Tag Archive | arc

Review: The Academy by Katie Sise

the academy -katie siseFrankie Brooks knows what she wants in life: to become the world’s next great fashion editor. All she needs to do is get into the elite American Fashion Academy in New York City. If she gets in, her life plans will be going right on schedule. Anna Wintour, watch out.

But after Frankie messes up one too many times—hey, it’s hard keeping up with classwork and an acclaimed fashion blog—her parents come up with entirely different plans for her future: Military school. How is Frankie, the least athletic person in the world, who knows absolutely nothing about the military, going to survive a whole semester at the famed—and feared—Academy?

With students who seem to be totally uninterested in her, a course-load that’s even more difficult than at her old school, and the weird athletic War Games competition Frankie has to join—her life is way harder than it used to be. And no one, including her roommate Joni, seems to understand Frankie at all.

As she learns how to cope in about a million drills, a hundred different specialized classes, and is maybe even falling for super-hot and super-smart cadet Jack Wattson, can Frankie prove to everyone that being a fashionista doesn’t mean she can’t succeed?

2 Drink Me Potions

**The Academy comes out May 22, 2018**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

I’m not sure quite what to make of The Academy but if I could sum it up in two words, it’d be discipline + fashion-obsessed.

Do those 2 words even go together? Have you ever really thought of them in the same context? ‘Cause I didn’t. Before.

Frankie was kind of a naive and spoiled girl at the beginning of the book. She didn’t like to the follow the rules, but at least she felt guilty for the things she knew she did wrong. And it wasn’t a matter of me hating her or anything. Frankly, sometimes I felt for her and was totally on her side of things with the injustice of her situation, and sometimes I just wished she’d get it into her head that she should listen to what people are saying to her. It was all very confusing sometimes!

Being sent to military school for an amateur fashion blogger sounds like a recipe for trouble. She’s free-spirited in some sense, and everything that flows through her brain wasn’t altogether very serious at first. Yet her character lacked the fun and lightheartedness of other fashion-loving protagonists like those seen in The Devil Wears Prada or the Shopaholic series.

Going into the book, I was rather excited. I needed some lighter fluff after the heavier sci-fi/fantasies I’ve been diving into lately! And for the most part, The Academy delivered enough of that for me. The plot centres on Frankie finding her way through military school and where she fit into it all. Her upbringing in her community that reared her towards self-thinking and sometimes pure selfishness/disrespect for others wasn’t ALWAYS her fault, but it was nice to see her develop an attitude of pride for her country and those who serve for the greater good of all. I liked that this didn’t mean she had to give up her love of fashion in order to do that, which to me is a greater message that says you can grow and become better while still maintaining the good in that you love doing.

The love interest, Jack, was nice. Yep, nice. I can’t think of too many other words to describe him. Physically he’s strong and tall and the kinda guy you’d want to hover and protect you from the bad in the world. Personality-wise, he’s sweet and worthy of putting your trust in him.

But. Yes, there’s a but. It’s like something’s missing. It’s like this is your general packaging of an altogether great-guy-that-your-protagonist-should-totally-fall-for. He has some back story that makes us feel for him (and the main character), but he’s just not too memorable. Their LOVE STORY isn’t too memorable.

The relationships with the few other secondary characters were all right too. I personally liked Frankie’s roommate, Joni, a lot. Out of any other name thrown out into this story, she’s really the only other person who features greatly. Frankie’s friendship with her kept her grounded when the going got tough, when it seemed their TAC officer was out to get her or all the training in the world just couldn’t help her get any better. I liked that there was emphasis on another relationship besides the romantic side that got highlighted because friendships are just as important.

I mean, there’s not too much more to say about this book. It had a good message to send out. Frankie grew up a bit and became someone I could be more proud of than she was initially. And then it ended. Very abruptly, I might add. I’m not sure if the author was planning on adding anything else after, but I suppose it left it a bit more open-ended for you to interpret/imagine how it could’ve turned out. It was happy, don’t get me wrong! But all together, at the end of the day, not too memorable after the last pages were closed.

