Book Reviews

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1) by Kiersten White

The Guinevere DeceptionTitle: The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)
Author: Kiersten White
Rating: ★★★★

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

*THE FIRST BOOK IN THE CAMELOT RISING TRILOGY*

The Guinevere Deception is a fantasy retelling of King Arthur. In a world where magic is abhored and protection of land means more than love, White gives readers Guinevere, a girl who constantly deceives herself, wields magic, and is married to a King covering for his wife who is the epitomy of what he has been defending against.

White provides readers with lush description of Camelot, a kingdom based on tradition, justice, and a little bit of magic. Who wouldn’t want to live in a land where you get to experience jousts and the grandeur of feasts?! That’s what Medieval Times is for, right?! haha. While at times a little scary, Camelot sounds like a place I wouldn’t be opposed to visiting.

That ending, though! I could kick myself for rooting for a certain someone and Guinevere being together. Although, I do find some potential for her and a different certain someone being together. Anyone else feel the same?

The Guinevere Deception is a story of the power of women, justice, and how even those you trust can deceive you…including yourself. White brings readers Guinevere, a kind-hearted soul who is only looking acceptance of all, the defeat of evil, and reciprocated love.

Book Reviews

Girls of Storm and Shadow (Girls of Paper and Fire, #2) by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Storm and ShadowTitle: Girls of Storm and Shadow (Girls of Paper and Fire, #2)
Author: Natasha Ngan
Rating: ★★★

In this mesmerizing sequel to the New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire, Lei and Wren have escaped their oppressive lives in the Hidden Palace, but soon learn that freedom comes with a terrible cost.

Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her?

Ever read every trilogy and the second book is the fluffer for the dynamic ending? Well, this won’t disappoint that generalization. I absolutely loved Girls of Paper and Fire, but Ngan left me high and dry on this sequel. I wanted more action, more deception, and what I got was everyone falling in love. Just didn’t seem believable to me.

Nothing is worth losing yourself.

As I said in my Girls of Paper and Fire review, Girls of Storm and Shadow brings to life the same problems still present in today’s culture: We have the Paper Caste (fully human), the Steel Caste (part human, part demon), and the Moon Caste (fully demon). We see the oppression imposed on by the upper castes and the prejudice present. That hasn’t changed. But what we are now seeing is a possibly revolution taking place. But just like with The Hunger Games, sometimes the revolution has some of the same issues that the threat they’re trying to abolish has.

You’re not the same. I see you, the way you fight. The way you are towards others. You’re soft where they are hard. You have love when they only have hate. Hold on to that as tightly as you can, Lei. Because war will do everything it can to take that good from you. I think sometimes people forget there will be a time after all of this — for the lucky ones, at least. And when that time comes, we’ll all have to live with what we have done. And what we have left of ourselves.

There was so much buildup to the climax, but we never got to see any of that, so it was a little frustrating. Lei just got way too soft for me. She used to be this strong woman that I could admire, but she so easily forgives and is losing herself by being blinded by love. Everything just seems so one-sided. Either she is neglecting the demons she is leading by choosing Wren, or she neglects them by welcoming betrayers so easily back. She isn’t reliable and completely did a 180 on me. Maybe it is because most of the characters seem selfish or whatever, but this wasn’t the most enjoyable read and I found myself somewhat sympathetic to the Demon King. I wanted to hear more from him.

I’ve found you.

I’m hoping to get more action in the next novel, maybe some more deception, and maybe a not-so-happy ending.

Girls of Storm and Shadow is a story of love conquering all, overcoming oppression, and keeping true to oneself.

Book Reviews

Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1) by Amelie Wen Zhao

blood heirTitle: Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1)
Author: Amelie Wen Zhao
Rating: ★★★★

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder.

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

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

The Blood Heir is a compelling story based on oppression, prejudice, and overcoming familial expectations. Ana is known to the world as a blood witch and seen as a monster. Her family even kept her hidden away from the rest of the world until one day she escapes and attempts to prove everyone wrong. Affinites are people who have powers and are condemned to a terrible life or are used as puppets. Seeking revenge for the death of her family, she finds a stranger along the way who is seeking to destroy the same person. But maybe something more evolves out of what they both share.

It is up to us to fight our battles in this world.

As many of you know, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the novel. In my opinion, it was totally uncalled for and I think the author did a great job of depicting the harsh realities of oppressive lives. Did those people even read the book?! If you want to call this “racially insensitive” then please explain to me the mass killing of people in Poland (my mom immigrated from there when it was still under communist rule and it actually wasn’t even a country on a map at one point), or any other example of oppression. It affected every race, not just one. We all know those times were bad for those involved, but the author luckily stayed true to her vision and published the novel. She was unveiling the truth behind oppression, not condoning it. The bullying of people’s free speech needs to stop. This criticism was totally unwarranted. Rant over.

But perhaps all monsters were heroes in their own eyes.

I loved Ramson the world-building, the deception, and the justice that was conducted in the story. The novel was great, but I find myself looking back and not feeling this novel to be super memorable. But I want it to be because I did enjoy reading it.

The Blood Heir was a moving, unpredictable story about the struggles facing people in oppressive countries. Reader who love a slow-burn romance, deception, and a twisted plot will love The Blood Heir.

Book Reviews

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3) by Holly Black

The Queen of Nothing]Title: The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)
Author: Holly Black
Rating: ★★★★★

The finale to the New York Times bestselling Folk of Air trilogy, that started with The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, from award-winning author Holly Black.

After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watches her fair share of reality television, and does the odd job or two, including trying to convince a cannibalistic faerie from hunting her own in the mortal world.

