Review: Heartless

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

After the Lunar Chronicles I had high hopes for this, and Meyer did not let me down. I absolutely loved this, it was so original and took such an interesting approach to the overall story and the metamorphosis of a villain we all know so well.

The interweaving of classic characters from Alice in Wonderland as well as the poetic license taken to make them work with the story Meyer wove was so well done. I recognized all of the characters but there was an undeniable freshness to them without betraying their core traits. Building on the burgeoning trend of morally shady characters, Cath starts as a naïve and privileged young woman. The more we get to know her, and the more constrains put on her, it’s clear that we only saw a small part. She wants control of her life, and in order to achieve that she has to make decisions that unveil a ruthless side of her. Meyer is able to keep her in our sympathies the entire time, and her path to becoming the Queen of Hearts is organic and seemingly unavoidable.

The traditional nursery rhyme of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater was an interesting addition and the lynchpin to the whole story. It was so well done and creative. Furthermore, the juxtaposition of traditional Victorian roles for women in the fantastical world of Wonderland created the perfect conflict for Cath and felt so natural to the world given its original story.

Loved it, can’t wait for more from this author.

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Review: The Fate of the Tearling

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will be revealed…

The flashbacks in this last installment worked a lot better for me than in the second book. I was so interested in Kate an Jonathan, and discovering how we came to the state of the Tearling in Kelsea’s time. The Fetch and Row finally come full circle and we can see how they impacted the present, as well as how they are working for/against Kelsea in respect to their past actions. To be honest I was a little disappointed in the ending between Pen and Kelsea, but again, it made sense for the resolution of the story, and the paths for each character.

In a way the ending of this felt easy, but the way Johansen played out her resolution was done well enough that Kelsea still struggles and still has a lot she must deal with for her future and for the future of the Tearling. I also really enjoyed the way we see Kelsea interact with the Red Queen, and how I found myself almost sympathizing for her, even though she’s been a villain from the beginning. It was a great contrast between Kelsea and who she could have become through the Queen of Spades, and how they were both influenced by the Orphan.

Overall, this was a very satisfying ending to a good series, which I will probably revisit in the future.

2016 Wrap Up

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I’ve been gone for a while. And to tell you the truth, I thought a lot about not coming back. I’ve always been one of those people who silently judges when others use their children as an excuse for not doing the things they enjoy for themselves. Well I’m here to eat those words. I get it now, I really do, but I am also determined to not let my little girl monopolize every aspect of my life, no matter how cute she is or how much I love her. So I am back. And though my reading is noticeably slower than it once was, a fact that is very hard for me to come to terms with, I’ll do my best to get at least one post up here a week. That’s doable right?

So towards the end of 2016 I was staying with my parents in TX. While having the help was amazing, and being somewhere besides my quiet house really helped those two months fly by, I did not have nearly as much sit around and read time as I expected. So I didn’t meet my goodreads goal of 100 books last year, in fact I was 6 short (if I had counted all the childrens books I read I would have surpassed it!).

Of my 96 books: 16 were re-reads; 6 broke out of my usual YA genre; 2 were historical fiction; 1 historical non-fiction; 9 were short stories; and 2 were DNFed.

I didn’t manage to review 3: The Immortal HeightsThe Orphan Queen, and The Mirror King. I’ll do short ones below.

The Immortal Heights:

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

I enjoyed how Titus finally took his fate into his own hands in this final installment. The coming together of secondary and tertiary characters was really well done and elevated elements in battles and the overall challenges our primary characters faced. The ending was very well done, I enjoyed how realistic the approach to the characters futures was given their personal responsibilities and their relationship with each other. Overall, a good finale to a fun series.

 

The Orphan Queen

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

The Mirror King

Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

This series started out flat for me. I could see every twist coming as soon as the characters and overall challenges were introduced. Every trope of a YA fantasy was in play. But, there was just enough fun about it, and the writing was good enough, that I kept reading. The second book was better, and I really appreciated that it was not spread into three books. The second book was more developed, more original, and more brutal with its twists and challenges. It was a good enough series, but a little too YA for my personal preference.