Review: The Star Touched Queen

Standard

25203675

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.

I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this, it seemed you either love it or you hate it. I was not a fan. I finished the book, but was not really eager to do so. What ultimately makes or breaks this book for people is the prose.

The writing is oftentimes beautiful and lyrical, but for me, it was mostly overdone and confusing. The elaborate metaphors and flowery language took away more than it provided in my opinion. I felt like the language disrupted the flow. I would be in a groove, then hit a paragraph of elaborate prose, and have no idea what just happened, where I was, or what the character was doing. I also thought the pacing was a major issue. What takes up the first quarter of the book doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the latter half, and we don’t get to the conflict till about three quarters of the way through.

I feel like this was supposed to be a story of a personal journey to find oneself. However, the character makes all the same mistakes as she did in her first life, and what little character growth there is doesn’t show itself till the very end. The romance was also very lacking. I get that there is supposed to be a connection between these two from their previous life together, but their relationship isn’t explained at all, past or present, besides in a love-at-first-sight way.

Overall, I was not amazed by this story at all.

Advertisements

Review: Dark Triumph

Standard

17406490

Goodreads Synopsis:

I lean forward, pushing my body out past the battlements. The wind plucks at my cloak, buffets against me, as if it would carry me off in flight, just like the birds or the knight’s soul. Let go, it cries, I will take you far, far away. I want to laugh at the exhilarating feeling, I will catch you, it whistles seductively.

The convent has returned Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

While this didn’t impress me a much as the first book in the series, it was still an enjoyable read. Unlike the largely political focus of the first book this was much more of an adventure,  and as LaFevers points out in her authors note, a personal tale. 

I must admit,  Sybella’s back story is so dark and compelling.  I loved Ismae in the first book,  but even her hard beginnings can’t compare to Sybella’s youth. Watching her navigate herself to redemption and forgiveness was heartbreaking. Her weaknesses and need to be accepted for all her darkness made it reservations connection to Beast understandable. Unlike the romance of the first book though, this one seemed to fall more into the insta-love category,  and I didn’t find myself overly invested in it. 

The focus on D’Albret and his court was very interesting, and the things unveiled dark, twisted, and so intriguing – making sections of this unputdownable. Overall, it was a fun read, and I enjoyed how it toed in with the first book,  but carried such an independent story line. 

Revisiting: Grave Mercy

Standard

9565548

Goodreds Summary:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I’ve said before, this seems to be the year of the re-reads for me. Well, I picked this one up again because 1: I remember really enjoying it 2: because I decided to finally start reading the second one in the series and wanted a refresher on the world.

I really enjoyed this book. As opposed to a lot of my goodreads friends who were a little disappointed that there wasn’t as much ass kickery as they had been hoping for, I enjoyed the psychological warfare that the plot centered around. Not knowing who to trust, learning that those who end up untrustworthy don’t have wholly malicious motives, learning to trust yourself in the judging of those around you. I loved how much Ismae grew into her own in this book, and that won me over.

The relationship between she and Duval was fun to watch as well. They started as unwilling allies, but as they worked together more it was evident how great of a team they made and so cute watching them subtly falling in love. However, their romance never became overwhelming or detracted from the overall plots going on around them and they both were solely focused on protecting their duchess and their kingdom, which I really appreciated.

I also really enjoyed watching Ismae’s relationship with death evolve. Given the questions that Duval and her time at court raised, she learned to look at death through her own eyes and not depend completely on the convent and the sisters interpretation of Mortain. It was interesting watching as she learned more about Mortain and his motives, her own gifts, and how she then chose to serve both herself and Mortain.

 I will say though, the one issue I had with this book (and one I noticed again in the second) is that there is never a description of the main character. All I really had to go on was the picture on the cover of the book and vague references.

Review: The Beauty of Darkness

Standard

25944798

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous – what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson’s combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

First off, that’s a really lackluster synopsis isn’t it? I mean, you have to have read the other books to understand any aspect of this, and even then, it gives you no information on what to look for in this finale.

