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Review: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

Series: Seven Black Diamonds #1

seven black diamonds -melissa marrLilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.

From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.

Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.

Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there.


1 Drink Me Potion


DNF at ~25%

Sigh. I haven’t DNF’ed a book in a long while, but oh, Melissa Marr, how I’m disappointed.

Let me start off by disclosing that I wavered on her popular Wicked Lovely series after we hit the middle books. There were just too many and I was tired of the plot. That being said, I came into this book and series with an open mind and hoped to God that I would love it.

Why this didn’t happen:

A) Too many POVs and characters popping up.

Sometimes it just got downright confusing and I found it hard to connect or care about any of these people.

B) Lilywhite.

Dang, that girl just made me cringe. Clearly she’s being set up as someone special but I just couldn’t take it anymore. She wasn’t particularly nice to anyone and didn’t seem to need good opinions from others. At least that was my impression of her.

C) The writing.

It was repetitive as other reviewers have noted and it made the book drag a little. Maybe it prevented me from connecting with the characters too. Who knows. But something about it bugged me.

D) The romances.

I JUST DON’T LIKE CREED. He doesn’t seem quite like a lovable bad boy or a very nice guy to play the love interest. I’d rather Lily pick anyone else (though I probably shouldn’t care ’cause I don’t even like her).

And then there’s Zephyr who seems cool enough but I don’t particularly think that’s happening. Plus, he seems to be denying himself from feelings for another girl and it’s just a bit much to me.

While I get these things aren’t the be all, end all of a story and other books may feature these flaws too, put together it just rubbed me wrong in this book. The only element I found myself liking was Eilidh (pronounced AY-LEIGH) and her POV. I empathized with her situation a bit and the potential budding romance, but she features so rarely here that it didn’t seem worthwhile to continue.

Maybe it’s just me but I tried to love this book and I couldn’t. It may not be so bad for others but it didn’t work for me. Marr may be a great fantasy author for some, but for now; her works on faeries just don’t captivate my heart.

Overall Recommendation:

Seven Black Diamonds could’ve been a great novel on friendships, romances and political intrigue with the fae. However, with too many POVs and characters to understand – not to mention the kinda writing that just bored me too easily – this book just couldn’t execute what I had hoped for it. It may just be me, but I don’t think this book is for everyone.


Fan or foe? Do you think faerie stories are getting overrated?

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Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Series: The Valiant #1

the valiant -lesley livingstonPrincess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.


4 Drink Me Potions


I’ve loved this author since day 1 with her first published YA work on fairies and Shakespearean works. Likewise, Lesley Livingston’s latest series starting with The Valiant is a sight to behold with kickass female characters and an intriguing plot set in historical times.

Gladiators. What’s more to love about that? Well. Other than the fact that this book features FEMALE gladiators. Strong. Cunning. And lethal.

I liked Fallon. She kinda fell into this after the chaos that happened in her home land. But she gave it her all and trained herself as no princess would’ve been expected to know. For that, I admire Livingston’s ability to always write female protagonists that are funny, relatable and easy to like.

But the other thing to absolutely rave about is the wonderful research (with a pinch of imagination) that went into creating the beautiful setting of Julius Caesar’s Roman Empire. I liked how it featured as much Roman accuracy as the author’s imagination for the time period. It felt real enough while still being in the realm of fantasy and mysticism for how much of this really could’ve happened this way. For history buffs, I think you’d be pleased.

HOWEVER. The romance with a Roman soldier working under Caesar really helped tie it together. It wasn’t so much a forbidden love trope (although it still is) but it featured lovely conversations throughout the story that were both fun and added to the level of suspense and intrigue.

The Valiant continues strongly with what Lesley Livingston does best with her stories. Any fan of hers won’t be disappointed with this latest addition to her YA works, and new fans would be in the making as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in this series, and from her.

Overall Recommendation:

The Valiant features a cast of strong females who may fight in the ring, but redefines the bonds of loyalty. Mysterious and full of intrigue, Lesley Livingston brings another fantasy reimagining set in the historical Roman Empire of action, love and war. Fallon’s discovery of who she can be and the family she can make for herself was a wondrous journey to behold. I hope many others would come to realize just how phenomenal Livingston’s writing can be. This book does not disappoint.

Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Series: Frostblood Saga #1

frostblood -elly blakeThe frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life.

But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions.

Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.


4 Drink Me Potions


Canadian pride shines bright in this review! Frostblood is a debut fantasy that fits right in with others in this genre and is sure to be loved by its loyal fans.

While this book may contain elements that you’ve probably seen from other fantasy novels, that doesn’t necessarily subtract from the story here.

WHAT WAS AWESOME:

A powerful protagonist who was also likeable

Ruby wasn’t the kinda main character who didn’t know she had powers to begin with. What was wonderful about this particular foundation laid out for her is that we really get to explore the depth and her growing control over the immense power that she did have. She was easily likeable (which is important if I’m reading her POV) as she wasn’t arrogant about her abilities and we may empathize with her as she struggles under the vast discrimination against her for simply being a Fireblood.

Romantic tensions without a love triangle

Personally, I love a good conflicted coupling who weren’t necessarily friendly to start out with. It prevents the insta-love from happening, but it also gives time for us readers to appreciate their chemistry and how they’d come about feeling this way for each other. This book is amazing with it. And while a love triangle could’ve potentially happened, I’m glad it didn’t as Ruby and Arcus seem well-matched and I’m looking forward to seeing how this relationship develops in book 2.

An overall growth in Ruby

The bottom line in this book was Ruby’s struggle to control her powers and understand what she was capable of. While this took time and sometimes may have dragged out a bit, it was fun to see it happening in a genre where protagonists just seem to do so well with their “super abilities” (once they know they have some).

Additionally, what intrigued me most was her struggle with her own inner darkness. What it meant to take someone’s life. What it meant to finally have power over someone else. What revenge tasted like after being discriminated for so long. These things I think leave room for a lot of potential storylines in the series.

 

WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED:

Uniqueness

Yes, I will admit that this book sometimes felt like it fit in too well with the genre as maybe you’d feel like you’ve read this book before from a mashup of a ton of other fantasies. It may not be for everyone if you’re a diehard fantasy fan and you wanna be constantly surprised and have unexpected twists in your stories.

That being said, I think for a debut novel Elly Blake has done very well in creating this world and the mythology of gods that go with it. I’m sure more surprising things will come out of the foundations she’s laid in books 2 and 3.

The amount of things in the plot

I wish the plot had a bit more substance to it sometimes. It was fast-paced enough (I finished this one straight through in a day!) but now that I’ve had time to sit on this for a while, I’m not sure a whole lot happens that the synopsis doesn’t already cover.

Ruby gets discovered and thrown into jail. Ruby meets people who want to train her in her powers. Ruby gets caught again and is made to fight for the king’s entertainment.

While this simplifies things by a lot, it still is somewhat true. As a debut, I can understand but I hope book 2 features more than what I already expected from reading the front flap.

Overall Recommendation:

Frostblood demonstrates what’s great about YA fantasy with a protagonist who can be powerful yet is still remarkably relatable with her moments of doubt and need for further growth. Being both fun in the romance department and gritty with Ruby’s personal development, I think this book offers something fantasy fans can really enjoy. Elly Blake is someone to watch out for in YA literature.