Review: Reign of Shadows

Reign of Shadows, Sophie Jordan (Reign of Shadows #1)

Kindle Edition, 304 pages

Published February 9th 2016 by Harper Teen

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

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Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Clearly I have a thing for fairy tale retellings so when this Rapunzel story crossed my path I had to read it.  Luna is no Disney princess.  She can handle a frying pan, but is definitely more a sword kind of girl.

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Luna lives in a world that has gone dark.  There are just a few hours of light in the day and there are some seriously creepy nasty things called dwellers that come out in night.  I want to know more about the dwellers! They were scary – but where did they come from?  They’re a threat throughout the book but I never felt like I had enough explanation.  I really hope that Jordan gives some more explanation in the series.  

Luna lives safely in a tower with her guardians.  Her royal parents were murdered at the time the darkness began and no one knows she survived.  When Luna leaves her safe haven to rescue Fowler and her friends life as she knows it is changed forever.  The eventual romance moved maybe a bit fast, but I still liked Fowler!  He’s grumpy and he’s haunted by his own past, but he really at heart is a better person than he lets on.  I really liked them as a couple and I thought they were balancing for each other as the story went on.  

Was it a tad predictable in some places – yes.  But this was still a really fun and fast read.  Jordan left off with a killer cliffhanger ending and I will be really looking forward to the sequel!  I hope Luna turns into an amazing queen!

3.5 stars

Thank you Harper Teen and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Review: Crimson Bound

Crimson Bound, Rosamund Hodge

Published May 5th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Kindle Edition, 448 pages

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

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When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

This is an extremely overdue review for a book that I really enjoyed.  There were a few books that I read to keep sane last year while doing some very stressful hospital visiting and Crimson Bound was one of them.  Wouldn’t you agree that a book that kept me focused while in an ICU waiting room sounds pretty compelling?  

This will be short since I did read this forever ago – but Rachelle was an awesome Little Red Riding Hood.  She’s not facing a Big Bad Wolf per se but something else that can devour her whole.  This was a dark story and much, much more than a girl and a huntsman facing down one villain.  That was what I loved about it!  But in the face of it all Rachelle is so brave!  She’s giving everything she can to her kingdom, while facing a terrifying future herself.  Basically, she’s a badass.  The romance moved a bit faster than I would have liked, but I liked the way it all played out in the end.  The players were all in tense situations all the time, so I’ll credit for that for intensifying emotions.

This was a beautifully written book that became much bigger than I expected from the description.  I highly recommend if you like fairy tale retellings!

4 stars!

Thank you Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.  

Review: Uprooted

Uprooted, Naomi Novik

Amanda

Published May 19th 2015 by Del Ray Spectra

Hardcover, 448 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Oh Agnieszka.  The Dragon.  The mother-effing WOOD.  I can’t think of any other book I’ve read recently where there was such a malevolent and discomforting presence as the Wood.  

So we have another Beauty and the Beast retelling – and while it could have been hard to follow ACOTAR for a fantasy I fell completely in love with this book.  The Dragon takes one young woman every 10 years from the valley to serve him in his tower.  Let’s be clear, the Dragon is a man, a wizard in fact.  In return for service from these girls the Dragon does whatever he can to keep the Wood from encroaching on the towns beneath him.  He fights the good fight, but he doesn’t always win against the Wood.  Men are lost, livestock, whole villages are swallowed.

I admit I was more than a bit suspicious of the Dragon at first.  Why must he take a girl for 10 years?  On return they all claimed he doesn’t touch them but all the townspeople have their suspicions.  Why is he such a jerk to poor Agnieszka at first?  Agnieszka was trying so hard for a life she never thought she would have! I was actively rooting against a romance in the beginning between these two.

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Then I totally fell for the Dragon.  I loved the slow pace of this book.  It took a while for Agnieszka to even like the Dragon let alone to love him – it was a fantastic slow burn.   And while the romance is there and it was important, this book is about the magic and the evil and not about the romance.  Agnieszka is a loyal friend, daughter, a student and basically all around bad ass.  There were all kinds of twists I wasn’t expecting and most of all the Wood which basically gave me nightmares.

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If you want an awesome standalone fantasy with a kick-ass heroine and some sexy romance read this!  Then come back and tell me what you think.  Definitely one of my favorites I’ve read this year and one I will be rereading.

5 stars!

Thank you Del Ray Spectra and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Also if you like fairy tale retellings as much as I do Kat Kennedy at Cuddlebuggery did this awesome post all about Beauty & the Beast retellings!  I have to say I didn’t love Cruel Beauty as much as she did, but I am definitely adding the rest of these to my TBR!

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Sarah J. Maas

Amanda

Publication: May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s

Hardcover, 416 pages

Source- Galley from ALA MW meeting

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From Goodreads…

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was described to me as a retelling of Beauty & the Beast with fairy elements.  This was not your Disney version of Beauty & the Beast!  Feyre and her family are starving.  They live in hovel and she hunts to get what little food she can.  She points her bow at a wolf in the woods with the knowledge she could be killing a fairy – but she is so full of hate towards the fae that she does not care.  In the world Maas has created the fairies are the former slave masters to the human race and it took a war for the humans to be freed.  They live with the knowledge the fairies can really return at any time and slaughter them.  When Feyre learns she did indeed kill a fairy she must pay the price- to be killed or to give up her life in another way by returning to the fairy lands with Tamlin.  She goes, but plans to try to escape as soon as possible.

