Book Review: Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy #1) by Danielle Paige

Book Review: Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy #1) by Danielle PaigeDorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

Book Review:

I like fairytale retellings a lot; I’ve read dozens and dozens. But DOROTHY MUST DIE is my first retelling of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Well, my first book retelling. I really liked Tinman, Syfy’s redo. So I was hoping for something along that line.

I should have loved DOROTHY MUST DIE. Instead of the colorful, happy, Munchkin-filled, joyous land we remember from the movie, Oz has turned into a desolate wasteland. Glinda uses Munchkins as slave labor, mining magic from Oz so Dorothy can have it. Oh yeah — Dorothy returned to Oz because Kansas just wasn’t good enough after her adventures. Instead of a wholesome farm girl, Dorothy’s a powermad princess, and has remade Oz in her vision. That? All good. I love that sort of stuff.

But I didn’t love DOROTHY MUST DIE. It’s a book with great ideas but poor execution. It’s basically 469 pages of setup for the rest of the series. The title should be “Dorothy Almost Dies” or a “A Primer of Oz History Under Dorothy.” The beginning of the book caught my attention, the middle put me to sleep, and the end left me saying, “that’s it?”

Amy, our sarcastic, unwilling hero is brought to Oz in a tornado. Even in its current condition, Oz is a step up from home, where she lives in a trailer park with her addict mother and is bullied by the popular girls at school. Amy’s an unlikely hero. When she’s rescued by a group of Wicked witches, she doesn’t take their word for it that she’s the only one who can kill Dorothy. Amy’s an okay character. She did some stupid things, which I always dislike, but I thought she also reacted realistically to the situations she got herself in.

My biggest problem with DOROTHY MUST DIE is that not a lot happens. For a book of its length, there should be a lot more going on. As I said, the beginning was good, with lots of action. But once Amy settled in with the witches, the book took a left turn to boring. Normally I really like descriptions of training and turning someone into an assassin/hero/etc., but the author didn’t keep me interested. I kept wanting to skim to more exciting parts, but they didn’t come until the last couple of pages and then the book ends on a cliffhanger.

After training, Amy infiltrates Dorothy’s palace … as a maid. So there’s another boring part, because I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to make reading about cleaning exciting. And Dorothy likes her palace to be really, really clean. I did not enjoy 100+ pages of that.

DOROTHY MUST DIE is the first book in a trilogy. Usually, you want to read the first book, because it’s full of information you need for the next two books. When I finished DOROTHY MUST DIE, I really felt like I could have skipped it and jumped right into book two, if it was available.

Socialize with the author:

Danielle Paige:
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– leeanna

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

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

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

Book Review:

Dear DEATH SWORN,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Socialize with the author:

Leah Cypess:
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– leeanna

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

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

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

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

Book Review:

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

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

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

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

So, in conclusion: an average fantasy.

– leeanna

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

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

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

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

Book Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Socialize with the author:

Kelley Armstrong:
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– leeanna

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

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

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

Book Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Socialize with the author:

Rjurik Davidson:
Website

– leeanna

Book Review: Dark Metropolis (Dark Metropolis #1) by Jaclyn Dolamore

Book Review: Dark Metropolis (Dark Metropolis #1) by Jaclyn DolamoreDark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore
Series: Dark Metropolis #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 301
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

dark metropolis blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for DARK METROPOLIS by Jaclyn Dolamore. The tour is hosted by Itching For Books and you can visit all the stops here. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.

Book Review:

DARK METROPOLIS is the first book in a new duology set in an alternate version of Berlin in the late 1920s. Featuring three protagonists, the book digs into the dark underbelly of the city which is kept running by government-sanctioned zombies.

The summary for the book is a little misleading in my opinion, as it gives the impression Thea is the only main character. But her friend, Nan, and Freddy also tell parts of the story. I would have liked to see more character development for all three; DARK METROPOLIS is more plot-driven than character-driven. Characters are usually what I like most about a book, but something in this one hooked me and kept me reading.

