Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir


Title: A Torch Against the Night 
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2 
Author: Sabaa Tahir 
Publisher: Razorbill  
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Format: Hardback 

Page Count: 452

Rating: 


Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both. (taken from goodreads.com)


After finishing An Ember in the Ashes a few months ago, I immediately ordered the sequel. However, I just got around to reading A Torch Against the Night, despite the intense ending to the first novel. Surprisingly, it didn't take me long to jump back into the Empire and to remember its cast of characters. Elias, Laia, Helene, Izzi, and all of Tahir's memorable characters return in this second book to take a fierce stance against tyranny. 

This second installment definitely takes a darker turn. Sure, death and pain were no stranger in the first book, but blood and gore permeate almost every chapter of this intense sequel. I do believe that A Torch Against the Night is a little more creative than the first book, with expanded descriptions of the Empire and increasing encounters with mythical creatures. Once again, I was impressed by Tahir's world-building abilities, as well as her penchant for keeping readers on their toes. 

So, why did I award the first book 4.5 stars and this one 4 stars? To be quite honest, I'm having trouble placing my finger on what I didn't like about this sequel. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, and the story did keep me guessing. Having said that, I just wasn't as impressed by A Torch Against the Night. I think I was hoping for the book to go a little further than it did. Perhaps I would have felt more satisfied if the story had included a couple more hundred pages? 

The characters undoubtedly make this series the great success that it is. They're intricate and vividly described. Even though the chapters alternate between Helene, Elias, and Laia, it isn't difficult to enjoy every point of view. Tahir is a master of character development, and you definitely won't be disappointed by the characters you grew to love in the first installment. 

This series is still one I'd recommend to any fan of dystopian literature. The strong characters, intense plot, and intriguing writing will keep almost any reader engaged. I'll definitely be picking up the third book as soon as it hits shelves. When will that be, you ask? Rumors say 2018, and if that's the case, then I hope I can dive back into Tahir's world as easily as I did this time. 

            

This sequel met my expectations and has proven once again that Tahir is a talented author.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bone Witch

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for!

Title: The Bone Witch 

Author: Rin Chupeco 
Release Date: March 7, 2017



When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice. (taken from goodreads.com)

Why I Need It: 

Honestly, the title itself drew me in immediately. Plus the cover is pretty cool. I haven't been highlighting many dark upcoming novels on my WoW's lately, so I figured Chupeco's new novel deserved a little attention. I do have one question though... why is the girl's name "Tea"? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas



Title: Throne of Glass
Series: Throne of Glass #1 
Author: Sarah J. Maas 
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publication Date: August 7, 2012 
Format: Hardback 

Page Count: 404

Rating: 


After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. (taken from goodreads.com)


After reading raving reviews, spotting Throne of Glass coloring books in stores, and having multiple people recommend the series to me, I finally decided to give Sarah J. Maas' most popular series a shot. I read her other series and fell in love with A Court of Mist and Fury, so I figured it was about time I delved into Caelena's world to discover what all of the fuss was about. 

Caelena is your classic Katniss wannabe. I hate comparing heroines to each other, but honestly, I was scoffing at Caelena so often throughout the novel. She's packed with contradictions: she is not girly, but adores dresses and shopping. She's extremely athletic, but she'd rather read than run. She's beautiful, fierce, stubborn, kind, and basically every single attribute that can be given to a YA heroine. I kind of rolled my eyes as she checked every single box in the overdone YA badass. 


The story was entertaining, but nothing to write home about if you ask me. The YA heroine shows everyone else and is forced to battle for her freedom while she falls for two men. Yes, there's a love triangle, and it's not all that great. 

The one thing that kept me from really disliking the story was the end and the hint at an interesting back story. Maas wrote this book quite a long time ago, and I believe her writing has improved in more recent books I've read. Therefore, I'm clinging to the hope that this series will continue to improve as she expands upon interesting histories and politics. 

So, to sum it all up, I'm not the hugest fan of this series yet. However, I am willing to keep giving it a shot simply because everyone else seems to be so in love with it. Maybe the next book will impress me a little more. 

            

Definitely didn't hate Throne of Glass, but I really don't see what all of the fuss is about. 
Maybe the sequels are better? Can you guys attest to that? 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Throwback Author Spotlight: Jean Ferris

So many times when I go throw my personal bookshelf, I run my fingers over the first novels that introduced me to the young adult genre. I'm talking pre-Twilight-era books that hardly anyone discusses nowadays. These are the books that fostered my love for teen fiction, fantasy, and reading in general. Therefore, I've decided to occasionally spot-light some of these hidden gems, partially because they deserve it, but mostly because I want to revisit some of my old favorites. 

This time, let's talk about Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris (2002).



Who knew love could be so amazing—and stupefying? Not Christian. He was clueless when he started spying on the royal family through his telescope. He lives in a cave with a troll for a dad, after all. If his dad had only warned him about all that mind-boggling love stuff, maybe things wouldn't be such a mess. But then, maybe, Princess Marigold would be dead.

But Christian wasn't warned. And now that he's fallen for the princess, it's up to him to untwist an odd love triangle—er, rectangle—and foil a scheming queen who wants to take over the kingdom, even if it means bumping off her own daughter.

With echoes of William Goldman's modern classic The Princess Bride, Jean Ferris's hilarious parody of "Once upon a time . . ." overflows with oddball characters and sage observations—and ends with a slapstick happily-ever-after that's full of surprises.

(taken from goodreads.com)




Looking for a cute fantasy story? Well I honestly can't think of any story cuter than Once Upon a Marigold. Like the synopsis says, the story reminds me of The Princess Bride (aka one of the most hilarious and perfect stories ever told). 

This novel's got real character. Sure, it's lighthearted and definitely not a serious tale, but it's downright enjoyable. It's definitely been years and years since I read this one, but I remember recommending it to anyone and everyone after reading it. It's pure fun, and many of Ferris' other novels are equally enjoyable. 

Two other Ferris novels I'd recommend: