Book Review: Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: Half a War by Joe AbercrombieHalf a War by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #3
Published by Del Rey on July 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Words are weapons

Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords

The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil

Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

Book Review:

I loved the first two books in the Shattered Sea trilogy: HALF A KING and HALF THE WORLD. So to say I was looking forward to the conclusion, HALF A WAR, is an understatement. I like my fantasy dark and gritty, and Joe Abercrombie certainly delivers on that — and the Viking feel of the series doesn’t hurt, either.

HALF A WAR is the perfect title for this book, because half the war against the High King is fought in battle and the other half is fought with words. The two main characters of HALF A WAR each fight in their own way. Princess Skara, who loses her family and country to the High King’s men can only use words and her cunning to save what’s left of Throvenland. Raith, Grom-gil-Gorm’s sword bearer, only wants to fight and surrender to battle lust.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I didn’t enjoy HALF A WAR as much as the other two books. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I think it’s that Skara and Raith weren’t as strong for me as Yarvi and Thorn. Yarvi and Thorn are in HALF A WAR, and I did like seeing Yarvi’s machinations through Skara’s eyes, but … I don’t know. I just didn’t connect with Skara and Raith and Koll (Father Yarvi’s apprentice), which is probably why I wasn’t as into this book, as I’m a character-driven reader.

I did appreciate that the author included a few more hints about the elves. Their weapons play an important role, and I had a moment when I put everything together.

My expectations were high going into HALF A WAR, and while they weren’t quite met, I still enjoyed the book. I like that this trilogy considers what revenge and vengeance can lead to and the effects of war on the average person.

Let’s talk about it:

What do you think about each book in a trilogy having a different set of main characters?

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Joe Abercrombie:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Book Review: Circus Mirandus by Cassie BeasleyCircus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Published by Dial Books on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
Fans of Big Fish, Peter Pan, and Roald Dahl will fall in love with Circus Mirandus, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in world.

Do you believe in magic?
Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.

The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

Book Review:

CIRCUS MIRANDUS is a magical book.

Yes, it’s about a magical circus, so you could assume some magic there, but there’s magic in the characters, the story, the relationships — everything, really. When I started reading this book, I was 14 chapters in before I knew it, and later I didn’t want to turn the last page.

CIRCUS MIRANDUS is a book you can read on a few levels. One, for kids to experience a fantastical circus and the power of relationships. Two, for adults to remember the power of magic and hopefully to think that believing in magic is a good thing, and to see how it can help anyone through tough times.

I think the most impactful thing I can say about this book is that it made me ugly cry at one point and left me filled with hope by the end. Very few books affect me emotionally, but CIRCUS MIRANDUS was one. Why? Everything about this book is fantastic and so well done.

I ached for Micah. At the start of the book, he’s facing the loss of his grandfather Ephraim, who is really more of a father to him. Aunt Gertrudis tries to keep them apart in their last days together, and gets angry any time they share their special stories of Circus Mirandus. Ephraim visited the circus as a youth, and was given a miracle. He’s hung onto it for years, but now is the time to use it — and Micah’s determined he’ll get to do so.

One little thing I especially loved about CIRCUS MIRANDUS was that we got to see the magic circus from both Ephraim and Micah’s eyes. I thought it really added to the book that the author included chapters from a young Ephraim, who went through something very similar to Micah.

I have so much love for CIRCUS MIRANDUS. My experience while reading was amazing, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Socialize with the author:

Cassie Beasley:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson

Book Review: The Dungeoneers by John David AndersonThe Dungeoneers by John David Anderson
Series: Dungeoneers #1
Published by Walden Pond Press on June 23, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
The Dungeoneers is an action-packed, funny, and heartbreaking middle grade fantasy-adventure from the author of the acclaimed Sidekicked and Minion, John David Anderson.

The world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler's earnings, Colm can't help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It's just a question of how far you're willing to go to get it.

In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin's Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in a quest to survive and, perhaps, to find a bit of treasure along the way.

Book Review:

THE DUNGEONEERS has a healthy helping of Dungeons and Dragons, a dash of Harry Potter, and a heaping spoonful of humor and fun. I ate this book up like candy — it was much better than the endless stew served at Thwodin’s Legion.

Colm Canderly has eight sisters who love to torment him (but they love him, too). But that’s not the worst of his problems. He’s from a poor family, and no matter how much cobbling work his father does, there’s never enough to go around. So one day, he decides to lift the purses of wealthy men … just to help the family, of course … but discovers he has a real talent for thievery. Naturally, his honest father isn’t happy, and insists Colm give the money back.

