REVIEW: Spindle Fire – Lexa Hillyer

30163661Title: Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1)
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Rating: ★★

DNF @ 50%

Spindle Fire had so much promise. The idea of this book is incredibly creative and interesting, but unfortunately the writing and execution was poorly done and caused the story to fall flat. 

The writing was one of my biggest issues. When I read fairy tale retellings, I always look for writing that is enchanting and mesmerizing. In Spindle Fire, there is too much telling and not enough showing. It was like someone was just explaining what was happening in the story instead of me reading about it for myself. The writing felt choppy and forced, and was awkward to read. On top of that, it never pulled me in or retained my attention.

Another issue was the multitude of POVs. The story is told through the two main characters, Aurora and Isabelle, but a different character’s POV was inserted between each of their chapters. These were both annoying and useless, as they added nothing plotwise to the story. 

The book failed to do a good job of blending the fantasy elements with those of a typical fairy tale, and instead tried too hard to be like all the other YA fantasy/adventure stories flooding the market. Instalove? Check. Unnecessary love triangle? Check. Poor world-building and sloppy info-dumps? Check and check. I only made it halfway through the book before I had to quit: the plot was starting to get completely ridiculous and far-fetched, and it was becoming unenjoyable to read. 

I really wanted to like this, as the plot itself is wonderfully creative and interesting. Unfortunately for Spindle Fire, the writing and execution did absolutely nothing for the potential of an otherwise intriguing and creative story. 

REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

28449207Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Rating: ★★★★★

“In the realm of real, she might have been just a girl, in hiding and in peril, but in the unconscious mind she was all-powerful: sorceress and storyteller, puppeteer and dark enthraller. Sarai was the Muse of Nightmares.”

I must be on some fantastic reading roll, because lately I’ve only been reading really great books and Strange the Dreamer is no exception. 

Laini Taylor’s writing and vivid descriptions are as impressive as ever. She creates an immensely imaginative, magical world that pulls you right into the depths of the story. The plot is extremely well crafted and engaging, full of gods and goddesses, magical creatures, ghosts, and monsters. 

There was a large cast of characters that were diverse in their backgrounds, individuality, struggles, and personal stories. The variety of characters felt real and each was intriguing in their own way. I found both Lazlo and Sarai to be wonderful narrators and enjoyed reading from both of their POVs. 

I know the main romance is focused on the main characters, Lazlo and Sarai, whose love story is both beautiful and bittersweet, but I need to talk about Eril-Fane and Azareen for a moment. Their story is one of the most tragic and heartbreaking I have ever read, and they were only side characters. I felt so deeply for them that they quickly have become one of my favorite relationships ever. Every time another part of their story was revealed, my heart splintered into more and more pieces until I didn’t think I could take anymore. 

“Where, eighteen years ago, she had spent five, eager, tireless, burning nights with her beautiful young husband before the gods stole him away.”

“Theirs wasn’t the only love story ended by the gods, but it was the only one that ended the gods.”

“And Eril-Fane, it was his fate to see his bride led down the sinister corridor…and finally Isagol’s calculus had failed. Love was no match for what burned in Eril-Fane when he heard Azareen’s first screams.”

Erin-Fane’s guilt and shame and grief over his past was heartbreaking. Azareen’s unwavering devotion and support to him is heartbreaking. The state of what their relationship has become is heartbreaking. I honestly would read an entire book just on their story alone-past and present. The only thing I want out of the sequel is for them to have a happy ending. 

The end of the book was bittersweet and yet left me aching for the sequel. I’m excited for what Laini Taylor has in store for us. Overall, a richly imaginative and wonderful story. 

REVIEW: The Bird and the Sword – Amy Harmon

29008738Title: The Bird and the Sword
Author: Amy Harmon
Rating: ★★★★★

“You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.”

The Bird and the Sword is a captivating, enchanting, imaginative story. It’s a fantasy romance that reads like a dark fairytale: Amy Harmon’s writing is both poetic and simple, filling the story with magic. I was completely drawn in from the first page of the prologue and never wanted to stop reading.

