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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 300
Goodreads

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

3.5 Stars

The vibes I got from An Enchantment of Ravens makes me place this somewhere between A Court of Thorns and Roses and Wintersong. The similarities to the former put aside, Margaret Rogerson created a set of lovely characters and an enchanting world. This is, however, a classic case of good ideas not being entirely able to make up for a weak, meandering plot. This author’s writing is promising, but her debut has been overhyped, I’d say.

When I’d first read the premise for this book, I’d gotten strong A Court of Thorns and Roses vibes from it, and I was hestitant to pick it up. You’ll see reviewers saying there were no parallels between the books, whereas others told me I might like it in spite of those. Well, I have since claimed my place in the latter group. Though this book does contain elements similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses, this does not mean you won’t like this book if SJM wasn’t your jam. Things that’ll remind you of the aforementioned book: The heroine who paints, the divided-into-seasons fae courts, the love interest with dark hair and amethyst eyes, and the plot catalyst of him barging into her home and demanding she stand trial for her crimes.

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Roar by Cora Carmack

Roar by Cora CarmackRoar by Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1
Published by Tor Teen on June 13th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 380
Goodreads

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

2 Stars

Instead of writing a YA fantasy, perhaps Cora Carmack should’ve written a handbook on ‘How To Ruin a Good Magic Concept With a Mediocre Plot And an Insufferable Romance 101’. Because, for me, that’s exactly what went wrong with Roar. Yet another female author who tried to pass possessiveness in men off as sexy, and I’m having none of it. 

When I picked this up, I knew I was not going to like the portrayal of men. So, I purposefully decided to focus on something else. The main character Aurora Pavan seemed interesting at first. A girl born without magic in an ancient royal family of Stormlings (= people who control the deadly storms ravaging the lands). Carmack gave me something I could work with: A princess who didn’t immediately receive the ‘special snowflake’ stamp from me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with Aurora aka Rora aka Roar much otherwise. Aurora was entirely too naive and too reckless for her to appeal to me as a heroine. Her plans weren’t thought through, which brought much annoyment about, and she didn’t have any distinctive spark. Towards the ending, I had to give up the notion that Aurora was anything else but speciuuul, so unfortunately, that’s just another negative point I now have to add to this review.

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The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

The Library of Fates by Aditi KhoranaThe Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Published by Razorbill on July 18th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 354
Goodreads

A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn.

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

2 Stars

I read an excerpt on NetGalley and it captivated me immediately, so I decided to read the book. I am a puddle of disappointment, to say the least. I was unbelievably bored and the opposite of invested in the characters’ fates and the world. With the tale of the trees being chopped down at the start, Khorana also clearly advocates for climate change and nature awareness, which sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this book was a balloon of hot air – there is no other way to describe it.

The Library of Fates plays with an intriguing concept, namely the mash-up of a fantasy kingdom with the historical world, and entails a lot of elements from Indian mythology. The intriguing storyline I discovered within the first five chapters, however, turned into a wild goose chase with little substance. Instead of a captivating story, I got me some insta-love, underwhelming plot twists, and a rushed climax. I wish I could say I liked this more, as I was so excited for this coming-of-age fantasy with Indian falklore, but The Library of Fates was not for me, at all.

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The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara by Kristen CiccarelliThe Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Series: Iskari #1
Published by Gollancz on October 5th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Goodreads

A gripping YA crossover series from a spectacular new voice in the genre.

Once there was a girl who was drawn to wicked things.

Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she's sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the wicked deed she committed as a child - one that almost destroyed her city, and left her with a terrible scar.

But protecting her father's kingdom is a lonely destiny: no matter how many dragons she kills, her people still think she's wicked.

Even worse, to unite the fractured kingdom she must marry Jarek, the cruel commandant. As the wedding day approaches, Asha longs for freedom.

Just when it seems her fate is sealed, the king offers her a way out: her freedom in exchange for the head of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard.

And the only person standing in her way is a defiant slave boy . . .

THE LAST NAMSARA is an extraordinary story about courage, loyalty and star-crossed love, set in a kingdom that trembles on the edge of war.

4 Stars

I decided not to re-read the premise prior to picking up The Last Namsara but go in completely blind, and it was the best decision I could’ve made. This debut took me by surprise in the way it drew me into its world of dragons, gods, and magic stories. I WAS SO DOWN FOR THE DRAGONS. I definitely got some How To Train Your Dragons vibes from this, guys. Move aside Eragon, The Last Namsara has come to claim your place.

At first glance, The Last Namsara seems like your generic Young Adult fantasy, and I thought I’d grown tired of those. However, something about this book pulled me in. I was intrigued by the feisty but troubled main character, the character dynamics, the forbidden romance, and the gripping plot. Objectively, I could give a slightly lower rating due to the issues I had, but The Last Namsara had me so invested, racing through it within a couple of hours, that I cannot but give it 4 stars.

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The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault RiveraThe Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
Series: Their Bright Ascendency #1
Published by Tor Books on October 3rd, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Pages: 512
Goodreads

Even gods can be slain….

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

2.5 Stars

The most valuable member of the clan is the person who tells the best stories around the fire.

Frankly, anything blurbed by V.E. Schwab I expect to love. Alas, this was not the best story told around the fire, albeit showing immense potential.

Mid-book,I feared I was going to end up rating one of my most anticipated releases less than 2 stars. The first half lulled me to sleep, resulting in a lot of skimming. The second half was distinctly better than the first, the last 100 or so pages interesting even. From 5 stars to DNFs, you’ll see everything among this debut’s ratings, as it is a peculiar book and simply subject to individual taste.

