5/5 Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I prefer this series over Throne of Glass… by a mile!

17927395Series: A Court of Thorns & Roses | Book 2

Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2016)

Rating: 5/5

Recommended for: Team Rhysand, and those who lost interest in Throne of Glass series after Heir of Fire

If you are Team Tamlin, this sequel is not for you. You are better off not continuing with the series.

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(I have written off SJM’s Throne of Glass series after Queen of Shadows, because she wrote off Chaol brutally, completely. So now she has this new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, still about Fae, and I am guessing still with a love triangle, but I still read it. ACoTaR was okay, but after my experience in loving Crown of Midnight after my lukewarm feelings over Throne of Glass, I decided I can still bet on a good story on ACoTaR’s sequel.

I have to admit, when I saw one review saying Rhysand is all over ACoMaF, I perked up. See, there’s this last scene between Feyre and Rhysand in ACoTaR that had me itching, itching to know what the heck Rhys was so freaked about when he saw Feyre. He was a High Lord of the Night Court, so why would he fear a mortal huntress such as Feyre? I want to know about that. So I read ACoMaF.)

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(It’s been a long while since I’ve been consumed day and night by a book.)

Love – love was a balm as much as it was a poison.

I believe that Feyre loved Tamlin, and vice versa. The ending of A Court of Thorns and Roses left Feyre desperate, broken, spent. SJM started A Court of Mist and Fury with a reality check: Tamlin’s love was a promise to protect her, but it only succeeded in isolating her, caging her, leaving her even more vulnerable with her nightmares after her stay Under The Mountain.

I’m thinking that I was a lonely, hopeless person, and I might have fallen in love with the first thing that showed me a hint of kindness and safety.

Tamlin disappearing before I am 20% done is a clear indicator that that ship has sunk. Him entering at the last 1-2 chapters? There’s the nail at Feyre-Tamlin coffin. *fist pump* so I started to hope for Rhysand’s chance. I know it was like Heir of Fire all over again. Fortunately for me, for this series, I was not into Tamlin. SJM veering away from Tam to (maybe) Rhys got my seal of approval. I might even forgive her to what she did to my Captain Chaol.

I was a wolf.

And I bit when cornered.

Feyre‘s road to self-recovery and forgiveness was a harsh terrain. Nightmares, low self-worth, and (the feeling of) betrayal. Not once did I sneer at Feyre, for being weak, or when she let herself be degraded by the Spring Court. It was realistic. When she decided to push back, and shove the darkness that threaten to succumb her, I thought yes, it’s time to be strong now, Feyre. You don’t need another High Lord to protect you. You can protect yourself. and then some.

That I might be a little bit vicious or restless. That I might crave peace, but never a cage of comfort.

(Who run the world? Girls!) Rhys acknowledging a strong woman like Feyre is very crush-worthy.

It’d just been a relief to think that for a moment, he might have been as lonely as me.

Rhysand. He’s climbing up my BBF list way faster than I’d hoped. Sure, I like bad boys, but his back story was so layered, so massively different from what was portrayed in ACoTaR, and yet, it felt justified. It’s like all the hints and misses with Feyre in ACoTaR rightfully led to what was now here, in ACoMaF. And he believes in Feyre. He lets her decide, supports what she wants, and willing to damn himself just to save her. (Unlike *ahem* Tamlin *ahem*)

“Amren and Mor told me that the span of an Illyrian male’s wings says a lot about the size of… other parts.”

“Did they now.”

“They also said Azriel’s wings are the biggest.”

“When we return home, let’s get the measuring stick, shall we?”

The sexy yet purposeful bantering between Feyre and Rhys is a joy to read. Hot and heavy with promise of things to come, it was the chemistry that I was hoping for between Feyre and Tamlin in ACoTaR, but did not happen, that’s why I am Team Rhysand!

Rhys’ inner circle is the next best thing in ACoMaF. My favorite was Amren, she’s an enigma! Mor, Cassian and Azriel are a riot, but knowing the sadistic histories that entangles the three, it’s a surprise that they can even smile and love at all.

The action scenes are even better. The Bone Carver. The Weaver. The watery grave. The Court of Nightmares. The cave attack against the Hybern soldiers. The Attor in Velaris. I was salivating with so much delight on how each of these scenes packed so much punch! I say SJM is a master of writing action-packed scenes.

I waited for the blush, the shyness, to creep in.

But I was beautiful. I was strong.

I cannot remember being hot and bothered with Feyre and Tamlin in ACoTaR. In this sequel, I was anything BUT. Dear me, I think SJM was high when she was writing these, because Feyre and Rhys are consistently setting the pages on fire! Don’t get me wrong. The first half of the book, it was just shameless flirting on Rhys’ part, and Feyre is almost always ready to strangle him. But Rhys staying by Feyre’s side every time she doubts herself, that paved the way for Feyre, that instead of feeling empty, Rhys is making her feel alive… and then hot.. and then really hot and bothered. You’ll probably guess the rest, but isn’t so much better if you read the truth? Haha! (SJM’s repetitive “apex of my thighs” phrase has me rolling my eyes for a bit.)

The throne room scene in Hybern got me cringing, and biting my nails. I have this gut feeling it’s going to end bad, bad, bad. and it did. The ending, though? It promised a completely different story of scheming and plotting. That had me sobbing because I would have to wait a year for Book 3. (I hate you, SJM.)

Should SJM introduce another love interest after Rhysand, I will winnow her into the Court of Nightmares. But until then, I will savor the giddiness of what ACoMaF gave to me: A broken heroine who learned to be a wolf. A love interest who sacrificed his self-worth and happiness to protect what’s his. A fae world so beautifully built, and spectacularly expanded, that for sure, I will be lost in it a few weeks more after I finish (re)reading it.

And then-then I learned your name. Hearing you say it… it was like an answer to a question I’d been asking for five hundred years.

Kindle Edition, 626 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

maria

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Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

16163770Rating: StarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Fantasy

(The Grisha #2)

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Book 1: Shadow and Bone review

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“You know, for two people with a love eternal, you’re awfully insecure,” Nikolai said.

I gave this a try. I really did. But nope. Still not working.

How Leigh Bardugo can create an interesting story, yet leave her main characters dismal, dull and altogether annoying, is beyond me.

I just couldn’t get past the irate main characters. No matter how intriguing Darkling was, or how amusing Sturmhond was, Alina and Mal will always be the ugly reasons on why I will never, ever be a fan of this series.

I admit that when I picked up Siege and Storm, I steamrolled the pages. By the time I put it down I was already at 28%. Sadly, the momentum of these first few chapters waned, leaving me struggling to finish the book, one chapter a day. I was having a good time then! Darkling showing up so early, the adventure with the sea whip, Sturmhond! But the relief that this might be a good sequel was short lived.

The story was rich, unique even. The religious-zealots element was a plus for me. But freakin’ Alina and Mal could not straighten their drama so the plot can get moving! Horrible, horrible characters, Leigh Bardugo. An unlikeable heroine (weak weak weak), and an equally dull love interest to save all of Ravka? Puh-lease.

Darkling‘s appearance was just bits and pieces after the sea whip scenes. F*cking unfair.

And Sturmhond (maybe) being another possible leading man just irritates the crap out of me.

Siege & Storm. An intimidating title that did not fit an ineffective, fickle Alina.

(I will not fall again for this kind of ornate trap, Janus! lol)

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SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo

Ebook, 448 pages

Published June 4th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

2/5 stars

Book Review: A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

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General Fiction > Fantasy

(A Song of Ice and Fire #5)

n the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.

Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.

Literary Awards: Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2001), Nebula Award Nominee (2002), Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2001), Geffen Award for Best Translated Fantasy Book (2002), Ignotus (2006)

Book 1: A Game of Thrones review

Book 2: A Clash of Kings review

Book 3: A Storm of Swords review

Book 4: A Feast for Crows review

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I might be one of the minority who thinks that A Feast for Crows is better than A Dance with Dragons.