There wasn’t a lot of detail when it come to the world building for a fantasy, but it actually works for this story and made me enjoy it more because it was easier to focus on the story and the characters. Harmon creates interesting, dynamic characters who had me rooting for them the entire time.love the evolution of the relationship between Lark and Tiras. They shared passion, snark, tenderness, bickering, understanding, and a sense of harmony. 

“You were not supposed to love me, Lark. I did not set out to make you love me. And I was not supposed to love you. But I do. And it is terrible.”

“I have loved you every moment of every day, and I will love you until I cease to be. Bird, man, or king, I love you, and I will always love you.”

I really enjoyed the complexity of Kjell’s character, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it him in the sequel. I kept putting off reading because I didn’t want to finish the book; I was so convinced that the ending was going to emotionally destroy me, and not in a good way. I was mentally preparing myself for the inevitable heartbreak. Thankfully, the ending was just as wonderful and perfect as the rest of the story. 

I feel so fortunate that I happened upon this book. The Bird and the Sword has not only been one of my favorite reads of this year, but is now also one of my favorite books of all time. Amy Harmon has created an enchanting story that is everything I want in a fantasy novel. I can’t wait to check out more of her work in the future. 

REVIEW: A Crown of Wishes – Roshani Chokshi (ARC)

29939047Title: A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC received through NetGalley.

First of all, that cover is stunning. I enjoyed reading The Star-Touched Queen but I wasn’t as blown away by it as everyone else seemed to be. And so, I was looking forward A Crown of Wishes, but I absolutely was not expecting to love it as much as I did. From the very beginning, I found it infinitely better than the first book and was completely hooked. 

There is no denying that Roshani Chokshi is an immensely talented writer and a marvelous storyteller. The characters, the world-building, the descriptions, the plot were so well-crafted and mesmerizing that I got lost in the story numerous times while reading. Vikram and Gauri were wonderful characters to read and I was happy with both their POVs. Vikram, who is full of sass and charm, never failed to make me laugh, and Gauri was an admirable heroine-brave and intelligent. The dynamics between them was honestly one of the best written love/hate relationships I’ve ever read. It felt real and convincing. The banter between those two was on a whole other level. I couldn’t stop highlighting gems like these:

“I have my mind,” he said. “You should thank me.”
I raised my chained hands. “I am bursting with gratitude.”

“I could marry you, if you’d like. That seems to be a popular reward back home.”
“I prefer the poisoned food.”

I’m very thankful I was approved for this ARC, because it definitely did not disappoint. A Crown of Wishes has been one of my favorite reads of the year so far. I’m so excited for everyone else to read this and I can’t wait for whatever else Roshani Chokshi decides to write!

 

REVIEW: The Dark Days Pact – Alison Goodman

30838768Title: The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) 
Author: Alison Goodman
Rating: ★★★★★

When I first read The Dark Days Club, I was hooked. I was originally nervous going into this thinking that it would suffer from Second Book Syndrome, or that it wouldn’t stand up to all my hype and anticipation for its release. Thankfully, I worried for nothing, because I found The Dark Days Club even more enjoyable than it’s predecessor. I devoured it. It was the very opposite of Second Book Syndrome: fast-paced, full of action, and exciting to read until the very end.

I mentioned this is my review for the first one, but Goodman does such a fantastic job with these books, and her writing continues to impress me. They’re a perfect combination of regency romance (a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine) and paranormal fantasy. I was also glad that the romance was a bit more present. Carlston and Helen – be still my heart. I’m a sucker for a slow burn and the chemistry between those two is so amazingly well written that the tension is palpable. I’m not going to lie, I kind of wish these were adult books, not Young Adult, so some of those scenes could be even steamier. Sorry not sorry. Also, I have a confession: I enjoy the occasionally love triangle. I really liked the Duke of Selburn’s character and I was glad he was still around in this book and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. 

Of course, the ending left me itching for the next one, WHICH I NEED IMMEDIATELY. Alas, I have to spend the next year impatiently awaiting it’s release.