The Tiger’s Daughter entailed a beautifully written same sex romance with two heart-winning heroines, but the action-packed fantasy I’d hoped for based on the premise was nonexistent. To me, The Tiger’s Daughter was more an epic love story than an epic fantasy novel. The storytelling – the point of view written in form of a letter – was not to my liking. Though the book ended better than it started, I lowered my rating to 2.5 stars because it couldn’t make up for the earlier amount of bored skimming.

FYI: In my understanding, this book is going to be published as adult fantasy, and its content warrants being shelved as such (or NA), but definitely not YA.

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Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda FoodyDaughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
Published by Harlequin on September 7th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Goodreads

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

2.5 Stars

“But you’re an illusion,” I say. “I created you.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m not real.”

I’d been head over heels for this book ever since reading the premise – a notorious festival, charms and jynxes, illusions that can be killed – and I was beyond excited when our blog was accepted for an electronic ARC of this debut. Well, let’s say my heels broke and I fell face-first into the dirt.

Daughter of the Burning City had so much potential, so many brilliant ideas and magical elements which sparked my curiosity, but the execution failed to make those ideas shine. Foody’s imagination is enchanting but she didn’t turn her interesting ideas into a captivating story.

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Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist by Renée AhdiehFlame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 16th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Goodreads

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Tamora Pierce.

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

3 Stars

Perhaps the girl wasn’t water, as he’d first thought. Perhaps she was wind. Wind could whip a fire into a frenzy. Make a mighty oak bow. Lash water into the mist.

Having loved Ahdieh’s debut The Wrath and the Dawn, her new project had been thrown onto my TBR before it was even announced what its content was going to be. When I heard it was a story with a feudal Japanese-inspired setting, pitched as  a mash-up of 47 Ronin and my favourite Disney Mulan, I was beyond excited for Flame in the Mist. I don’t know who, for the love of God, pitched this as a Mulan retelling, because except for the girl disguised as a boy, this was nothing like Mulan.

While my knowledge of modern Japan is not too bad, I know very little about its history. So, if you want an informative review on the historical accuracy and rep of feudal Japan, head over to Eri (Airy Reads) to read her review!

Though this book had me well-entertained, Flame in the Mist did not meet my expectations for this anticipated release. The book’s strong suit was its character dynamics, its feminist touch, and its setting. I’m also a big fan of the girl-disguised-as-boy narrative. However, there’s a lot potential for improvement, be it the depth of the characterisations, the substance of the plot, or the storytelling. The storyline was unoriginal and shared unmistakable similarities with Ahdieh’s previous work. I could have lived with that had the plot not been so painfully predictable sometimes.

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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
on May 3rd, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Pages: 705 pages
Goodreads

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

1.5 Stars

As always, people, this is a review of a book and its content, not the personality of its author. My criticism of the book is not meant as an offence to SJM’s person. If you cannot stomach criticism of your favourite author’s work, please just ignore this review, as I don’t care for fangirls shitting all over my opinion – thank you (I used the magic words, so be nice).

Beware: Minor spoilers.

So, after the two previous instalments had kept me reasonably interested in the story, A Court of Wings and Ruin fell utterly flat for me. A Court of Mist and Fury had been a guilty pleasure read whereas A Court of Wings and Ruin was just guilty pleasure. This was mainly due to a lack of a lot of things I had liked about the sequel. Gone were the grounds for new character development, gone were the exciting political twists, gone was the romantic tension between Feyre and Rhys. I think this instalment could have been a lot shorter, more compact, and more interesting. Though I am by no means a fan of SJM’s work, I expected more from this finale.

“You do not fear. You do not falter. You do not yield.
Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”

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A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani ChokshiA Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 28th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 352
Goodreads

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

4 Stars

I hadn’t read The Star-Touched Queen prior to picking up this companion novel, as the reviews had put me off and the writing in the chapter sampler had completely distracted me from the plot. I was, however, curious about Chokshi’s following work since debut authors tend to improve their skills with each book. Hence, I read this book as a standalone, and though it helps to have read the previous book or the chapter sampler, it is not a requirement. In my case, waiting for the companion novel was the right choice, because I think I enjoyed it a lot more than I would have its predecessor The Star-Touched Queen.

A Crown of Wishes dazzles with its feisty heroine, sizzling romance, intricate world-building, and lyrical writing. From what I’ve heard, the main plot was one of the weak points of her previous work. While this has not changed, the storyline was gripping enough to hook me a few chapters into the book. The romance, though it is borderline overpowering, added to the overall suspension and employed one of my favourite tropes (I am basically a sucker for enemies-to-lovers, I can’t help it).

“Some tales that never end start with something as simple as an act of impulse and end with something as evil as an act of love.”

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Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Golden Son by Pierce BrownGolden Son by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #2
on January 6th, 2015
Genres: Science-Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 430
Goodreads

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

4.5 Stars

Red Rising was a fascinating start to a sci-fi that could be described as The Hunger Games meets Rome, yet I remember struggling with the dense writing. The plot had me curious for its sequel Golden Son, though, and so I continued my journey with my favourite buddy reader Simona. And boy, we were in for a surprise.

Golden Son was absolutely golden, so to speak. Pierce Brown moves the plot away from a feisty children’s playground and turns the heat up a notch. Golden Son equals fireworks of character development, epic plot twists, and a gut-wrenching cliffhanger ending that will rip your heart out and leave it there to dry. It is a multi-layered cake with politics, scheming, rebellion, alliances, friendship, and a sprinkle of romance. The word ‘Second Book Syndrome’ does not seem to exist in Brown’s vocabulary. 

“I’ll be Odysseus. You be Achilles.”
“Achilles dies in the end.”
“Then learn from his mistakes.”

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