Jon Snow started strong in this installment. A show of strength and terror from the bastard to his fellow Brothers was remarkable.

Reek, Reek. My name is Reek, it rhymes with sneak.

My most favorite character! Oh, how tables have turned. And how cruelly fitting for a traitor like him.

Davos Seaworth‘s POV is like a seesaw, but always interesting. Either his actions are totally helping Stannis‘ cause, or ruining it. The way George R.R. Martin takes this secondary character to new heights, making Davos’ importance in line with those of the main, was awesome.

And what to make of Tyrion? A tiresome adventure for the Imp, but overall rewarding to fans like me. How far will his wits keep him alive? It is his chapters that made me nervous!

Jaime‘s chapter gave me hope. Seeing the character I came to love in A Feast for Crows was quite a relief. 🙂

Arya‘s chapters were not enough. It left me craving, craving for more. Her loneliness and despair is starting to get to me. Sigh.

Jon Snow‘s last chapter was the bomb. This is the reason why I cannot sit still for The Winds of Winter. I need to know where Jon Snow’s story will lead. The heartbreak is killing me. 😦

Daenerys? I hate her. What has become of the queen of dragons?!!! I am so indignant with the way she’s acted here. *exhales deeply*

A Dance with Dragons gave more frustration than satisfaction. And so the wait for The Winds of Winter begins. :))

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A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by George R.R. Martin

Paperback, Part 1: 690 pages | Part 2: 560 pages

Published March 15th 2012 by Harper Voyager
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4/5 stars

Book Review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

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Young Adult > Fantasy

(Seven Realms #4)

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love. 

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it? 

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

Book 1: The Demon King review

Book 2: The Exiled Queen review

Book 3: The Gray Wolf Throne review

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After closing my copy, I hugged it tight. I had stars in my eyes, the biggest smile in my mouth. My husband stared at me, asking, “What is wrong with you?” and I just murmured (without looking at him) that the ending of The Crimson Crown was sooo beautiful…! Of course, he doesn’t know what I’m saying. I kept on smiling. What a fantastic way to conclude one of the best fantasy series in YA!

I would not have it any other way. 🙂 There are little questions in my head, but I didn’t mind them much. I am delighted with how everything fell into place, whether for better or for worse. I am utterly delighted!

The strength of the Seven Realms series lies in the tremendous amount of development that Cinda Williams Chima put into her characters. Han and Raisa were spectacular, but unbridled praise must also be given to Fire DancerNight Bird, even Micah Bayar! There is no good or bad, just the resolve to prove something or someone that they are worthy – of respect, service, and love. Woot!

The maturity of Raisa as a queen, and as Han’s partner was incredible. She’s out to get what she wants. She thereby complimented Han‘s determination to be the best person he can be. After The Gray Wolf Throne, Han now lives with conviction. He’s no longer a thief, he said. He’s resolute to make things work between him and Raisa, stands up to the challenge, just for the slimmest chance that they can be together. *happy sigh* Han was magnificent! He still have trust issues, and I loved that this is consistent with his character. He struggled with his secrets, and sharing them to people he cared the most.

Dancer‘s transformation was amazing! He was the epitome of the hope between jinxflingers and copperheads. And Night Bird was a pretty surprise. I did not like her in previous books, but now? Wow. Lord Bayar‘s fate was unsatisfying, but neatly done. Averill Lightfoot and Elena Cennestre are two of my least favorite characters. Such sneaky and insensitive Demonai warriors!

More than the superb plot, these character developments drove The Crimson Crown to the top of my favorites list. Han, Han, Han. I don’t think I will ever forget you. Swoon!!!

And that Epilogue? Oh my goodness! So uplifting, and sweet, and undoubtedly kind. =)

Similar to Lumatere Chronicles of Melina Marchetta and The Queen’s Thief series of Megan Whalen Turner in terms of epic love stories and intriguing politics, Seven Realms series is a must read for every fantasy lover. So Read. It. Now!

