King of Scars

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in a Grisha-verse duology.

Nikolai Lantsov survived the civil war, though not unscathed, and has been working endlessly to bring Ravka back from the brink of destruction. But Ravka is weak, it’s boarders need shoring up and financially, it is in trouble.

As Nikolai and his allies work to strengthen Ravka and it’s decimated Grisha army, a darkness within begins to take hold, neighboring countries spout niceties while planning invasion, and legend threatens to become reality.

Can Nikolai continue to rule if the darkness takes over? Will there even be a Ravka left when all is said and done?

I kept meaning to pick this one up but kept putting it aside. I actually read Six of Crows before reading any of Bardugo’s other books and still nothing can compare. That being said, it was nice to see some familiar faces in this book and to get more of Nikolai’s and the others stories.

Did anyone else notice just how often Nina brings up her former band of misfits from Six of Crows? The whole time I was listening to the audio book, I just kept wanting them to show up. Sigh.

Ultimately, there wasn’t anything really negative to say about the book. Nikolai and Zoya are both lovingly snarky and the banter was spot on. And the Grisha’s and Ravka were the same as always. I guess the issue I have is that the book was a little slow for me. Not a lot happens until the last 100+ pages. And what does happen in the first half of the book, feels too familiar for me–sort of like we’ve been there before in the other Grisha books.

I do expect a lot more action and going-ons in the second book. This one gets a solid 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Poisoned

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly is a fairy-tale re-imagining of Snow White for a Young Adult audience.

To rule, once must be strong and powerful; there is no place for kindness and the gentle hearted. Or at least, this is what Sophie has been told her entire life. According to her step mother, Queen Regent, and the rest of the court, weak, foolish, silly Sophie doesn’t have what it takes to be the ruler her country needs. So when the huntsman pulls out his knife and plunges it into her heart, Sophie shouldn’t have been surprised.

And even though Sophie believed everything they said about her, it was still a surprise. But, what was more surprising, was waking up.

Given a second chance at life, will Sophie muster the bravery to fight for her kingdom and the will to rule it as she seems fit?

I really enjoyed Donnelly’s Stepsister, so I was excited to pick this one up. And, although it was an entertaining read, I wasn’t wowed by it. I enjoyed it but I could have used a little bit more toward the end. Like Stepsister, the villains, weren’t ordinary villains–they were abstract entities personified. <<And that’s about as much as I can say without giving anything away. And this was interesting, a little preachy at times but it’s meant to be written as a “lesson.”

Now that I think about it, what I liked best about the book, were the side characters. I just loved the hound master’s son, the dwarfs, Will and Arlo, even our villains. But Sophie, fell a little flat for me. We see her journey throughout, both physical and emotional, but she still felt a little two dimensional to me.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me. I’ll be interested to see which fairy-tale Donnelly picks up next.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Sky Beyond the Storm

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir is the fourth and final book in the An Ember in the Ashes series.

Picking up not long after A Reaper at the Gates, war has come and no one will be spared. The Jinn, lead by the vengeful Nightbringer, are on the attack and their battles are bloody and devastating. At the Nightbringer’s side is the self declared Empress, Commandant Keris Veturia, who is determined to strike down anyone in her way.

Laia of Serra and the Blood Shrike ally together to battle the darkness. Laia is determined to bring down the Nightbringer and the Blood Shrike is equally set on killing Keris.

And alone with the ghosts, amidst the Waiting Place, is the Soul Catcher who wants only to pass the spirits on without the memories of his past weighing him down. But ignoring the world, the love, he left behind could very well lead to the destruction of all.

All in all, I really enjoyed this series and I thought that this was a fitting end to the series. This last book really felt like the culmination of what came before. All of the characters, the story-lines, they merge in this final installment and there is one last, epic battle to win or lose it all. It was nice to feel like everything was coming to an end and satisfyingly so.

The relationships built in this book have also evolved through the series, in both good and bad ways. Elias’ struggles to turn off and on his emotions could maybe have been done a little differently. I felt more like he was trying to turn it off, rather than Maud(sp?) pulling him away.

Not giving anything away, but I really felt for one of the characters, who always seemed to get the short end of the stick. His/Her revelation at the end is nice but man Tahir, couldn’t you give him/her a little something more at the end.

Overall, this was a neat world to be sucked into for four books. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown is the first book in a fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore.

Solstasia is an event that happens every fifty years. It is a both a celebration and ritual. For Malik, Solstasia is a chance to start fresh with his siblings and forge a new life for his family away from the war-torn shambles of his home. When a malevolent spirit kidnaps Malik’s baby sister, he makes a deal to kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, in exchange for her life.

But Karina isn’t so easy to kill and she has her own designs when it comes to Solstasia. Determined to resurrect her murdered mother, the Sultana of Ziran, Karina turns to dark magic, requiring the heart of a king.

Malik and Karina’s fates are tied together and as evil stirs within the city of Ziran both will find that price of their tasks, may be higher than the thought.

I don’t know if it was the audio book or what, but I had a hard time getting into this book. It wasn’t until the Solstasia contest actually starts that my attention was grabbed. And then it seemed like things moved almost too quickly to make up for the slower beginning.

Karina is an emotional character, whereas Malik lives more in his head and I found their narrative observations of one another interesting in how differently they seem themselves versus the way the see one another. And Malik’s chosen side at the end of the story is surprising and out of character with what we witness throughout the story.

I’m actually surprised to find out that this is going to be a duology instead of a series of three because it felt like Brown introduced a lot of elements at the end of the story, maybe too many to wrap up in just one book?

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Aru Shah and the End of Time

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is the first book in a juvenile fantasy series.

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah is a bit of an outcast. She isn’t as rich or popular as the kids at her school, so she tends to stretch the truth a bit. This time, it has gotten her in BIG trouble–world ending trouble.

Aru lives at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture with her mom and when she gets caught in a lie, she lights a forbidden lantern and ends up releasing The Sleeper, who is going to end the world if not stopped. Well, it’s a good thing Aru is, unbeknownst to her, the reincarnation of one of the five Pandava brothers from Indian myth and it is duty to stop the sleeper and save the world… in her Spiderman pajamas.

With the help of a talking pigeon and one of her reincarnated Pandava brothers, who is allergic to everything and obsessed with death, Aru must travel to the Kingdom of the Dead and make right what she started. Sounds easy right?

Hmm, this was a slowwww read for me. I just opened it up and could not get into it, until about 200+ pages in. It did pick up speed toward the end but it was surprisingly hard to want to pick up this book. It has all the elements of a great juvenile fantasy and is somewhat reminicent of Riordan’s Lighting Thief, so many kids will probably enjoy it but I just couldn’t get into it.

There is a lot of great Indian myth and legend come to life in the book, which I think will appeal to a lot of kids but, not know much about these myths ahead of time myself, made me feel a little lost.

I don’t think I personally would continue the series but if a 5-7th grader were looking for a new one to start and liked the Riordan books, I think they might just enjoy this one.

This books gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-