Book Review: Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: Half the World by Joe AbercrombieHalf the World by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #2
Published by Del Rey on February 17, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War.

Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.

Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior.

She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.

Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon.

Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption.

And weapons are made for one purpose.

Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path?

Book Review:

In 2014, the first book in Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy, HALF A KING, was one of my favorite books of the year. I’m two months into 2015 and I already know the second book, HALF THE WORLD, will be one of my favorites for this year.

Some awesome things about HALF THE WORLD:

♥ It’s the second book in a trilogy, but you DO NOT need to be familiar with book one. I recommend you read HALF A KINGbecause Yarvi’s story is fantastic. But if you skip it, you won’t be confused. The author fills you in on what you need to know.

♥ If you like kick butt, prickly, determined, stubborn female main characters, you’ll probably love Thorn Bathu. Thorn’s my kind of girl — she wants to be a warrior, the first female warrior to stand in the shield wall. But everyone’s against her, and when her trainer names her a murderer, she almost loses her life. Father Yarvi rescues her from death, but is his rescue really a rescue? If you read HALF A KING, you’ll know Yarvi plays his own game, and even if you haven’t, his actions show his character in HALF THE WORLD. The short version? Thorn comes out even stronger in the end of the book than she was in the beginning, but it’s a bumpy ride. Even worse than hauling a ship overland.

♥ As the title implies, HALF THE WORLD shows a great deal of the world of the Shattered Sea. The characters do journey over half the world trying to find support for their country. As much as I like the Viking feel of Gettland, it was cool to see other cultures and peoples. HALF THE WORLD feels epic in scope without clocking in at 700+ pages. I love big fat fantasies, but sometimes it’s nice to read something that’s less than 400 pages and still get the same feeling.

♥ This is quite unusual for me, but I actually liked the romance in HALF THE WORLD. It’s not a big part of the book, but it is there. At first, I rolled my eyes when I saw that Thorn and Brand were attracted to each other, because I didn’t want the book to be full of them making eyes at each other and falling in loooove right away. It’s not. Anyway, Thorn and Brand have some missteps, and spend a good portion of the book mad at each other for reasons a lot of people will recognize. I thought the romance bit was a lot more realistic than you usually see, which is why I liked it.

In case you can’t tell, I thought HALF THE WORLD was fantastic. I think I liked it even more than HALF A KING! I cannot wait to see how everything ties up in the last book, HALF A WAR, due out later this year. I need my Yarvi and Thorn fix!

Socialize with the author:

Joe Abercrombie:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Web (Fianna Trilogy #2) by Megan Chance

Book Review: The Web (Fianna Trilogy #2) by Megan ChanceThe Web by Megan Chance
Series: Fianna Trilogy #2
Published by Skyscape on January 20, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
In Victorian New York, seventeen-year-old Grace Knox is tangled in the web of an ancient prophecy.

The Fianna, legendary Irish warriors, have been magically called from their undying sleep to aid Ireland in its rebellion against Britain. But the Fianna have awakened in New York alongside their bitter enemies, the Fomori. A prophecy demands that a Druid priestess—a veleda—must choose between these two sides. Grace is this veleda.

But being the veleda means she must sacrifice her power—and her life—to her choice. On one side are her fiancé, Patrick Devlin, and the Fomori. On the other are the Fianna—and the warrior Diarmid Ua Duibhne, with whom Grace shares an undeniable connection. Patrick has promised to find a way to save her life. In three months, at the ancient ritual, Diarmid must wield the knife that kills her.

Grace doesn’t know whom to trust. As dark forces converge on the city, she struggles to discover the truth about her power. Can she change her own destiny? Can she escape the shadows of the past and reach for a future she could never have imagined?

Book Review:

THE WEB is the second book in Megan Chance’s Fianna Trilogy. The series is a cross between historical fiction and fantasy, set in Victorian era New York where heroes of Irish lore have come back to life.

