Book Review: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

Image result for Bring Me Their HeartsZera is Heartless.  As an unaging and unable to die servant to a witch Zera doesn’t have a heart and yet that is all she craves.  Her witch, Nightsinger has complete control over Zera and Zera serves her unquestioningly until Nightsinger asks her to infiltrate the noble court.  Her task to take the Prince’s heart and in return she will gain her heart and freedom.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the court and the nobles.  With every girl jockeying for a position at his side he wants nothing to do with the spring brides.  Until Lady Zera is presented with her inelegance and smart-mouth shes’s out for his blood.

Soon a game of cat and mouse begins between a Heartless and a boy who has everything.  The winner gets the loser’s heart.  Literally.

Bring Me Their Hearts was an amazing tale of struggle, heartbreak, and the darkness offset by light that makes up humanity.  The characters were stunning and their struggles were utterly real and heartbreaking.  The world the author created was unique and I adored reading about the struggles of a girl who believes herself to be a monster.  I could not put Bring Me Their Hearts down and when I reached the devastating end I came away wanting more of Zera and Lucien’s story.  The end was a massive cliffhanger and I desperately want another book because this story was stunningly brought to life.  What really made the book, though, was the characters.

The main character Zera constantly struggled beneath the weight of being heartless.  It was devastating to read about the hunger that constantly clawed at her and how she fought it.  She covered the darkness within her with jokes which made for some entertaining back and forths with other characters.  However what made her real was her desperate need to be cared for and loved. She wanted that, to not feel like a monster.  Zera believed herself to be a monster and yet throughout the book we begin to see her emerge and attempt to be human again.  She learns to love and it was a beautiful thing to read as Zera changed and grew beyond her heartlessness.  The character growth was phenomenal and I completely adored Zera’s character.

Related imageThe other characters were just as finely wrought what with their pain and heartbreak.  The emotional depth the author instilled throughout the book was outstanding, especially in the Prince.

Lucien, the Prince, wants to care for his people and he wants to live up to his sister’s memory.  We watch throughout the tale as his internal walls slowly break down for Zera.  However, at the end of the book, it is heart-wrenching to read about how he finds out that Zera is heartless and to see her as a monster.  Throughout the book, we watch as he grows and finds the courage to try to change his nation once and for all.  His character was outstanding and I simply cherished him as the love interest.

The other side characters were just as sensational as the two main characters.  They each fought their own demons and the book in no way hides that.  Some overcome their demons while some continue to fight theirs but it made each character unique and real.  The world was stunning and the characters all the more so.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, yes, yes, a dozen times over.

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Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Image result for cruel beautyNyx has been raised to kill the tyrant, Ignifex, the demon king who has enacted his cruel bargains for hundred of years.  She is the one meant to kill him because of a reckless deal her father struck with him. Her mission is to kill him and reunite her kingdom which is sundered from the rest of the world.  However, Ignifex is not what she expects.  He quickly worms his way past her defenses and his castle of twisting mazes soon enthralls her.  But everything is not as it seems and as she uncovers more of Ignifex’s secrets Nyx begins to find herself unwillingly drawn to him.  But even if she can love her enemy how can she refuse her duty to kill him and save thousands of people?

Cruel Beauty was a wildly dark tale that completely entranced me through it’s vivid characters and sundered world.  I could not put the book down, desperately wanting to know what would happen.  The tale flew by in a whirlwind of opposites, betrayal, love, truth, and lies.  Endlessly the book kept distorting into new plot twists and vivacious creations.  The world and the heroes who were all guilty in their own ways worked together to form a tale from which I did not want to emerge.

The characters were charming, witty, and flawed.  Nyx, the main character is filled with hatred and pain for the family who never truly loved her and the fate that awaits her.  Throughout the book we see her grow to understand that the world is not completely black and white.  That the guilty can also be the innocent.  Her indomitable will and determination to fulfill her mission was admirable but what made her human was how she gave into feelings of malice, self hatred, regret, hope for forgiveness, and the knowledge that sometimes the world is a convoluted place.  Her character was offset by Ignifex and his shadow, Shade.  They were complete opposites of each other as two sides of a single person.  The witty banter between Ignifex and Nyx was wonderful and I quite enjoyed their game of trying to defeat the other.  The three characters were stunning and I savored reading their story.

The world building was definitely unique.  A small kingdom is cut off from the rest of the world and it all resides in a house which resides in that kingdom.  The unique castle and its many magical rooms was intriguing to read about.  The whole idea of a diminished world created a vivid setting for the tale.  Not to mention some of the story was built around Greek legends which added a wonderful mythological twist.  However, it was at times confusing as to what exactly the magic was and who the gods were and what they could do.  There were also a few plot holes that left me wondering.  It was slightly rambling almost like the castle within the book: constantly changing and at times completely absurd.  The author made up for these flaws through the amazing characters but the love triangle was still a little weird.

Despite this I loved Cruel Beauty and would recommend reading it.  It was darkly imaginative and is definitely worth the time it takes to read it.

