Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdom #2)

Summary (via Goodreads): The road to power… is paved with blood and magic.

Cleo is now a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica as the evil King Gaius lies to her people.
Magnus stands to eventually inherit the new kingdom but is still obsessed with his feelings for his adopted sister, Lucia.
Lucia is haunted by the outcome of the breathtaking display of magic that allowed her father to capture the kingdoms.
Jonas watched at the palace gates a troop of rebels behind him, waiting for him to tell them how he plans to overtake King Gaius.

After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over…

At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas’s hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia’s, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus’s, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand.

When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden Mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long-smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius’s road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences.

My Thoughts: This is where I feel the series started picking up, especially after the way the first book ended. A rebellion is forming around Jonas, Cleo is now being forced the marry Prince Magnus, Magnus is dealing with issues with his father and Lucia is in a coma.

What I like about the book is that it expands the story and develops the characters. Cleo who literally had the worst days of her life is engaged to someone who she despises. This is where I feel her character gets some development. I also like her interactions with both Jonas and Magnus, and even though she is a princess she doesn’t put up with any of their crap either.

Jonas, also got a lot of development in terms of being the new leader of the rebellion and kinda feeling that he doesn’t have what it takes to take on the king with his band of rebels. I like his plan to kidnap Cleo on her wedding day, and hold her hostage in order to get what he wants.

Magnus is the only character I don’t really connect with in terms of development. I get that he is suppose to a dark prince like Prince Zuko from Avatar, but there are times where he sides with a father and times when you see him break away from his father and having a “dear God, what have I done” moment. I also didn’t like him lusting after his adoptive sister. I know Lucia is adopted but it just seems weird.

I also like that you get to see how much a dick King Gaius is. who I kinda envision as the Mad King from Game of Thrones

Lucia spent most of the book in a coma, but still communicating in the spirit world and trying to discover her power that her father is trying to use to take over the kingdom.

In the end I really enjoyed this book, while it did have some pacing issues and you almost felt that you needed a chart to know who wants to be with what person. It did keep me entertained to read what happens next.

Grade: 3.8/5

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Summary: I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

My Review: After reading Marie Lu’s Legend Trilogy, I was excited that she is writing another series and instead of writing another dystopian novel, she goes for the high fantasy genre, and I am impressed with what she has written so far. She also explains that this series is  a journey from hero to villain.

Adelina is what I wanted Cealena from Throne of Glass to be. While she does start off as a protagonist I like that she always had a dark side to her, especially after what her father does to her. I feel that her only center is her sister Violetta, and how she has to do whatever it takes to protect even if that means working for Teren and reporting the activities of the Young Elites to him. As the book goes on you see her decent into darkness after what happens to her, and you really feel for her after all the things she does.

I think Enzo and Teren should have been a bit more developed. I know they had a few POV chapters, but I would have like to have seen more from them and also develop the other Young Elite members.

I also felt the book started off a little slow, and I know it is high fantasy so the world building does take time to adjust, but once the story actually picks up, then the book starts becoming good. Seeing some of the abilities that the Young Elites have and seeing how sometimes emotions can tie into their powers. If I were to describe the story it would be Xmen set within a high fantasy universe.

In the end I think this was a strong start to hopefully a good series and that Marie Lu doesn’t disappoint.

Grade: 3.9/5

Snow Like Ashes by: Sara Raasch

Summary (Via Goodreads)A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. Like a lot of first books in high fantasy books there is a lot of world building, but at least with this world building kept you engaged in the story and also the characters.

I like Meira, she is basically Arya mixed and Cleo from Falling Kingdoms. While her character covers the trope of a young girl who wants to be warrior but gender norms keeps her from doing so. The story is framed differently Throughout the book she keeps getting visions from Hannah, who was the former Queen of Winter before its defeat, and in the end the visions actually means something.

I also like that there isn’t really a love triangle, or if it is, it is very down played. One is Mather is who set to be King of Winter, the other is Theron who at one point Meira was forced to marry in order to secure an alliance. I felt both of those characters lacked development but hopefully in future books will gain some character development.

Another side character is Sir, the main who raised Meira from when she was orphaned. He basically serves the Obi-Wan role in the book.

If I were to point out a negative I would say the villain. I didn’t feel that he had any type of development or was really any interesting. Another is the ending and how anti-climatic it felt, and how rushed it was.

In the end, I thought the book was great and excited to read the sequel.

Grade: 3.7/5

 

Throne of Glass by: Sarah J. Maas

Summary (Via Goodreads): After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

My Thoughts: I was recommended this book from a friend, who described it as Game of Thrones meets Hunger Games, and I could say that I really enjoyed the book. As a fan of high fantasy the world really grabbed my attention, and while the first few chapters takes a while to set things up it is a given for any high fantasy book.

Now let me discuss the characters. First is Celaena, who was an assassin who has to compete in a tournament in order to receive her freedom. I would describe her as Katniss if she went bad. She also has a bit of snark to her. Next is Chaol, who is captain of the guard and is tasked to train Celaena for the tournament who is basically Four from Divergent and I like Celaena and Chaols back and forth. Another is prince Dorian who is another suitor for Celaena who shares her love of reading. While I am not against love triangles and romances I feel that it was a distraction  from the main plot.

I really liked the plot, the tournament felt like a sick twisted Triwizard tournament with very dangerous tasks such as picking a poison, climbing challenges and hard duels, but I felt some of the other competitors could of had some development. I also liked the murder mystery plot, even though without giving too much away it felt a little anti-climatic.

In the end I felt this was a great first book of a series and despite some problems I really enjoyed the book and was excited to see what came next.

Grade: 3.8/5

Falling Kingdoms by: Morgan Rhodes

Summary (via Goodreads): In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword

My Thoughts: When I first heard about the book, it was described by my friends as a YA Game of Thrones, which kinda turned me off, because I didn’t want to read a sanitized version of Game of Thrones. The book kinda surprised me on how good the story was, even though I felt the conflict was started in a convoluted way. Even though it is not at the level of Game of Thrones, it was still a very good book.

Let me describe the lead characters, first is Cleo; who is the princess of one of the ruling kingdoms. At first she starts off as the pampered princess but by the end she changes. Jonas starts off as the bad boy rebel trying to hate the world because he grew up in poverty but also changes. Lucia is what I like to describe as Davina from the Originals with the powers of the Avatar, while she doesn’t have a lot in terms of development she does in future books, and Magnus; who I like to describe as a dark prince, trying to break from his King father and not really knowing his true allegiance.

I think this was a very solid first book, while it takes a while for the plot to really start moving forward, mainly because it is mostly focusing on world building in which a lot of fantasy books has to do. I enjoyed the book as much as I thought I would and was excited to see what happens next.

Grade: 3.7/5