Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Publisher: Harper
Series: Queen of the Tearling #1
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 8, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

My Review:

There has been so much hype around this book, that I have been a little nervous about picking it up, but so many of my good friends have recommended it to me that I couldn't shy away. And to be honest I am glad I didn't, this book was such a great read, there is so much to learn about the land of the Tearling and the history behind everything, that I found myself immersed and wanting to come back to this world that Johansen has created.

The characters are all so unique and I wanted to know more about some of them, but this is mainly a book about Kelsea coming of age and really growing up during a difficult time. She has been hidden away for years and trained to learn about the Tearling kingdom, because she is destined to take over. Readers see that Kelsea has a lot to deal with when she gets to the kingdom, so much has changed and she has a lot of work to make this kingdom better and bring a lot of change. Erika Johansen takes her time introducing everything and that is what makes this book such an amazing opening to a series.

Not only is there a lot of information, but there is also some great action mixed in with the story. Kelsea seems to be a sheltered girl with no knowledge of the kingdom but she has a team of guards to help protect her, and trust me, there is a lot of danger around her. Kelsea needs to prove herself and I love how her attitude really shines and she proves that she can truly be a leader. Not only does Kelsea have to learn to rule but she has her own life to figure out, she needs to learn who she is as a person now that she is in this new position and no longer in hiding. Kelsea is unsure if she is prepared for this job, but she will try to do her best, and I am so excited to see what things she does next to really take control of the Tearling.

I will say there were a few times that I felt I lagged while reading this book, but all in all I wanted to keep coming back to it and see what else Kelsea would do. I loved watching her change over the course of this book and really come into her role as a queen. I think if you are a fan of fantasy books, this is one that you should add to you pile, it has a little bit of everything but the story takes it's time and really lets the reader get to know everything instead of just throwing you right in the middle of the story. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Series: Starbound #1
Pages: 374
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: December 10, 2013
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca /
Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

My Review:

This was definitely an awesome book, very different from what I was expecting and yet I loved everything that was happening. I've definitely had problems explaining this book, but I will try. This is so much more than a book about a boy and girl travelling through space, it is about survival during a very difficult period and really learning how to lean on others despite the problems that may arise.

Lilac and Trevor have found themselves in a dangerous situation as they land on a planet that seems to be uninhabited when the ship they were on crashes. This is a slow going story but the way Kaufman and Spooner write everything, it is a great build up with some great creepy parts that make you wonder about what is happening around the characters. I love how this story shows that such a tragedy can bring two opposite people together like Tarver and Lilac. Their relationship really grows over the course of this story, it is slow but they really help each other through some tough situations. I believe that this story is an amazing love story, showing that being able to get through some of the hurdles that these two have done bring people closer, and Lilac and Tarver seem to dislike each other a lot in the beginning and then grow closer as they must spend so much time together.

The world that Tarver and Lilac end up on is a very mysterious place that seems to play tricks on their mind, and they work to finding out what is really going on. The secret changes things for both characters, as the story continues readers get a little taste of the aftermath of their journey as well. I enjoyed seeing the two different perspectives and how Lilac and Tarver manage the situations each with their own ideas. I always love stories with dual perspectives because it lets you see two different sides to the same story.

This is definitely not an action packed story, but it is one that makes you wonder how you would react to such dire circumstances, and what kind of things you would go through to survive. I think Spooner and Kaufman are a great team and I'm interested to see what they come up with next in this series and how everything will connect. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Allies and Assassins by Justin Somper

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Enemies of the Prince #1
Pages: 496
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 27, 2014
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca /
Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Prince Anders, the ruler of Archenfield, has been murdered, leaving his younger brother, Jared, to ascend the throne. Sixteen-year-old Jared feels unprepared to rule the kingdom and its powerful and dangerous court, yet he knows he can rely on the twelve officers of the court to advise him. He also knows he can just as easily be at their mercy-especially when it appears that one of them may be responsible for his brother's death. Unable to trust anyone, Jared takes it upon himself to hunt down his brother's killer-but the killer may be hunting him, as well. Murder, betrayal, and intrigue abound in Justin Somper's thrilling YA series debut. Exploring the political machinations of the medieval court and the lives that hang in the balance, Allies & Assassins is a gripping tale of a teen torn between duty and revenge.

My Review:

This was such a great read, I really enjoyed everything that was happening, though it was quite long, I was riveted by the mystery of what was happening. After his brother is found murdered, Jared is forced to take over the throne and rule the kingdom, but he is unsure if he is ready for this. Jared has to be aware of everything around him, knowing that he is in danger himself as well.

Not only is this a book about Jared growing and learning to rule the kingdom but it is also a mystery, trying to find out who is behind the murder of his brother. The one thing in this book is that there are many different perspectives, so readers really get a look into not  only what Jared is going through, but what those closest to him feel about the situation as well. It is hard to know who to trust in this story, everyone has a reason to be an enemy.

There are so many characters to follow, that sometimes it gets a bit confusing though they are all important to the story as a whole. It honestly felt a little like an episode of Law & Order as we try to get to the bottom of the murder, along the way there is more danger, and more people falling into trouble. I love how every character has a meaning and contributes to what is happening. It makes the story go by so much faster when you are invested in knowing about everyone, this almost 500 page book goes by fast because there are some chapters that go by quick so you get to know each of the characters better.

The world building is another awesome part of this book, the way Justin Somper describes the kingdom and everything around it really makes readers feel that they are part of this world. The intimate descriptions are what adds to the books length, I believe some of it could have possibly been left out to shorten the book and make it a little more appealing to teens, but at the same time I do feel as that it adds so much to the story that I wouldn't want any of it taken out.

If you like some intrigue with your story this would definitely be the book for you. Justin Somper keeps you guessing to the end to the point where you just want to keep going to really know what is happening. I wonder after everything that happened in this book, what more Justin will bring to his readers with the rest of the series. 
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