Tag Archive | fantasy

Review: Lifeblood by Gena Showalter

Series: Everlife #2

9780373212194.inddMy Firstlife is over, but my Everlife is only now beginning.

With her last living breath, Tenley “Ten” Lockwood made her choice and picked her realm in the Everlife. Now, as the war between Troika and Myriad rages, she must face the consequences.

Because Ten possesses a rare supernatural ability to absorb and share light, the Powers That Be have the highest expectations for her future—and the enemy wants her neutralized. Fighting to save her Secondlife, she must learn about her realm from the ground up while launching her first mission: convincing a select group of humans to join her side before they die. No pressure, right?

But Ten’s competition is Killian, the boy she can’t forget—the one who gave up everything for her happiness. He has only one shot at redemption: beating Ten at a game she’s never even played. As their throw-downs heat up, so do their undeniable feelings, and soon, Ten will have to make another choice. Love…or victory.


3 Drink Me Potions


Lifeblood is a middle book that made me wish it was the first book. Filled with better world building – or should I say afterlife building? – and more kickass characters, this sequel was everything I wished book 1 contained.

Ten Lockwood, girl wonder that fits your mold of a special snowflake protagonist who’s invaluable to the central plot of the story, annoyed me less this time around. Which is a gigantic feat to accomplish. Her over-obsession with numbers and counting literally everything around her wasn’t overtly used, although that’s not say that it wasn’t still very much present in her life. However, I could say that she grew drastically as a character since last we saw of her. No longer is the indecisive girl who couldn’t choose between the 2 afterlife realms. This is a young woman with her whole being set on the Troikan values.

To keep this short and sweet, there weren’t many highlights aside from these things. I didn’t mind the info dump that occurred since Ten went to Troika as this was what I had wanted to know from the start . It was imaginative and well-described to the point that I felt I could navigate Troika myself. We get some info about the enemy realm, Myriad, and their history together too, so don’t you go worrying about lack of information there.

Both familiar characters and new ones play bigger roles here. The hot Troikan labourer, Deacon, and possibly your least favourite character, Sloan, are both still kicking, and even fallen characters who succumbed to Second Death aren’t necessarily gone for good (*hint hint*). We finally get a sense of the bigger picture now as Ten prepares to join in on this war between the realms. It’s finally pumping my blood a little at how this whole chaotic thing is gonna end.

I’m guessing Ten’s special powers have something to do with it. There’s minimal information about what exactly she can possibly do, but I suppose that’s why we have a book 3, right?

So world building and some minor character development helped with this rating as it took me forever to finish this book. What I still couldn’t really stand for was the romance . I mean, he’s hot and all and there’s apparently physical chemistry going on there, but for the life of me, I just am feeling nothing when it comes to Killian. He’s too textbook bad boy with a sad past that makes him a papercut-out copy of too many love interests for me to care. If you came here for the romance, I will say there’re plenty of little fun scenes where they do manage to get together, but if you just want everything else aside from it, no worries. You can totally skip those scenes as fast as possible without losing too much relevant information!

While the above states some of the more trivial things that I liked or not-so-much liked about Lifeblood, there was one thing that really got to me. I absolutely adored the underlying message in this book. To love even those that are hard to love or may not really deserve it. To forgive. To never give up on those who can be saved. These themes make this novel more than just your average book and for that I finished it.

Overall Recommendation:
Lifeblood was the kind of sequel that excelled beyond what the first book gave us. With plenty of war action between the realms and yes, even hot little romantic scenes, this book definitely had more of everything I was looking for. Both familiar and new characters will surprise you as the momentum builds for the conclusion. Although I wasn’t considered a fan of this series before, I think Lifeblood may have just convinced me to see it through.

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Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1

ash princess -laura sebastianTheodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


4 Drink Me Potions


**Ash Princess comes out April 24, 2018**

An ARC was provided by the publisher and Indigo Books & Music

My name is Theodosia Eirene Houzzarah, and like my mother and all my foremothers before her, I am a Fire Queen, with the blood of a god in my veins.


Ash Princess features a strong heroine who would not be broken by her captors while placing everything on the line for the people she aimed to serve. This was a story that embraced self-sacrifice, the bonds of friendship forged in the craziest of times, and courage. A totally feel-good kind of story where no matter the trials and sacrifices made along the way, the good people will triumph in the end (although that may occur later in the series).

As other reviewers have mentioned, this book wasn’t necessarily a happy story. Theodosia, otherwise known as Thora to her Kalovaxian captors, was subjected to much abuse. Whether it be the physical markings of a whip to her back or the threat of the ruler wanting her physical body, this story can get a bit much at times. Although I wouldn’t say it was as dark as some recent dark YA fantasies (see Rosamund Hodge or Kendare Blake), it’s still not a pleasant situation Theo’s in.

That aside, there’s plenty to love in this book. All your favourite fantasy tropes are here – whether that be a good thing or not. You’ve got your almost-love triangle (where I for once did not hate it at all), a sworn enemy that the protagonist is attracted to against her strongest will, an evil tyrant ruling their beloved kingdom, and a strong heroine who would do anything for her people. Yes, it sounds like any other YA fantasy story out there, even down to the religion and special abilities derived from the 4 elements of nature, but we read these things because we like them, right?