Book Review: The Blood of Four Other Gods and Stories by Jamie Lackey

Image result for the blood of four gods and other storiesIn this collection of fourteen short stories inspired by African, Asian, and Native American myth and legend one will explore different realms of possibility.  From the cloud forest to crowded city streets these stories bring to life new fantasy.   New characters arise as brave as they are kind to counteract the forces of evil constantly threatening our world.  As these stories show the impossible it becomes the reality of possibility in the mind’s eye.  I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This book was published September 1, 2018.

This short collection of stories was interesting in a weird and not completely amazing way.  I was first drawn to the book through its title and the promise of short stories filled with magic.  I looked forward to the book and was quite excited to read it.  However, the book did not fully live up to my expectations.

First of all there was absolutely no character growth in anyone. The characters were just there and some of the stories almost seemed to just end but had no real ending.  All of the characters were blah for I as a reader could not connect to them and their troubles.  Not to mention most of the endings were either depressing, too much happily ever after, or simply not there at all.

However, the main thing that drove me to distraction was how in almost every story there was an incomplete transition where we just jump from one moment to the next and it was slightly confusing.  Like suddenly the main characters are getting married then one of them is dead due to a snake bite. 

Related imageAnother thing I hated was how some endings were just so abrupt.  It was like the author didn’t want to continue it and this usually resulted in there being no climax or plot to the short story.  For example one story was about a priestess who sacrifices herself by jumping into a volcano.  She lands on solid ground and has to climb up a ledge which she can’t see. And the story just ends with her climbing.  It made me want to cry for I wanted to know what happened to her but we will never know because the story just ends.

I will say though that I liked the ideas behind the world building and some of the stories.  I just felt that the author could have explored the worlds and characters more in depth creating short stories that allow the reader to become attached to that tale.  However, since this did not occur it just created stories that were just there and that weren’t that great.

In the end I cannot recommend this book.  It wasn’t the worst thing I have read but it wasn’t phenomenal. 

Book Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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Jane Mckeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefield Gettysburg ending the Civil War and changing the nation forever. The safety of America depends upon a few and with the laws such as the Negro and Native Reeducation Act children are sent to combat schools. There are few other options available to Jane who is determined to be an attendant to protect the well off. For a negro like her, it’s a chance at a better life.

But she doesn’t want that life. She wants to go home to Kentucky but as families begin to disappear around the country Jane becomes embroiled in a political scheme to put the world back into its natural order. Soon the dead are the least of Jane’s worries for the living can be just as dangerous.

This book was phenomenal and much better than I expected it to be. The characters were totally awesome and the reimagined history was unique.  I loved reading about a different America. The book also confronted major ideas about race and the nature of humans. Overall it was a stunning tale that I would definitely recommend to others.

One of the main reasons I adored Dread Nation was because of the characters especially the main character, Jane. Jane was brave with a bit of a temper and she was an excellent killer of the undead. Her backstory was intricate and we as the reader were lied to about her past several times until the very end of the book. However, I really wanted to know more about her and Jackson’s past relationship. She carried her secrets and I liked how the book slowly revealed them. Jane’s character growth was decent as she continued to learn about the times that she lived in.

The other characters were also excellently rendered. Their pasts which intertwined with Jane’s intrigued me but sadly little was revealed about them. They were, however, all awesome in different ways by using the skills they possessed to their advantage.

Image result for i loved it gifBesides the characters, I loved the alternate history that the book portrayed. It included the undead and a hint of magic during one of the most interesting times in American history. It was excellently rendered and I loved reimagining the Civil War and the times after it. The book also included the topic of slavery and race which furthered the historical accuracy of the book since it was a major issue of the times. Dread Nation’s retelling of history was unique and thrilling and for that I loved it.

By the end of the book, I firmly decided that I adored this tale and hope for a sequel. I would recommend this book to one and all especially lovers of history.

Book Review: The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell

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Desperate to escape the prison of her life and an arranged marriage, Silviana runs into the forest with two friends to find a different life.  Soon though she steals into a jail and leaves a message for the Sheriff stating that she will protect the innocent.  Soon people are flocking to her hideaway and before long a band of rebels is born.  As the past and that which she fears most approaches, Silviana must decide whether to flee or fight and if she does fight what she is willing to pay to save those she loves. 

The Forest Queen was an intriguing new twist on the old ballad of Robin Hood.  It was filled with dark twists and the process of overcoming pain and facing the fears of the past.  The characters were heartfelt and the world building was unique but could have been expanded upon.

The world building was different and the author created something entirely new for the basis of the tale.  We learned little of it and it was much the same as the original Robin Hood.  The kingdom is filled with oppression from the nobles through overtaxing and the harsh punishments enacted due to minor infractions.  Besides that, the book told little of the surrounding environment in which the characters interacted besides the existence of a forest, a shire, and a river.

