Tag Archives: fantasy

Black Bird of the Gallows

Black Bird of the Gallows Book Cover Black Bird of the Gallows
Meg Kassel
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled Teen
September 5, 2017
300

Her love breaks his curse. But his love spells her death. A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full. Angie Dovage can tell the mysterious new boy next door is more than he appears, but she can't imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. But when a grotesque, otherworldly man tries to attack her and Reece comes to her rescue, everything changes. Any minute, chaos could rain down on her town, on her family, on everyone she cares about. But that's only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

 

Review:

“Black Bird of the Gallows” was not a bad book, but it wasn’t for me.  I liked the backstory and the magical realism, but there seemed to be something missing in the actual execution.  I didn’t like the main character, so that was definitely part of the problem.  I can neither recommend nor not recommend it, so I suggest that if it looks good to you to give it a shot.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Animal Death

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Book Cover Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Melissa Bashardoust
Young Adult Fiction
Flatiron Books
September 5, 2017
384

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother. Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known...or else defeat her once and for all. Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story. “In Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Melissa Bashardoust has given us exquisite displays of magic, complex mother-daughter relationships, and gloriously powerful women triumphing in a world that does not want them to be powerful. A gorgeous, feminist fairy tale.” —Traci Chee, New York Times bestselling author of The Reader “Melissa Bashardoust's debut novel is everything a fairy tale should be.” —Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane “Dark, fantastical, hauntingly evocative.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 

Review:

“Girls Made of Snow and Glass” is a unique and imaginative retelling of “Snow White.”  Both of the main characters were complex and there was quite a bit of heartbreak while I was reading it over the circumstances of the infamous stepmother.  Add to it the lgbtq diversity and you get a solid and original read.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows Book Cover Mask of Shadows
Linsey Miller
Young Adult Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
September 1, 2017
384

Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action. Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home. When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

 

Review:

“Mask of Shadows” is another diverse book in the young adult category, and I am thrilled to see more representation.  Sal, the main character, is gender fluid.  Unfortunately, the book seemed to drag in quite a few places.  The plot is good.  It is the execution I found lacking.  That being said, it will still appeal to many readers and there is a lot of promise that the next book in the series will improve. I have my fingers crossed.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Omega (Infinity Division, Book 2)

Omega Book Cover Omega
Infinity Division, Book 2
Jus Accardo
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled Teen
August 1, 2017
Paperback
320

One mistake can change everything. Ashlyn Calvert finds that out the hard way when a bad decision leads to the death of her best friend, Noah Anderson.

Only Noah isn’t really gone. Thanks to his parents’ company, the Infinity Division, there is a version of him skipping from one dimension to another, set on revenge for the death of his sister, Kori. When a chance encounter brings him face-to-face with Ash, he’s determined to resist the magnetic pull he’s felt for her time and time again. Because falling for Ash puts his mission in danger.

But there’s more going on in Ash’s alternate universe than either of them knows: a mysterious project called Omega. A conspiracy spanning multiple Earths and revolving around none other than Ash. Its creators would do anything to keep Omega secret…

Anything.

 

Review:

“Omega” is a fun follow-up to “Infinity.”  It expands nicely upon the science fiction aspect and adds more depth to the original characters.  It also introduced new characters and points-of-view that were entertaining and expanded the universe a great deal.  If you enjoyed “Infinity”,  then you are most likely going to love “Omega.”

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

No Good Deed

No Good Deed Book Cover No Good Deed
Kara Connolly
Young Adult Fiction
Delacorte Press
2017
352

"Ellie is USA's best shot at Olympic gold in archery, but one wrong turn in Nottingham on her day off from the trials and she's somehow been transported back to the Middle Ages. Amidst an evil sheriff who wants to lock her up, a knight who might not be who he says he is, and an assassination plot, she must not only find her way back to the present, but fight to survive and not change history"--

 

Review:

“No Good Deed” is a fairy-tale/legend retelling that served as a good palate cleanser for me in the middle of quite a few heavier reads.  The plot is fast-paced and the characters are just the right amount of snarky and developed for a light read.  The content is mild, and the writing easy enough to read, that even the youngest of the ya group should find it enjoyable.  Recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Very Mild Sexual Content, Violence

Garden of Thorns

GARDEN OF THORNS Book Cover GARDEN OF THORNS
Amber Mitchell
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled Publishing
February 27, 2017
370

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden--a burlesque troupe of slave girls--sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn't one of the emperor's men--not anymore. He's the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it. Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose's attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her ashis hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal--if he helps her rescue the other girls, she'll tell him all the Garden's secrets. Except the one secret she's kept for seven years that she'll to take to her grave if she must.

