Book Review – The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2)

Author: Rick Riordan

Publication: May 2nd, 2017

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Format: Hardcover, 414 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology

Read: June 2017

Rick RiordanGoodreads

 

Synopsis
Zeus has punished his son Apollo—god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more—by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo do anything about them without his powers?
After experiencing a series of dangerous—and frankly, humiliating—trials at Camp Half-Blood, Apollo must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships—with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride. . . .

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
As always with Rick Riordan, this book was funny and entertaining. It was action packed and intense, full of ups and downs and fast paced. I loved the adventure aspect and how there is always something new that the characters have to overcome, it keeps the story exciting. It’s complex and fun and I have a great time while reading.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
Again, really fun and entertaining writing style as always. It’s simple, easy to read and full of information on Greek mythology that I really enjoy learning about. However, I’m still struggling with Apollo’s POV. He’s not as laugh out loud funny as I was expecting. He’s self-confident bordering on egotistic and can be annoying sometimes.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Like I said above, I’m struggling with Apollo’s POV. I feel like he sounds much older than I’m used to reading from YA books yet at the same time, his personality sometimes grates on my nerves.
Apollo is getting better but because he’s a god, he’s still self-centered and vain. He’s definitely growing through the series but it’s not as much as I would want though I understand why. He can be annoying sometimes specially when he’s constantly scared of everything that’s happening to him. I like the moments when he pushes through his fear and is brave and caring. I want that to happen more often.
One of my favorite parts of this series is being able to see where some of my favorite older characters are. This one has a few more characters that were prominent in the Heroes of Olympus that I loved and it’s just great to see them kick ass and take names still.

Emotionally

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Book Review – The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen

The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years #3)

Author: Sarina Bowen

Publication: September 29th, 2014

Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Format: Kindle Edition, 308 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Read: June 2017

Sarina BowenGoodreads

 

Synopsis
What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.
Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.
So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.
John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.
And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.
Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.
Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Critically

Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
This story was a lot more emotional than I was expecting going into it. There’s a lot of drama, there’s a lot of angst as well as violence, and some scenes that include bigotry. I liked that sports were still included as well as the themes of acceptance and honestly. The ending was abrupt but overall I liked the book.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I like the author’s writing style. It’s very simple, very easy to read and fast paced, just how I like my New Adult books. There are multiple POVs and each one has it’s own distinct voice. The writing is intense, emotional, dramatic and entertaining.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
This is probably my least favorite part of this book in particular. I struggled with connection with one of the two main characters which made his parts of the narrative harder to read.
John Rikker was definitely my favorite of the two. He’s the one who’s more confident in himself and open with people. He’s charming, honest and kind. He has a lot of pressures as he’s going into a new college, a new hockey team and there’s a lot about this change that he wants to keep quiet. But that doesn’t stop him from confronting challenges and from being honest with people which I loved.
Michael Graham, on the other hand, frustrated me a lot. He has a lot of insecurities and is downright scared of a lot of things. He’s very vulnerable emotionally and he’s harming himself emotionally as well. I found his point of view to be frustrating and intense but I loved how much he grew throughout the story.
I loveddd seeing all the old characters from the first two books in the series. They’re not all around as much as I wanted but they definitely played a bigger part in this book than they did in the second one so I love it! I liked the new side characters a lot and I know the next book focuses on one of my faves from this book and I’m excited.

