The Hundredth Queen
by Emily R. King Published by Skyscape
on June 1st 2017 Genres: Coming of Age
, Young Adult Fiction Pages:
In Emily R. King's thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own. As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood in the ancient Tarachand Empire, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she's an unlikely candidate for even a servant's position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood's mountain temple. But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda's life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah's ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik. Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death-and her growing affection for Deven-Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.
There’s been a lot of buzz about The Hundredth Queen. And, usually, if there’s a lot of buzz, I’m typically disappointed in some shape or form. Lately, I’m been having the worst reading slump ever, and, unfortunately, the anticipated new releases have all been so-so mehs. I hoped The Hundredth Queen would be the one to pull me out of the meh book Hell, and it surprisingly did.
THQ is not by all means perfect, but it’s fast paced and entertaining. And, for once, it has a romance that I like–though technically it is instalove. I really liked Kalinda, Jaya, and all the ladies. I’m curious about what will happen to the wives and courtesans in the next book and with Kalinda and Deven. I have a feeling that there might be a love triangle in the next book considering the two brothers (one like her and one not) and based on the wording of the synopsis.
Looking forward to The Fire Queen.
Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
on August 2nd 2012 Genres: Action & Adventure
, Fantasy & Magic
, Love & Romance
, Young Adult
, Young Adult Fiction Pages:
Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught. Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament - fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin's heart be melted?
I’ve heard a lot about the Throne of Glass series. Some of it good and some of it not so good (though from what I seen—totally legit concerns). I attempted a Maas book before (A Court of Thorns and Roses) and did not like it at the time. I might reattempt that series eventually.
As for Throne of Glass, I liked it much more than I expected to. But there were things I didn’t like—all of them being Celaena related. I found her to be so contradictory to everything other people said and thought of her. She’s charming. She’s stronger at eighteen than anyone ever. Blah blah. And it was right off the get-go. Unless they find her sass and haughtiness as charming. I saw it as rude. These people were melting like ice cream over her. Lol. Why are all female assassins always so beautiful? And never have scars or any lasting disfigurement on their faces from fights and so on? Celaena has them on her back, but I don’t recall her having them elsewhere.
Hypocritical attitude about other girls, especially when she is exactly like the ones she’s describing. The only difference is she gets help from magical dead people. No room to bark, Cel.
I loved Princess Nehemia. She was the best one in the book, besides Chaol and Prince Dorian. I already know the gist of what happens later. And I’m really bummed out about it. As far as shipping goes, I think Chaol and Dorian are too good for Celaena. She can’t decide who she wants, one minute she’s thinking about Chaol and then Dorian. Tbh, I’d rather see Chaol and Dorian together rather than her.
by Stephanie Garber Published by Flatiron Books
on January 31st 2017 Genres: Family
, Performing Arts
, Young Adult Fiction Pages:
Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
Typically, I write all reviews as soon as I finish the book. Caraval, however, was an exception. I needed to think over this book for a night just to understand and decide if I liked the story or not. There were equal parts of what I enjoyed, of what I didn’t like, or plainly did not understand.
The setting of the Caraval was the most interesting aspect because of its unusualness. There were things I would have liked to know more about, especially the hows and whys of the magic system and about those who work for Caraval. Why didn’t they age?
I also think the game was too easy for Scarlett—as in she had relatively low competition from other participants. She didn’t even have to worry about other people. She was essentially competing against herself. I was going into this story expecting more competition, but instead got a young woman being psychologically toyed with the entire event. Along with a love interest with a penchant for lying and all-around deception (alas, she still loves him anyway).
By the time the game ends, Scarlett has been through Hell and back. Only for that reveal to happen. She went through fear, mental stress, and lies for that. I would have turned and walked away—not what she did. At least some hellfire lecture would have been necessary.
I think Donatella and Julian are both horrible people. Donatella for her entire existence—sure, her intentions were good—but the execution was horrible. Same with Julian. I don’t trust him. And I don’t trust five day romances either.
I probably won’t read the next book if it’s in Donatella’s perspective. I’m getting a cringy vibe with the possibility of that romance happening and I cannot. Her decisions have been bad enough, let’s go no further.
Scarlett, do yourself a huge favor and love yourself.
Flame in the Mist
by Renée Ahdieh Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
on May 16th 2017 Genres: Action & Adventure
, Ancient Civilizations
, Young Adult Fiction Pages:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Throne of Glass. The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place--she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort--a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace. Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she's within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she's appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love--a love that will force her to question everything she's ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.
I don’t know if I’m having the worst reading slump of my life or if I’m really just not enjoying reading as much anymore.
Flame in the Mist was another anticipated release I was dying to get my hands on. And yet it was also another book I didn’t love.
What was the problem? First of all, despite being completely different from The Wrath and the Dawn, it all sounded just like that book. That’s not necessary a bad thing—since I enjoyed it—but the sequel not as much. Ahdieh’s writing style is beautiful as always, but it gets a little tedious at times reading a paragraph of flowery description of the most mundane things imaginable.
