ARC Review: Children of Icarus

ARC Review: Children of Icarus

Author: Caighlan Smith

Release Date: August 1, 2016

Pages: 313

Rating/Grade: B

 

Synopsis

It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.”

Characters

Clara –  Clara is a daredevil. She has always wanted to go into the labyrinth and become an Icarii.  It is part of who she has always wanted to be.

Narrator – She is nameless. She is quiet. She is nothing like Clara who is her best friend. However, when she makes into the labyrinth and survives her first day. She takes on Clara’s name unintentionally.

Elle – I feel so bad for her. She is broken and the labyrinth has done terrible things to her. It has taken from her, and because of this she is not who she was when she came into the labyrinth.

Collin – The actual Clara’s older brother. He is a the leader of a group within the labyrinth. The Labyrinth has changed him as well, he has become heartless and cruel. He is willing to punish people in the group in the worst of ways.

Review

Children of Icarus was a refreshing dystopian YA novel.  While the YA dystopian genre is definitely not a new thing, the concept of this book was definitely different than any other dystopian novel that I’ve read. One of the things that I think this book does well is it addresses the fact that a lot of the characters are really screwed up due to this dystopian world, which I’ve found isn’t necessarily true of other dystopian YA novels.

However, the fact that the narrator of the book never has a name drove me nuts. Even after I realized why Smith doesn’t give her name, it still bugged the crap out of me. It was especially frustrating because the story is told completely through her eyes, so there was very little actual dialogue. I read an ARC, so I would be really interested to see the print version of the book to see if it is drastically different.

Reason For Rating

Like I said, this book is like no other dystopian YA novel I’ve read, which was super refreshing. It was also fast-paced and pulled me in immediately. These things are probably what salvaged its rating. My annoyance with the main character not having a name and everything being filtered through her is what brought it down. While I understand why Caighlan Smith did the things she did in regards to the main character it, unfortunately, doesn’t make it any less annoying to read. I give Children of Icarus a B, but if you think you can get past the fact that the main character doesn’t have a name throughout the entire book, and just enjoy the story for what it is then I would definitely recommend it.

B Rating

Happy Reading!

Erin

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Book Review: The Rose and the Dagger

 

Book Review: The Rose and the Dagger

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Release Date: April 26, 2016

Pages: 416

Rating/Grade: B+

 

 

Synopsis

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Characters

Shahrzad –  Shazi starts the book in the Badawi camp that Tariq was in at the end of The Wrath and the Dawn. If I thought Shazi was a sassy badass in the first book, man, her true colors, sassiness, and badassery really shine through in this book. It takes a while for those things to come out, but eventually they do, and they come in full force.

Khalid – Khalid is weak and seems very lost, especially at the beginning of The Rose and the Dagger. It seems as though he is trying to figure out who he is, or at least who he wants to be, now that Shazi is gone.

Tariq – Tariq simply doesn’t know what to do anymore. He has gotten himself into a situation in which he is in over his head. He enacted this plan of saving Shazi with emotion rather than thinking it through,and it is in The Rose and the Dagger he must now deal with the fallout. Tariq grows up a lot in this book. He faces feelings and circumstances that doesn’t want to face and he learns to work with someone he doesn’t necessarily like.

Irsa – Irsa’s role in this book grows immensely compared to what we saw of her in The Wrath and the Dawn. We spend a lot of time with Irsa as she is learning who to be without Shazi. It’s a lot of fun to watch her become her own person. Irsa then becomes Shazi’s right hand woman, in a sense. The two of them really grow to be best friends in this book.

Review

The Rose and the Dagger seemed to start a lot slower than The Wrath and the Dawn did, so I had a hard time really getting into it. I was excited about it and knew I wasn’t going to DNF it, but it wasn’t one of those books that I wanted to spend all my time with, at least for the first 100 pages or so. Then, all of sudden, the story got super intense, the action kicked in, the romance became super passionate.

There were also some great quotes later in the book. Irsa gets sassy when she meets and talks with Khalid. “Really? Irsa blinked, astounded.”Goodness, but you’re odd? Has anyone ever told you that?” I love it. Irsa is this meek, quiet character at the beginning of the book, but by the time Khalid shows up in the encampment, she is this little firecracker talking back to the caliph of Khorasan. It is also a testament to Khalid’s growth in the story that he is does not fire back at her in anger.

