Review: Truthwitch

21414439Title: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

Author: Susan Dennard

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication Date: January 5th, 2016

Summary: On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

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This was one of my most anticipated books of 2016 and I’m happy to announce that in most ways, it did not disappoint. I wanted an awesome fantasy world, some threadsister bonding, awesome witcheries, and a story that kept my interest; all of which I got.

One of the biggest things for me was how much I loved Safi and Iseult and their relationship. I really wanted a good helping of girl power from this book and we got it. They are each other’s priorities and you can really see the love that connects the two of them throughout the whole course of the story. It never feels forced or awkward, it genuinely feels like these girls have a history and a friendship that can never be torn apart. We do get POVs from both girls and I honestly don’t know which one’s my favorite. I usually like characters like Safi more, all snarky and irrational, but I found Iseult more interesting and her Threadwitch powers were more complex. Since I can’t pick a favorite, I’m really glad they come as a pair.

As far as the boys go, we have Merik, the grumbly prince with some pretty awesome wind powers, and Aeduan, a nasty Bloodwitch who is determined to track the girls down. I really liked Merik, I found him to be a fun addition to the dream team. However, I absolutely love Aeduan. Okay for reals, is anyone else totally shipping him with Iseult? Because I was picking up some sparks between them and not just the rage-induced-need-to-kill-each-other kind. I found him to be the most mysterious and intriguing character, definitely the one that I wanted to learn more about and probably the one I’m most excited to read more about in the next book.

My one complaint would definitely have to be that the beginning felt slow for me. I kept reading updates of people reading this book at the same time as me, talking about how crazy and fast everything starts only a few pages in, but for me, it didn’t feel like anything really starts for a while. Perhaps I was just in an impatient mood but it felt like it took a good third of the book before things started getting really exciting. And the first third of the book was rather confusing. I’m pretty good at keeping names and places straight when it comes to fantasy lands since it’s something I read about a lot but I was really struggling with this one. Once we get away from all of the politics though, it was much easier to keep track of the cast and places.

Overall, I found this book to be a super fun fantasy adventure tale that focuses on a friendship between two girls with superpowers (basically) who are trying to outrun destiny. I do wish that Safi had utilized her Truthwitch gifts a little more but there were plenty of other witcheries to keep my interest. I loved all of the characters and their interactions, from romance to friendship to murderous intent. I’m certainly intrigued by the Puppeteer and the Empress of Marstok, two new bad ass ladies who will hopefully get tons of page time in the next book. While it may not have been the most memorable or unique YA fantasy read, it kept my interest and built a great foundation for the rest of the series.

RATING: 

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Review: A Vanishing Glow

Title: A Vanishing Glow (The Mystech Arcanum Vol. I & II)  26631848

Author: Alexis Radcliffe

Publication Date: September 15th, 2015

Summary: It is an Age of Revolution, an Age of Industrialism. Constructs, living men who are as much brass and steel as they are flesh, man the factories and wage the wars of a ruling elite who gorge themselves on the fruits of the common man’s labor. Mystech, a brilliant fusion of magic and machine, gives rise to a new class of privileged inventors and merchants even as the country festers with wounds from decades of internal strife.

Only one man holds the promise of a brighter future: Nole Ryon, the crown prince. When his childhood friend Jason Tern answers his call for aid, the two of them set out to fight for the change their country needs in order to survive, even as shadowy foes frustrate their efforts. But soon, Jason and Nole’s idealistic mission of hope becomes a furious manhunt for a political murderer as the nation balances on the precipice of a country-wide civil war. Can they cut through the threads of intrigue to discover their true enemy before everything is lost?

