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Book Review of Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova

Crystal CrownedI am saddened to be writing this review for it is my review of the final book in the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova, a series that I have loved dearly. I am not ready to say goodbye to my new friends.

SUMMARY: 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?

WHAT I THOUGHT: This being the final book in the series I had high expectations for a “good” wrap up. And those expectations were nearly met.

Let’s start with the bad: The first half of the book has Vhalla and Aldrick wandering around seeing everyone and gathering support. This part left me feeling antsy. I had hoped the book would take off with a bang where Book 4 ended. And it didn’t. I’ve read the book twice now and I understand why Elise did what she did from a plot perspective, but I think there are other ways to wrap things up that involve more action in terms of taking on Victor, right up front.

The good then: I loved how Kova allowed Vhalla and ALdrick’s relationship to deepen and grow. I particularly enjoyed the part where Vhalla comes to understand that Aldrick really wants to be married where his parents were. He asks for so few things, but this detail where we get to see one thing that really matters to him, after so much has been stripped away from him throughout his life, was a perfect conclusion for them.

I was a bit disappointed that Daniel’s character ended up the way he did, but that’s just my optimism showing through. I get that in life not everyone comes out a winner and Kova did a good job at reflecting reality with him.

The great: In a word, Jax. For all his quirks, I love this man. And we finally get to understand why he acts the way he does. Him and Elecia. The two of them were string minor characters and I love how they got to share the limelight in this final installment.

And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the epilogue. This section was just perfect. It allowed me to take a deep breath and sigh contentedly. Kinda of like the perfect champagne with strawberries and bree at the end of a long day.

I give Crystal Crowned 4.5/5.0

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Book Review of The Crown’s Game

TheCrownsGameA fun tale with a hint of Russian history mixed in. That’s how I summarize The Crown’s Game by debut author Evelyn Skye.

SUMMARY (from back): Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know.  The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

WHAT I THOUGHT: The concept of a wizarding duel is what hooked me on the book. Well, that and the amazing cover. That said though, I felt like the book didn’t quite live up to the expectations set.

The book started out slow. The first half was filled with introducing characters etc, and I nearly put it down. But with the promise built up for the book, and the fact that it’s traditionally published, I hung in there.

I enjoyed the three main characters: Vika, Nikolai and Pasha. Vika and Nikolai are enchanters while Pasha is heir to the throne of Russia. The three end up in a love triangle, which I didn’t mind, but my problem is I don’t feel like I got t o know the characters well enough to cheer for any of them. Things happen, but I’m left feeling incomplete. I wanted more depth.

As for the plot, this, too, disappointed. I was never clear why either character chose to do what he/she did each turn. Short of one-ups-man-ship, I found what they did creative, but lacking context other than, do the next move bigger.

Then there was the ending. I was hoping neither protagonist had to really die, that their magic would save the day somehow. I was disappointed.

This is the debut of YA author Evelyn Skye so I will give her that, yet with it being traditionally published, I’d hope for more.  I give this book 3 stars.

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Review of A Court of Mist and Fury

ACourtofMistandFury

Amazingly beautiful cover! So many unexpected twists. An ending I had to read twice as more and more depth was revealed. Oh so good! That’s A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.

SUMMARY (from back): 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.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Maas is a master at storytelling. Period. And this book is even better than the first in this series.

I chose to reread A Court of Thorns and Roses to get back up to speed before reading this one. And I’m glad I did because I’d forgotten so many of the details Maas gave us. For instance, I’d forgotten just how broken Feyre is from her time “under the mountain.” This installment picks up with Feyre reeling from that trauma. She’s back with Tamlin and we’re breathing a sigh of relief…but not for long for he wants to put her in a glass box to protect her from every danger (to protect his fragile heart), while she withers from the stifling confinement…confinement not unlike what she experienced under the mountain, and she fractures.

As if that’s not a complex enough beginning, the Lord of the Night Court intervenes… I love how Maas uses characters she’s coached us to hate, just to reveal another side that explains why they behave as they do…and from motives we not only accept, but actually advocate, launching us in a whole new direction. As a side note, I loved the banter between Feyre and Rhys–It’s clear they both use it to protect themselves from being vulnerable and exposed, but at the same time in my head I’m thinking, just lay yourself open and bear, you won’t regret it. Oh feels…

Sarah introduces a host of five major new characters, an inner circle, that are each so different from each other, wounded and traumatized just like Feyre. I loved how they each grow and develop throughout the story helping Feyre sort through and begin to heal from her brokenness. What awesome friends.

