Review: End of Days by Susan Ee

End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days, #3)End of Days by Susan Ee

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Ahhh, Penryn and her gang of unlikely saviors. We have her young sister Paige who is devastatingly altered that she can only consume human flesh and Raffe, her archangel who’s pretty high in demand in angel society. And her psychotic mother.

With these types of characters, it churned out a beautiful mixture of a book called Angelfall. The sequel World After was just as scrumptious but somewhere along the way, I think it was too much  to handle and that is why this book came out messily. The root of the problem lies in the lack of characters that connected to the central conflict. This did not allow easy access for Penryn to finally rally a last battle against the angel because let’s face it, it’s hard for a teenager to do that. Penryn was up close and personal with the angels due to Raffe, her beloved one, but she is distant from Obi who is the leader of the military camp.

Regardless, I’m going to be lenient because the last book is the most important in the series and angel books also tend to be a difficult sub-genre to break into. It limits the imagination and creative license due to the theology/mythology behind it so that it has to be firmly rooted in reality. The angel politics that drives the whole plot ends up becoming the gist of the storyline in this book and I think it’s part of the reason why readers were turned off. Spoiler: The whole point of the apocalypse was a master plan devised by Uriel for him to become the Messenger. This ultimately leads to a whole lot of drivel on questioning where Raffe’s loyalties lie in the aftermath; will he stay with Penryn or nah? There was too much time spent dwelling on that when the other more important problems were unsolved. It came up multiple times that Penryn needed to treat Raffe coldly “because he was going to leave anyways and their relationship was impossible”. It’s corny, stressful and just irrelevant in the grand scheme of things because angels are planning to annihilate the human race! In fact, I never felt their connection and the romance was Angelfall’s weakest point. There was a lot of discordance in what they wanted and their actions that continued to contradict their voices.
I want to suspend my belief for some of the conveniences that easily come into play. Especially for the somewhat happy ending. But in all honesty, it was still clever to usher in some interesting characters; I only wished more pages were spent on fully forming them. End of Days overall comes across as underwhelming because parts of it require more explanation or writing. It just means that the end came sooner than I expected.


There’s already many reviews on End of Days so mine really makes no difference. The response so far has been on polar ends of the spectrum as far as I can see. If you’re a Penryn fanatic who hasn’t read this last book yet, I’d say venture forth if you need closure. If you haven’t even remotely read Angelfall, PLEASE DO. The sequels may or may not generate favorable reactions but ANGELFALL IS A MUST.

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Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson BoundCrimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I swear I’m not biased towards fairy tale retellings!! I SWEAR. This is the second book I’ve read by Rosamund and her storytelling has gotten more advanced. Her concepts were fresh and world-building was stellar in Cruel Beauty and this one is no exception. I especially love that this book is a stand-alone because a single fairy tale is not meant to be stretched out into trilogies. It’s a slight reprieve from the onslaught of trilogy releases and foretold next ‘Hunger Games’ books.

Crimson Bound is a spin on the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood but it doesn’t feel that way throughout the book. The only time that I felt a twinge of that parallelism is during the first couple chapters and near the end. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since seasoned readers are looking for new ideas and are not looking to read a formulaic plot.

Pros:

  • The cover is similar to Cruel Beauty but is still unique and pleasing to the eye.
  • One of the strongest assets in the book is the conflict between Rachelle’s actions and intentions. She starts out as a naive little girl who has high hopes and a keen focus on her goals. This is in fact her folly because she dreams so big about defeating the ominous forest/woodspawns and is willing to go the extra length to do so. Within the first few chapters, she is shamed and defeated by her curiosity. By talking to the wolf, of course. Fast forward a couple years and she is now cynical and pursued by her angst. However, I warmed up to Rachelle through her persistence and staunch beliefs in what she believes is right. She is confident in her combat skills, prideful, and of course initially vitriolic upon first encounter towards her love interest. Armand is an interesting case among the romantics archetypes. Typical of many fairy tales, he’s a prince but he’s a bastard prince at that; he also has no hands. Someone cut them off a few months before Rachelle met him and part of the story revolves around how it happened and who did it. This was actually one of the plot twists that I did not see coming. It significantly improved the plot and turned an otherwise docile story into something stark raving mad and rabid. I loved it, as you can see.
  • Upon Rachelle’s story, a legend is also layered on to give the readers background information about the origins of the Devourer and the gods people worship. Although it’s corny, the villain’s name works because it’s simple and the Devourer is a mindless abyss rather than a sentient being. Think of Voldemort’s reincarnations in a way.
    The legend of Zisa and Tyr who finally bound up the Devourer and restored the sun and moon back to the sky turns out to be frighteningly real in this book. Zisa and Tyr are siblings who’re are offered up one as a sacrifice to the Devourer and the other to join the Devourer’s forces. Zisa is driven by her love for her brother to find ways to free him; her determination is the original story of courage, wit, and sacrifice.