Sweeping from the ancient cities at the heart of the nation to the dusty edges of the war-torn frontier, A Vanishing Glow tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and assassins, friends and lovers, who come together in a time of epic struggle. Here a brave officer risks everything to win back his estranged father’s respect; a brilliant young engineer attempts to atone for her sins; a war-weary commander tries to pick up the pieces of the life he lost; and a man touched by the gods struggles to prepare a nation for the coming of an ancient evil which only he can see. In the dying light of a once-prosperous society, amid twisting plots, suffering and betrayal, lost love and shattered dreams, all must fight for what they hold dear. Who will taste the fruits of victory and who will lie bloodied on the ground in the light of a vanishing glow?

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I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

A Vanishing Glow was not a book that I had on my TBR list or had even heard of before, but when the author approached me to ask if I would read and review, and I read the synopis, I knew I wanted to get my hands on it. This book was an intriguing story of murder, secrets, steampunk and betrayal. At the beginning we are introduced to Jason, a noble travelling to meet his childhood friend and prince, and Nilya, a young girl with a knack for engineering who is trying to run from her past. Though they initally start out with no connection, their stories soon intertwine, providing a story with dual perspectives and cause and effect through two completely different people’s eyes.

To start with, I really have to gush over the huge cast of interesting and mysterious characters in this book. On Jason’s end, we have multiple shady politicians, idealistic Nole, a weary war veteran, assassins, reporters, a disapproving father and a mysterious man in a cloak who calls himself “Hood”. Then when we move over to Nilya we get introduced to her friend Verse, multiple other members of The Crimson Fist, an injured travelling companion, healing monks and a rejected husband-to-be. Although there is a huge cast, each character is well written and unique enough that you manage to keep them all straight, as they all have some role to play in the story, be it good or bad.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was the world building, which was in my opinion, rather superbly done. The world itself was very dense, with loads of different noblity, armies and land, and while it’s hard to keep track of at first, you’ll get to the point where everything clicks. I loved how the steampunk elements were incorporated into the world and how believable I found them. And one of the main points of conflict in this story is the political struggle between all sorts of people, so we are getting multiple views on the world and how they think it should be changed, which I think contributed so much to the world building. A smaller part of the world that I enjoyed was how open they are about their sexuality, even if in the end, the rules enforced about “joining” or having mulitple partners are still unfair. I loved reading about Nilya, who likes women, and that it isn’t unacceptable that she has been with them. One of the bigggest benefits of having Jason and Nilya’s POVs is that we get to see how different actions or decisions effect nobles versus commoners, which I really enjoyed. The contrast between Jason, who is trying to fight for the good of all the people, and Nilya who is trying to save herself and find some sort of redemption along the way, I found to be a really great portrayal of the many battles people fight and how different things are worth fighting for to different people.

The plot, though slow at some times, keeps you engaged in so many different ways. We get a great blend of mental and political battles mixed in with violence and actual fights. There are several occassions throughout the book where the tension is so thick that I had to stop myself from biting my nails or covering my eyes. And although I found certain parts to be more predicitble, it balanced out well because some parts came out of no where and made me pause to collect my thoughts because it was the last thing I had been expecting. I enjoyed that lots of things constantly went wrong or got messed up, only for the characters to form a Plan B and keep moving forward.

There were only a few things I didn’t love about this book, hence the four start rating. First of all, Jason wasn’t my favorite character of all time, although I did find him very realistic. I struggled to understand some of his decisions and views on certain things and occassionaly found myself wanting to give him a good thump on the head. Also, a few parts with him were rather slow, and while I liked that it contributed to character growth or world building, I found it hard to get through.

Overall, this book was a huge and pleasant surprise and I’m very happy that the author approached me for a review. It was a great break from all of the YA I’ve been reading lately and I enjoyed the mature themes and complexity that A Vanishing Glow had in abundance. If you’re a fan of steampunk and plots full of death, deception, love and redemption, I would definitely recommend checking out this impressive debut novel.

RATING: 

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) 18798983

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 12, 2015

Summary: A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

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Going into this book, I knew absolutely nothing about A Thousand and One Nights, the story that this book is apparently based off of. To be honest, I think I remember watching a Scooby Doo episode called Arabian Nights, where Shaggy is disguised as a beautiful woman and tells the Caliph stories to postpone the wedding until Scooby can rescue him. That’s literally the only thing I knew about that story going into this book. So while I’ve heard some complaints about this book following the story too closely and not being original enough, I personally found it very interesting and not like anything I’ve really read before.