In book two, we also discover what that “minor” detail in book one accomplished when all seven Lords gave a drop of their power to bring Feyre back to life.  Look out. Talk about power…I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when Feyre masters these new abilities in book three because the story is just begging to go there, especially when the King of Hybern needs to be dealt with. And we already have forewarning that the dude plans to use Feyre, and not for good.

I have to add a plug for the world building as well. Maas added a lot more depth to several of the courts in book two–the political divisions between, the relative power of several, different races, and how betrayal can emerge without warning.

I must confess I JUST finished rereading the last five chapters of this book because the first time through I had to know how it ended, but Maas throws SO MANY details in those last chapters that my reread left my head spinning, it was so good.

CAVEAT: I need to mention that while this book is technically listed as “Teen,” there are several explicit sex scenes that had a purpose in the narrative, but if you are turned off by that kind of thing, you’ll probably want to steer clear.

I give this 5 stars!

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Review of The Rose and The Dawn

TheRoseandtheDawnI loved The Wrath and The Dawn, and could not wait for this second book in The Wrath & The Dawn series by Renee Ahdieh!

SUMMARY (from back): In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

WHAT I THOUGHT:  I have great respect for authors who can craft tight, flowing sentences and such great writing, as I’ve come to expect from Renee Ahdieh, filled the pages of this book 🙂

In this book, I appreciated the author giving us more depth into some of the co-stars of the series: Tariq, Rahim as well as Despina.  In fact, she gives us a great shock with Despina for I never expected to find out what I did about her. That, combined with another shock related to Khalid at the very end, made the book one I’d recommend reading.

Despite my excitement at the release of this book, I have mixed feelings about this second installment. The Wrath and The Dawn posed an awesome conflict with a king forced to kill his wife at dawn every day until a curse had been fulfilled. The premise intrigued me and I thought the author’s narrative proved consistent and compelling with Shahrzad standing up and refusing to allow it to continue.

This book, to me, lost the focus and pace. In this installment, the curse is addressed although we never truly find out (we are left to infer) that the curse is broken. I found the pace dragging for the first 25% of the book with characters doing a lot of sitting around, waiting. Only after that do we finally get the plot truly moving.

I also found the end dissatisfying with how the author wrapped up the story with Shahrzad’s father, a conflict that I thought a lot more could have been done with. Initially there is the set up that the guy won’t let the book out of his sight, and all it takes is a daughter to spike his tea and that conflict is fixed. I was disappointed that the author chose not to make this into a much bigger problem before the book’s resolution. It could have been epic.  But all we see is a weak character when he had so much potential. The end of his character arc wasn’t any better. I won’t say what exactly happens to him, but it certainly wasn’t epic.

I give this 4 stars!

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Review of The Wrath & The Dawn

TheWrathTheDawn TheWrathTheDawn2

 

 

 

 

 

 

This cover is SO cool and is just one reason I love this book so much!! I was very familiar with the red cover and when I went on Amazon to download it I found this new version…and that’s when I realized the image behind the original red cover. I’d never noticed before. How beautiful and fun is that?

SUMMARY (from back): A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

WHAT I THOUGHT:  The plot is what grabbed my attention first, but the writing and slow reveal of a deep and dangerous mystery kept me intrigued. The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of 1001 Nights (sometimes called the Arabian Nights).

I found the heroine, Shahrzad, to be a delightfully intelligent woman who, despite being filled with a narrative of avenging the death of her best friend Shiva, for the most part, manages her emotions and bides her time. This plotting allowed the author to slowly unfold the depth and mystery of her husband, Khalid, king of  the land and uncover why he murders his latest wife each morning. Books with overly emotional female protagonists tend to drive me crazy for I don’t see most women behave that way, and this author painted our heroine with grace and dignity.

The author adds more depth to Shahzad as she reveals some of the inner turmoil she experiences as love, and its tendency to overwhelm reason, have her falling for the very man she has committed to destroy, and guilt threatens to overcome…but she fights that battle.

Plot: If I overthink the plot this story would have very little appeal, for what emperor kills his wife every morning just to have a new woman replace her during the day? But since this is a retelling, I chose to just go with it and see where I ended up. And I would say it was a very enjoyable journey.