The romance was sweet. I’m a sucker for a forbidden match where you wonder “how can they possibly be together?” The other potential guy is an amazing match for Theo too, but I’m holding my judgment to see where that’s going.

Secondary characters make you want to believe in their cause. None are perfect. Their experiences have been tough, but these rebels who band around their queen – grudgingly or not – make the foundation of the story. Underlying all the self-growth and courageous themes that Theo had to go through, there’s the strong implication that she’d be nothing and nowhere if it wasn’t for those who were willing to step up, no matter their station and circumstances in life, and do their part for their futures. Including encouraging a queen who felt the weight of all her people on her shoulders.

“…that’s how water works. The river flows, pushing against a stone, even as it knows it won’t move it. It doesn’t have to. Enough currents go by, over enough time, and even the strongest stone gives in. It might take a lifetime or more, but water doesn’t give up.”


Of course, this book wouldn’t be complete without betrayal and an ending that makes you want to grab the next novel! For a debut novel, Laura Sebastian is definitely an author to look out for, especially if you love all these common YA fantasy tropes (and don’t mind the somewhat lack of originality).

Overall Recommendation:
Ash Princess has everything I love about YA fantasies. Featuring a heroine who grows into her own as she faces down an evil tyrant for her kingdom, this story is one of growth, courage, and trusting others. While many of the tropes found in this book are not anything you haven’t seen before in the YA genre, the lack of originality is made up by the real and lovable characters, even the semi love triangle that’s kind of going on. All in all, I would say you should give this debut novel a try as you may find yourself falling in love with these common tropes that really do fit so well together.

Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Series: Everlife #1

firstlife -gena showalterStep one…you die.

ONE CHOICE. TWO REALMS. NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live — after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, long-time enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t where the boy she’s falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…


2 Drink Me Potions


Firstlife had impressive ambition with its unique focus on the afterlife but all it really left me was a taste of mild interest.

What I do know and love about Gena Showalter is that there are always very intriguing (and hot!) guys in her stories. So it’s no surprise that the story starts off with two really good-looking guys fighting it out for Ten Lockwood.

While grappling and very sarcastic guys are totally my thing, lately it just hasn’t really hit the spot. And if I had to narrow down why this book just wasn’t doing much for me, I can probably point out 3 things.

1- Kieran, the main love interest, did not make me pity him at all. There was no “aww” factor or anything. Yes, his life sucked once. Does that excuse all his previous poor treatment of girls he was assigned to? No. Did I understand his attraction to Ten? Uh, if a girl doesn’t fall for your charm right away, yeah I guess she’s interesting but man, that romance really fell flat to me and I found myself grimacing half the time reading their interactions.

2- While you’d expect plenty of action occurring, it all boils down to one thing: Ten is trying to escape her tormentors and is on the run. Constantly. Because she cannot freaking decide where she wants to be after she dies. Like a pendulum, she swings back and forth constantly. Although from an outside perspective as a reader, it seems kinda obvious where she should go. So the whole point of the story dwindles to waiting for her to FIGURE IT OUT HERSELF.

3- There wasn’t enough storybuilding or character development left in here. The poor romance line took up so much time and space (of course, you gotta give many pages to Kieran’s attempts at sucking Ten in – and then when she does fall for him, many sappy heartsick moments there too). Ten barely changes over time, no matter how many dangerous situations she puts herself (and all the people around her) in. Honestly, I’m not a fan of hers at all.

So was this book redeemable in any way?

Yeah, sure, in some minute ways. That other hot guy fighting with Kieran? Archer Prince. Totally swoony in his own way. No, it was never a love triangle here ’cause he never tried to get Ten in that manner, but he’s the one redeemable character I liked reading about. Sacrificial in all that he did, taking all the crap Ten gave him when she couldn’t decide on anything, humble and all around amazing guy. If there’s a book on him, Gena, I will DEFINITELY buy it.

Honestly, the world building should’ve been prioritized more. I wanted to know more about Troika and Myriad. Their history. How they came to be. How it’s run. Yes, I get that it’s a trilogy but book 1 is there for us to learn the world a bit more. Otherwise the whole gist of this book wasn’t so much about the afterlife and more about Ten on the run while on Earth – which doesn’t really separate out much from the pack of thrillers who do a WAY better job.

I wonder what book 2 will be like.

Overall Recommendation:
Firstlife fell flatter than I had hoped with precious few moments dedicated to character growth and world building. While the focus was heavy on the romantic tensions between Ten and a certain Myriad Laborer trying to get her to his realm, the rest of the story just kinda fell off to the side. Constantly on the run with people attacking them, Ten and her group of friends don’t really have to do anything at the end of the day. This story felt like a filler waiting for Ten’s ultimate decision on her afterlife realm, with the only highlight being her friend Archer and the crumbs of information we get on what the afterlife is like. Will book 2 be any better? Heck, I sure hope so or else I may die of boredom next.