Thea’s mother suffers from bound-sickness because she and her husband were magically bonded when they were married. But while he went missing eight years ago and was declared dead in the war, Thea’s mother has always insisted he’s still alive. Being unable to find her husband makes her mentally sick, and though Thea’s tried to take care of her mother, it’s getting harder and harder. One night at work, Thea touches the hand of club goer Freddy and sees a vision of her father sitting up. Is her mother right? Is her father alive?

When her friend and co-worker, Nan, goes missing, Thea asks Freddy for helping finding her. And that’s where things get freaky, because Freddy brought Nan back to life. He’s a necromancer and has brought thousands of people back to life. He was always told those people committed suicide, but when Thea insists Nan never would have killed herself, Freddy starts to investigate.

DARK METROPOLIS is a zombie story I actually liked. I typically don’t read a lot of horror, which is what I’d classify most zombie books as. Yeah, there’s some violence in this one, and some gruesome imagery, but the book is more fantasy/magic/paranormal than horror. The real horror comes from the manipulation of necromancy and the zombies’ living conditions.

I do wish there was more worldbuilding, because we’re given a few hints about the world, but not too many. The setting does feel very 1920s/1930s ish, but with an added element of magic. I did like how the author explored necromancy, and how there were consequences for doing such magic. But I wish more had been mentioned. For example, what was the war about? How did its outcome lead to the government outlawing magic?

Thea’s family relationship was probably my favorite thing about the whole book. I felt the love they all had for each other, and while I’m not going to spoil it, I liked the outcome. The other relationships in the book — Thea and Freddy, Nan and Sigi — could have used more development, just like the characters. The romantic relationships aren’t really a big portion of the book, though, so that didn’t really bug me. I was happy that Sigi kissed Nan at a very important moment, since I saw their potential relationship coming from their first meeting.

DARK METROPOLIS doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, which is refreshing. The main story is wrapped up by the end, leaving a few loose ends for the next book, due out in 2015.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author jaclyn dolamoreJaclyn Dolamore was homeschooled in a hippie sort of way and spent her childhood reading as many books as her skinny nerd-body could lug from the library and playing elaborate pretend games with her sister Kate. She skipped college and spent eight years drudging through retail jobs, developing her thrifty cooking skills and pursuing a lifelong writing dream. She has a passion for history, thrift stores, vintage dresses, David Bowie, drawing, and organic food. She lives with her partner and plot-sounding-board, Dade, and two black tabbies who have ruined her carpeting.
Website
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

Book Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh JohnsonThe Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 25, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Steampunk
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields. The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home. The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible. Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

Book Review:

THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY is a fun middle-grade fantasy, full of action, steampunk goodness, and great characters. I devoured this book in a matter of hours, all the while wishing I read more slowly so I could enjoy it for longer. As far as I know, it’s a standalone, but I do hope there’s enough interest to turn it into a series because I adored Piper and Anna, and the world they live in.

Thirteen-year-old Piper is an orphan, making a living as a scrapper and by fixing the finds of others. In her world, meteor showers bring objects from other lands. Scrap towns have sprung up around the meteor fields, but scrapping isn’t really enough to make a living. Piper’s father went to the machine factory in Noveen to try and make a better life for them both, but lost his own in the attempt.

So Piper lives by her brains and mechanical abilities, until the day she rescues a mysterious girl from a meteor shower. Anna has no memory of who she is or where she came from, but does have a dragonfly tattoo — the mark of the Dragonfly — which shows she’s under the protection of the Dragonfly king. But when a dangerous man comes after Anna, she and Piper flee on the 401, a train which travels between both lands.

I loved almost everything about THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY, from Piper and Anna to the writing to the story itself. Piper is a great main character, a great role model. I loved that she was talented with machinery, fiercely loyal, and, well, scrappy. At one point she thinks of Anna as only a way to a better future, of the reward she’ll get from the king for rescuing her, but once truths about Anna’s past are revealed, Piper realizes that she values Anna more as a person than a source of money. Anna herself was a fun mystery to untangle.