In this book, we get Shahrzad, a bold and brave young woman who volunteers to marry Khalid, the young Caliph who takes a new wife every day and kills her the next morning. No, Shazi doesn’t have a death wish, she just has a burning desire for revenge. With a plan to survive the night, she makes it her mission to find Khalid’s weaknesses and destroy him for killing her best friend and dozens of other young girls. Our heroine was one of the real shining points in this book. She was clever and witty, brave and daring, and a force to be reckoned with. I really respect a woman who holds her own in a time period mostly dominated by men, and does so in a way that feels natural. I loved her honesty and sharp tongue, and the way she constantly spoke her mind and stood up to people. Besides Shahrzad, Khalid really stood out in his own way and had a lot of depth and layers that I wasn’t expecting. The two of them were constantly bantering and challenging each other and I loved every second of it.

The romance in this book was definitely full of internal conflict and I loved that because there was real foundation behind Shazi and Khalid’s fears. Shazi comes to avenger her best friend, only to fall in love with the boy who killed her, along with countless other girls. He is, without a doubt, a murderer, and there’s no way to ignore that and possibly no way to ever forgive it. And for Khalid, Shazi is the only girl he has left alive, something he is very uncertain about and brings a whole new set of problems. I really felt sympathy for both of them because the situation seems hopeless. No matter how much Shazi might love him or suspect he had a reason for killing all the girls he did, it doesn’t change the fact that he still did it and part of her might always hate him for it.

The only reason that I didn’t give this book five stars was because I would have loved a bit more magic. In this world, magic seems to be rare, but possible. To be honest, I’m not one hundred percent sure because we don’t get to learn very much about it which was a bit of a disappointment. Magic obviously plays an important role in this story, yet is hardly ever directly addressed. The world as it is, is very interesting and beautiful but by incorporating magic, it was made just a little bit more exciting and mysterious. However, by not really bringing the magic into the world in an understandable way or even bothering to really explain the rules of it, it definitely feels lacking. One of my hopes for the next book is that the magic is really explored and developed more.

This was a beautifully written tale of sacrifice and revenge, of what it means to be a monster and what it takes to love one. This book felt so unique and refreshing compared to a lot of YA books I’ve read lately, with diverse characters, a gorgeous world, and a story that made me feel all the feels.

RATING: 

Review: Crimson Bound

Title: Crimson Bound 21570318

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Publication Date: May 5th 2015

Summary: 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?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

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This fairy tale retelling craze shows no signs of stopping and I couldn’t be happier. So when I saw that this book was inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, I almost started screaming out of excitement, mostly because it’s a fairy tale that I don’t often see getting any attention.

One of the main things that first drew me in, besides the gorgeous cover and Little Red Riding Hood influences, was the undoubtedly strong heroine. Rachelle was a very realistic character to me, in the way that she treated the whole situation she was in, knowing that she deserved the way she was treated but still hating everyone for it all the same. I found that despite her allowing herself to get mentally messed with and manipulated, she knew how to pick her battles and what things were worth fighting for. However, whenever you have a character who is very angst-ridden, it’s hard to keep it from feeling forced and overly dramatic, which was something I think was a bit of a problem. But I just enjoyed how refreshing to was to have a heroine that viewed herself and others in a very honest, if sometimes harsh sort of way. Besides that, I obviously loved that she was a tough lady and knew how to hold her own, serving up some cold hard butt kicking when needed.

