YA

Review: The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine

Series: Ravenspire #2

the-wish-granter-cj-redwineAn epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.


3 Drink Me Potions


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

**The Wish Granter comes out February 14, 2017**

The premise of this story was a unique spin on a less common fairy tale that C.J. Redwine opted for, that being Rumpelstiltskin. Let me start off by saying that our protagonist, Ari, was a breath of fresh air. What do I mean by that?

Well, 1) she wasn’t a thin rod to start off with, where time and time again she was described as having “generous curves”. 2) She wasn’t a true princess by birth, but rather a bastard one. Like, how often do you have the main character as the bastard offspring? She and her brother Thad made the story more interesting with this angle of animosity against them by the kingdom they ended up leading. 3) She has this undying love for all things baked – pies, cakes, you name it. I dunno why this point had to be construed so many times to the reader, but I suppose it made Ari different too.

The choice of fairy tale was entertaining as it’s not as overdone as other ones, ahem *Snow White like in The Shadow Queen*. The Wish Granter and his (literally) bloody contracts threatened peace in the kingdom of Sundraille. After reading Redwine’s previous Ravenspire novel not so long ago, it was nice to get to know another kingdom in this world she had created. There was creativity put into spinning this tale in her own way, including Ari’s path of discovery to destroying The Wish Granter, Alistair Teague.

I enjoyed the tense emotions running seeing the ruthless underground network of Teague’s employees in the city of Kosim Thalas. I loved the excitement pumping when reading about the sneaky ways people were ensnared in Teague’s fine print contracts (because of course, I knew they’d be saved somehow – not a fairy tale for no reason). And I loved that there were guest appearances from other sources. For example, near the beginning of the book, some of you may be delighted to see the reference to Lorelai and her dragon prince. I sure was. But I almost fan-girled to see a badass version of Hansel and Gretel pop into the plot as well. I kinda wish there would be a separate story on these twins in the future. Maybe in the story for the fae kingdom of Llorenyae? *Here’s to hoping*.

So why doesn’t this have a higher rating?

Well, for starters, my heart just wasn’t into the romance. Gasp! I know, right? The romance is everything.

Here’s why. The chemistry between Ari and Sebastian was okay, at best. It didn’t light any fires in my heart. It didn’t make me rush through the pages in hopes that they’d get their happily ever after. No, I just felt…indifferent. I may have liked Ari’s fiery personality and quick thinking, but Sebastian felt too clichéd to me.

Now, don’t go hating on me but his broken family situation and physical abuse in childhood made him into a very quiet man with many issues to overcome. That’s to be expected. But sometimes reading from his POV, it just brought down any romantic mood. I liked him enough, I suppose, on his own. He tried to do his best by the princess he thought he didn’t deserve to be friends with, but he’s just a broken hero at the end of the day. Maybe in fairy tales a princess’ love can change a man and overcome any problem, but it just seemed to be a little clichéd. And I just didn’t feel true chemistry beyond falling for each other due to intense circumstances.

Although the plot of the story was unique, it also was a little predictable towards the end. The climax really picked up, but for the most part, it dragged. It took me a while to finish this book. Yes, I was busy, but if it was really exciting, I’d have set time to finish it no matter what. And the conclusion to the big question, how do you destroy the Wish Granter and his binding contracts?, just felt too simple. And predictable. And frankly confusing. I can’t give away any answers without ruining it, but honestly, her final plan in play (that related to the original tale) felt unnecessary in getting rid of Teague.

So I have good points and not-so-good points to make. At the end of the day, it was still an interesting enough read. Would I recommend it? Maybe not. Unless you really enjoyed book 1 in the Ravenspire series, The Wish Granter might just be a pleasant afternoon read that doesn’t quite stir your blood pressure.

Overall Recommendation:
The Wish Granter was a different take on the Rumpelstiltskin story with a leading character that had a fiery personality and might be more relatable to some readers. The story continues as a companion novel to the Ravenspire series by Redwine and it’s up to standard with her previous work. However, lack of true chemistry between the leads, slower pacing throughout and somewhat predictable ending after all that buildup left a bit of disappointment behind. I will probably only recommend it to those who loved The Shadow Queen and to those who aren’t expecting a grand spin on this fairy tale.

YA

Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Series: The Falconer #1

the-falconer-elizabeth-mayOne girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.


3 Drink Me Potions


I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time and finally came around to it. To make put this short and sweet, The Falconer was like mixing the strong kickass heroine and bad guy fighting from The Dark Days Club and the world and allure of faeries in The Iron King series.

Aileana is everything you’d want in a fighter. Witnessing a horrific crime committed right in front of her eyes, the world of ballroom dancing and finding the perfect husband just wasn’t worth it anymore. In the span of a year, she transformed into monster hunter at night. She was brave, fearless and vengeful. The memories of her mother’s death haunted her. She epitomizes revenge. I thought sometimes the darkness inside of her drowned out a bit of the story. She had others who cared about her, or at least her best friend and later an old acquaintance. They could’ve made her whole if she chose to eliminate the darkness but she never quite manages to do so.

