Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

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33643994.jpgGoodreads Synopsis:

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

I went into this book expecting a lot of fun and adventure. It didn’t necessarily lack either of those, but for the majority of this book I felt that there was something lacking. I think that something was the main character . . . but there is potential still for her and the author as they work towards the companion novel.
You can tell this is a debut. It’s comes off as if it’s trying a little too hard from the start and does a lot more telling as opposed to showing. The telling is what irked me for the majority of this novel. Our main character tells us everything – I mean everything. There is nothing left for us to deduce on our own through actions, mannerisms, or expressions. And while we are getting an ongoing narration of the events by Alosa, we are also getting her very arrogant opinions. While I understand that with a first person narration we are going to have bias from the narrator, I felt it was too much at times and had to set the book down because of how irritated I was getting. Furthermore, the action felt very slapstick, with such a ‘badass’ I hoped for more than literal bashing of heads together to get out of every scenario.
This all does begin to improve after the charading dies down and we get more information about the reason why Alosa is on the ship and more about her relationship with her father. The dynamic of Alosa and Riden also gets more entertaining as they play off each other’s more intimate traits. And I’m glad that whiles there’s on ongoing flirtation, we don’t fall into instalove. There really isn’t any romance at all, which I appreciated. We have the flirtation, the attraction between the two that they use to get what they want from the other, but there is no indication of deeper feeling until the end, and even then neither one is really sure enough about those feelings or their trust in the other person to admit them. While I had a lot of issues with the book in general, this was one of the redeeming qualities for me.
As we got into the bigger secret reveals and deeper into the characters minds we also start to loose some of the immaturity of the beginning of the book. The revelation of Alosa’s “secret” didn’t surprise me at all, but I can see how it adds complexity to the story. And now that we know, hopefully as we move forward she will be less cryptic. I did enjoy the few moments we had with Alosa without her tricks and masks to hide behind. If the next novel deals with that girl I would be very interested, but I will have to see what the reviews are before I commit to signing back on with Alosa.

 

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Review: Dark Triumph

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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. 

All Our Yesterdays

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Summary from Goodreads:

What would you change?

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it… at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

I really loved this book, which surprised me, I expected to like it – not to have a book hangover from it. I loved the back and forth between Em and Marina, the relationship between Em and Finn, Marina’s slow recognition that her love for James isn’t the love she had thought it would be, and the overarching theme asking what limits exist when searching for “the greater good.”

The back and forth between Em and Marina, the same person but two different girls, is really what I think made this book such a winner. We see Marina, 16, shallow, naive, snobby, and obsessed with her best friend – the only person she feels truly cares about her; and then there is Em, 20, strong, brave, dedicated to making sure her oldest friend isn’t able to turn into the monster he is now, trying to save the world from the inconceivable repercussions of time travel, and completely in love with Finn. The differences we see between the two at first is stark, but as Marian goes through the emotional trails of James’ slow sinking into his own mind, we see Em start to emerge – she becomes more confident, and strong enough to walk away from James when his manipulations of her feelings finally push her over the edge.

Though romance is a central element of this story, which is why I didn’t think I would love it, it’s done in a really great way. We see Marina as the obsessed love-sick teenager, who believes her first love is the only love. Then we have Em, who has a grown up relationship with Finn. She’s not attached to him because she feels he’s the only one who cares about her, but because they are a team, he balances her seriousness and self-conscious doubt with lightness and a self-depricating confidence that reminds her there are bigger things to worry about and that he will always be on her side – that’s a real relationship! I appreciate the juxtaposition that these two relationships present, and the idea that you’ll never forget your first love, but there may be someone out there who is better for you.

Beyond the amazing relationships, the characters were all complex and deep, I felt like I really got to know them. And in doing so it wasn’t too hard to see the dark side of James, who I never really liked – there was just something off about that kid. Then the idea of time travel, and the way it was explained added another layer of complexity that really completed this story. The overlapping of the stories from Em and Marina, the hidden details that gave you hints about the past and further, it was excellently crafted. Great all around! And while I am a bit upset that the sequel is not happening, it’s a great stand alone novel, and I am pretty sure some short stories are going to be coming out so that will be fun. There is also a scene on the author’s blog that takes place 9 months after the story that I think is a great addition, letting us see the emergence of the Em and Finn we fell in love with in All Our Yesterdays.