ZISA CARRIED THE BONES TO A GREAT YEW TREE. Beneath its roots there was a cave, and in the cave there was a forge, and chained to the forge was a man with a smile like dried blood and glowing embers.
This was Volund, the crippled smith. He had once loved a forestborn maiden, and so much did he delight her that for seven years she stayed beside him. But one night she heard the hunting horns of her people and rose to follow them. Before she had taken three steps, he struck her dead.
In recompense, the forestborn hamstrung him, chained him, and made him undying as themselves, an everlasting slave to craft their swords and spears and arrows.
“Old man,” said Zisa, “I must have two swords made out of these bones.”
“Little girl,” said Volund, “I must obey the forestborn, but not you.”
“And when I am one of them, I will remember you said that,” she replied.
He laughed like a rusty hinge. “And much I have left for anyone to take from me. But you, I think, have the whole world to lose.” He looked her up and down. “I will make you a bargain. Give me the delights of your proud body twice, and I will make you two swords such as the world will never see again.”
There was nothing she would not do for her brother.

It serves as a backbone to Rachelle’s story when it shows how far she is willing to go to defeat the Devourer. Why does she want to defeat it? Are her intentions noble enough? As the story gradually continues, her purpose for seeking and destroying the Devourer shifts as she goes through revelations about the evil. It is an arduous struggle and I empathized with her anger, self-hate, and impatience in search for the two legendary swords. The legends played a huge role in enriching the world-building and it drew up great comparisons between the deeds of Zisa and those of Rachelle.

Cons:

  • The writing is artfully arranged most of the time but there are moments that I got confused due to rough transitions. Within one line, the author ends the day before I even realize it. There would be anecdotes about what Rachelle goes through but they are written clumsily because they seem stringed together.
    Writing a sequence of events is difficult but I did not feel a sense of time when the story jumped whole days or skipped a week nonchalantly with a sentence or two. This threw off the pacing of the book because I knew with effort and better editing, the storyline will coalesce well. Nonetheless, this is only a minor grievance that did not detract me from wholeheartedly investing in the mystery.
  • Rachelle and Amelie’s friendship is sort of a poor excuse when it’s formed on the basis of a You-saved-my-life-now-let’s-be-friends. It slightly laughable but it reminds me of Shrek and Donkey. I’m not saying friendships can’t be formed this way because it totally can and friends have been made through less efforts. However, this is where the affinity ends because they literally have nothing else in common. Amelie does Rachelle’s makeup which is sweet but that’s about it.
    I understand that this friendship is proof that not all humans hate bloodbounds. Bloodbounds are those who used to be human but have killed a human in order to survive the curse placed upon them by a forestborn. (All you need to know about a forestborn is that they are minions of the Devourer. But it’s more complicated and you’ll understand once you read the book. Read it!) This murder is what merits the hate they get from humans. This is seriously one of the most underdeveloped relationships I’ve seen in a book; it’s literally the same thing as Primrose Everdeen and Katniss Everdeen. Rachelle and Katniss are both willing to go to strenuous lengths to preserve Amelie/Primrose’s innocence and safety. A noble feat that alas fails…what? Did I just say something? Please ignore that if you haven’t read the books lol

Rachelle looked at her. She noticed the careful way that Amélie leaned toward her, closing the distance between them but not ever touching. She noticed that Amélie was biting her lip, the way she always did when she was nervous. She noticed that this was, in fact, her only friend.

She still couldn’t tell her anything. Maybe it was foolish, but she had spent three years trying to shelter Amélie. She couldn’t bear to undo that now.

This reeks heavily of motherly authority and ideals of ignorance is bliss. Hasn’t anyone learned that confiding in your best friend is ultimately the only way to go if you wish to keep the friendship alive? Although I do think Rachelle is great as a character, she makes blunders and I forgive her so other characters should just as well forgive her.


Readers may not like Crimson Bound if they are looking for something that adheres closely to their beloved fairy tales. It is a dark tale that speaks volumes to today’s teens and the proclivities of the 21st century. If you’re ready for what’s next, I recommend this book. Otherwise, just stick to the classically sweet Beauty by Robin McKinley.

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Review: All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

All the Truth That's in MeAll the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lot rides on the shoulders of the book description which totes it as a mysterious town which shunned a girl who came back after 2 years of disappearance. In truth, Judith was abducted and it’s pretty obvious from the start because she returns with her tongue cut out. However, the blurb is extremely misleading and there are crucial details left out which forms the basis of the story and thus, I dove in confused with the setting. However, I’m still satisfied by the results and the mystery drove me on so curiously. Judith’s voice is compelling and her actions are reasonable and so well-understood within the boundaries of the flawed society she lives in.

There were so many strikes against this book and I should not have been able to enjoy it but I certainly did. Patricia McCormick’s Cut was told in second-person perspective in which the main character is talking or referring to someone else as ‘you’. This book, also does the same but it somehow did not annoy me as it did with Cut. It’s also split into short chapters numbered by Roman numerals and short (1-3 page) chapters are one of my pet peeves. However, Julie Berry’s writing is evocative and the ‘chapters’ actually flow well together and often stay on the current situation. In Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, the choppy writing and the 2-page chapters pissed me off some much despite how unique and tragic the story was. Needless to say, that book about Lithuanians and their harrowing experience in the Siberian concentration camps sadly did not stick in my mind. The Book Thief was far superior not because the plot was more tragic (because it’s not), but it was all thanks to the excellent writing. Okay, back to Berry’s book. I had all these pet peeves that somehow didn’t matter anymore when I cracked open this book and began reading furiously. Frankly, I read this whole book in one sitting and I even missed a planning meeting to cosponsor a multicultural festival.(Shhh!)

Pros:

I was really skeptical about Judith narrating this book as if she’s retelling it to the boy she’s in love with. Seriously? The girl doesn’t know enough about Lucas to be pouring out her thoughts to him. However, I got used to the reference ‘you’ instead of Lucas. Well, it was actually sweet and I ended up liking Lucas a lot because he’s such a noble character who stood out against the backdrop of a judgmental community. Yes, this is a romance but there’s a more important story to tell and Judith is slowly healing and picking up the courage to speak out and tell the truth about what happened to her best friend and the past two years of her life.

I predicted the plot twist halfway through the story but there were ambiguous parts of it that I only vaguely dismissed in light of the general picture. I loved the details that eventually matched up the mystery with why Judith chose to remain mute. It’s still a heartbreaking story but I felt so much hope emanating from Judith. She was an obedient daughter to her mother and brother despite their cavalier treatment and yet, she remained diligent and was determined to make the best of her situation. Her kindness to others and her lack of bitterness towards her lot in life was a bit far-fetched but I could perceive it as her being resigned to her position. I liked that Judith acted many times out of love for others and her selflessness is truly remarkable. The thrilling aspects of Judith being stalked by someone unknown and hostility from others kept me on my toes and I sometimes didn’t know which direction the plot would steer towards.

Cons:

The religion does not take centerpiece but a lot of the way religion is preached makes it out to be something twisted and manipulated for the church’s convenience. The community is quick to blame and shun girls for their indecent behavior and Judith’s mutism is seen as a seen of God’s punishment or divine retribution. Despite her faultlessness, many townspeople are not so open-minded and the church would call her a pariah and ignore her. I didn’t realize for a while that there are repercussions (castigation) if people don’t attend church regularly. I understand that the ultimate intention was the illustrate a puritanical society dominated by patriarchy but religion played too strong a force that it detracted from the central plot.


There is a lot of originality and the mixture of different settings and writing implements were strangely alluring. This was a memorable read and people who like mysteries or romantics would enjoy it.

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Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore: Review

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bitterblue is the third book in the Graceling Realm and focuses on the eponymous heroine who had to rule a kingdom that was crippled by her sadistic father. I read this book last year and I want to talk more about it because it has made a lasting impact on how I perceived the fantasy genre.

