Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war. – Goodreads

If you’re expecting the book to be like the movie, let me spoil it for you: it’s nothing like the movie.

I was pretty excited to read this because I enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s work and was curious as to how a comic book series would translate into a narrative.

I’ll be honest, this book took me forever to finish. Yes, I’m in a slump; but also…this book was incredibly boring. How can you have a superpowered beautiful (because we were constantly reminded while reading) Amazon princess who kicks ass and takes names but be boring? I’m not sure. Much of the book was a drag, with a few exciting parts thrown in.

The plot was also insanely easy to predict. The twist could be seen from the beginning of the story.

On the pros side, I liked having two strong female leads and a strong female supporting character who was also a lesbian. The book was not focused on romance, but instead at the mission at hand: take the Warbringer to the magical spring.

Overall, I enjoyed the new spin on an old classic. I still liked the book more than I liked the movie, however, I won’t be rushing to recommend either to anyone. I rated the book a 2/5 on Goodreads.

 

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Blood Oath by Raye Wagner & Kelly St. Clare

More than anything, I crave adventure. But in the disease ridden land of Verald, life is mapped out much like the well-established rings of our kingdom.

At the very heart reigns our vicious king and Lord Irrik, an invincible dragon shifter, at his side. Their power poisons the land and the people, leading to a steadily mounting number of enemies.

But change is coming.

When the rebellion surges, the king strikes back. Captured by Lord Irrik, I’m suddenly embroiled in a deadly game. One where I’m desperate to understand the rules.

Because I’m not only fighting for my life… but also a love that could be the very key to my freedom. – Goodreads

I’m 50/50 on this one.

It was quick, easy read that kept me entertained and engaged, but much of it fell short in the plot and character building department. It was also quite predictable.

Let’s hit the pros first: the plot moved quickly, which made it difficult to put the book down. There was never a good lull to power down my Kindle and go to bed. I appreciated the lack of instalove, and instead, a slow burning romance that kept my interest.

However, the main character, Ryn, was young and impulsive. If I didn’t know her age in the book, I’d have guessed she was 14 or 15. At times, she was so impulsive and stupid; literally, if any other character in the book had pulled the stunts she did, they’d have been killed. She also faced a lot of tragedy and hardship, but didn’t seem to grow from it.

Overall, the book was enjoyable and addicting to read. If you enjoy young adult fantasy, definitely give it a shot. I rated the book 3/5 on Goodreads.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever. – Goodreads

Apparently, I read the first book back in May 2015. I don’t remember reading it. I ordered a sample on Amazon and seriously, did not remember a damn thing. So I purchased the book, read it, and still didn’t remember anything. Usually when I’ve read a book already and reread it, I at least have a spark or a vague idea. Nope.

Anyway, I enjoyed it much more the second time around, if my current review vs. my old one is anything to go by. I enjoyed the character building, and really didn’t mind Feyre. The book is reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, with a few darker elements woven in.

Now, this is a review of the series. I also read Court of Mist and Fury (#2) and Court of Wings and Ruin (#3). Rather than write standalone reviews for them, I’m going to review the entire series here.

I devoured the first book. I sped through the second book. But the third book? I’m a little sick of it, and I’m drudging through it. The primary element that kept me reading was the romance. Maas is fantastic at it and the tension in book one and two kept me interested. Once the tension petered out, I lost interest in book three. According to Goodreads, there are three more books slated to be published — I’ll be honest, I probably won’t read them.

They were easy reads. I enjoyed them. I was hooked and had a hard time putting them down, most of the time. If you enjoyed the Throne of Glass series, give these a shot. Maas is a great writer and does a fantastic job at weaving a story, constructing a magical world and building her characters. However, I’m ready for a new Maas series — I’m burnt out on this one.

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her. – Goodreads

Ahhhh. This was one of those reads where everyone seems to love it, but I really didn’t care about it.

For one, the instalove was nauseating. Kalinda lives in seclusion from men for her life, and the first man she sees inevitably turns out to be her love interest within about five minutes. This occurred in the first chapter or two of the book, so I was already annoyed.

I was also annoyed because the first chapter details Kalinda as unattractive, a poor fighter, and generally unremarkable. However, in the first few chapters, she defeats a stronger fighter and is called beautiful by several other characters. What? I’m confused.

Basically the entire book was about girls fighting each other to win over the affections of a dude. I finished it, but I didn’t love it and probably won’t recommend it. 2/5 on Goodreads.

Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis

Sixteen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as the royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.

Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their kingdom and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.

Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life. – Goodreads

I think I’m part of the minority, but I wasn’t head over heels for this book. I know, I know.