Emotionally

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Book Review – The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2)

Author: Sarina Bowen

Publication: June 1st, 2014

Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Format: Kindle Edition, 274 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Read: May 2017

Sarina BowenGoodreads

 

Synopsis
She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.
Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.
It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.
Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.
The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was really dramatic, but not in the way that New Adult books usually are. I kind of felt like this one was more real even with some of the angst and emotional scenes. It was really entertaining though and I liked the themes of family and friendship. I felt like the romance was really supportive and I like that hockey is still a big part of the plot.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
It’s really easy to read and fast paced. The writing style is simple and entertaining, with some drama obviously. There are multiple POV’s, each with its own distinct voice. I liked the difference between the two characters and their thoughts process.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I liked the characters in this book. I was very happy to get to know Bridger a bit more because I really liked him in the first book and the new female lead was interesting as well.
Scarlet is a strong and smart character. I found her to be really resilient and persistent. She kind of took a chance, changed her identity and went off into the unknown to be able to be happy. That takes a lot of courage to me. She’s quiet and sweet and kind.
Bridger is determined. I liked seeing more of his personality because he’s really sweet. He has a really strong attitude even when there’s a lot of pressure on his shoulders. He’s a character that I feel proud of as I read, he takes on so much on his own that he shouldn’t have to deal with but it’s so impressive.
There’s a younger character within this book whom I loved and I really liked seeing the characters from the first book even though they weren’t on page enough for me. I would’ve liked to see more complex character within the narrative.

Emotionally

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Book Review – The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1)

Author: Sarina Bowen

Publication: March 20th, 2014

Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Format: Kindle Edition, 270 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Read: April 2017

Sarina BowenGoodreads

 

Synopsis
The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?
She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.
Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.
Also, he’s taken.
Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.
They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.
But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I found this story to be really entertaining. I liked that there was some drama and some angst, but neither of them were incredibly overpowering which I appreciate. The romance developed slowly and the book was really emotional. It talked about the struggles of college, hockey and disability.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style was fast paced and easy to read. There were multiple POVs and each one had a distinct voice which I appreciated. I would’ve liked it to be much more emotional and intense but it was entertaining and kind of serious at times.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really liked getting to know the characters in this series. I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about it for a long time and I’m glad to say that I liked them overall.
Corey was a tough chick. She’s really smart and determined. However, at the same time, she was sometimes insecure with herself. She’s really strong and I loved her tenacity. I would’ve liked to see her be more open but I loved her growth throughout the story.
Hartley got on my nerves a little bit. He’s really charming and fun loving. But also kind of oblivious to what he does and how he’s acting and how that’s hurting people. However, he’s vulnerable and insecure at times. His stubborn streak makes it hard for him to get his act together but I’m glad it happened.
I really loved the great side characters in this book. They were such sweet and supportive friends to the main characters though I would’ve liked to have seen more of their development as individuals.

Emotionally

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Book Review – Wicked Heart by Leisa Rayven

Wicked Heart (Starcrossed #3)

Author: Leisa Rayven

Publication: May 3rd, 2016

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Format: Kindle Edition, 320 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Read: April 2017

Leisa RayvenGoodreads

 

 

Synopsis
Liam Quinn is talented, gorgeous, and one of the biggest movie stars in the world.
He’s also the only man Elissa Holt has ever truly loved.
After being out of her life for six years, he and his gorgeous fiancé are set to star in the new Broadway show Elissa is stage managing. The only trouble is, when late night rehearsals bring Elissa and Liam together, the line between what is and what could have been gets blurred, and one moment of weakness will lead to a scandal that echoes around the world.
Elissa knows that falling for Liam again would be a tragedy in the making, but as any good romantic will tell you, love doesn’t always follow the script.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Obviously considering the genre, there’s romance and drama (both in life and in theater production). The story line was kind of predictable. There was a lot more lying and cheating than I was expecting and that I wanted. I was hoping this book would be similar to the earlier stories but it wasn’t. However, the ending was really sweet.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I always find New Adult books to be really easy to read and easy to get addicted to and this one is no exception. This book is fast paced, fun and sexy. There are some angsty parts and lots of drama, both on and off stage. Even though I didn’t like the direction the story took at times, I still liked the writing.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I didn’t really like the main characters of this book as much as the ones from the first two books. Those grabbed my heart and wrenched it out of my chest but this relationship in this one wasn’t as emotionally impactful or as swoon worthy.
Elissa had a side character role in the first two books and I was really interested in seeing more of her personality in this book. She’s strong, smart and determined. I really liked her work ethic and how well and comfortable she is at her job. I felt bad for her in some moments. She was heartbroken and reluctant to open herself up to everything that was happening. However, she was still swept away by feelings and romance and stuff. I kind of wanted her to be tougher but it was okay.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Liam. He was charming but also kind of an ass. He has a jealous streak and he’s aggressive. He also doesn’t make the best decisions and I had a lot of trouble understanding where he was coming from. As for the side characters, I was really happy to be able to see some of the old side characters and I quite liked the new characters introduced in this book as well.

