YA

Review: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Series: The Glittering Court #1

the glittering court -richelle meadBig and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…


 

4.5 Drink Me Potions


The Glittering Court is unlike any fantasy novel you may have read or expected. Reminiscent to the historical times of colonial settlements and explorations of the New World, this book takes that sentiment and re-makes it into a fantasy world with nobility and Wild West adventures.

Living in Osfrid, our protagonist was the descendant of one of the founders of this land, which is very much similar to the feel of 17th century Europe. Women were meant to be married for wealth and maintenance of bloodlines. It was a men-dominated world.

At the same time, different lands were at unrest, either fighting amongst themselves in a civil war or potentially looking for trouble with other countries. This is where the feel of a regular fantasy world was strongest, although I will say that the world building wasn’t the strongest. There also was no map of all these different places. Names like Lorandy, Myrokosi, Adoria and Sirminica. Like, where the heck are all of them? I was very surprised that the hardcopy book didn’t include a sketch of any kind anywhere. That was one big disappointment, considering this was the biggest point that drove home the genre feel of fantasy .

Ok, back to the protagonist. She was a countess. She had everything she could ever want, right? But her family only had a title and they were trying to secure the wealthiest marriage connection for her. I gotta admire her. The choice to take her servant’s identity to embark on some crazy adventure to the New World (aka Adoria which is like real-life America if you’re still comparing it to the 17th century) was admirable. She was pampered so far in life, but she was brave enough to become an invisible commoner to earn a different kind of place and life. The funny thing that I noticed was peculiar is that you don’t really know what her REAL name is until a lot later in the book, practically near the end. But as Adelaide, the identity she’d taken for this adventure, whatever her heart set out to do, she persevered and did it to her very best ability.

Beyond the different lands in this fantasy world, there was also a rift in people’s religious beliefs. Mead did the most building on this point. Those who believed in 6 glorious angels, and those that believed in all 12 angels, including the 6 wayward ones who had fallen from grace. Liken to heretics in their different beliefs, there was persecution in the land for those who followed such faith.

So that is the world of The Glittering Court. Not quite what you may have expected when hearing “FANTASY“, is it? Well, if all this unsettles you already, this may not be the book for you.

But if you’re still intrigued, keep reading ’cause this is why I gobbled the whole book (which is rather long considering the font is tiny) in one sitting.

The idea of the Glittering Court, a school and business that teaches young girls of common blood to become ladies and brides for the men living in the New world, is familiar to those seen in The Selection and The Jewel. However, this book wasn’t as petty as The Selection as it’s not like each girl is fighting for the same guy. This was truly a benefit from everyone, albeit with a profit for those running the business. And this plotline was conducted WAY better than The Jewel could ever manage (for which I do NOT have a very good opinion of). With this idea being so central, it goes to say that romance was a key element.

Adelaide tried to hide her identity and knowledge as a lady but of course, one guy knew. The one guy who had originally recruited the real Adelaide. Cedric Thorn. Son of the owners of the Glittering Court. University student and overall charming guy. Sweet enough to choose a Sirminican girl to fill a position in their business, considering Osfridians didn’t all look too kindly on these people. And with a smart wit that always had a comeback to Adelaide’s comments.

Let’s take a short moment there to pause and admire Cedric’s traits.

Okay, now as suggested, the witty conversations between Adelaide and Cedric were so amusing and sweet at the same time. They clearly were good friends, but there was also something brewing underneath that even Adelaide didn’t really look too deeply into until they had gotten to know each other more. No insta-love here, guys. The only thing I did wish was that there were moments for their blooming love.

The story doesn’t just revolve around romance though. There was action and adventure, taking on the New World and the dangers presented there. The plot moved from one place to another that it never bored me. Adelaide wasn’t as outstanding of a protagonist as Mead’s other girls, Sydney and Rose, but her voice and narrative never got tiring.

I gotta say, The Glittering Court may not be what you have expected, but it definitely surpassed whatever expectations I had. It helps if you don’t mind a little historical kind of touch to the plot line as it’s hard to not make the connections to our own and very real history in North America. Richelle Mead has a talent for writing stories that draw you in until you just wanna see where she takes us. I’m left with impatience for the next two books as she leaves us with hints of what may be the stories of Adelaide’s two friends. Apparently they will take place within the same time frame but in their perspective. Mead has left a lot of mysterious hints that occur with Mira and Tamsin, both very unique girls, in this first novel that Adelaide noticed. I cannot wait to see what else The Glittering Court was like in the eyes of another strong protagonist.