The first book, THE SHADOWS, was just okay for me. My favorite part was the Celtic mythology/fantasy. My biggest complaint with THE SHADOWS was that not a lot happened, and unfortunately, that’s the same complaint I have with THE WEB.

THE WEB suffers from Second Book Syndrome: the plot barely advances, Graces mopes and angsts over being attracted to Derry, and … that’s it, I think. I finished the book about an hour ago, and I can’t think of much to say about it.

Supposedly a Druid priestess, Grace is stuck between the Fianna and the Fomori, heroes and villains of Irish folklore. Between gang boy Derry and her fiancé Patrick. Yup, there’s a love triangle here, but THE WEB focuses mainly on the Grace and Derry leg. I didn’t buy it, especially since they started talking about how much they loved each other in this book. But then I tend to be very critical of romance in YA.

And that’s about it, really. For the length of the book (~380 pages), more should have happened. I wanted more plot and less romance. After the cliffhanger in THE SHADOWS, I just expected more from THE WEB.

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Megan Chance:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Shadows (Fianna Trilogy #1) by Megan Chance

Book Review: The Shadows (Fianna Trilogy #1) by Megan ChanceThe Shadows by Megan Chance
Series: Fianna Trilogy #1
Published by Skyscape on June 3, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 389
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Grace Knox has grown up hearing the folktales of her Irish ancestors, especially about the warriors who fought for control of Ireland. In 19th-century New York City, however, these legends are far from Grace's mind. She's much more concerned with how to protect her family from debt collectors, and whether her childhood friend Patrick Devlin will propose. Patrick is a member of the Fenian Brotherhood, a group of young Irish American men intent on fighting for the independence of their homeland, whatever the cost. Patrick and the Brotherhood use ancient magic to summon mythical warriors to join their fight to protect Ireland. One of them, Diarmid, finds himself drawn to Grace, and she to him. When Diarmid discovers that, in their desperation, the Brotherhood has also summoned a rival group of ancient warriors, he warns Patrick that there will be bloodshed. Grace is caught in the middle of two men she loves, and discovers she alone holds the power to save Ireland?but at a dangerous price.

Book Review:

THE SHADOWS is the first book in a YA historical fiction/fantasy trilogy, mixing Victorian era New York with Celtic mythology. I was curious about the book because of the Celtic connection; I haven’t read a lot of it before, and I’m always interested in learning more and seeing new interpretations.

Overall, THE SHADOWS is an okay book. The Celtic mythology/fantasy aspect was my favorite part. There are a lot of YA cliches, including a love triangle, love at first sight, the well-off boy wanting to rescue the impoverished heroine, a heroine possessing unknown magical powers, etc.

Once you wade through all that, not that much happens. THE SHADOWS feels like setup for the rest of the trilogy, information dumping everything now so action can come later. The book does read quickly, but it’s long at 400 pages — too long for the little that happens within. And to top things off, the book ends on a cliffhanger. A really big cliffhanger.

THE SHADOWS is told from the perspectives of each important character: Grace, Patrick, and Derry. Grace’s chapters are first person point-of-view and the boys are third; Patrick and Derry sounded identical to me. Grace is the impoverished heroine, trying to do what’s right to save her family. Patrick is the rich young friend who has always loved her and wants to marry her. He also wants to see an independent Ireland. Derry is actually Diarmid Ua Duibhne, one of the Fianna. The Fianna are heroes of myth, reawoken to save Ireland.

As I said above, the Celtic mythology/fantasy was my favorite part. I did some quick searching and I don’t think the author deviated a lot from the original sources. But it was new to me, so I enjoyed it.

I was disappointed that THE SHADOWS ends on such a big cliffhanger. After so much buildup there’s a really quick battle scene and then wham! Cliffhanger. I wish more had actually happened in book one, rather than so much setup.