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THE CRIMSON CROWN by Cinda Williams Chima

Paperback, 624 pages

Published October 1st 2013 by Disney Hyperion
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5/5 stars

Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

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Young Adult > Fantasy

Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

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I cannot stop reading Half Bad. Brutal, hateful, but (that ending was) hopeful. Really good stuff.

The POV in Part I was very interesting. Using “you” instead of “I”, it made my reading experience unpleasantly real. It’s as if I was the one losing a hand because of some nasty acid, instead of Nathan. =) I easily adopted to Sally Green‘s cruel, magical world. A little subdued on the “magic” element, but it still worked for me.

Amidst persecution from the White Witches, Nathan persevered to live day by day. With the help of his brother Arran (I want a devoted sibling like him!), his sister Deborah, and his Gran, the Council’s oppression for a wild card like him was a bit bearable. When Nathan’s birthday draws near, and he awaits the Three Gifts that his bloodline will bestow upon him, the noose held by the Council grows tighter. Should he bear the unreasonable suffering, or should he run for his life?

I love, love Half Bad. It’s so simple – you’re different, so they fear you. But they will bully you into submission to disguise their fear into strength. But we all know that even good witches need to lose some damn steam.. like Nathan. 😀 Sally Green knows how to rile me up. I hated Kieran. I loathed Nathan’s sister, Jessica. I did not think of Mercury as a threat, though. Celia was a surprise, but a good one. And high five to Rose!

The value of a family and the strength that comes from its members are encouraged in this book. Nathan never gave up hoping that his father wants him as a child, and for an orphan like him, it’s all he has. 

The ending was good enough, the meeting between two characters in the midst of the battle was so cool, and so heartwarming!

*whispers* I haven’t read an absorbing magic-themed book like Half Bad in a while. The thrill of it!

P.S. Team Gabriel, anyone? 😀

(Attention to Jessica, Kieran, Hunters, Members of the Council… here’s me making a gesture of slashing your throats.)

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HALF BAD by Sally Green

Ebook, 416 pages

Published March 4th 2014 by Viking Children’s

4/5 stars

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

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Young Adult > Fantasy

(Lunar Chonicles #3)

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Book 1: Cinder review     Book 2: Scarlet review

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Marissa Meyer, you know how to make me feel good :)) Such good vibes! Well, almost. (Scarlet and Wolf!)

How can Marissa Meyer‘s series gets better and better after every installment, I have no freakin’ idea. But I am thankful. If not for Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, I maybe forever stuck in the Disney versions of such beloved fairy tales. 😀

Cress and Thorne are too cute for words! She openly admits that she’s a damsel in distress, but the Prince Charming idea (in the form of Thorne) is not agreeing with her fantasies. Oh, the mishaps they have! Thoroughly entertaining.

Thorne was hilarious. Indeed, he is not the prince to the rescue that I had in mind. He was so much more, his character was oozing with fun 🙂 He has his moments, too. He was sweet to Iko, and I really, really liked that about Thorne. He’s a riot, I tell you. Very enjoyable to read!

Slim appearances of Cinder and Kai in Scarlet? It was worth it! So, so worth it here in Cress. *happy sigh* They have this romantic feel of a fairy tale without being… patronizing, and unreal. You know? The swoon is cute enough to generate a happy, happy feeling.

Whatever happened to Scarlet and Wolf will hopefully be only a trial. I love these two, so I want a happy ending for them! Please, Marissa Meyer?

Cress set me up pretty nicely in anticipating Winter. Funny, cute, and action-packed, it is a book that I will glad pull an all-nighter for.

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Cress by Marissa Meyer

Ebook, 551 pages

Published February 4th 2014 by Feiwel & Friends

4/5 stars

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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Young Adult > Fantasy

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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I think I’m wicked enough to love a demon.

