Book Review: The Queen’s Rising

35098412I am not a hundred percent sure how I feel about this book. It took me so long to get into. I legitimately had a conversation with my husband about when to give up on a book. I decided to give it 100 pages, and it pulled me in just before my limit. It was engaging enough that I then kept reading.  However I have enjoyed the book. But upon finishing I have no desire to read the second book. I think that the pace of the book was off, which is what I struggled with the most.

The characters and the intrigue was good, but there were a lot of different characters and a lot of different names, which did make it a little challenging to keep up at the start. I liked the idea of the world that was created. The passions, the Queens Realm versus a kingdom. There were lots of good things about this book, but for me it just did not fall into place.

I for once am sort of at a loss of what to even say. I did not hate this book, but it just left me feeling a little bit flat. Like I say, the world creation was good, the characters were ok, but somewhere in the middle the plot just did not do enough to hold my attention.  It is not a series that I will continue.

Mrs K
Genre: Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Magic, Romance, Young Adult
The Queen’s Rising
Written by Rebecca Ross
2018 – London – Harper Collins
437 Pages

 

Book Review: The Crown’s Fate

The Crown’s Fate
Written By Evelyn Skye
Harper Collins 2017 – Australia
417 pages

So I started this book immediately after finishing the first book – The Crown’s Game. So all the characters were still in fresh in my mind and I had never left that world. I enjoyed this book, although maybe not quite as much as the first one. It was a lot darker, which was good – dealing with the dark side of magic, and the way that it pulls the user into the world of grey – grey decisions rather than a clear black or white, or a clear right or 27211901._SY475_wrong.

This book is set among a Russia that is on the brink of change. It is a fantasized version, where perhaps the Tsar listened more to what was happening in the world and adapted as was required. Pasha, Tsarevich certainly shows that potential. But added to the already volatile Russia is the idea that magic has been discovered by the people as a real thing, and they are distrustful – bringing in witch burnings.

Among this world Nikolai and Vika are at war as well, although it is dark magic that is causing this battle.

“Remember, it’s not magic that defines you. It’s YOU that defines you. That’s all the truth there is” -Ludmila”

This is a book of self discovery, but all the characters, as they accept their fate, and step up into the rolls that fate has delivered them.  What I did quite like seeing was that all characters, no matter their rank or their place in society had the same realization, that they needed to accept who they were and how they felt.

This was definitely a book of twists and turns, with many moments that I did not see coming. The ending felt a little rushed and left me a little disappointed. However I did enjoy the character development in this book.

“Nothing is more remote than yesterday;
nothing is closer than tomorrow.
Vika smiled at the wisdom of the words. For although the past would always be a part of them, it was, in truth, the past. What they had to look forward to was the future, where anything was possible.
Anything.
And there was no greater magic than that.”

As we know, one of my biggest things is needing to know that there is an element of hope – and that was most definitely what was available in this book, as shown in the quote above. The wisdom that the past is always the past where as in the future anything is possible.

As with the first book, this is not a book I would teach in the classroom, but could easily fit into a connections report that was dealing with themes of manipulation or isolation, up to year 13.

Mrs K
Genre: Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Historical Fanasy, Romance, Young Adult

Book Review: The Crown’s Game

The Crown’s Game
Written by Evelyn Skye
Printed Australia, 2016, Harper Collins
399 Pages.

I LOVED THIS BOOK!! This book had all of my favorite things. It was set in Russia, which26156203._SY475_ is a place and a dynasty that I have had a fascination with since I studied it at Uni. This is a lot before the famous fall of the Romanov’s and is instead set just after the time of Napoleon.

As well as that – surprise surprise this is a fantasy book – which looks at the emergence of magic. However is a unique take on magic – there is only so much magic, and as such the kingdom can only have one enchanter that is able to serve the Tsar and the empire.

When two or more encahnters are being mentored, then they must evoke the Crown’s Game, essentially a fight to the death to show what it is that the enchanters are capable of, and how they can best serve the empire. Here you have Vika Andreyeva she can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

Initially I thought that this book was quite predictable, not that that detracted from anything for me, but It still took several surprising turns that I most definitely did not see happening. It took the reader on a fantastic journey, of both magic, but also of love, and self sacrifice.

I would highly recommend that you read this. I wish that I could convince my kids in my classes to read more fantasy, and do an entire connections report on these royal fantasy books that are so prominent at the moment. It would be amazing to compare this one for example to The Red Queen, or even Everless. Or of course Throne of Glass.  

If I had one thing I would have liked the main characters relationship to develop more, or actually most of the relationships. However I am also happy to accept that because this is the first book in the series there is plenty of room for that next!

“There are things more dangerous than a little magic.”

How much does this quote resonate with the woman in me!!! I love it!

Anyway, I need to go I have a sequel to read!

Mrs K
Genre: Magical, Historical Fantasy, Fantasy, Romance, magic, Enchanters, Russian, Speculative Fiction

 

Review: American Royals

American Royals. Written by Katharine McGee.

So Katharine McGee was the author of the Thousandth Floor novels. I got this title though of the GoodReads, September Must Read YA Books list.

I43744300 loved this book! It was not the sort of book I regularly read. While it was fantasy – it was set in a Parallel universe where instead of President America had gone down the route of a Monarchy, but that was where the differences ended. The rest of the book was very much in the world outside my window.

