Monday, February 27, 2017 15:26

Review | Audrey Coulthurst - Of Fire and Stars.

25164304TitleOf Fire and Stars.
Author:  Audrey Coulthurst.
Pages:  400.
Published: Published November 22nd 2016 by Balzer + Bray.
Source: Edelweiss and publisher, thanks!
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden. Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more. But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Rating:


Dennaleia has been betrothed to prince of Mynaria, Thandilimon, ever since childhood. Her marriage will seal an alliance they need as protection from hostile lands, like Zumordan. The only thing that will make this marriage a little hard is the fact Denna has an Affinity for Fire - and she is going to be queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden. Oh, and not to forget the fact she falls in love with Thandi's sister Amaranthine, called Mare.

This book probably has the most ridiculous names I've ever seen. They are so freaking long! I kept using the short versions (Denna, Mara and Thandi), because good luck with their true names. I understand the need to come up with original names, but after a while they all started to sound like gibberish in my head.    

Thandi is the crown prince, future king and husband of Denna, but I feel like he hardly had any role in the story. He sometimes pops up to say a few words, before he disappears again. The story definitely focuses more on Denna and Mare. I get it, because the two of them fall in love, so they need more time together, but I don't think this was the right choice.

BUT, I definitely love the fact that two princesses fall in love with each other - and since the author decided to give Thandi hardly any role, there is no love-triangle. (Although we must not forget that Denna is practically cheating on Thandi, since they are officially betrothed) Denna doesn't even seem to give him a chance and spends all her time with Mare. They were sweet together, but also incredibly stupid. Let's just say that they are not the best in keeping their feelings/sort-of-relationship a secret from the outside world.

I think the author was trying to make Mare look like this rebellious, kick-ass girl, but instead she came across as childish and unnecessarily rude.
I can't believe that someone who is 18 would ever act in such a way, especially a princess. I also don't believe for one second that the king wouldn't have given her away in marriage already. Denna is practically betrothed from the moment she was born, so why would Mare be any special? Until the moment where the two of them say they love each other, then suddenly the king decided he wants to ship Mare off. What a coincidence! Let's throw this in for some more drama.

Oh right, not to forget that there is also something going on to give the love story some plot. There are several assassin attempts, and one of them kills possibly the only character I absolutely loved, and Mare/Denna team up to find out who is behind it. For some reason, the king and his council decide that it has to be the Zumordan, without any prove, and they will not listen to reason. Very mature.

There are also some hints to magic. Denna is struggling with her powers, because her mother always forced her to keep it a secret. This leads to random outbursts and the discovery she doesn't only control fire. I liked this aspect, but it could have been explored more properly. I felt it got pushed away to make way for the romance and that is a shame.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 06:00

Review | Erika Johansen - The Fate of the Tearling.

26542535Title: The Fate of the Tearling.
#3 of The Queen of the Tearling.
Author:  Erika Johansen.
Pages: 478 pages
Published: November 29th 2016 by Harper
Source: I received an ARC copy from the bookstore Van Ditmar.
In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.
And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies - chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them. To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable - naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne. So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea - and the Tearling itself - will be revealed...

Rating:

SPOILER FREE if you haven't read the first two books either.

This series has a lot of ups and downs. The Queen of the Tearling blew me away. I was confused by the world-building, but I fell in love with Kelsea and the side-characters, like the Mace. There was something about her actions and the way it moved the plot into interesting directions that got me hooked.

The Invasion of the Tearling was SO different and it took me a good amount of time to get into it. Kelsea showed an even darker side and I appreciated the fact she was so flawed. We got more information about the Red Queen, who rules in Mortnesme, and how she became that ruthless person. The only thing I did not like was the new storyline that was added, because it really did not seem to fit the atmosphere of the first book. I always thought this story took place in a more Medieval setting and this new character made me realize that was not the case at all.

That storyline continues in The Fate of the Tearling and starts to play a bigger role. It shows the basics of the world-building and how Kelsea's world was created. The background information was interesting, but at the same time I didn't care for the characters who played a role in it. I kept flipping the pages in the hope the story would switch back to Kelsea. It was an interesting (and in the end brave) decision to create such a plot though. 

Kelsea has a long journey, coming from the girl who grew up in the Woods into a Queen who is capable of handling tough situations. I still admired her and the way she deals with everything that got in her way. I don't think she always made the best decisions, but she always made them with her country in mind and that loyalty is admirable. 

The ending was something I did not expect and took me off guard – and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. It matches the new approach the story took in the Invasion of the Tearling, but at the same time it did not give me enough satisfaction. This is probably one of those endings you can never completely hate or dislike, it just messes with your thoughts.

I liked the overall series, but I have to say that the sequels did let me down after The Queen of the Tearling. This might because of my different expectations or the fact I did not like the world-building in the end. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on the movie and any further books from this author, because she does know how to write.
quote review
These people are so damned proud of their hatred! Hatred is easy, and lazy to boot. It’s love that demands effort, love that exacts a price from each of us. Love costs; this is its value.
Monday, February 20, 2017 06:00

Love-A-Thon 2017 | Wrap Up + Giveaway.

loveathon2017-c[428]We’ve sadly reached the end of the event! Be sure to stop by all four host blogs (Alexa Loves Books, The Novel Hermit, Super Space Chick & The Daily Prophecy) to read a little bit about our thoughts on the event, and our acknowledgements for the people who have so generously donated and enthusiastically participated.

