Category Archives: Both Genders

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.

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.

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The Second Time Around by Ella Quinn

Did you know that in England in the 1800’s a widow could not have guardianship over her own children?  This lesson is taught after weaving together a romance that will make your afternoon a little brighter in the end.

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

Title: The Second Time Around
Author: Ella Quinn
Series: The Worthingtons #2.5
Publish Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Regency Romance
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s Description: Can a beautiful Worthington widow find love again? Depends on who’s asking . . .

Before he died, Patience was the Earl of Worthington’s second wife. So why shouldn’t Patience be allowed a second chance at marriage, too? Of course, finding a new husband was not something the mother of four had ever planned on. But a surprise encounter with her first love has suddenly made the impossible seem possible all over again . . .

It seems like a lifetime ago that Richard, Viscount Wolverton, was halfway around the world, looking for adventure . . . while Patience, at her coming-out, was left with no choice but to take old Worthington’s hand. Richard never forgot the woman whose heart he yearned for—and now that he’s back, he’s not going to let her slip away again . . .

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


 

Nervous Nellie says…

This book is a regency romance.  The description pulled me in hook, line and sinker.  I learned a little along the way as well.  This is a novella, so it’s a quick read.  This can be read as a stand alone if you dare. There are people, places and relationships that would be more clear with the reading of prior books in the series.  I have not read the prior books and I was fine – it all depends on the reader. There is some sex, no violence and a happily ever after.

Ella Quinn has created a book that is the epitome of tearjerker and history lesson.  It’s a bit sad for the soft hearted and it’s a hard lesson in regency England’s history regarding equal rights of women. The romance was something legends are made. The kind of story with never ending love that haunts castles was what I felt between Patience and Richard.

We all know that in history women aren’t always treated fairly.  I’m not very educated in the ways and means of life in the 1800’s England, but when a mother can’t even have guardianship over her own children when her husband passes-it’s a sad situation. Be sure to grab tissues, because I know I shed plenty of tears over this story.  That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable read.  It’s one of those stories that gets my emotional neurons firing.

Luckily, this story has a a good guy for a guardian of his half siblings and his step mother.  If he was half the man his father was, Patience would still be miserable. Matt, Patience’s step son, was the shining example of a good man that most men hope to be.  Richard, the love of Patience’s life, was the man that was stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I was grateful to see in this case, family really DOES do for family.

 

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Amy Corwin’s books Fencing For Ladies or The Bricklayer’s Helper.  You might also want to look into Alexandra Hawkins Lords of Vice series.

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

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Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

In this stunning companion to The Star-Touched Queen, we reunite with Guari as she finds herself faced with a choice: stay prisoner to the city of Ujain and let her older brother Skanda rule over her country with cruelty, or join a stranger in a competition through a magical world full of dangerous creatures and even darker desires.

Title: Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: Star-Touched Queen
Publish Date: March 28, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Provided by Good Reads courtesy of a giveaway

Publisher’s Description: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Dual review from Kat Mandu and Luna Lovebooks!


Kat Mandu says…

Kat_Mandu_100I absolutely loved this. For me it was all about that gorgeous imagery, hilarious dialogue, and the dual-narration of both Guari and Vikram. Though I didn’t dislike A Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes just really tickled my fancy more than its prequel. I almost couldn’t put it down and even then when I was forced to, I had serious withdrawals. It’s just so fascinating from beginning to end.

The continual banter between Guari and Vikram is the best. They’re bickering from start to finish, even as they grow fonder of one another. They really made this book for me because they each learn that they both have secrets and pasts, and learn to understand each other. I had a feeling they might fall in love but I was glad it wasn’t the focus of the story. It was more about them discovering who they really had to be in life, getting past their fears and showing their true identities.

There were a few scenes that kind of threw me for a loop, ones I either just don’t get or have been corrected in the final version. I didn’t really understand all that was happening in the courtesan tent – with the mirrors – and I wish I would have understood all that was happeningbadge5v5 when Vikram and Guari both “died.” Like I said, not sure at this point if those have been cleared up with editing or if I am just confused in general.

However, that writing is still there, succulent and mesmerizing with every page. It makes you really want to read more Indian fairy tales. It’s really gorgeous and I adore Roshani’s writing style.

All of this made it a five for me!

 Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: As much as I loved the beautiful writing of The Star-Touched Queen, I think I love Luna_Lovebooks_100Crown of Wishes even more! The writing is still beautiful and lyrical. The characters Guari and Vikram are beautifully written and I enjoyed their playful banter. This novel is a bit more fantastical features even more of the beings from Indian mythology.

badge5v5Dislikes: Once again there isn’t much I didn’t like about this novel. There were a few instances where I was confused during a scene or by what a character did but it didn’t distract from the story.
Other recommendations…

…you might try Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer, Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis, Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

 

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The Girl and the Bomb by Jari Jarvela

Today’s book is one of a few translated works I’ve been reading lately. While good, it’s obvious this book may challenge US readers with its cultural and societal differences. However, it’s good for us, especially now, to broaden our minds and horizons.

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

TitleThe Girl and the Bomb
AuthorJari Järvelä, Kristian London (translator)
SeriesMetro-trilogia, Book 01
Publish Date: October 1, 2015 by Amazon Crossing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: provided by the author/publisher

Publisher’s Description: Rust and Metro live life to the fullest in the small Finnish city of Kotka. The lovers work together by day and write graffiti by night, always staying one step ahead of the law. But their luck runs out after an ambush by rogue security guards causes Rust to fall to his death. Having literally left their marks all over the city, Metro cannot help but be reminded of Rust everywhere she goes, making it impossible for her to move past the tragedy. Heartbroken and alone, she becomes determined to get to the bottom of her partner’s death and to exact revenge on those responsible by using the tool she knows best: spray paint. As she fights to bomb the system, she is constantly—and harshly—reminded of how unfair life can be. Up against lies, betrayal, and corruption, Metro musters the strength and inspiration to persevere in the name of truth and by adding beauty to an ugly world.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

Good book. Really enjoyed the two points of view of the graffiti artist and the security officer as they told their side of the story. I thought the ending was weak because it didn’t have a sense of completeness. How did either person’s life change? Were they affected by their own or other’s actions? Did either of them have a change of mind or grow as a person? Without the events in the book, would there be a difference in the future?

However, what the thoughts were of the two as they battled discovering and being discovered was excellent. I think the translator did a great job of using appropriate American slang but kept true to the Finnish names and landmarks, which added to the flavor of the story. I also wanted to know more about the character “Baron.” It seemed like he was ignored for the last several chapters, but leading up to them, he could have played an integral part in the betrayal or even as a setup at the end. I expected something like the graffiti artists turning the tables on the investigators and taping the mistreatment during the investigation, which would be released to the press.

This is very much a book written for an audience different than US readers. There were too many cultural anomalies with difference in economies, education after high school, governance, taxes and privatization of social services and even law enforcement. I give it a 3.

Other recommendations…

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millenium, Book 01).

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