Book Reviews

Seafire (Seafire, #1) by Natalie C. Parker

SeafireTitle: Seafire (Seafire, #1)
Author: Natalie C. Parker
Rating: ★★★

After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, who have lost their families and homes because of Aric and his men. The crew has one mission: stay alive, and take down Aric’s armed and armored fleet.

But when Caledonia’s best friend and second-in-command barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all . . . or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?

Seafire: ★★★

Caledonia Styx is the captain of the infamous Mors Navis. After her family and many other families are destroyed by Aric Athair, Caledonia and her crew of mismatched women do everything in their power to stop Athair and try to restore the families lost as much as they can. But when one of the enemy boards the ship, will he only make matters worse or aid in the destruction of Athair?

pirate

When this novel came out, there were many other novels with nautical themes coming out at the same time. Having just read one, this one left me a little flat. There were many parts that I enjoyed, but many others that just had me feeling, “meh”. I wanted to love it. The premise was intriguing: an all-female crew of a ship!

I cannot promise you safety. I thought I could, but we don’t live in a safe world. We live in a world with no good options, but it’s because of you that we can make the best of them.

Probably my favorite theme of the entire novel was unity. Not only do we see it from the crew, but every other group we come across of the journey that the girls take. “Family” not necessarily in the form of blood is a big bonding theme shown throughout the novel. The selflessness for the greater good of humanity is a constant subject.

“The thing about family is sometimes you don’t have to ask us to do stupid things, and sometimes you don’t get to tell us we can’t.

arya

Girl power is probably the strongest theme throughout the novel. Women are more powerful than they appear. In most instances, women have just as much power, if not more, than the men. We see many of the leaders (besides Athair) who are women.

There are no children anymore. Just babes and the rest of us. Remember, when they call you girl, they’re trying to tell you something. They’re trying to tell you that they’re more than you, that the body you’re in makes you less. But you know, and I know, that you’re exactly what you need to be.

Parker does a great job emulating the strength and power women can also have. The sense of strength and capability established by this all-women crew instills pride and gratitude to always try your best, even when others doubt you. The unity and sense of family presence throughout the novel is heart-warming. I’m excited for what the next installment has in store!

Book Reviews

These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders, #1) by Sara Raasch

These Rebel WavesTitle:These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders, #1)
Author: Sara Raasch
Rating: ★★★★

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

These Rebel Waves: ★★★★

A politican, a spy, and a pirate walk into a bar…nah, more like try to save the world!

“Everyone, remain calm,” she announced. “I’m about to blow some shit up.” “Nay!” Vex shouted from the pilothouse. “We’ve a kid here now, all right?” “Sorry. I’m about to chaotically rearrange some shit up.” “That wasn’t the problem—” Vex started to say at the same moment Lu cried, “Don’t—”

First of all, look at that cover! Not only that, but I have the FairyLoot edition and I’m in love with the green sprayed edges. So beautiful!

So, pretty much everyone I follow on Goodreads gave this novel a lower rating, besides for one. I really enjoyed this novel! And for the first time ever, I think I fell in love with the world. I want to visit Cansu and the secret spot. I want to hop aboard the Meander. 

I believe this idea is unique. Very rarely do we read stories based upon the effects of botanical magic. We have the Argridians who pray to a Pious God and want to cleanse everyone else of the “evil” these magical plants possess. This is a different kind of “evil” from what I’ve seen in most novels because it is not inherently human.

Not only that, but there are so many reasons that war is looming. We see the difficulties of immigration, prejudice, and other political issues known to us in our very own world.

“My sister used to say you could tell a person’s character by what they considered their weaknesses, rather than their strengths.”

For once, there wasn’t one character who irritated me beyond measure. The closest one would have to be Jakes. I love Adeluna (Lu)! And who wouldn’t fall in love with Vex?! But even more than that, Raasch created some amazing supporting characters. I want friends like Vex, Edda, and Nayali (and I think, am lucky to have them!).

Adeluna “Lu”: Growing up as a spy for her father as a child, Lu tries to forget the harm she caused others while being an assassin. Bent on using magic to overthrow Argrid, she doesn’t realize the extent the Council (her parents are part of) is truly “helping” others. What I love about love is how genuine of a person she is. She would do anything for the people she cares about. But there is a secret even Lu can’t unfold.

Devereux “Vex”: Pirate, thief, scoundrel. Vex is a black market trader of magic plants forbidden on the island. People believe Vex is behind the abduction of a political scandal, making all who use the magical plants as a means to life a target. Hired by Lu to find the Argridian, this wittier Jack Sparrow is my favorite character. His loyalty, devotion, and selflessness to those he loves easily overpowers his flaws.

Benat “Ben”: his father is the king of Argrid. Unbeknownst to others, he works with the same magic his father is strictly against. But when his father asks him to pursue his dreams and work with these magical plants, will it be for the betterment of his country, or for Argrid’s gain?

“You forgive yourself for what you’ve done,” Edda told her. “You admit mistakes. You learn from them. And you improve.”

I expect to hear more from Ben’s perspective in the sequel, I hope love blooms between Lu and Vex, and we hear more from Nayali and Edda!

That ending, though! I’m excited to see what will become of that!

 

Book Reviews

The Express Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #9) by Kimberley Woodhouse

The Express BrideTitle: The Express Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #9)
Author: Kimberley Woodhouse
Rating: ★★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Wilderness Is a Great Place to Hide 
Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)​
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1849 San Francisco (April 2019)
The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1860 Utah territory (July 2019)

After an arranged marriage prepared by her parents, Anna quickly falls in love with her husband…until things go awry. After being beaten one too many times and scared for the life of her baby, Anna escapes much quicker than planned. In an effort to hide from her husband, she changes her name and identity. She shortly dies after discovering happiness and security in the life she never had prior.