As far as the story went, I found it interesting and engaging. In Crimson Bound, Rachelle is a bloodbound, gifted with certain abilities, and searching for a sword from ancient stories that can destroy the Devourer. She is forced to be a bodyguard to the King’s son Armand while continuing her quest to find a sword, with the deadline for the day the Devourer will return and bring about Endless Night looming over her head. One of my favorite parts of this book was actually the ancient story of the first time the Devourer was defeated by siblings, Zisa and Tyr. I loved the style in which the story was told and the dark undertones. I found it to be really haunting and expertly woven into the actual story. My main problem though was that this book really had a lot going on. The world was so interesting and so many elements and characters were woven in, making it really feel crammed and overwhelming at times. I almost wished the author had cut out some of the less interesting thing and focused on giving more information and time with the more intriguing aspects.

The romance wasn’t an overwhelming part of the story, which I really appreciated, and I found that I did really like this “love triangle”. I’m love triangle in quotation marks because it’s not really a traditional sort of love triangle. Rachelle’s relationships are two very different things with two very different men, but they are both meaningful to her and kind of represent different parts of herself. I found that very refreshing, especially the honest way that she looks at both of them and their relationships.

Crimson Bound was a really refreshing and interesting story, full of unique characters and a creative world and mythology. I was very disappointed to not really notice much that tied in with the story of Little Red Riding Hood, something I was excited to see influencing and directing this book. Despite that, I did really enjoy this story and found the writing really engaging and I was definitely pulled into this world. Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to fairy tale retelling lovers specifically, I would recommend it to people who enjoy fantasy and strong heroines.

RATING: 

Review: Poison Princess

Title: Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1)17164644

Author: Kresley Cole

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: October 2, 2012

Summary: She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.

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I don’t know what I thought this book was about, I read the summary and heard lots about it from this girl on YouTube that I really like, but for some reason I was not expecting anything even close to what this book was. I mean, this book was weird and unpredictable in a really great sort of way.

The book starts off months A.F. which we find out means “After Flash” and this creepy guys is luring our protagonist into his house, drugging her, and having her tell him her story. Evie explains how she was sent to a mental institution because of her nightmares and crazy hallucinations about the end of the world, which ultimately happens. But Evie has strange powers that she doesn’t understand and she needs to find her grandmother who can help her. But that means traveling across the now barren country, littered with cannibals, Bagmen (like zombie vampires), slavers, rapists, and who knows what else. It also means trusting Jackson, a Cajun bad boy she knew before the Flash that she didn’t quite get along with.

I really didn’t expect a lot of things in this book. One of the major things was all of the Tarot card stuff. Evie is apparently The Empress and there are a whole bunch of other teenagers still alive that represent one of the major Tarot cards. And there is a huge battle to come between good and evil where supposedly only one will survive. I actually really liked the Tarot mythology mixed into this, it was super interesting and not something I’d ever really read about. I thought it was kind of a strange blend with the post-apocalyptic world, but it really kind of worked, much to my surprise. We do get to encounter a few of the other tarot kids in this book, and I really liked seeing how they represented their card, and one of the things I’m looking forward to most in the next book is seeing a lot more of that.

As for the post-apocalyptic world, that actually really worked for me too. Even as I’m thinking about this book, the mix of things was really strange but somehow the author made it work really well. I loved the darker tones the author brought out in this world, with all of the cannibals and slavers, and the army sweeping across the land, taking supplies and women. Seeing Evie and Jackson having to scavenge for food and gas, all while avoiding certain death around every corner, it was so intense and gritty. It really had this kill or be killed vibe to it and I loved it. That just might be my inner Walking Dead fan-girl taking over though.

As for Evie though, I really kind of had a problem. I absolutely hated her at the beginning. When we see her life before the Flash, she is popular and rich and shallow and kind of a bratty snob. Then the apocalypse happens and she is all soft and whiny and completely unreasonable all the time and just annoyed me so much. She relied on Jackson to do everything, whined and cried when he treated her like a baby (even though she was acting like one) and really couldn’t do anything. At one point, she is mad that Jackson leaves her behind to go steal some supplies and possibly end up fighting his way out, despite the fact that she can’t fight, would totally get in the way and probably just distract him the whole time. Yet earlier in the book, he tries to get her to shoot his crossbow and she straight up refuses. Gah, she drove me so crazy. I did like the changes she was going through by the end of the book though, I have really high hopes for her in the next one.