Vicious but oh-so-romantic . My kind of fairy tale. 😀

I want my fairy tales to sweep me off my feet, and Cruel Beauty did just that… marvelously. And if the heroine is not a damsel a distress, but a bold, feisty, and suspicious bride to the demon, then by all means, count me in!

Nyx is not afraid to be hurt (and yeah, hurt in return) and admit her hate. Here is a girl who grew up longing for a father’s approval and love, while dreading the day she got offered as tithe to the demon who is the master of her town.

The story was just incredible, full of love and hate, and the thin line between them was indiscernible. This was not the fairy tale I expected. It was so much more!

The love triangle is easy to neglect, knowing that each chapter, Rosamund Hodge excites me with new bickering brimming with hatred coming from Nyx, towards Ignifex. The demon rises up to Nyx’s spite, and I love it! And when she warms to the idea of Ignifex (and his nature), things starts to get swoony and sweet, and just plain fairy tale-ish. 😀

The kiss-on-the-first-meeting was a tick, but I let that slide. This is supposed to be a fairy tale after all. Other than that, I just glided through the pages.

Nyx and Ignifex’s tale will leave you marvelling with their truly one-of-a-kind love story. The almost-impossible romance between them was darkly funny yet warmly romantic, too. IMO, Cruel Beauty was the perfect valentine read. 🙂

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray for granting my galley request.

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CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge

Kindle edition, 336 pages

Published January 28th 2014 by Balzer + Bray

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5/5 stars

Book Review: Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

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Young Adult > Fantasy > Paranormal

(Elementals #4)

EARTH. FIRE. AIR. WATER.

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He’s trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won’t get in to college. He’s trying to keep his brother’s business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He’s trying to keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel – or he fears he’ll lose his family. And he’s trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his ‘girlfriend’s’ partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

SECRETS IN THE WIND. DANGER IN THE AIR.

Book 1: Storm review       Book 2: Spark review       Book 3: Spirit review

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Okay, so I like Hunter now. and Michael’s cool (as always). but Chris? The coolest of them all. *grins*

Secret is all about Nick. He wishes for many things, but being the responsible Merrick that he is, anything and everything that he wants will just need to take a backseat, because family comes first.

Nick‘s nerdiness was adorable! I like that he’s responsible, and takes family matters very seriously. I hate it when he thinks he needed to hide his true self because of his fear to be judged, and to get it from his own twin brother, no less! He deserved more than he got from Gabriel.

Nick’s elemental power? So cool! It’s like a science geek fantasy coming true. Heh. I thought it was awesome. 😀

Quinn was okay. I expected her to be more annoying than usual, but she did good for Nick and the Merrick brothers. That foe-turned-ally twist? I liked that, too.

Michael is such an amazing brother, and Chris as well (he’s still my favorite Merrick). The maturity that went with these two, in terms of helping Nick with his secret, it was really sweet.

Secret was emotionally intense. I’m kinda off with Nick’s resentment to Gabriel (his twin not knowing his problem, and yet he resented him for not knowing), but other than that, this is a definite must read for Elementals fan like me.

P.S. Swoon-worthy scenes are not lacking for Nick! *ahem*

Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Teen for granting my galley request.

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SECRET by Brigid Kimmerer

Kindle edition, 336 pages

Published January 28th 2014 by Kensington Teen

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4/5 stars

Book Review: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

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Young Adult > Fantasy

(Seven Realms #3)

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

Book 1: The Demon King review     Book 2: The Exiled Queen review

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I did not think that Han Alister can get any sexier but, oh my. He did. He really did. *happy dance*

The Gray Wolf Throne is my favorite installment so far. Contrary to the first two books, it is fast-paced, brimming with revelations, and progressing with its impressive plot and maturing characters. What’s not to love?!

Raisa’s ascension to the throne has many dangers. There are too many close calls. The most life-threatening sent Han Alister to desperation. But when he realized the deception, his heart was crushed. Han wondered if she’s worth the heartache, worth the trouble with the bluebloods and the clan.