Where to start…this is a book that deals with the heavy ramifications of mind rape and the resulting extended manipulation that continuously traumatizes the victims. Although this is a fantasy book about wild creatures, a kingdom, queen, and politics, it is much more than an fairy tale. The people handle serious issues and suffer from mental instability after the culprit of these disorders is long dead. The people’s state of minds and lives are the inner conflicts of the story. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made me click with the characters. I connected with the starkness, pain, mind-boggling mystery, and torture centralized in each character. At the root of the whole book are the unanswered questions that can be uncovered in the people’s minds and past. The answers are steeped in the suffering people themselves, the ones remember and know it all but are trying to forget and frantically bury.

Bitterblue has gaps in her memory but her advisers, soldiers, clerks, castle people all on the other hand, seem to retain the most grisly of theirs. Everyone is filled with secrets and unwilling to tell because they’re afraid to bring up the pain of the past. The chaos all stems from Leck and ends with Leck. The author did not have to fill the pages with gore or gritty details in order to convey to readers the extent of damage Leck wreaked. Over the course of 35 years, one man has single-handedly managed to destroy the fragile psychological minds of his citizens. Even the young ones like Hava, Teddy, and Bitterblue especially do not escape. Bitterblue must sever his legacy but at the least same time reveal the truths during his reign in order to lay to rest the ghosts of her childhood and people.

The book differs from the typical fantasy novel because it’s not an action-driven plot filled with assassinations, political intrigue, and war. Although all these fantastical elements are present in the novel, the foremost priority is the mystery and exploring the full extent of Leck’s reach and damage which still causes people to do crazy things years after his death. There are so many questions that Bitterblue brings up, countless others that people are unwillingly to ask. What is the purpose of Leck’s experiments. Where are his experiments? Who are his experiments? Why? How? The whole concept of his torture and fascination with animals and people alike is sickening, yet engrossing as I dive further into the book and learn more about it. The truth, when it is finally unveiled, is simply horrifying and just traumatizing; however, it galvanizes the road to healing. Ever since she became queen, Bitterblue discover most of her people only eager to forget and burn the history. Not everything is well in the end and in life, nothing is. But there’s so much hope and happiness that might appear in the future. I want a fourth book! A few things are still unsolved and I wish I could see Bitterblue fully mature into a greater confident woman.


Side Note/Commentary:

The fantasy genre is such a hard category to break into specifically because it’s already brimming with so much talent and also landmines. The obvious danger of writing fantasy is that the world-building needs to be built on a solid foundation that can support the story. A half-baked world makes for a half-assed story so I felt splendid returning to Cashore’s rich, vibrant kingdoms. There’s also bonus pictures in the back of the book that illustrates the multiple bridges the king forced the architect to build during his reign. And, of course, we have a map imprinted to give us the idea of where Bitterblue’s kingdom is situated and its relations with the neighbors.

Winged Bridge

There’s something so daring and empowering about having a strong female character that does not need a lover by her side or feel any need to marry anytime soon. Women were not commodity and no one questioned Bitterblue’s authority due to her gender. Her age (16) was brought into discussion and since she’s so young, a lot of characters tried to protect her by keeping her in ignorance. A lot of turmoil she feels is her struggle to come to terms with the fact that her mother was tortured extensively along with her servants. She reads Leck’s diary to find out where all the dead people were buried. The end is really bittersweet but the whole plot was driven by Bitterblue’s actions so kudos to female ACTION and PoWeR!

I was somewhat disappointed to know that Bitterblue was not really a sequel for Graceling (the first book) because the main characters were no longer Katsa and Po although they do appear sporadically throughout this book. But then, I’ve come to realize that Kat doesn’t need a continuation and maybe it’s better off to leave it as it is instead of dabbling in her affairs and missions. The author knows when to quit or specifically, knows to not stretch out content thinly just to cover more pages. *cough cough* Mockingjay parts 1 and 2 movie?! Twilight SAGA*cough choke* Less can be better and that’s why I’m satisfied. The story may be open-ended and it’s been a couple years since Cashore’s last book and sure, I don’t mind a sequel but the Graceling Realm functions just fine.