Going into this I was not as amped as a lot of people. I didn’t really enjoy the first book, but the second one got some points from me and pulled me in enough to want to finish the series. I chose not to reread either of the other books before going into this one, and I had to look up a recap because I didn’t remember certain characters and events. I did get back into the swing of things pretty quickly though.

My overall reaction to this last book in the series was a general liking. I wasn’t thrilled by it, I thought it was too long, there was a sad return to some of the angst of the first book, and I again could have done without the POV of Pauline. However, I did like the realism of the relationship between Rafe and Lia, and their perspective responsibilities to their kingdoms. I liked the growth and closure we saw with the characters, especially Kaden. And I enjoyed the toppling of the conspirators and culmination of Lia’s gift.

So overall, a pleasing conclusion to a series that I find only average. It’s certainly entertaining though and there is a clear improvement throughout the series in the quality of the story.

Review; Stars: Wendy Darling

Standard

25175898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.

As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.

The foundation of this story, as well as its general execution, create an interestingly dark new look at the story of Peter Pan. However, I often felt bogged down by over the top descriptions – that left me more confused about the setting than informed. Those long descriptions, which I felt did more to distract the reader than suck them deeper into the story, also had me losing focus and getting bored, making this a hard read sometimes.

Beyond my one major issue, I really liked that a lot of the traits from the original story remained intact. While this is certainly a darker version, the intelligence and logic of John is a constant, the strange man/boy attitude Peter has dominates his character and control over the Lost Boys, and Wendy’s purity and devotion to her family continue to drive her actions.

Oakes’ twist on the characters is so interesting. Peter is basically insane, Tink is jealous to a murderous level, John wanting so much to belong he abandons his siblings, and Wendy’s journey with her memories makes the already darkening story reach a whole new level. The paradise of Neverland is a sham. And while I don’t think I can take on Oakes’ second installment right away, I am certainly invested enough to go back to the series and see if Wendy ever makes it back to London.

Coming This Week: August 15

Standard

459ce07e2cbbabc0a5268831d953c020

Some of you may have noticed that my “Coming This Week” post was missing last Monday. Well, that’s because I was waiting to be discharged from the hospital. Last week my husband and I welcomed in our first child into the world. I had planned to give you all a few weeks notice before my blog schedule takes on a more unstructured layout, but I was taken by surprise when I went into labor almost 3 weeks early.

So anyway, as I adjust to this new addition to my life and daily routine I expect my reading pace is going to be altered a bit. That said, for the near future I will be posting whenever I finish a book. I will stick to my Tuesday/Thursday schedule as much as possible, but I’m sure you all can understand if I don’t make it all the time. I’ll probably also forgo my “Coming This Week” posts.

So this week you can plan on:

And for the week of the 22nd, at least:

And I am eagerly awaiting the release of A Torch Against the Night, so that will be up hopefully sometime early September.

Review: The Bird and The Sword

Standard

29008738

Goodreads Synopsis:

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

This wasn’t really what I expected, though the curse basically sums this whole thing up perfectly. But there is so much more going on! It’s not just a story about self-discovery, or about love. There is a war going on with unfeeling beasts, a political power-play by Lark’s father and fellow counselors continually altering and trying to outflank the king, and several plot twists that you won’t see coming till they are upon you.

I really liked watching Lark learn her voice – literally. In the start of the book you can tell how smart she is, but she is also so vulnerable. She’s spent most of her life imprisoned and hated by her father – one of the people who are supposed to love you no matter what. And when she is taken by the King she has trouble navigating the waters of what makes her useful and what makes her wanted. Watching her at the palace was very interesting, she’s basically growing up again. She has a phase of childish innocence and jubilation over the experience of learning to read and write. Then as her powers start to manifest she learns how to use them, and how to make sure she is not used for them.

I really enjoyed the romantic element of this story. It’s a central plot, but it’s not overdone at all. There are very few physical scenes, and only a handful of heart-to-hearts, and I thought they were all perfect. We can see the bond between the two grow and develop, and those moments prove the devotion the two have towards each other, leaving us able to focus on magic, war, and politics.

Overall this book was very enjoyable and I devoured it. The writing evoked the same lyrical cadence of the original curse often, making it an artful experience. Also, I mean look at that cover.