Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen | Book Review

Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen | Book Review

Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen | Book ReviewReign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
Series: The Elementae #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on January 30th 2018
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 438
Format: Hardcover
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five-stars

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

Reign the Earth is such a richly spun tale full of amazingness that I am having trouble forming cohesive sentences about it, let alone write a full review. However, I decided that I am going to try because I want nothing more than to persuade you to read this book as well. I want to see this book on your shelves, your TBRs, and in your lives, period.

Why you need to read Reign the Earth

The main character, Shalia, is fiercely loyal and brave. She is such a selfless individual who, when faced with tough decisions, isn’t above doing everything in her powers to do the right thing. I loved getting to know her and seeing how she tackled the struggles that came her way (and believe me, there are plenty). Her story isn’t always easy to take. Especially her marriage with Callix and their relationship was very hard to read about. There is a very thin line that Shalia is walking and the smallest mishap could destroy all that she’d sacrificed.

The very best thing about Reign the Earth though is its setting and the variety of cultures. The worldbuilding was so well executed and an absolute joy to read about!

And if that isn’t enough, it all builds up to a finale that will give you feels aplenty! It’s devastating, it’s powerful, and it’s everything you want from such a powerhouse of a book.

Reign the Earth is a well-crafted and BEAUTIFUL book! If all things mentioned above won’t sway you to read it, then I have one last trick up my sleeve:  the cover alone is enough reason to pick Reign the Earth up. I am not above saying that if you occasionally fall prey to buying books for the cover, let Reign the Earth be one of them. I promise you that you will not regret it.

five-stars
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson | Book Review

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson | Book Review

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson | Book ReviewAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 300
Format: Hardcover
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four-half-stars

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Hello precious, and welcome to my top ten of favorite books this year! An Enchantment of Ravens was SUCH a beautiful book to read: gorgeous writing, wonderful characters, and a great plot. Honestly, I felt kinda desperate when I finished the book and realized it was a standalone novel because if there was more I would have jumped at the chance to dive into this world again.

If you’re a fan of fairy folklore, An Enchantment of Ravens is THE book for you. The story reminds me so much of traditional folklore and holds true to traditional aspects. At the same time, it is so incredibly unique and unlike anything I’ve read before. The various aspects of the story just work so well together; there’s humor, adventure, and lots of traveling. It’s wonderful!

The writing, guys… Margaret Rogerson is BORN to write. Her prose is so expertly crafted. It is creative and imaginative and I can’t wait to read more of her work. The world-building might have been a little on the underdeveloped side, but I found that I didn’t really care as much because the story was just so well-done.

One of my favorite (and main) aspects of the book is the whole concept of crafts; cooking, writing, painting, and so on. Isobel, our protagonist, paints for the faerie folk, who obsessively collect any crafts because they are unable to create any themselves. Then one day, out of the blue, a faerie prince shows up to have his portrait done and THE REST YOU’LL HAVE TO READ FOR YOURSELF. The whole concept is just so freaking awesome and well thought out.

You want to read An Enchantment of Ravens! It is such a gem to read and if you love faerie folklore or fantasy you won’t want to miss this. It is beautifully written and is so original you won’t want to stop reading until it’s finished -and then you’ll want more!

four-half-stars
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh | Book Review

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh | Book Review

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh | Book ReviewFlame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on May 16th 2017
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance
Pages: 393
Format: Hardcover
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three-half-stars

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Flame in the Mist was a very enjoyable read, albeit a bit confusing with a plot that was a bit all over the place. Before I start this review, I first need to get something off my chest… Because, honestly, calling it a Mulan retelling seems a bit of a stretch, as one of the few things the two tales have in common is that both protagonists grab a knife and cut off their hair in order to hide their feminity. This too doesn’t really hold, as the idea of genderbending isn’t really exclusive to Mulan… It has been used before by many other authors, one of the most prominent being Shakespeare in Twelfth Night (which is believed to be written in the early 1600s). That being said… I LOVE GENDERBENDING. I need more genderbending stories, so this book is a step in the right direction!

This review has been waiting to be written for such a long time, but somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to write it. My main problem is that I have such mixed feelings about Flame in the Mist. I enjoyed the story quite a bit and I know I want to read the sequel, but I’m just not blown away by the story and a part of me expected to be blown away by it.

The romance was good… but it wasn’t great. The thing is, though, it was a slow burn romance and I’m usually ALL over that. But I think my annoyance stemmed from the fact that the love interest was simply the only ‘available’ love interest in Flame in the Mist. That, and I didn’t feel like this story necessarily needed a love interest. I think instead of focusing on the romance the story should have focussed more on who tried to kill Mariko. That way the plot would have been a little less all over the place and kept some focus.

