Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Dragon's Price

The Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins

I've previously reviewed books by Bethany Wiggins, STUNG and it's sequel CURED. I was pretty excited to pick up this new series.

AND, if there's one genre, story element I'm truly obsessed with, it's dragons. I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading stories about dragons.

Anyways, an amazon summary, where I omitted the rave reviews from other people (you can get the full deal by clicking the link below), "When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly dragon laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon. Now, centuries later, everyone expects Princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—but she is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.
 As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Prince Golmarr follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the beast has a different plan. . . ." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Soooooo, that amazon summary is kind of eh. The one inside the book flap is better as it starts with, "For centuries, an age-old binding spell protecting two kingdoms from a powerful fire dragon has required a sacrifice to renew its power." Let's use that to talk about the book summary.

Princess Sorrowlynn grew up in a very strict palace life, where she wasn't really able to make decisions for herself despite her best efforts. To make sure she attends the ceremony with the neighboring kingdom, her father sends a group of guards to escort her there.

The ceremony begins, and Princess Sorrowlynn chooses the dragon. She enters the mountain, and a short while later, the Prince Golmarr also chooses the dragon. Here comes the tricky part, whoever lives, wins. So if the princess and prince manage to slay the dragon, they live and get the dragon's treasure.

If the dragon kills the princess and prince, it is released from the mountain.

But what is a dragon's treasure?

So the book is PRETTY FREAKING AMAZING, exceptttttt, a lot of times the relationship between the princess and prince seems really halting and kind of false. There are moments where it feels gut wrenchingly authentic, and other times where you just kind of stare at the page, reread it, and then go, "Really?"

I did like a lot of the cultural background, world building, and haphazard sibling relationships. I also liked how each country had their own, very distinct culture. Kingdom versus Queendom kind of deal, but much more fascinating than that simplistic presentation.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, but there were too many moments that felt like a hallmark card for me to make this a recommended book.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Hearts We Sold

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

After two advanced reader's copy books...here's one that's published! YAY!

There is still a disclaimer. This book does deal with abuse; abusive situations, relationships, and the long lasting effects of experiencing abuse (trauma if you will). It's not something I was expecting when I picked up the book, and I know the subject can be very uncomfortable for people to read, and they seek to avoid it. So just a heads up.

An amazon summary, "An intoxicating blend of fantasy, horror, and romance--a Faustian fable perfect for fans of Holly Black, and Stranger Things.

Dee Moreno is out of options. Her home life sucks (to put it mildly), and she's about to get booted from her boarding school--the only place she's ever felt free--for lack of funds. But this is a world where demons exist, and the demons are there to make deals: one human body part in exchange for one wish come true. 
The demon who Dee approaches doesn't trade in the usual arms and legs, however. He's only interested in her heart. And what comes after Dee makes her deal is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she ever could have imagined. Reality is turned on its head, and Dee has only her fellow "heartless," the charming but secretive James Lancer, to keep her grounded. As something like love grows between them amid an otherworldly threat, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give James her heart when it's no longer hers to give?
In The Hearts We Sold, demons can be outwitted, hearts can be reclaimed, monsters can be fought, and love isn't impossible. This book will steal your heart and break it, and leave you begging for more." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


Dee Moreno is enrolled at a prestigious boarding school on a scholarship. She rubs elbows with the sons and daughters of the upper class, and is actually only concentrated on her studies. One day, she's summoned out of class to be informed the school can't reach her parents, and by the way, she's losing her scholarship because they lost the funding.

Elsewhere in the world, demons have made themselves known to humans. In exchange for a body part, they will grant you a wish. They also prefer to be called daemons, not demons.

Dee goes home to tell her parents about the funding being gone. Her Dad insinuates that she'll move home of course, her mother is pretty excited to have her around the house again, but Dee wants to stay at the school. This throws the Dad into a tantrum of how Dee think she's better than them, how their home isn't good enough for her, and oh by the way do all of these chores now that you're home.

Understandably upset, Dee returns to school. As part of the student requirements at school, the students all have to volunteer. Dee does her volunteer work at the hospital and is startled when she sees a daemon knitting. She has a brief conversation with them, before she returns to school. To get her mind off of her troubles, she decides to accept her dorm mates casual offer to attend a party. Once she's there, she runs into another girl who has made a trade with a daemon.