I particularly loved the scene where the relationship between Shahzad and Khalid is clarified and made different for both of them. They both understand their relationship can never be the same from that point forward. I do wish the author had developed Khalid’s thinking prior to this more fully so we better understood the gravity of this choice for him, as I think it would have completely rocked his world, but we don’t get a peek, only a hint that “something’s” afoot…darn 😦

The swoon factor is well done throughout as the pair confront their own inner turmoil. I loved the intimacy and vulnerability they both showed and how the author slowly developed not just a sexual relationship but slowly revealed the very essence of who each character is. Well done.

It’s clear book one sets up the next for we are left wondering how Shahzad will be reunited with her love and more. But this will be a short wait as the next installment is set to release April 26th. I’ve already pre-ordered mine and you’ll probably, too, if you choose to read this book!

I give The Wrath & The Dawn 5 Stars!

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Review of Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors

NyssaGlassCoverCreative. Engaging. Well written. These adjectives summarize well the fun steampunk novel, Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors by H. L. Burke.

SUMMARY (From back):  Nyssa Glass is a reformed cat burglar turned electrician’s apprentice, settled into a life repairing videophones and radio-sets. However, when her past comes calling, she finds herself forced into one last job. No one has entered Professor Dalhart’s secluded mansion in almost a decade, at least not and returned to tell the tale. If Nyssa wants to ensure her freedom, she’ll brave the booby trapped halls and mechanized maids. Nyssa has skills, but this house has more than its share of secrets. As she steps into the cobwebbed halls lined with dusty mirrors, she has to wonder. Is the House of Mirrors really abandoned?

WHAT I THOUGHT: I’ve never read anything by H. L. Burke before but when she offered her latest release to me for an honest review, I thought I’d check it out and I’m glad I did, for this fun adventure did not disappoint.

I love steampunk for the creativity authors show re: inventions in the Victorian era that could have been. This novel captured Burke’s vivid imagination as we find a house full of mirrors that feed data into a central computer. I love the imagery, for mirrors not only reflect ourselves, but more importantly, give sight and that’s the roll the host of mirrors throughout the old abandoned manor serve. In fact, after investigation, they reveal that the manor is not deserted at all. But what manner of beings  does Nyssa, our protagonist, find inhabit the place? Now that is the question…and it won’t be what you expect, trust me, for it proved a great plot twist when I found out.

The characters were well done as well. Our primary character, Nyssa Glass, is a spunky teen thrust into a situation not of her making. But this girl, who has a past she is trying to escape, proves quite the curious heroine as she befriends the house’s computer. I appreciated her resolve as well as ingenuity as she encounters obstacle after obstacle, but like McGyver, figures out a way through. If I had a complaint it would be with this character  for Nyssa’s seeming lacks of response to a horrific murder she witnesses as well as lack of an emotional response to who/what she finds  in the house. seemed odd. If I put myself in these situations, I would have totally freaked, but Nyssa puts on a stiff upper lip of sorts and under reacts. That’s not a big detraction from the narrative for she is very much an analytical, figure-things-out kind of character, but I thought Burke could have made her a bit more emotional.

I also loved the house computer Nyssa meets early on. The personality and humor it introduces are steampunk at its best and enhances the story.  If the protagonist isn’t reason enough, read this book for the computer, for we find out it’s more than just your average machine..and yet another great plot twist 🙂

Overall, I give this book 4.5 stars!

Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors will release on March 20th and if you pre-order before March 14th you can get it for just $.99. It will retail for $3.99 after that. Buy book at Amazon now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled “The Scholar and the Dragon,” YA/Fantasy “Beggar Magic,” and MG/Fantasy “Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon,” among others . Her current projects are a young adult Steampunk fantasy and an epic fantasy trilogy.

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FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Review of The Affiliate

The Affiliate CoverEngaging plot. Complex world. Scintillating romance. This is how I summarize The Affiliate by K. A. Linde.

SUMMARY (From back):  On the day of her Presenting, in front of the entire Byern Court, seventeen-year-old Cyrene Strohm’s lifelong plans come to fruition when she’s chosen for one of the most prestigious positions in her homeland—an Affiliate to the Queen.

Or so she thinks.