Enter Finn. A member of Thwodin’s Legion, a premiere dungeoning guild, Finn recognizes Colm’s talent, and offers him the opportunity of a lifetime. What twelve-year-old boy wouldn’t jump at the chance to make lots of gold, fight orcs, and get his name out there? At the guild hall, Colm is teamed up with his party, consisting of Lena the Barbarian (who faints at the sight of her own blood), Quinn the Mage (who stutters when he’s nervous, casting unpredictable spells), and Serene the Druid (who’s scared of animals with lots of teeth). They must learn to work together, balancing each others’ strengths and weaknesses, to survive in orc-infested, trap-laden dungeons.

THE DUNGEONEERS was a treat to read. A funny, well-written, fantastical middle grade book great for kids and adults. I do think it’s a tad long, as there are some chapters without a lot of action or story forwarding. But the characters are all developed — all unique, with their own personalities that expand beyond their party roles. I enjoyed watching their friendship grow, and watching them train together. I appreciated that the author put time into showing how a rogue might practice his skills.

THE DUNGEONEERS is the perfect book for when you can’t find someone to play D&D with, or when you want to escape into a dungeon and come out with storybook gold without dodging boring orc traps!

Socialize with the author:

John David Anderson:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: Winner's Trilogy #2
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on March 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 402
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Book Review:

I wasn’t a huge fan of THE WINNER’S CURSE last year, but I decided to give the second book in the trilogy, THE WINNER’S CRIME, a try because I was curious about the world. One of my big complaints about book one was the lack of worldbuilding, but there was enough to hook me and leave me wanting more.

Unfortunately, I shouldn’t have bothered with THE WINNER’S CRIME. Because I wasn’t a fan of Kestrel and Arin’s relationship in the first book, I really couldn’t stand all the time they spent angsting about each other in this one. THE WINNER’S CRIME is incredibly slow paced, with Kestrel and Arin going back and forth on liking each other, on reasons why they can and can’t trust each other, on why they can and can’t be together. I found Arin to be somewhat of a bully in this book, trying to force Kestrel to admit she likes him when he knows both of their lives are in danger anytime they meet, even in secret.

THE WINNER’S CRIME also has a huge pet peeve of mine. Kestrel is supposed to be incredibly intelligent, but now that she’s in love with Arin, she acts like an idiot. She’s under the Valorian emperor’s nose, and he repeatedly shows and tells her that even thinking about Arin isn’t a good idea if she wants to stay alive. But Kestrel thinks she’s above every warning, and stupidly spies for Herran. For what reason? I have no freaking clue, other than maybe she enjoys putting her life in danger?

THE WINNER’S CRIME suffers from middle book syndrome: not very much happens. Seriously, I think you could skip this book and move right onto the third book if it was available.

Socialize with the author:

Marie Rutkoski:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Moseh’s Staff by A.W. Exley

Book Review: Moseh’s Staff by A.W. ExleyMoseh's Staff by A.W. Exley
Series: Artifact Hunters #4
Published by Curiosity Quills Press on May 18, 2015
Genres: Adult, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 295
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
All things must come to an end…

London is in the frozen grip of an unnatural winter and Queen Victoria wants answers. Cara and Nate know who – the Curator. The queen's artifact hunters just don't know what is responsible. Cara is on the trail of an ancient and powerful artifact capable of freezing a city and stirring demons. First she must confront her past and her father's history. Only in learning why her father became a disciple of the Curator can she hope to learn what the old noble seeks and why he is so fascinated by her.

Then tragedy strikes and the bond forged by Nefertiti's Heart is severed. Nate without Cara succumbs to his darkness and he lashes out at those he holds responsible for her loss. Meanwhile, in the shadows, Inspector Fraser waits for his opportunity to pull down the man known as the villainous viscount.

With London entombed in ice and all hope lost, could this be the end…

moseh's staff blog tour

Publisher Curiosity Quills is having a month long review tour to celebrate their May releases. You can check out all the stops. I’m reviewing MOSEH’S STAFF, the last book in A.W. Exley’s Artifact Hunters series. I’ve reviewed all the books in the series: NEFERTITI’S HEART, HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR, and NERO’S FIDDLE.

Book Review:

MOSEH’S STAFF is the fourth book in A.W. Exley’s Artifact Hunters series. In the past, I’ve described the series as quirky and unique. A good blend of historical fiction, fantasy, romance, adventure, mythology, and steampunk. These descriptions hold true with MOSEH’S STAFF, which is sadly the last book in the series. I’m sad to see the end of Cara and Nate, but I do like how the author finished everything.

As Queen Victoria’s artifact hunters, Nate and Cara must figure out what artifact is causing endless winter and misery in London. It’s April, but the Thames is frozen. London is the only area affected, and Victoria’s not very happy about it. Cara and Nate have a good idea of who is behind events — the Curator — but how to stop him is a different question. How do you stop a man who bleeds water instead of blood?