As far as Jackson goes, I also hated him at first. Damn, I really hated this boy. He was rough and rude and not in a sexy, bad boy sort of way. But by the end of the book, he was really starting to grow on me. He still got super mad about stuff and was a possessive jerk sometimes, but it almost made him more realistic to me because he wasn’t some pretty boy spouting romantic poetry and constantly sweeping Evie off of her feet. He got mad and emotional and was stupid and mean sometimes and deserved to get kicked a lot. But when you starting getting bits and pieces of his life before and how he had to live, I couldn’t help but soften a little. Here’s the problem though. His goddamn Cajun accent. Now the talking in French, that I could totally handle no problem. And I love listening to someone talk with a Cajun accent just as much as the next girl. But reading around that awful accent, trying to figure out what the hell he was trying to say, it became a new form of torture for me. And I don’t hear Cajun accents often so reading his sentences didn’t quite have any sort of flow, so half of the time, me trying to decipher what he was saying made him sound like an uneducated idiot, which was not attractive. Yes, I was getting used to it be the end of the book, and yes, I know it’s shallow of me, but I almost couldn’t stand it. Plus I hated every single time he referred to himself as “ole’ Jack”. I mean, come on.

The romance was okay. The main problem I had was that they were both absolutely idiotic and ridiculous about the whole situation and it ended up being pretty predictable and cliche. We have Evie whining over Jackson being mean to her all the time, getting mad every time something bad almost happens, then crying because he must hate her. But we all know he is like that because he likes her and wants to protect her. Then we have Jackson who thinks Evie would never like someone like him because he was poor before the Flash. But we all know she couldn’t care less because money doesn’t exactly matter in the apocalypse. Then they kiss and misunderstandings happen, fighting and crying, enter a new hot girl that’s all over Jackson, jealousy, blah, blah blah… We all know how that goes and we all know how it’s going to end.

All I can say is that this book completely surprised me, went off in a direction I wasn’t expecting, and I really loved that. The world was dark and gritty, and I loved the more mature things mixed into this book, like the unexpectedly violent and graphic parts, I was surprised by that but it really added to the whole vibe of this book. I found that even though this mix of Tarot mythology and post-apocalyptic was a weird mix at first, the author really made it work. Even though I had a few problems with the characters, I found them really growing on me by the end of the book. I can’t wait to learn more about the other kids and what their powers are and how the fit into the upcoming battle. Not to mention I already have a thing for Death. Oh yeah, I’m sensing that behind that dark armor there in a misunderstood bad ass just waiting for a girl to come along and sooth his tortured soul. If Death has a soul. I guess we will find out.

RATING: 

Review: Partials

Title: Partials (Partials Sequence #1) 12476820

Author: Dan Wells

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Publication Date: February 28, 2014

Summary: For fans of The Hunger Games, Battlestar Galactica, and Blade Runnercomes the first book in the Partials Sequence, a fast-paced, action-packed, and riveting sci-fi teen series, by acclaimed author Dan Wells.

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. But sixteen-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that that the survival of both humans and Partials rests in her attempts to answer questions about the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Playing on our curiosity of and fascination with the complete collapse of civilization, Partials is, at its heart, a story of survival, one that explores the individual narratives and complex relationships of those left behind, both humans and Partials alike—and of the way in which the concept of what is right and wrong in this world is greatly dependent on one’s own point of view.

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So I did an unboxing video recently for all of the books I ordered from Book Outlet on their boxing day sale and this book was the one that everyone commented on and freaked out over me needing to read it. Finally I caved in to all of the peer pressure like the wimp I am. And now I’ve got to say thanks to everyone that yelled at me for not reading this book because I really loved it.