Dee decides to find the daemon she saw at the hospital, and make a deal. She also doesn't realize that by taking this deal, she has joined a side in a war.

DUN DUN DUNNNNN. Stopping all the summary there.

So, I LOVED this book. It's a very Faustian kind of mythos, and it's absolutely enchanting between the character growth, alternating narrators, and how the mystery of the daemons are revealed.

A lot of the emotional turmoil Dee experiences feels very, very authentic; and how the abuse is portrayed in this book also felt realistic. Now, I've made comments in past book reviews about how I dislike when authors write about a subject like abuse, rape, murder, etc; some kind of tragedy and they just kind of throw it into the book as a plot device and trying to add depth, but don't give the topic the gravitas and reverence it deserves. This book does give the subject of abuse the gravitas and reverence it deserves, while not losing sight of the plot, and maintaining great world building.

So good.

Happy reading!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Isle of Blood and Stone

The Isle of Blood and Stone by Marika Lucier

This book will be released on April 10, 2018. I got my hands on an advanced reader's copy, it is uncorrected proof. There will undoubtedly be some changes to it before it is published on April 10, 2018.

I also tend to enjoy books with political and historical intrigue in alternate timelines/history with mythical or supernatural elements.

I mean, if you're a follower of this blog/me/whatever, you may have figured out I pretty much love a lot of different genres. Except for horror...they know what they did.

Anyways, here's an amazon summary, "Isle of Blood and Stone, the first in a duology, is a sweeping historical fantasy full of intrigue and schemes, romance and friendship, and fearless explorers searching for the truth.
 Ulises asked, "How can I look at these maps, see this riddle, and do nothing? They are my brothers."
Elias reached across the table and flicked aside two shells with a fingertip. The map curled into itself. "It's bound to be a goose chase. You know that?"
"Or a treasure hunt," Ulises countered, "and you've always been good at those."
Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar's oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way...until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.
The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias's father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king's beautiful cousin by his side-whether he wants her there or not-Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried...and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


Elias returns to del Mar from a long voyage and is immediately told to see the King. He cannot stop to bathe, change, anything; just go see the King. He is greeted at the docks by Mercedes, the King's cousin whom he has known for most of his life.

Now Elias is a mapmaker, a cartographer, and he has a deep love for adventure. Something doesn't feel quite right about this summons.

He meets with the King, the royal mapmaker, an apprentice, and Mercedes. They have discovered a map. A map of del Mar they think was created by Elias father. Elias' father has disappeared over 18 years ago, alongside the two brothers to the king, the first two in line for the throne on which the king now sits. There is not one map, but two maps. They look to created within the past 18 years, they are not quite identical, but they are in the definite style of Lord Antoni (Elias' father). Is Elias' father still alive? Are the other two brothers still alive? ...and do they want to find out, or is it best to leave it in the past?

That's enough summary. I know I said a lot of what the amazon summary said, but, but but but, this is another intricate book that a fact revealed too soon, may ruin the mystery for a future reader.

That being said.

I cherished this book. I loved going along for the adventure with Elias, I loved how authentic the relationships felt between the characters, and I loved, no, absolutely adored the hints of magic of the world rather than it being the focus of the story. I loved how the seas were filled with serpents, but again, it's not the focus. The heart of the story is around Elias and Ulises, and the mystery surrounding their families.

I only wish we could have seen a little more of Mercedes, to really understand her background better, but I can also appreciate why we weren't given that, which kind of makes me love the book more.

The explanation of society, the roles, the dynamics that fell into place, and even the smallest little characterizations about the culture painted (har har) such a beautiful picture of the whole world.

It was glorious.

Happy reading!

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Forest Queen

The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell

This book will be released on August 7, 2018. I got my hands on an advanced reader's copy, it is uncorrected proof; there will undoubtedly be some changes to it before it is published on August 7, 2018.

