Review: Warrior Witch

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The thrilling conclusion to the breakout Malediction Trilogy by Goodreads Choice finalist Danielle L. Jensen.

Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.

My enthusiasm for this series has steadily declined with each installment. It started out so strong but has steadily lost its depth in both plot and character development. It feels like all the growth we achieved from the first one, and arguably the beginning of the second, doesn’t continue

Now that Cecile has garnered Tristan’s trust, broken free of the kings compulsion, and ended the curse we see her still trying to figure out who she is and where she fits. As a result she’s insecure in her relationship with Tristan, and not knowing how to help in the overall battle to secure peace before war. And I feel like her impulsive decisions are only going to get her into even more trouble in this finale as she takes on things too big for her and too much responsibility in having gotten to where the world is now. I also wanted to see less convincing from Cecile when she decides she needs to do dangerous things. I would have been much more supportive of her if she had asserted herself if it’s the only way she can see things being done. Her back and forth of feeling useless and thinking she is the only one capable of getting something done was very frustrating.

Tristan is again the strongest character in this novel, and I liked watching him navigate the logic and emotions of what needed to be done. I also enjoyed that all of the characters were reunited and got to see more of the teamwork they displayed in the first book. The Summer King and Winter Queen did add some nice layers of conflict in this, but I felt like the solutions to the problems they presented were almost too easy. Something I think should have started in the second book, I would have enjoyed more complexities with those two.

There was a good ending to this book, and the series overall. I appreciated that it wasn’t nice and neat, and that the “epilogue” was from Tristan’s POV. Overall though, the series was lacking.

Review: The Glittering Court

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

I had been having trouble focusing on reading to I wanted something light; this definitely fit the bill.

I had a really hard time categorizing this book, it wasn’t fantasy, it wasn’t historical fiction . . . but I felt like it should have been. With the obvious parallels between Adoria and the American colonies, Osfrid and the UK, the want of eligible young women in this new world, and the tensions between the natives and colonizers. . . not to mention the Puritan like colonies in the north, and the Rhode Island like colony being founded for religious freedom . . .why didn’t Mead just do a little research and go ahead and make it historical fiction?

Besides my confusion, this was actually pretty good. I have had Vampire Academy  on my TBR for a while, so maybe I will finally give that a go. The main characters are well developed and pleasantly mature. There was a refreshing lack of hormonal angst, and our characters are resigned to the fact that they probably won’t end up together because sometimes that’s just how life works.

I did think the ‘selling’ of the girls, outside of a historical context, would be perceived in a negative light by readers, but from the reviews I saw no one seemed to have much of a problem with it. I do think there was a good introduction to it all, each of the girls willingly signed up for this, and were treated well the whole time. Add that to Cedric’s constant reassurance that the girls would have the ultimate say on who they wed, and the innuendo that they were checked up on after their marriages to make sure they weren’t being mistreated, and Mead does well to make this sensitive topic comfortable and even positive.

I was a bit disappointed when our main conflict was brought about solely for revenge, and the larger political  subterfuge wasn’t a driver. That apparently is something that the next book gets into. However, the following two books cover the same story line, but from the POVs of Mira and Tamsin; and I don’t think I liked this book enough to relive the same events two more times. We’ll see what the reviews are like.

Review: Exile for Dreamers

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Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

Tess Aubreyson can’t run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man she loves, and her fellow students at Stranje House. Tess’s old friend, the traitorous Lady Daneska, and Ghost, the ruthless leader of the Iron Crown, have returned to England, intent on paving the way for Napoleon’s invasion. Can the young ladies of Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands of the power-mad dictator?

Continuing in the world we were introduced to in A School for Unusual Girls, this second installment switches over to Tess’ POV. This idea of transitioning through the various girls in the school, getting a better understanding of their personal background and skills, and focusing on their romantic element, makes sense. However, it didn’t work for me.

Tess’ voice came off so differently in this book than the impression I got from her in the first book. I couldn’t merge the two, therefore finding myself still more interested in Georgie’s voice, and wishing I could just be discovering all this through her POV. Tess was much more vulnerable in this book, no longer the warrior woman from the first – yes she was full of big threats and a desire to take on the world for her friends, but her execution was very lacking. The fact that she fell prey so often really upset me as it went completely against her persona from the first book.

The romance element was also lacking for me. The sparring and toughness between Tess and Gabe we see in the first book was ruined in this one by Tess’ continued denial of her obvious feelings, and the break down of Gabe to a soft romantic. Also, the same Darcy/Elizabeth dynamic is resurfacing in the budding relationship between Jane and Alexander, which we’ve already seen in this series. . .

Basically, I wanted tough Tess, and that is not what this story delivered. It felt very lacking, and the conflict of the story was much more dull than the first installment. I found myself skimming this to finish. I don’t plan on continuing with the series.

Review: Emmy & Oliver

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Goodreads Summary:

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

It took me a lot longer to pick up this book than it should have. I saw it floating around my goodreads reviewers pages and the blogosphere, but like others I was deterred by the cover that makes this seem like it’s just going to be a cheesy teen romance. How wrong I was!

This book it so moving and sweet. Both Emmy and Oliver are thrown into new lives when Oliver is kidnapped, and they never really face the ramifications of the event until Oliver returns. Even then, the only people they are able to confide in are each other.

I loved the relationship between Emmy and Oliver, it wasn’t overwhelmed by their romantic feelings for each other one bit. With the aid of periodic flashbacks it’s clear that these two would have always been connected as deeply no matter what, and that their relationship would have eventually evolved to something more romantic anyway. Furthermore, it’s clear that Emmy never lost her connection to Oliver, who after some stumbling finds his way back to it as well.

Watching them deal with trying to grow up under the oppressive thumbs of their parents was so interesting and something every teenager can relate to. I also really enjoyed that while Emmy was keeping things from her parents, it was clear that they had a good relationship – too many books have teens and parents not getting along. I also really enjoyed watching the dynamic between Emmy, Drew, and Caroline (I hate it when people shorten my name – though when I lived in England they called me Caro because as Emmy states, they thought three syllables was just too much). They were what was left when Oliver left, and seeing them trying to figure out how to react to having him back in their lives was interesting. And the fight between Emmy and Caroline about Oliver brought back some memories for me too.

I think that was what made this book so amazing. It reminded me of that period in my life when I was dealing with growing up, trying to figure out who I was in the world outside of my family, and dealing with new love and old friends.

Anyway, this book was fantastic. It was a really fast read as well, I read it in one evening. I feel like this will be a go-to book for me whenever I need a pick me up. Emmy and Oliver are just so mature and connected and it’s so touching.