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-

Skyhunter

Skyhunter by Marie Lu is the first book in, what I believe to be a new young adult duology.

The Karensa Federation has conquered almost all of their continent, leaving Mara as the only free nation left. But how much longer can Mara remain free when mutant beasts, known as Ghosts, rove and ravage at will.

Mara’s elite fighting force, the Strikers, are tasked with killing these monsters and pushing back the Federation for as long as possible. But defeat still seems inevitable.

Still, one Striker, a refugee from another war torn country, an outcast, refuses to give up. Talin Kanami knows just how brutal the Federation will be when they finally arrive and she is determined to save the city she now calls home. When a mysterious prisoner is sentenced to death, Talin’s instincts tell her to save him. Will her actions doom them all or will hope prevail?

It took me a few chapters to get into this book but after that, I flew through it. I really loved how the author makes Talin mute and even she isn’t sure if she’s just stopped talking or if her vocal cords were damaged when she fled her home as a child. I also think Lu handled, how to portray her communication, well. The fact that the Strikers all know how to sign and take an oath of silence on the field, worked perfectly in this book.

Lu also does something great with the relationships in this book. The Striker and his/her Shield have such a fascinating relationship, forged of stronger stuff than just friendship and loyalty. And I am glad that Red and Talin work toward that relationship first, rather than any lovey dovey infatuation. If we are heading that way in book two, well it is slooooow and just the way I want it.

Overall, I thought this was a really strong book with some memorable characters and a neat post-apocalyptic setting/conflict. This one gets a solid 4 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 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-

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab is an adult fiction novel about live, the decisions we make in the moment and the regrets that follow.

If you could live forever, unaging and unchanging, but never making a lasting impression on anyone, what would you do? When Addie LaRue, desperate to be more than a wife and mother, makes a deal with the dark to live forever, she wasn’t ready for the consequences of that wish.

It is France 1714, and with one foolish wish, Addie is destined to walk the earth forever but be forgotten by everyone she sees. She becomes a ghost, stepping in and out of peoples lives without being “seen” by anyone. Taunted by the Dark throughout the centuries.

In over 300 years, no one has been able to remember her until a boy named Henry catches her stealing a book and everything changes.

V.E. Schwab always creates such wonderful worlds and dynamic characters and that is just what she does with Addie LaRue. Addie starts out as this lost girl wanting to escape the domestic role the times demand but from the moment she makes a deal with the darkness to live, she begins to transform into this complex creature. Even the Darkness, or Luke as Addie calls him, has a depth to him and I love Addie and Luke’s tête-à-têtes throughout the novel. The back an forth jabs and the evolution of their relationship was great.

I wasn’t, however, overly impressed with Henry’s character. His curse was interesting but the chapters where he took over the narrative, especially that long bit in the middle, weren’t as captivating for me.

But that ending! Loved it!

This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-