5 Love Triangles that Don’t Suck

Technically this was my Monday video, but I was really busy so I’m posting this late here. Please love me. Anyways, in honor of the release of Kresley Cole’s newest book, Arcana Rising, I wanted to talk about love triangles in YA that I actually didn’t hate. As you know, this is a very hard thing for me to admit, but it turns out that such love triangles DO exist in the world!

Betwixt the Books 30 Seconds to Disagree: “The Girl of Fire and Thorns” by Rae Carson

Welcome to another segment of 30 Seconds to Disagree! In this feature, I have 1 minute to recommend a book to Michaela–this week’s pick is The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson–and then she has 30 second to disagree with why she wouldn’t want to read it. I get 30 more seconds to address those fears, and then it’s done! As always, we release two of these when we do them, one on my blog and one on Michaela’s blog. The one she’s released is absolutely hilarious and probably my favorite, so make sure you watch that one too!

Worth It Wednesdays: “The Girl of Fire and Thorns” by Rae Carson

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

the girl of fire and thornsTitle: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson

Goodreads Description: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Why it’s worth it: This is the first book in the trilogy, and it’s amazing. Even better, the books KEEP GETTING BETTER. Elisa is a model for the “not-perfect” girl who speaks to body positivism and doing your best even when you’re convinced you’re going to fail. I connected so much with Elisa as a person, which is something I’m often barred from doing because I don’t have “ultimate courage” or and not everyone thinks I’m pretty and– well, you know the YA tropes I mean. The book is also extremely well written, and–again–they just get better. (I mean, hell, Rae was just longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for her newest series.)

Besides the fabulous fantasy setting, the great and funny characters and the exciting plot–all of which are great!–the thing that Rae did that really made her great in my eyes was how she handled the love triangle. Yeah, I know you caught that in the description and groaned. But fear not! I actually included this series in an article I did about doing love triangles right and LET ME TELL YOU I DID NOT EXPECT WHAT HAPPENED. I’m not going to give it away, of course, but the end of this book just told me that Rae was an another unafraid to take risks and shake it up and in The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom I was NOT disappointed.

Just to give you an idea of this book, I’ve included in my Top Ten Books about Friendship, Best Sequels Ever, Favorite Authors in YA and Most Vivid Fantasy Settings!

Read it if you’re looking for: A strong female protagonist, action, adventure, romance, good love triangles, a worthwhile series, fantasy, strong worldbuilding

ARC Review: “The Bitter Kingdom” by Rae Carson

The Bitter KingdomThe Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson

Goodreads | Amazon

The epic conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.

Four and a half stars

Thanks to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for this eARC! This title will be released on August 27th, 2013.

WARNING: This review WILL have spoilers for The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers. Read my review of #1 HERE and my review of #2 HERE.

The one question you want answered is: is this a satisfying conclusion to an amazing series? Right off the bat, I’m pleased to tell you that yes, yes it does. On more levels than I may be capable of describing.

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Review: “The Crown of Embers” by Rae Carson

The Crown of EmbersThe Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson

Goodreads | Amazon

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

4 stars

WARNING: This review WILL have spoilers for The Girl of Fire and Thorns! Read my review of the first book HERE.

Oh Rae Carson, Rae Carson, Rae Carson – how dare you pull at my heartstrings like that? Thank God I waited to start this book until I had an ARC of The Bitter Kingdom in hand as well. Also, hip hip hooray for authors who GET characters and write REAL characters and ohmygosh guys I can’t get over these CHARACTERS. Erm, anyways, let’s get reviewing, shall we?

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Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

This is going to be the loosest top ten list I EVER make. It is also a top ten list made up of my most current reads. I’m sure there are others, but I found ten of them and I decided not to push it. 😛

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Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings In Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is actually pretty straight forward. This is a YA blog, and I could say some profound things about world building in YA, but instead I’m going to focus on GOOD world building this time around. Ready? Here we go!

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

If you haven’t picked this up now, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I believe I said that in my 5 star review. This world is as fantastically built as Game of Thrones, without all the things I don’t like about Game of Thrones, all the way through the characters and the dialogue. EVERYTHING about this book is amazingly awesome.

2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Though I made many comments about the characterization in this novel in my review, the world absolutely knocked me off my feet. Russian magic? With clothing that’s describes like costumes you just HAVE to own? FANTASTIC images that pop off the page? This has it ALL. I recommend this to all those looking for a unique read.

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Don’t really think I have to explain this to most folks. I mean, is there anyone left on the planet that reads YA but hasn’t read this? Well, for you guys, best dystopian novel out there, hands down.