Overall Recommendation:
The Glittering Court isn’t the kind of fantasy you may have in mind. It has certain world building elements similar to most in the fantasy genre, but it also has huge historical touches throughout the storyline. Adelaide is another fun and easy to like protagonist, and her chemistry with Cedric through their witty and flirty banter was tangible. With a pacing that moves at just the right speed, we follow Adelaide’s brave journey from everything she’s ever known (and all the luxuries she’s used to) to explore the New World of Adoria and possibly find her true self there. I will say that this book may not be everyone, especially if you came in thinking this was some high fantasy or something. It’s not. So if that’s not for you, that’s okay. But at the end of the day, I respect Richelle Mead’s ability to weave another story that’s different from what we’re used to from her, but at the heart of it, still contains characters who come alive and draw us in to journey with them.

YA

Review: Now and For Never by Lesley Livingston

Series: Never #3

now and for never -lesley livingstonPast and present collide on the high seas when Clare and Allie hurtle back in time once more in a perilous attempt to retrieve Marcus Donatus—Allie’s blast-from-the-past crush—and put an end, once and for all, to the Time Monkey Shenanigans. But when Clare and Allie unexpectedly find themselves temporal stowaways on a Roman warship full of looted Celtic gold, sailing straight for the heart of a magic-fuelled maelstrom, there’s not much they can do but hang on for the ride—and hope Milo can tap into the Druid lore trapped in his genius brain to help bring them home, before it’s too late. The only thing that’s going to save Clarinet Reid and Allie McAllister now is if they join forces with old enemies, new loves … and unexpected friends.


2.5 Drink Me Potions


It’s been a long time since I’ve last read the other two books in the series. However, I feel that Lesley Livingston did a great job of kind of recapping the important parts of what had happened earlier. I wasn’t left feeling lost for long, and for that, I greatly appreciate it.

I really tried to enjoy the concluding installment to the Time Travelling Monkey Shenanigans Gang. But I found myself a little disappointed. Now, I’m a fan of Livingston’s, even have a personally autographed book from her, but her other series are more….serious. The mythology was more compelling and suspenseful in the way the plot slowly unwinded.

Clare and Allie are both very unique protagonists. You won’t find another personality quite like theirs. Allie is all fireball attitude, wears only black, references nerdy things like Star Wars and Star Trek ALL the time, and is quite good with the tech stuff. Meanwhile, Clare is the more serious of the two and not so great with the nerd lingo, but she dives head into crazy time travelling adventures to save people (and trying not to change the course of history).

This series is all fun and definitely more lighthearted out of Livingston’s collection of stories. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for that kind of the story so it was harder to enjoy the crazy hairball plans the two came up with to save Marcus from the past (where Every Never After left off).

What I can say that was positive is that Livingston did an amazing job trying to wrap up the loose ends after all the time travelling the two girls did in the previous 2 novels. No one wants to change history so….there goes the girls again for their last adventure to the past to make sure their reality doesn’t change after all their meddling. It was a little confusing at times as to what artifact had to be found where and when exactly so that, say, Clare could find it two millennia later.

I’d say that Now and for Never concludes the series well. It just wasn’t the kind of book I was looking for so that may have skewed with my rating. It’s definitely ideal for younger readers, possibly in their earlier teens. The lighthearted banter and nerdy lingo were great additions to the comical atmosphere.

Overall Recommendation:
Now and for Never concludes the Time Travelling Monkey Shenanigans that have been going on in the previous two novels of the series. Although I didn’t rate it too high, I still think it was a good way to wrap up the adventures that Clare and Ally had experienced back in the past, with appearances of both the Druids from Clare’s story and the Romans of Allie’s.

With the usual fun and lighthearted atmosphere, this book is perfect for those who enjoy some history (and meddling with it through time travel!), magic and nerdy references thrown in there. I recommend it for a light and funny read, so if you’re in one of those moods, this would be more enjoyable.