This book had moments that felt like pure Mills & Boon. (The moment when one of the main female characters gets caught in a cabin in a snow storm with her romantic interest actually had me checking the cover of what I was reading!) However the rest of the book, felt a bit like the feel good Netflix Movies where the commoner gets the prince. The difference is that in a book you can offer that same feel good feeling, while also going into a lot more detail and developing the characters a lot more.

I really enjoyed this book – and actually cannot wait until next year when the next one comes out. You can guarantee that I will be grabbing it, and enjoying it with an indulgent coffee and cake wrapped up in a duvet or enjoying the sunshine. It will one hundred percent be a pleasure read and I cannot wait.

I have a total soft spot for any monarchy stories. I love this idea of a different route that America could have gone down. There were also enough twists and turns in this book to most definitely keep me interested. There are really seven main characters, and I am interested to see how life turns out for all of them. McGee did a great job in building empathy for these characters as she went, even from a position where I can barely imagine the kind of life that they are living, I still want the best for them.

The book is well written, even the formula on the back of the book,

The Heir is Princess Beatrice…

The Spare is princess Samantha…

The Schemer is Daphne Deighton…

The nobody is Nina Gonzalez…

I think the whole concept, setting and character development was very well thought out.  Despite the length of this book 442 pages, I read it in one day. So if you want a feel good romance – have a read!

Mrs K
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

Review: Everless

Everless. Written by Sara Holland

35883046Ok, so this book took me a really really long time to get into. Even by the end I finished it more out of an obligation rather than an actual enjoyment. I will say that there were definitely a few twists in there that took me totally by surprise.

Initially this book felt very much like the movie with Justin Timberlake – In Time. This was not a movie I loved, although I liked the concept, and I kinda felt the same with the book. I will say that I much preferred the books explanation of how they were able to take time off a persons life – I thought that this was very well thought out. However much of the rest of the book was a little hard to follow, and often lacked the full explanation that I would have liked.

Essentially, the book’s entire plot consisted of pointless secrets, terrible character decisions and an annoyingly annoying true love.  This is the kind of book that made me think about horror movie tropes. So we all say right – that we don’t understand why the girl who is by herself would run upstairs and not out the front door to safety when there is a person in the house. This book had the same concept. Why did the characters not just actually talk to each other? If they had, then the whole book would have had no secrets and been over in about 1/5th of the time!

The characters themselves were not well developed. They emitted no empathy from me. In fact. I had very little desire to actually know if they lived or died at any point.

I think I have voiced my opinion before about love stories that just don’t belong. Yup! This one did not fit, was not really needed and added absolutely NOTHING to the story.

There was the potential in this book for a really strong female character to stand up for 32320661herself, to discover herself, to be the heroine and live happily every after. I will say she does sort of try that, and I do appreciate that aspect of the book. But she still manages to come off as weak and annoying. I did not need her to be all heartsick for a boy, and overall there was too much happening in her life to be realistic.

I have the second book already from the library, but I feel quite safe to say that I will be dropping it back to the library unread and I do not feel even a little tiny bit bad about that!

Overall – my feelings can be summed up in three words “Nope, Nope and Nope!”

Mrs K
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, teenage fiction, speculative fiction

 

Review: Serpent & Dove

Serpent & Dove. Written by Shelby Mahurin.

40024139So the YA newsletter from Goodreads came out. If I am honest I normally delete this, however was busy procrastinating marking and so read it – and proceeded to write a “To Read” list of about 20 books. I went initially for the books that my school library had. Serpent & Dove got read first because it had a comment on the front from Sarah J Maas – so of course if she was endorsing the book I was going to read it!

So This book did not disappoint. It took m e a little while – like 100 pages to really get into. But by then I could not put it down. It took me on one wild ride and the twists and turns just kept coming!

I really liked the fact that Lou was a witch. I have read a lot of fantasy lately that has moved away from witches and witch craft. I also always enjoy a story where enemies become friends, and when two extremely awkward characters make a marriage work. I really liked the male protagonist Reid. That despite his job, he was wonderfully sweet and pure. I love seeing him rediscover the world outside his window with Lou.

I loved how grey everything was. As in it was not black and white.  Normally you can easily see the bad guy and the good guy, and you know how it all fits together. In this book there was no right or wrong, just a bunch of people screwing things up as they went along, holding on tightly to their own beliefs and moral code.

I regularly get frustrated with romance in books when it feels superfluous however this romance did not. I liked that they took things slow, and you were able to see the romance blossom. Also, I feel that the romance was needed in order to better understand the characters, their ideaology and also the world that they live in.

I also really liked the portrayal of mothers. Apart from the refular motherly role that we see woman in. Here woman were much more cold and calculating.

“For her sixteenth birthday, Louise le Blanc’s mother gave her three things:
A sacrificial altar,
A ritual knife
And a wicked scar.”

Such a powerful book too with a message that sometimes – family is the family that we create for ourselves!

I definitely loved this book and will be reading the second one when it comes out!

Again, as with so much of the fantasy there is not much place for this in the English classroom. However it could be a great piece for connections up to year 13, who are looking at truth vs lies, or even manipulation.

Mrs K

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Speculative, Fiction, Teenage fiction