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Megan Chance:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) by Alethea Kontis

Book Review: Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) by Alethea KontisDearest by Alethea Kontis
Series: Woodcutter Sisters #3
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?

Book Review:

The cover of DEAREST labels the book a companion to Alethea Kontis’s other Woodcutter Sisters books, ENCHANTED and HERO. To me, calling DEAREST a “companion” implied that I didn’t need to read the other books, but I didn’t find that to be true. I spent the first 50 or so pages of the book quite confused, trying to figure out the multitude of characters and whether a scene was a dream or real.

I was confused for a lot of DEAREST. There’s the assumption that you’ve read the other two books, because most of the characters had no introduction. I couldn’t keep most of Friday’s sisters straight, and really, most of her sisters didn’t even need to be mentioned, because they played no role in the story. Maybe I would have appreciated those mentions more if I’d read ENCHANTED and HERO, but regardless of if you’ve read all the books in a series or not, there needs to be some introduction or background when they appear on the page.

As for the story itself … disjointed describes it for me. Friday was somewhat bland: everyone loves her and she loves everyone. There’s nothing she can’t do and everyone wants to help her in every way they can. DEAREST kicks off with a mysterious ocean sundering Arilland; I was more interested in that ocean than Friday, but the flood seemed to only serve the purpose of bringing everyone in the country together in the same spot. I just expected more from such a big event. I also expected more explanations for a lot of other things in the book, such as Friday and Tristan’s instant connection. But the author uses magic as a catch-all — this happened because it’s magic! — which left me feeling like DEAREST was missing some needed elements.

DEAREST is likely a good book for readers who have enjoyed the author’s other Woodcutter Sisters books, but if you haven’t read those yet, I’d skip this.

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Alethea Kontis:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 383
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Book Review:

RED QUEEN is a book with a lot of hype behind it. Does it deserve the hype?

First, the book has a gorgeous cover — simple yet eye-catching. I mean, wouldn’t a crown dripping blood catch your attention? And then there’s the summary. I’m a sucker for these types of books where the downtrodden group is ruled by people with special powers. Mare, a Red, ends up working in the palace of the Silver king … and discovers she has powers just like the Silvers who rule her world. All good stuff for me.

But then I started reading RED QUEEN. And like most books that have a lot of hype behind them, RED QUEEN disappointed me. It feels like a mashup of other popular books, with a meandering story, way too many love interests (3!), and an all over the place main character. I did rate the book 3 stars, because the author got my attention for a while and I will probably read the next book to see what happens. But I wasn’t blown away by RED QUEEN like I’d hoped to be, so 3 stars was generous.

I finished the book about a week ago, and I’ve been stumped on what to say about it. It’s just … okay. RED QUEEN tries to be super ambitious but doesn’t deliver on all it wants to do. There’s a lack of worldbuilding, and if you think too hard about what IS explained, you’ll say, “Just HOW does that make sense?” The author tries to show that you can’t trust anyone in the Silver world, but I saw the big betrayal coming way, way ahead of time. So I spent most of the book being frustrated that Mare couldn’t open her eyes a bit more and think about the new world she was dropped into.

I’m really picky with romance, and none of the love interests worked out for me in RED QUEEN. It was totally implausible to me that two Silvers, princes no less, would be interested in Mare. Any time there was a hint of romance, I just wanted to skip to the next scene.

Lastly, Mare. She seemed smart enough at the beginning of the book, explaining that she saw through First Fridays as a way for the Silvers to keep Reds in their place. But then after that, she made one silly decision after another. Yeah, I get that she was tossed into a dangerous life, one she didn’t want, but that doesn’t mean everything suddenly revolves around you. She had constant reminders that her life was now dangerous, but everything magically worked out, every single time.

So what did I like about RED QUEEN? The last few chapters. Those are good, probably the best part of the whole book. They’re what led to me wanting to see what happens next to Mare.

