Monthly Archives: April 2017

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Welcome to Saturday Shorts, in which we review shorter works such as short stories, novellas, middle-grade books, and graphic novels. Today I’m back with the third review for the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, a series about a feisty princess who’s anything but ordinary.

TitleCalling on Dragons 
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Series: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Publish Date: March 1, 2003
Genre: MG Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:
Those wicked wizards are back–and they’ve become very smart. (Sort of.) They intend to take over the Enchanted Forest once and for all . . . unless Cimorene finds a way to stop them. And some people think being queen is easy.

 


Kat Mandu says…

This is the book three of four in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and sometimes I find it strange that the author didn’t write the whole series for children. Again, this has a nice little innocent touch to it, and I’m actually surprised that this book turn a turn from its prequel and had more of a lighter plot, more child-like and less complicated. The first two books seemed to have more of an edge and less convenient holes to fall into.

That being said, I loved it; each book has its own way of leading up to the finale and is narrated by different characters. And although I loved the point of views of both Mendenbar, the King of the Enchanted Forest, and Morwen, a sassy witch with lots of cats and a friend to most of the lead characters, I rather wish Cimorene would get her turn in the spotlight again. The first one continues to be my favorite in the series and I think it’s because I’m so drawn to her character.

Again, this book plays with a lot of different fairy tale ideas and songs, from the princess and the pea, to Old MacDonald, to the retelling of Rapunzel. I love books that contain more than one retelling (after all, I’m a fan of all princesses, not just some) and that it does it in a simple way that avoids distracting from the real story.

I wasn’t sure what to think about some of the character conversations in this. The cats were humorous, providing sarcasm in good moments. However, there’s a whole scene where the crew burst into this guy’s house (okay, technically it’s a tower, but he lives there, so) and blame him for not being hospitable…which I find incredibly weird because no one would do that in real life (or at least I’d hope not). But like I said, this book has its innocent kicks and the characters tend to be very headstrong anyway.

Though it’s my least favorite in the series, I still enjoyed it a lot and you will too!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try Susan Fletcher, Tamora Pierce, or Diane Duane.

Endure by Sara B. Larson

In this third and final installment to the Defy trilogy, Alexa and Damian are engaged to be wed – but first they’ve got a country to save and lots of bad guys to defeat.

TitleEndure
AuthorSara B. Larson
SeriesDefy, Book 03
Publish Date: December 29, 2015 by Scholastic
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionAt last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

This book is particularly action-packed and I really loved it. Characters are getting back into their own skins and finally taking charge of the situations, even when they seem hopeless. For the first time since they were “kidnapped” by the Blevonese, Alexa and Damian must separate. Damian will lead his Antion people to safety and Alexa is bound to rescue Rylan.

Things naturally don’t go according to plan, but that’s okay because it provides some really cool fight scenes. I really love the beginning when Manu comes in and creates that magical smoke that causes a lot of people to hallucinate. Plus, any time there’s magic, it’s always cool, so there’s quite a few fight scenes that really captured my attention.

I do love that Alexa is vulnerable to Rafe’s mind control and so is Rylan. It makes for an interesting final battle between the two of them, Damian, and Rafe.

I don’t have many rants about this book – it made me happier than the first two, though I was sad to see quite a few characters go that I’d grown fond of. But that’s the trouble with high fantasy, haha! Everyone you like DIES.

Anyway, this is a great trilogy. Full of excitement and great political, romantic, and magical plot lines.

Our reviews in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are posted.

Other recommendations…

Recommended for fans of Kiersten White, Sophie Jordan, and Tamora Pierce.

Save

Save

Save

Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

As the final battle of the world of Primoria versus Angra and his Decay comes to a close, can Meira risk her heart and her life to save everything and everyone she cares for?

TitleFrost Like Night
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes, Book 3
Publish Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: YA High fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.

Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.

 


Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: The world building is still amazing! The magical system is still intriguing as well. The characters are the strong suit in this novel. I love that Meria is more confident and has found a balance between being queen and being herself. I love that she has found peace with herself and her magic. The romance between Meria and Mather is perfect! I also loved that we got Ceridwen’s POV in this novel.