When Cyrene receives a mysterious letter and an unreadable book, she finds nothing is as it seems. Thrust into a world of dangerous political intrigue and deadly magic, Cyrene’s position only grows more treacherous when she finds herself drawn to the one man she can never have…

King Edric himself.

Cyrene must decide if love is truly worth the price of freedom.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I’m a sucker for a believable romance and this book definitely had that in spades. But there’s more. Linde introduces us to the complex world of Byren that is filled with numerous factions vying for their own gain and thus not friendly to each other…it’s the stuff great stories are made of, right?

The writing flowed and drew me in to the world. One thing I can’t stand is when I notice the writing, for it detracts from the narrative. This was not at all the case in this book. The prose hid behind the scenes and carried the story along.  I do have one complaint though and it’s purely one of style, but all the description of a new place/person was always in a large paragraph as the author introduced the “thing.” I prefer to have the details spread throughout several paragraphs so I can more easily “see” rather than be “told.” But as I say, that is more  a matter of preference.

The characters were a good mix of the best and worst of Byren and I enjoyed them. We start with the main protagonist, Cyrene who is a young woman whose selection has determined her path in life. Throughout the book we see her grow from a naive girl who has been raised in a privileged household into a young woman who catches the eye of the king, introducing her to a host of challenges I dare say her upbringing never prepared her for. We see her wrestle with inner conflicts about “knowing” the king but at every turn she holds firm to her values and principles. *claps* Good for her! I hate characters who are push-overs!

We also meet Cyrene’s best friend growing up, Rhea, and what a great friend she is. I loved her humility but helpfulness. She’s the best friend everyone wishes they had. And then there’s the bad boy, Ahlvie who flirts with trouble, keeping it as a close friend who definitely pushes the plot forward.

But we also have the folks of royalty before whom Cyrene must adapt in her new role: the king of course who surprises her senseless as she catches his eye. So naive is she that she doesn’t initially understand he views her more favorably than others. But of course the king’s affections can’t be left unchallenged, for that would make for a rather boring narrative. So, Cyrene ends up reporting to the queen… yes, exactly… And said queen is very aware of her husband’s interest in Cyrene. You see the conflict.*Rubs hands together and grins*

As for the plot, the narrative is well-paced with sufficient action and reflection sprinkled throughout. One objection I had to the plot is one of the initial scenes, that of a hazing-like ritual that happened completely unexpectedly and almost seems out of place. I believe I understand why the scene is there, but I would say it was too sudden as to make it seem strange and out of place.

That aside, I thought the author also did a good job planting two central mysteries to keep readers interested: the meaning of the Presenting letter and the book that no one but Cyrene can see writing in. And this is where Linde leaves us at the end of book one, going off to search out the meaning of both. I’ll bite. And now I can’t wait until book two comes out!!

I give this 4.5 stars!

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FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Review of Agent of the Crown

AgentoftheCrownWho do I want to be? This is the central question of the well-written Agent of the Crown (The Crown of Tremontane Book 3) by Melissa McShane.

SUMMARY (from back): Telaine North Hunter, Princess of Tremontane, is beautiful, spoiled, flirtatious, and the center of fashionable society throughout Tremontane.

She’s also a spy.

As an agent of the Crown, Telaine uses her high society connections to gather information for her uncle, King Jeffrey. But when an overheard conversation reveals a sinister plot centered on the Baron of Steepridge, Telaine must pose as a common Deviser in the distant frontier town of Longbourne to uncover the truth.

Fresh from her glittering world of the palace, Telaine is completely unprepared for rural life. She must conceal her identity not only from the townspeople, but from the suspicious, corrupt Baron as well. Her only assistance comes from Mistress Weaver, a local woman with an agenda of her own, and Ben, the handsome young blacksmith who reaches out a hand of friendship when others turn away.

As the days pass with no success in sight, Telaine’s pretense becomes real, and her growing attachment to Longbourne and its people comes into conflict with her mission. She can’t keep up the lie forever, but when the truth comes out, will she face it as the Princess—or as an agent of the Crown?

WHAT I THOUGHT: I enjoyed the previous two books in this series. They were thought-filled, inspiring, and romantic  and book three lives up to that same standard. While the cast of characters changes slightly, focusing this time on Telaine North Hunter, niece of King Jeffrey, there were many carryovers from the first two books to keep continuity.

