4 star, YA

Review: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

Series: Talon Saga #3

soldier -julie kagawaThe price of freedom is everything.

When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side.

As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rises.


4 Drink Me Potions


Soldier is everything its namesake calls for: action-packed, thrilling, sometimes ridiculously dangerous for our favourite band of rogues, but most importantly, features the past of one dear Garret Xavier Sebastian.

While the previous books focused heavily on dragons and rogue history, this one gave insight into how the Order of St. George – aka the dragonslayers – was run and more into Garret’s history with them. I normally think middle books are rather boring but Julie Kagawa has never really failed me yet when it comes to writing any exciting novel.

Betrayals, spontaneous escape plans and crazy quests for information to save the world continued to litter the pages of this book. And it wasn’t just in one location this time. While Riley and Ember were moving across the US, Garret’s off digging for information in the UK, headquarters of the Order. Globetrotting aside, let me just add that there were some Eastern influences here that made this story more diverse, although I kind of wish more could be expanded in that direction. I’m sorry for being vague but I don’t wanna be giving away too many tidbits!

But the true highlight of the plot was uncovering the juiciest bit of news: Talon may have some connections with St. George in the most unexpected place. To bring it to light and try to save the rogues (and the Order, of course)? Someone – ahem, namely a certain soldier ’cause who else is gonna do it – is going to have to risk everything to bring that info to the right people.

On the other end of the spectrum, romantic tensions are still ongoing. Ember and Riley’s dragon connection is finally given a name and definition. Does that bother me? Not at all. It’s becoming clearer to me that Garret is endgame, but I love Riley dearly and hope however it falls, he’s still got two good friends. Sorry Team Riley, but I think this may be less of a love triangle than you hope.

And as always, Kagawa ends off with an explosive finale that, compared to the other 2 books, spiraled into something that needs to be answered now! I certainly look forward to whatever may come next and hope my racing heart will be prepared for it.

Overall Recommendation:

As heart racing and spellbinding as the previous books in the series, Soldier definitely does not suffer from middle book syndrome. Diving into the heart of the Order of St. George, secrets come to light and lives are at risk as the band of rogues continue to fight for their freedom. With romance aplenty between Ember and the soldier or the rogue, this book ends on a bang that will leave you wanting to find out what happens next! I totally recommend you continue the series as it just never seems to disappoint!

4 star, YA

Review: Rogue by Julie Kagawa

Series: Talon Saga #2

rogue -julie kagawaFrom the limitless imagination of bestselling author Julie Kagawa comes the next fantastic adventure in the Talon Saga.

Deserter. Traitor. Rogue.

Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?


4 Drink Me Potions


Dragons in Vegas. That really depicts a stereotypical image of a dragon hoarding its mountain of treasure – namely in gold – in some hidden lair (once again, cue the movie image of Smaug from The Hobbit).

Rogue continues right where its predecessor Talon ends off. And what a cliffhanger that was too! The soldier Garrett’s in trouble for saving dragons Ember and Riley from certain death. And by trouble, I mean more of the fatal kind.

I think I enjoyed this book even more than book 1. While it’s still just as intriguing as we learn more about Riley’s past and how/why he left Talon, now that the world is more familiar and Ember’s officially on the run, the suspense level just skyrockets! Action-packed and fast-paced, Rogue delivers a solid next phase of the Talon series. Kagawa’s outdone herself!

Although this book is highly action oriented, there’s still plenty of room for growing relationships and character development. The romance is just as powerful between Ember and both guys. But now there’s definitely tension between Garret and Riley if they have to actually work together. I enjoyed seeing the trio dynamic as a team and as a growing friendship, but the individual duo relationships are just as well-drawn out.

Oh, and let’s not forget my favourite human, hacker Wes! I love his sardonic attitude – which I secretly believe is just his way of protecting himself from eventual emotional hurt when someone dies for their cause. He may not be as “essential” of a character, but he adds a nice sarcastic and hilarious touch to the otherwise more serious toned novel. Especially his banters with Riley.

I once heard that Julie Kagawa is a master of cliffhanger endings. If you thought that Talon ended on a somewhat dire note, this one ends on an emotional one (for me at least). What a way to say “until the next one”!

If you haven’t found yourselves reading any of the Talon books, I highly suggest you just give it a shot. Dragons, action, romance and realistic characters, there’s not much more that satisfies me.

Overall Recommendation:

Rogue delivers a satisfying continuation to the Talon series with more action, suspense and unveiling plot points as we dive deeper into the world of dragons and dragonslayers. While the love triangle element is still going strong, there is plenty of depth in the other relationships between this ragtag group of rogues. Get ready for another explosive ending that will Drive you straight into the hands of book 3! I highly recommend you do it.

4 star, adult

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Image result for the witch elm

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life: he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.



4 Drink Me Potions


‘I’ve always considered myself to be, basically, a lucky person.’

Going into this book, I had expected some sort of existential, philosophical discovery kind of journey, but that is really not what I got. Instead, it was a murder mystery sort of novel (my favourite!) with a large twist. In The Witch Elm, Toby is a well-rounded, generally deemed good person, who suffers a life-changing event and is seemingly never the same after. Struggling with his head injury, Toby rapidly finds himself in a state of constant confusion, with muddled memories adding to his paranoia.

Having escaped to the Ivy House for refuge with his dying uncle, things quickly turn around when a skull is discovered inside a large elm tree in the garden. Again Toby’s life is plunged into mystery, with detectives and police at every corner. Who around him can he trust, when he can’t even trust his own memories and character?

The Witch Elm follows the main protagonist, Toby, who starts off high and mighty (though not too haughty) but quickly falls to rock bottom. Even we ourselves as readers are not sure if we can trust Toby with his disjointed memories. This made for a very interesting read as usually a whodunnit novel doesn’t involve yourself as a prime suspect. Everyone appears suspicious, but we also can’t rule out ourselves as a possible suspect either, making this story an exciting journey from the beginning all the way to the dramatic climax and denouement.

I really enjoyed that this book explored a lot of aspects of identity and self-awareness. How much does who you are as a character really play into your actions? Also, how strongly do people judge your actions by how closely it matches your perceived character? There is a very interesting exploration of this whole reality versus perception of character and actions that is a motif found throughout the whole book.

The beginning did start off a little bit slow for me, and the lucky nature of Toby was a little bit irritating. But as I got to about half-way through the book, I actually found myself really entranced in the whole scenario, not unlike how Toby must have been feeling in the book himself. Each persona in the book was well thought out and developed in such a way that even though everyone’s character was clear as day, it was difficult to pin down any incriminating evidence. Just when you think that things are about to be resolved, things take another tumble and whirl around until the very final resolution. It was definitely an exciting roller coaster of a journey that was gripping all the way to the very end.

Overall Recommendation:
A haunting story of rediscovering yourself on the backdrop of a murder mystery. Toby is a classically lucky guy up until he slides right to the very bottom. The story follows him as he struggles to remember what might or might not have been, and who he can trust when a human skull is found in his garden. The Witch Elm is a gripping tale that explores how the perceived reality versus the actual truth might differ. What we discover about our true selves might sometimes be better left unknown. If you enjoy a thrilling murder mystery where literally everyone is a suspect, you will probably enjoy this book. If you like that idea with the addition of a self-(re)discovery journey layered on top, then I would definitely recommend this book.