Overall Recommendation:
The Academy did its best to create a fun story that also had a good message at the end about learning some discipline while maintaining the good pieces of who you are even as you grew for the better. Frankie was an all right protagonist, although she could be rather naive and wrong in her actions at times. While the romance and friendships created in this military school were nice, some of it lacked that extra umph that would’ve helped translate this story into something more memorable. When all is said and done, this book was fast-paced and NICE, but not profound enough to make it stick out in a genre full of similar stories.


Review: The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine

Series: Ravenspire #3

the traitor prince -cj redwineJavan Najafai, crown prince of Akram, has spent the last ten years at an elite boarding school, far away from his kingdom. But his eagerly awaited return home is cut short when a mysterious imposter takes his place—and no one believes Javan is the true prince.

After barely escaping the imposter’s assassins, Javan is thrown into Maqbara, the kingdom’s most dangerous prison. The only way to gain an audience with the king — and reveal Javan’s identity — is to fight in Maqbara’s yearly tournament. But winning is much harder than acing competitions at school, and soon Javan finds himself beset not just by the terrifying creatures in the arena, but also a band of prisoners allied against him, and even the warden herself.

The only person who can help him is Sajda, who has been enslaved by Maqbara’s warden since she was a child, and whose guarded demeanor and powerful right hook keep the prisoners in check. Working with Sajda might be the only way Javan can escape alive — but she has dangerous secrets.

Together, Javan and Sajda have to outwit the vicious warden, outfight the deadly creatures, and outlast the murderous prisoners intent on killing Javan. If they fail, they’ll be trapped in Maqbara for good—and the secret Sajda’s been hiding will bury them both.

4 Drink Me Potions

**The Traitor Prince comes out February 13, 2018**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

This may be my favourite book from CJ Redwine yet! The Traitor Prince artfully pieces together another story in the Ravenspire universe, this time set in the deserts of Akram. While the story starts off with another character (the traitor devising a plan to steal the throne), we follow the male protagonist, Javan, a lot in the beginning which was a refreshing change.

The story was fairly fast-paced, and oh boy, pretty action-packed. With people working against him and betrayals coming from every direction, Javan gets sent to Maqbara, the infamous prison that’s changed since he’s been gone in another kingdom. There he meets Sajda, the warden’s slave, an initially fearsome girl with a deep secret.

Their romantic chemistry is subtle and not over done – just the way I like it. Redwine doesn’t make it seem like they instantly hit it off, or confess any huge attraction for each other instantaneously. In fact, they’re downright hostile to each other at first (particularly Sajda). To my delight, the transformation in their relationship as they’re forced to work together to escape Maqbara was so realistic and honestly, felt JUST right. As wariness slowly turned into trust, you can totally reach out and roll around in the feels there. Not just in their own relationship, but the tenuous ones forged in the heart of the prison.

If you’re not such a huge romance lover, never fear! There’re fights to the death in this novel.

That’s right. To the DEATH.

Like, gladiator style. Good thing Javan can fight.

The descriptions throughout these fights and the messes Javan gets in with other inmates keep your blood pumping as vicious creatures – all crazily described including their abilities and fatal weaknesses – attack the prisoners from all sides. And they’re not this prince’s only problem! I love that I felt everything just as deeply as he did. The injustice that was done to him. The honour he tried to bestow on his family all these years that could disappear in this prison with him. But mostly, I loved how his character strengthened throughout this ordeal. His faith in his god wavered at times, but there was a purpose in his being here – a royal who wouldn’t ever get this chance – mingling with the lowest of the lows.

Now, if none of the above draws you into this story, I dunno what would impress you. To throw it in there, little sweet cameos/appearances or mentions of the previous protagonists in the Ravenspire series also feature. But if you haven’t read them, never fear! Sajda and Javan’s story work well on its own as well.

So what are you waiting for?