The writing was nice and smooth, very readable. At times I did think Piper was a little mature for her age, but I could see that maturity coming from losing her father as well as her practical nature. There also was a hint of romance I could have done without, but it didn’t really go beyond crushing and acknowledging feelings, so I didn’t mind it too much.

The story in THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY took a different angle than I expected — based on the beginning of the book, I thought it would be about the meteor showers and the scrap fields, but the book really takes off after Piper and Anna get on the 401. The plot is mainly concerned with the mystery of Anna’s origins as well as getting her to safety. I do wish there had been more about the meteor showers because that really intrigued me, but hopefully that will come up in a sequel. :)

I also want to give a quick mention to Piper’s father. Although he’s dead at the start of the book, the love he had for his daughter, and the support he gave her, was very apparent. I liked that Piper did little things to keep his memory alive, such as keeping the drawings he sent her and wearing his old coat.

Overall, I really enjoyed THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY. The book sucked me in, much like Anna’s plight sucked Piper into an unexpected, life-changing adventure.

Socialize with the author:

Jaleigh Johnson:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Herald (The Sundering #6) by Ed Greenwood

Book Review: The Herald (The Sundering #6) by Ed GreenwoodThe Herald by Ed Greenwood
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on June 3, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
In the 6th and final book of the multi-author Sundering series launched by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Forgotten Realms®, further chronicles the exploits of Elminster as he fights for the future of Faerûn.

Chaos grips Faerûn as vainglory, prophecy, and ancient forces comingle in the shadows cast by war. Agents of the Shadovar lurk in the corners of Candlekeep in search of the arcane secrets that will power their war machine toward Myth Drannor. Gods and their Chosen run amok, all in a gambit to seize power. And a threat foretold by an ancient seer stirs.

At the heart of it all, Mystra, the great Goddess of Magic, has withdrawn from the world. Without her protection, Elminster, her greatest champion, fears for the nascent Weave, the fabric of magic Mystra wields to bind Faerûn. Will the Nightseer Shar, mistress of the great and fearsome Shadovar, seize the opportunity to blanket the world with her Shadow Weave?

With the help of Storm Silverhand and his protégé Amarune, Elminster works frantically to strengthen the Weave’s tethers and forestall what seems an inevitable reckoning. But other interests machinate for their own sinister ends.

As the Sundering draws nigh, Elminster and his heroic cohort must see the signs for what they are. The choice of worlds lies in the balance.

Book Review:

THE HERALD is the sixth and final book in The Sundering series. The books are very loosely connected, and follow heroes and Chosen as they navigate the effects of the Sundering upon their lives. I’ve enjoyed most of the books in the series, but unfortunately, THE HERALD just didn’t work for me as well as previous books did.

THE HERALD assumes familiarity with Ed Greenwood’s other novels in the Realms. This is the first time I’ve read one of his books, so I didn’t know who most of the characters were. Yes, I know there’s a lot of books about Elminster, and I’d heard of him. But I didn’t know many of the others that pop up in this book, including Mirt, Manshoon, and the Srinshee. I wish more background had been provided on all the characters, because I had to resort to Googling the ones I named and others to find out who they were and why they were important.

The writing was somewhat difficult to get through. There was a lot of point of view switching — first Elminster, then Amarune, then a random Shade, then Elminster again, etc. I wish the narration had been more consistent, sticking with the same character whenever possible. The switches were also difficult to keep track of because the author constantly referred to characters without calling them by name. For example, Elminster was El, then the Old Mage, then the wizard, etc. Add in nicknames, and it was hard to remember who was who.

Lastly, I feel like things just didn’t come together. The Shadovar were trying to destroy the Weave at Shar’s direction, Elminster was trying to save it, but then there was a lich and other stuff … I’m just not sure all of what happened, to be honest. I had to force myself to keep reading, and I did because I wanted to know how the series would end, but it was a hard read. I wish there had been more about the Sundering, and an ending that didn’t leave me scratching my head wondering what the outcome was.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Sentinel (The Sundering #5) by Troy Denning

Book Review: The Sentinel (The Sundering #5) by Troy DenningThe Sentinel by Troy Denning
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
In the fifth book of the multi-author Sundering series, New York Times best-selling author Troy Denning sends an embittered paladin, Kleef Kenric, on a quest to stop evil forces from taking advantage of the chaos rolling across the land of Faerûn and claiming dominion over the entirety of the Realms.