Emotionally

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Book Review – The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female of the Species

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publication: September 20th, 2016

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Format: Kindle Edtion, 341 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller

Read: April 2017

Mindy McGinnisGoodreads

 

 

Synopsis
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Critically

Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
This book is a punch in the gut and there’s no way around it. It’s a brutal look at humanity and rape culture and how it’s become so common within society today. We follow the day to day lives of the characters and it’s not a linear plot line. It’s dark, gritty, violent and intense. I won’t be able to forget this story for a really long time.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style lent really well to the way the narrative is told. There’s three different POVs and each has it’s own distinct voice. It was easy to read and fast paced and engaging. It was intense, powerful and honest. It was lyrical, brutal and violent. Another punch to the gut to be quite honest.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
The characters in this book are so real and complex. From the main characters, to the side characters, they all feel like complete people and we’re just getting a little glimpse of their lives.
Alex is really intense. She doesn’t really understand social interactions and her point of view is almost robotic and factual in the way that she speaks and thinks. But she is also very kind and protective. She understands herself better than anyone and knows her limitations. I ended up being a huge fan of her which wasn’t something that I expected when I first started reading.
Then there’s Jack who is a douche. Honestly, there’s no other way to describe him, he’s a very typical asshole boy who has the world at the tip of his fingers and doesn’t really think about why. He’s kind of annoying but I appreciated how much he grew throughout the story. He’s really torn and confused.
And the last protagonist is Peekay, who definitely should not go by that name because she represents something so much better. She’s really sweet and kind and loving. But she’s also really accustomed to the way life is and unaware of how bad things actually are. However, she’s determined to improve and I really enjoyed reading from her point of view.

Emotionally

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Book Review – Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter

Take the Key and Lock Her Up (Embassy Row #3)

Author: Ally Carter

Publication: December 27th, 2016

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Format: Kindle Edtion, 336 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mental Health

Read: April 2017

Ally CarterGoodreads

 

Synopsis
The princess is dead. Long live the princess.
Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.
Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.
There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.
If she wins, she will inherit a throne.
And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Sadly, I’m still disappointed. The plot of this book is full of mystery and suspense. There’s action, it’s dramatic, full of death and violence. But it was still kind of boring. Honestly, I just think this series tries too hard to be intense and it doesn’t pull it off as well as it thinks it does. This book was not as entertaining as I wanted and the ending wasn’t that surprising.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
Part of me feels like I should complain more about the writing style considering that most of my issues with this series comes down to execution but I just can’t help flying through these books. The writing is set a medium place but it’s simple and easy to read. It’s a bit intense, kind of emotional but unfortunately, those things didn’t really translate well. It was confusing sometimes and it could get repetitive.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is definitely my least favorite part of this series which is so sad because I’ve really loved this author’s characters in the past. I just wasn’t feeling the main character and the side characters barely show up enough throughout the story to be considered a part of it.
Grace gets on my nerves. I tried, I swear I really tried to understand where she’s coming from but she’s just really dramatic and pessimistic to the point where reading from her point of view was draining for me. She’s reckless and angry and she gets pulled into crappy situations because she’s just not clearheaded at all. She’s depressed, worried and just totally and completely frustrating for me.
There’s not enough page time for the side characters. From the friendships, to the romance, even to the familial relationships portrayed in this book, they all just show up when they’re needed and there’s never any actual development to back up everything the dialogue is trying to say. I don’t know the side characters well at all and it’s another one of the things that made this series disappointing overall.

