1 & 2 stars · Dystopian · Fantasy · Young Adult

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Others have said this book really feels more like a prequel, and I have to agree. None of the plotting, killing, etc happens in this book. it’s more of an introduction to all 3 girls, and their introductions at the festival. Only at the very end did some stuff actually start to happen. It seems like all the good I expected in this book will actually happen in the next.

A brief summary from Goodreads:

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose … it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.”

The characters aren’t bad but they also aren’t great. I loved the concept of the 3 queens with 3 specialties, though. I was extremely frustrated with Mirabella’s love at first sight romance. Without any magical reason saying they are fated, then I am seriously pissed at the two of them.

There was also something about the writing itself that seemed… off. Something in the third person format was jarring and felt impersonal.

Overall, I currently give this book 3 stars. It was good enough to make me want to read the book where the ACTUAL good stuff is supposed to be, it seems. If the second book does not live up, however, I will be back with an update and a demotion to 2 stars.

Update: Yeah… the second book wasn’t better. This is now a 2 star book. Review to come soon.

3 stars · Dystopian · Fantasy · Young Adult

Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

 

I gave this book 3.5 stars. Until the end, I would have given it a mediocre 3, but more on why in a minute. 

A brief summary from Goodreads:

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.”

This first book is very much the world building book. Camille, a belle, is raised an innocent, sheltered life. She’s a sweet girl that wants to help people learn to love themselves. When she gets old enough to start working though, she gets a rude awakening into reality. There are some not so great things going on in the real world related to the belles.

At first, I was intrigued, but the mysteries stayed mostly vague, and no plot really happened (the end is the exception). There was a lot of description of pretty people and pretty dresses, and after a while it got dull.

I was really getting bored, until it got to the end and the story started happening. At the end, there starts to be a plot. At the end, there starts to be some action. The end is what led me to actually have interest in reading the second one.

I know that a lot of other people liked this book more than I did (and even in interested in the sequel), so I would recommend this book. I think it also makes a difference knowing this is meant for world building, not plot. I will be reading the second one.

4 stars · Dystopian · Science Fiction/ Steampunk · Young Adult

Mini Review: Thunderhead by Neil Shusterman

This sequel did not disappoint. There continues to be great perspective and things to ponder. The “journal” entries in this one are the thoughts of the Thunderhead. It was really interesting to see the rationale for some of the things in its world.

Here is a  summary from Goodreads:

“Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?”
There are multiple, in depth storylines to follow about the main characters from book 1 as well as a few more.

The complexity of this world and how well it is put together continues to amaze me. I loved learning about it’s intricacies throughout the book, woven into the plot.

I don’t how else to describe it without taking the magic of the discovery away. I loved it just as much as I did the first book, and can’t wait to read the next one. I would highly recommend if you enjoyed Scythe.  I gave this book a rating of 4 stars.

 

 

4 stars · Science Fiction/ Steampunk · Young Adult

Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

This. book. was. so. cool! I was surprised just how much I loved it. Superheroes or super villains have been overdone in a lot of YA in the last few years, but these characters felt fresh. I enjoyed learning about their powers, but also their lives and personalities. The people in this story is what brings it to life, not their support power. 

Here is a brief summary from Goodreads:

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.”

There is a great discussion throughout the book. Which is better for society, a dictatorship or anarchy? We get a good look at both sides of the story and why each is preferred by different characters.

I equally loved all the characters. We get to see Nova’s renegade team in person, and through Nova we get to know the remaining anarchists as well. We also get to know about 2 council members through Adam.

Every character had it’s place, and it’s reason. They all felt like they belonged and had a purpose for being in the story.

The ending was a satisfying conclusion while still foreshadowing what’s to come in book 2. It didn’t feel like a cliff hanger, and I’m glad. Also, it is a duology. I’ve found myself enjoying duologies more and more lately. It seems like so many trilogies lately are forced into 3 drawn out books that would have been so much better succinctly in 2.

Rating:

I gave this book 4 stars, and I would highly recommend this book, and can’t wait to read the sequel!

3 stars · Young Adult

Review: The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

2.5 stars, which really bums me out! I was so excited for this book! Monty is an 18 year old gentleman in historical England who is attracted to men in a time when that is highly unacceptable. He’s also secretly in love with his best friend. His sister is a female interested in education, culture, and science, in a time when girls were sent to finishing school to become proper wives, not taken to museums. Continue reading “Review: The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue”

4 stars · Nonfiction · Young Adult

Nonfiction: Eating Mindfully for Teens by Susan Albers

published April 1, 2018; 184 pages

This is a great book on mindful eating! I definitely appreciated some of the tips as a 20-something adult, and I know I would have appreciated it as a teen or beginning college student. The author’s experience working with teens shows in the writing. She knows her audience. While she does include examples from both male and female teens (and could benefit both genders), the book is definitely geared toward a more female audience.

The book is broken down into four sections: mindful eating, mood, mindset, and motivation. She addresses strategies for eating in the moment, gauging and being aware of hunger, emotional eating and strategies to cope with it, how mindset can effect eating and how to rephrase thinking positively, and more. Everything is broken down into easy, doable exercises. While I personally found the most value in the first two sections, I can see how the latter two will benefit some teens.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, adult or teen alike, who is interested in a simple, easy to understand way to get better at mindful eating, gauging hunger, and/or avoiding emotional eating.

3 stars · Fantasy · Young Adult

Review: Unblemished by Sara Ella

published Oct 11, 2016; 353 pages

Brief Summary from Goodreads:

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

3 stars. While it is definitely a bit more corny and aimed at a slightly younger teen audience than what I usually read, I still found myself enjoying the story.

This was a solid book with plenty to love. The fantasy world is great and has a ton going on. While the transition into it is a bit rocky, it was easy to get involved once the story was solidly there. I would actually say the same for the love triangle. At first, it feels a bit rocky and forced, but as we get into it I was fully on board. I also loved how innocent it was. The whole book has a strong theme around kisses and their importance, and that’s as steamy as the book ever gets. As a book that felt aimed at a younger teen audience, I felt this was appropriate.

There were, however, a lot of little things that kept me from being fully immersed in the story:

1. I was really bothered by all the put downs El gives herself from the very beginning. She has a birthmark, and thinks that this means she is ugly and that people should hate her and she should have no friends because of it. She is constantly putting herself down. Her mother also refuses to let her have social media accounts or even have a school picture, and El decides this must be because she is so ugly. I didn’t feel like this was a good message to be sending to anyone. It’s okay to be embarrassed or uncomfortable about a particular feature; that’s pretty common teen stuff. But the all out hate on herself about it was much too much.

2. The transition from real world to fantasy world was a bit jarring, and made more annoying by El’s blantant questions about things. It was very obvious that it was put there to explain things to the reader, and didn’t feel very natural. It got a lot better as the story progressed though.

3. El makes a lot of snarky comments and WAY to many pop culture references throughout the book. A little of it has it’s place, but there was much too much of it. In many instances, it wasn’t necessary to feel the tone of the situation. It just jarred me out of the story.

Over all, I did enjoy this book. While I would encourage anyone interested to read it, but wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it.