There is also a really beautiful line between Rahim, Tariq’s servant and friend, and Rahim’s love interest where Rahim says, “Because when I kiss you, I want yours to be the first. . . and last lips I ever kiss.” I just swooned when he said this. Lines like this are the reason we readers have book boyfriends, and often like characters in books better than real people.

The last 150 pages of The Rose and the Dagger were some of the most fast-paced pages I have read this summer. They were also full of so much emotion that I cried multiple times. Renee Ahdieh did a beautiful job wrapping up this story. I wasn’t left wanting more or feeling as though something was missing. It was beautifully ended.

keep reading

Reason For Rating
So, The Rose and the Dagger is getting a B+ simply because the beginning was hard to get into. The last two-thirds of the book drastically made up for that, which is why it isn’t getting a B or a C. And it was so beautifully ended that I was more than pleased with the book overall.

I’d love to hear what you thought of The Rose and the Dagger, if you’ve read it.

Happy Reading!

Erin

ARC Review: Crystal Crowned

ARC Review: Crystal Crowned

Author: Elise Kova

Release Date: July 12, 2016

Pages: 305

Rating/Grade: A

Synopsis

Long live Solaris.

One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

Characters

Vhalla – At the beginning, Vhalla seems so lost. Due to the fact that Victor basically siphoned her powers from her, she has to learn how to be a commoner again. Since she is surrounded by sorcerers this is particularly hard for her to do. After learning how to be a commoner again, she is probably stronger and feels more convicted than ever about what needs to be done in order to save the empire.

Aldrik – Speaking of feeling convicted, Aldrik, who is now Emperor due to Victor’s rampage, has truly taken on the role of a leader. He no longer hides behind the black of the Tower. He truly feels like the leader of an empire.  He takes on all of the good qualities of the role, despite the fact that he knows he is flawed.

Jax – He is his typical, jovial, sarcastic self, and I love his character more than ever. He has vowed to be Vhalla’s personal protector as his last promise to Baldair. I love Jax’s character more than ever because we finally find out his backstory and why he is tied to the crown as well as why he is the way is, AKA, using sarcasm as defense mechanism. I always love characters that are a little broken because people are all broken in their own way, so it was nice to find out the cause behind Jax’s brokenness.

Elecia and Fritz – While we don’t spend a ton of time with these two characters in this book compared to how much time we’ve spent with them in previous books, they are present, and every page they appear on shows just how much they care for Vhalla and Aldrik. While I have amazing friends, and trust me, I do have some pretty outstanding friends, friends that will drop everything immediately to help me out, I did, on occasion, get a little jealous for not having Elecia and Fritz as friends.

Victor – Again, Victor is not someone we actually spend a lot of time with in Crystal Crowned, especially compared to how much time we spent with him in Water’s Wrath, but he is a constant presence because he is always being talked about. When we do finally see him at the end, it is driven home just how much of a psychopath he really is.

Review

It was once again another whirlwind of emotions brought to you by Elise Kova.  I was crying by the time I got about 10% of the way into the book, I mean, big huge tears streaming down my face.  After having spent 4 books with these characters, I have become so emotionally attached to them.  It is something Elise Kova is able to do so well through her writing.  As a reader, you feel as though these characters are real people and that you know them as if they were your friends.

There were some beautiful things that have gradually been communicated throughout the series and touched upon in each book that were wrapped up in beautiful quotes in Crystal Crowned. The idea of no one being perfect was something that definitely made itself apparent through each and every book. We are able to see that all of the characters are flawed in one or another at some point in time. The idea that we should accept someone, including yourself, for who they are, flaws and all, is also emphasized. At one point Vhalla reflects on her relationship with Aldrik, and thinks to herself, “She didn’t make him out to be perfect. [She] knew Aldrik was horribly flawed. But so was she.”

Another very strong idea that is gifted to us is the idea that people are constantly changing, that this is a good thing, and that change, especially change in people, is unfinished. Aldrik expresses his feelings to Vhalla by saying, “You’ve changed. . . And I love the woman that you’ve become, deeply and completely.” He also says something about himself to Vhalla that I think shows how drastically Aldrik has grown and changed. It also shows how heartbreaking the turn of events in his life were and how they affected him. He says, “I have no more family, so I am no longer the black sheep.” Vhalla has a realization about herself, and I think this is something we all need to realize about ourselves and our lives. “Vhalla was discovering that the path to being the person she wanted to be had no endpoint.” Elise Kova leaves us with this as a reminder that we are always unfinished, we are ever-changing.

