Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

The Review:

This was another book I picked up on a whim because I kept seeing it at bookstores. I also sort of like alternative historical fiction mixed with fantasy.

This book is set during the war of Austria-Hungary, but it also has magic within in that world, and those who are most powerful are of the higher class called Luminates. Anna is someone who hasn’t yet come into her powers, and her powers come to be during the worst possible moment. It sort of reminded me of what happened to Elsa in Frozen. She then has to leave with her grandmother off to Hungary to learn more about her power.

A lot of the plot reminded me of another book I recently read The Bone Witch which also involves her being trained and learning more about the magic of the world. While it didn’t have the same level of world building that The Bone Witch had, but it did have just enough amount of history and lore which didn’t feel a lot like info dumping.

This book also mixed Romani/Gypsy culture into the world of magic and fantasy. I kinda wish it also digged a little bit deeper in gypsy culture and the world of magic because I think it was written in way that for those who have an extensive knowledge of Romani culture.

Anna has a pretty good main character, she wasn’t too whiny, but there was times when she was a bit too lovey dubbey, especially towards Gabor when she is trying to kiss him or to get him to love her. It felt kinda insta-lovey. But when stuff was going down she was trying her hardest to fix everything.

The supporting characters were also really good. Her grandmother was great in her mentor role, introducing Anna to the world around her, and also making sure that she stays out of trouble, and even though she is old she can still kick some ass.

Gabor, her trainer also had a pretty good arc to him. While he was very stand offish when Anna didn’t kiss him, and was always very made at her since then. Also their love story felt a bit cliched. In which he is of a lower class, and of course they can’t be together.

The plot is starting up a rebellion within the kingdom, or at least it is beginning stages. The problem I kinda had with it was it felt a bit added towards the end without a lot of development or build up. If there was a lot more build up it could have led to a better story.

In the end, Blood Rose Rebellion was a pretty decent book, but it lacked the epicness I look for in a fantasy novel. I thought the characters were pretty well development and the world building was pretty well done. It could have dug deep in Romani culture and I felt the books ending was a bit rushed,

Grade: 3.4/5

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The Bone Witch by: Rin Chupeco

Summary:

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

The Review:

This is another book I kinda picked up on whim, and I kept seeing the book everywhere and since it is a fantasy book I of course will read it.

I also didn’t know much about the author, I heard of the other books she written but never actually read them.

First let’s discuss the characters. Tea is a great protagonist. While she does ask a lot of questions she clearly wants to know what is going on, and how to become a better asha. Her kinda finding out that she is a bone witch comes at a complete surprise to her when she resurrects her dead brother and now has be trained to become an asha. The book switches from 15-year old Tea to a 17 year old Tea, and you see her character progress through her training.

The supporting characters were also good. I did like Tea’s relationship with Fox and I kinda wish there was a lot more scenes with them. You don’t see a lot of brother-sister relationships in YA, so I am glad that it was there. I also did like her mentor Lady Mykeala who basically served as an Obi-Wan role and their relationship was also well done.

The world building was also really good. The book did a good job at giving us backstory and lore with the kingdom it is set in, but I kinda feel that it was almost too much world building. The book is roughly 400 pages, the problem with too much world building is that it takes away from building up the plot The book has such a rich lore to it, in which is describes all the witches, how Dark ashas came to be and the conflict within the kingdoms but throughout the book nothing really happens. Tea mainly goes through her training, and the main conflict feels a bit tacked on at the end in which after reading the book I kept saying “that was it?”. I think there will be more plot development in future books.

In the end, despite my problems with the plot, I thought The Bone Witch was great book for world building and giving us a magical world. Hopefully in future books with the world building out of the way it could focus a lot more at character and plot development.

Grade: 3/5

Frostblood by: Elly Blake

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

The Review:

This book was one of my anticipated reads of 2017, and I heard a lot of good things about the book.

The book reminded me a lot of of Red Queen in terms of the class system with blood type. with Frostblood being the more ruling class and Firebloods being a lower class, and Ruby is a powerful Fireblood who starts to realize the full potential of her power and “Let’s it go”. While there was aspects of her that was a bit whiny she did get better as the book went along.

I felt the beginning started off a bit slow with her training, and while it was nice to have some good aspects of character development, It did feel that the book was biting time for the action to start.

She joins a group of rebel Frostbloods who task her to overthrow the King and trains with Arcus. Arcus is sort of like Chaol from Throne of Glass. But I did feel that the relationship between Arcus and Ruby was a bit cliched in which they suppose to hate each other but then get together in the end, but the romance was very downplayed and it felt more like a friendship than a romance which made the book a little better.

Ruby becomes captured and forced to enter a tournament in which she fights Frostblood champions. This is where I felt the book started to really pick up, mainly because it reminded me a lot of Spartacus and Gladiator in terms of how the tournament scenes plays out. This is where you also see Ruby’s use the fullness of her power and it was so great to read about it. Her first fight reminded me a lot of Maximus’s first fight in Gladiator in which no one expects her to do well and when she does it wins the crowd.

The book also has a few good twists, in which I won’t spoil but it did a good at setting up where the series is going to go. I felt that it was a very good first book of a series that did a good job at setting up characters and villains of the story, and I do plan on reading the rest of the series to see where it goes.

Grade: 3.9/5

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite SFF on your TBR

Happy Wednesday everyone, and here is another Top 5 Wednesday and the topic is,
April 5th: Top SFF Books on Your TBR *Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic!*
–Talk about the science fiction and fantasy books you want to read ASAP!

Top 5 Wednesday is a group in Goodreads and was formerly created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is now done by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. It is open to everyone.

