BOOK REVIEW: Alexandra Christo “To Kill a Kingdom”

34499221Title: To Kill a Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts: 

This is how you write a retelling, people. It doesn’t have to be the same in every way and it’s okay if it’s a looser portrayal. To Kill a Kingdom is a re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, and I have to say that I loved it even more than the original.

Now truth be told I don’t actually love the original Disney adaptation with Ariel’s insisting “but Daddy, I love him” and claiming she’s “not a child anymore” when she’s 16. (You know you’re getting old when you start to side with the adults in kid’s movies?) I also can’t say that I’m all too familiar with the original original story, except that I know it’s quite sad so I have no interest in it. Happily ever after or bust, man.

Yet Allie Christo’s adaptation was everything I need from a good story: morally grey MCs, hilarious secondary characters, a psycho villain, slow-burn romance, clever banter and action.

I had my doubts about this book considering I have no love for Ariel and Eric, but Lira and Elian are bae and I say this unironically. From the very beginning, I rooted for them both and they were such believable characters. Even though they weren’t likable right of the bat, I connected with them and in turn, grew to love them.

The world that Christo created was fascinating, both on land and in the water. I loved the world of the sirens and mermaids and also loved the different kingdoms and cultures that Elian’s crew encounters. Plus, the dynamics between Lira and Elian were amazing: Lira, siren, Princes’ Bane and Elian, pirate, prince, siren hunter. And yet throughout the book, only Lira knows both of their identities since Elian still believes that she’s human.

Also let’s talk about the writing: it was incredible.

… Oh, I thought I had more to say about that. Moving on.

In conclusion, To Kill a Kingdom was such a fun, satisfying romp and Christo has been added to my list of authors on my auto-buy list. My wallet says thanks.

 

Alexandra Christo: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Tricia Levenseller “Daughter of the Pirate King”

33643994Title: Daughter of the Pirate King

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Genre: Fantasy/Action Adventure

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts:

This had all the makings of an entertaining, action-packed read: snarky female character, swoony love interest and unique magical elements. Instead, all I felt was frustration throughout this entire reading process.

Alosa is, as the title mentions, the pirate king’s daughter. This makes her incredibly well-trained, smart and quick, so her father sends Alosa on a mission to steal a piece of a map which is hidden on board an enemy ship. To do this, she purposely allows the ship’s captain to take her prisoner so that she can then escape and search for the map piece. At any point, Alosa could supposedly easily escape if she wanted to, except she obviously wants to stay on board until she completes her mission.

See, but here’s the thing: if she could so easily escape undetected, why is it that every time she broke out of her cell to search the ship, she ends up getting caught? If she’s so dang good, why does she continue to be found out? Every time someone finds her out of her cell, she makes some half-hearted attempt to escape so that the crew continues to think that she truly doesn’t want to be there. Yet after the third, fourth, fifth time, it just became pathetic.

So in this barely 300-page book, Alosa spends practically the first 225 pages escaping, unsuccessfully searching for the map piece, getting caught and being thrown back in her cell. Over and over and over again. It just became so old and repetitive that it took away much of the enjoyment for me.

Otherwise, I feel I would have loved this. Alosa and Riden (the captain’s brother and first mate) exchanged some hilarious flirtatious banter that made me laugh out loud several times. I loved the siren abilities that Alosa is eventually revealed to have later in the book; her ability to see people’s emotions as colors in her siren vision and the things she was able to do with her song was so cool.

Things finally started to pick up and start happening in the last 75 pages or so of the book, but by then I was so done that I couldn’t bring myself to care. It’s really unfortunate that I didn’t like this more. However, I’m fully planning to read the sequel, Daughter of the Siren Queen, because I have hopes that it will be a significant improvement on the first book. Hopefully Levenseller focuses more on Alosa’s abilities and on creating a more engaging plot. For now though, this remains an unsatisfactory debut.

 

Tricia Levenseller: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Sarah J Maas “Crown of Midnight”

covers_244928Title: Crown of Midnight

Author: Sarah J Maas

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

*Summary provided by Goodreads.

WARNING: this review will contain spoilers for both the first and second books of the Throne of Glass series. Proceed with caution.

My thoughts:

This is it. This is the book where things start to get crazy. And we’re only at book two.

Sarah J Maas is a genius crafter and creator, her books constantly taking wild turns, revealing shocking secrets and being chock-full of action, wit, humor and feeling. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: her stories only get better and better. She one-ups herself every dang time and it is emotionally exhausting, can you please just chill, SJM?

I remember reading the book the first time around and being like, “Oh, this is cool, an assassin with a mysterious past and woah now, what’s this about summoning monsters and Wyrdmarks and what?” Then I read the second book and I was like, “Okay, cool, I know what to expect now, there’s some magical/supernatural elements and some creepy Valg things and HOLY CRAP, CELAENA IS FAE?” And it just kept getting better as the books went on. Every time I opened a new one, I’d think, “I know what’s coming, I know this world now, it’s all good,” and by the time I was finished, I was on the floor gasping for breath because wow.

Plus that huge reveal at the end? I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming, and I can’t say that lost princesses are a super original story trope. But you have to admit, that reveal was so dang satisfying. Chaol slowly putting the pieces together, the facts slowly dawning on him and the book ending with him finding out? It was brilliant.

The scenes under the library were so chilling and creepy that I quite literally had to read with my back against a wall so I could see the entire room. I don’t care that I’ve read this before and I know what happens, it’s downright terrifying.