Now that I’m done mooning over the wonderful thoughts and ideas that Elise Kova communicates to her readers through her reading, let me tell you about the last third or so of the book. It is non-stop, and I mean, NON-STOP action, I could NOT put it down. I actually finished about the last half of the book in a day, but during the last third of it, there was no social media, no eating, no sleeping, no moving from the spot I was stuck to in the house, which could have been my bed or the couch. Honestly, I don’t really remember because I was so enthralled with Elise Kova’s world that she has built over these last five five books that the real world around me didn’t really matter.

Reason For Rating

There’s really not much to say here anymore. I think I covered all of it in the review. What I can say is that Elise Kova has taken me on a journey over the last year that I never could have expected when I signed up to be on her street team and got the ARC of Air Awakens in the mail. I don’t think I’ve been so excited about a book series, particularly an author in a long time.

Elise’s characters are so well-developed. They are real people to me.  Her world building is outstanding. Since she does these things so well, her books are not only enjoyable, but they also challenge you to think about who you are as well as the people around you. She is not afraid to take on hard or controversial topics in her books, to the point where they don’t really feel like your stereotypical young adult fantasy novel.  I guess I had plenty to say. Sorry for going off on a bit of a tangent, but Crystal Crowned definitely gets an “A” from me! If you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favor and pick up the Air Awakens series.

Grade A

Check It Out!!

The Author, Where to Get It, and an Exclusive Excerpt

Elise Head Shot

Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she s not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

Where To Get It

Exclusive Excerpt

With just the one weapon and a leather jerkin, she struck a course northward. Given all the reports she’d been receiving, it seemed like the most logical location for her Emperor. A red sunrise streaked across the sky, mirroring the crimson land before her.

The casualties had been heavy, heavier than she expected given the number of soldiers who had been in the Western force surrounding the city. But the hulking corpses of giant winged beasts offered a chilling explanation. Teeth longer than her body jutted out from their massive jowls. They had almost canine-like heads but with thick leathery skin pulled taut against oddly shaped muscles. Some had two arms, some had four, one even had six. They had the wings of a wyvern and scorpion-like tails. It was a creature that the Gods had never intended to exist, and the now-dormant crystals embedded in their bodies glinted like dull obsidian in the sunlight, slowly cracking into dust.

A handful of men and women were surrounded, forced to their knees. Soldiers waited around them, sorcerers and Commons alike, ready to execute the traitors who had ridden in to kill them all on the backs of monsters. The lean figure of a man was mounted before the lot—an Emperor casting judgment on those who fought against his throne.

“. . . forsake the false king.” Vhalla could hear Aldrik’s words as she approached. “Those who give information will be rewarded with their lives.”

No one spoke.

“You protect a coward,” Vhalla called out, announcing her presence. Aldrik turned in surprise as she rode up next to him. “You stand with a man whose power comes not through his own merit—as he would have you believe—but through theft.”

“What would you know?” one of the kneeling sorcerers demanded, curiosity drawing the words from him.

“I know all too well,” Vhalla replied quietly, “because I was the one whose powers he stole.”

Now she had their attention.

“Victor could not open the caverns on his own; he wasn’t strong enough to manage the crystals. I know because he needed me to help him do it. When he had what he wanted, he stole my magic to make him immune from the taint.”

“Lies!” one sneered. “The taint only affects those of weak will, Commons, and lesser sorcerers.”

Desperation carved the way for stupidity in the hearts of men.

“You can’t possibly believe that. Is that what Victor has told you? That you are the strong ones and immune?” She shook her head with a bitter sorrowful laugh. “He has written you off as expendable with his lies.”

“Are you really the Windwalker?” a timid voice asked from among them.

“I was.” Vhalla spoke only to the man who had asked. “I was the Windwalker until he stole my powers. Now I am a Commons. It was my magic that unleashed this monster upon the world—”

“Vhalla . . .” Aldrik had a cautionary note.