 

Review:

I loved “Garden of Thorns.”  It features a heroine who kicks butt and an intense political uprising.

The premise has two characters and stories that come together for mutual benefit.  Rose was kidnapped as a young child to serve in a burlesque troop made up of underaged slaves.  Rayce is leading an uprising against a tyrant.  There is romance, but it is sweet and simmering, and not at all graphic.  The main plot is focused on the action. Those with weak stomachs beware, the violence is brutal and graphic.

I recommend “Garden of Thorns” for anyone looking for a young adult novel with a strong heroine and a quick-paced plot.  I hope there’s a sequel!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Graphic Violence, Child Abuse

 

True North (True Born, Book 2)

True North Book Cover True North
True Born, Book 2
L.E. Sterling
Juvenile Fiction
Entangled: Teen
April 4, 2017
Hardcover
400

Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there's been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters' blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

 

Review:

“True North” is the second book in the “True Born” trilogy.  I found it to be much more fun and less confusing than the first.

Part of the reason it is more fun is that I have accepted the somewhat ridiculous premise and beyond sketchy science and just decided to go along for the ride.  There is a new character, Alistair, who is intriguing and has me anxious for the next book to learn more.  The romance is also ramped up quite a bit for those who were waiting for that.

If you enjoyed “True Born,” you will love “True North.”

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, Book 1)

Gilded Cage Book Cover Gilded Cage
Dark Gifts, Book 1
Vic James
Del Rey Books
February 14, 2017
368

For readers of Victoria Aveyard and Kiera Cass comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule--and commoners are doomed to serve. NOT ALL ARE FREE. NOT ALL ARE EQUAL. NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED. Our world belongs to the Equals--aristocrats with magical gifts--and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. A girl thirsts for love and knowledge. Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty--but will her heart pay the price? A boy dreams of revolution. Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts. He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate--or destroy?

 

Review:

“Gilded Cage” is a good take on a dystopian world mixed with fantasy elements.

The story is well-thought out with multiple points of view effectively used to both advance the story and tell it from different segments of the society.  The world-building is excellent.  All of the characters are complex and leave some mystery to them to be explored in the next book.  There are definitely some parallels to the current political climate throughout the book to be found.

I recommend “Gilded Cage” to lovers of dystopian books mixed with some magical elements.  It’s a quick and relatively clean read that is thought-provoking and fun.  I’m looking forward to the next book.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn Book Cover The Inconceivable Life of Quinn
Marianna Baer
Harry N. Abrams
April 4, 2017
384

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin? "

 

Review:

I normally hate giving two star reviews, but almost everything about “The Inconceivable Life of Quinn” rubbed me the wrong way.

The main problem for me was Quinn herself.  I didn’t find her at all likable. Instead she was irritating and kind of full of herself.  Her father made me want to punch things.  The plot wore thin about 75 pages before the book ended and it was an unsatisfying conclusion.

I appreciate the hard work the author put into this, and wish her luck in her future writing, but I just can’t recommend this one.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Discussions of Rape, Underage Alcohol Use

Blood Rose Rebellion

Blood Rose Rebellion Book Cover Blood Rose Rebellion
Blood Rose Rebellion, Book 1
Rosalyn Eves
Young Adult Fiction
Knopf Books for Young Readers
March 28, 2017
416

In this first book in a fantasy trilogy, social prestige is derived from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic. However, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place. Sent from England to her family's once powerful but now oppressed native Hungary, Anna Arden finds herself in the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani. She must choose to either deny her unique power and cling to the life she's always wanted, or embrace her gift, spark a rebellion, and change the world forever.

 

Review:

I’m going to keep the main review of “Blood Rose Rebellion” short, because there are some other issues I’ve seen mentioned that I feel it’s important to give my opinions on.

This book has complex world-building, a fun romance, and quite a bit of action.  It’s an enjoyable read for those who like historical fantasy.  The characters are developed to a certain degree, with some mystery being left for the next book in the series.  If you like those things, this book is worth a read.

Now for the heavy stuff.  I’ve seen some complaints about there being racism in the book.  Some people have not finished it.  Yes, the word gypsy is used quite a bit.  That’s because the story is set in mid-1800s Hungary.  As the main character gets to know them, her opinions change and that is reflected in her attitude.  In fact, the author introduces the term Romani at that point, even though historically it wasn’t in use at the time.  There’s an entire section at the end written by the author about the treatment of the Romani during the time, along with a bibliography for more information.

What I’m saying is please don’t let accusations of racism scare you away from “Blood Rose Rebellion.”  Ignoring the harsh realities of history is a disservice to everyone, and I applaud the author for being brave enough to tackle it.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Racist Speech and Actions