4. The Girl of Fire of Thorns by Rae Carson

I basically bought this book for a unique world, and I wasn’t disappointed. The characters were awesome and at the end Carson dropped a BOMB OF FANTASTIC on the whole plot line. I loved every little bit of this, and it was one of the first books I reviewed!

5. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

If you missed my review of this, you missed a whole heck of a lot of CAPS. It was just as beautiful as the book’s cover. From the dragons to the city to the notion that love does not depend on gender, Incarnate was a work of art that everyone should read.

6. Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

This one I was reminded of because I’m currently hosting a giveaway for this entire series, but basically it’s a fantasy world made up of shapeshifters that is amazingly awesome.

7. The City’s Son by Tom Pollock

You guys have no idea how much I could link to this review, but it’s not out yet. If memory serves, it’ll be up next week or the week after, since this book doesn’t come out til September. The important thing, though, is that this was the most amazing description of urban fantasy I’d ever read.

8. Eon by Alison Goodman

Japanese based world with huge country and DRAGONS. Seriously, what else do you need? Nothing, it’s nothing. The characters were also just as unique as the setting, which was awesome.

9. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

How many times have I talked about this book? I know it’s a lot, so I’m not going to stay very long here…

10. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Talk about a fantastic world building and a unique concept. I didn’t really like the following two books, but this one was pretty fantastic.

Top Ten Books Whose Covers Made Me Buy It

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s TTT is actually a TTT Rewind, meaning I could pick whatever past topic I wanted. I chose this one because, a lot of times, I am ALL about the covers. I mean seriously. If it sparkles and sounds halfway decent, I am bound to pick it up. This has not always worked out for me, but sometimes it has been the best way to choose EVER. Get ready for some COVER EYE CANDY!

(All title links go to Goodreads. All links in the paragraphs go to my reviews.)

1. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

If you have to ask why, you must not have seen this cover. And this book is just as gorgeous as the cover. There is way too much squealing in my review.

2. Wilde’s Fire by Krystal Wade

In a world where most girls are wearing black dresses and looking depressed, this girl was moving and very blue with magic or something. It looked exciting to me! However, I was not entirely impressed.

3. The Shapeshifter’s Secret by Heather Ostler

This cover looks freaking amazing and you cannot tell me otherwise. The font, her make up … everything. If only they had spent more money on the editing department instead of the cover, maybe I wouldn’t have DNFed this book.

4. The Selection by Kiera Cass

Yeah, yeah, I know, opinions about this one abound. However, I picked it up because it looked like fun, sugary fluff and I was entirely right. And I enjoyed it too.

5. Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Look at that cover. How could that cover contain a book any less than awesome, right? Wrong. This book inspired a rant so fierce I was afraid to post it. But I did. Because *CUE ANGRY GRETCHEN*

6. Wither by Lauren DeStefano

I had actually had a friend whose opinion I respect tell me she hadn’t enjoyed this one, so I was rather wary about picking this one up. Then I saw the cover and decided to take a chance. And I’m so glad I did.

7. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

I have no idea if I picked this up more because of the gorgeous cover or because of the fact that Tamora Pierce’s blurb is on the front cover. Either way, it was a really spectacular decision. So much love for this book right here.

8. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Okay, I totally picked this up for other reasons too. HOWEVER, once I saw the cover, I just had to pick this up to ask the girl on the cover, “What in the name of all that’s chocolate forced you to put on THAT?” The book then went on to inspire the mother of all reviews, so I guess that was worth it too.

9. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Actually, I’m pretty sure it was the font that got me on this one. I just have a THING for this font. And the color purple. So that. And the book wasn’t half bad either! (The second one was better.)

10. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Yeah, so, sometimes the girls in dresses utterly and completely hook me. This is one of them. And the book was such a quirky, fun ride I was glad it caught me!

Relationships and Love Triangles in YA Books DONE RIGHT

Okay, so, if you’ve been following my blog then you’ll know that I’ve been quite angry at YA authors lately. I’ve been annoyed with the horrible way they portray relationships and love triangles and a whole bunch of other nasty stuff. Therefore, I figured it miiiight be time to do a post that is positive rather than not, because a great many authors DO write amazing relationships and–sometimes–even love triangles. Here’s my list:

Love Triangle Done Right – Will/Tessa/Jem from Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy

Seriously, guys. I have NO IDEA how Clare MAKES THIS WORK. Usually in love triangles, there is a clear guy who the author is pushing the torn female towards. Even if, somehow, they don’t, you seem to really start rooting for one and hating the other one. Or, at least, that’s what I think and, erm, do. A lot. 😛 However, I adore Will. I adore Jem. AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE IS BETTER FOR TESSA. It’s inconceivable to me that I have just fallen in love with all three characters who have somehow made this love triangle possibly the best I’ve ever seen.

