Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 12, 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 396
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights.

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Book Review:

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN is a book I was really excited to read. A young adult book inspired by A Thousand and One Nights? A young adult book set in the Middle East? Check and check. I couldn’t wait to read this one.

But THE WRATH AND THE DAWN left me disappointed. There are some good things in this book, but the majority of it had me wondering why I kept turning the pages. Midway through, I checked the average rating, which is currently 4 stars on Amazon and Goodreads. Oh well, I’m in the minority on not liking THE WRATH AND THE DAWN.

What I did like:

–The setting. THE WRATH AND THE DAWN is set in historical Khorasan. The author includes lots of details on clothing styles, food, flowers, and buildings, to help the reader imagine a place that might be foreign. But at the same time, I would have liked more worldbuilding, so I had a better idea of the time period and the country itself. For example, the main character’s handmaiden is Greek… how? There’s an element of magic… how?

–Shahrzad. She’s a strong main character, a girl who volunteers to be the Caliph’s bride in the hopes of avenging her best friend’s murder. Shahrzad puts herself into danger with a somewhat flimsy plan, but also ensured the safety of her family before marrying Khalid. I liked how she was observant and not afraid to speak up for herself.

What I didn’t like:

–The writing. In some ways, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN felt incredibly overwritten to me, yet lacking in certain details or emotional connection. The author describes Shahrzad’s intricate outfits every day, but when Shahrzad and Khalid have sex the first night they’re married? The encounter is described in a sentence, and never do we find out what Shahrzad thinks of it. Surely there would be some emotional impact on having sex with someone she considers a monster? That incident isn’t a huge thing, but it’s indicative of how I felt emotionally about this book. I just didn’t connect with it.

Perhaps the author’s style just isn’t for me. There are quite a few odd turns of phrase and metaphors, and I often had to stop and think about what she was trying to say. Having to do so drew me out of the book, and by the middle of THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, I wasn’t too interested anymore.

–The relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid. For a relationship that goes from enemies to lovers, it happens really fast. It’s not insta-love, but I personally needed more development of their relationship to believe it. I don’t know what Khalid saw in Shahrzad the first night, why he spared her life when he had killed every other bride. I’m also not entirely sure why Shahrzad started to fall for Khalid, wanting to kiss him while she wanted to kill him.

We know Khalid is a monster. Shahrzad knows he’s a monster. She starts the book off wanting to kill him. But then her feelings change because other people tell her Khalid isn’t the monster she thinks he is. He had a bad childhood. She’s conflicted, determined to get revenge for her friend even as she’s falling for Khalid. I don’t get it, but then, I’m usually quite picky with romance.

–Lastly, for a book that reimagines A Thousand and One Nights, I expected more stories! I really wanted to see Shahrzad telling Khalid more Arabian folk tales. I think there are two nights of storytelling described. I assume Shahrzad kept telling stories, but why not share more with the reader?

Overall, I was disappointed with THE WRATH AND THE DAWN. It’s the first in a trilogy, and based on my feelings for this book, I’m not sure if I’ll continue the series or not.

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Renee Ahdieh:
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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: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Book Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa GreyThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Series: The Girl at Midnight #1
Published by Delacorte Press on April 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Book Review:

THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT is the first in a YA urban fantasy series. I was intrigued by the publisher’s comparison to Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW AND BONE, which is one of my favorite YA fantasy series. However, THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT didn’t remind me of SHADOW AND BONE at all, other than both books having a firebird.

I liked the first half of THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. Echo’s a fun character, full of snark and longing to belong to an alien world. When she was a kid, she ran away from an abusive home. The Ala found her in the New York Public Library and took her to the Nest. The Ala is the Seer of the Avicen, a race of feathered beings. Their mortal enemies are the Drakharin — dragon people — and they’ve been in a war that’s gone on for centuries under humanity’s nose.

But somewhere around the middle, THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT lost its shine for me. The book slowed down. I got bored, and even when things picked up again, I didn’t really care. I’m writing this review a few days after finishing, and I already can’t remember a lot of the book. I had really high hopes for THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT, but it was just okay.

WHAT I LIKED:

–Whenever the characters hopped to a new place, the author described that place really well. Her writing is atmospheric, and I felt like I was in New York or Paris or Strasbourg. There were also lots of yummy food details.

–The friendship that developed between Echo, Ivy, Caius, Dorian, and Jasper. I also liked the romantic relationship between Dorian and Jasper — yay for diversity, and a romance that didn’t feel like insta-love.

–The idea of the Avicen and Drakharin. Bird people and dragon people? Very cool. The glimpses I got of their worlds were fascinating, leaving me wanting a lot more.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

–The author told me the Avicen and Drakharin are at war. But why have they fought each other for so long? The author didn’t show me they hated each other, just told me again and again. So I didn’t feel invested in Echo’s quest for the firebird.

–Echo’s romantic entanglements. There’s somewhat of a love triangle here, complete with a leg of insta-love. I did appreciate that Echo usually realized when she was on a hormone high, because I’ve very rarely seen that. But I didn’t see the attraction between Echo and Caius, and their moments felt forced for me.