Emotionally

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Series Review – The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver, Linger and Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1, #2 and #3)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publication: August 1st 2009, July 13th 2010 and July 12th 2011

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Format: Kindle Edition 402 pages, Kindle Edition 369 pages and Kindle Edition 405 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

Read: December 2016, January 2017 and April 2017

Maggie StiefvaterGoodreads

Shiver

Synopsis
From a dazzlingly talented young writer, a haunting and original supernatural romance in the vein of TWILIGHT.

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Critically

Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
This is a re-read for me so I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by anything and I was right. The plot was kind of slow, sometimes confusing and sometimes boring. It’s a good pace and easy to get through, but it had insta love. However, I really liked the kind of werewolf lore the author decided to go with, I think it’s a really interesting concept that I can’t wait to see explored more.

Writing Style – 3.5 out of 5 stars
In general, the writing is really descriptive and detailed. However, it’s really slow paced so I felt like it dragged as I was reading and made it hard to keep my interest. It’s lyrical and poetic and there’s also in my opinion some great dialogue.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
I don’t really know how I feel about these characters. They’re all kind of strange in their own peculiar ways and the story helps by creating a very peculiar atmosphere.
Grace is the protagonist in this book and she’s kind of stoic. She’s really independent and has had to basically raise herself since her parents tend to leave her alone a lot. She’s a little bit obsessed with the wolves outside her backyard which starts this entire adventure and she’s determined to understand everything that’s going on. I found her to be kind but also she’s kind of a stickler for stuff haha.
There’s various other side characters involved in the story, including the male love interest and while I generally enjoyed them, I feel like all the characters to have a bit more complexity. They all seem a little bit cardboard, as in that they have a singular personality and this is the kind of person that they are within the story and there’s not much room to grow beyond that.

Linger

Synopsis
The astonishing #1 New York Times bestseller. In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

Critically

Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
Again this book is really slow. The romance is the main focus in the entire series but in the first two books specially which can be annoying for some people. There’s a lot more information of the werewolves which I really appreciate and I think it was really well thought out. This one was full of angst and it kind of got on my nerves.

Writing Style – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Again, descriptive and detailed. Super slow paced though it’s very poetic and lyrical and easy to read. This one in particular had several points of views which was okay, but they never really felt distinct between one another. The narrative dragged a bit while reading but it was really emotional so I liked that.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I enjoyed the characters much more in this one. Part of the reason is because it’s a second book so we get more page time with them but also because there are more points of views so I can see into the minds of those characters that I was more detached from.
Grace is still pretty stoic, I’ve accepted that it’s just her personality. She’s much more emotional in this one though. She’s defiant of her parents and the way they treat her and independent and itching to spread her wings and do something for herself. She’s a little bit reckless, a lot scared but just as kind as she was in the first book. She’s kind of winning me over.
Sam is pretty much exactly the same way I thought he was in the first book, maybe a little more sad in this one. He’s lost, vulnerable and scared with everything that’s going on in his life. He’s still very earnest and I can’t even explain what I mean by that but that’s the kind of vibe he gives.
There’s more side characters in this one as well but they’re definitely getting more development than they did in the first book. They’re a little bit too crazy and too dramatic for my taste but I understand what they’re doing within the story.

Forever

Synopsis
The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stievater
In Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

Critically

Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
Honestly, I was hoping the plot of this book would improve over the previous two but it was very similar. There was a much bigger conflict which was interesting but then another angsty romance was added to the lineup. It got boring sometimes again and I felt like the ending was interesting but kind of sad all the same.