Love Triangle Done Right – Humberto/Elisa/Alejandro from Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Okay, I’m not entirely sure this counts as a love triangle because I never really thought Elisa was actually in love with Alejandro, but still. There was a definite love triangle set up here since she was married to Alejandro but fell in love with Humberto and well you can kinda figure out the plot line from there. OR CAN YOU? This isn’t on this list because of the relationships, or the fact that I totally couldn’t make up my mind which one I loved more, but rather HOW THE BOOK ENDED AND WHAT CARSON DID. GUYS. I want to build her an altar. She took everything cliché plotline I’d already thought up for how the book would end and THREW A BOMB ON IT. And therefore, this is here. See my review for more.

Relationship Done Right – Anna/Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

GUYS. GUYS. I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO SPEAK WITHOUT CAPS LOCK. GO CHECK OUT MY REVIEW FOR MORE. Besides this book being AMAZING IN EVERY WAY, this relationship was so real I fell in love head over heels AND THEN SOME. Rarely have I ever seen teen romance done this amazingly. Actually, put this at the top of my list for top teen romance EVER. Sure, the setting is kinda out there, but screw it. Everything else about this book is the best thing ever.

Relationship/Love Triangle Done Right – Dimitri/Rose/Adrian from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

It’s very rare when a series of books goes like this one. You know why? IT’S A REAL RELATIONSHIP PROGRESSION. I don’t want to ruin this for people who haven’t read the series, but trust me this one is totally swoon-worthy. Rose and Dimitri are obviously the couple pushed from the beginning, since Adrian isn’t introduced until about halfway through, but then he’s in love with Rose and you’ve got this psuedo-triangle on your hands because Rose is totally head over heels from Dimitri. But then something bad happens to Dimitri and Rose decides to try to move on with Adrian. And then Dimitri comes back and then HELLO. That’s a really bad description because I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but this point is this is real. Nobody here is perfect. All three of them try to fight the way they feel, do the best in the situation and then they all screw up in their own way. There is a real show of love triangle fallout which KILLED *spoilerhiding* fans, but come on. He came back in Bloodlines and was freaking awesome, so the readers aren’t left completely bereft and hating Mead.

Relationship Done Right – Sam/Ana from Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

If you know me, then you know there is nothing that I hate more than insta-love. Well, Incarnate was my answer – THERE IS REAL RELATIONSHIP BUILD UP HERE. I wanted to jump up from reading and shout “Hallelujah!” But couldn’t, because I was, you know, reading. They have a REAL relationship with REAL issues and it doesn’t happen instantly. Other people, take note. For more, see my review.

For sure, there are plenty of other examples out there, but those are my top 5 of the moment! How about you?

“The Girl of Fire and Thorns” by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Four and half stars

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Well, I should start off by saying that I could NOT stop reading this book. Literally. I started it LAST NIGHT, stayed up until 1:30 AM and then opened my eyes before 9 to keep reading it. I just had to know what happened. I do enjoy guessing what is going to happen as I read, and sadly with most books I’m hardly ever actually surprised. Not here! I was convinced the book was going to end with some kind of sappy, love-triangle ending as a lot of books seem to these days, but I was wrong. It was very refreshing.

The characters here were no great shakes, except for the main character Elisa. Talk about refreshing. She starts off as a fat, pampered, ignorant child–but not spoiled. She becomes pretty kick butt by the end, but she takes a journey to get there that is believable. Few authors dare to do this these days, and the ones who do rarely do it well. I felt like I could sit down and chat with Elisa, because she was just so REAL.

Granted, Elisa and the book did fall into one YA cliché that makes me sigh. So often in YA books these days, there is no visible growth when the main character falls in love. It is just instant love at first sight, BAM. Does it make the book move along, sure. But it’s fairly ridiculous and it annoys me when it happens. At least here, Carson makes an obvious attempt to discern why Elisa feels the way she, and there isn’t an instant lovey-dovey scene anywhere. Still a little too quick for my taste (and a little too quick for a certain event near the end of the book to have the impact it ought to) but better done then I’ve seen lately.

The world of The Girl of Fire and Thorns was also great. In places – especially in the beginning – I felt like I wasn’t getting enough information to form a clear picture with, but enough information came out as the book went on for me to grasp generalities. The book was clearly setting up for a sequel, so it’s entirely possible the world wasn’t completely explained for just that purpose. Either way, it worked out well enough. The book flowed quickly and easily.

I read ridiculously fast first time through, and sometimes after that I won’t reread a book, but I certainly want to revisit this one! Overall, I would certainly recommend this book to fans of fantasy YA fiction. It’s different, it’s believable and it’s interesting. Four and a half stars from me!