This trilogy introduced me to an intriguing side of fantasy, one that wasn’t a rip-off of Harry Potter and it taught me that there was more to offer. The imagination was not exhausted and fantasy was not all the same with battles of steel and blood. I found out that I liked books with medieval touches, monarchy, and castles…a lot. Although Paolini’s The Inheritance Saga (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, read them all except for that damn final book I got rotting away at home) was good, the countless battle scenes started blending together and the plot whittled farther from me. I became so enchanted that nowadays, I think about buying a ticket to go to Medieval Times LOL. Anyways, most of the books I read nowadays is fantasy and I happened to neglect my science fiction TBR pile because I just can’t seem to move away from fantasy!!

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Fairest by Marissa Meyer: Review

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.5)Fairest by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marissa Meyer never ceases to amaze me with her simplistic word formations and descriptive, yet easy-to-read writing.

Over the past few years, my tastes for books have grown, and my interests have evolved beyond the simple contemporary stories and leaned towards high fantasy.  Although Meyer is considered a juvenile fantasy/sci-fi writer and her books are targeted towards middle-age readers, her readership is extremely versatile. She strongly reminds me of Rick Riordan whose book series is just as easily enjoyed by people of all ages.

The geared focus on fairy tales is an idea overdone and modified so many times that it’s a wonder Marissa manages to come up with an original, thrilling combination of ideas. Sure, the concept may be simplistic and in the hands of a less talented writer, can result in complete failure. This is where the magic happens. She is amazingly talented and skilled in manipulating interesting characters and weaving plots together.

In Fairest, Marissa Meyer cemented herself as one of the leading literary figures in this decade. Maybe she’s not on the same level as Diane Wynne Jones but she comes close enough with this series and this extremely critical novella. The novella is by no means necessary but the history of Queen Levana is intricate and must be expertly outlined so that she does not come off as a 2-dimensional villain who was born evil. She cannot be too sad of a figure that readers will end up sympathizing with her. The purpose of Fairest is to give readers a glimpse of Levana’s motives behind her actions and the events that drove her to implement extreme measures. Of course, knowing her history is important but that’s not the whole point and I liked that Marissa paced the story reasonably enough to a incorporate a 10 year long timeline.

Unlike the flimsy fairytale, Snow White, where the queen’s obsession with beauty is baseless, Fairest offers reasonable factors that fit seamlessly into the story. Without giving away the core reason of Levana’s glamour, I’d just like to say that it’s understandable why she’s so obsessed with beauty. In Luna’s society, beauty triumphs all and opens all sorts of doors and opportunities. Levana may be mad but her madness has a sort of twisted logic. Her ideas of love and what is right is strongly affected by her sister who was older and the crown princess by birthright. However, all these things are overshadowed by her selfishness. The root of all her problems are her selfishness and everything she does is not truly for the good of the people of Luna (although she thinks she’s ruling so well) but to satisfy her own agenda.

Levana is strongly influenced by her beliefs of righteousness that it consumes her superego. Sure, she knows a lot of times that what she’s doing is wrong but her guilt is minimal and oftentimes justified in her mind. She is very oblivious to the true politics in her court, what people are suffering, and understanding the root of so many problems. Basically, her id (Freud reference) is consuming her and thinks highly of her own methods. Levana was naive as a child and is still naive.

Everyone who hasn’t started the Lunar trilogy, look at these gorgeous covers and go buy it!

And here are the novellas!

Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in the Malediction trilogy and its prospects are so far very promising. Again, I have to say this: it is a rare incident for me to read a book in one sitting and/or stay up until 4:30AM to finish it. The story was neither mind-blowing or thought-provoking but it sure was irresistibly riveting. It’s not the type that keeps readers on the edge of their seats with excitement but there wasn’t a boring moment and things were always happening. I liked that a lot occurred within that couple hundred pages and I certainly enjoyed the slow development of an actual relationship between two people. Sure, the romance is a central point to the story but politics and civil affairs are not shoved to the background and are very well-integrated.

