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Review: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Series: Dividing Eden #1

dividing eden -joelle charbonneauFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing trilogy comes a sweeping new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sarah J. Maas.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?


4 Drink Me Potions


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

**Dividing Eden comes out on June 6, 2017**

A game. A fight for the throne. Power plays behind the scenes by unknown third parties? That sounds just about up my alley.

But to be honest? This rating barely managed to ramp up to 4 stars if it weren’t for the last half of the book. Here’s why.

You know the whole Carys versus Andreus thing because the ones in line for the throne all suddenly died? Well, that doesn’t really start to come into play until 50% of the way into the novel. Talk about a slow start where none of this was surprising ’cause, hey, the synopsis RUINED it all for you.

Ok, so I sound a little bitter at that aspect. I was just impatient. But I get it. Charbonneau did a good job of setting the scene. Here’s a land that seemingly relies heavily on being well-lit in order to drive away the evil things that lurk in the darkness. The people truly believe in the work of the light, including setting up “engineers” known as Masters of Lights. But beyond all that, they believe in the power of the wind and the One who could command it. That person would be the seer, and in this book, the seer played a bigger role in the plot than I initially pegged her to do.

Unbeknownst to the twins at first, there are far darker things present in their kingdom that have no need to hide in the dark but rather walk boldly in the light. It’s frustrating to be the third person, omnipotent viewer sometimes as there’s pieces of information found out by each twin but the other doesn’t know. This all funnels into one giant snowball of miscommunication that ultimately pits the two against each other.

No longer sure they could trust each other, the game FINALLY commences and really picks up. Carys is honestly my favoured twin. She’s always been the one to protect her brother from the others as he has a secret that couldn’t be found out by any one. A previous seer predicted one of them would be cursed before they were born, and their mother always believed it was Andreus. But is it really? That’s one of the wonderful things that’s hard to know for sure, and definitely an element that kept me rapidly flipping through the pages.

Anyway, with Carys always taking the blame for Andreus in order to draw less attention to him, this whole twin against twin thing was both interesting from the competition standpoint but it was also heartbreaking to see Andreus truly turn on Carys due to misunderstandings that he wouldn’t allow her to explain away.

The action ramps up by like 110% in like the last 30% of the book. Not only is there a physical game being played by the twins in order to win the throne and keep the tumultuous times in Eden at a low, but there are other invisible strings being pulled in the background with unknown players pulling them. The mystery hasn’t been fully solved, so that’ll be intriguing to see carry on to book 2. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, per se, but it definitely leaves things unresolved as it would look like those invisible players had won by fixing the game in order to control the kingdom better. Then there’s also the matter of the cursed twin and what exactly that entails. Many great things are introduced in Dividing Eden and it was definitely a different kind of read. Overall enjoyable but the first half may need to be skimmed a little to get to the truly good stuff.

And before I forget, I didn’t mention romance at all so far in this review, but fear not romance lovers. There’s a smidge of romance going on in this novel, with a love interest for both twins (albeit one relationship I despised more than the other – I’ll let you guess which one that would be). But heavy romance honestly wasn’t necessary here. At the heart of it all, this was a book about a sibling relationship and what was worth risking all for the sake of a crown.

Overall Recommendation:
Dividing Eden may have started off a little slow with its world building, but it amped it up to be well worth the wait. Pitting twins Carys and Andreus, who always had each other’s backs, for a chance at the throne of Eden was more than just an exciting competition. The stakes were so much higher than that with behind the scenes power plays being made by mysterious figures, and a greater destiny for one twin who may indeed have been born with a curse. This book was ultimately about family and what it would take to save each other, even if the cost was their kingdom.

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Review: The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins

Series: Eurona Duology #2

the great pursuit -wendy higginsIn The Great Pursuit, the dramatic sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Great Hunt, Wendy Higgins delivers another thrilling fantasy filled with dangerous enemies, political intrigue, searing romance, and a princess who is willing to do everything to protect her kingdom.  

One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continues.

The kingdom of Lochlanach has traded the great beast that once terrorized the realm of Eurona for something far more dangerous: the ire of powerful Lashed woman Rosaria Rocato. Rosaria demands that Eurona overturn the laws prohibiting magic, or an innocent will be killed each day.

Despite the king’s resistance, Princess Aerity believes they must make peace with the Lashed, and though she’s accepted a betrothal to the man who took down the beast, she cannot help thinking about Paxton, the Lashed man who stole her heart and disappeared.

Aerity soon discovers that Paxton has joined Rosaria’s army in the war against her family. Though her feelings for him are still strong, her duty to her kingdom and her family is stronger—especially when her parents are kidnapped and she has to step up to the throne and once again put aside what’s best for her in order to do what’s best for her people. Paxton and Princess Aerity must fight to see what is more powerful: their love or the impending war between the magical Lashed and the non-magic humans.


 

4.5 Drink Me Potions


The Great Pursuit wraps up a duology in a way that fit my expectations and some. With mysterious intrigue about the evil Rosaria and her plans for the Lashed, this story has elements that would excite different readers.

Starting back very closely from where the previous novel left off, our protagonists are all in a bit of a pickle. Aerity is being rushed to marry Lief, who previously won her hand for killing the first beast that terrorized the land. Her actual love, Pax, is on the run into other kingdoms following the Zandalee women, fierce warriors who showcase the power and might of women instead of the traditional male-dominant role. And Aerity’s cousin, Wyn, fancies Lief while it’s obvious that someone else who’s more worthy of her attentions is left with his unrequited love.