I had a fantastic time this year and I am so happy I could host this event together with my co-hosts. They had so much creativity and it reminds me why I'm still trying to return from my blogging slump. You have no idea how motivating it was to see all these sweet messages going around the blogosphere! And I had a blast hosting one of the four twitter chats, because I got to chat with so many new bloggers. Keep this going after the love-a-thon!

Also a big thanks to the people who were so generous to donate the books for the awesome prize packs: Tor Teen, Disney-Hyperion, the NOVL, and Alex from Booksy Daisy Reviews.

Prize Pack #1
prize pack consists of:
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
High Stakes edited by George R.R. Martin
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Shades of Magic series book hugger
NOVL water bottle + tote bag
Tor Teen, The Dark Talent + Amberlough pins
Game of Shadows tattoo
Game of Shadows postcard
Arabella of Mars paper doll
Becoming Bonnie newspaper
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan
I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (ARC)
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (ARC)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Shannon + Dean Hale (ARC)
Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (ARC)

Prize Pack #2
prize pack consists of:
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
High Stakes edited by George R.R. Martin
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Shades of Magic series book hugger
NOVL water bottle + tote bag
Tor Teen, The Dark Talent + Amberlough pins
Game of Shadows tattoo
Game of Shadows postcard
Arabella of Mars paper doll
Becoming Bonnie newspaper
The Nerdy + The Dirty by B.T. Gottfred
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Updraft by Fran Wilde
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Gauntlet by Holly Jennings (ARC)
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (ARC)
At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson (ARC)

Prize Pack #3
prize pack consists of:
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
High Stakes edited by George R.R. Martin
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly 
Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly
Shades of Magic series book hugger
NOVL water bottle + tote bag
Tor Teen, The Dark Talent + Amberlough pins
Game of Shadows tattoo
Game of Shadows postcard
Arabella of Mars paper doll
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
The Infinity of You and Me by J.Q. Coyle
Spindle by E.K. Johnston
Dreamworld by Kit Alloway
Replica by Lauren Oliver
Romeo and What's Her Name by Shani Petroff (ARC)
The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu (ARC)
Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman (ARC)



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Sunday, February 19, 2017 21:00

Love-A-Thon 2017 | Let Me Sing You a Love Song.

loveathon2017-c[428]Now’s the time to let your musical tastes shine! Dedicate a love song (or two or three) to your favorite book characters, and tell us why. Get as creative as you want, whether you decide to film a video, share a playlist or write out some lyrics and snap a photo. Link up at Alexa Loves Books.

Because of this post I've found out that I don't listen to romantic songs at all. Most of them are more about lost loves and broken hearts, but I guess that's also right for some of my sunken ships. Here are the three combinations I came up with:


John Legend – All of Me.
Beast – Dark Triumph (Robin LaFevers). He is described as incredibly ugly and huge, but his heart is so pure and sweet – it would sweep me right of my feet.

Jesper Lindell feat First Aid Kit – Slow down.
Shadow and Bone.

Mumford and Sons – I Gave You All.
Throne of Glass.
16:00

Love-A-Thon 2017 | Valentines Care Package.

loveathon2017-c[428]
Is there anything more exciting than receiving a surprise care package from one of your best book buddies? Didn’t think so! If you had the opportunity to surprise one or more of your favorite characters with a care package for Valentine’s Day, what would you be sure to include? Have fun virtually shopping for the character(s) you love and let us know via photos, collages, etc., what you would love to send them! Link up at Super Space Chick

I would send Sybella (Dark Triumph – Robin LaFevers) a new knife for her collection. And to stay in this theme, I would give Lila (A Darker Shade of Magic) a perfect pirate blade.
Nina (Six of Crows) gets a box of chocolate.
Copies of some of my favorite books go to Hermione (Harry Potter)
I want to give Chaol (Throne of glass) a big hug, because he is such a misunderstood character.
Cress (Lunar Chronicles) gets a set of hair products and a fancy hair brush.

Some random ideas:
Alina gets some sense, so she is able to make the right choice at the end of Ruin and Rising.
I would ship an indestructable tank packed with ammunition to Georgia and Shaun (Feed)
12:00

Love-A-Thon 2017 | X meets Y.

loveathon2017-c[428]Mix and match away! This challenge is made for you to combine the books and movies/tv shows that you love in some way, in order for other people to find new recommendations for things to check out. Whether inspired by characters or themes, we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

New Girl / Fangirl.
Reason: Cath and Jess are both a little awkward and they have great support around them.
downloadNew_girl_season_4_2
The Walking Dead / The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Reason: The zombies in the book are just as ruthless as the ones in The Walking Dead.

download (1)images

PRIZE PACK (US):
Passenger Disney-Hyperion
Vassa in the Night Tor Teen
Love and First Sight Little, Brown & Company
Unforgiveable Harper Collins
Tor Teen pin Tor Teen
The Dark Talent pin Tor Teen
Amberlough pin Tor Teen

PRIZE PACK (INTL):
Passenger Disney-Hyperion
Truthwitch Tor Teen
To Catch a Killer ARC Tor Teen
The Great Pursuit ARC Harper Collins
Metaltown tattoo Tor Teen
Tor sticker Tor Teen
Arabella of Mars paper dolls Tor Teen
Becoming Bonnie newspapers Tor Teen


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