The Invasion Of The Tearling (The Queen Of The Tearling #2)

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The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

“With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22698568-the-invasion-of-the-tearling)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015. The Queen of the Tearling just blew my mind when I read it. I loved the world building, the characters, the political plotting… It was just amazing. Because of this, I had to get my hands on THe Invasion of th Tearling as soon as possible. You can imagine how hard it was for me not to squeal like a kid learning she is going to Disney when I logged into NetGalley and saw this on my dashboard (I was at work, which is why I had to restrain myself).

But I digress. While I tentatively classified The Queen of the Tearling, this book is, in my opinion, firmly in the sci-fi/dystopia genre. At this point, I’m not entirely sure if I’m comfortable with that, but I need another book (not so sublte hint) to come to terms with it.

The beginning was a bit confusing, as it is often the case when I go back to a world I haven’t visited in a year. Here, the plot thickens and turns dark and hopeless, as it’s often the case in middle books. I found myself trying to find a way out for Kelsea, and came to the conclusion that, if I was in her place, I’d have thrown myself off a cliff.

This was, for reasons that will become clear when you read the book, not as engaging as the first book. At first, the Lily chapters were not that enjoyable as the Tearling chapters, as there was no apparent connection. I even got to the point of thinking that somehow two books had been mixed together in my ARC. But then it all made sense.

Furthermore, this is NOT a YA book. There is plenty of gore here, as well as other adult themes. This one definitely crosses into the adult genre, in my opinion. Which is not a bad thing, but do keep it in mind when you read this.

There are several questions left unanswered. I’m not going to spoil them, but gosh, it was frustrating!! I hope we get to know for good, as some hints have been dropped here and there (unless they’re red herrings). The ending raises a lot of questions about the Red Queen, about the sapphires, about the Crossing…

And now, I wait for the next book…

This Shattered World (Starbound #2)

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This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.”

– Taken from Goodreads

First off, that is one gorgeous cover! It’s still the first week of the year and we already have a serious contender for most beautiful cover of 2015! I love how it reflects the characters background, with Jubilee actually dressed in spacial military garb and Flynn wearing an outfit that has seen better days and also carrying a weapon. I also love the colors and the title typography (not sure how I feel about the authors’ typography).

While this shares a plot arc with its predecessor, These Broken Stars, this is set in a completely different environment, with a different set of characters, and a different subplot. That said, I did miss some sort of recap from the first book, considering it came out a year ago and over 200 books were read between them. On the other hand, I do realize, given that this is about different characters etc., how hard it would be.

My memories from These Broken Stars are a little (okay, a lot) fuzzy, but I seem to remember it having more romance than this one. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I missed it, as Flynn and Lee have loads of chemistry together. A very positive thing here was the absence of a love triangle and of insta-love. In fact, there was a quote that I absolutely loved and that shows the lack of insta-love here:

“I don’t have the luxury of dealing with his hormones -or mine, for that matter. What, did he think I was just going to melt into his arms? Start a tragic and dramatic tale of star-crossed lovers on a war-torn planet?”

While there was a slight shortage of romance, there was plenty of action. There was double-crossing, scapegoating, chases, kidnappings… Again, because I didn’t remember much of the first book, the plot wasn’t easy to figure out beforehand. So, if you want to keep things mysterious for this book, don’t go digging for a recap of These Broken Stars.

In terms of characters, I felt they were very nicely done. Lee was a strong heroine, of Asian descent, and she knew what it meant to be a part of a military organization, and reading her struggle with that was really nice. While Lee was world-weary and pragmatic, Flynn was more of a dreamer, a talker.

I was, for some unfathomable reason, expecting this to end in a more dramatic note. Then again, the main characters do not have the political significance of Lilac, from the first book. But I still felt it missed some sort of bang at the end.

Now I have to wait until December (Patience is not one of the many virtues that I possess *ahem*) for the end of this trilogy. Given what we have learned so far, it should be a blast!

City Of Stairs

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City of Stairs

A densely atmospheric and intrigue-filled fantasy novel of living spies, dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, ever-changing city-from one of America’s most acclaimed young SF writers.

Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city’s proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country’s most accomplished spymasters-dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem-and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.”

-Taken from Goodreads

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Quercus Books for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a dense book, not to be read in one sitting. It’s a fascinating read, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not cute and cuddly. Nope, it’s a gritty fantasy, with a really well thought world building and political schemes galore. Furthermore, the characters are also really interesting and multi-faceted, full of secrets.

As for the plot, it is a complex one, as what begins as a murder investigation turns into a religious affair. For me, an atheist, reading a book that involves Divinities was an amazing experience. Especially when towards the end of the book it plunges deeper and deeper into theological discussions. They are not boring, but they are dense. And it was mainly because of them that I couldn’t finish them in one sitting. Furthermore, as someone graduated in International Relations, some quotes really spoke to me. One example: ‘Nations have no morals. Only interests.’ And another one: ‘States are not, in my opinion, composed of structures supporting privilege. Rather, they are composed of structures denying it – in other words, deciding who is not invited to the table.’ (NOTE: those were taken from the ARC). After reading those quotes, I’d venture a guess that the author has read Hobbes’ works, but I digress.

Why not give it five stars then? Well, it might just have been my sleep deprivation, but I was a little confused at points about the divide between Saypur and the Continent. They have a long and bitter history between them, and sometimes I lost tracks of who hated who and why.

The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1)

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The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)

“Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .”

– Taken from Goodreads.

