ARC Review: Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

I am mad about 3 things. Very, very mad. I also give this book 4.5 stars. How does this figure, you ask? Guess you’re going to have to watch the review to find out!

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Review: “Rebel of the Sands” by Alwyn Hamilton

LOOKIE HERE! I’m back with an actual review today, in video form. This includes a shout out to the lovely MercuryCalling booktube channel for convincing me to buy this book in the first place. I wasn’t disappointed! Though I had my issues with it, I’m really excited for Alwyn Hamilton as a writer and the rest of this series!

Worth It Wednesday: The Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

lioness rampantTitle: Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1)

Author: Tamora Pierce

Goodreads Description: From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins – one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.

Why it’s worth it: Do you love yourself a good female warrior? Well, any character you’ve ever loved that sounds like Alanna is basically thanks to this series. Tamora Pierce is widely regarded as the main popularizer of the genre, and for good damn reason. While my favorite series is The Protector of the Small, the Song of the Lioness will always occupy the strongest sense of love and nostalgia in my heart.

This series is the story of one woman up against terrible odds, and her struggle to overcome the sexism and gender expectations of her time. She has a fiery temper and a great sense of humor. Though Alanna does have magic, she earns her shield through tenacity and practice. What’s even better, however, is that this four book series chronicles a journey that is completely human even while being action packed and magical. Alanna makes mistakes, falls in love with the wrong people and has to overcome herself as much as she has to overcome the obstacles of others. While romance is involved with the plot, it is never the focal point, and Alanna goes through a series of relationships that grow and deepen as she grows up.

Tamora also sends Alanna far away into her extremely deep world of Tortall and beyond, exploring the themes of what it means to be a woman and a warrior outside of the traditional medieval-esque setting. While Alanna’s story may be the main focus, it is also about so many more smaller stories that connect together.

This series is one of my most re-read, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be that way until the dayI die. If you haven’t read it, GO DO SO!

Read it if you’re looking for: strong female characters, one of the original female warriors, high fantasy, strong world building, strong female friendships, action, adventure, magic, stories that don’t depend on romance, realistic romance

Worth It Wednesday: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

81ep-ouzgalTitle: Vampire Academy

Author: Richelle Mead

Goodreads Description: Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies . . .

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever . . .

Why it’s worth it: In honor of the release of The Glittering Court, I wanted to feature the series that got me started on Richelle Mead. I picked up the first books in this series kind of on a whim, back when vampires when all the rage. The original covers weren’t all that great, but I did it anyways.

I’m so glad.

My favorite thing about these books is that they aren’t just another vampire novel. There are vampires in it, but there is a lot more focus on relationships and friendships than in a lot of other “vampire” books. The world is exciting and new, and the books are full of adventure.

Rose, the main character, is the kind of person I would love to be friends with. Without a doubt, she makes these books for me. Whether it is her constant sass, her unflinching loyalty or her realness as a person and not just another archetypal character, she is always the highlight of each of the six books. She makes as many mistakes as she fixes, but she always works through it in the end.

An extremely realistic and interesting love interest/story always helps as well. Yes, not realistic in the sense of VAMPIRES but realistic in the sense that it’s messy and fraught but in the end I’m convinced that it is worth fighting for. These books will amuse, hurt and excite you in all the right ways. Not just another vampire novel.

Read it if you’re looking for: vampires, strong female characters, strong female friendships, swoon worthy romance, not another love triangle, magic, humor, sass, action, adventure

Worth It Wednesday: “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

GracelingTitle: Graceling

Author: Kristin Cashore

Goodreads Description: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight – she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…

Why it’s worth it: Honestly, I’ve been giving this book so much love lately … I thought I’d already done this. An exhaustive search of my own blog proved this to be untrue, so I KNEW it had to be this week’s pick.

I’ve just recently re-read this book, because I used it for my first thesis chapter. Out of the five books that I read, only this one and Throne of Glass stood up to the test. While it has it’s issues, it was easily leaps and bounds better in every category than any other book than Throne of Glass.

Katsa is not a shirking violet, afraid of herself and her powers. She also isn’t a bloodthirsty killer. She is, somehow, both, in a way that makes her more human than a lot of other stereotyped assassins. The world around her is rich and deep, as Cashore really thinks about her world as a true globe, not just a few places. It’s interesting and engaging, and it all makes me want to live there and be Katsa’s best friend.

Katsa, however, doesn’t have many friends, and that’s what makes Prince Po special. Yeah, you can tell from just the blurb that there is going to be a romance there, but GUESS WHAT! It is actually a friendship first. A real one, not a pretend friendship that was always a romance but tried to trick you into something otherwise. When the romance comes, it comes naturally. Even better, Katsa debates even taking their relationship in that way, because she doesn’t want to sacrifice who she is or what she wants to be the girlfriend of a prince. Po and Katsa meet in the middle to create a romance that is real and fantastic.

The plot itself is not the most shocking thing, but it is entertaining and you’re invested because you love all the characters. It is lots of action and adventure and struggle that is supported by the romantic story line, not smothered by it.