When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking of a favor, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal.

When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and uncover how to break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.

So, I’m probably in the minority here. I did enjoy this novel…a lot. While this was predictable, the main reason I liked this novel so much because for once, we see a healthy relationship. There wasn’t as many tricks or deceptions. The brooding and banter is fun, but it is tiresome after a while knowing that they actually do truly love one another. But I guess everyone wants the bad boy, so they’re disappointed. I always prefer the direct, nice ones, but oh well.

Girls, you really want someone like this?!

Image result for joffrey

I mean, give me this kind of guy any day…I know you all love him more…

Image result for jon snow on throne

That boy is your weakness.

I loved the adventure side this time around. Grima Mog was a fearful, fun creature as opposed to the hateful, deceptive Madoc. Nothing came easily for Jude and we experienced her struggles with her. She was adaptive and realistic, and quick to forgive. Those are some great qualities.

By you, I am forever undone.

Guys, I’m a sucker for a happy ending this time around. I think I’m getting soft with old age. I think readers wanted a different ending, but realistically, this was a great ending. It was tied together really well. There was no question of what would happen to each character in the future. I thought it was well put-together in a healthy way that brought out the best (and worst) characteristics of our beloved protagonist.

I spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn’t have one at all. Even now, it is a shabby, worm-eaten, and scabrous thing. But it is yours.

Book Reviews

The Wren Hunt (The Wren Hunt, #1) by Mary Watson

The Wren HuntTitle: The Wren Hunt (The Wren Hunt, #1)
Author: Mary Watson
Rating: ★★★

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into this novel. It is based on Celtic folklore, specifically revolving around Stephen’s Day, or Christmas. This was a classic Montague-Capulet rivalry, so if you’re down with that, this is the novel for you.

I would have to argue that I didn’t “like” the relationship between Wren and Tarc. Someone who trains his whole life to protect someone wouldn’t so easily fall in love with someone, especially an enemy. It just wasn’t all that believable to me. Now, if Wren and David fall in love, that would be diabolical and I think I would enjoy that very much. There is something hidden there.

Anyone else imagine the Blaithin to look like this?! haha

grooot

The ending was turn after turn after turn and I loved it! I just started Wickerlight and I am loving it so much more than The Wren Hunt right now. So much action right in the beginning! I’m hoping it explores the depth of the rivalry between the Augurs and the Judges, and possibly more of the history.

Book Reviews

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

ShiverTitle: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: ★★★★

From a dazzlingly talented young writer, a haunting and original supernatural romance in the vein of TWILIGHT.

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.;Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of the novels SHIVER, LINGER, and FOREVER. Her novel THE SCORPIO RACES was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association, while PUBLISHERS WEEKLY selected Maggie’s THE RAVEN BOYS as a Best Book of the Year. She is also the author of LAMENT and BALLAD. Maggie lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at www.maggiestiefvater.com.

Initially, I felt the writing was a little juvenile. But, as the story started to evolve, I found myself hooked on the writing. While, at times, the immaturity of a teenager was present (a little weird reading while an adult), the lack of responsibility of the parents was even more profound.

Sam is the epitome of a selfless person. I love his protectiveness and relentless love for Grace. Not at any point was he a selfish, conceited jerk. He didn’t try to push Grace away knowing the inevitable would happen. He was realistic and sensitive, making him a very likable character.

But then there is Grace…she was just so immature, especially for someone having to be independent because her parents knew nothing about being responsible. Later on, she grows some balls, making her more likable, but in the beginning it is like she can do no wrong. BORING! Does anyone else imagine her making the Kristen Stewart face (teeth showing)?

 

What I loved most about this novel is the ending! There were two things that threw me off guard, although one was kind of predictable. Loves of Twilight will love this, however, it is completely different than Twilight. More like lovers of Jacob Black will love this.

Image result for team jacob

Shiver is a love story intertwined with pain, suffering, and finding meaning to life when nothing was really as it seemed.

Book Reviews

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1) by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent and DoveTitle: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Rating: ★★★

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

War is brewing (ha!) between the witches and the Church. Lou, a young witch trying to keep her powers at bay and hiding from her mother, runs into Reid (a Chasseur: whose main goal is to not let a witch live) by mere chance. After their debale on a theater stage, they find themselves bound in holy matrimony.

A witch and a witch hunter bound in holy matrimony. There was only one way such a story could end — a stake and a match.

Plot twists, how I do love thee. And Serpent & Dove provided many!

Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.

I think I am in the minority in saying that I found certain parts of the novel to be boring. And honestly, I felt like some characters were forced…aka Ansel. While easily lovable, his role felt forced and rushed. He went from pretty much being a mute slave to this ultimate stand-up guy the next second we encounter him. But Coco, there is a fun character! She was the only truly believable character to me and by far had the most personality.

Lou and Reid were just kind of “meh” to me. Everyone keeps mentioning a slow-burn romance, but I felt it was rushed and not believable.

One other thing that i felt could’ve been improved upon was the world-building. I didn’t “feel” like I was there. I had trouble imagining the setting. France? I’ve never been there, though, so without some details, it is hard to picture.

C’est cela l’amour, tout donner, tout sacrifier sans espoir de retour.
That is love, to give away everything, to sacrifice everything, without the slightest desire to get anything in return.
-Albert Camus

Serpent & Dove is a story of high-stakes, plot twists, and a change of heart. While this wasn’t my absolute favorite, the story line has so much potential! With world-building improvements and a look deeper into the world of covens, I believe the sequel can be a standout novel!