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.

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli32667458

Series: Iskari #1

Published: October 3, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

I really enjoyed this book, and think that this is a promising debut from Ciccarelli. I mean, DRAGONS!!! It’s been a while since I’ve read a solid book featuring some of my favorite creatures. The world-building was wonderful and unique, with the stories and lore intertwined into the text. I agree with some other reviews I’ve seen that the backstory located within chapters, especially towards the beginning, seemed a bit clunky. There are only so many times a girl can “get distracted while staring into space and thinking about things that happened in the past” before it’s too much.

The love interest in the book was refreshing, even if it took Asha a long time to realize it was romance when it’s pretty obvious from the beginning. Torwin was a strong character by himself, without detracting from the strength and fearlessness of Asha herself. I love the high lady falling in love with a slave/guard trope. There is a lot of room for their relationship to develop in the future as the “big reveal” at the end can change a lot of their dynamic.

I definitely will be picking up the other books in this series when they come out. I’m excited to see where Asha’s journey takes her as she works to bring the stories back to Firgaard.

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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.