, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, I had high hopes for this new series. I’m a reader who adores the drow, and finally here they were, getting some time in the spotlight. Doing drow things, being sneaky and manipulative and political. Unfortunately, over the course of the books, the drow are starting to act like idiots while Drizzt and the Companions are becoming god-like. After the Sundering, I expected more of a change, not for Drizzt and the others to do the same things they’ve always done.

As I said, with these books, you know what you’re going to get. A book with lots of battles, Drizzt slashing with scimitars, Catti-brie throwing fireballs, Bruenor inspiring the dwarves, the orcs being nasty, etc. But then, that’s probably exactly what you want if you’ve stuck with Salvatore and Drizzt this long.

Socialize with the author:

R.A. Salvatore:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda SalisburyThe Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater's Daughter #1
Published by Scholastic on February 24, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it's price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla's fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla's chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen's, some truths should not be told...

Book Review:

THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER is a book I was super excited to read. That cover? Yum. That summary? Double yum.

However, the book falls into the category of “amazing idea with subpar execution.” I wavered between 2 and 3 stars for THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER, and ultimately went with 3 because the author did interest me enough in Twylla’s story and world for me to read the next book in the series when it’s available.

Twylla was once the apprentice of her mother, the Sin Eater of Lormere. She was destined to spend her days eating the sins of the dead at their funerals, a destiny she didn’t want. But all that changed one day when the queen came for her, to announce that Twylla was actually Daunen Embodied, the reborn daughter of the Gods. As Daunen, Twylla’s very skin is poisonous. She kills anyone she touches, save the royal family.

All of that? Good stuff, especially when the book started with Twylla reminiscing on having to kill her only friend at the castle.

But then the queen banishes Twylla to her room, for her “protection,” when one of her guards falls ill. The real reason for this comes out later, but for a lot of the book, I was locked in the same room with Twylla, and as a consequence, was as bored as she was. I wanted more character development for Twylla, who didn’t read as 17 to me. She felt a lot younger as a character, like in the 13-14 range. Thanks to Twylla’s time in her room, the book also gets off to a slow start, and I had to push myself to keep going.

I think my biggest issue with THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER is just that I wanted more of everything. I wanted more character development for everyone, including Twylla, her betrothed the prince, her guard, and the queen. The queen was a fun one for me, because she’s cruel and a bit crazy. I wanted more worldbuilding, other than a history lesson on the countries surrounding Lormere. I wanted to see how the common people felt about Twylla’s role as Danuen. I wanted to see what Twylla felt about all the events at the end of the book, rather than jumping forward to an epilogue.

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Melinda Salisbury:
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– leeanna

Book Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

Book Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnisIn a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 23, 2014
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

Book Review:

I was blown away by the bleak world and strong characters in Mindy McGinnis’s NOT A DROP TO DRINK so I was intrigued to see a companion book set in the same world. IN A HANDFUL OF DUST picks up about ten years after NOT A DROP TO DRINK, and while it’s not necessary to have read the first book, I’d encourage it. Otherwise you’re missing out on a great book.

IN A HANDFUL OF DUST is different for two reasons: it’s from Lucy’s perspective and it shows the wider world outside of the pond. Lucy is much more naive than Lynn, more inclined to see the good in others and situations, more trusting and vulnerable. Lynn was my spirit animal in NOT A DROP TO DRINK, and I couldn’t help but wish this book was also from her point-of-view, since I liked her view of the world so much.

Lucy just kind of grated on my nerves, since she grew up in a disaster-ridden world, knew life was dangerous, but wanted to see the best in things anyway. I’m not that type of person, so I had a hard time seeing her make mistakes due to being too trusting or not thinking before acting. I guess I thought no-nonsense Lynn would have rubbed off more, although Lynn did talk about not wanting Lucy to be like her.

The road trip aspect of IN A HANDFUL OF DUST showed off the effects of the Shortage on more of the world. I did find that interesting, since I’m always curious to see how authors will develop a post-apocalyptic world. But the road trip just didn’t grab my attention like Lynn’s fight for survival by the pond did. It was almost … tame in comparison, although Lucy and Lynn do get in a few dangerous situations.

The ending of the book threw me, too. I’m not going to spoil it, but all I can say is what??

Overall, while I didn’t like IN A HANDFUL OF DUST as much as I liked NOT A DROP TO DRINK, I’m still happy I read it, because I did like knowing what happened to Lucy and Lynn after the events of the first book.

Socialize with the author:

Mindy McGinnis:
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– leeanna