Socialize with the author:

Victoria Aveyard:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1) by Viola Carr

Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1) by Viola CarrThe Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
Series: Electric Empire #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 10, 2015
Genres: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Mystery, Steampunk
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
Magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy retelling of the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde–in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the infamous Henry.

In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching "the Chopper" could make Eliza's career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father's forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.

When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she's a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London's luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.

Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .

Book Review:

THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE originally caught my attention because it looked like it had steampunk elements, fantasy, evil curses, magical forensics, and a dark twin. This is one of those books that’s difficult to describe, but in a good way. Happily, the book had all it promised and more — I’m already looking forward to the next book in the Electric Empire series.

THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE is narrated in turn by Dr. Eliza Jekyll and Lizzie Hyde. Both are the same person, but with very different personalities and abilities. Those last names should sound familiar — remember the classic Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? The author goes off that a bit, but makes it all her own.

Viola Carr wrote Eliza and Lizzie so differently that I never had any trouble telling them apart. Although they share a body, they felt like two distinct characters, and their dual narration/personalities was probably my favorite part of the book. It can bug the heck out of me when an author switches perspective mid-chapter or even mid-scene, but it really worked here. I loved the way one would take over from another. At first, Eliza tries to keep Lizzie subdued with alchemy, and when Lizzie does get out, Eliza’s relieved she can’t remember anything Lizzie does. But over the course of THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE, Eliza begins to trust and rely on Lizzie, and vice versa.

Dr. Eliza Jekyll is something of a forensic scientist, using her knowledge, experience, and gadgets to help the police solve crimes. Given the time period of an alternate London, many on the force aren’t willing to work with her, but Eliza trudges onwards in the search for justice. The case in THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE is a gruesome one: a serial killer takes body parts from each victim with surgical precision. Why? The appearance of a Royal Society watchdog hampers the investigation. Does the Society suspect Eliza of using unorthodox science?

The murder mystery was pretty twisty for me. The last quarter of THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE really surprised me, which is always something I enjoy.

I would have liked more worldbuilding, because the glimpses I got to see were fascinating. There’s an underworld of fae creatures, but other than a few scenes, we don’t learn much about them. Sadface. I also wanted to know more about Eliza’s London, where the crown decides what is allowed science and what is witchcraft. Sometimes, THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE felt like setup for the rest of the series, moving characters here and there, giving out this bit of vital information or that. Also, Eliza has a fascination with a killer she put away before the book started; I felt like I was missing some important background on the Todd/Eliza equation.

Aside from a bit of nitpicking, I really enjoyed THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE. It has an alchemical je ne sais quoi to it. Bring on more of the Electric Empire!

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– leeanna

Book Review: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

Book Review: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFeversMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #3
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on November 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 444
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...

Book Review:

I loved the first two books in Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series: GRAVE MERCY and DARK TRIUMPH. The series is a blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. I read both books multiple times and enjoyed them more each time.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I started MORTAL HEART. I was sad to see the series end, but I was also worried. Would this book live up to my expectations? Would I enjoy MORTAL HEART as much as the other books?

By the Nine, MORTAL HEART was amazing! I read it straight through, seven hours glued to the book until I flipped the last page. And when I did finish, I wanted to start right over again, so I could enjoy Annith’s story again.

It’s really hard to review the last book of a trilogy without spoiling everything. Ismae and Duval do show up, as do Sybella and Beast, so we get to see a little more of their relationships and futures. The plight of Brittany and its young duchess is resolved. But MORTAL HEART is really Annith’s tale, and what a good tale it is.

Sentenced with a future she doesn’t want — seeress for the convent — Annith takes her future into her own hands. Over the course of MORTAL HEART, Annith grows from an obedient novitiate to a confident, independent woman. Even when secrets from her past threaten to overwhelm her, she doesn’t let them. MORTAL HEART has more supernatural aspects than the other two books, but I think that only makes sense, since Annith is very devoted to Mortain. As for her love interest — I’ll admit, at first I didn’t quite go for Balthazaar as Annith’s man, nor the conclusion. But after thinking about it for a bit, and reading the Author’s Note, Balthazaar is the one.

