Mon, January 19, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Review

Red Queen book cover

Red Queen book cover

Red Queen
By Victoria Aveyard
Publication date: Feb. 10, 2015
Orion, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

— Goodreads.com description

This dystopian/fantasy mix was a bit formulaic, but still quite enjoyable.

Things I enjoyed: Betrayal! I think it’s fun when you don’t know which characters to trust. And I liked how the book got me thinking about some ethical dilemmas — how far is too far? If it’ll help you stop the bad guys, is it okay to torture? To kill?

Interesting stuff.

I also liked the superpowers — very X-Men/Shatter Me.

But, some issues I had: It involves the type of love triangle that, as I wrote in my notes, “grosses you out and you hate but you also sorta get.” Know what I mean? Sigh.

I also didn’t love the book’s title — Red Queen. It misled me into assuming certain things would happen plot-wise, and I kept waiting and waiting, but no dice. And a few plot points (like quickie, too-good-to-be-true disguises) were too far-fetched.

Let’s put it this way: It’s totally readable…but if we were in the bookstore together, I would probably tell you you’re better off reading The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski if you’re in the mood for something like this. (Read my review)

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: dystopian, fantasy, victoria aveyard
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Wed, January 7, 2015

The Young Elites by Marie Lu Review

The Young Elites book cover

The Young Elites book cover

The Young Elites
By Marie Lu
Publication date: Oct. 7, 2014
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 355 pages
Source: Library

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

— Goodreads.com description

Whoaaa, this is not what I anticipated. The Young Elites was a hard read for me — in a good way.

It’s dark and twisty and unpleasant and as things unfold, you begin to realize the main character isn’t a hero…she might even be a villain. WHAT! Gah. It was so different and unexpected and difficult that for once I wasn’t sure I wanted the story to end well for the book’s main character. How often does that happen? Kudos to Marie Lu for mixing it up, you know?

Another cool part is the sisterly love — I appreciate it when a book shows a healthy sisterly relationship without being all like SISTERS SISTERS SISTERS.

But, on the downside, it’s not a romance. I know, not every book can be “OMG KISSING” but…it’s what I like. And I really need to stop reading into each and every little moment in a book, being all “Ooh, is romance going to sprout here?” So, blah. Don’t read this book if you’re in the mood for that.

Not a huge WOW for me, but totally readable and interesting. I’m glad I gave it a try. Is there hope and redemption for a murderer plagued by darkness? Oooh, I don’t know! Looks like a sequel is coming out sometime this year.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: fantasy, marie lu, sisters
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Sun, December 21, 2014

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay Review + Giveaway

Princess of Thorns book cover

Princess of Thorns book cover

Princess of Thorns
By Stacey Jay
Publication date: Dec. 9, 2014
Delacorte Press, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

— Goodreads.com description

I loved Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay. LOVED it.

It has so many Things I Like in Books:

– A character who dresses up in a gender-bending disguise
– It’s a fairy-tale retelling
– There’s a slow-burning romance that is so good this is what I wrote in my notes: “HOLY HECK FIVE ALARM FIRE”

HAHAHA I am such a nerd in my notes that I crack myself up when I go back to them later.

Anyhoo, if you’re like me and you like any and — even better — ALL of these things, you should definitely check this one out. And, lucky you, I can help you do that! Enter below to win a copy of your own. Good luck and happy reading!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted by: Anna   •   In: fairy tale, fantasy, romance, stacey jay
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Thu, November 6, 2014

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch Review

Snow Like Ashes book cover

Snow Like Ashes book cover

Snow Like Ashes
By Sara Raasch
Publication date: Oct. 14, 2014
Balzer + Bray, 422 pages
Source: Publisher

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

— Goodreads.com description

Fantasy fans, I’m so pumped to have yet another great book to recommend to you! I can’t get over how many awesome high fantasy YA novels we’ve been lucky to see in the past year.

Snow Like Ashes is a debut novel, a fantasy that — like most fantasies — gets off to a slow start. But, hey, we like our world-building. Once the setting is established, I could NOT put it down.

I knew I was in for a good read when the first page was a map. This is ALWAYS a good sign for me. Only complaint? It was too small in my Kindle version and shuffling pages in a Kindle is so hard, so when the kingdoms were confusing me, I couldn’t flip back to check it out.

There IS a love triangle, but it’s one of those no-brainer-who-to-pick ones that don’t really bother me. Besides, this book is so filled with GIRL POWER and a heroine who kicks butt that you hardly care about the romance.

Read it!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: fantasy, girl power, sara raasch
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Mon, November 3, 2014

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers Review

Mortal Heart book cover

Mortal Heartbook cover

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)
By Robin LaFevers
Publication date: Nov. 4, 2014
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 480 pages
Source: Borrowed from a generous friend (ILU!)

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

But across Brittany, the tides of war are drawing ever nearer, with France pressuring the beleaguered duchess from all sides. Annith’s search for answers threatens to rip open an intricate web of lies and deceit that sit at the heart of the convent she serves. Yet to expose them threatens the very fabric of her existence and risks an unforeseen chance at love, one that she can no longer deny. Annith must carefully pick a path and, gods willing, effect a miracle that will see her country—and her heart—to safety.

— Goodreads.com description

If the His Fair Assassins series was never-ending, I’d be quite happy. I truly can’t imagine ever getting enough of these books — they are THAT enjoyable.

Ismae, Sybella and Annith are all so different but I love the uniting factor that really makes their stories shine: All three girls are hella strong.

There’s cloaks! And horseback rides! And the making of camp! And while there is nothing I’d probably enjoy LESS in real life than being woodsy and wearing heavy, drapey clothes and not having a car…I can’t get enough of it in books.

Plus, romance and action and history and SURPRISES and all of my favorite things. I loved Annith just as much as I came to love the other two girls. Friends, put this series on your must-read lists. Trust me.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: fantasy, r.l. lafevers, romance
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