Tag Archives: action/adventure

Flamecaster – Cinda Willaims Chima

Summary:
A burning vengeance.
Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic-and a thirst for revenge. The son of the queen of the Fells, Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers now to save a life, but to take it?
A blood-based curse.
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would one day make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.
Destiny’s fiery hand.
Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, Ash and Jenna will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.
Se in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

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Review:
So if you read my last review you all know that I absolutely loved the Seven Realms series. Flamecaster is the next series based in the same world, only it’s a generation later. I also very much loved this book. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that the next three books aren’t out and there aren’t even any expected publication dates, which I guess it understandable seeing as this book just came out in April. But still, I don’t care if I’m being unreasonable! I need to know what’s going to happen next!
Cinda Williams Chima is an amazing writer. The way she sets up the plot for what going to come next and the setting, ugh, I wish this world was a real place. From the way she describes it, it’s beautiful even after twenty five years of war with Arden. She explains everything in such good detail I feel like I’m there with Ash when he’s at Oden’s Ford, or right alongside Jenna in Delphi. I just really enjoy the way the story is written. It’s an extremely action packed story; pretty much right from the start of the book, but there’s also a bit of romance and quite a few devastating parts as well as surprise after surprise. Chima seems to know exactly how to make it straight to my heart and get me way too involved in the story and beyond in love with the characters. She also does one of my favorite things, she tells the story from more than one perspective. From this, I knew as soon as I started to read the story that our two main characters, Ash and Jenna, would eventually meet. I love that I get more than just one part of the story. I get to see what’s going on in other parts of the world all at the same time.
The beginning of Flamecaster threw me off a little bit. In the start of the book Ash is thirteen and Jenna is twelve. We read a few chapters of their lives at this age while they both experience something traumatic and life changing. Then the story fast forwards four years. I took me by surprise and had me confused for a few pages until I realized what had happened. It’s not that I didn’t like the time jump, because I totally understand why the author did it, I just think she should have done it a little more clearly. Maybe she could have labeled underneath the chapter title “four years later” or something like that.
As always the characters are my favorite part to talk about. In Flamecaster I feel like there are so many more characters I’d like to talk about compared to the Seven Realms series. I think maybe there are just more characters that I’ve started to love. So I’ll start with our favorite prince, Adrian sul’Han also called Ash. He’s so his father’s son it’s ridiculous. He keeps secrets just like his father did, though his secrets didn’t blow up in his face like they did for his father, thankfully. He’s a smart and brave young man throughout all of these pages. Though, not everything he does is terribly intelligent. He gets it into his head that he needs to kill the king of Arden, which is why most of this story takes place in Arden. I thought that was cool because the last series took place mostly in the Fells and I really enjoyed getting to read about one of the other kingdoms in the Seven Realms. I understood why Ash felt that he needed to kill the king, but at the same time I don’t think he really needed to. I think it would have happened without his help and he should have gone back home instead of going to Arden. Part of me is glad he went because then he never would have met Jenna and we wouldn’t have gotten to learn more about his sort of friend Lila either. Thankfully, at the end of the story Ash decides it’s time for him to go home. At this point he’s grown up a great deal and I really enjoyed following him on his adventures to get to this point.
Jenna Bandelow was a very interesting character. I wasn’t totally sure where her part in the story was going to take us, except obviously towards Ash. Even after finishing this book I only have a slightly better understanding of what part she’s going to play in the Shattered Realms series, though I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a big one. I loved Jenna from the very start. She really cares about the people in her life and does her absolute best to protect them at any cost, even when doing so could cost her her life. Because of one of these moments she has to change her identity and starts her life over as a boy. She’s passionate about what she believes in and knows exactly what she wants. She actually reminds me a little bit of Queen Raisa. She consistently takes risks to try to make her town a better place and she never stops trying to do the right thing. I’m very excited to see where the rest of this series takes Jenna.
While Ash is studying at Oden’s Ford in the beginning of this story we meet Lila, who isn’t someone that I would call his friend, but they get closer to that by the end of this book. Lila was a very confusing character. I knew that I liked her, but I couldn’t always tell whose side she was on. She was a spy for the Arden kingdom, but never seemed to really agree with what she was doing and always seemed to have another goal in mind. When we finally find out who she really is I liked her even more. I knew there was something about her that I liked and as soon as that surprise was revealed I was very glad. I’m sure she’ll be a big part of the next three books and I’m excited to see more of her.
Flamecaster, the first book in the Shattered Realms series, was amazing. I’m glad I decided to buy it and even gladder I finally got around to reading it. I am going to try to patiently wait for the next three books to come out, but it will probably be more anxiously waiting than patiently. If you like action packed books with tons of plot twists with a bit of romance in the middle this is definitely the book for you.


