Review: Emperor Mage

Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce2573118

Series: The Immortals Quartet #3

Published: November 17, 1994

Rating: 4/5

Sent to Carthak as part of the Tortallan peace delegation, Daine finds herself in the middle of a sticky political situation. She doesn’t like the Carthaki practice of keeping slaves, but it’s not her place to say anything — she’s just there to heal the emperor’s birds. It’s extremely frustrating! What’s more, her power has grown in a mysterious way.
As the peace talks stall, Daine puzzles over Carthak’s two-faced Emperor Ozorne. How can he be so caring with his birds and so cruel to his people? Daine is sure he’s planning something. Daine must fight the powerful Emperor Mage, knowing that the safety and peace of the realm depend on stopping Ozorne’s power-hungry schemes.

I love continuing the story of Daine, but this one didn’t seem as enchanting to me as the last two installments in The Immortals series. Daine continues to grow as a young woman, and I love the lessons that the author attempts to put out there in this book (and which are wonderful to teach younger young adults).

The world of Carthage felt a little underdeveloped to me, maybe because there was so much world building for the Copper Isles in the Trickster’s series that I knew Pierce was capable of more. I’m looking forward to reading Numair’s series to see more development on the country and some of the background characters in this book. The main reason that I docked a whole star was because there was a whole dinosaur debacle seemed a little out there, even for a fantasy series. That being said, I totally would have loved those scenes as a young girl.

I’m still hopeful that the last book in the series will pick up, even though I feel like the first one is still the strongest right now. Although I love Daine as a character, I currently feel that The Immortals is my least favorite out of three Pierce series I’ve read. We’ll see if the fourth book can raise it up!

P. S. The fact that this book was published two years before I was born makes me feel old.

Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

33009320Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Published: November 8, 2016

Rating: 3.75/5

Goodreads

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

I picked this book up for the read-a-thon challenge – OwlCrate-a-thon! (You can read more about this in my post HERE) I received this book way back in 2016 as part of an OwlCrate and figured it was finally time to pick it up. Admittedly, I have never read Alice in Wonderland before (due to being terrified of the Disney movie as a child) so was unsure what kind of experience Wonderland would give me. It was certainly whimsical, with allusions to rhymes from my childhood and other references I recognized from both the live action and animated adaptations.

I found Catherine a sympathetic character. All of the descriptions of baked goods she made caused some major food envy! Throughout the story, I understood where she and her emotions were coming from, and I totally get her infatuation with Jest (the love interest). He was super broody and the sort of bad boy that I always love to pair off with the good girls.

Knowing this was an origin story for the Queen of Hearts, there had to be some tragedy involved. Although it was great getting the “whole story” behind what made the Queen of Hearts who she is, nothing really revolutionary happened. I saw one of the plot twists coming a little before the halfway point in the book, and felt like the story just kept circling trying to build up relationship tension. It was a struggle getting through the middle portion, contributing to my belief that this book could’ve been shorter than the 450 pages it was. The story really picked up in the last 100 pages or so, which is ultimately what led me to round my review up rather than down. Overall, it was just okay for me, although fans of Alice in Wonderland may feel differently and I can see how this book holds appeal.

In a side note, I feel like the low ratings I’ve been giving to some books lately may be due to me outgrowing some of the younger-YA genre (what, no, never!).

I hope to finally read Alice in Wonderland as my pick for the Classic of the Month 2018 challenge in March, so I’ll check back in!

Review: Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake23207027

Published: September 20, 2016 by HarperTeen

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose … it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest … but she may be the darkest.

It’s been over a year since I first picked up this book, and after a LONG sitting half read on my shelf, I finally finished it as a part of the OwlCrate-a-thon challenge (you can read more about that in my post HERE)!

The dialogue throughout felt clunky because of the stiff way everyone talks. By this I mean the characters rarely ever abbreviate (It is good vs. it’s good) making the heavy dialogue scenes feel kind of robotic. It took me a bit to get into the book because of this, and I found it nearly impossible to be reading this book and others at the same time.

Overall I found the characters pretty likeable, and I’m still struggling to decide which queen to back! I personally like Katherine, the poisoner queen, but everyone else to seems to support either Mirabella or Arsinoe. My personal preference always seems to be for the “misunderstood” characters which may account for this decision.

The romance in this book left something to be desired. Yes, it’s nice to have less romance-heavy YA fantasy, but when it is included I like the men not to be pigs (illegal dark magic aside). Hopefully the next book expands upon the love interests already in place, I’d really like to know the motivations behind one of the scenes located almost at the end of the book (no spoilers!).

I’ll likely pick up the rest of the series because not knowing what happens to the queens would kill me. While the story was ultimately good and captured my interest, I just found the dialogue and some plot points a little too detracting for a four star rating.

Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Roomies by Christina Lauren34466910

Published: December 5, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

This book felt kind of ridiculous at times, which is just what I needed after finishing two very intense reads. However, some of the ridiculous drama which was a little *too* conveniently swept aside and detracted from the romance and story that was developing between Calvin and Holland. While I really enjoyed a lot of the build up in the beginning, the last third of the book felt rushed with random issues popping up as plot points.

One of the main redeeming factors in the book is Calvin himself, who is portrayed as being compassionate and caring. This description is thrown into contrast with his callousness towards Holland later on, as he seems unable to understand why she gets upset about important issues.

The story also ended quite abruptly, with a lot of questions remaining. I mean this literally, as in the last paragraph is almost completely rhetorical questions, with no real hope for a conclusion as this is currently a stand alone.

Overall an okay book for what it was. I thought it started off decently strong but towards the end the endless issues and misunderstandings started to drag a little bit. If there ever does end up being a sequel, I probably won’t pick it up. If you’re looking for a quick, mindless read with copious amounts of drama, this book is for you.