As with the first two books, McShane weaves in a fundamental question we all ask of ourselves, who do I want to be? Telaine is a spy and as such acts in two roles, Princess and Devisor (an inventor of mechanical/repairer of “things”).  And her covers have her confused as to who she really is–a Princess who could not be more superficial or a Devisor who, for the first time in her life, is coming to understand and appreciate the down-to-earth people of Longbourne.

Telaine begins as a pampered young woman of the court who uses people for information. She is sent to the podunk little town of Longbourne where she initially wrestles with being rejected by the townspeople, wanting to fit in so she can accomplish her mission (or so she tells herself)–despite the fact that she knows she will not be in town after her mission ends. She acknowledges this oddity, but as she begins to fit in with the townspeople, she starts to appreciate their down-to-earth-ness, everything she hasn’t been at court. So begins her conflict of wrestling with who she is but more importantly, who she most wants to spend the rest of her life being.

McShane continues to build out the world of Tremontaine and we see more of the little town of Longbourne where Exile of the Crown, the novella bridge between book one and book two in the series takes place. We experience the toughness/closed-ness of the townsfolk but get a much more in-depth look at what binds them together…trust and love, as the book unfolds.

We see another glimpse of Zara North, former queen of Tremontaine, who, because of her magic she cannot die, has taken up residence in Longbourne. “Aunt Weaver” as she is known by Telaine, has settled in to a place that could not be more different than the palace as well. And her love of and loyalty to the townsfolk has her pressing the young spy about her true intentions.

I loved Ben Garrett. What a sweet, but introverted guy. He is a great foil against which Telaine has to finally come to grips with the life she really wants. And when he comes after her, to the palace of all intimidating places, out if his love for her, I was cheering!

Overall, a fitting conclusion to The Crown of Tremontane series. I will definitely be looking for McShane’s next book 🙂

I give this 5 stars!

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FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Review of The Snow Globe

TheSnowGlobe_coverImaginative with multiple plot twists. This is how I summarize The Snow Globe by Jenna Nelson.

SUMMARY (from back): By day, Sondrine Renfrew works at Cimmerian’s Curio Emporium, her aunt’s apothecary and antique shop in London, 1875. By night, she weaves fire, water, and air into both inanimate objects and living creatures. When a hooded stranger offers Sondrine a snow globe in trade for medicinal herbs, she accepts, enchanted by the castle, forest, and sea encapsulated under the glass.

Her enchantment fades, however, when her deceitful aunt betroths her to one of London’s wealthiest men—a complete stranger. Determined to escape the marriage, Sondrine trades her corset for trousers and decides to run away. With one foot out the door, she falls down a veritable rabbit hole into Winterhaven, the haunting world inside the snow globe.

Sondrine soon discovers her arrival in Winterhaven is no accident. There, she meets Shán, a man who broods more than the darkened sky above. Turns out Shán is not to be trusted. Not only is he the man who sold Sondrine the snow globe, he is a bounty hunter employed by the king. The beginnings of a sovereign war have been set in motion and an Immortal queen, one who uses fire as a weapon, is set on destroying Winterhaven. Because of her Elemental gifts, only Sondrine has the means to stop the queen. If Sondrine refuses the king’s request, he will behead her. If she rises to the challenge of killing the Immortal queen, her death is just as imminent. After all, an Immortal queen cannot be killed.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I was drawn to this book because of the premise that an entire world exists within a snow globe. Unlike Alice in Wonderland though, the main character, Sondrine, doesn’t have to fall down a rabbit hole to arrive. This is a debut novel and as such had sparks of brilliance mixed with some points that betrayed the author’s newness.

So then, for the characters, initially we meet Sondrine who seems spoiled and petulant, running away from an arranged marriage at the hands of her nasty aunt. I wasn’t sure if I’d like her to begin based upon who she is initially set up to be. She is a misunderstood Elementalist in London in the late 1800s. As the narrative moves forward though, the experiences she endures make her grow up quick and she begins to be more appreciative and more discerning.

The author also attempts a Snape-like character named Shan who one questions which side he is on. I thought this was carried out with fairly good success with the details woven throughout that have Sondrine, as well as we readers, second-guessing his true alligience.

The supporting characters like Zhang the Elder, Lark, Snap and others were fun additions to support the quest of freeing Winterhaven from the evil queen. Which actually brings up the question of why the queen wants to destroy the world of Winterhaven. She has a way of staying alive eternally, why must she try to destroy it?