What a love-mess. Fortunately, I thought it was more fun untangling this than I thought it would be, and all my ships have come true. But that’s besides the point (unless that was something you desperately wanted to know too).

Facing off not just one enemy, but two, the powerful Lashed army is coming upon them and they don’t even know it. I normally appreciated Aerity a lot for her stance against her country’s laws on the Lashed and for how selfless she was to sacrifice her own wants for the better of her kingdom, as a true leader should do. At times, it was still difficult as of course the ship game is strong for Pax, but at least I got it.

I felt the romance took up a large space in this story, yet there still felt like it was balanced well with the action parts that took up the rest of the plot. Nothing was going to be the same again in this kingdom if they wanted Lashed and un-Lashed to get along with each other like they once did. This particularly trope reminded me a lot of Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse trilogy and I think it similarly looked into this element. Although how it was developed and managed was quite different between the series, Higgins managed to still deliver a heart-pounding story that I gobbled up in a matter of hours.

Oh, and did I mention there was such a HOT scene with Pax and Aerity? My wait since The Great Hunt was definitely rewarded.

Overall Recommendation:
The Great Pursuit delivered the perfect ending that I had wanted, almost wrapped up in a neat bow without it getting too stiflingly perfect. From a world divided and lovers separated, this story brought together battles facing off cunning foes and romances that were just as I had hoped. Aerity is still the strong-headed leader she’s been becoming since before and each of these characters learn more about what it means to live in a world that’s changing. I think fans of the first novel would be satisfied with this ending.

Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1

ever-the-hunted-erin-summerhillSeventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.


3 Drink Me Potions


Ever the Hunted was a mix of every fantasy archetype that I could think of, which ultimately resulted in a less-than-amazing read for me.

First off, let me just say that I waited for this book to come for almost over a year. So yes, that might have played a huge role in building up my expectations of its awesomeness.

For a debut novel, I applaud Summerill for a fast-paced story that did its best in a promising adventure, a sweet romance and a world full of magic. Britta was the kinda protagonist I liked. Nothing too too special at the start of it all, one of those ordinary girls who was ignored or even shunned by others. Then of course, she finds out there’s something different about her. *gasp* Like that wasn’t something you were expecting…*insert sarcasm*

The world was built of 2 major kingdoms who were at the brink of war. Malam, where Britta lived, had banned and shunned Channelers, women with a magic of the elements that the laypeople here were superstitiously afraid of. So of course, enter the genocide of all Channelers and the closure of the border to the neighbouring magical kingdom of Shaerdania. That’s the tense atmosphere this book is set in. Beyond hearing a couple more tidbits relating to how all this trouble came to be, there’s not a whole lot more out there about this place.

Or even the magic.

Channelers harness energy, whether from land, air, water or fire. Sound familiar? ‘Cause I’m sure you’ve all seen some form of this type of “magic” somewhere if you’re a reader. Well, maybe even if you’re not a reader. And don’t get me wrong. It’s not a successful trope to fill in for the “magical ability” line you want to add to your documented work for nothing as it is a fun ability after all. But where is the originality in that? So I wasn’t the most pleased to know that there wasn’t a whole lot more to their magic than that.

Oh, and the surprise twist? *insert a short pause* Saw that coming a mile away. Probably from yet ANOTHER fantasy novel out there that you’ve come across.

I also normally despise slow-paced novels as it takes FOREVER to get to the known facts that were given to you even in the synopsis. But Ever the Hunted? Nope. Not a problem there. Everything happened so fast, like boom, boom, boom, that my head felt like it was spinning. I barely got used to Britta and the few people with her at the beginning of the story before it suddenly changed scenes again. So connection to the characters? Kinda hard to do when I felt like the interactions there were so quick and temporary.

This leads me to the relationship. This is one of my favourite parts of stories. And Cohen’s misunderstood history with Britta was brimming with bittersweet angst that is, oddly enough, right up my alley.

But like I said. Kinda hard to feel connected with ANYONE when things happen so quickly. I liked that Cohen and Britta are together for a large portion of the novel. It’s not one of those romances where the guy is halfway across the kingdom and you barely get to see the heroine interact with him (although they’re so-called in love with each other and I have to believe it just ’cause it says so right there on the pages). And for the most part, this aspect kept me somewhat satisfied throughout the story. I knew they’d patch through things somehow. But that ending? I smell a nasty potential love triangle popping in…and I’m not sure if I hate it or not.

Which is WEIRD. x10. I abhor love triangles so I should be jumping off my seat and bouncing around the room in frustration that this was thrown in and I’ve got to wait yet ANOTHER year to figure out how this will go.

But…I’m not. Which I guess means I enjoyed Cohen’s relationship with Britta but I didn’t build as great of a connection with the two of them as I thought either.

Anyway, this review’s kinda got off the tracks, but altogether, Ever the Hunted wasn’t what I expected. It tried to be sneaky, and it tried to be clever and fun and overall exciting. I can see that. But I just wish that I felt that too. I know I’m being generous with my rating ’cause I can see its potential, but somehow, it just slipped through my fingers and I’m left clutching thin air.

Overall Recommendation:
Ever the Hunted was a decent debut (if I’m being extra nice about it), but very predictable in its “twists”. From fast story pacing to almost nonexistent secondary character development and world building, this story just tried so hard to fit well with all those other fantasies we’ve got lining our shelves. The romance would’ve been the best part in my opinion but it too somehow felt a bit disconnected to me and I couldn’t form a huge love for Cohen and Britta either. I’d say it might just be me (and my VERY high expectations), so please give this book a shot as the potential for greatness is there but just may need to be honed a bit more.