Writing Style – 3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s nothing much that’s different from this book to the previous one. The writing style is descriptive and detailed though slow paced. The narrative dragged a bit and kind of made it hard for me to keep engaged. However, it was still poetic and lyrical in delivery.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I kind of wish I could say that I ended up falling in love with these characters by the end, but that’s just not true. I like them all well enough but the whole story as well as their personalities were just too dramatic for me.
Grace changed in this book. From the end of the second book to this one, she’s quieter, much more vulnerable. She kept her defiant spirit as well as her independence. But she’s tired and that really came through.
The rest of the side characters are also much more stressed out, specially since the plot of this book is pretty intense for them. They’re all dealing with a lot of different things and it affects each of them in different ways.

Emotionally

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Series Review – Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson

Book Review - Fire and Thorns Trilogy

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #1, #2 and #3)

Author: Rae Carson

Publication: September 20th 2011, September 18th 2012 and August 27th 2013

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Format: Kindle Edition 448 pages, Kindle Edition 416 pages and Kindle Edition 449 pages

Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Paranormal

Read: October 2016 and February 2017

Rae CarsonGoodreads

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Synopsis
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, and 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 her to be 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.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The plot is medium paced but it doesn’t really seem like it. There’s a lot of adventure and travel. This book sets up the world which is Catholic/Hispanic and Latinx inspired which is amazing and it also sets up the conflict for the future books. It’s all about magic, religion and so much mystery. I loved getting swept up in this story since it hadn’t happened in a long time. There’s also very little romance which was refreshing for the first book in a YA fantasy series.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
This author’s writing style is really simple, but also descriptive and detailed. However, it’s also really intense and powerful. It’s emotionally heavy but the narrator has kind of a dry narrative. In this book, she’s very unsure about everything that’s happening with her but it’s still entertaining and engaging to read.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I feel like this group of characters is going to take over my heart very quickly. There’s so much for me to connect to, not only with the main characters but with the culture and the world in this book. I’m slowly drowning in the depths of these dynamics.
Elisa is a very shy and quiet main character. Usually, main characters in fantasy are tough and ready to take on the world and it was a nice change of pace to see someone much more unsure and lost. She’s been kept in the dark about things pertaining to her and she spends a lot of time trying to get on the same playing field as everyone else which was a very interesting point of view to see. But we learn that she’s really smart and a great strategist. I love how she becomes more confident, honest and strong throughout the book.
There are quite a big number of side characters in this series which tends to happen in high fantasy. Each one is complex and interesting on their own and kept me guessing and wondering how they were going to shift the plot. I’m a shipper so I like to mention the romance but it’s very unclear in this first book. I know there is one because of what I’ve heard people talk about from this series but there’s practically nothing in this book.

The Crown of Embers

Synopsis
She does not know what awaits her at the enemy’s gate.
Elisa is a hero.
She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country’s ruler should be secure. But it isn’t.
Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.
To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.
If she’s lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

Critically

Plot – 4.5 out of 5 stars
I am falling in love with this series, really and truly. This book is full of adventure and travel (again). There’s much more information on the world and the background of it, like how it was created and what led to the setting we see here. It deals with magic, religion, action, drama, politics, war and death. And just to sweeten things up a bit, we have a bit more romance in this one haha.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style is descriptive and detailed. It’s simple but at the same time, really powerful and intense. There’s a lot of emotion that pours out of the page through the writing style. It’s medium paced but intricate and entertaining, I could’ve read this book in one sitting honestly. There’s some drama in here but it’s such an enjoyable read.

Characters – 5 out of 5 stars
I’m so obsessed guys! I am officially in love with every single character in this series. They all have a place in my heart, they are my babies and I will protect them with my life!
Elisa astounds me. I loved her character development in the first book, but I’m also super glad that it wasn’t that she had an “easy fix” to the personality she had. She was still unsure and worried about the things happening around her but she’s determined to be the best Queen she can possibly be to this kingdom she now has control of. She’s defiant and selfless. She’s a really strong, smart and honest leader and I think she’s a total badass to be quite honest.
The side characters also continue to grow and astound me. They’re each complex and intricate individuals and the relationships they create between them are just as real and powerful. They feel like real people while reading. The romance also makes a more obvious appearance and I loved it! I’m a huge shipper and this romance gave me the most wondrous feels!