The Seven Realms Series – Cinda Williams Chima

Hello readers! I’ve been reading the Seven Realms series this week. There are four books in this series and they were just too good to put down. Since I own all four of them I figured I would just read them and then review all four in one post.

seven realms
The Demon King Summary:
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister, Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell. For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They’re clearly magicked-as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
Han’s life gets even harder after he takes a powerful amulet from Micah Bayar, the son of the High Wizard. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, the Bayars will stop at nothing to reclaim it from Han.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name day, she isn’t looking forward to trading in her common sense for a prince with a big castle and a tiny brain. Raisa aspires to be like Hanalea-the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems that her mother has other plans for her-plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.
The Exiled Queen Summary:
Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to being his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery-but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.
Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her best friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If she can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf Queen.
The Gray Wolf Throne Summary:
Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.
Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it-he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive-and even that might not be enough.
The Crimson Crown Summary:
For young Queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against the common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.
Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?
Review:
The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima is amazing. I absolutely loved these books. The characters, the setting, the way it was written. Everything about this series was great. This is a fantasy series that takes place in a made up world. The detail that’s put into this world is one of my favorite parts. As we read through all four books we learn more and more about each country. We also got to learn quite a bit about this world’s history, and the many versions of it that are known around the world. We get to see the effect of the events from the past and how they shaped the way the world works now. I loved learning all the different versions of the world’s history and finally figuring out which one was the truth. Seeing that all of the current politics and bigger issues were really for no reason because their view of how history unfolded was not completely accurate. It just goes to show that an accurate keeping of time and events can be very important.
These four books were all written very well. The span of time never seemed to moving too quickly or too slowly. That’s something I notice in some books, so much happens in such a short period of time it almost seems impossible. These books didn’t have that. Many things happened in these pages, but they didn’t all happen at once and we actually got to see a noticeable amount of time pass within all of the craziness of the story. I also like that this is a book that follows two different perspectives. While we didn’t get to see it from all the different characters views, we did get to follow Han and Raisa as they both overcame quite a bit.
Now, my favorite part to write about, the characters. I’ll start with Raisa ana’Marianna, the princess heir and eventually queen of the Fells. I liked her from the very start of this series. She’s always had very strong opinions about her life and what she wanted to do with it. While, yes, she knew she was a princess and would eventually be queen, so she knew that there would be many things in her life she would have to sacrifice for the good of the Fells. She did her best to do what was right for her as a person as well. She had a back bone and never let it waver. There were times where she let people think she was going to waver and then came back stronger than ever. Raisa always tried to do what she thought was best for her people, even before she became the queen. As princess heir she had so many ideas of how to make certain things better, but her mother never wanted to listen to her. When she was put in a situation that could have potentially brought the Fells to war, she did was she thought was best and fled to Oden’s Ford to go to school in disguise. Raisa was probably my favorite character because she tried her best to do what she thought was best. I really enjoyed watching her grow into a queen that could and would actually make a different for her people.
Next is Han Alister, a man with many names. We first meet him as Cuffs because of the mysterious silver cuffs around his wrists that he’s never been able to get off, and not for lack of trying. Han was a very interesting character to follow. I wasn’t really sure where his story was going to take us until his run in with Rasia at one of the local temples. He seemed like a kid who’d ended up with the wrong crowd because he needed to find a way to make money to help his family survive. Even though Han had gotten out of that business, his reputation followed him. When a chance meeting happens and he gets a wizard amulet things start to change. He’s hunted and beaten and somehow manages to escape every time. Even though all Han wants is to escape the life and help his family survive he’s pulled into danger time and time again. I think the change and growth in Han was the most noticeable out of all the characters in this series. He gets some very surprising news about his family lines and it completely changes his life, well, except for the danger part. He studies hard for his new task and finds ways to polish himself as well as his skills so he can fit in better with the blue bloods. The only bad thing I have to say about Han is that he kept too many secrets, but in his defense, they were pretty big secrets and I can understand why he didn’t want to share them. Other than that I really liked what his character brought to this story.
Now, the Bayar family was the one thing I didn’t like about this series. They were a necessary evil because every story needs a villain. The High Wizard was a thorn in Raisa’s side in every single one of the books in the Seven Realms series. He was constantly stirring up trouble and I wish someone took care of him as soon as this series started. That would have eliminated so many of the battles Raisa had to face. The High Wizard’s daughter, Fiona, was someone I wasn’t sure about when I first met her. She had potential to be someone very helpful to the plot line. She proved very quickly that she was on her father’s side, and sometimes on her own side with her own goals. Finally, the High Wizard’s son, Micah Bayar, he played a very key role in this story. He was what made Raisa flee to school instead of staying in her home and being with her family. As much as I would like to hate Micah, I can’t seem to bring myself to actually hate him. He played a part in so much of the chaos that happened in these books. But there were also so many times that his words or actions were to help keep Raisa safe, or to postpone something so that he could figure out how to keep her safe. So as much as I wanted to hate Micah, I just couldn’t.
The Clans had mixed feelings from me. There were many among the Clans that I really enjoyed reading about, like Willow and her son, Fire Dancer, his cousin Digging Bird. But there were others that really annoyed me, like Reid Nightwalker. He had hopes that he would marry Raisa even though he had no plans to be loyal to her in their marriage and just expected her to accept that. I’m glad of Reid’s fate in this story; he totally deserved everything he got. Then there was Raisa’s father, Averill. The royal consort. He really annoyed me because even though he had no real power over the Fells, he tried to make all kinds of plans behind Raisa’s back. Supposedly these plans were to protect her, but in the end it only hurt her more.
The few characters that I didn’t like that much in no way changed the way I felt about The Seven Realms Series. I absolutely loved these books and I’m glad I own them so I can reread them whenever I want. I would suggest these books to anyone and everyone just because I liked them so much. So, pretty please go get them from the library or the bookstore. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Beach Reads

I’m not really big on “beach reads” For me a beach read is usually just whatever I’m currently reading (as long as it’s not super depressing because I don’t need to cry in public). So I’m just going to try to direct my list more towards lighthearted reads that go well with beautiful summer days.

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  1. Anything by Julia Quinn- Forget her story lines. Forget her strong, witty characters. What I love most about Quinn is how funny her books are. Like laugh-out-loud-and-make-strangers-stare-at-you funny. It’s fantastic.
  2. Beastly by Alex Flinn- This one isn’t the most lighthearted book but it’s a pretty fast read that you could probably finish in one sitting. And it’s my favorite so I always recommend it.
  3. The Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts- This is one of her series’ that revolves a great deal around the friendships between her main characters. I just love how Nora can take romance novels and make them more about badass women being badasses together than about love.
  4. The Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts- This is the second book in her Guardians Trilogy which comes out June 14. This series has a little bit of everything; magic, a treasure hunt, even a mermaid. To me it’s a perfect beach read.
  5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson- I read this one years ago and would love to read it again. It’s a great coming of age, summer adventure story.
  6. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson- I didn’t even know this book existed until about an hour ago and I would absolutely love to see where the story goes next.
  7. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- These aren’t lighthearted or beachy in any way. They’re just amazing books and I highly recommend them.
  8. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh- This is another book I learned about very recently but immediately decided I want to read. It’s not often you find books based on A Thousand and One Nights.
  9. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss– I’m not really sure this fits into what people normally consider a beach read but I’ve recently had several people recommend it to me and I’d like to finally get around to reading it.

Sorry there’s only nine this week. I managed to delete my entire post after I’d already written most of it out so I lost a lot of my motivation the second time around. Anyway, these are some of the books I plan to read this summer or just think you should read. Thanks for reading and let me know what your top ten are in the comments.