“—but because of that, no one will fight harder than me to do what is necessary to right that wrong.” The words hurt. They hurt like the wind still hurt on her cheeks, plain and un-magical. But it was finally the right kind of hurt. The hurt of a confession that needed to be said. “This is but a night. The sun will rise again, and I stand with the dawn.”

She looked to the Emperor. His eyes were a chameleon over the past few weeks, constantly changing to match the woman she was becoming.

“Who will stand with the sun?” He tore his eyes away from her to make his final demand.

The man who had asked his timid question stood slowly. “A false king sits on a false throne.”

“You disgrace sorcerers,” another loyalist spat. “You’ll follow a liar and a Commons.”

“Strength channels its own magic,” the man said in reply, looking directly at Vhalla.

“Who else will stand with us?” Vhalla demanded.

Two more stood.

“Why take pity on them?” a Western soldier finally spoke. “They fight against your Empire. Put them to death.”

“Because a wise woman taught me that no soul is beyond saving,” Aldrik replied easily.

Vhalla’s chest tightened, instantly thinking of Larel.

“Those who stand with us, live; those who do not, die. Make your choice. Dawn comes and it will wait for no man.” Aldrik turned back to Victor’s sorcerers.

Two more stood, five in total. That was all who were spared. Vhalla bore a silent witness to the other sorcerers who died for Victor’s ideal. Men and women who had become so tainted with his lies that they valued his dogma more than their lives.

Vhalla counted every man and woman put to death. Twenty-three in total. She shifted in her saddle and felt the sword pulling heavy on her shoulder. The next time she saw Victor she would stab him herself, Vhalla resolved, twenty-three times.

Make sure to pick up the whole Air Awakens series!! It’s outstanding!!

Happy Reading!!

Erin

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Pages: 624

Grade: A

Wow!! I went and looked back at my review for A Court of Thorns and Roses, which I reviewed about a year ago, in order to compare the two reviews. Was it different! I realized I have come so far in my book reviews, in both layout, style and depth. They are so different that I can’t compare them.Here it is, if you want to see how far I’ve come and what I thought of it.

Synopsis

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Review

A lot of people mistook A Court of Thorns and Roses for a Young Adult book when it was meant to be a New Adult book, me included. Well there is no mistaking A Court of Mist and Fury for a YA book, it is an NA all the way through. The sex is more prevalent. The language is more grown up. The topics that the characters face and deal with are much more mature.

oops yikes mistake uh oh yeesh

The fact that the concepts and ideas in the book grow with the maturity of the characters is so important. Feyre and Tamlin are dealing with facing the things they experienced under the mountain with Amarantha. They are so frustrating because they aren’t dealing with it and they eventually have to face the consequences of what happens when they don’t deal with it.

So much of the book focuses on how Feyre grows and what she kind of person, or faerie, she wants to be after what happened to her. She is trying to learn how to be in love and be her own person while being in a relationship, which I think is something a lot of us wrestle with when starting a relationship.

Sarah J. Maas weaves a beautiful story full of wonderfully developed characters and outstanding world building. And while I don’t think I’d want to live in Prythian at the particular moment in time that A Court of Mist and Fury takes place, I think I would definitely want to experience it at a time in which there was peace.

keep reading

Characters

Feyre – She grows exponentially in this book because of what happened to her at the end of A Court of Thorns and Roses. Feyre is so broken and lost at the beginning that she doesn’t know what to do with herself, but she does find herself, and she is a strong, independent and capable woman who can stand on her own with a man by her side, but she does not need a man by her side. She grows not only in the physical aspects of her power and abilities, but also emotionally. Feyre is a BADASS in this book, and she is FIERCE. Do NOT mess with her.

Tamlin – Tamlin ends up being a rather minor character, but what we do see of him is not appealing at all. He changes drastically. His dependency, and need to protect Feyre so much so that he practically locks her away, is highly unattractive. I found myself swearing at him a lot while I was reading.

Rhysand –  Rhysand, oh Rhysand. When we left him at the end of A Court of Thorns and Roses, he was a villain that had cut a bargain with Feyre where she was required to stay with him one week a month. In ACOMAF, we learn so much about Rhysand’s backstory and what caused him to become the person that he’s become. It makes me love him so much more. I did swoon a little bit, ok, a lot, when he says things like, “I would have torn apart the world to get you back.” I can’t wait to see how he takes on the world in the next book.