YA

Review: Lullaby by Amanda Hocking

Series: The Watersong Quartet #2

lullaby -amanda hockingDon’t miss the next chapter of Watersong, a bold new series that will enchant you, entrance you, and hold you captive under its spell
Now that Gemma Fisher has inherited Penn, Lexi, and Thea’s curse – and all the strange new powers that come along with it – she has no choice but to run away with them. Devastated that she has to leave everyone she loves behind, she’s still determined not to give in to the unspeakable hungers that plague her.
Unfortunately, they’re growing stronger every day, and she’s not sure how much longer she can resist.

Harper won’t give up on finding her sister Gemma, vowing to get her back no matter what the cost. The search draws her closer to too-gorgeous-for-his-own-good Daniel, and tests her fiercely guarded independence like never before. She’s always been the strong one who everyone else depends on…. Can she let herself depend on Daniel?
As Gemma and Harper plunge deeper into a magical world they barely understand, it becomes painfully clear that Gemma’s old life may be lost forever. But can she still hold on to her humanity?


2.5 Drink Me Potions


Lullaby picks up right where Wake left off. No, seriously. The cliffhanger from the previous book? It’s like an hour passed and that’s where this book starts. I’m starting to wonder how the timeline of this series is going to go. Wake was like only a few weeks at most, if not less. Boy, do relationships change fast. Is this series going to last the timeline of a few months before summer ends? At least, that’s the first thing my brain asked upon starting this book. But I digress.

Here is what I thought about this book…

The pacing
I wanted to scream in frustration at this book sometimes. Honestly. If this was a show instead of a book, this book would be considered a “filler episode”. Nothing much happened in Lullaby. Sure, Gemma is figuring out how to be a siren with her new “sisters”, who are rather creepy and very bee-yotchy. Harper, Daniel and Alex are frantically trying to find her. I swear though, this is how the first part of the story goes.

Gemma’s POV: at some location with the sirens, particularly Penn being an ass and taunting her to “feed” on some poor man soon

Switch to Harper & Alex’s POV: makes Facebook page/missing posters/calls the cops/worrying incessantly = pretty much most of their POV for like a good half of the book

Oh, and what’s worse? Daniel doesn’t pop up as much until later into the book because Harper’s avoiding him. I love that girl, but man, I wish their flirtation would take the next step already. She has got to see how much he cares for her and accepts her even when she’s in one of those cold-hot mood swings. Overall, there wasn’t a lot happening. At least, not as exciting with the level of pacing it was written in.

The sirens
My goodness, I wanted to punch Lexi sometimes. She’s so whiny and needy at the same time. It’s like she’s in some power play constantly, wanting to be Penn’s favourite but also wanting to have that kind of power for herself as well.

Penn is her usual bossy yet scary self. She doesn’t like to share her men, both as toys or as food, and she’s so manipulative of her sisters. Of all villains and mean girls out there in other stories, I think Penn wins the award for “Most Hated Character”. I got to give kudos to Hocking for making such a flawed and easily hateable villain.

Thea, I feel, has potential in being more than what her sisters seem like at the surface, which is self-centred, cunning, heartless men-eating monsters. To put it nicely. I feel there would be a lot more to her role in the sirens’ past….just not in this book. My biggest question left from here would be Why the heck would she let Penn boss her around like that when she’s the oldest sister?

Last thoughts
I wouldn’t say to let Lullaby deter you from reading the series. It does push the story along a little bit, and there were very cute romantic moments with Harper/Daniel and even Alex/Gemma. It was just slow and sometimes felt like Hocking didn’t know what to do to fill up this sequel with. I only kept reading at such a fast pace ’cause I desperately wanted to see something exciting happen. I guess I’ll be waiting for Tidal for that to happen.

Overall Recommendation:
Lullaby honestly feels like the middle book syndrome but magnified by 10. There weren’t a lot of things going on in this book. Not much of the mythology aspect progressed, most of the protagonists were just searching for Gemma and not doing anything else exciting, Gemma was preoccupied with her new siren abilities, yada yada yada. At most, this book’s goal was to slowly move the plot forward, but it barely did even that. There wasn’t much excitement to it, which was a disappointment considering Wake most definitely had that going for its intriguing plot. Hopefully this means that the series can only go up from here, and maybe some answers will finally be given. One can only hope.