I like Allyssa — she was an alright MC. However, in true YA fantasy fashion, Allyssa is doomed to take part in an arranged marriage, which eats up most of the first half of the book. Though I can obviously understand not WANTING to be forced into an arranged marriage, Allyssa’s apprehensions come off as angsty and whiny, to a point where she deliberately puts her own safety (and that of her friend) at stake to go gallavanting into the night. She’s a badass, she can fight — I will give her that.

The “plot twist” is something you can spot from a mile away. It’s apparent from the moment it shows up and the first clue is given. I won’t delve into it anymore, but I was annoyed at how easy it was to figure out.

Also, side note, since I’m on a rant — I understand the name of the book is Cage of Deceit, but holy shit. If I had a dollar for everytime I read the words ‘gilded cage’ or literally just ‘cage’ in a metaphorical context,  I would have enough money to buy many books.

This was a miss for me, but don’t let my pessimism discourage you — Jennifer is a good writer and I will read other work from her in the future. I rated this a 2/5.

25817407Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart. – Goodreads

Yeah, I wasn’t feeling this one. I picked it up for a light romantic fantasy read, but it just didn’t dazzle me or do it for me. At all. I read The Selection series and enjoyed it for its light-hearted Bachelor-esque feel, and I was hoping for something similar out of this. The Siren just didn’t deliver.

I’m going to start with what I liked about it first — for one, I enjoyed the writing style. The word choice, flow, etc was done well. I really enjoyed the CONCEPT of the story — that the Ocean must consume souls to survive, and to do so She saves certain unlucky victims (female, unmarried, not mothers) from drowning to become her Sirens, who sing the deadly song and lure those unlucky souls to their deaths. The Ocean must survive in order to provide the masses with food, etc. Those chosen victims must dedicate 100 years of servitude to the Ocean in exchange for their life. I don’t know much about siren folklore, but this was definitely new to me and I enjoyed that piece of it.

I did not enjoy the instalove and whiny MC. I was also annoyed at everyone’s names, specifically the MC and her love interest. Kahlen and Akinli? This book is set in present-day, Kahlen “died” in the 40s…these aren’t typical names, and for some reason that really annoyed me. And the instalove. I. Can’t. Even. They meet. They decide to hang out. They make cake (with about 9000 mentions of effing almond extract). They fall in love. Wait, what? That escalated quickly. Don’t even get me started on when Kahlen washes up on a tiny town in Maine where Akinli is from (they met in MIAMI, ok) and he doesn’t even ask questions. He just takes her in and they go on a date. WTF? WTF.

During the times that those two aren’t together, Kahlen is obnoxiously depressed and withdrawn — super boring to read about.

Anyway, rather and drivel on about how much I didn’t like this, I’ll just leave my 2/5 rating here and move on with my life.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

22840421The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England. – Goodreads

I just finished this and had to log-on ASAP to write a review — this is by far one of my top five favorite books of the year (so naturally I had to write it before 2016 timed out).

I’m not sure what initially drew me to this book — I think it came through as a Kindle deal or something. When I saw that Cynthia Hand lives in my town, I figured, eh, I like historical fiction, I suppose I’ll drop a couple of bucks for a fellow Idahoan.

Could not put down, to a point of the boyfriend complaining about how I look at my Kindle more than him (ironic, because he got it for me for Christmas). It IS a 500+ page book, though, so it took a small chunk of time to read (not complaining — I loved the book, and thus loved the length).

First things first (and our dear narrators let us know from the get-go) – this is not an entirely accurate depiction of history. In fact, it’s a bit more of a historical/fantasy mashup, with the Tudors, shapeshifters, and the like thrown in.

The story is told from three points-of-view — Jane, Edward and Gifford. Jane is a firey redheaded bookworm. Edward is the king, who is quite immature and has no idea how to run a kingdom (he’s also dying). Gifford is a lord’s son, who happens to turn into a horse.

Edward, who is dying, names Jane the next in line for the throne and mandates her marriage to Gifford (at the suggestion of his royal advisor, who is Gifford’s dad). Now, Jane and Gifford know of each other, but know nothing about each other — needless to say, they’re not pleased with their marriage.

The humor in this book — that’s what hooked me and what made it so enjoyable. I loved how occasionally the narrators would butt in with a quip or comment — it always fit, and was used sparingly.

I really enjoyed the character development — the three POVs worked well and I enjoyed all three characters. They had dimension and their chemistry was fantastic.

I also enjoyed the worldbuilding. Though set in old England, the fantasy elements with the Verities and Edians worked well.

The writing was also fabulous — in fact, I completely forgot the book was written by three different people.

5/5 for sure!

L