Soooooooo, I'm also a sucker for the retelling of fairy tales. Let's just jump to the amazon summary, "From a New York Times bestselling author, a fresh, female-centered take on “Robin Hood” in which a young noblewoman, like the legendary hero, becomes an outlaw fighting for social justice. Perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas.
When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen. Perfect for fans of fairy tale retellings or anyone who loves a strong female lead, this gorgeously written take on the Robin Hood tale goes beyond the original's focus on economic justice to explore love, gender, the healing power of nature, and what it means to be a family." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I loved Mechanica and Venturess (yes, I read for the past few years, I just didn't blog about it, because REASONS), so I was pretty excited to picked up The Forest Queen. 

The Forest Queen is the retelling of Robin Hood, but it definitely brings a new aspect and depth to the story. The general gist of Robin Hood: Robin Hood lives in the woods with his merry men (notably Little John and Friar Tuck), he steals from the rich and gives the wealth to the poor. He's in love with Maid Marianne, and thwarts the Sheriff who unfairly taxes everyone.

This retelling features Robin Hood as a woman, Sylvie. Slyvie's brother, John, is a tyrant over her life, and takes over ruling Loughsley as their father falls ill. The moment John betrothed Sylvie away, Slyvie knows she has to escape. She asks her best friend, Bird, to follow through on a promise he made her long ago; to run away into the woods together. Slyvie and Bird gather supplies that night, and leave for uncertain future in the woods, but a future away from John.

That's enough summary.

So, throughout the book, there are some dark themes touched upon that unfortunately women are still dealing with, but they're done in a way that sheds some light to those struggles. I enjoyed the way Slyvie's character grows, as it's not all rainbows, sunshine, song, and dance, but it felt far more authentic. There was a very good balance to this book, but I hesitate to give it a recommended book review. I wonder if the subject matter presented, and the voices representing that subject matter, I really wonder if they give enough gravity to the situation. At times, I wished those situations were given a little more page time, but others were given just enough page time before the path moved forward (so to speak).

I don't know, deep philosophical thoughts. I did enjoy the book, and I think it'll linger with me. If there's a sequel, I would definitely be curious enough to read it.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Thunderhead

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Thunderhead is the sequel to Scythe, which I reviewed HERE.

If you do not want anything spoiled for Scythe, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW.

I'll give you the length of the amazon summary to ponder your choices, "Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the chilling sequel to the Printz Honor Book Scythe from New York Times bestseller Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.
A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.
As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.
Will the Thunderhead intervene?
Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


To recap, at the end of Scythe, Scythe Faraday is alive, Citra has joined the Scythedom, and Rowan is off grid. Corruption is running rampant in the scythedom, some of the more corrupt in the MidMerica sector have been killed, but there are still more. And so the chaos unfolds.... dun dun dunnnn 

SO. Thunderhead picks up with Rowan as Scythe Lucifer who researches and kills corrupted scythes, under the Thunderhead's watchful eyes. The Thunderhead cannot intervene with the scythes.

Citra has decided on her method of gleaning. She injects a tracker with poison inside of her victims. They have one month to get their affairs in order, and then she will kill them in whatever way they wish. If they try to flee MidMerica or do not contact her to let her know how they wish to be gleaned before the month is off, the tracker goes off and kills them anyways.

Then there's Greyson. A civilian who has essentially been raised by the Thunderhead and wants to join the Authority Interface; the humans who work with the Thunderhead to carry out tasks for a variety of reasons.

In the very beginning of the book, the Thunderhead kind of orchestrates Greyson to save the lives of Scythe Curie and Citra (Scythe Anastasia), and slowly begins to unravel more of the intricate plots and puzzle pieces.

Scythe Faraday is also actively looking for the land of Nod; a land heard only in a child's rhyme.

DUN DUN DUNNNNN

That's enough summary.

I LOVED this book on the same level as Scythe, and kind of for the same reasons. The world building is still on point, there are nefarious tasks at play disguised as small insignificant events that lead into much larger grand scheme things, and the character development is so on point.

Originally, I thought Scythe was a stand alone novel for some reason (I'm really not sure why, honestly), but I'm thrilled this is a series. HUZZAH!

I just cannot wait to find out more about the land of Nod... hehehe

Happy reading!