I could go on and on about MORTAL HEART, and maybe I’m biased because I love this series so much, but I think this book is fantastic. A more than worthy ending to an amazing series.

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Robin LaFevers
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– leeanna

Book Review: Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios

Book Review: Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather DemetriosExquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on October 7, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 480
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
2 Stars
Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

Book Review:

I came very close to not finishing EXQUISITE CAPTIVE. More than once, actually. The first half of the book took me days to read, which is unusual for me. EXQUISITE CAPTIVE just didn’t draw me in or make me want to keep reading.

While reading, I felt like EXQUISITE CAPTIVE was the second book in a trilogy, and I would have preferred it to be a second book. So much interesting stuff — Nalia’s capture, the jinni war — take place in flashbacks or conversations, and if the series had started there, I think I would have been a lot more interested and not as lost trying to make sense of all the jinni stuff.

The best part of EXQUISITE CAPTIVE? The jinni. Really, that’s the only reason I kept reading. I liked the glimpses the author gave of the jinni homeworld, jinni customs, jinni magic, etc. I just wish that information hadn’t come in flashbacks awkwardly inserted into the current story.

Otherwise … meh. I really wanted to like EXQUISITE CAPTIVE. The idea is so cool, but the execution just wasn’t there for me.

Take Nalia, for instance. The main character. She’s a jinni enslaved to a horrible man, but okay. Whatever, Nalia. I didn’t feel sorry for her. The author didn’t make me feel sorry for her. Malek, Nalia’s master, was more interesting to me than Nalia. I did appreciate that the author tried to do something darker with their relationship — in my opinion, there are hints of Stockholm Syndrome — but then Nalia meets Raif. And then they fall in love, leading to a weird love tangle. There’s a lack of action, too. So much of the book felt like it was Nalia whining about her situation rather than trying to do something about it.

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Heather Demetrios:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Henge (Le Fay #1) by Realm Lovejoy

Book Review: Henge (Le Fay #1) by Realm LovejoyHenge by Realm Lovejoy
Series: Le Fay #1
Published by Self-Published on November 11, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
Modern-day Camelot. Where knights no longer carry swords. Magic is dangerous. And those who seek control are not to be trusted.

Sixteen-year-old Morgan le Fay is a fire user. An ordinary girl with an extraordinary skill, she has the ability to create and command fire at will. Her dream is to become the Maven—the right hand of the future King Arthur. In the chance of a lifetime, Morgan is selected to join Arthur’s Round, an elite group of young magic users from which the new Maven will be chosen.

Along with the other fire, water, and wind users in Arthur’s Round, Morgan is rigorously trained and tested. The handsome Merlin, a brilliant water user, takes a particular interest in her. Is his friendship to be trusted, or is Merlin simply trying to win the position of Maven for himself? Among the many rivals Morgan faces is the current Maven, Mordred, who seems determined to see her fail.

But Morgan has a secret—years ago, her mother was executed for using fire magic, and Morgan’s desire for justice makes her more than ready to take on the challenge before her. Can she prevail in Camelot’s tests of survival and magic? Only time—and Morgan’s powerful fire—will tell.

--

"Camelot meets Hogwarts meets Panem in this intriguing, well-written beginning to a planned YA series."--Kirkus Reviews

henge blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the tour for HENGE by Realm Lovejoy. The tour is hosted by CBB Book Promotions and you can visit the full schedule here. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.

Book Review:

HENGE kicks off a new series featuring Morgan le Fay, set in modern-day Camelot. Morgana le Fay is my favorite in Arthurian legends, so I’m always interested in seeing different takes on her character.