Lucien, Mor, Amren, Cassian, Azriel – These are all the major secondary characters. Most of them are brand new to us in this book.  Lucien is the only returner, and we don’t spend much time with him because we don’t spend much time with Tamlin. Mor, Amren, Cassian, and Azriel are some of the most loyal and down-to-earth friends that Feyre could ever have. I was so pleasantly surprised at how well each of these characters was developed. They each have their own complex background story that I want to learn about.

Rating
A Court of Mist and Fury is a great sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses! While it is a long book, I never felt like what I was reading didn’t to be there. Even looking back on it now, I can’t think of any one part that wasn’t necessary for the story. It moves quickly, it keeps the reader engaged, the characters are developed really well, and, as a reader, I fell in love with the new characters and fell in love with the old characters all over again.  A Court of Mist and Fury gets an “A” from me!!

Grade A

Happy Reading!

Erin

Book Review: These Shallow Graves

 

Book Review: These Shallow Graves

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Release Date: Oct. 27, 2015

Pages: 488

Rating/Grade: B+

 

 

 

Synopsis

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Characters

Jo – She is a character built before her time. Jo is a high society girl in New York, and while all the other girls her age are focused on getting married and having families, Jo wants to do things. Jo wants to write stories for the newspaper and reveal the things in the world that those in high society pretend don’t exist. The last thing she wants to think about is being paired up with someone she doesn’t love in order to breed like grandmama’s spaniels. Jo is headstrong and sassy, but likeable and proper. I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to her because she is in a place where she doesn’t feel like she entire belongs.

Eddie – Oh, Eddie. He is very rough around the edges, but very charming, and I think that’s why Jo likes him so much. He works for a newspaper called The Standard, and he just wants his next big story so that he can move on to bigger things. He has a little bit of those bad boy qualities that Jo can’t have in her proper, high society life.   

Review

This book was a little bit mystery, a little bit romance, and a lot of frustration (but, in a good way).

animated GIF

I think the thing I appreciated most about this book was while the romance plays a large part in the story, it never overwhelms the mystery of the story, and it definitely doesn’t distract from the bigger point, or theme, of the book. The romance becomes a piece of the bigger theme. Jo is working to determine who she is versus who she wants to be, and the love story and the mystery that make up the story help her to build who she becomes. While it is frustrating while being in the middle of it, it is so unbelievably satisfying by the end.

  

Jo and Eddie are some great characters. They have a chemistry that is sweet, yet strong. They aren’t a couple of piles melted marshmallow for each other. They are each their own person, and it is so satisfying to read a love story like that because while they are becoming more common in YA they can be difficult to find depending on what sub-genre of YA you are reading.

Rating
Overall, I give These Shallow Graves a B+. It took a little bit of time to really get into the story, but I was highly satisfied with the story once I got into it.  I think another reason I give it a B+ was the frustration I felt throughout it. The rational part of me says that’s not fair because the characters should be frustrating. They shouldn’t be perfect. But the B+ was my gut reaction as a rating, and when I rate a book my gut is usually what I go with.

Happy Reading!

Erin

Crystal Tour – #FlashbackFriday

Crystal Tour Clearer

Crystal Tour – #FlashbackFriday

Well hello all!

I can’t believe it is the end of this series. I will miss new books in it, but also cannot wait for the new things to come for Elise Kova. For example the Loom series, with the first book due out January 2017. But that is for another post at another time. Let’s focus on the present.

In celebration of the release of Crystal Crowned, the fifth, and final, book in Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series, I am taking part in the Crystal Tour, and this week is all about Fire Falling.

This is one of my favorite reviews I’ve ever written, so in case you missed the first time around here is another look at my Fire Falling review:

Fire-Falling-Cover

Fire Falling

Synopsis

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Fire Falling is the second book in the Air Awakens Series.

Review

Ok. So I finished this book days ago. I had absolutely no idea how form coherent thoughts when I finished it at 1:00am on a Monday night when I had to get up at 5:30am.  I texted my sister, I jumped on Twitter, I went to the Goodreads Fan Club, and I still couldn’t fall asleep. I needed to talk to someone about it.  The following morning wasn’t much better. I spent a lot of morning reading through what other people thought about it, reading their predictions for Earth’s End, the third installment in the series. Now that I am about a week out from it, I can focus a little better, but when I start to think about it I get all excited again and want to reread it immediately, so get ready for some serious fangirling in this post.