Another plot element that I wasn’t sure about was the fantastical part. More than anything, that part confused me. I realize that this can very easily be solved in the sequel, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was ‘just there,’ and none of it is explained. The end of the story was pretty damn awesome, but it felt rushed and as a result, it left me unsatisfied and I really didn’t know what to do with it all.

Flame in the Mist was enjoyable but confusing. The story was really interesting, but the plot was all over the place and it left me unsatisfied as a result. I need that sequel to find out what happens next and to explain the leftover vagueness its predecessor left! I guess what I am trying to say is: Flame in the Mist had some awesome bits and some unsatisfactory bits, but I am not giving up on the story!

 

three-half-stars
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine | Book Review

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine | Book Review

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine | Book ReviewThe Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on February 16th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance
Pages: 387
Format: Hardcover
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four-stars

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m all for fairytale retellings, and The Shadow Queen was all that a fairytale should be! A fantasy story with magic and dragons. You can sign me up for that anytime.

I think what I loved most about The Shadow Queen was that while it was gory and hard at times it also had that classic fairytale feeling to it. Like most fairytales, the story was brutal and choices were made that had to be made. There were plenty of plot twists and turns that I didn’t see coming (and frankly… I’m quite good at figuring out plot twists before they happen).

The protagonist, Lorelei, is calculated and kickass. I like how she’s a planner and has carefully got herself to a point of challenging the antagonist. Together with her brother Leo and Gabriel, who sort of became a father figure to them, they form a great team and have a great dynamic going. Trow a recently crowned king and his entourage into the mix and you got what I deem a recipe for a solid story. Kol is a Draconia, which means he can shapeshift into a dragon (COOL!) and he meets Lorelei early on without knowing who she is which causes plenty of problems for the both of them later on.

Although it is quite obvious early on who is going to end up with whom, I love that there was no instalove to be found. They slowly get to know each other (and themselves) and their relationship slowly blooms into something more. The fact that they’re both trying to save their respective kingdoms give them that something important in common that is the beginning of so much awesomeness.

Even more awesome is the fact that the antagonist isn’t just a villain for the sake of needing a villain in the story. Irina actually has a lot of depth and I enjoyed the chapters from her perspective as they provided an insight behind her motivations. She’s very well-written and a part of me actually felt for her as her past was filled with pain. Her narrative was confusing, but this only added to the whole vibe she had going on.

The Shadow Queen might not be the most impressive fairytale retelling, but it was a VERY enjoyable read and a solid read. In fact, I love how Lorelei and Kol’s story got resolved within this story. It was a fun book, with tons of great fantasy elements and very enjoyable characters! If you, like me, love fairytale retellings I suggest you give this one a go.

four-stars
Roar by Cora Carmack | Everything and More

Roar by Cora Carmack | Everything and More

Roar by Cora Carmack | Everything and MoreRoar by Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1
Published by Tor Teen on June 13th 2017
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 380
Format: Hardcover
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five-stars

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

I’ve read some of Cora Carmack’s previous work, which mainly consists of swoon-worthy New Adult books. As this is her first Young Adult novel, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Roar, except that the premise sounded amazing. After finishing that very first chapter I knew it was going to be good, and the story did not disappoint for one single second. From that first chapter and onwards I was hooked. Roar blew me away!

The plot is complex, layered, and really well done. When I thought I’d finally figured something out, new parts were exposed that were a whole new mystery. The slow reveal allows for lots of anticipation suspense. I love how I had to crack my brain to see if I could find out what was going to happen next during the entirety of the story. There was a lot of action as well that made it really well paced and left me unable to stop reading.

The world Carmack portrays is rich and unique. This fantasy realm is unlike anything that I’ve ever read before. There are so many details and so many new lands to discover, I was enthralled by it all! The premise of a few lineages being able to control storms, and those storms having a “heart” was so incredibly intriguing. There is so much to this world Cora Carmack created and I just want more and more and more (can I please have more soon). The idea that I have to wait for more makes me want to sob.

The protagonist of the story is smart and determined and oh so awesome. She’s struggling to find out who she is and what part to play in her world. She develops a lot throughout the story and even at the end you know she’s going to continue growing and become even more of a badass. I love how she fights for what she wants and believes in. Her determination and her spirit make her character very likable.

All you fantasy lovers out there, rejoice! Roar is everything you need in a book and more. This book has jumped right to first place as my favorite book of the year. This is a must read and if it isn’t on your TBR yet I wholly recommend adding it. You will not regret it!

five-stars