REVIEW: The Girl King – Mimi Yu (ARC)

38232365Title: The Girl King (The Girl King #1)
Author: Mimi Yu
Rating: ★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

The Girl King is an East Asian inspired story full of fantasy elements, a magic system, and sisterly betrayal. The synopsis is really intriguing and I was invested in the plot, however this was a difficult review to write, because while there was a lot I liked about the book, there were also a few things I didn’t enjoy. 

One of the things I liked was that I was never bored while reading. The pacing was well-done, and I never had a problem with the story capturing my attention. There were even a times when I had a hard time stopping and wanted to continue to read chapter after chapter. The story was told through three different character POVs: Lu, Min, and Nokhai. Each chapter was told in third person, which made it harder to connect with the characters. I liked reading Lu and Nokhai’s chapters; I really loved Lu’s narrative arc and Nok was such an interesting character that I hope to learn much more about in the next books!

Another aspect I really loved about The Girl King was the dichotomy of personality between Lu and Min, and how each sister changed and adapted to their situation as the book progressed. I wasn’t a fan of Min’s chapters, although I did appreciate her transition from a guileless and quiet young girl into arguably the antagonist. Her naivety and youth were frustrating to read, especially when it came to some of the choices she made, but I can’t argue that she makes an intriguing character for upcoming sequels. 

I wanted to love The Girl King much more than what I did, but unfortunately there were a few aspects of the story that made it harder to connect with and enjoy. Despite the things I didn’t like, there were quite a few that I did really like and so I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Character Names

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today is a throwback week, and since I was really bummed when I missed this theme earlier in the year, I decided to dedicate today’s post to my favorite character names! Although this post could also be appropriately named: Favorite Character Names I Plan to Give My Future Children 😂 because yes, I am That Girl™️ who already has her future children’s names picked out, and yes they are all book related. 

1. LARK  from The Bird and the Sword
This is one of my favorite names ever and you can bet if I’m ever blessed with a daughter this will be her name. 

2. KESTREL from The Winner’s Kiss
Another name that I really adore, and if I’m blessed enough with two daughters, this will be the second’s name. And actually not too long ago I mentioned how much I love this for a girl’s name and my mom agreed, so it already has Mother’s Approval! 

3. LUKA from Wolf by Wolf
I am obsessed with this name, but unfortunately it’s now becoming very popular (I work on a mother/baby unit and so I keep track of these things 😂). Regardless, if I have a son there is a 100% chance this will be his name.

4. ELIAS from An Ember in the Ashes
Life is full of learning, and this year I learned that I have been mispronouncing this name all along…whoops. And even though it sounds differently than what I had first thought, I still really love it and hope I have a chance to use it for a son. 

5. MAL from The Grisha Triology
Yes, I’m aware that this is actually short for Malyen, but I love the nickname Mal so much, and it’s also frequently used as short for Malcolm as well. 

6. LIESEL / LIESL from The Book Thief and Wintersong
This is such a beautiful name for a girl. It sounds so whimsical and feels like it belongs in a fairytale. 

7. THEA from The Mistress of Rome
I really love how classical this name sounds and it’s meaning and origin. 

8. MARGEURITE from Firebird Trilogy
Another name I love just because it sounds so beautiful and feminine. 

9. ALINA from The Grisha Trilogy
I love this name mostly because I love this character so much. It’s such a pretty name and I really like it’s Slavic meaning, “bright or beautiful”.

10. REYNA from The Heroes of Olympus
In the past, this definitely would have been in contention for a future daughter’s name. However, I bestowed the name unto my wonderful Australian Shepherd and I can’t imagine ever reusing the name (for a child or another pet). 

REVIEW: The Winter of the Witch – Katherine Arden (ARC)

36621586Title: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3)
Author: Katherine Arden
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

“Come with me, Snegurochka. I know a house in a winter forest.”

When I read The Girl in the Tower last year, it quickly became one of my favorite books ever, which was a total surprised since The Bear and the Nightingale was enjoyable, but not mind-blowing. The Winter of the Witch was not only a satisfying conclusion to the series, but an absolutely stunning and magical story all on its own. 

“But who could do it other than she? You can be a bridge between men and chyerti, Morozko had said. She thought she understood that, now.”

As with the second, The Winter of the Witch picks up right where the last book left off, making it easy to transition back into the story. Vasya continues to be one of the best written female protagonists I’ve ever read – and one of my very favorite heroines in literature. Her character growth throughout the series is amazing, and her bravery, strength, and compassion are admirable traits that only speak to some her well-roundedness. In addition to Vasya, there were so many other characters whom I loved reading about: Sasha, Olga, Marya (although there wasn’t as much of her in this one), Dmitrii, Ded Grib, and Pozhar to name a few. And of course, there’s Morozko, our morose winter-king. My adoration for that brooding frost-demon only grew in this novel, and I couldn’t get enough of his scenes, especially the angst with Vasya. Chapter 17 very nearly put me in an early grave, you guys. 

She whispered, “You are not alone anymore.”
“I know,” he whispered. “Neither are you.”

I’ve said this before, but the atmospheric setting in these books is one of the best I’ve ever written. Katherine Arden is such a talented author: her lush writing, vivid descriptions,  and carefully crated historical and fairytale elements create such a magical story. And the wintry setting made this a perfect read for winter time. 

He was only half there; the wind seemed to blow through him.
“As I could, I loved you too,” she whispered.
Their eyes met. Then he was gone, gone on the rising wind, blown through the wild air. 

There is so much to love about The Winter of the Witch, and I will never stop recommending this series to people. From the writing to the characters to the storytelling, The Winternight trilogy is an enchanting, whimsical story perfect for those who love a blend of fantasy and folklore. 

BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY: Realm of Ruins – ARC Review

Welcome to my stop on the Realm of Ruins book tour! Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour host!


ABOUT THE BOOK

M3SFH_vwTitle: Realm of Ruins (The Nissera Chronicles #2)
Author: Hannah West
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: YA Fantasy

Valory’s power is different…it’s dangerous, unruly, and destructive. But can she channel it to crush a cunning enemy and save the realm from chaos? 

Welcome to Nissera, land of three kingdoms and home to spectacular magic.

A century after her legendary ancestors overcame a bloodthirsty tyrant, seventeen-year-old Valory Braiosa attends a training academy for elicromancers, immortal beings with magical gifts. Yet Valory’s immense power seems impossible to tame, and she faces imprisonment by the Nisseran authorities. Then a forbidden resurrection spell awakens a long-dormant evil, and Valory may be the only one who can vanquish this terrifying villain. Together with a band of allies—including an old friend; a haughty princess; and a mysterious, handsome stranger—Valory must learn to harness her power and fight back.

Weaving together her imaginative world of gritty fairytale magic with snippets from Beauty and the Beast and other classic stories, Hannah West’s dark and dangerous adventure is a gripping, immersive companion to her acclaimed debut, Kingdom of Ash and Briars. This richly packaged edition includes an illustrated family tree, detailed map, and embossed jacket with shimmering metallic effects.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Kobo


REVIEW

ARC provided by the publisher. 

Realm of Ruins is a companion novel to Kingdom of Ash and Briar, and while there are a few references to the previous book, you can definitely enjoy this without reading it and understand everything that is happening! 

One of the things I liked best about Realm of Ruins, was that the action started right away, quickly pulling you into the book. There is so many elements of fantasy (especially YA fantasy) in this that I really love: magic, fairy-tale retellings, quests, hidden powers. Hannah West does a great job introducing the world and magic system in a way that is understandably, and yet without long passages of info dumps. The Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid aspects of the story were intricately woven into the plot, although I do wish those parts of the story had been expanded upon a bit.

The action and the characters are the main driving force of the story. The book is non-stop action and adventuring from the beginning, so the story was able to hold my attention throughout the novel. I also really enjoyed the characters and their contributions to the story, which also helped keep me engaged and interested. I absolutely loved how the story ended. To me, the last chapter seemed a bit ambiguous – especially in regards to Valory – and I was totally digging it. I almost wish the book had ended there, instead of with the epilogue, because I think it would have been a stronger finish. The epilogue didn’t focus as much as closer for the characters as I would have liked and I really feel like there were a few loose ends that needed wrapping up. I’m not sure if it was the author’s intention or not, but it almost feels like another book is possible in the future? If so, I look forward to it!   

★ ★ ★ ★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

-QDTbixgHannah West is the author of Kingdom of Ash and Briars and its companion, Realm of Ruins. She’s always loved writing about magic and fairytales, but her time studying abroad in Orléans, France inspired her to finally write and publish a fantasy novel. She’s a freelance writer and vegetarian living in Texas with her husband and their rambunctious blue heeler.

 

Follow Hannah:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Win one (1) of five Nissera Chronicles bundles. Bundle includes one copy of Kingdom of Ash and Briar and one finished copy of Realm of Ruins.

 ✨ ENTER HERE ✨


FOLLOW THE TOUR

Week One:
December 4 | The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club

December 5 | The Reading Corner For All
December 5 | Wishful Endings
December 5 | Utopia State of Mind

December 6 | Paws and Paperbacks
December 6 | Jrsbookreviews
December 6 | Bri’s Book Nook
December 6 | Mythical Books

December 7 | Rhythmicbooktrovert
December 7 | Moonlight Rendezvous
December 7 | Adventures and Readings

December 8 | Nay’s Pink Bookshelf
December 8 | 808bookdr
December 8 | Library of a Book Witch
December 8 | Confessions of a YA Reader

Week Two:
December 9 | A New Look on Books Blog
December 9 | The Critic Uncritical Bookworm
December 9 | Kait Plus Books

December 10 | My Fangirl Chronicles
December 10 | Fyrekatz Blog
December 10 | Belle’s Book Blog
December 10 | Oh Hey! Books

REVIEW: Fire and Heist – Sarah Beth Durst (ARC)

23510085Title: Fire and Heist
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Rating: ★★★ 

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

I never would have thought to combine Ocean’s Eleven with were-dragons, and yet here this novel stands. Fire and Heist not only has a well-written and super interesting premised, but it was really fun to read!

I’m not sure what I was expecting going into this as far as the setting, but when I read that it was set in an alternative-modern day, I found myself pleasantly surprised. The beginning of the book was a bit confusing, however. The story and the protagonist, Sky, continuously mention the “family business” and heists, but it was never actually explained what exactly the family business was and why they needed to go on heists. You kind of learn and make assumptions as the book goes on, but I think it needed to be expounded upon a little more.

The writing was great! This is my first novel by Sarah Beth Durst and I found her writing to be light, witty, and quirky – which fit this book perfectly. I also really enjoyed the heists and the way they were written: it was easy to follow along with the action and thrilling to read about! Another aspect of the book that I give huge props to the author for was the romance. Fire and Heist is a standalone, and one of the issues with standalones is balancing a love interest with good pacing in a short period of time without it turning into insta-love. The love interest in this book is an ex-boyfriend, and so the feelings were not only already established, but it added a new and unique kind of angst to the story.

Fire and Heist is a standalone that can most accurately be described as Ocean’s Eleven + were-dragons. If you enjoy quick, light-hearted, thrilling stories full of were-dragons, gold, and fun heists, than I suggest checking this out!