Characters: Great!! I’m so glad that there aren’t too many or too few characters introduced in the novel and I enjoy that each of them have a role. I appreciated that they weren’t ”dropped or discarded’ later on but there were numerous people that never had their moment to shine or become as fully developed as I wished them to be. Well, no one can aspire for a 3-D character like from the Harry Potter series but it was such a shame to know that the minor characters weren’t as involved in the larger picture. Although the action was ever-present, the Lorien Legacies series had way too many characters to juggle and develop properly and I’m glad to not see SS not make a hash of it. Either way, I liked the different spectrums of trolls from the twin Baron/Baroness, Duchess/Queen, Marc, and Tip. I liked we readers gauged these characters’ personalities mainly from their actions and not from telling. The manipulative nature of the prince was reiterated and reflected by his deliberate planned acts: this, I figured out pretty early on so I was disgruntled that it took our heroine, Cécile, a while to glimpse past it. But that’s not to say that Cecile de Troyes is a dimwitted damsel in distress because she is in no way close to that! Sure, she is foolish and impulsive but I reckon that her situations is rather dire and merits rashness. If I was kidnapped, what would I do? Most likely try to escape just like her without thinking of the consequences because the taste of freedom is so sweet and it’s worth it. She had so much ahead of her in life and it may not seem like much to readers since it’s singing on a royal stage but think of it as the equivalent of college/Julliard to us! I especially cheered Cecile on when she bided her time and took advantage of what Trollus has to offer since she cannot simply sulk.

“I shoved my filthy sleeves into my mouth to muffle the sobs that I could not suppress. There was no way out. A shower of pebbles rained down onto the pool, and my howls cut off abruptly as I held my breath to listen. But nothing else stirred…The darkness was unforgiving and my frozen body refused to reach out to discover the limits of my circumstances. I was terrified. It was not like the terror of running from a wolf, always knowing you can turn and fight. It was not like the sense of drowning, where there is a chance to flee to the surface. From this darkness and this place, there was no escape. I could neither run nor hide, and no one can fight the dark. All there was left for me to do was die.
But the very idea of ending it here, interned in a pool of offal with an idiot like Luc, struck fury in my heart. I wasn’t injured or starving. There was hope yet.”

Tristan, the brooding, moody prince has such a compassionate, boyish personality and his banter with Cecile is always so adorably awkward. They’re very considerate of each other and the care they take to explain their words and understand one another is endearing. They often do not know what to say around each other which basically sums up every infatuated couple in the rudimentary stage of dating.

“He took hold of my shoulders and turned me towards a mirror. I stood frozen as he brushed my hair aside, his expression fixed with concentration as he undid the clasp and fastened it around my neck. My senses seemed magnified, and I felt everything keenly: the brush of his wrist against my shoulder, the warmth of his breath on my hair, the faint scent of apples on his hands.”

I liked that they interpret each others’ words differently because they care so much about feelings. Tristan’s point of view is always so refreshing and I enjoyed how they offered insight into different aspects of the plot. It also clarified Tristan’s actions because he is so contradictory sometimes but each act is so logically explained. I liked that his motives were laid out so clearly for readers but at the same time, I wanted unpredictability. Up to a certain point, I began to know how Tristan and Cecile would react accordingly to the current scenario. It would have been fine if circumstances turned out differently due to other factors but it seems these factors were not strong enough. Nevertheless, it was still fascinating to see everything unfold and maybe there’ll be a curve ball in the second book. At certain parts, the writing is excellent and the vivid descriptions of the city of Trollus was like art. But then some sentences in the book did not sit well with me and I squirmed at how off-key it felt for me. Notwithstanding, the writing was overall smooth and I think the author has a great talent for details and delineating great scenes.

“I wondered, as I walked towards him, if out in the brightness of the sun, he would seem as mortal as me. He was still beautiful handsome, like something out of a dream, but the coldness of that perfection was softened by anxiety, fear, and hope. Painful, painful hope.”

Myths: I found the interspersed information about trolls really interesting to learn about because many myths were debunked. You see, common legends dictate that trolls will turn stone when they encounter daylight, eat humans, are bulky, and revoltingly ugly. First of all, trolls are rather good-looking although there is insanity and physical deformities due to inbreeding. They have no problem with sunlight. Like…at all. Humans aren’t their food and they enjoy the finer delicacies in life just like us. They’re remarkably similar to a human in form except they can control magic.The ones Danielle Jensen acquaint us with deviate so much from what the myths inoculate so I feel that was a bit too far of stretch in terms of creative license. Spoilers ahead, highlight to reveal: The author gave her own twist on trolls and their origins…which alerted me to how these things don’t add up at all. There are too many disparities and the ‘trolls’ in this story can really be any other subhuman magical creature. I suspect they’re actually faeries and I’m 99% sure I’m correct because the author injects a huge dose of clues near the end.

