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review 2015-07-30 10:57
Falling Kingdoms
Falling Kingdoms - Morgan Rhodes,Michelle Rowen

I had very high hopes for Falling Kingdoms. While I have heard many good things about it, I didn't feel like it was over hyped, something which often ruins a book for me. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to any of my expectations. And I'm genuinely upset about this. I thought this book held so much great potential but it really flopped. I do love the cover though.

I don't think the novel, as a whole, was bad. It just felt like it was very shallow and spread thin, and it had the greatest flaw of all YA fantasy: Lack of originality. It follows the story of the three kingdoms of Mytica, with tensions between them high and war on the horizon. We see the story through many POV's, giving us many different perspectives on the same situation.

There's Jonas, the rebel. He is basically every rebel in every young adult novel ever. Fueled by rage and hungry for justice, Jonas will go to any means necessary to take down the people who have destroyed his life. Sound familiar? If you've read any YA novel with rebels in it, then probably yes. Jonas had some interesting scenes but he didn't have much personality of his own. I never connected to him, and while he has quite a large family and some close friends those relationships were never developed. This only helped to make Jonas more robotic.

Next is Cleo, princess of Aurenos, and she has lived in luxury all her life. She was so utterly, completely, annoying. The author tried to make her into a strong, kick butt heroine who stands up for herself, but she just came across as immature and stupid. I was frequently rolling my eyes at her silly ways of thinking. There is certainly room for development with her character, and if done right, she could become pretty awesome.

Then we have Magnus. Magnus is heir to the throne, he has a horrible father (who is known as the 'King of Blood') and with his daddy issues and creepy romance, he is the typical YA bad boy. I really did not care for Magnus. I did not, could not sympathize with him. I'm not entirely sure if the author was setting him up as a villain or maybe an anti-hero, but either way I didn't like him at all. That being said I think I probably enjoyed his storyline best? I'm not sure why, but I guess because Magnus seemed to be the most fleshed out character. It was interesting how he would twist things to his advantage.

Lastly, we have Lucia. Think Morgana from BBC's Merlin, but more fragile. She is apparently super powerful, but the magic in this world is barely explained (Something about elements? Never seen that one before...), and so it's just like she can do things! Wow! But I have no idea what she can actually do. Other than her magic, she doesn't have much personality. She likes flowers. This is all I know about her character after reading a novel where she is one of the main characters. Ok.

There are plenty of side characters as well. I usually love books with large casts of characters, like Michael Grant's Gone series for example. The problem here is that none of these side characters are fleshed out and they sort of blend together. They are the "friend" or the "guard" or the "neighbor". Very disappointing.

I felt the plot was decent, but as I mentioned earlier, spread way to thin. This book was pure set up for sequels. There were many twists and turns but I honestly saw all of them coming a mile away. ALL OF THEM. Literally not a SINGLE PLOT TWIST THAT I DIDN'T SEE COMING. This is a big deal because there were a lot. I had quite a lot of problems with the events of the plot itself, but that would be getting into spoiler territory so I'll leave it at that.

As much as I didn't enjoy this book, I don't think it was badly written. The writing was just rather bland and, again, spread thin. The world building was good enough, although I can't say much for the setting itself.

I don't plan on reading the sequels. I don't care what happens to the characters or where the story goes. So very disappointed in this book. I can see what it was trying to achieve, and according to other reviews it seemed to to get there for other readers. Just not this one!

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review 2015-07-05 00:00
An Ember in the Ashes
An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir has an interesting cast of characters, setting, and plot. It has all the makings of a fantastic, unforgettable book.
However it very disappointingly falls flat. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it. But the world building, or lack thereof, really let it down.

An Ember in the Ashes follows two characters, the first is Laia, a Scholar living under the brutal rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who vow to save her brother from execution. The second is Elias, the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

Laia and Elias were both very complex and flawed characters, and they each had a distinct voice. Although I found Laia somewhat irritating, I liked her growth throughout the novel as she found courage within herself. Her brother Darin, who pretty much fuels her courage, I did have a problem with. I felt both him and Laia's relationship with him weren't developed well enough for me to really connect with Laia at all.
Elias I enjoyed a lot more, all his motivations and relationships were well developed and built up, and I could actually understand him. I especially enjoyed his relationship with his mother, a mystery that slowly unravelled.

I wasn't really into the plot until the last hundred or so pages when it really picked up and everything was crazy. I loved the way Laia's and Elias' stories intertwined, and ultimately reached the same place. The plot moved very fast and had some nice twists, but ultimately it just couldn't make up for the lack of world building.