That’s not to say this story wasn’t fierce in its mix of beautiful olden day Scotland and the mysterious Kiaran. I’ve always had a soft spot for historical fantasies and The Falconer most definitely adds onto the list of books in this genre that was done right. There’s plenty of action and suspense as Aileana fights against the clock to prevent catastrophic doomsday from happening to her city of Edinburgh. With a touch of steampunk contraptions and inventions that Aileana uses to help her fight against her opponents, there seems to be a bit of something for most people. My rating mostly has to deal with the lack of romance progression with Kiaran and the slower pacing at times in the middle. I’m not saying the slow burn romance isn’t great, but it seems almost just an implied thing at times and that just drives me a little insane. But for the most part, this novel is exactly as I described it between those 2 series above, which basically means it’s pretty cool.

Oh, but darn that cliffhanger. Not a huge fan of such endings.

Overall Recommendation:
The Falconer gives a wonderful glimpse of historical Scotland while mixing it up with the dark beauty of the faerie and other such creatures. Aileana makes for a fierce protagonist with the fire of a fighter inside of her. Steeped with intrigue and excitement, her sole battle against the world of fae comes to a head in this first book of an interesting trilogy.

YA

Review: Blythewood by Carol Goodman

Series: Blythewood #1

blythewood -carol goodmanWelcome to Blythewood.

At seventeen, Avaline Hall has already buried her mother, survived a horrific factory fire, and escaped from an insane asylum. Now she’s on her way to Blythewood Academy, the elite boarding school in New York’s mist-shrouded Hudson Valley that her mother attended—and was expelled from. Though she’s afraid her high society classmates won’t accept a factory girl in their midst, Ava is desperate to unravel her family’s murky past, discover the identity of the father she’s never known, and perhaps finally understand her mother’s abrupt suicide. She’s also on the hunt for the identity of the mysterious boy who rescued her from the fire. And she suspects the answers she seeks lie at Blythewood.

But nothing could have prepared her for the dark secret of what Blythewood is, and what its students are being trained to do. Haunted by dreams of a winged boy and pursued by visions of a sinister man who breathes smoke, Ava isn’t sure if she’s losing her mind or getting closer to the truth. And the more rigorously Ava digs into the past, the more dangerous her present becomes.

Vivid and atmospheric, full of mystery and magic, this romantic page-turner by bestselling author Carol Goodman tells the story of a world on the brink of change and the girl who is the catalyst for it all.


 

3.5 Drink Me Potions


Blythewood has elements that I thoroughly enjoyed. A mysterious boarding school with secrets behind its closed doors, fascinating creatures creeping out from the darkness, and whimsical characters that separate themselves from the norm of YA books.

The beginning was a little slow. Ava was still with her mother and working low-paying jobs in a factory at a time where women were trying to gain more attention and the right for votes. It took the story a while to get rolling into the juicy bits, but eventually through devastating acts of terror by a mysterious man wearing a long coat following her around, Ava moves to Blythewood. It’s not just any normal school, and once she passed the initial entry exam, it becomes evident that they teach more than just history and science here.

Blythewood is a school prepping students for battle against the darkness.

The story covers themes like what makes someone good and bad, the light and the dark. Is it what one was born as? Or can it be from the decisions and actions that they make? It was an interesting read, but it also wasn’t heart-poundingly urgent to finish. I took my slow, sweet time with it (and not because I was reading this as my on-vacation book).

One thing that I normally hate is a love triangle, but with Blythewood, I was okay with it. It was barely even there, but it took a long time for our favourite “angel” bad boy, Raven, to be introduced to Ava. So there was normal, human Nathan waiting on the sidelines for a potential love interest, but it’s not like anything really happened. There were just hints that there was interest there.

Then again, it’s not like anything in the romance department really occurred during the book, even with Raven. It was slow and not quite insta-love, although she was definitely intrigued by him. Well, hello, I’m sure anyone would be intrigued by some winged boy who saves you time and again. It doesn’t help that he always comes around without a shirt on either.

As for the total story, the romance wasn’t even the biggest part, for which I’m glad. The background and history into which Blythewood was founded on, and the mission that these girls set out to achieve was imaginative and draws you in.

And at the heart of it, there was always the question as to who that strange man was that showed up around Ava, bringing chaos and fear. I do believe Blythewood is a lovely story that somehow slipped past the majority of YA readers. With intrigue, great bounds of imagination and ties into its historical period, this is one book that kept me reading even though there were plenty of other fun things I could’ve been doing while on vacation.

Overall Recommendation:
Blythewood is one of those stories that you wonder why it never blew up into something huge. It contains everything that I enjoy. The mystery of Ava’s mother’s death and the strange man following her around. A boarding school full of secrets that centre around fantastical creatures set out to destroy humankind. And, of course, fun characters and a hint of romance that didn’t make me wanna roll my eyes and skip the pages. What more could anyone ask for? Goodman’s first book in this trilogy is a promising start to crazier antics and more secrets to unfold as we follow Ava into the heart of darkness.