I was a bit irked with the supposed plot twist not because they were obvious, but because of the way they were handled. The full impact was not there because the key problem laid in the ‘2-D villain’ that was poorly used as instrumental to the occurrence. Sorry, the threats that placed deadly harm on the characters were too convenient and derived on the spot/in the moment that it was obvious. I don’t know, I’ve been so used to reading about threats/villains that exist on the forefront or bear a strong presence without actually being there fully. (Does that make sense? I mean for a threat that is ever-looming and omnipresent in the story so that it is not simply used to throw danger and then dismissed easily.) However, there is a pervasive evil guy and he stands as the crux of all the obstacles. I look forward to knowing more about his motives and historical background in order to understand his drive in the sequel. There’s a lot that can be explained and improved upon so I want to see the second book “Hidden Huntress” serve as a crutch.

pLoT: I always want to discuss the storyline but I don’t see the point because that would spoil it and I’d prefer to rush in blindly. Stuff happens and it’s not boring. The romance is satisfying and matters a lot so people who don’t like too much mushiness may be put off. The fantasy premise is good but don’t read it just for that because there are other books suitable for that. I’m pleasantly surprised at this great debut and Danielle definitely trumps over Stacey Jay (author of Princess of Thorns & Of Beast and Beauty) in creating the perfect blend of fantasy and romance.

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Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers: Review

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The next moment I am flying over his shoulder in a dizzying rush. I brace myself for my landing on the hard rock floor, knowing it will knock the wind out of me.
Except I never reach it. Instead, Balthazaar catches me and eases me back to my feet, almost as if we were dancing. My breath is coming fast now, but the bastard is not even breathing hard. And his arms are still around me. “If you wanted them watching you, they are,” he whispers in my ear. “Every move, every breath that passes your lips, has their full attention.”
I bring my arms up suddenly to break his hold, then leap away, annoyed that I am only able to do so because he let me.

It takes a talented author to write a book about war, politics, historical Brittany vs. France intrigue, and shape it into something so charming and idyllic. Even during wartime, the characters stayed rational and a lot of the characters were actual figures that appeared during the time period. It’s sometimes harder to write about real people because of information accuracy (especially back in 1489) and fact-checking but LaFevers pulled it off.

Pros:
Annith demonstrated great strength of character and resilience and I loved learning about her past and how it actually connected to shaping the way she is. She’s ferocious and it’s interesting seeing her display of intelligence through her deliberate actions and interpretations of people. She’s very emotionally tuned and has learned to distinguish between the truth and lies in voices and facial expressions. It’s entertaining and great to get her insights on the various casts of characters and see dynamics in the relationships.

“There is a whisper of movement to my left as I feel Balthazaar unfold himself from the shadows, and I wonder how long he has been there. He leans close enough to whisper in my ear. “Let me have him.”
Scowling, I turn my arrow on him. “He is mine.””

Balthazaar holds his hands up in a placating gesture and slips back into the shadows.
Balthazaar. BALTHAZAAR. oh my goodness, he literally takes the center stage and pulls the rug out from everyone. I don’t know how LaFevers does it but he doesn’t even show up that frequently or long enough to count as a main character but HE IS a main character. UGH. He dominates and has one of the best backstory I’ve ever read so I’m gaping in awe just thinking about him.

“Instead of grabbing me or attacking me, Balthazaar barks out a laugh, the sound cutting through the darkness like a blade. “I have asked myself that a thousand times, calling myself a fool for every one of them, and yet, here I am.”

The plot pacing is iffy on some parts but it never feels boring and I’m always so engaged. Of course, I savor certain passages over others but it was a thorough enjoyment through and through. Please, I need to learn how to write like this and of course, be an archer. I just loved how it was a simple enough story to understand but it had many layers and digestible politics that made sense. Even if I hated the characters (which is impossible; the romance is so worthy to root for), the story line would’ve redeemed and pulled the whole book through.

Before I can respond, Balthazaar butts in. “Or we could play the game my way: If you do not simply answer her question, I will run you through with my sword.”

It’s so difficult to find an intelligent well-researched novel in the YA industry and I know that it’s trite but this is a gem! GOOOOOOOO read this. GO NOW.

Cons:
If the author is not writing any more books, no matter if they’re part of The Fair Assassin series, I’ll be so disappointed.

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