As I always say, science fiction and fantasy are always my go to for reading and they always have great stories and characters

The Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley

From the premise it sounds like cool new version of Sailor Moon meets Buffy with a prophecy element. I keep seeing it at bookstores, I always pick it up then out it down. I may actually will try to read the book.

A Gathering of Shadows/A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab

I read A Darker Shade of Magic earlier this year and loved it and I want to see how the story continues. I have heard nothing but good things about the series and the author so I hope it won’t disappoint.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

From what I was told it is a retelling of the movie Labyrinth, and I have heard some good things about it from the bookish community.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

I was told since I was a fan of Firefly, this would be a book for me. I always like the ragtag group of people going around and kicking ass in space.

A Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This is a book that has been on my TBR for a long time and I know she has another book out but I feel that I need to read it. I heard a lot of good things about the book and I will be sure to read it when I have the time.

Those are the SFF books on my TBR. What SFF books are on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

Summary:

Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

The Review:

With A Conjuring of the Light being released, and also as a new fan of V.E. Schwab (her two other books I have read was Vicious and This Savage Song), I felt a need to read this book series because I have heard great things about and it definitely lived up to the hype.

What I love about her writing style is how descriptive everything is, every single word means something, and adds to the world building, in which multiple London  exist, which is already a great concept in itself.

Kell, is a erand boy for the King and Queen of Red London, where magic is worshiped and has to travel between London’s in order to do so. It is while he is traveling through London’s he meets Lila, or becomes a victim on Lila’s theft, and then the two go on an adventure.

I love Kell and Lila, and what strikes me about V.E Schwab’s writing is how she writes characters interactions with each other, without having a romantic aspect seem forced. They also worked well together with Lila using her skills as thief and Kell using his skills with magic

A lot of the supporting characters are also great like, Prince Rhys, Kell’s “brother”. While Kell was adopted into the royal family, not much is given about his life before that. But Rhys and Kell’s relationship is also really well done, while we don’t see much of Rhys at least until towards the end of the book, but you still get a sense of their relationship throughout the book.

Another set of supporting are the villains, the Dane twins who are trying to take over all of the London’s with the use of a stone that both Lila and Kell has with them. They were great villains, even if they didn’t get as much development as they should have. But boy were they evil.

While the plot of the book is a slow burn, but it is a good slow burn which does a good job at developing the characters and the world around them and makes you care about what happens to the characters. The different London’s were very good and I want to see more of them.

In the end, A  Darker Shade of Magic was a great first book in what hopefully will be a great series. As a fan of V.E. Schwab’s writing it always kept me wanting more and seeing how the story continues.

Grade: 5/5

 

Hype or Like Friday: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Happy Friday everyone,

Sorry I haven’t done these in quite a while, school and work got a little backed up but I was able to read Truthwitch and finally do a Hype or Like Friday review of the book.

Hype or Like Friday is a meme created by Jillian, Larkin, and Britt to discuss about hyped books and see if they’re hyped up or not. There would be book of the month that you can read, and the post your review for it on the end of the month, then rate it whether it’s a hype it or like it.

Summary:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

The Review:

While this wasn’t on my TBR, I did see this book a lot at bookstores and even the blogoshphere, and I decided to read the book because I do like fantasy novels, and this book is totally worth the hype.

First of all, I love the setting of the book and how it deals with an impending war and how it would effect both Safiya and Iseult, two friends. What I love is seeing the friendship between Safi and Iseult because you never see much female friendships in YA and even though they did spend parts of the book away from each other, you still get a glimpse of their relationship. Both Safi and Iseult also deal with how the impending war impacts their family. Safi has to deal with her uncle trying to broker a peace deal and using her to do so and Iseult is dealing with the fact that she has powers and was basically lied to her entire life, and learning how to use her powers.

The world building is also really well done. It wasn’t a lot of info dumping which most fantasy books, and was able to introduce us to this world without dealing with exposition and it did it more organically through the characters. I also like how the witches are described in the book, they had different factions and being a Truthwitch meant being so powerful that many either want to use or want her dead. There was a few times in the middle of the book where the story started to drag a bit

Safi spends a majority of the book being on the run and is guided by Merik, Merik is an awesome character. He is basically Malcolm Reynolds meets Nathan Drake. While he is reluctant at first he does help her and you even like the relationship between the two. While it did feel a bit rushed, both characters were at least developed enough to cheer them on.

In the end Truthwitch was a book worth the hype, it was a real engaging read that did a great job world building but also developing its characters. I look forward to reading more of this series.

My grade is LIKE

Grade: 4/5

 

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by: Rae Carson

Summary:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

The Review:

This was another book on my very large TBR list and I decided to finally give it a read, and I enjoyed it.

Let me first discuss the character, I love Elisa. I felt it was very refreshing to an YA-heroine that wasn’t perfect and acknowledge her imperfections. Also her plot didn’t involve dumb romances and felt forced in.

I felt some of the supporting characters could have had a but more development, such as Alejandro who I felt was a pretty good character and sort of love interest but he could have used some background because I like his scenes with Elisa and Alejandro.

I also loved Elisa’s relationship with Ximena because you don’t see a lot of female-female friendships, and she was a great supporting character.

I also felt that the world building could have been a better. The thing with fantasy novels is trying to set up setting, and I did get a descent sense of the setting but I wanted the book to dive more deeper into the lore, maybe the next few books swill dive deeper into the lore.

I also liked the plot, it was a different take on the “chosen one” trope, and it was great to see Elisa come into her powers.

I also liked the use of reliogion and how it tied into the world, which you don’t see a a lot in fantasy novels.

In the end, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a very solid first book, in hopefully a good series, while the world building could have been better, it gave us a great main character in Elisa and I want to see more of her story.

Grade: 3/5