–Everything else. I don’t know how to describe it, and I’ve been trying for days. But THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT just… fell flat. Usually I can write a review very quickly, but I’ve been struggling with this one for a few days, which is a sign. This book just wasn’t memorable or outstanding for me.

Overall, I was left wanting so much more from THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. I expected more fantasy, more about the Avicen and the Drakharin, more basis for Echo and Caius, more of everything.

Socialize with the author:

Melissa Grey:
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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: 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: Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

Book Review: Dark Alchemy by Laura BickleDark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse on March 24, 2105
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 316
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father's disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the town's dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can't scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town's most powerful interests. Petra's father wasn't the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn't understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

dark alchemy blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for DARK ALCHEMY by Laura Bickle. I’ve been looking forward to this book since last November, so I was excited to get on the tour for it. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.

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

Book Review:

I’m a big Laura Bickle fan, and when I saw she had a new book coming out, I couldn’t wait to read it. DARK ALCHEMY is a fun to read but creepy adventure in a modern day Wild West setting, complete with what I consider the author’s trademarks: a strong woman in the lead and a memorable animal companion.

In DARK ALCHEMY, geologist Petra takes refuge in tiny Temperance, trying to heal from a tragedy in her past. She’s also trying to find her father, who disappeared years ago. But on her first night, a coyote digs up a mysterious golden compass. Then Petra discovers a calcified body in Yellowstone, and things get even weirder.

DARK ALCHEMY is one of those books that’s hard to explain. I never knew what was going to happen next, or how the book would end, and that’s something I enjoy. In particular, I liked how the author went at exploring alchemy in a dark way — yup, this book is well-named. I’m also guessing that the author drew on the Hanged Man tarot card for inspiration, which I found refreshing — something new and spooky rather than a tired supernatural creature.

I liked how Petra was such a strong character. Most of Temperance is ruled by a corrupt landowner, but Petra doesn’t let that stop her from seeking justice where it’s needed. She’s helped by Sig the coyote, who is a cross between a spirit guide and a guard coyote. I adored Sig; Laura Bickle always writes great animal characters. I mean, who wouldn’t laugh at the thought of a coyote in a flea collar? And who wouldn’t love that same coyote when he attacks the bad guys?

DARK ALCHEMY is a standalone (I think), but it does have a bit of an open ending. I’d like a sequel, because I enjoyed my time in Temperance, and I’d like to see more of Petra’s story.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:
laura bickleLaura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams).

Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six mostly-reformed feral cats.
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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.

Socialize with the author:

Melinda Salisbury:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings

Book Review: The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay CummingsThe Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings
Series: The Balance Keepers #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 23, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
1 Stars
The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile....

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, The Unwanteds, and the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Book Review:

THE FIRES OF CALDERON is the first book in the Balance Keepers series. Middle grade fantasy, the publisher has compared the series to Percy Jackson, but it’s not a comparison I’d agree with. Albert and his friends are nowhere near as interesting or developed as Percy and crew.

It took me a couple of tries to start THE FIRES OF CALDERON, since the first chapter did not grab my attention. I wish I had followed my gut and put the book down, because while I did push through and finish, it wasn’t super original, memorable, or even enjoyable. I didn’t really care for the author’s writing style. Something about it felt oddly formal to me — not the kind of writing that pulls me into a book.

Admittedly, I’m way above the intended age group, but THE FIRES OF CALDERON didn’t have what I like to read in middle grade books. There’s not a lot of great worldbuilding, quirky characters, or immersive storytelling. I can’t count how many times I thought Albert and friends were really Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The plot itself? I can’t remember much of it, other than scoffing at Albert’s suddenly discovered power.

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Lindsay Cummings:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Book Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys DaytonSeeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.

Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.

Book Review:

I knew by chapter 7 that SEEKER wasn’t the book for me, because the author did something that’s a big peeve of mine. Rather than showing a very important scene, the author jumped to the aftermath and tried to keep what happened in that scene a secret. Keeping secrets from the reader seemed to be a big theme in SEEKER, which left me very confused for the whole book. In fact, I don’t even know what a Seeker is.

After being disappointed early in the book, I put SEEKER down for about a week. I didn’t think about it once, which was a sign I should have put it on the DNF (did not finish) pile. But I did pick it back up and made myself finish for some unknown reason. Probably because I have a thing about finishing books, but this is one that wasn’t worth the trouble.

SEEKER tries to blend fantasy and science fiction together, but there’s a serious lack of worldbuilding. Remember, I finished the book and have no clue what a Seeker is or does. They’re part of something exceptional, but what that part is, the author didn’t tell me. That’s a big problem, especially since Quin and her fellow Seekers-in-training are lied to, and their purpose is corrupted.

SEEKER feels like a big jumble of scenes, the author telling the reader everything instead of showing. Almost every time something big happened — a fight, a betrayal, whatever — the author would jump forward in time rather than showing me how the characters processed that event. I didn’t feel connected to or care about any character, and since I had no idea what was happening with the story, 99% of the time I was thinking, “WTF?”

I don’t know. I pushed myself to finish this book, but I can’t remember very much of it, other than how confused and distanced I felt while reading SEEKER. If you’re thinking of reading SEEKER, try out the first few chapters and make a judgement for yourself after that.

Socialize with the author:

Arwen Elys Dayton:
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– leeanna