The hunt becomes even more personal when the Curator reveals his intentions to take Cara as his own, severing the bond of Nefertiti’s Heart that connects her and Nate. I love Cara and Nate together, but it was great to see Nate on his own as well. The author showed more of Nate’s darker side, the no holds barred man he was before Cara’s presence in his life. Nate’s the guy I’d want on my side if someone took me, because he stops at nothing to rescue Cara.

There’s a lot of revelations in MOSEH’S STAFF, tying up loose ends from previous books in the series, such as explaining why Cara and Nate fit so perfectly together, or bringing back the dragon from HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR. Many of Cara and Nate’s friends show up in MOSEH’S STAFF (minus Loki, sadface), rallying around Nate to help find Cara. And Cara, kick butt woman that she is, isn’t content to sit back and be rescued. She confronts her own demons in MOSEH’S STAFF while trying to figure out which artifact powers the Curator.

All in all, MOSEH’S STAFF is a satisfying conclusion to the Artifact Hunters series, full of what I loved about the previous books: Cara and Nate, twists on mythology, humor in dark moments, and lots of action.

About the author:

author a.w. exley
Books and writing have always been an enormous part of Anita’s life.

She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.
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Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

– 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: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. JensenHidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #2
Published by Angry Robot on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Book Review:

Last year, I loved STOLEN SONGBIRD, the first book in Danielle L. Jensen’s amazing young adult fantasy series, the Malediction Trilogy. I loved every bit of STOLEN SONGBIRD, so of course I couldn’t wait for the sequel.

HIDDEN HUNTRESS is just as good, if not better, than STOLEN SONGBIRD. Let me tell you, this book has no hint of Middle Book Syndrome, which usually plagues trilogies. So much important stuff happens that I couldn’t even begin to summarize it, and I’m not going to try. Because HIDDEN HUNTRESS is too good to spoil!

I think my favorite thing about HIDDEN HUNTRESS is the way Danielle ended every chapter. I swear she’s an expert at ending chapters with cliffhangers. I’d get caught up in Cécile’s narration and think “I have to know what happens next” at the end of her chapter. I’d be tempted to skip ahead, but then it was Tristan’s turn, and I’d get sucked into his story. This happened over and over again, and I loved that.

Much of Cécile’s focus is on finding Anushka, the witch who cursed the trolls. I enjoyed watching Cécile try to puzzle through clues, and while I’m not going to spoil things, I like how that storyline played out. In Trollus, Tristan has to sort out his father’s true intentions and desires, which is quite difficult, since trolls never say what they mean. In the first book, we mostly saw Trollus through Cécile’s’s eyes. In HIDDEN HUNTRESS, we see it through Tristan’s, which I greatly enjoyed.

HIDDEN HUNTRESS is one of those books that’s worth the wait!

Let’s talk about it:

Be sure to check out the amazing guest post Danielle wrote for me, a letter from Anaïs to the reader! I also interviewed Danielle last year.

Socialize with the author:

Danielle L. Jensen:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel CaineInk and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by NAL on July 7, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

Book Review:

INK AND BONE is one of those books I always wanted, but I never knew it until I read it. There are so many good ideas and it’s such a great story that I’m still thinking about INK AND BONE a month after finishing it. With the amount of books I read, about 20 per month, it’s rare that a book sticks with me.

Jess lives in a world where owning personal copies of books is illegal. The Great Library has survived since the days of Alexandria and now exists in every city. The Library controls access to book and knowledge, functioning with as much power as a country. Jess’s family makes a living selling books on the black market, and seeing an opportunity, his father sends him to the Library, with the intent of having a spy on the inside.

But joining the Library isn’t that easy. There are 32 postulants and 6 available spots. The competition is fierce and dangerous. Jess must navigate a murky world, one where disagreeing with the Library’s policies and politics can be deadly. For example, when Jess is in the middle of a war zone, he could call on his family connections to survive, but doing so would expose his book smuggling background. What to do?

Imagine the greatest texts of the world surviving through the centuries thanks to the Library. But at the same time, imagine the same Library controlling which of those texts the public can see. Imagine a world where you can’t own your own books. It’s every book lover’s nightmare, right?

Rachel Caine explores those ideas and others in INK AND BONE. It’s a very thinky book, but enjoyably so. Jess’s time as a postulant for the Library is the best sort of dangerous adventure, one that’s fun to read but left me thinking. I cannot wait to return to the world the author’s created — bring on the next book!

Let’s talk about it:

What would you do if you lived in a world where you couldn’t own books?

Socialize with the author:

Rachel Caine:
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– leeanna

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.

Socialize with the author:

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.

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– leeanna