As world-building goes I am on the fence as parts were absolutely brilliant, but others I felt like too much detail was described that served to confuse me rather than enhance. Some of the scenes, while vividly creative, seemed just too wild to be believable. I think some of these might not have been necessary to move the narrative along but a short mention of time passing would have sufficed for the purpose. In my view, this is just a “first” novel issue though and I fully expect the author will grow in her craft making these infrequent in the future.

One point I would have liked to see addressed in this first book in the series: we are not told how Winterhaven actually came to be within a snow globe…and that is one piece of detail that needs to be revealed for this narrative to make complete sense, especially with the close interplay between the worlds of London and Winterhaven.

One complaint I did have: The author set up a conflict with an evil queen early on in the book and grows it, but I have to say I was disappointed at how quickly and seemingly easy it was for Sondrine and Shan to eliminate her…unless they didn’t really succeed, which, if that’s the case, I guess we are left to find out in the next book. That was not made clear.

Overall, this was a fairly well done debut novel and as such had sparks of brilliance mixed with some points that betrayed the author’s newness. I loved where the author is going with the story arc and feel confident that as she matures in her craft, this world will get even better!

I give this 4 stars

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Review of Rite of Rejection

RiteofRejection_coverAmazing writing. Evolving characters.  Engaging plot twists. This is how I summarize Sarah Negovetich’s debut novel, Rite of Rejection.

SUMMARY: Straight-laced, sixteen-year-old Rebecca can’t wait for her Acceptance. A fancy ball, eligible bachelors, and her debut as an official member of society. Instead, the Machine rejects Rebecca. Labeled as a future criminal, she’s shipped off to a life sentence in a lawless penal colony.

A life behind barbed wire fences with the world’s most dangerous people terrifies Rebecca. She reluctantly joins a band of misfit teens in a risky escape plan, complete with an accidental fiancé she’s almost certain she can learn to love.

But freedom comes with a price. To escape a doomed future and prove her innocence Rebecca must embrace the criminal within.

WHAT I THOUGHT: For the record this is a Dystopian novel. And having Hunger Games and Divergent play big for so long, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to invest in another future society that’s gone to pot. But since the author was so nice and gave me the book, I plunged in. And I’m glad I did 🙂

First, I loved the premise of the book–a future society uses a machine to predict a person’s tendencies while still a teen, to weed out people who will harm the society in the future. I’d not seen such an idea explored and it’s pretty scary if you really think about it.

There were five primary characters–Rebecca, Eric, Elizabeth, Daniel, and Molly. While I felt Molly wasn’t well developed, the author did a good job at evolving the others, particularly the main protagonist, Rebecca, from a naive sixteen-year-old who wouldn’t think of hurting a flea, into a character resolved to sacrifice herself in order to change society. That’s quite a span to bridge but I thought Negovetich did it in a way that was believable, even including Becca’s first true love, with all the challenges that holds, in the process.

That said, the plot felt too predictable for the first half of the book. Kids are sent to the PIT (a prison-like facility) because a machine predicts they will become criminals in the future. Enter sixteen-year-old Rebecca who, despite how unlikely it seems, gets sent to PIT.  Of course the first half of the book is about how she and her compatriots try to break out…which is of course foiled.

IMO the book shines after this, and Negovetich’s brilliance is revealed for she takes Rebecca and her adoptive family of other teenage PIT convicts (Elizabeth and Daniel) and plants for them the opportunity to make a statement about what society  outside the PIT walls doesn’t know. In so doing, Rebecca is set up as the agent of change.

One complaint I had was the plot shift with Eric betraying the group seemed a bit sudden and I felt like it came out of the blue without enough lead in to make the moment more gripping. I feel like if the author had developed that a bit more, I would have felt personally betrayed and livid at the guy. But I came away from it as more of a fact that Rebecca and friends must deal with but not feeling it myself–it was more a surprise in an academic sense than experientially.

Overall, this was a great first novel by a debut author! If I could have had such a strong start…LOL! Look for Negovetich to refine her storytelling and become a force. If you like dystopian with a hint of romance thrown in, I think you’ll enjoy Rite of Rejection.

I give it 4.25 stars!

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IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought and then scroll to the top of this page and sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!