Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Check out the book on Goodreads.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

I’m so glad that Book of the Month introduced me to this great book! I probably would never have picked it up on my own – and I’m so glad that I did!

Gods of Jade and Shadow reads like a myth in the best way – introducing the reader to a timeless story full of mini parables and insights. I loved that this book read like a living myth. I can see how the writing style is not for everyone – like many myths it can seem a little disjointed at times, however this just added to the story for me.

Although this book is marketed as a 1920’s Mexican Cinderella, I feel that the overall story is timeless. Learning about some Mayan mythology was very interesting as they aren’t stories that I have lots of exposure to.

The main character, Cassiopeia went through a lot of growth throughout the story and it was so wonderful seeing her evolve and change. She can be a little dry at times but neither one of the characters got on my nerves which is something I can’t say about a lot of books I’ve been reading lately. Hun Kame of course helped her along her journey, and he was just the type of brooding hunky guy that gets my heart racing.

Overall a very enjoyable book, possibly one of my favorites of the year!

Rating: 5/5

Review: The Realm of the Gods

13834The Realm of the Gods by Tamora Pierce

Series: The Immortals #4

Published: January 1, 1996

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

During a dire battle against the fearsome Skinners, Daine and her mage teacher Numair are swept into the Divine Realms. Though happy to be alive, they are not where they want to be. They are desperately needed back home, where their old enemy, Ozorne, and his army of strange creatures are waging war against Tortall.

Trapped in the mystical realms Daine discovers her mysterious parentage. And as these secrets of her past are revealed so is the treacherous way back to Tortall. So they embark on an extraordinary journey home, where the fate of all Tortall rests with Daine and her wild magic.

Overall a great conclusion to the series! There was a lot more adventuring and action in this one than in its predecessors. Even though the last half was action-packed, I did find the first half a bit slow which is the main reason for docking half a star.

One of my favorite mythical creatures are dragons, so seeing them interact with the world of Tortall was amazing. Along with more dragons, the origin story of Darkings which were characters I found out about in the Daughter of the Lioness series, was amazing. They are some of the cutest creatures ever (even if how they were made is a little disgusting).

Although I enjoyed all of the many mythical creatures, the Trickster’s (Daughter of the Lioness) series is still by far my favorite by Tamora Pierce. In fact, one of my favorite things in The Immortals series was learning more about the backstory for characters in the aforementioned series,.

Review: The Queen’s Rising

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross35098412

Series: The Queen’s Rising #1

Published: February 6, 2018

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Goodreads

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

Brienna was a lover of books and knowledge that I was able to relate to. Even though she wasn’t “naturally” gifted at any of the passions, she worked hard to learn everything she could in the time she was given. Her hard work and perseverance remained even when faced with insurmountable odds.

I love some slowburn romance, and this book delivers on that with the relationship between Brienna and her Master, Cartier. And when I say slowburn, I mean SLOW. In fact, there could have been just a little more romance because after that ending I’m left in AGONY.

This book reads a lot like a standalone. I even checked to see if it was a series halfway through because of the way everything was wrapping up! There really wasn’t anything that wasn’t tied up neatly at the end of The Queen’s Rising, which makes me wonder where the story will go in future installments. There were a few points where I found myself rolling my eyes at plot points (after reading Northanger Abbey, secret passageways will forever make me chuckle), but these parts didn’t really take away from my enjoyment.

This book would have been a lot more enjoyable for me if the major plot twists hadn’t been spoiled by the lineage charts in the beginning. The entire book, the main character wonders about who her father is (the “secret” is revealed like the BIG shock of the book) but the answer is available right in the front for anyone who looks! There are other reveals that can be easily figured out by looking at these charts as well, so I was kind of sad there weren’t any twists I didn’t know. That being said, I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series to see how Brienna is doing!

TTT: Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

Top ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana over at That Artsy Reader. This weeks prompt is Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books!

There are so many AMAZING books coming out this year (and next!) that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Here are just a few on that list!

1. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (October 23, 2018)

Throne of Glass is one of my all-time favorite series, so you can probably guess my excitement about the series finale!

2. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab (September 29, 2018)

Vicious is my favorite Schwab book (you can read my review HERE) and when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I LOST MY MIND. I absolutely can’t wait for Vengeful to come out and will be anxiously awaiting September.

3. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (2019)

This book sounds so amazing, with dragons and knights and queens and m/f friendships (plus it’s written by the AMAZING Samantha Shannon). I can’t wait!

4. The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken (July 31, 2018)

The Darkest Minds is one of my favorite series, and I can’t wait to get a post-quel book in Zu’s point of view!

5. The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout (October 30, 2018)

I absolutely adored the Lux Series in high school–I kind of have forgotten a lot of it by now–but I still remember the character Luc. This new book is supposed to be (somewhat) about him and I’m excited for this story!

6. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (October 2, 2018)

Strange the Dreamer was amazingly enchanting with a twist I didn’t see coming. So excited to see what happens in the sequel.

7. Wildcard by Marie Lu (September 18, 2018)

Warcross was one of my favorite books of 2017, so of course it’s sequel/conclusion is on my most anticipated list for 2018.

8. Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff (September 4, 2018)

I know, I know, I still haven’t read Godsgrave which is book two in this trilogy, but Nevernight took me for such a wild ride I know I’ll be thirsting for book 3 soon after I’m finished.

9. My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton (June 26, 2018)

Jane Eyre is one of my top two favorite classics (the number one spot oscillates between it and Persuasion), and this year seems to be the year of retellings! This ghostly retelling of a classic sounds like something I’ll absolutely love.

10. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choski (2019) Goodreads

There isn’t that much about this book out in the world yet, but the synopsis and the amazing author mean this story will be delicious.

What are some of your most anticipated reads?

 

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: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton24934065

Published: March 8, 2016

Rating: 4/5                                                       Goodreads

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

I honestly enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I picked it up from the library because I saw the third book in the series is being released in March and figured, “why not read about an awesome desert-gunslinging girl?” The writing was entrancing, and I was genuinely surprised by a major plot twist, which hasn’t really been happening to me lately.

The world building was nearly seamless, with a rich history that I would love to explore more, and and is hopefully expanded upon in the next book. The magic system was intricate enough to keep my interest, and the monsters of the desert were awesome. I just wish that they had played a larger roll. A few days after reading this, and I still find myself sometimes thinking about the amazing creatures in this desert!

I absolutely adored the characters Jin and Amani, and can’t wait to see them develop (and hopefully become more romantically involved ;)) throughout the series. All of the characters were awesome, but I just felt like there wasn’t enough development with some of the minor players, which is the main reason why I rounded down in my rating – I know, I’m picky. This book wasn’t very long though, and I’m sure many details will be fleshed out further in the following installments.

Overall, I liked this book a lot and will definitely be picking up the others in the series.