I cannot even believe how amazing this book was. I can’t tell if it was better than the first because I was so crazy for it, and now that I’ve read it and it’s over and I am just that excited about it. But, seriously, this was so good, and unbelievably, better than the first, so a huge to Congrats!! to Elise Kova on being able to do that. You guys, that never happens!!

excited gif

One of the many beautiful things that happens in Fire Falling is the character development, especially of the secondary characters.  We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, I want to talk about the thing that is developing between Vhalla and Aldrik.  I was so thankful that there wasn’t the insta-love that often is present in many YA novels.  Not that I’m not a fan of the occasional insta-love story, but in this particular instance, I am really glad that it wasn’t the case, probably because it was between a prince and, for al intents and purposes, a peasant.

While Vhalla became more comfortable with the Crown Prince Aldrik toward the end of Air Awakens, there was so much chaos and drama when she finally did that you never got to really see the fun parts of who they were. There are so many fun parts that we get to see in Vhalla and Aldrik’s relationship this time. I love when they challenge each other and make fun each other.  We get to watch it develop as though we are on the inside of it, and it is so much fun to see.

pot meet kettle

There are also amazingly sweet parts to their relationship. Things that even the biggest fans of Aldrik weren’t really sure he was capable of, and this is coming from a huge fan of Aldrik. Aldrik has always given Vhalla the choice as to whether she wants him to be in her life, but as they grow closer there is more risk attached to it, and he makes sure to remind her of that. Yet, Vhalla always returns to him and reminds us that she “likes playing with fire.”

Finally, the tension between Aldrik and Vhalla breaks, and Kova writes some of the hottest scenes. The ones where you stop breathing and get so caught up in the story that it feels like you are actually there watching this really intimate thing unfold right in front of you, but not in a creepy or embarrassing way. Watching it as though you were completely invisible, or, if you are a fan of Aldrik, as though you are Vhalla.

fanning self

Now that I am done swooning over Aldrik, at least for the moment, let’s jump into the characters in the novel.  How have they changed? How have they grown? Are there any new ones?

Characters

Vhalla

Vhalla really starts coming into her own in this book, and shows just how deep the fire that burns within her goes.  To me, this is perfectly encapsulated in her when she thinks, Why not shatter the sky?

shatter the sky

Aldrik

He opens up so much in this book, telling Vhalla things that I never would have expected him to be willing to tell her. He tells her about his past and about what kind of person he used to be and sometimes still is. Even when Vhalla questions how close they are getting, and how dangerous it could be, Aldrik admits to her that it will always be dangerous for them, and that if she wants to make the appropriate decision, she should leave now because he can’t do things halfway.

aldrik

Baldair

I am slowly starting to trust Baldair more. He does nothing, but look out for Vhalla’s best interests.  He even does whatever he can to help Aldrik. It was eye-opening to find out a bit more about Baldair’s and Aldrik’s relationship works.  It is definitely different from sibling relationships that I am used to seeing, but it is definitely an interesting one.  But just fir the record, I still don’t fully trust him.

thor and loki

Fritz

Fritz, oh, Fritz. You are one of my favorites. I liked you from the moment I met you in the Tower Library.  I liked spending more time with Fritz in this book. He is truly an all-around good friend to Vhalla. He is whatever Vhalla needs him to be while they are on the march, someone to listen to her, someone to comfort her when she gets too confused about Aldrik. Fritz and Larel are the perfect best friends for Vhalla to help her get through this.

best friend fritz

Larel

I wasn’t sure about Larel in the first book. So many people that I talked to loved her immediately, I thought maybe I was missing something.  I think I realized who she full is in Fire Falling. She is so caring, and only wants what’s best for both Vhalla and Aldrik.  I loved learning about the past that her and Aldrik have together. After learning about it. Larel is probably one of the truest best friends anyone could have.

best friend Larel

Daniel

We were introduced to Daniel briefly at the end of Air Awakens. He was one of Vhalla’s guards while she was sitting in prison.  Now, he’s back, fighting as a soldier in the march, and as another friend that Vhalla can have while on the march. Which is really a good thing because she could use all the friends she can get. Kova does an interesting thing with Daniel’s character because while he is another friend to Vhalla, there does seem to be some sexual tension that comes and goes when he is with Vhalla. It will be interesting to see what type of role he continues to play in Vhalla’s life.

daniel

Rating

Like I said earlier, it is rare that a second book in a series is better than the first, but this one is, and sets very high expectations for the others, specifically Earth’s End, which comes out in February, and I can’t believe I have to wait a whole ten weeks for it. At the same time, I am grateful that I only have ten weeks for it and not a year.  Thank you, Elise Kova, for releasing your books so close together.  