As usual, I seem to have low patience for romance. However, and I’m shocked, I actually do like the love interest (a rarity these days). Just…not them together. Maybe if it would have been a slower burn instead of them being all over each other once he knew she was a person with breasts. Not convinced they love each other that much despite what the story implies.
Mariko was interesting, but it’s so annoying when the little rich girls are all, “I don’t have real friends because I’m rich and odd…did I say odd? Because I’m really odd.” It just screams I’m not like other girls without outright saying it. You mean to tell me no other girls in Mariko’s social class were “odd”?? As for her inventing shuriken and smoke bombs, I mean…sure, okay. I’m a little iffy on that—though it’s not a problem.
As for her brother, it feels like Kenshin has taken a similar role as that of the loser (forgot his name) of the love triangle in The Wrath and the Dawn. Feels very very similar. (As in, “I will save her from the person she loves–despite what she wants while being confused on why she wants to stay with the bad people” kinda thing.) I didn’t care for the other characters, especially for the love triangle drama the emperor had going on there. Look where it got him. Haha.
All in all, my major disappointment is the direction of the plot. I think it’s apparent that this one isn’t for me. I’m not interested in the next book or at least eager for it like I was with this one. I feel it will likely be predictable. Though I might stick around long enough to read spoilers.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence
by Alyssa Palombo Published by St. Martin's Press
on April 25th 2017 Genres: Ancient World
, Romance Pages:
A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle.
Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence―most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici―become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence follows Simonetta Vespucci through her life’s triumphs, trials, and associations with the Medici family. Simonetta, a famed beauty of her time, arrives in Florence—a citadel of learning and art—with great hopes pertaining to her marriage and future. What she finds there, instead, was more than she had ever expected. Upon meeting Sandro Botticelli, an artist, she makes a simple choice which later becomes her most famous legacy.
I’m fairly certain most of us have seen the painting, The Birth of Venus, but I’ve never heard of the woman who might have been the muse. Though much is not known of her life, Simonetta was a great beauty of her time and is depicted as an intelligent woman in this story. Strong, capable, and in love with a man she can’t have because she is both married and not his equal. The best parts of the story were when she wasn’t pining over Botticelli. I didn’t care for them as a couple. I’m sorry. Maybe I’m in a really unromantic mood and didn’t care about Simonetta and Sandro for that reason. I loved Simonetta and Clarice’s friendship though. I wish there were more scenes of them.
(+) Good storytelling.
(+) Interesting setting.
(+) Well-rounded characters
(-) Romance I couldn’t get behind.
Milk and Honey
by Rupi Kaur Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing
on October 6th 2015 Genres: Body, Mind & Spirit
, Romance Pages:
The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
When it comes to Milk and Honey, I’m clearly in the minority of not really feeling anything special towards this collection of tumblr poetry. I felt like the poems were not very original or even well-written. I’ve heard and seen these messages all before. I’ve seen better unpublished work on tumblr and in bathroom stalls that have moved me more.
You’re probably thinking, ‘well, you probably never experienced pain before so you can’t understand…’ But let me tell you that’s not true. I just felt meh overall about this collection. I can understand why people love Milk and Honey. It’s simplistic and has the aesthetic appeal many love.
The style was something I didn’t care for. You could take any kind of slogan and make it into a deep or fake deep poem just by breaking up the words.
One poem I felt was recycled from everything already out there:
salt for sugar
if he wants to
be with you
it’s that simple
Seriously, I’ve heard this all my life. It’s just…duh.
There were a few that I thought were okay, but nothing I really care to share.
Maid of the King's Court
I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
by Lucy Worsley Published by Candlewick Press
on March 14th 2017 Genres: Europe
, Young Adult Fiction Pages:
In the vibrant, volatile court of Henry VIII, can even the most willful young woman direct her own fate and follow her heart in a world ruled by powerful men? Clever, headstrong Elizabeth Rose Camperdowne knows her duty. As the sole heiress to an old but impoverished noble family, Eliza must marry a man of wealth and title — it’s the only fate for a girl of her standing. But when a surprising turn of events lands her in the royal court as a maid of honor to Anne of Cleves, Eliza is drawn into the dizzying, dangerous orbit of Henry the Eighth and struggles to distinguish friend from foe. Is her glamorous flirt of a cousin, Katherine Howard, an ally in this deceptive place, or is she Eliza’s worst enemy? And then there’s Ned Barsby, the king’s handsome page, who is entirely unsuitable for Eliza but impossible to ignore. British historian Lucy Worsley provides a vivid, romantic glimpse of the treachery, tragedy, and thrills of life in the Tudor court.
Elizabeth Camperdowne couldn’t wait to leave her bland, old home and become a grand lady with an equally grand husband. But as far as hopes and dreams are concerned, Elizabeth finds that the matters of the heart and the whims of royalty aren’t what she wanted or expected it to be. She witnesses the rise and fall of not one but two queens, one considerable lucky and the other executed before her very eyes. Duty is a troublesome weight.