I have to say that I docked half a star for two reasons: I thought it was sort of ridiculous that Celaena didn’t realize that Asher was playing her. It was obvious to me from the beginning that he was being shady, and so that whole part of the plot was frustrating to me. I also hated what occurred between Celaena and Chaol. Sure, should he have told her about the possible threat on Nehemia’s life? Maybe. But as the reader, I could understand Chaol’s dilemma and I never ever blamed him for Nehemia’s death. And Celaena is smart enough to realize that her newfound hatred for Chaol was pointless. Sure, it would probably have put a rift between them romantically, but she shouldn’t have wanted to kill him for what he did.

Also, where are all the Chaol-haters at? I want someone to explain to me why they don’t like him, because I honest-to-God don’t understand it. I promise not to try to sway you or change your mind, I’m simply curious about the reason for the negative feels!

This book series is incredible and I’m so excited for the new book and if I sit here and continue talking about it, I could type for days. Have a great weekend, everyone.

 

Sarah J Maas: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Ashley Poston “Heart of Iron”

35422236Title: Heart of Iron

Author: Ashley Poston

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Ashley Poston, author of Geekerella, takes us on a science fiction adventure described as Anastasia-meets-Firefly (two of my favorite things). Ana is desperate to fix her best friend/robot/secret love of her life but is missing an essential piece; a piece she is willing to do dangerous things for.

Robb, meanwhile, is going in the same direction, but for very different reasons. He’s trying to find his father who went missing 7 years ago. Ana and Robb’s paths cross on their way to the Tsarina where they hope to find what they’re looking for. Instead, they become fugitives on the run from the empire and are forced to work together.

My thoughts:

This was rough.

Ashley Poston is an amazing person. I loved Geekerella more than words can say, and learning that Heart of Iron was being pitched as an Anastasia retelling made me happier than words can say. Anastasia has been a long-running obsession in my lifetime and there are very few movies/conspiracy theories that I love more.

Anastasia in space? Sign me up. Anastasia meets Firefly? Cue the tears.

Yet this was not at all what I thought it was going to be. And I can’t decide if it’s more mine or Poston’s fault.

I don’t want to say that the book was bad, because it wasn’t. And just because it wasn’t what I expected doesn’t mean that some other Anastasia-loving reader wouldn’t enjoy this. Unfortunately for me, this book just missed the magic of the original Anastasia story, and this made me incredibly sad.

And it sucks, guys, because I’ve been looking forward to this book for months. There’s no one on the planet who was more excited for this book release. It was just missing something.

I tried desperately to find Dimitri in the midst of this star-studded story, yet only found myself confused and conflicted by the human/robot romance. The secondary characters were a fresh inclusion, but the instalove was real and the character development almost nonexistent.

As for the relationship between Ana and her grandmother, I found that to be one of the most beautiful parts of the original story: the family reunion. Yet here, the Grand Duchess was cold and ignorant and insensitive to Ana’s past and there was no heartwarming coming-together.

Ana was revealed to be the lost princess about halfway through the book, which is fine I suppose. Well, it would have been. Yet after we discover Ana’s surprising heritage, it seemed like the rest of the story fell apart.

I struggled hard with this story. I didn’t want to compare it too much with the original Anastasia movie, especially once I realized that Poston’s retelling was much looser than I had anticipated. Yet even after I chose to ignore all the things that I felt didn’t quite meet the mark, the basic story itself seemed weak.

Overall, I wanted so badly to enjoy this book, and I will still continue with the series. However, it definitely wasn’t what I hoped it would be, and the end result fell short.

 

Ashley Poston: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Victoria Schwab “This Savage Song”

{A62F21A6-0618-40CF-BDDA-23C38468FA5C}Img400Title: This Savage Song

Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: Fantasy/Dystopian

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

In the city of Verity, the people live in fear of two things: the monsters, and the man who controls the monsters.

There are three types of monsters: the Corsai, the Malchai, and the Sunai. The first two are terrifying creatures that murder their prey brutally, the first feeding on flesh and bone, the second feasting on blood. That is, unless you’re under the protection of Callum Harker. Then you carry a medallion that will ward off the monsters and ensure your safety.

The Sunai are much more rare. In fact, there are only three known Sunai, and they’re the most mysterious and terrifying of all. They feast on the souls of sinners.

August Flynn is a Sunai, but he doesn’t want to be. He wishes he were human and he hates what he is. Still, his path crosses with that of the daughter of Callum Harker, Kate, and there is born an unlikely friendship between enemies.

My thoughts:

I love how unique this story is; there really isn’t anything quite like it. Each monster is born from some sinful act, whether it be theft or lies or murder. Unlike the Corsai and the Malchai, August, a Sunai, can only feed on the souls of sinners. AKA, people who have killed mass amounts of people in this case. These monsters appeared after the Phenomenon, or the Phenomenon occurred because the monsters were born, I’m not sure. Honestly, the Phenomenon is still a mystery to me, and I think that’s the idea. This aspect of the story is very intriguing and I’m excited to learn more in the second and final book, Our Dark Duet.

The characters were interesting and well-done, particularly the two main characters. I enjoyed Kate and August’s interactions and banter, and I loved the friendship that develops between them. When Kate finds out what August really is, I love that she gives him the benefit of the doubt, and she takes into account what she knows of his character. She doesn’t immediately write him off and grows to trust him despite his true identity.

Unfortunately, while I was still very interested in the story within the first half, it was also slow. I understand that Schwab was taking her time building the world and unfolding each character to us, but it took me forever to read it and seemed to drag. Still, it picked up later on and I loved where it went.

Other than that, I don’t have too much to say about the book. What else is there to mention? I look forward to reading Our Dark Duet soon so that I can finish this up and see how August and Kate’s story ends. I have high hopes!

Victoria Schwab: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads