Performers: Fiona Hardingham, Katharine Lee McEwan, Steve West, Maxwell Caulfield & Nikki Massoud
Length: 17 hr, 9 min
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, Book 4
Publishing Date/Publisher: December 1, 2020 by Listening Library
Review: This was a highly anticipated read for me. I was extra patient waiting for the audiobook format to become available at my library, because I so enjoy the casting for this series. The cast did an incredible job again, so no complaints there.
I really hyped this book up in my mind after reading A Reaper at the Gates, so I was sorely disappointed when it didn’t quite deliver for me. There were several aspects of this book that I found frustrating:
The romance between Elias and Laia just lacked that luster that it had before.
Poor fricken Helene. She remains my favorite character in the series, but I did not like the trajectory of her story at all.
The origin of Laia’s magic is revealed, but the explanation felt convoluted.
I was surprised by how little page time any of the main characters actually had together.
Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy the book and I still loved the series as a whole. Perhaps it wasn’t the conclusion I was hoping for, but I would still recommend it.
Publishing Date/Publisher: September 7th, 2021, Saga Press
Review: M.J. Kuhn is definitely an author to watch. With this hell of a debut novel, Kuhn sets the stage for what I hope will be a series full of anti-heroes, powers, and crime. The characters are the “hate to love them” type, but you really do root for them despite the fact that they are smugglers, thieves, and cons. They also have good reasons for doing what they are doing, which really helps.
There were a few things here and there that I wished lasted longer in some places and shorter in others, but overall it was incredibly enjoyable. They pulled me in by saying it was like Six of Crows, but I also wish they didn’t, as I had to stop myself from comparing the two all the time, which is unfair: they are two different books that just happen to both be based on heists. But I also see why they would market it that way, so fair play.
Title: The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, & The Queen of Nothing
Author: Holly Black
Page Count: 370, 336, & 300
Series: The Folk of the Air, Books 1-3
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 2, 2018 – January 8, 2019 – November 19, 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Review: I was never quick to pick up this book series for two reasons:
I read the Coldest Girl in Cold Town by this author and though I enjoyed it, I wasn’t terribly impressed.
The book synopsis for The Cruel Prince does not do it justice.
I have seen this book series mentioned enough times now that I finally decided to read it. As a result, I am going to do something I never do and review all three books together. Why you ask? Because I ripped through them so fast it doesn’t even make sense for me to review them individually. This was a book series that kept me reading late into the night and each book took me about 2 days to finish. I simply could not put them down. The romance is a slow burn (which I always appreciate), but it was the political intrigue and endless scheming that truly kept me glued to the pages. Jude is a very strongly written character, and it was fascinating to watch her turn her vulnerabilities into strengths. The pacing of this book series is excellent, and I was never once bored. Great cliffhangers and a great ending really cemented this as one of my favorite YA series of all time.
Publishing Date/Publisher: June 16, 2020 by Razorbill
Review: This book was a pleasant surprise. Sometimes when I am waiting for books that are on hold, I will browse our “Available Now” eBook collection for something to read in the interim. The description of the book sounded interesting, but to be honest I almost passed it up because of the cover. The cover looks like something someone with photoshop slapped together on an offensively bright purple background. It certainly does not do the story within it’s pages justice, so I’m glad I selected it despite my initial hesitation.
Zahru was a character I found to be likeable and funny. I enjoyed watching her maneuver through the complexities of her situation (a situation of her own making, mind you). The “villain” of the story was complex, which I can always appreciate. After reading the synopsis for the next book, I think I can predict the direction this story is headed in, and I am on board.
I’m honestly surprised I have never heard of this book. It has a good balance of adventure, intrigue, and romance. I’ve seen other reviewers describe this book as character driven, and I would say that is a very fair assessment. The author hasn’t done a huge amount in the way of backstory for the world she has created, but she has done well in creating a protagonist worth rooting for. I’m looking forward to continuing her story in the next book.
Publishing Date/Publisher: September 1, 2016 by Scholastic Audio
Review: What a truly disturbing read. The twisted Grey Land that Ó Guilín has created is truly horrifying, but the capacity for human cruelty he puts on display is equally so. I have read several books recently with fairies as a theme, but none of them come even close to the darkness of this book. There were times when I felt my stomach turn while reading it, and yet I couldn’t put it down because I HAD to know what would happen to Nessa when she was called.
Nessa is a character to be reckoned with. She is intelligent, brave, and resourceful – with an indomitable will to survive. It is really refreshing to see a character with such a prominent disability reject the narrative that has been shoved down her throat by society. Everyone believes her disability is a death sentence, but she works harder and smarter to defy the odds by honing her strengths.
I was a little fuzzy about the history of the Sidhe and their banishment to the Grey Lands…I would have liked more information about that as context for their cruelty. Were they always so cruel? Was there ever a time they co-existed with humans? How was the Grey Land created? Maybe some of these questions are answered in the second book.
Amy Shiels was an excellent narrator for this tale. Her characterization of the Sidhe really upped the creep factor! I think the book got an additional 1/2 star from me for her performance alone.
Review: It’s no secret I am a huge Sarah J. Maas fan and will read just about anything that is compared to her work. In this case, it was a very appropriate comparison. Similar characters, similar love triangle, similar setting, similar premise…but hey, I’m all for it. It was angsty, but not too much so. Even though it gives me anxiety, I like when characters have to navigate impossible choices in creative ways. Oh and also love steamy love triangles, even though those also give me anxiety….So needless to say, even though this book is not perfect, I am the perfect audience for it. I hope there is more to come.
Publishing Date/Publisher: June 2, 2020 by HarperAudio
Review: DidRebel of the Sands have a love child with The Selection and Children of Blood and Bone??! If so, I’m pretty sure it’s this book. But in all seriousness, this book contains bits and pieces of a number of YA books I have read, including another book I just reviewed: Witches Steeped in Gold. It wasn’t entirely original, but I really loved the way magic was incorporated into the story. I was far less enthused about the romance. It just felt…weak. I don’t really have any other way to describe it. The chemistry between Karina and Malik was extremely lackluster. In fact, for some reason I just found Malik’s character to be lackluster in general. We know he is faced with an impossible choice – kill the princess or let his sister die – but he kind of just accepts it lying down (though I do like what the author did at the end with his character). Karina, on the other hand, also has a difficult choice, but shows so much more strength of character, despite her reluctance to accept her future role as queen. Maybe the author will change my mind about this in the sequel, because the relationship between the two will undoubtedly play a key role in the trajectory of the story. I hope so because I like the world she has created and wish to see more of it.
Publishing Date/Publisher: April 20, 2021 by HarperTeen
Review: I have been dragging my feet when it comes to writing this review, not because I didn’t like the book, but because it has so many similarities to two other books I have recently read. This is a very strong readalike for Children of Blood and Bone and A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. It has been hard for me to draw any clear distinctions between my feelings about the three, though I can say that I enjoyed them all. I can’t help but note that white hair on magic users seems to be a very popular trend in YA fantasy fiction that is inspired by African and/or Caribbean folklore. I thought this striking imagery was very distinct to the Legacy of Orisha trilogy, but it seems to have made it’s way into other series as well. One repeating trend I have also noticed (that I actually quite like) is the finely drawn line between hero(ine) and villian(ess). A line that is often crossed by both the former and the latter in such a way that these distinctions become meaningless. Life is messy, and I like when I can relate to both the protagonist and the antagonist in equal measure. It tickles me even further when these roles reverse at some point in the story. I think this series has quite a lot of potential, and it is very possible I might love the second book…we will just have to wait and see.
P.S. If I had to rate the cover of this book it would be 5/5 stars.
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 3, 2020 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Review: The more I read books by Cassandra Clare, the more I draw similarities between her style and the style of Sarah J. Maas. Both write sagas with lengthy tomes that are riddled with relationship angst. Both have predictable plot formulas they follow, and they always manage to pair off nearly every character into a romantic relationship. Clare in particular really has a penchant for relationship triangles and drama, and it seems that she repackages her storylines with different characters and settings. Despite this, I find some comfort in knowing what I am getting into when I pick up one of her books, and I often find myself enjoying them. In some ways it is just mindlessly pleasant reading. The Shadowhunter world is very engrossing, regardless of how many different ways the same story is presented to me. I find that in general I like her historical fiction series more than her contemporary ones. I don’t know how historically accurate her settings are, but the afterword in this book implies that she does put a little research into her craft. I’ll definitely keep reading when the next book is published, if only because the covers in this series are so dang gorgeous.
Publishing Date/Publisher: April 13, 2021 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Review: This book is being marketed to fans of Sabaa Tahir and Sarah J. Maas, so it was an obvious pick for me. And I have to say, for the first book in a series, this was a real slam dunk for me. Right from the beginning it had an engaging storyline and characters. The setting seems to be rather heavily inspired by Russian gulags, which combined with magic, creates a rather appealing combination of history and fantasy.
The only time I found this story lacking was when it came to the trials. I was hoping for something a little more realistic. It is clear that these trials are not survivable without magic, and I would have liked if she could have survived at least one using her wits alone.
The ending though made up for any minor disappointments. I thought I knew how it would end, and though I wasn’t entirely wrong, it played out very differently than I expected. It’s rare to completely catch me off guard with a plot twist, and I have to admit I was a little surprised that the author so masterfully pulled a sneaky on me with her unreliable narrator gambit. With that cliffhanger of an ending, I am really looking forward to a sequel.