Tag Archives: Fantasy

Book Reviews
May 23, 2014 posted by Emma

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.


I decided to check out The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson after hearing that this book was the next best historical fantasy series and after also hearing a few comparisons to The Winner’s Curse, which has been my absolute favorite read of 2014 so far. So obviously, I had to give it a chance!

Unfortunately, it ended up not really being my cup of tea. This is such a hard review to do because I’m 100% positive that this book is going to have A TON of fans and that people are going to fall in love with Lia and her story. But I wasn’t one of those people, sadly. I ended up DNF-ing about halfway through, which I hated to do because I could tell it was an awesome story, but there were too many things that bothered me.

I guess for me, the biggest problem that I had was with the main character herself, Lia. She’s a princess and as is expected of her, she’s betrothed to the prince of a neighboring country in order to ensure safety and security for her kingdom (and her loved ones). However, Lia has apparently had enough of living a stifled life, so she decides to leave the prince at the altar and make a run for it with her maid servant to live amongst the commoners. This is hard for me because as a girl living in 2014, I can of course look at Lia’s situation and think, Oh my god, an arranged marriage sounds absolutely awful, I totally get why she ran away. But then thing is…this book ISN’T set in the 21st century. This is in a medieval time when this is a normal thing??? And Lia is the key to securing safety for her people and her family, but she basically just says “eff it!” and runs off in search of a simple life and true love, where she mouths off to random strangers and doesn’t give too much of a crap for how her family is dealing with the aftermath (even her brothers, who she claims to love SO much). I’m going to be honest, it disgusted me a little bit how selfish she was and I had a really hard time empathizing with her when it all blew up in her face. I was just kind of like…how did you not see this coming?

The second issue that I had was the romance. When Lia makes a run for it, two people come after her: the jilted prince she was supposed to marry, and an assassin from a neighboring kingdom ordered to kill her. She naturally goes for one of the guys, and I’m not going to say who but if you’ve read any YA I’m sure you can guess. And I was cool with her choice cause I was kind of digging that guy too, until he basically just loses his head after ONE encounter with her and turns into a sensitive pile of mush. WHICH IS FINE. Except it was totally out of character for this guy and happened waaaay too fast. And from there on, a huge chunk of the book was devoted to her romances with these two guys and not a whole lot else, other than her cheerily slaving away over peasant tasks. The guys were basically obsessed with her and seemed to pop up at literally EVERY opportunity to help her or save her or shoot her brooding looks. They were desperate, basically. And to be honest that’s not really my thing…I prefer a nice, slow build, personally.

HOWEVER, the writing was absolutely beautiful. As much as I wasn’t a fan of the story, I could definitely appreciate how gorgeous of a writer Mary Pearson is, oh my goodness. The scenes were perfectly described and I felt every character’s emotion so vividly. She is incredible and definitely someone to look out for. Even though I didn’t like this book, I’m 100% open to trying a future book.

All in all, I think a lot of people will like this book. If you’re a little (okay, a lot) cynical like me and not into cheesy romance/love triangles, then maybe you won’t. But I don’t think Mary Pearson has to worry cause I’m going to guess most people will eat this up. Definitely check it out!

Pages: 492

Date Published: July 15, 2014

Publisher: Henry Holt

Rating: DNF

Book Reviews
May 18, 2014 posted by Emma

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) – Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.


My thoughts are mixed on this one. I had seen it on Netgalley a while back and wanted to give it a try, so I finally got myself a copy, but unfortunately wasn’t all that blown away by it. There were some definite positives to Stolen Songbird but there were also some parts that I found myself having a hard time getting past.

For starters, I was pretty hot and cold on the main character, Cécile. On one hand, she’s a young girl who thinks that she has her life figured out and knows that she wants to be a singer, only to find herself kidnapped on her way home and thrust into a secret society, where it turns out that she’s the key to breaking a super old curse. All things considered, she deals with this pretty realistically, complete with some freakouts and crying and general shock. She’s been taught that the people who have kidnapped her, aka trolls, are brutally cruel, and so she’s understandably pretty wary around them. But then it turns out that the guy who she is supposed to marry, the troll prince, is actually really gorgeous and not completely evil after all. And that’s when things start to take a turn for the worse. Not even halfway through the book, she’s already putting her trust in her kidnapper and most (not all, but most) fears are thrown to the wind. I get that the troll prince wasn’t all bad and that he actually had secretly good motives, but it all seemed a tiny bit Stockholm Syndrome-y to me with how fast she starts sympathizing with the people that ordered her entire life taken away. 