In Partials, in the future we create artificial intelligence in the form of Partials, who look exactly like humans except they are built different internally and have things like super strength. We built them to fight in our wars and work in our factories, thinking them to be less than human because they were created; so they rebelled. What’s left of humanity, as far as they know, now live cornered off in a city, while Partials roam over the rest of America. But what’s worse is that the Partials created a virus that swept through and killed nearly everyone and now any baby that’s born doesn’t live more than three days.

Dan Wells did a great job in my opinion building this world. Because no babies are surviving, the government created the Hope Act which requires women to get pregnant at a certain age and to continue having babies as often as humanly possible. I found this to be both fascinating and horrifying. Fascinating because I sort of understood why it was happening, and I could see where the government was coming from. The more babies born, the more likely one will be born that survives. But horrifying because every single woman looses their baby then is forced to just keep having them, knowing every time that it wouldn’t live. That paired with the post-apocalyptic lands outside the city, the constant fear of attack, made this world eerie and unsettling because of how realistic it was.

Kira Walker is our main character, a sixteen year old girl who works in the hospital and records information on the baby deaths. But it’s not enough and she knows it. And when her sister becomes pregnant, she knows that she has to do something to save the baby. So she has the idea to capture a Partial and study it to see how it isn’t affected by the virus in hopes of making a cure. Kira was a really likable character to me, I admired her determination and compassion for others. She has this whole thing though where she wants to save everyone, but maybe that’s what happens when you live in a world where everyone dies.

All of Kira’s friends were pretty interesting but none of them particularly stood out to me. I liked them all just fine but they never really got lots of time or development in this book beyond the occasional conversation or scene. I did really like though that this book had little to no romance. Kira is dating Marcus, a boy she has known for years and she genuinely likes him. I liked that she wasn’t unhappy with him and just waiting for a new boy to come and sweep her off her feet. She has a good relationship with him and it showed through out the book for the few parts that there were any sort of romance moments. And with that, I was really happy to see that there wasn’t any stupid insta-love stuff. There is possibly a slight love triangle, but not really, I wouldn’t even consider it to be one which made me beyond happy.

I really liked that this book address that question about what makes people human. We have the Partials who we find out rebelled because they were living terrible lives, basically slaves, and they considered themselves worthy and alive enough to be deserving of rights. And we really get to see that when Kira finally encounters a Partial and he is more human than she expects. I love anything that really asks those sorts of questions about artificial intelligence because I think that it’s only a matter of time because we start creating advanced artificial intelligence and I wonder what it would really be like in comparison to examples we see in media today. And I definitely like thinking about them more as being misunderstood and just wanting to be treated well, rather than a violent group that wants to annihilate the human race.

I also really loved that this book made the science understandable. Kira is some sort of super science genius and it study the virus and various people’s blood and things like that. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I shouldn’t have been able to understand anything she was doing. Except, through the book, her research and thought process, as well as the virus itself, were all explained in a way I could understand. Which was saying something.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The plot was really fast paced and suspenseful, and I never knew what was going to happen next. The only problem I had with the book, besides the lack of interesting secondary characters, was the ending actually. Without giving too much away, it felt rushed and a few out of character things happened. I definitely didn’t enjoy the last fourth of the book as much as the rest. I’ve already ordered Fragments, and I can’t wait to see where this goes. Dan Wells did any amazing job with the world and addressing questions about artificial intelligence and I had a great time reading it.

RATING: 

 

Review: Princess of Thorns

Title: Princess of Thorns 18782855

Author: Stacey Jay

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: December 9, 2014

Summary: Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

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At the start of this book, I was horribly confused and lost. Chapter one is Aurora’s past, when her, her brother and their mother were captured by their father’s stepmother Ekeeta, who just so happens to be an ogre. Which I guess is a common race in this land, as well as Fey. Aurora’s mother kills herself to pass on her fairy powers to Aurora so her and her brother Jor, can escape. Then we jump ten years ahead to where Aurora and her brother have been hiding and training for years, living with the Fey, but Jor has been captured by Ekeeta and Aurora is on a mission to rescue him.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well the problem was, we don’t learn a majority of that until a little further in, instead we get Aurora being woken up in some random place by some random super attractive guy who thinks she is a boy and off they go. We literally just get thrust into this world with not much to go off of, not understanding half of the names and countries they are talking about or what is even going on. I almost gave up just a few pages in because I was so lost and felt like I had seriously missed something. But by the end of this book, I was pretty happy that I stuck with it.