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An Enchantment of Ravens

30969741An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Published September 26, 2017

Rating: 2.5/5

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

First of all, look at that beautiful cover from Charlie Bowater, one of my favorite artists. (In person, it is also a bit shimmery and gorgeous.)

I feel as though I’m in the minority of people who was not utterly enchanted by this book. While I believe An Enchantment of Ravens is a wonderful debut, there were a few problems that I had with the lack of development of both the world and some of the characters that are repeatedly mentioned. While only so much can be covered in 300 pages, parts of it felt really unfinished.

My main complaint is the shallowness in the relationships between the main character Isobel and her family members. Her “little sisters” seem thrown into the story almost purely for the whimsical and magical aspect rather than anything to further the story. The scenery, while described in the beginning, seems to drop off as the book continues and the character travels.

The main love interest, Rook, while full of funny quips and questions, in many cases seems a bit naive for a Fae who is supposedly thousands of years old. While he may not be used to human culture, his childishness was a little too overplayed for my taste. GIVE ME POSSESSIVE FAE MALES. *ahem*

Perhaps part of my negativity comes from just having reread the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses series, which has (in my opinion) such deep characters and vivid world. An Enchantment of Ravens is marketed to more of a middle-grade audience, so there is considerably less physical romance occurring and it is all around more innocent. Does this mean I’m officially outgrowing middle-grade fantasy ??? D: D: D:

Don’t be dissuaded if this was initially something you thought you might like. As stated previously, a lot of people absolutely ADORED this book (including people whose tastes I hold in high regard). Maybe this was just a kind of “right read, wrong time” book for me. Perhaps I’ll pick it up again in the future. There is a bit of an open ending which implies that there may be more books if the publisher is so inclined to sign more.

Warcross Review

29385546Warcross by Marie Lu

Published September 12, 2017

Series: Warcross #1

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I just accidentally read this entire book when I picked it up for quick study-break release D:. This book was everything I could ever want as a gamer and a lover of dystopian fiction. I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT ONE TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS.

I was really worried about this book being a YA rip-off of Ready Player One, which is a threat I saw in some other reviews. However, other than the virtual reality gaming aspect, I didn’t see many similarities. I can’t believe I didn’t pick this book up for so long because of these fears. The YA feel of Warcross was really enjoyable to me (although I still enjoyed the gaming part the most), because I love a good romance mixed in with my worldwide drama.

Emika is an amazing and strong and awesome heroine that I want to be best friends with. She has overcome so much in her life, and I just want to give her a big hug (even though she doesn’t need it because she’s a bada$$ person).

And HIDEO. Ugh, I love him so much, and I’m so angry right now, but I still love him…and that’s about all I can say without spoiling anything.

In summary – GO READ THIS BOOK. Or, you know, wait until the next one comes out so you don’t need to WAIT IN AGONY for a year +. AND THEN READ IT.

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Mid Year Summary

I can’t believe we are already halfway through 2017! It feels like New Years was just last week! Here’s a summary of my favorites throughout the first half of this year.

10987Favorite Book

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon is one of the favorite books that I’ve finished this year. All the adventure and travel undertaken by two of my favorite characters, Claire and Jamie, boosted this to number one (along with the fact that other books that would clench this spot fit other prompts in the list). This is definitely my favorite installment in the Outlander series so far. I’m currently working my way through Drums of Autumn so we’ll see if this spot holds ;).

22055262Favorite New-to-me Series

I’m absolutely loving the A Darker Shade of Magic Series by V. E. Schwab. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books (and can’t believe it took me so long to start them in the first place). You can read some of my thoughts on this book HERE.

440px-the_covers_of_the_six_vampire_academy_books

Series I Blew Through

Earlier this year, I devoured the entire Vampire Academy series. I was nervous to start them because I had my “vampire phase” in middle school, but actually ended up enjoying them quite a lot. You can check out my full review HERE.

17199504New Book Boyfriend

Another series I love is The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. I read a quarter of the first book about a year ago then put it down because I got distracted by all the other reads. This year, I picked it back up again and read the entire book in a day! Needless to say, Warden is now one of my many book boyfriends. I’m afraid to finish the other two books that are out because there are still four more to go in the series (and it’s been taking two years between each release!). You can check out my full review HERE. An honorable mention goes to Kell from A Darker Shade of Magic.

31451174Favorite Series To Return To

Definitely A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I loved the newest installment, A Court of Wings and Ruin. The only reason it didn’t top my list for the year was I had a few twinges of misgiving about the ending (which you can read about HERE. If you love the series as much as I do, you can check out my summary of Maas’ answers during Q&A at one of her tour stops HERE.).

Favorite New Video Game Releasegiphy2

This one caters to my more nerdy side, and for this one I’m also going to cheat. There’s a tie between Horizon: Zero Dawn and Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia. Both games are so different and I play them in different settings. Horizon is a game I turn to when I want some action, fighting robot dinosaurs as an awesome cave woman. Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia is an awesome continuation/remake of my favorite series, that has some added elements like some dungeon roaming that I really enjoy. Needless to say, I’ve sunk many hours into both of these games.

Book(s) I’m Excited About3145085231453592

I’m super excited for the Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas release in September. Throne of Glass is my all-time favorite YA Fantasy series, and I can’t wait to return to it (and get the story about what Chaol is doing during Empire of Storms!). I also can’t wait for Dark Calling by Kresley Cole, the new book in the Arcana Chronicles series, although it doesn’t have a release date other than this year (it was pushed back from a spring release). There are tons of other books to look forward to this year, like Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff, Vanguard by Ann Aguirre, and Little Monsters by Kara Thomas.

Thanks for reading, and keep checking back for new updates (a summer sale may be coming soon for my Etsy shop!)

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