-Antonia

 


Yellow Brick War – Danielle Paige

Summary:
Once upon a time, there was a girl from Kansas named Dorothy.
You might know her as the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone. She ended up in Oz, where she became friends with the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. But the temptation of magic was too much for her. She let it change her. Her friends became twisted versions of their former selves.
The magical land of Oz is now a dark and menacing place.
My name is Amy Gumm. Tornadoes must have a thing about girls from Kansas, because I got swept away in one too. I also landed in Oz, where Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good, and the Wicked Witches clued me into my true calling:
Assassin.
The only way to stop Dorothy from destroying Oz-and Kansas-is to kill her. And I’m the only one who can do it.
But I failed. Others died for my mistakes. Because of me, the portal between worlds has been opened and Kansas and Oz are both in danger. And if I don’t find a way to close it?
Dorothy will make sure I never get home again.
18602406Review:
I flew through the Dorothy Must Die series because it’s been so awesome. Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige was probably my least favorite of the three as much as I hate to say it. It ended with a cliff hanger just like the second book, which would be okay if I had the forth book. Unluckily for me, it doesn’t even have a title or a release date. It just says sometime in 2017. I hate waiting for books when they end with cliff hangers like that.
I wouldn’t say that I disliked this book, because I definitely enjoyed reading it. It’s a great continuation of the Dorothy Must Die series. The story itself is wonderful. I love the crazy twist of the original story, The Wizard of Oz. But part of me feels like this series could have been left as a trilogy. It wouldn’t have been overly difficult to wrap this story up nicely with the chaotic and exciting defeat of Dorothy rather than introducing a new, or rather, an ancient villain. I’m definitely still excited to see where the story goes next; to see what craziness these characters find themselves in and how they get out of it.
Yellow Brick War was more complex than the first two books. We’re introduced to another villain. Once that The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked is semi familiar with, but we know nothing about. He threatens Amy’s family and towards the end causes some excitement with others in Amy’s life. There are a few new twists that are introduced in this book which made me realize that this wasn’t going to be the last in the series. I think part of my wishing that it was a trilogy is that I REALLY want to know what’s going to happen. I can be very impatient. While the Dorothy Must Die series could have very easily been made a trilogy, I’m glad it’s not because there are so many questions I still have about Oz and the characters in it.
Amy Gumm struggles very much in this book. We watch her struggle more and more with the darkness in the magic that she’s been taught by the Order. She is obviously good at heart, but it’s even clearer that the magic has started to take a toll on her and her control. I love Amy even more in this book because we get to see how strong she really is. There are a few seriously crazy battles in the pages of Yellow Brick War, not surprising with that title, and a few instances where Amy almost loses complete control of herself and her magic, but somehow finds the good inside her and pulls herself back from the brink. I really love Amy because she can acknowledge that she is teetering on a very fine line. She’s very aware how dangerous it is for her to use her magic and the last thing she wants is to turn into another version of Dorothy. I really admire the fact that she finally knows who she is and she knows her limits.
The Order kind of irritated me Yellow Brick War more than the other books. In the first they leave out a lot of very important information about what they’re asking Amy to do when training her for her mission. They let her in more and more in the second book, but start up again in the third. It really irks me after all Amy has done for them, after all the danger she’s put herself in for their cause. She’s ripped from her life in Kansas, not that her life was the greatest, and they take advantage of her again and again. It’s never really care if they even care about her at all, except for Nox of course because what’s a good action/adventure story without a forbidden love affair? Nox is the only one that really shows that he cares about Amy, but even he keeps vital information from her. She’s the main freaking character and without her none of these plans can be put into action. It seems only fair to me that she should know the whole extent of what she’s volunteering for. The Order doesn’t think so and it really pisses me off. They treat her like a child when she’s in just as much danger as the rest of them.
Other than my frustration with another cliff hanger and the superiority complex The Order seems to have I really liked Yellow Brick War. The story just got crazier and crazier the further I got into the book with an explosive ending. I might actually die waiting for the forth book that’s unnamed and has no known date of release. I seriously suggest the Dorothy Must Die series to any reader who likes a little or a lot of action and a very creative twist on the Wizard of Oz.
Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


The Wicked Will Rise – Danielle Paige

Summary:
My name is Amy Gumm-and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
After a tornado swept through my trailer park, I ended up in Oz. But it wasn’t like the Oz I knew from books and movies. Dorothy had returned, and she was stealing magic from the land. The Wizard was back, too. Even Glinda could no longer be called the Good Witch. And the Wicked Witches who were left? They had joined forces as the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. They gave me a mission:
Kill Dorothy.
Except my job as assassin didn’t work out as planned. Dorothy is still alive. The Order has vanished. And the home I couldn’t wait to leave behind might be in danger.
Now I have to:
Find Dorothy.
Destroy the yellow brick.
Save my home.
18602341Review:
Holy fucking cliff hanger. I hate them with a fiery passion. Yeah, I get that they make an impact on the story, but if I didn’t already have the third book to this series I’d be freaking out even more. The Wicked Will Rise was just as good as the first book in the series, which I’ve already reviewed if you want to check it out.
This story is sort of based off The Wizard of Oz. It’s a very creative and unique adaptation of the original story. I love fairytale stories. But I love modern day adaptations even more, especially this one. It’s such a different kind of twist on the original story. Each page has me wanting more and more. Like I said, I’m very glad I already bought the third book in the series or I’d probably lose my mind. The way Danielle Paige writes is just to my liking. She describes everything in a way that I can picture it, except the obvious totally fantastical places like Rainbow Falls. But even those settings are wonderfully described to a point where I can make my own image of them. I love authors that give me those kind of details, I feel like I’m getting the whole story.
Amy Gumm, the main character in this story. She learns magic and how to fight with and without it in the first book to this series. In this book, she starts to learn what kind of witch she really is and who she really is. She’s learned that she doesn’t really belong in Kansas anymore, Oz is her home now. But even more so she learns that her magic can have a dark side and that she doesn’t want to be that dark wicked witch. She learns that she doesn’t like the dark side of magic and continues to try to be good and to do good. I love Amy even more in this book because we see her grow more into her magic and become more confident. We get to watch her struggle with the fight between the dark and the good and see her try her hardest to stay good.
The next character I really loved in this book was Nox. He was in the first book but I didn’t mention him much because I wasn’t really sure how I felt about him. Now I think I love him. He’s lost for a good part of The Wicked Will Rise. But when he’s finally found, it’s well worth the wait. He’s spent his time being lost thinking about Amy and their mission as part of the The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. The first thing he does when Amy finds him is the perfectly right thing. Of course I won’t tell you what that thing was. That would be giving too much away. I’m very excited to see where the next book takes Nox and the rest of The Order.
The Wicked Will Rise was an excellent sequel to Dorothy Must Die. Except for the cliff hanger of course, because I hate those, regardless of that it was an awesome book. I can’t wait to see what adventures these characters go on in the next book, Yellow Brick War. I’m not positive that it’s the last book in the series, but I’m hoping because I don’t want to wait for the next one to come out. This is definitely a series I would recommend to any older young adult reader, there’s lots of language not suitable for the younger young adult. I loved these books, I hope you will too.
Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige

Summary:
I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado-taking you with it-you have no choice but to go alone, you know?
Sure I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. But I never expected Oz to look like this. A place where Good Witches can’t be trusted and Wicked Witches just might be the good guys. A place where even the yellow brick road is crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
My name is Amy Gumm-and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and I’ve been given a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage,
And then-
Dorothy must die.
18053060Summary:
A friend of mine read Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige a few years ago and ranted and raved to me about it. For some reason I never took her up on the suggestion until now. Dorothy Must Die was one of my many recent Barnes and Noble purchases. I moved about a month ago and now the bookstore is literally across the street from where I live which is really dangerous to my bank account. Thankfully, there’s a library a few doors down from the bookstore. So I’ve been making use of both places.
Dorothy Must Die was a refreshing young adult story. It’s definitely meant for the older young adult, partially because of the language used and partially because of Amy Gumm’s mission. This book was refreshing for a few reasons. The first was the story itself. It’s a very unique spin on The Wizard of Oz, sort of an ‘after’ story. And it does not go where you expect it will. Amy gets dropped into Oz very much like Dorothy did, but instead of a wicked witch to fight, Dorothy herself is the problem. She’s gone mad with power. It’s a twist on The Wizard of Oz that I really enjoyed.
The next refreshing part of this story was the main character, Amy Gumm. She’s a girl from a small town who gets picked on and bullied in school constantly. Once she’s dropped into Oz she’s immediately known as another girl from ‘The Other Place’, like Dorothy. Once Dorothy meets her she’s sentenced to “a fate worse than death.” But Amy isn’t going to sit back and just let it happen. She’s rescued and her world continues to be turned upside down. The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked saves her from Dorothy’s prison where she’s trained to fight as well as learns to do magic. All with the end goal of killing Dorothy and putting Oz back to how it’s supposed to be. The witches that train Amy are all pretty hilarious. I really enjoyed the fact that somehow the villains have become the sort of good guys. They all know and are proud of their wickedness, and they never claim to be the good guys, just better than Dorothy.
Dorothy Must Die was written well, along with its very amusing story. The Wicked Witches live in a mountain that’s full of caves. The way that Danielle Paige describes the caves is so good that I can picture them perfectly in my head as I followed them in the story. That’s something that’s important to me. Yes, I need to love the characters, but I also really like to know where they are and what’s going on around them and Paige definitely succeeded with that.
So overall I basically loved this book. The only complaint I have is that Amy was left without so many important details. She was the one who was given the mission to kill Dorothy, so why wasn’t she given all the details of the plan? That just didn’t seem right to me, but I’m sure it was done to leave the reader in suspense, which it definitely did. I would suggest this book to anyone who likes creative twists on classic stories. I really liked this book and I’m super glad I bought the second one at the same time as the first. I can’t wait to read about where Danielle Paige takes Amy Gumm next.
Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.


Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Summary: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the world between humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets-and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney an Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him…
Their worst fears now a chilling reality Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Oh. My. God. I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK.
First of all, Adrian and Sydney are apart for most of the book and it pretty much just made me want to cry the entire time. (I settled for really weird, pathetic noises that Amanda got sick of fast.) The good thing about them being separated was that I was able to follow two completely separate storylines that kept the pace fairly steady even when nothing serious was happening.
But trust me, a LOT was happening. I started this book at around ten-thirty last night, and finished it around three this morning. There was no way for me to put it down; between the awesome characters, amazing writing, and the absolutely crazy plot, I was hooked.
As always, I adore Sydney and Adrian, both individually and as a couple. Though they both have somewhat extreme personalities, I’m able to relate to them while I read. I almost always love the characters in the books I read but in the Bloodlines series, I connect to them more than usual. I would absolutely love to have Sydney as my best friend and, much as I love her, I would totally date Adrian (you know, if I didn’t have a boyfriend…Love you, honey!). Mead gives such depth to her characters that it’s impossible not to care about them.
This book was much darker than the previous ones in the series mainly because Sydney’s in re-education, which is basically the Alchemists nice way of saying brainwash and torture. Even though Mead kept it from being terribly gruesome, some of the scenes with Sydney were harder to read emotionally.
It was the same way with Adrian. He might not have been tortured and starved but the love of his life was missing and he had no way to contact her. I’d loved watching the progress he’d made in previous books to overcome his addictions and the effects of Spirit so it was that much harder to watch him spiral back downward without Sydney to help hold him up.
The ending took so many twists and turns that I could barely keep up with what was happening and even when I thought everything would be okay, the last page threw another curveball and I no longer know what’s going to happen with the last book. All I know is that it really needs to come out RIGHT NOW. Next February is way too long to wait for The Ruby Circle.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my review or this book. Amanda hasn’t read it so I can’t talk to her about it yet. Did you see the end coming? Because I sure as hell didn’t.
-Antonia


The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine & Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Sorry I’ve been slacking on reviews. To make up for the past three months of barely reading (seriously, four books in April, ZERO in May, and three in June), I’ve spent the last two weeks reading constantly and not really stopping for anything. So in the next few days I’ll try to write a bunch in between books.
One thing I’ve noticed about the more than thirty books I borrowed from the library is that there’s quite a few that have very similar storylines. In order to consolidate the number of reviews I need to write, I’m going to do something a little different and group some of the books together and compare them instead.
For this first review I’m comparing two middle-grade books about princesses: The Two Princess of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine and Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Two Princesses of Bamarre Summary: When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy.

Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other.

The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

Princess Ben Summary: “My gown suited me as well as I could ever hope, though I could not but envy the young ladies who would attract the honest compliments of the night. My bodice did not plunge as dramatically as some, and no man–no man I would ever want to meet, surely–could fit his hands round my waist. What I lacked in beauty I would simply have to earn with charm…”
Benevolence is not your typical princess–and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale.

With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts:mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?

Plot:
I loved both plots equally. In Two Princesses, shy and timid Princess Addie has to go on a quest to save her sister. There’s magic, dragons, trolls, fairies, etc. I loved the way this was executed. Since it’s not a terribly long book, you might think too much information was crammed into it but Levine makes everything work together wonderfully. With the help of her Seven-League boots, Addie can move between different sections of the kingdom instantly and encounters tons of different creatures. Many of them, (trolls, specters, gryphons) are simply monsters but I was happily surprised to find the dragon was intelligent and had a complex personality. She was still evil, but the depth she gave to the story was fantastic. Though the story revolves around Addie, the secondary characters were well rounded and I felt like I knew them just as well as I knew Addie.

In Princess Ben, Benevolence must overcome unforeseen circumstances to save herself and her country. There’s magic, dragons, a somewhat evil queen, a war with neighboring country Drachensbett, etc. This was also executed fairly well and I enjoyed the little bits of history of Montagne that we were given. I also enjoyed the fact that the love interest started out as the enemy. I love when misunderstood characters are simply that: misunderstood. That probably stems from my long-standing love of Beauty and the Beast.

The Heroines:
I adored Princess Addie. At first I thought I wouldn’t because of how timid she was. Terrified of everything, she hardly ever left the castle and when she did, she stayed on castle grounds. I was expecting to be annoyed by her, but when her sister’s life is in danger, Addie pushes back her fears in order to save her. She doesn’t suddenly become fearless, but she doesn’t let her fears control her either and by the end of the story she comes to realize that some of her fears (not all of them) aren’t as scary as she thought they were. I loved watching Addie grow into herself and couldn’t help but admire her strength and resolve.

Princess Ben, quite frankly, annoyed the crap out of me for most of the book. I understand she’s young and I understand her parents didn’t raise her to act like a princess, but from what we learned of her parents I would have expected her to be a lot more mature than she was. She was petty and spiteful and made the same mistakes over and over again. No matter how many bad things happened, she never grew up or took responsibility until she became a prisoner of Drachensbett. After that, I liked her much better and she became someone I could relate to, even though she was still a little impulsive and stubborn.

Overall:
Two Princesses was a quick, fun read that I enjoyed immensely. Everything tied together to make an exciting, heartfelt story that I couldn’t put down.
I also loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting and was a little bittersweet, but I was glad there wasn’t a random and improbable miracle to make everything end perfectly. Even though I love reading about magic and fairytales, I also believe magic should have limits and while I want every book to have a happily ever after, I don’t particularly like when they become completely unrealistic.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales and strong, smart heroines.

Princess Ben didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The first half was slow and I didn’t like the protagonist at all. Murdock made up for it in the second half where the pace picked up and it became a story I couldn’t put down but I still can’t forget the fact I almost put it down in the beginning. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes fairytales, but if you’re the type of reader that needs a fast-paced book to hold your attention, this might not be the book for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on either of these books and what you think of this joint review. Should I do another like this or stick to regular reviews?
-Antonia.


Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Goodreads Summary: Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.

I am so glad I discovered Jessica Day George and I can’t wait to read more of her books. I’d seen a review for Princess of the Midnight Ball a few months back but hadn’t gotten a chance to get it. When I was at Barnes and Noble the other day and saw her name, I knew I’d have to get at least one of her books. Unfortunately, they only had Princess of the Silver Woods (the third in the Twelve Dancing Princesses series) and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. Though Sun and Moon wasn’t what I’d originally been looking for, it looked interesting enough so I decided to try it. I’m so happy I did. I read this book straight through and enjoyed every part of it.
First off, I loved the fact it was written the way an old legend would be told. I have a soft spot for legends and myths, so I immediately fell in love with the writing style.
The lass entertained me from the very beginning. She was quiet, but strong, brave and intelligent. She cares about people and animals in need even if she’d be better off ignoring them. She faces her fears instead of letting them control her. I admired the lass more with every page I read.
I also loved the bear though I wish I could’ve seen more of him. He remained pretty mysterious for the majority of the book and I would have enjoyed getting to know him better.
Rollo, the lass’s wolf pet, was hilarious. He acted and spoke exactly as I’d imagine a pet wolf really would. The other secondary characters didn’t play enough of a part for me to have grown terribly attached to but I loved seeing different types of creatures you don’t see often in other fantasy books.
Overall this book is a quick read but a very entertaining one. I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, young adult, or old stories and myths. As always, I’d love to hear your opinions on the book itself or my review of it.
-Antonia


The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Goodreads Summary: Chloe Saunders is fifteen and would love to be normal. Unfortunately, Chloe happens to be a genetically engineered necromancer who can raise the dead without even trying. She and her equally gifted (or should that be ‘cursed’?) friends are now running for their lives from the evil corporation that created them.
As if that’s not enough, Chloe is struggling with her feelings for Simon, a sweet-tempered sorcerer, and his brother Derek, a not so sweet-tempered werewolf. And she has a horrible feeling she’s leaning towards the werewolf…
Definitely not normal.

Oh my god. The Reckoning was one of those books that sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. On multiple occasions someone would have to say my name over and over until I heard them. I couldn’t have put this book down if I wanted to.
Chloe and Derek FINALLY realize they like each other. (I’m only slightly ashamed to admit I was more concerned about that than the fact they were running for their lives. I can’t help it; I’m a hopeless romantic.)
Chloe continued to impress me throughout this book. She’s come so far from the nice, shy girl she used to be. She’s become a bit of an expert at plotting and scheming and she’s not as afraid of her powers anymore. I loved watching Chloe grow throughout this series. She became someone I would love to be friends with.
I also loved watching Derek come out of his shell. He’s still quiet and brooding but he opens up so much to Chloe that I got to see how sweet he can be.
I still love Simon and Tori as secondary characters. They both add their own unique talents and personalities to the group. Simon might not have terribly strong magic but he sort of acts as the group’s optimism. He keeps everyone’s spirits up when things aren’t looking so great. Tori mostly adds her powerful witchcraft but she’s also fairly intelligent. She can hack computers and gets important information for the group.
This book had more action and more magic than the other two. There were quite of few rather shocking twists that actually had my jaw dropping. I don’t want to give anything away, but what the group thinks they know drastically changes a few times.
I was a little surprised by how things were resolved in the end. I’d sort of expected Chloe to suddenly come out with this crazy new power in order to save everyone but I’m glad she didn’t. It wouldn’t have been realistic. The group always gets out of situations by working together (and a decent amount of luck) so I ended up loving the way they worked together at the end.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was how many questions it left me with. When it ended, Chloe and her friends are safe but they’re stilling running. Their powers are still out of control, they still can’t fit in with humans, and the Edison group still wants to kill them. I also don’t know most of what the Edison group had been up to. We know why they started the Genesis II experiments but don’t know anything about the dozens of other experiments. It also hadn’t been clear about why the mafia-type group that plays a small part toward the end has any interest in the kids. I really hate when books leave me with questions. I understand it’s unrealistic for them to be completely happy and safe all of a sudden. I know their lives will be difficult for awhile. Despite that, I’d much rather be able to pretend everything’s perfect at the end.
Overall, I absolutely adored this series. It sucked me in and kept me on my toes. They’re funny, suspenseful, filled with action and make you think. They completely exceeded the expectations I had when I first picked them up. I’d recommend them to anyone who enjoys YA, action, paranormal, and romance. I’d love to hear your own thoughts.
-Antonia