Image result for fantastic! gifBesides the somewhat unsatisfactory world building, the characters were fantastic.  The main character, Silvie was haunted by nightmares due to her brother.  Her character growth was wonderful to read about for she grew from a girl unwilling to change and see life, as is really, is into a young woman who steals from her brother and the nobles giving the pilfered goods to the poor who are barely surviving so that the rich may live in resplendence.

Her love interest, Bird was mediocre.  He was strong and quiet always supporting Silvie but his character was not expanded on or really grown throughout the tale.  He was not my favorite and the attraction between Silvie and Bird was slow and almost nonexistent.  Besides Birdie, there was Little Jane who grew from a frightened girl turned out of her home to a happy and excited mother.  Her character growth was excellent since we saw her acceptance of a new life that afforded her options she had never thought of before.

Silvie’s brother, Sheriff John was extremely cruel and his intentions towards his sister were most certainly not pure.  He was just like any other cruel Sheriff who imprisoned and heavily taxed his constituents then tortured, killed, and jailed them for their inability to sustain the high taxes.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the book.  There were a few hiccups at the beginning when the author skipped a few scenes into the future which I personally found annoying but I liked the retelling of Robin Hood and would still recommend The Forest Queen.

 

Book Review: Siren’s Lure by Frost Kay

Book Review: Siren’s Lure by Frost Kay

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Hayjen never believed in legends, myths, or rumors.  That was until he was captured and enslaved by a race that was thought to be safely ensconced from the rest of the world.  As danger stalks ever closer, Hayjen is tossed into the watery depths of the sea where he begins to question everything he has ever believed.

Lilja is intent upon vengeance.   Scythia will fall and she will bring it about for what they took from her can never be replaced. But an accident occurs and despite the laws, she rescues a dying man at the cost of exposing a secret she has kept for years.  A secret that could destroy an entire race.  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.  This book was published March 27th, 2018.

Siren’s Lure was an intriguing short novella that is part if The Aermian Feuds series.  I have not read any of the books that make up the series besides this prequel but I was immediately drawn into the tale from the first sentence.  The world was filled with siren-like creatures, pirates, slave traders, and kingdoms on the brink of war.  Add to that stunning characters with unique abilities and charming personalities hiding pain and secrets and I could not put the book down.

The characters were what first drew me into this tale.  Hayjen and Lilja are the two main characters.  The book’s chapters alternate between their two perspectives.  They were both unique and charismatic in their own ways.  Hayjen is a man captured and enslaved.  His goal is to protect all the women on the ship and when they are rescued by pirates he keeps a sharp lookout for deceit.  He is pained at having left his sister and all he wants to do is protect Mer and return to the sister he left to fend for herself.  His serious and protective ways endeared him to the reader.

The other contributor to this tale, Lilja is a hunted creature whose very kind is supposed to be extinct.  She was banished from her family and she now rescues those enslaved so that they do not face the same fate she did.  As a younger woman, she was enslaved and she suffered mightily at the hands of her captors.  But she looks beyond her past to the future and her optimistic ways and love of books endeared her to me.

Image result for i want more gifThe characters were not the only thing that enthralled me.  The world building was unique but since the tale was so short I only managed a glimpse into the complicated world built by the author.  There were so many unique aspects that made up the universe that the small look into it was not enough.  I am determined to read the rest of the series for this single short novella has captured my imagination and dug its claws in.

In the end, I would definitely recommend this novella.  I believe it can be read separately from the rest of the series but I will find that out soon enough when I read the other books.  Read it for it is worth being in its thrall for a short hour.

Book Review: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Book Review: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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Alosa has finally found all three pieces of the map.  Soon they will set sail and find the legendary treasure.  But a secret leads to betrayal and soon Alosa is in a race to save her crew and find the treasure before the Pirate King.  However, they may not make it and she comes to the realization that the only way to find the treasure and kill her father is to embrace the side of her she has always hated.  She will get to the treasure first.  She has to…. after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

This book was just as good as the first book if not better.  The reader learned more about Alosa as a pirate captain and what her capabilities as a siren were.  Furthermore, we saw her crew and how dedicated they were to her and in turn she to them.  Her relationship with Riden developed maddeningly slowly with unnecessary emotional obstacles thrown in their path.

The character development was stunning, though, especially for Alosa who finally broke free of her father’s control and began to understand that she could harness the siren Image result for stunning pirates of the caribbean gifswithin her.  Her dedication to the safety of her crew was astounding considering the fact that most pirates would betray those around them for a little bit of coin.  The fiery spirit and stunning fighting skills once again showed up in the tale.  However, Alosa’s relationship with Riden was fraught with emotional upheaval that involved one or the other angry.  I just wanted them to finally figure out their relationship instead of dancing around it.  Despite that, I loved Alosa and Riden’s characters.

I also liked exploring Alosa’s crewmates.  Most of them were women with a dark and violent past who had joined the crew for a chance at a better life.  Their undying loyalty to Alosa was inspiring and I was extremely sad when a few of them tragically died.  I loved their characters and they only enriched the tale.

I would recommend this book and in general, the duology for it is a wonderful tale full of loss, sea fights, pirates, sirens, and treasure.