Dislikes: I had a hard time making it through this book. The excitement that was present in the first two slowly waned for me. It did pick up, but I slowly lost interest. This is one of those novels that makes you fall for characters and then the author rips them away! SO. MUCH. DEATH. The ending wasn’t particularly satisfying, it wasn’t horrible but it just wasn’t satisfying for me.

Because I lost interest, I have to give this book three swords. I was able to finish, and it did pick up towards the end but it just wasn’t a satisfying read for me.

Kat Mandu says…

Frost Like Night draws out all the main good guys versus the bad guys for one final epic showdown. In this book, Meira, Mather, and Cerridwen all narrate the story, bringing all new ideas to the book while giving you new perspectives into different worlds. Meira must come to grips with the sacrifice she must make to save her world and everyone she loves within it. Mather must lead his friends into a battle and learn to protect, love, and let go of the queen he adores. And Cerridwen, the feisty princess of Summer, must garner her military forces together while fighting a battle within her heart.

Sadly, with the exception of the very beginning and close to the end, this last book is lacking a lot of action. It’s a fact I rather miss to be honest. I’m not saying that the character embracing her destiny isn’t necessary. I’m just used to the final book in a trilogy to be packed full of action and battle. Maybe it’s weird to say, but every other high fantasy I’ve read has, so I wasn’t expecting the slow down. In fact, it took me so much by surprise that it dragged it down for me and I had a hard time staying interested during certain parts.

Don’t get me wrong. The things that happened were critical to the plot line: Meira semi-learning how to control her magic, learning to let herself love Mather; even the wedding between Cerridwen and Jesse was great. But the sudden slowing of pace really threw me for a loop because I was craving that action that the first book carried so much of, that I found myself unable to really get into what was happening. 

But boy, when the action does come back around, it’s wonderful. However, because it’s the ending of a trilogy, no more spoilers here. Either way, this was a good end to a great series and I give its final installment a three.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

If you like young adult high fantasy series featuring fierce heroines…you might try Susan Dennard, Sara B Larson, Rosamund Hodge, or Jodi Meadows.

The Dastardly Miss Lizzie by Viola Carr

The final installment of the Electric Empire series, about the daughter of Jekyll and Hyde—a forensic doctor in a steam-powered Victorian London, publishes tomorrow, April 18. I can’t wait to see what adventures Eliza and Lizzie have next!

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitleThe Dastardly Miss Lizzie
AuthorViola Carr
SeriesElectric Empire, Book 03
Publish Date: April 18, 2017 by Harper Voyager
Genre: Gaslamp historical fantasy
Cover: Gene Mollica
Source: Provided by the publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionDr. Eliza Jekyll must turn to her dark side, Miss Lizzie Hyde, to stop a madman targeting London’s most important scientists and sorcerers terrorizing the city with dark magic in this third Electric Empire novel—a dazzlingly original steampunk fantasy set in the gritty world of alternate Victorian London, with echoes of H G. Wells classic, The Time Machine.

Being two people in one body isn’t easy. Metropolitan Police crime scene physician Eliza Jekyll is trying to maintain a semblance of control, even as her rebellious second self, Lizzie, grows increasingly wild—threatening the respectable Eliza’s reputation and her marriage to Remy Lafayette, the Royal Society investigator and occasional lycanthrope. With England on the brink of war, Remy’s away in sorcery-riddled Paris on a secretive mission that grows ever more sinister. Has he been an enemy agent all along? Or is coping with Eliza’s secret divided self finally driving her mad?

Eliza needs her mind clear and sharp if she’s to catch an evil genius who is killing eminent scientists. The chase uncovers a murky world of forbidden books, secret laboratories, and a cabal of fanatical inventors whose work could change the world—or destroy it—and who may hold answers to Eliza’s past.

As sorcery-wielding terrorists attack London, Eliza discovers her own enemies are closing in, driving her to desperate measures—enlisting the aid of the wily, resourceful, mercurial Lizzie—to thwart the killer. But Lizzie’s got her own life now, and true to her nature, will resort to the devious and diabolical to keep it. Even if it means throwing Eliza to the wolves, and letting the world burn. . .

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

I have been very excited for the next book in the Electric Empire series for a long time, now. The first book, The Diabolical Miss Hyde, blew me away when it came out. So, I’m very sad to say that I did not get to finish the book in time to publish this review. Gaaggghhh! Life can be heartbreaking sometimes.