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Random House Children’s Publisher UK for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I started this book with an open mind, but the similarities to Harry Potter were just too many, both in characters and in plot. Characters that grow up in ignorance of all things magical (Call to a lesser degree). When he goes to the Magisterium (this book’s Hogwarts), he makes friends with Tamara and Aaron. Tamara is a know-it-all of sorts, and Aaron is unflinchingly loyal. Does that sound familiar? Oh, and the villain is called Enemy of Death (Voldemort-y much?). There is even one concept that is eerily similar to the Horcruxes devised by Rowling.

Plotwise, it was nothing special, with the trio making friends and getting away with breaking the rules. Even the twist at the end was somehow expected, thanks, again, to Harry Potter.

In my opinion, the book doesn’t match the hype that has been generated about it. I’m not entirely sure yet if I’ll read the sequel.

Endlessly (Paranormalcy #3)

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Endlessly (Paranormalcy, #3)

“Kiersten White’s New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy comes to a breathless conclusion with a signature mix of wit, romance, paranormal creatures, and a truly original heroine.

In Endlessly, pink-loving, butt-kicking Evie has way too much on her to-do list. Paranormals are begging her to open a faerie gate so they can leave the human world, something Evie’s not sure she has the power to do. The Dark Queen is torturing humans and must be destroyed.

On top of all that, Evie’s prom is coming up. She’s not sure what to wear, and, oh, yeah, her shape-shifting boyfriend, Lend, has been cursed so that he falls into an enchanted sleep whenever he and Evie are in the same room…and even Evie’s ex-boyfriend, the faerie Reth, can’t reverse the dark magic.

An epic battle is looming, and the choices Evie makes will determine the fate of whole paranormal world—and her own life.”

– Taken from Goodreads

Gosh, it’s been so long since I read this that I don’t really know what to write about this book *sighs* That’s why I shouldn’t procrastinate so much to write reviews.

It was an enjoyable read, overall. I did like the first book in this series better, maybe because of the novelty. Evie, as nearly every YA heroine has to save the world (no pressure at all there), and she does so by having some not so clever ideas. What could go wrong, did go wrong. Murphy’s Law, anyone?

There wasn’t much romance, because of the plot, but I didn’t really miss it. I got a tiny bit annoyed with Reth and his obsession with Evie and thinking she was going to do things his way. The guy just couldn’t take no for an answer. As for Jack, he was his usual crazy self, though not as annoying as in the second book.

The ending felt a bit abrupt, though it was happy. I wanted to see Evie finally having the normal life she always wanted, and how she would cope with what happened at the end.

The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2)

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The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen, #2)

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town;

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I’ve been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I’m coming to think I have another purpose here.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I’ve discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town, this withering kingdom, and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.”

– Taken from Goodreads

This book was most definitely not what I was expecting. In this case, in a bad way.

The first book had only a nice touch of the supernatural, with the main character, Amelia, being able to see ghosts. Here, the whole thing became supernatural. There were witches, demons, and, of course, ghosts. It felt like there were too many supernatural elements in a plot that didn’t really have any space for them. The end result was quite confusing, for me.

I also had a hard time keeping track of all the characters. Maybe it was because I just wanted to finish this book. The one character that stuck with me was, unsurprisingly, the dog, Angus. He was the one character I kept wanting to see. Furthermore, I felt that the graveyard restoration aspect, which was so fascinating in the first book, was left aside so that all the witches and demons could make an appearance.

After this one, I’m not sure I’ll be reading the rest of the series.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Deer In Headlights (Good Gods #1)

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Deer in Headlights (Good Gods, #1)

“**18+**

Aphrodite never loses, not when it comes to love.

Immortality has its perks and its downsides. Boredom, for one, is unavoidable, but instead of playing Backgammon, the Greek gods devised a game using humans as pawns. Remember Shakespeare? That was Apollo. Bonnie and Clyde? Aphrodite versus Ares.

Aphrodite is on deck, and she’ll defend her domain of love by using her magic to get the two human players together. Time is not on her side, and she’ll have her work cut out for her as her opponent does everything in his power to keep the players apart.

Game one is against Apollo, who chooses the loner Dean, a rock star who takes dark and brooding to the next level. His band has finally gotten a break, and he can’t screw it up, not for another one night stand, and especially not with his new drummer’s girlfriend. He swore to the band that he’d keep it together, but from the minute he first sees Lex, it takes every bit of willpower he has to stay away. But Dean’s will is nothing for the Goddess of Love, who’s certain she has a fighting chance to win with Lex as her player. The artist and poet is perfect for Dean, if only she can open her heart and find a way to love for the first time.

There’s always more at stake than winning the game when you’ve lived for thousands of years. The Olympians are the original dysfunctional family, surviving eons of love and lust, betrayal and lies, as friends and enemies, through feuds and wars. From the douchebag Ares, who’s forever trying get Aphrodite into bed, to her best friend Persephone, who she can always count on for a hearty helping of bacon on a bad day, the gods will take you on a lighthearted trip as they toy with humans, laugh and fight, lose love and gain power.”

-Taken from Goodreads

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Indie Inked for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was, overall, and okay read. The best aspect of it was not the developing relationship that is portrayed, but the dynamics between the gods. While they still play with humans, they also play one against the other. And it was interesting how the author chose the myths of Daphne and Adonis to make it clear.

As far as characters go, Adonis was the most annoying of this book. His story is tragic, but there is nothing to be done about it. Except, of course, to hold a grudge, which is exactly what he does for I don’t know how many centuries.

The human world plot was quite predictable, and I could have seen the end coming for miles. The gods’ plot was far more interesting, thanks to the twists worked into it.

Rating: 3 out of 5