Feyre is not a quiet Beauty that goes to her Beast.  In fact, something that struck me while reading this is how long it takes before any suggestion of Feyre’s appearance even comes up.  Yes, she becomes beautiful but at the beginning of her story she is not a beauty inside or out.  She has a lot to learn about herself, her own family and the world she moves into.   Maas builds beautiful worlds when she writes – if you’re a fan of fantasy and not reading her Throne of Glass series you’re missing out!  She creates hard and sometimes cruel worlds for sure, but as a reader you are immersed where she wants you to be.   Feyre is accustomed to being responsible for her own survival so by her constant questioning of Tamlin and his court she learns a mysterious sickness is plaguing the fairy lands and putting her human world at risk.

I appreciated how smart Feyre was – and she recognized her own weaknesses.  She knows she can fight and she can hunt, but she knows her odds against the fairies especially in their own lands are not good.   She soaks up information to try to find her way home.  This was definitely a story of hate to love — but it was a slow development.  I was glad Feyre didn’t fall quickly head over heels.  I really loved the dynamic between Feyre, Tamlin and his emissary Lucien as well.  The banter and the action was great.  Feyre is really a sad character at first – she’s lonely, she’s bitter and she needs someone to love her.  I was really glad she started with finding friends, even if she didn’t trust them fully.  And back to the love to hate- wow.  This romance gets HOT.

I really can’t think of why you shouldn’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses!  Kick-ass heroine, deadly villains, mysterious blights to fairies, great friendships, and a sexy “Beast”.  I am really excited to see where Book 2 goes and I hope to learn more about the other lands and about the history of the fairy courts.

Other than my slight obsession with Seanan McGuire and her October Daye series I don’t really read a lot of books about the fae.  No matter how much I love the books I always feel a little lost in the mythology- and I felt the same while reading A Court of Thorns and Roses.  I think that’s going to be my homework while we wait for both of Maas’ next books.  Any suggestions out there where I can about the Tam Lin?  Or things like puca and the other fairies out there?  Maybe that will get me ready for whatever awaits Feyre and Tamlin!

5 stars!

Thank you Bloomsbury for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Review: Tear You Apart

Tear You Apart, Sarah Cross

Amanda

Published January 27th 2015 by Egmont

ebook, 384 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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From Goodreads….

An edgy fairy tale retelling of “Snow White” set in the world of Kill Me Softly for fans of Once Upon a Time and Grimm.

Faced with a possible loophole to her “Snow White” curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who’s fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrificing the love that might kill her?

How would it feel to be in love with someone who might be your executioner one day?  This is the central question I pondered while reading Sarah Cross’ Tear You Apart.  Vivian lives in the strange town of Beau Rivage where fairy tales have come to life.  Many of the locals are fairy cursed – you can find Sleeping Beauties, Snow Whites, Prince Charmings.  You can also find Evil Queens, girls who spit out jewels or frogs when they talk, and Beasts.  These are not Disney fairy tales, they are much truer to the original and often violent stories.  I enjoyed Cross’s first book, Kill Me Softly, also set in Beau Rivage so I was excited to see what fairy tale she retold next.  Viv is a Snow White, which means that she is the fairest of the fair. It also means her Stepmother will ask for her heart someday, and Viv must pray that her huntsman will find compassion for her.

To complicate matters, Viv knows exactly who the huntsman is who will eventually be tasked to kill her. Oh, and he is her boyfriend, Henley. Viv seems to love him, but through the story, she does not treat him as though she does! She can be downright cruel to him.  They had been the best of friends before falling in love, but Viv has a fatalistic outlook and seems to be just trying to push Henley to make a decision kill her himself.  I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t a big fan of Viv.  I love the world Cross created with these dark twisted versions of stories, but Viv was too whiney and spoiled.  Someone is going to try to kill you someday?  Ok that sucks, but try to do something to change your life then!  Don’t whine and antagonize people who might help you!  Viv does make a choice to go to the Underworld (another awesome setting!) but that’s to hide-not to fight back against her stepmother at all.  I will say Viv definitely improved in the end, but it was too late for me to care too much about her.

My issues with Viv aside, I was definitely entertained by this book!  I really liked how the fairy tales were wrapped into each other so the details all helped tell Viv’s story.  I loved that she brought in stories I hadn’t thought about in years like the 12 Dancing Princesses.  I also thought it was great that she brings in lesser known fairy tales such as the girl who spits diamonds and toads.  Things got twisted to a degree I didn’t expect!  If you’re a fan of fairy tales this was a fun read overall.

Sadly Cross’ publisher, Egmont, has closed but I really hope she’s picked up by a new house soon because I would read more from Beau Rivage for sure.

3 stars!

Thank you Egmont and NetGalley for this advance read copy in exchange for an honest opinion.