The Bitter Kingdom

Synopsis
The epic conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.
Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion – a champion to those who have hated her most.

Critically

Plot – 5 out of 5 stars
IT’S SO GOOD, GUYS! This was the epic finale to end all the finales for me. It was action packed, full of even more adventure and more travel. We see even more of the world and it continues to astound me how big this creation is. There’s politics, magic, religion and so much more romance that just made me ecstatic! There’s a war going on but it’s almost Cold, it deals with stealth and strategies first which was super interesting.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style is powerful and intense, it packs an emotional punch and took me through the wrenches haha. It’s detailed, descriptive yet simple. There’s drama, there’s entertainment and everything is intricately woven together. Though it has a medium pace, the writing flies by and the book can be easily finished in one sitting.

Characters – 5 out of 5 stars
I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! These characters give me life and happiness more than the majority of the characters that I’ve encountered lately. They are all so amazing and beautiful and just so awesome!
Elisa is my Queen! I absolutely adore her. She’s confident and determined. She’s facing upheaval and mutiny within her advisors and she’s going into extreme enemy territory as well. She’s smart and strong and has such a resilient spirit. I liked being able to see much more of her compassionate side in this book. I consider her such a badass that even though that has a “tough only” connotation, it just reminds me of how complex she is as a character. She’s a defiant individual but also in tune with her emotions and her faith. She’s grown so much throughout the series that it’s kind of mind blowing. It makes me so proud of her which sounds kind of weird but that’s the kind of feeling she brings up in me.
Just like the side characters who are complex and intricate individuals. One of my favorite things about this series is the slow build of relationships. From friendships to romances to alliances, every thing is done with care and each one grows exponentially as the stories continue.

 Emotionally

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ARC Review – Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

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Done Dirt Cheap

Author: Sarah Nicole Lemon

Publication: March 7th, 2017

Publisher: Amulet Books

Format: e-ARC, 336 pages

Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance

Read: February 2017

Sarah Nicole LemonGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Abrams Kids and Amulet Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Synopsis
Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens. Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of Hazard, a powerful attorney: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This book doesn’t have a linear plot in my opinion, it’s much more character oriented. But there’s a lot of amazing themes expressed and developed in this story. It’s a coming of age and it talks about hope, ambition, trust, friendship, honesty, bravery and just general girl badassery. It took me awhile to get into it but it caught my attention after the first quarter.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
This author’s writing is one of my favorite things about this book. Contemporaries tend to have very simple and easy to read writing, and while this has that, it’s also really poetic and lyrical. There are some really beautiful lines in this book that paint a detailed picture with descriptions that are intense. This book has dual POVs since the two main characters narrate the story but the distinction is very subtle and I wish it could’ve been more obvious to have an easier time transitioning between narrators.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
This is the selling point of this book. Not only are there two amazing female protagonists but they build such an incredible friendship that is pretty much the most important part of the story. I am kind of obsessed with these girls and their bond to be honest. Tourmaline is kind of the more naive of the two. She’s been sheltered her entire life and has a certain perception of the world because of who her father is and what he does. She feels really guilty for what she did when she was younger. However, she’s learning a lot about what is really happening around her and she’s defiant and determined. I loved seeing her become more confident as the story progressed. Then we have Virginia (it got a bit confusing sometimes since the setting is also Virginia) and she’s kind of like rough and tough. She’s definitely been through hardship and her life isn’t really what she envisions for herself. She makes the most of what she has but slowly things start to unravel and she wants to look to escape. She’s very vulnerable and scared, she’s dealing with a lot of anxiety but she’s also learning to open up and depend on others. Again, the friendship between these two characters is absolutely incredible and the best part of this book. But there are also a lot of complex and interesting relationships and romances that I feel were very well developed but didn’t take away from the friendship being the focal point of the story.

Emotionally

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