However, I want to let you all know it’s coming tomorrow! Don’t miss it. If you haven’t read the series yet, now is the time. Book 3 is the final installment of the series, according to the author’s website, so those of you who only read completed series can get in on the fun, now. Also, there is a steam-powered dog in the story, people! How can you pass up a steam-powered dog? Plus lunatics, a protagonist with a dual personality, and a lot of Britsh cockney. You can bet I’ll be finishing this book as soon as I can eek out the time. I’m positive this is going to be a magnificent end to the series. 🙂

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

If you like gaslamp historical fantasy, take a look at the Magnificent Devices series by Shelley Adina, the Ministry of Curiosities series by C.J. Archer, the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Pip Ballentine, or anything by author Gail Carriger.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

In the follow-up to Snow Like Ashes, Meira is now Queen of Winter and back in her own kingdom, ready to rebuild. But with danger lurking in the mind games of politics and magic, will she survive long enough to see her country and its people thrive?

TitleIce Like Fire
AuthorSara Raasch
SeriesSnow Like Ashes, Book 02
Publish Date: October 15, 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionIt’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans on using the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Jannuari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken Kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception is woven tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter but for the world.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: While most people were upset about the break with Theron, I actually enjoyed it. Mather was who Meria clearly loved all along, and the triangle wasn’t needed. But, like life, sometimes you have to be with someone else to truly know that the one is the one. I loved that we got introduced to more of this amazing world! Summer and the introduction of Ceridwen and the kingdom of Yakim and Ventralli added more depth. My favorite chapters were Mather’s. His struggle to deal with the fact that he isn’t who he thought he was and how he found how to be himself, albeit in a different capacity than before, is inspiring. The last few chapters were the most action packed and gave me the wow moments I was looking for.

Dislikes: To be honest, I missed strong Meria. For most of this book, she fights her natural instincts and whines about being Queen. I applaud her loyalty to Winter, but I kept hoping she would find a way to be both Queen and the Meria I loved from the first book, but that comes too late! This book is missing much of the action that made the first so great.

If you can make it through the dull parts of the book to the Bang! Pow! Boom! ending you won’t be disappointed. I give this book 4 chakram.

Kat Mandu says…

*Spoiler alert for the first book ahead; if you haven’t read Snow Like Ashes, you might want to.*

Dual narrated, Ice Like Fire is again action-packed as it follows the minds and stories of both Meira, who has discovered she is Hannah’s true daughter, and Mather, who is trying to find his place in the world now that he’s no longer a king.

Again, this story has many layers, especially once it separates and both characters are not only leading very different lives but are in completely different settings altogether.

Meira is dealing with her role as her country’s leader, her touch-and-go magic which seems to control her, instead of the other way around; not to mention she also has to figure out a chessboard of political and diplomatic strategies. She’s got to get out of debt with Cordell – but her every move seems to dig her in a deeper hole.

Now she’s on a cross-country trip, trying to find allies and learn everything she can about her magic and where it came from. Theron, her once betrothed, is sadly against her beliefs that magic should be returned to the chasm from which it came; instead, he thinks that it should be available for the world to use. Things aren’t going as well as planned and things take a turn for the worst, especially when she finds herself running from bad guys from places she didn’t expect.

Mather, still reeling from the events of the prior book, is back in Winter, discovering that he’s not quite sure who he is without the role of king hovering over him. He feels guilty for thrusting the position upon Meira, and useless without any way to help her. So he wrangles up a few kids his age who don’t exactly know what their roles are in the world either (as they are too young to remember a Winter in its former glory, but too old in spirit due to their time as prisoners), dubs them “the children of the Thaw” and sets out to help Meira in his own way, by protecting his people against the growing threat of Cordell.

Nothing goes according to plan and both characters have to discover who they really are. Which is why I disagree with my review partner, Luna, on this particular argument. I think Meira’s fight against her true natures was absolutely necessary to the plot. At the end of Snow Like Ashes, she had become a different person. In this second book, she learns that she’s never going to stop learning and has to decide who she’ll be – the person she was before, or the person she needs to be. When Meira realizes she can be both, it’s a beautiful thing.

Again, this is a great story with real, multi-faceted characters I enjoy. I give it a four!

Our reviews in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are published.

Other recommendations…

You might like Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins, Ruined by Amy Tintera, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

Save