Monday, March 20, 2017

[Review] Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns #1 
Rating: 3 stars

Published: September 20th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis: 
When kingdom come, there will be one.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.

On the isle of Fennbirn, each generation is gifted with three heirs to the crown, queens who are gifted with remarkable powers. Mirabella is an elemental, who can control fire and thunder with a flick of her hand. Arsinoe is a naturalist, who can call upon the wild to aid her. Katharine is a poisoner, following a long line of poisoner queens, who can ingest the most deadly of poisons. The three of them must fight after their 18th birthday to the death, until only one queen remains to rule them all.

So the only strong one of the three is Mirabella. However, she's got a sense of compassion and dislike for harming others, especially her sisters. Katharine gets sick with most poisons, and Arsinoe's powers haven't exactly come yet. For now, it's all a power game the three are playing, to seem the most powerful and deadly.

Friday, March 17, 2017

[Review] A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom on Fire #1
Rating: 2 stars

Published: September 20th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

A Shadow Bright and Burning takes place in the heart of Victorian England, where magic is free and demons know no bounds. We follow the supposed chosen one, Henrietta Howel, who has been recruited with other sorcerers to test her mettle against those who threaten the British Isles. But, everything and everyone is not as they seem, as Henrietta soon finds out.

"Seven are the Ancients, seven are the days,
Monday for R'hlem, the Skinless Man,
On-Tez on Tuesday, the old Vulture Lady,
Callax is Wednesday, the Child Eater
Zen the Great Serpent crisps Thursday with his breath,
On Friday fear Kozoroth, the Shadow and the Fog,
Never sail on Saturday says Nemneris the Water Spider,
And rain on Sunday brings Molochoron the Pale Destroyer."

This book has a world building style similar to Truthwitch, meaning the scope of the topics and lore of the story is far reaching, but the roots simply do not dig deeply enough. I was bombarded with waves of information without the explanation. There are sorcerers, magicians, and witches. There are faeries and Unclean. There are the Ancients, who are the bad guys of the series, but are so faintly touched upon that I only remember what one of them is/looks like. Or two. It's certainly hard to remember.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

[Review] Traveler by LE Delano

Traveler by L.E. Delano
Series: Traveler #1
Rating: 3.5 stars

Published: February 7th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles—Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it…This Jessa is going to live.

I'm wondering why this is under 'time travel' on Goodreads because there isn't really time travel here, more like alternate dimension traveling.

Anyhow! Jessa has been having dreams of a mysterious boy and strange otherworldly adventures that she transcribes into stories. Strangely enough, this mysterious boy is actually a real person by the name of Finn. He reveals to her that they're both Travelers - they can travel to different dimensions with the help of other Finns and other Jessas. But Finn has another motive for seeking out Jessa... in other dimensions, she keeps on dying, and Finn has to prevent her death in this world, before it's too late. 

There's a lot more backstory to this - involving Dreamers, who direct the Travelers on which dimension they should go to, and how Travelers fix certain points in time in order to have some proper order in the universe. If that was possible.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

[Review] The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Series: The Valiant
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 5 stars

Release Date: February 14th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

Female gladiators! Sisterhood! Friendship! Intrigue! History! With a touch of romance.

What a wonderful book I just read on female gladiators in Rome. It's the first time I ever read a book, young adult or otherwise, on the topic. And The Valiant did not disappoint. 

Our heroine, Fallon, is daughter of the Cantii chief Virico, from the isle of Prydain (aka Britain). She longs to follow in her deceased sister's footsteps as a war leader, but that plan is thrown awry when she is instead betrothed to her lover's brother. Tensions rise and she runs away... straight into the hands of a slaver,  Charon. But her story isn't over yet, and she's thrust into the hands of the enemy, Rome, to fight her way to freedom as a female gladiator.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

[Review] This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
Rating: 4 stars

Release Date: September 22nd 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.
His brother, Oliver—dead.
His sweetheart, Mary—gone.
His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Steampunk! Frankenstein! Historical fiction!

It's a mashing of various ideas into what led to a surprisingly great book. I've read several steampunk books in the past and despite how cool I find steampunk aesthetically, I find it hard to immerse myself in the lore. There's so many technicalities and so much worldbuilding, that it ends up confusing me. But in This Monstrous Thing, the concept of Shadow Boys and mechanical ligaments serving as aids for those who need - that's akin to modern technology, is it not? Adding in Mary Shelley and retelling Frankenstein in the sense that this was her inspiration makes that all the more interesting.