I love anything related the Tudors and the Tudor court. There’s so much drama and heartbreak that it makes for an interesting tale no matter how it’s told or from what perspective. I actually have not read too many books about Katherine Howard or at least books which have a bigger focus on her, so that also caught my attention. I’m torn about how I feel about Katherine, but I loved Elizabeth and admired most of her choices. The ending was not quite what I was expecting, however, I liked it because often times Tudor books don’t have a happy ending. I feel like Elizabeth deserved an ending like that (though I’d imagine there would be some consequences). Overall, Maid at the King’s Court is a fun and fast paced book.
Long May She Reign
by Rhiannon Thomas
on February 21st 2017 Genres: Fantasy
, Young Adult Fiction Pages:
The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power. Freya was never meant to be queen. Twenty-third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of the court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne. She may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, she knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom—and her life. Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisers. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her but also wanted more power for himself. As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.
Freya, a science-loving girl, had never enjoyed the lavishness of court life and its scheming politics, but most importantly she had also never imagined herself as Queen. The Queen of a land where many were killed by the hands of an unknown suspect. With limited time and uncertain loyalties, Freya must find the killer and secure her position on the throne she still hasn’t accepted as truly her own.
The beautiful cover promised so much more than what the story really offered, and as did the synopsis. Thrilling fantasy? No. Exciting mystery? I wouldn’t use the word exciting to describe this book. It was so obvious who the person behind the deaths was, so eye-rollingly obvious. And it certainly did not help that the story followed the same pattern in the middle of the book.
Look at my very lame example:
It was an endless cycle in the middle and I’m not even going to discuss that kiss thing which nearly took a chapter of Freya wondering what it meant. Sure, there wasn’t that much romance but what was there didn’t interest me. I wasn’t even that interested in who did it, but I pushed through the book anyway. I don’t know what to think of the ending, I kind of liked it–but I had issues.
A Flight of Arrows
by Lori Benton Published by WATERBROOK Press
on April 19th 2016 Genres: Christian
, Romance Pages:
Hearts are Divided Loyalties Will Be Tested The Fates of Two Families Hang in the Balance Twenty years past, in 1757, a young Redcoat, Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins— during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry and raised him as his own. No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime. Not his adopted daughter Anna. Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back. Not Two Hawks, William’s twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna. Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God’s forgiveness— and her love. Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army. The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York and the Continentals, aided by Oneida warriors including Two Hawks, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.
Check out my review of book one The Wood’s Edge.
A Flight of Arrows is no less emotional and no less heartbreaking than the first book The Wood’s Edge. Told in a troubling time period of Americans vs the British and the Native Peoples between the struggle, the saga of a lost son, a longing brother, and two fathers wanting to make things right continues. Bonds will be formed and others will be tested. The fight for a country is nothing like the fight for a family.
I enjoyed The Wood’s Edge and of course the sequel is no exception, but my favorite of the two remains The Wood’s Edge. I felt like A Flight of Arrows dragged in some places (the pacing in no hurry at all), and I took a really long time to finish reading it. Despite that, I’m mostly satisfied with how the story wrapped up. At least if I ignored how I got a little teary-eyed about something in particular.
Aubrey, Lydia, Two Hawks, William, Good Voice, Stone Thrower, and a great number of other characters were just as interesting this time around and I’m a little sad to let them go. The only character that got on my nerves, a few times, was Anna. I kept thinking, “I get it, Anna, you miss Two Hawks. You don’t have to keep saying it and you don’t need to obsess over him all the time.” She did work on her selfishness, so I suppose that’s all fine.
by C. S. Pacat Published by Penguin Publishing Group
on July 7th 2015 Genres: Fantasy
, Romance Pages:
The second novel in the critically acclaimed trilogy from global phenomenon C. S. Pacat?with an all-new chapter exclusive to the print edition. With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot. Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow? Includes a bonus chapter (print edition only)!
After the events of Captive Prince, things become much more cutthroat for Damen and Prince Laurent. Battles, betrayals, losses, and heartache are hard realities they must face together. Nothing will be easy and everything comes with a price.
I’m not sure where to begin with Prince’s Gambit. It’s a difficult book to sit down and talk (or type) about while making sense. The story feels different than compared to Captive Prince and it’s a good thing. I enjoyed reading about the various battles and strategies, and so forth. The characters, especially Damen and Laurent, grew into more than what they were in book one. They really opened their eyes to things they were blind to before and took it upon themselves to change. That said, I’m impressed with Laurent’s character growth. He, while not completely, redeems himself a little for what he’s done and had been like prior to these events. To put that plainly, he’s more likeable this time around.
The content is a lot less shocking (that kind of stuff is toned down) than it was in book one. And things are still very slow burn when it comes to Damen and Laurent. The ending was exciting, but I am so upset with something, two somethings, that happened. I almost cried. Moving on to book three.