Tithe

Image result for tithe holly blackTitle: Tithe
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.
Review: Before reading this, the only thing I’d read from Holly Black was The Darkest Part of the Forest. So, coming into Tithe, I expected something similar in terms of writing and engagement. With this book though, I was not immediately pulled in by Kaye like I was with Hazel, and it took until Black revealed her true nature for me to even be interested in the story (about page 100). That being said, I did read it and like the plot after all, but I wasn’t entranced by Kaye, Corny, or Roiben at all. 3/5 stars.

One Dark Throne

Image result for one dark throneTitle: One Dark Throne [II/IV]
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult
Synopsis​: (from Goodreads) With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.
Review: I have been waiting for this book since I read Three Dark Crowns and literally couldn’t put it down all day. It was exactly like stepping back into the world that Blake has created. Fennbirn was just as I remembered it, but the queens were not. Katharine was haunting and I’m still not super sure what happened to her down in that pit, even after finishing the novel. Mirabella was different too. Arsinoe, since she found out who she was supposed to be, was much more clear. Jules as a character was very different too. Overall I really enjoyed this read but some of the character developments felt forced, much more so than in the first book. The last page is interesting. I’m looking forward to whatever Kendare Blake has in store for us next.

Edit: As I kept thinking about this book, I had to drop my Goodreads rating. I would definitely still recommend it, but the characters I liked most changed in ways that felt completely outside of their character arcs and as I continue to think on it, it’s still bothering me.

*Special thanks to the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Shadow & Bone

Image result for shadow and boneTitle: Shadow and Bone
Author:  Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy; Action; Magic; Romance;
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. … With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Review: Full disclosure. I picked this up, read 45 pages, and then put it down for NINE MONTHS. I bought it on Black Friday and didn’t pick it up again until July. I wasn’t pulled in to read it all in one sitting like I normally am with books but when I picked it back up again, just….

Wow. This book is full of amazing things. It’s got the action and fantasy elements I was looking for but it was also grounded and real. Alina felt like a fully developed character — one who makes mistakes, makes bad decisions. She didn’t immediately have all the right answers and she didn’t get saved over and over again by things or people planted by the author. It wasn’t a romance book masquerading as a fantasy novel. There was romance though. It fit the storyline for sure, but the book isn’t revolved around the love story, instead, it’s about Alina and her journey. Can’t wait to read book two.

Caraval

Image result for caravalTitle: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Fantasy; Magic; Romance
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Remember, it’s only a game… Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
ReviewThis book was recommended to me by a friend. We’d read The Night Circus together and she’d heard this was the next best thing. I LOVED Caraval. The magic and twists and suspense was out of this world. I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here. My favorite part of this book was how Garber wrote her characters. As a reader, you can’t trust anything Scarlett thinks and feels and the writing style adds so much to that. Everything, even the ending (OMG!) is written with a dramatic flair. From character development to setting the scene, this book is a sheer delight.

Of Poseidon

Image result for of poseidonTitle: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks
Genre: Fantasy; Mermaid
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma’s gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom… Told from both Emma and Galen’s points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.
Review: Part 1 of The Syrena Legacy, ‘Of Poseidon’ is a great text to get struggling readers reading. Romance with a dash of action, this YA novel is fun and a fast read. Because you go from Galen to Emma and back again, you get to know both of them very well. The little girl inside of me that always swam like a fish and wished to be a mermaid loved this book. Everyone who ever feels different wishes they could be part of something bigger and for Emma, she gets just that. Everything she thought she knew about who she was and where she came from gets challenged in this first book of a trio. Galen too, learns that he’s more than just a title.
Completely worth the read!

Of Triton

Image result for of tritonTitle: Of Triton [Book II/III]
Author: Anna Banks
Genre: Fantasy; Shapeshifting; Mermaid; Romance; Myth
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm below. Syrena law states that all Half-Breeds should be put to death. As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance among the Syrena turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?
Review: Part 2 of The Syrena Legacy, ‘Of Triton’ continues the story of Galen and Emma, entrenched in a family scandal that was before their time. Romeo & Juliet like love with a sense of duty and glory, this YA sequel is a fun and fast read with a dash of romance and coming of age adventure. The main characters and secondary characters take on a whole new set of problems, but the author’s writing invites you to continue on with them, despite the angst, fear, and mystery that surrounds them. Mermaid stories, like werewolf stories, always draw me in, and this continuation doesn’t disappoint!

Cinder

Image result for cinderTitle: Cinder [Book I/IV]
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Fantasy; Scifi; Retelling
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived. But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
Review: A new take on a classic fairytale. I loved this retelling of Cinderella. First, I loved that the main characters were POC. It’s rare to find Asian characters in retellings of classic fairytales, so I was very excited to get Cinder and Kai from New Beijing. This is a dystopian story, so there’s a lot of drama and a lot of upheaval. You’ll read this and hate the stepmother, love the sister, and love Cinder, just like in the original Cinderella, but you’ll keep reading because there’s so much more to it. Kai isn’t just a prince that stumbles into love at first sight, and Cinder isn’t a helpless princess-in-ruins. She’s powerful and smart and the best mechanic in New Beijing. She’s not the helpless maid of the original story, waiting for a fairy godmother to come save her, she’s an independent badass who is going to save the world.

Who run the world?

Girls.

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Image result for the darkest part of the forestTitle: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy; Magic
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)  Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking. Until one day, he does… As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
Review: I read this book before leaving for summer vacation last year and fell in love with the fantasy genre again. I hadn’t read much in this genre since Harry Potter and then realized how much I loved it (hence why I have a TON of fantasy books on this blog). Hazel is a fun character to follow. She acts like a typical teenage girl — and I think I’d know, since I’ve been one and work with them on the daily). You’ll be interested to know that this is more than just a story about a teenage girl. This is about a character who wants to save the world. It’s got magic and a bit of romance and a bit of drama and then more magic.

Hazel becomes the knight she once pretended to be in order to save everything she knows and the ones she loves. The faeries aren’t always the benevolent sprites that grant wishes and leave a trail of glitter in their wake – sometimes they want to cause harm, create mischief. Sometimes girls like Hazel need to remind them of the power of humanity.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Image result for miss peregrine's home for peculiar childrenTitle: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children [Book I/III]
Author: Ransom Riggs
Genre: paranormal; fantasy
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar… And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
Review: I read this book while flying back from California last summer. I had a six hour flight to kill, and this was the way to do it.  A little bit suspenseful, this book was a fun read. I was so intrigued as I followed Jacob through his adventure. I loved this book but did NOT love the movie. It is SO SO SO SO SO different. So if you’re thinking of cheating yourself here, don’t. Read the book, it’s ALWAYS better.

Jacob as a protagonist is a good lead – you’re following in his footsteps as he learns about his family’s past and his place in the legacy. Everything is not what it seems to be, and Miss Peregrine is a good – but mysterious – tutor. The relationships between characters are thoughtful and sweet, something the movie doesn’t quite to justice to.

Three Dark Crowns

Image result for three dark crowns: Three Dark Crowns [Book I/II]
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Fantasy; Magic
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) 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.
Review: I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. This book switches POVs (points of view) to follow each queen for a chapter or two before moving on, which allows us to learn a little about the personalities of each of the queens before we pick a queen to root for at Beltane. Each one is different, but all of them are fun and engaging. Throughout the book, you meet a series of side characters that help each queen become who she is. I’m definitely on Team Arsinoe!

You have to read to the very last page…