There are so many beautifully quotable romantic lines in this book. You’ll just have to read for yourself to experience them. The kind of quotes that make a book especially memorable. It is an amazingly romantic story that, at the same time, takes place in the middle of a war in which its characters are soon to be on the frontlines. It allows the reader to see the characters at both their strongest and their weakest times, making the characters into extremely relatable people that you want to get to know more and more.  I give Fire Falling by Elise Kova an A+!!

A+

So there you have it folks, my Fire Falling review in all it’s glory. This was probably my favorite book of the series, although it’s really hard to choose.  I’ll know after I finish Crystal Crowned.

If you haven’t checked out the Air Awakens series yet, now is the perfect time to do s0.

Here are the dates for the remainder of the Crystal Tour:

  • Air Awakens (June 9-16)
  • Fire Falling (June 17-24)
  • Earth’s End (June 25-July 2)
  • Water’s Wrath (July 3-10)

Don’t Forget!!!

Crystal Crowned comes out July 12th!!!

Happy Reading!

Erin

 

Book Review: The Art of Being Normal

Book: The Art of Being Normal

Author: Lisa Williamson

U.S. Release Date: May 31, 2016

Pages: 353

Grade: A

 

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

Review

I loved this book! It may be the counselor in me, but to have a book written from the viewpoint of a high school boy that has known he wanted to be a girl his entire life, is relevant to the world we live in today, and addresses the serious content with humor and respect, and not as a complete joke, was refreshing and will be beneficial for every single person that reads it.

The Art of Being Normal shows the really horrible sides of being a teenager and transgender. It shows the name calling, the bullying, and the idea of hating your body so much that you keep track of how much each piece of you each day to make sure that you might still look like a girl someday.  But it also shows the good sides, friends and parents that are accepting of you, finding out that there are people that want to help you, and the elation and the confidence that you get when you actually look the way you feel you should. I have recommended this book to just about everyone I know, and I think you all should read it too if you haven’t.

Characters

David – David has known practically his whole life that he wants to be a girl, but was too scared to do or say anything about it to anyone, other than his best friends. It was wonderfully to be able to get inside David’s head and hear his thoughts on what it is like to feel that way.

He is a pretty stagnant character throughout most of the book because he is so scared, but toward the end, thanks to the help of his friends, he changes dramatically.  He doesn’t fear the things that he used to, and because of this he grows as a character.  That is what the book is really about: growing as a person, and becoming who you really are and who you truly want to be. I pictured him a bit like Logan Lerman, but with blonde hair.

Leo- Leo is like David in that they both have a secret that they are both scared to reveal to anyone. Leo wants to make you think that he is drastically different from David.  Leo puts up a front to make you think he is scared of very little. He will defend people he doesn’t know. He will stand up to the crappy guys that his mom is dating. But, in fact, Leo is scared of quite a few things. He is scared of what girls that like him will think of him. He is scared to meet his dad that ran out on him. He is scared of looking weak. This is pretty much exactly how I pictured Leo. The actor below is Evan Ross.

Friends and Family – David and Leo’s friends and family, while they play rather minor roles in the story, have a big impact on who the boys become in the end. David has a younger sister who actually has quite a character arc. It’s fun to watch it unfold. Leo has two sisters who lend to a brightening of Leo’s story. The parents of both boys play pivotal roles in who they become whether that means accepting their secrets, or drastically changing the outlook the boys have on life.

Rating

The Art of Being Normal gets a big fat “A” from me. One of my favorite lines is a quote that I actually try to live by each day.  David’s friend, Essie, tells him to “dance like no one is watching” while they are at a school dance.  I think this quote sums up the entire book.  As people, we should be who we are. Feel how you feel, do what you do, be who you are, and do it as though the rest of the world and what they think about you, doesn’t matter.  All the matters is you and who you are and want to be.
Grade A

Happy Reading!

Erin