Overall Recommendation:
The Traitor Prince has outdone itself with a well-paced plot, continuous action and suspense (to the death style), and a slow simmering chemistry between the main characters. The emotion it can invoke in you is outstanding as we get drawn into Javan’s story from the very beginning. If you’re one to enjoy fantasies with the odds stacked against you and a slow-burn kind of romance that develops along with the characters, I’d say this is a book for you.

Review: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

Series: The Queen’s Rising #1

the queen's rising -rebecca rossWhen her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

3 Drink Me Potions

**The Queen’s Rising comes out February 6, 2018!**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

The Queen’s Rising was a refreshing take on different factions known as “passions” with a good mix of impending battles and forbidden love.

I didn’t bring too many expectations into this novel and I think that made it more enjoyable for me. We follow Brienna, a half-Maevan girl living in another neighbouring kingdom of Valenia, who just doesn’t know how to choose between the different passions. Like, girl, just make up your mind! But the system was interesting. There are 5 passions which include knowledge, music, art, wit, and dramatics. It takes 7 years of schooling to complete the training at which time you gain a passion cloak that is a symbol of prestige and completion akin to a school degree upon graduation.

Likewise, the different clans in Maevana was really cool, especially the history and timelines of certain clans. With Brienna being part Maevan, I assumed there’d be quite a bit of information about them.

While I enjoyed this world building, I felt it wasn’t ENOUGH.

First, there’re beautiful maps made of the kingdoms at the front of the book. Half the places here we never really get much information on, or barely mentioned at all during the plot. Maybe I’m just jumping the gun and they’ll appear more in later books of the series, but besides the bits about individual clans and certain city names, there’s really not much given to us in the actual book.

Second, those darn ancestry timelines! Of course since they’re at the front of the book, I looked at it. And if you were hoping for a surprise twist or whatever in the plot, especially about the identity of Brienna’s father, then don’t look at it! It totally ruins everything unless the point was that this tidbit of information wasn’t meant to be a surprise to the readers.

Third, both the passion system and the magical abilities of the Kavanaugh clan wasn’t really developed. Most of the story is focused on Maevana while the Valenian half was like a filler leading towards how Brienna could understand more of her Maevan heritage. What I don’t get is that there’s really nothing much explored with WHY the Kavanaughs are solely powerful and HOW it can go awry if used poorly. And the passion system seemed thrown in there like a last minute thought sometimes without truly developing the system such as who is allowed to passion, and what is the point of it all when you complete/waste 7 years of your life on it? Maybe these questions don’t matter to some of you, but it does for me as it gives me more of a taste of this world that they live in.

The amount of character building felt lacking to me too! With a page full of different characters at the front and their roles in the story, it just made me assume that this was necessary in order to keep track of all the people we’d meet along the way.

But no! That is not the case here. I thought the girls Brienna passioned with would play more prominent roles but most of them aren’t mentioned after a quarter into the plot. And for the ones who feature more, they just felt flat. I couldn’t understand how they could “love” each other so strongly after such a short period of time. The lengths they’d go to to sacrifice for each other was difficult to comprehend. It was nice, but hard for me to wrap my mind around.

Overall, yes, I had my issues with this book, but there were a lot of good ideas that just needed more time to flesh out more thoroughly. I enjoyed the passion system. I liked some of the characters that we do stick with, and I love the romantic interest. It’s a very slow-burn kinda romance that probably started before the timeline of the story which makes it more plausible in my opinion. It may be a bit weird for some people who don’t love the previous teacher-student relationship, but if you’re into forbidden love tropes, then this was delicious in a slow-burn way.

The ending wrapped things up nicely (maybe a bit too nicely) so I’m not sure what’s in store for the future books. However, I still think this was a good start no matter my less-than-ecstatic comments. There is a whole lot of potential for great improvement with this series and this author in the future, and I wanna be there when that happens.

Overall Recommendation:
The Queen’s Rising was fairly fast-paced with a unique system of passions. While the romance was a bit more subtle which normally would bug me more, I appreciated the role it played and the ability to focus more on the main plotline. However, character development and plot could’ve been better thought out but there was definitely potential in its world building. Ending on a happy note, I am curious and still interested in seeing where else this story is going.