This fantasy world was supposedly inspired by Ancient Rome which I could almost see coming through, but there was just no atmosphere at all. The writing was fairly simple and was fast paced, but had some nice quoteable passages.

I look up at the stars hanging low in a sky that makes me think I’m seeing the infinite. But beneath their cold gaze, I feel small. All the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.


Well that's great and all but I felt so lost being thrown into an intense plot, but having no idea what the setting was like. There is little to no description of the surroundings, and it leaves the story very bland.
Also WHAT ON EARTH are the "Masks" supposed to look like?! They're soldiers who have this mask stuck on their faces, but all I could see was a bunch of soldiers looking like the gas mask kid from Doctor who...and (while that is totally creepy) I'm pretty sure that is not what they are meant to be.

description

Overall, An Ember in the Ashes was enjoyable, but a huge let down. I would recommend it if you like YA fantasy such as the Grisha trilogy and Snow Like Ashes. If this book impacted me in any way, it was a reminder of how important world building is.

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review 2015-06-14 00:00
Shiver
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

Okay, from my rating you would probably think I hated this book to some degree. Before reading this book, I thought I would in fact hate it. I was surprised to find that it wasn't completely and totally awful! Yay!

But...I still didn't enjoy it. I can sum it up for you in a couple words, cheesy and boring.
The writing was pretty good and as I listened to this on audio book, I thought it was read quite well.
But I was zoning out often because it was just so darn boring. Shiver suffers from a serious case of insta-love. It's really weird, because it doesn't develop anywhere from that. It's just "Oh I saw you and I loved you" and then it goes nowhere. *eternal sigh*

There isn't much of a plot. Just the two main characters (whose names I've already forgotten) staring at each other and the occasional irrelevant dialogue from random side characters who...were they important? I can't remember. Okay, to be fair, there were moments where I went "Oh! Interesting!" but my interest never lasted long, and the particular sub plot would die out before I could get invested.

Overall, this was not awful. It had moments of charm within it's stale and lifeless plot. Unless you really, really, reaaaally like boring paranormal ya romance, I wouldn't recommend this one. I won't be continuing the series because I couldn't care less. Goodbye!

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review 2015-06-14 00:00
The Gray Wolf Throne
The Gray Wolf Throne - Cinda Williams Chima

The Seven Realms series continues in this third installment, however this has to be my least favourite so far. A major plot point was revealed in the blurb and it really took away from the reading experience and the moment it happened. It is true that you could see it was going to happen anyway, but I still would have preferred to go in blind. I recommend that you avoid reading the blurb when going into this one. All you need to know is that the story picks up right where The Exiled Queen left off. Raisa is on the run, Han is searching for her, and there are enemies everywhere.

 

The dual point of view is still in effect here, but this book focuses more on Raisa than Han, an aspect I thought I would enjoy as I greatly prefer her character. But it turned out Han’s struggles were much more interesting than Raisa’s so I was left unsatisfied. The Gray Wolf Throne is very character driven, even more so than The Exiled Queen.

 

It was sad to see the end of Oden’s Ford, as I really enjoyed the setting, and there wasn’t really any firm setting here. They moved around a lot and unlike in The Demon King, it didn’t work.

 

The first half of the novel was the best. It was pretty intense, with both Han and Raisa on the same path, yet separated. It was action packed, and I felt it had a good balance with the slower scenes. The plot was engaging and constantly moving forward (although pretty slowly it seemed) yet it didn’t have any strong build up or climax. This definitely was more of a bridge book to set up for the sequel. While I enjoyed the read, it was disappointing. There are still some fantastic moments, and if you have liked the first two books then you should definitely pick this one up. I’m hoping that this is all build up to an explosive finale! And if you haven’t tried this series yet, go ahead and give The Demon King a chance. It’s an excellent, refreshing young adult fantasy!

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review 2015-05-31 00:00
Fairest
Fairest - Marissa Meyer

I loved this insight into Levana's character. I feel like now I fully understand where she's coming from and how twisted her mind actually is. I was often full on cringing reading this, because her idea of what was happening was so wrong. She really does think she is a good queen, although she is incredibly selfish and vain. Seeing the horrible things she had to go through as a young girl doesn't redeem her, but it does give her great development as a character and a villain. Before this book, she was just a faceless evil, not an actual person. This book has added much needed layers to the character, which I hope will come into play in the final installment of the series.

As for the plot of this book, it wasn't very exciting. This was more of a character study then anything. It had a nice build up to Winter, and I loved the inclusion of characters who will play an important role in that book.

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