Stubbornly clinging to his family’s worship of a long-forgotten god, Kleef Kenric soon discovers that his god has blessed him with divine gifts, making him one of a new group of Chosen cropping up around the Realms. This divine gift makes him an excellent ally—and a target for those who wish corral his powers.

After battling his way out Marsember, a city besieged on all sides in the wake of the Sundering, he becomes swept up in the mission of a group of odd allies—a warrior noblewoman, an accomplished thief, and a mysterious short pudgy man exuding a faint odor of decay. With the forces of Shade tracking their every step, they travel to the Underdark to thwart the rise of the goddess of Death, but before long Kleef learns that his allies hide dangerous secrets—secrets that could destroy not only Kleef but the very fabric of the Forgotten Realms.

Book Review:

I’ve enjoyed the first four books of The Sundering series: THE COMPANIONS (R.A. Salvatore), THE GODBORN (Paul S. Kemp), THE ADVERSARY (Erin M. Evans), and THE REAVER (Richard Lee Byers). But number five, THE SENTINEL, just didn’t have the same shine for me as the previous books.

Kleef, a topsword in the Marsember Watch in Cormyr, rescues Joelle and Malik from the Shadovar. Joelle and Malik are Chosen, on a mission to save Toril from Shar by using the Eye of Gruumsh. Along with Arietta, a noble of Cormyr, they fight across Faerûn, on the run from the Shadovar and legions of orcs. Along the way, attempts to trust each other are stalled by back stabbing, and no one is sure of anyone’s true intentions.

I’m having a hard time reviewing THE SENTINEL because it’s hard to say much about it. It seemed like I was reading a D&D game put into book format rather than a book about the Sundering. I didn’t come to care about any of the characters, the action scenes were snooze fests, and the story as a whole? I’m not sure what I read, to be honest. The ending left me confused, and I wish I’d given up on this book when it took me four tries to start it.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle (The League of Princes #2) by Christopher Healy

Book Review: The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle (The League of Princes #2) by Christopher HealyThe Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
Series: The League of Princes #2
Published by Walden Pond Press on April 30, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 477
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Goodreads
5 Stars
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming, who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses--Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose--to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms.

But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening--even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.

Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination--it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes.

Book Review:

“You’re never too young to start being a hero. Practice dueling one-handed so you never need to drop your blankie.” — The Hero’s Guide to Being a Hero by Duncan

After devouring the first book in the League of Princes series, THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM, I could not wait to dive into the second. Sometimes middle books disappoint me, because they aren’t as good as the first, or are just a bridge to the third book.

Not so with THE HERO’S GUIDE TO STORMING THE CASTLE. I think I might have loved it more than the first book!

There’s a big cast of characters in the book, between the princes, their princesses, the bad guys, and everyone else. Yet every character has a distinct personality, and is well drawn in a sentence or two. I never forgot anyone because each person was unique. I have a special fondness for Mr. Troll, though. Can’t beat a troll who wants to be the good guy in a song, even if the bards always get everything wrong.

This book has the same creativity and humor as the first, lots of adventure, and plenty of character growth. Liam’s somewhat of a jerk, having lost what means most to him: his reputation as a hero. His fiancée, Briar Rose, is pretty insistent on their marriage, even chaining Liam to his chair. She also has a big evil plan to overtake every kingdom, and only that brings Liam out of his stupor. Sort of. He eventually shapes up, with plenty of help from his friends.

I was sad when I finished the book, because I didn’t want it to be over! This series is great. If I had a young person in my life, I think it’s a series I’d enjoy reading with them, as both kids and adults can enjoy it. It’s one of my new favorites, and it’s one I’ll enjoy rereading for years.

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Christopher Healy:
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– leeanna