After recently losing her father, Jacqueline “Jack” Rivers finds herself as manager of a Pony Express station and handling the lives of two handfuls of young men. Already being scared of detection by the owners because of her gender, she is then asked to spy for counterfeiters.

Along the way, Elijah Johnson shows up. Tasked with the “impossible” task of finding his employer’s daughter, he quickly finds himself falling in love with Jack. To make things more stressful, his employer is on his deathbed and hoping to apologize to his daughter before it’s too late.

Will Mr. Johnson find his employer’s daughter? Who is she and where has she been? Will Jack be able to continue to manage the station? What dangers lurk ahead? What secrets do others have?

What I enjoyed most about this novel more than others in the series was we see multiple kinds of love from parental to romantic. Instead of the main characters being at fault for their actions, we find one of the supporting characters with this dilemma. And I really enjoyed that because it wasn’t the same story line of the woman helping the man to become a better person after he makes mistakes.

A story of redemption, forgiveness, and love, readers are likely to fall in love with this brave woman and protective gang of young men!

Book Reviews

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim

spin the dawn

Title: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Rating: ★★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Buddy read with Breanna.

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

This is not what I expected, but it definitely didn’t disappoint! Maia is the epitome of a strong, female character. Just like in Mulan, with no eligible male heir able to assist the emperor, Maia takes it upon herself to represent her family and restore honor to their name. In a time where women hold no power, she takes it upon herself to swallow her pride, dress like her brother, and hide her true identity from everyone else.

“And you?”
“The obedient one.”
“No”, Edan said. “You’re the strong one.”
The strong one. The one who held the seams of my family together.

But not everyone is deceived. The emperor’s Enchanter catches on to Maia’s ploy. Is he on her side or will he reveal her true identity?

I was definitely intrigued by the idea of a competition, sort of like Project Runway, but tailor-version. After the competition is over, Maia sets out on a new mission…a dangerous one that either she will succeed, or die painfully. This is the unexpected part since I thought the story would end at the end of the competition. But, alas! Another adventure!

Yes, Sendo used to tell me fairy tales. How he’d love mine if he were still alive: the tale of a girl who’d sewn the sun, the moon, and the stars into three dresses, the tale of a girl whom a demon have vowed to possess.

It was the tale of a boy, too. A boy who could fly but not swim. A boy with the powers of the gods but the shackles of a slave. A boy who loved me.

It was a tale still being written.

I can’t choose a favorite character. I love Edan and Maia equally.

The expected publication date is July 30, 2019.

Book Reviews

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2) by Julie Kagawa

Soul of the SwordTitle: Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Rating: ★★★

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

Shadow of the Fox: ★★★
Soul of the Sword: ★★★

Soul of the Sword is exactly how the title reads. The story delves into the relationship between the Demonslayer and Hakaimono. We see a different side to these characters. The only problem is…I’m not sure that I like it.

One thing I wish the novel had more of was the supporting characters. Shadow of the Fox left me wanting to know each and every one of their stories. I was just left hanging on some of them.

Soul of the Sword is the picture of loyalty, love, and justice. Some parts even took me for a spin and the next installment is sure to bring some more!

Check out my review for Shadow of the Fox.

Book Reviews

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1) by Hafsah Faizal

we hunt the flameTitle: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Rating: ★★★

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.
Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

We Hunt the Flame: ★★★★

Originally, this novel was listed as a retelling of Aladdin, but I only see a small similarity to the original story. What starts out as a slow-paced read quickly turns into one of action and suspense. I was hoping for some more of the Middle Eastern influence incorporated in the story, but I didn’t get much besides for a mention of food here and a little geographic there.

There once was a boy with a future.
Until all he had left was his past.

I’ll be honest. Faizal crushed me with the death of my favorite character. Which, like always, the authors like to crush my dreams and have the protagonist choose the guy I don’t want them to. And then I fall for another character and it seems he may be turning evil wahhhh!

crying

The Hunter is depicted as a hero who provides food for her village, a legend, feared for her constant survival in a deadly forest. But what secret lies beneath those clothes?

The Prince of Death is a legend in his own, killer of those who defy the king. What is he hiding?

We find two people whose appearance seems to be fearless, but who are actually a lot weaker. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m not sure if I buy it.

Let the games begin and the deception fly!

jewel

We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves. You are like Tamin. You remind me that hope is not lost.

I’m interested to see how the story will play out. It was surprising that epilogue included someone very briefly touched upon in the novel. I don’t think I’m ready for a story with her viewpoint. I want the story how it is now finished first before we head somewhere else!

aladdin

Book Reviews

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe

Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Rating: ★★★★

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

This is a retelling of the story of Circe from Homer’s The Odyssey. Odysseus adventures to the island of Aeaea and finds Circe turning men into pigs (if they weren’t already them! haha totally just playing).

He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.

Circe is depicted as a “bad guy” in the Odyssey. Not only that, but reading it in high school, I didn’t realize the extent that Circe’s role played throughout the entire story. She is the depiction of loneliness, loyalty, and selflessness.

He does not mean that it does not hurt. He does not mean that we are not frightened. Only that we are here. This is what is means to swim in the ride, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. That is what is means to be alive.

The only part that I did not like was that there seemed to be a lapse in action toward the middle of the novel. The beginning was phenomenal and we see a different side of Circe towards the end.