All in all, what’s clear is that Cashore REALLY thought about Katsa as a strong female character, and it works. I have a longer review for more, but … do you need it? READ THIS.

Read it if you’re looking for: strong female characters, romance, action, adventure, fantasy, friendship, strong world building, strong cast of characters

Worth It Wednesday: The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

City of BonesTitle (of first book): City of Bones

Author: Cassandra Clare

Goodreads Description (of first book): When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Why it’s worth it: IN HONOR OF THE LADY MIDNIGHT RELEASE, HERE’S THE SERIES THAT STARTED IT ALL. Ahem. Anyways.

I have a Cassandra Clare obsession. It’s bad. I once made my dad drive four hours to see her in person. I can’t help it if I just … love these books.

The original trilogy is fantastic. It’s great. I wrote in my joint review that you had to read them because they are the funniest, funnest things ever. I hold to that to this day. I love re-reading the books because I laugh every time. Clary is the kind of female protagonist who actually isn’t special (to begin with) but grows into her powers. Yes, some of it just kind of happens but other things do GROW. They are fun and fast adventures, and me and my brother both loved them. Everything about it was great.

The fourth book of the series–which was not always meant to exist–is probably my least favorite book that she’s ever written. It was this weird stop and start kind of thing that was forcibly kick starting the plot that had petered out at the end of the original trilogy. I got so upset.

When I reviewed book five, however, I learned to love the series again. The original trilogy had been focused on Clary and Jace, but in book five and six the world really expanded. We spent more time with more characters, and there was even more growth. I especially loved the romances that were given more time in the later books, because each one of them was so human in so many different ways. The plot, as well, once it got done clearing it’s throat, was really wonderful and well done. I was actually more interested in it than the original Big Bad.

All in all, The Mortal Instruments wasn’t the most cohesive thing. It has it’s issues, and it has it’s cliches. However, if you stick it out, you are in for one of the funniest, action-packed, human rides of your life. Even though this is a paranormal book, I return to the series again and again for the characters above all else. That’s a really high mark in a genre book for me.

Read it if you’re looking for: Paranormal, romance, strong female characters, large casts of good characters, humor, magic, action, adventure, series that aren’t trilogies, swoon-worthy male characters, strong world building

Worth It Wednesday: The Bandia series by Talia Vance

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

SilverTitles: Silver & Gold

Author: Talia Vance

Goodreads Description (Silver): “As I step into the room, a silver flash blurs my vision. Before I can take a breath, the world falls away.”

Brianna has always felt invisible. People stare right past her, including the one boy she can’t resist, Blake Williams. But everything changes at a house party where Brianna’s charm bracelet slips off and time stands still. In that one frozen, silver moment, Blake not only sees her, he recognizes something deep inside her she’s been hiding even from herself.

Discovering she is descended from Danu, the legendary Bandia of Celtic myth, Brianna finds herself questioning the truth of who she is. And when she accidentally binds her soul to Blake, their mutual attraction becomes undeniable.

But Blake has his own secret, one that could prove deadly for them both. Bound together by forbidden magic, Brianna and Blake find themselves at the heart of an ancient feud that threatens to destroy their lives and their love.

Why it’s worth it: So here’s the thing about Silver. It sounds very … generic? Like, the kind of story that you’ve read before. While it most certainly is NOT when you finally read it, it’s also why I couldn’t JUST say Silver for this post. My favorite is actually Gold, because this romance does NOT go where you think it’s going to. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First things first: if you love Celtic mythology, stop reading right now and just find a copy. The mythos of this novel is done so well, and so thoroughly researched, that I loved that aspect in both books. I thought I knew a bunch, but I learned a lot more.

Silver, to be honest, does go in most of the ways that you would expected. Blake and Brie are from two separate worlds, but they love each other despite of it, their love makes them stronger … etc. One of the great pluses was that when Brie falls into insta-love with Blake, Blake steps back and is like WHAT and that jump to insta-love is actually PART of the plot instead of something we’re supposed to believe is true and everlasting love. That, honestly, should have been my clue that these books were not going to immediately fall into every trope I thought was coming. As you might guess from my original 4 1/2 star review, it totally did not. I was very pleased.

But then it gets even better with Gold, wherein Vance takes any expectations you had left and smashes them. I was absolutely blown away how Vance’s already strong writing and great storytelling ability didn’t stop there, but then ALSO tackled some of the more realistic aspects of the “two different worlds” trope along with the romance in general. I find it hilarious now that I rated Gold 4 stars where I rated Silver 4 1/2, because I can’t remember the last time I re-read Silver but I re-read Gold all the time. I think, especially in a world where I’m just getting more and more disgusted with tropes, the second book keeps standing out more and more to me.

Honest to goodness, after Silver I was prepared for Gold to continue on the story of another pseudo Romeo and Juliet that had a love triangle involved–but I loved the characters and story so much that I didn’t care. In the end, Vance rewarded me with something SO MUCH BETTER and something VERY worth reading!

Read it if you’re looking for: Celtic mythology, anti-insta-love, not another love triangle, swoon worthy romance, realistic romance, strong female characters, books set in Ireland, books that make you laugh out loud, books that tug at your heart strings