As for the prince, Tristan, he wasn’t really my favorite either. He was supposed to be snarky and cold, which he was, but he also ended up coming off a little pretentious sometimes, and kind of over the top. I’m aware that this was intentional, but he still rubbed me the wrong way. But don’t get me wrong – he had his moments where I caught myself swooning, cause he’s actually a big softy underneath all the asshole-ness.

I did enjoy the plot and the writing though! The whole concept of Trollus being this underground city trapped by a curse was fascinating, and I loved learning about their cruel society. The writing was really gorgeous too! My only complaint would be that some of the dialogue and scenes were written kind of strangely sometimes, and I occasionally had a hard time following the action. Other than that though, Danielle Jensen is definitely someone to keep an eye on!

Pages: 469

Date Published: April 1, 2014

Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Rating: ★★★½☆

Book Reviews
April 27, 2014 posted by Emma

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.


I picked up The  Bone Season originally because I’d been hearing some good things about it on Tumblr and Goodreads, and wanted to give it a try. Plus that cover is absolutely gorgeous and so intriguing!

The Bone Season is about a girl named Paige, who’s a rare type of clairvoyant in an alternate version of London where voyants are not only despised, but hunted down. She works for a “gang” of secret voyants, doing whatever tasks they ask of her, and manages to stay under the radar. Until one day she’s captured and is transported to a part of the country that she didn’t even know existed. It’s a place where voyants are valued as soldiers, and although she’s little more than a prisoner, at least she’s safe. But things aren’t what they seem, especially with her Rephaite keeper, and Paige soon finds herself in even more danger than she started.

There were parts of this book that I absolutely loved and then parts of it that I wasn’t overly impressed with. I can’t say this one blew me away, but it was definitely an enjoyable read!

For starters, the plot is incredibly unique and keeps you on your toes. The whole concept of the voyants in an alternate London was fascinating, as well as the fact that our heroine was a criminal who could watch her own back. The beginning was a little slow for me, but once Paige was captured and brought to the Rephaite city, things picked up. I loved learning about their secret society, and I loved learning about the Rephaim themselves. The whole thing was just really inventive and different from anything I’ve ever read!

The characters were a little less spectacular. Paige was a decent heroine, but I never was really able to connect with her. She seemed a little cold and distant at times, and all I wanted was to feel a little emotion from her, but it never really happened. Some people will definitely love her, but she wasn’t really my cup of tea. As for Warden, I felt similarly about him. He was mysterious and dangerous, but that’s all he ever was for me. We learned his backstory, but I felt that I never really got to know HIM, if you know what I mean. He seemed kind of flat and just…there.

While this book probably won’t go down as one of my favorites, it’s worth reading just for the world building and fast-paced plot! It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, that’s for sure.

Pages: 466

Date Published: August 20, 2013

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Book Reviews
March 31, 2014 posted by Emma

Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) – Leah Cypess

Death Sworn (Death Sworn, #1)When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.


Death Sworn by Leah Cypess tells the story of Ileni, a young sorceress who once was the most powerful in all of the Renegai, but has begun to slowly lose her powers. Deemed somewhat useless by her society, she is sent to become the new magic tutor for a clan of assassins that live deep within the cavernous mountains of God-knows-where. Her goal is to find out what happened to the last two tutors before her time runs out, and despite the trauma of losing, essentially, her identity in the form of magic, she’s determined that only her own death will stop her from solving the mystery.

I think the best way to sum up my feelings about Death Sworn is ‘hmmm’. I’m kind of conflicted, because this is one of those books where 75% of it was fascinating and suspenseful, but it then kind of takes a nosedive in the last quarter. I did enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but I wish that it could’ve finished off what started as a very strong run a little stronger.

Not a whole lot happens in the plot itself, which takes place entirely within the labyrinth of caves where the assassins live and train. I mean, stuff happens. And it’s definitely exciting and full of action! But sometimes it felt a little less like a complete story arc and more like a bunch of disjointed events as Ileni struggles to stay alive among the assassins from day to day. Still, it was interesting enough, and I devoured the book pretty quickly. Plus, when the killer was finally revealed, I’m happy to say that I definitely didn’t see it coming!