This book was written in the POV of both Aurora and Niklaas and I really enjoyed that because I fell in love with both characters. Niklaas is a prince whose father is immortal and placed a curse, so on their eighteenth birthday, all of his sons would be turned into swans so they couldn’t claim the throne from him. Watching his ten brothers before him suffer that terrible fate was no doubt discouraging, but Niklaas finds the witch who placed the curse and finds out that if he marries a princess before his birthday, the curse will be broken. So he sets out to find Aurora but finds her brother instead (but it’s actually Aurora disguised as a boy).

I adored Niklaas just because he was such a boy. Through a good chunk of this book, he thinks he is travelling with another boy, so he is vulgar and obnoxious and funny and I adored it. His constant foul jokes and tales of all the women he wooed had me cracking up and his brotherly affection towards Aurora was really sweet. Niklaas was definitely a scoundrel with a heart of gold. I also liked the sad side of him, the part that hurt from losing all of his brothers and hated his father, the part of him that was afraid to turn into a swan, it added great contrast to his light-hearted exterior.

And believe it or not, I actually found myself liking Aurora too. She was my kind of girl, fitting in well as a boy because she didn’t care and make perverted jokes and fought and had snarky comebacks. I loved her determination to save her brother, despite the fact that she was uncertain and afraid because the one thing she was certain of was that she couldn’t just do nothing. She was stubborn and acted without thinking sometimes, but still able to admit when she was wrong and fend for herself.

As far as the romance goes, it had it’s ups and downs. I liked it just because I loved the chemistry between Niklaas and Aurora, how good of friends they became before it was revealed she was a girl. Obviously Niklaas didn’t love her romantically as a boy, but I liked that he was thrown off balance because he wasn’t sure how to love her once he found out she was a girl. This book only takes place over about three weeks which isn’t long, but this wasn’t an insta-love scenario and it felt like a lot longer than that. So when the romance finally rolled around, it was a big decision and meant a lot to them because of what they had before. And I liked that they really viewed each other as equals because of the journey they went on together, they both knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

The main problem I had with this book was the plot. There was so much going on that I had a hard time keeping up. We had a million different things going on with Aurora, then a bunch of other things with Niklaas, and even the POV of Ekeeta sometimes which was just weird. To be honest, there was this whole main plot line to do with a prophecy with the ogres and Aurora bringing darkness, but I really didn’t pay much attention to the specifics because I was so much more interested in the actually journey and relationship between Niklaas and Aurora and each of their secrets. It was just hard to pay attention to everything when the author shoved so much stuff in one book, a good amount of it obviously set up for the intended sequel.

I did like though that a lot of this book was just the adventure of the two of them traveling around, getting into trouble, escaping, then traveling more. It was really fun and kept my interest, it just was kind of missing that feeling of danger through most of the book. They were traveling places to gather an army, so they had a purpose, but the sense of urgency was missing and most of the time, it’s not like bad guys were chasing them or anything like that. They were just kind of working towards where they needed to go at a steady place, dealing with problems as the arose. But I really liked the feeling of adventure it gave, like they were on a journey across the land, on some sort of quest, defeating foes and making bonds.

While the ending was a little too convenient for my taste (let’s just say that Aurora makes a really bad decision, which is conveniently fixed for her in a stupid, predictable turn of events) and wrapped up nicely with a big bow, it reminded me of the sort of happily ever after ending from a fairy tale, which is obviously fitting for this book. Despite some world building and serious confusion problems, I really loved the characters and their fun adventure across the land, and found myself wishing the book wasn’t over when I finished it.

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