In Realm Lovejoy’s version of Camelot, cellphones and magic exist side-by-side. The ability to use magic isn’t guaranteed, and even if you can manipulate air, water, or fire, chances are you won’t be anything more than a performer. Unless, that is, you are chosen to become one of the upcoming king’s Rounds. The best Round will be selected as the king’s magic advisor, and the rest will be employed by Camelot as Knights or Relic Keepers. Political acumen is just as important as good magic skills.

Morgan’s dream is to become the king’s Maven. She wants magic users to have more rights, not less. And she’ll do anything to pursue that dream, including sneaking out from under her father’s watchful eye, or diving headfirst into the dangers of Camelot.

HENGE is quite interesting. I really liked the world the author created, the intriguing mix of magic and modern technology, old legends and new political tangles. There’s a lot of familiar names, including Merlin, Mordred, Guinevere, and Lancelot, but they’re not all straight from the old legends — they all have their own personalities. I wanted to learn more about each of them, as well as Morgan’s mother, Morgause.

Morgan herself was the most interesting character for me, since I was curious to see how the author would develop and grow her. Morgan’s a bit impulsive and tends to jump to conclusions, but she also wants to get rid of the injustices magic users face. I believed her reactions to everything that happened, and the last line of HENGE? I’m not going to spoil it, but yeah. I can’t wait to read more about Morgan!

Giveaway:

signed paperback of Henge + swag (US)
4 paperbacks of Henge (US)
6 ebooks (INT)
1 ebook + $20 Gift Card (INT)
Giveaway Ends November 28th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author realm lovejoyRealm Lovejoy is an American writer and an artist. She grew up in both Washington State and the Japanese Alps of Nagano, Japan. Currently, she lives in Seattle and works as an artist in the video game industry. CLAN is her first book. You can find out more about her and her book at www.realmlovejoy.com.
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing

Book Review: The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy EwingThe Jewel by Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #1
Published by HarperTeen on September 2, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 358
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

Book Review:

THE JEWEL is a difficult book for me to rate. I loved parts of it and other parts made me want to tear my hair out. I wavered between 3 and 4 stars, but went with 4 in the end because I was entertained by the story.

To start off, THE JEWEL has a really cool idea. Poor girls used as surrogates for the ultra wealthy? Bought and sold like property, treated like pets, and expected to make designer babies? Usually I don’t like stories that have even a whiff of pregnancy, but I dove head first into this one and enjoyed most of the ride.

THE JEWEL is a fast read. I kept flipping the pages because I wanted to know what would happen next to Violet. I normally read quickly, but I was consumed by this book. I couldn’t get enough of the opulent world of the Jewel, of the powerful and moralless women who rule it. The author painted a vivid picture of life within the Jewel, of the money thrown around carelessly while the poor starve and live in mud-brick houses.

There were some holes in the worldbuilding: we never find out what led to the creation of the Lone City. The city is arranged in five circles, each with an industry — as a farmer, I can’t quite believe in all the food being grown in one specific circle, especially land right next to a circle full of factories. I’m also not sure why only the girls of the Marsh (the poorest circle) are able to access the Auguries, although I imagine that will be explained in future books.

THE JEWEL does start a little slowly, with Violet saying goodbye to her old life, but once she’s bought at auction, the book takes off. I was fascinated by the Duchess of the Lake, Violet’s owner. She’s ruthless, and I liked how she treated Violet. (Yeah, I know that makes me twisted.)

But then we come to the part of THE JEWEL that frustrated me. The insta-love. Violet falls superfast for the companion of the Duchess’s niece. He falls superfast for her. Insta-love is a big peeve of mine, and while Violet and Ash do have music to bond over, I wish they wouldn’t have progressed to the “I love yous” so quickly. I wanted to roll my eyes whenever they were together. Violet/Ash drew me out of the spell of the book because I couldn’t believe in their relationship.

Overall, though, THE JEWEL was a blast to read, and I’m eager for the next book in the series.

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Amy Ewing:
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– leeanna