The most arresting element of The Gray Wolf Throne is the positive development of Han’s and Raisa’s characters. I am in awe of Han. Despite the politicking and mistrust with the people around him, he’s undeterred with his decisions. So when he finally decided to take that big step into winning Raisa, I am mad with glee and pride with my boy. I always liked that Han knows what he wants, and finds ways to get it. Now, that trait is magnified, and revealed in marvelous execution. I am so in love with you, Han! *ahem*

Gone is the stubborn princess who ran away from the castle, who despises her mother’s tyranny over her life. Her relationship with Marianna was built with tough love, and I admire that Raisa is mature enough for forgiveness and acceptance. The determination to claim her rightful throne was strong; the courage to love Han (despite his faults) was even stronger. I loved how Raisa grew up and took responsibility for her actions, and her duties as the queen.

I am happy to report that scenes between Raisa and Han are… tender, sexy, and swoon-worthy. Woot!

Dancer’s father was a surprise, but it fell into place neatly. Amon’s betrothal came across as melancholic, with an air of despair. =(

A couple of questions that lingered: What happened to Crow? To Gavan Bayar? Is the Clan’s motive any different from the Wizard’s?

Gray Wolf Throne sets the stage with impossible consequences for all the major players. Will Han fight for his chance with Raisa? Will she choose duty over love?

(I want a HEA, Cinda Williams Chima. Please?)

*stands and picks up The Crimson Crown*

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THE GRAY WOLF THRONE by Cinda Williams Chima

Paperback, 544 pages

Published August 7th 2012 by Disney Hyperion
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5/5 stars

Book Review: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

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General Fiction > Fantasy

Eight of the nine provinces of the Peninsula of the Palm, on a world with two moons, have fallen to the warrior sorcerers Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior. Brandin’s younger son is slain in a battle with the principality of Tigana, which the grief-stricken sorcerer then destroys. After sweeping down and destroying the remnants of their army, burning their books and destroying their architecture and statuary, he makes it so that no one not born in that province can even hear its name. Years later, a small band of survivors, led by Alessan, last prince of Tigana’s royal house, wages psychological warfare, planting seeds for the overthrow of the two tyrants. At the center of these activities are Devin, a gifted young singer; Catriana, a young woman pursued by suspicions of her family’s guilt; and Duke Sandre d’Astibar, a wily resistance leader thought dead. Meanwhile, at Brandin’s court, Dianora, his favorite concubine and–unknown to anyone, another survivor of Tigana–struggles between her growing love for the often gentle tyrant and her desire for vengeance. Gradually the scene is set for both conquerors to destroy each other and free a land.

Literary Awards: World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (1991), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee (1991), Prix Aurora Award for Best Long Form in English (1991)

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I would have love this book, if only Dianora is braver, or her brother had a happy ending, or Catriana did not end up with the most unlikely partner. So many ifs, that even if the fantasy was grand, I could not give it a 4, knowing that these chinks in Tigana‘s armor do not bother me at all. Because they do. A lot.

The pace was slow, at the start, until I’m halfway done. See the patience I have of seeing Tigana through? And yet when the war began, it coalesced, then consumed my thinking, because there’s no stopping Alessan’s small band of warriors into ending Brandin‘s and Alberico‘s reign once and for all.

The plot was really good.

Until a warrior ends up coupling with a new acquaintance after winning a battle (what is up with that?!). And Alessan declares his love for this woman (because there’s no way I read anything about a romantic connection between them, nor flirty insinuations at that matter, throughout the book!). And Dianora taking the easy way out of her miserable life (and you call yourself a survivor of Tigana, you have no spine!).

(Don’t mind Devin. He’s a man-slut. Heh. :D) I actually like Brandin.

If you don’t mind how characters end up in a book, then by all means, read Tigana. Pick it up if only for the intriguing story of how a man, a father, leveled a city and erased them from history, just to avenge his dead son.

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TIGANA by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ebook, 692 pages

Published  February 10th 2011 by Harper Voyager
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3/5 stars