The characters themselves were decent, but nothing special. Ileni was most definitely a very strong girl, both mentally and physically. She did whine a lot, but to me it felt less like whining and more like a young person going through the traumatizing experience of losing something that was once a part of her soul and identity. Still, there were times when I wished she would maybe just…not lament over it quite as much? And on top of that, she could be SO fickle, oh my goodness. I couldn’t even count how many times she went back and forth between being certain that Sorin was going to kill her and being certain that he’d never touch a hair on her head. Ditto between having a death wish and not caring whether she lived or died, and deciding to seize the day and live life to the fullest. Also I still wasn’t sure at the end whether she was still in love with Terris, the guy she leaves behind, or not?? His entire role in the story felt a bit useless and unnecessary, honestly.

As a male lead, Sorin was okay, but I couldn’t help but feel that their romance seemed a bit sudden in some parts. There’s definitely no insta-love or anything like that, but the shift from “We are enemies, though admittedly I am starting to care for you” to “You are a babe, let’s make out” seemed a bit quick. And then ugh, don’t even talk to me about his character development. I had so much hope! He started off as a killer with zero remorse or feelings, and it was so sweet watching him gradually start to think for himself and open up with Ileni…but then the ending happened and I just…ugh. I liked him, don’t get me wrong, but there were a few parts when I wanted to bash my head into the wall.

All in all, my feelings are pretty mixed about this one. I think it definitely is worth a read, just because the world-building is pretty awesome and it’s full of enough fast-paced action that you’ll get sucked in pretty quickly, but it probably won’t be going into my favorites list.

Pages: 352

Date of Publication: March 4, 2014

Publisher: Greenwillow

Rating: ★★★½☆

Book Reviews
March 27, 2014 posted by Emma

Dark Companion – Marta Acosta

Dark CompanionOrphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true.

They are.

The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?

As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove and what she would risk to stay there..because even the brightest people make terrible decisions when they are offered the things they desire most.


I originally picked up Dark Companion for two reasons: the gorgeous cover, and the comparisons to Jane Eyre. Unfortunately, while I did enjoy some parts of the book, I was left mostly underwhelmed.

Things I liked:

The writing! It was really lovely and well-done, and had very Gothic, dark tones which appealed to me a lot. The book could definitely be a little creepy (and weird) at times, especially when the author was describing the gloomy, dreary school, but it worked. Sometimes it risked feeling a little too gloomy and drab, but all in all, the writing was a plus.

I also really enjoyed reading about some of the characters, with the exception of a few. Jane herself was kind of hit-or-miss with me…sometimes I felt myself empathizing and cheering her on, and sometimes I wanted to slap her upside the head (especially the way she let some of the others treat her). The best characters for me, however, was her best friend, Mary Violet, and the love interest, Jack. Mary Violet in particular was hilarious, with her quirky poetry and odd way of speaking/behaving. Jack was kind of an oddball, and while I’m not sure he’ll go into my list of favorite book guys, he was interesting and well-developed enough.

Things I disliked:

Lucien, or Lucky as he was called. Oh my gosh. He was so creepy, so abusive, and so weirdly possessive. I hated the way he treated Jane, and even worse, I hated that she let him! For a good chunk of the book she practically worships him, which I absolutely couldn’t stand, especially when his brother Jack was clearly the better choice.

Speaking of Jack, the romance wasn’t all that great either. Jane spends most of the book fixated on Lucky while ignoring the obvious signs that Jack is into her, in a kind of forced love triangle that didn’t really work (mostly since Lucky was a creep and clearly not a viable choice). And then when she finally does open her eyes and realize that Jack has been there all along…it feels really sudden and rushed. There was definitely some sweet moments between the two of them, but I just wasn’t feeling it, despite really liking Jack’s character.

And lastly, I can’t say much without giving away spoilers, but basically the plot gets really weird really fast at a certain point, once Jane starts to figure out what Birch Grove’s big secret is. It was a little (okay, a lot) strange and I’m just not sure how much I’m willing to roll with it. Especially where Lucky is concerned, yuck! Again, I can’t say much…but I will say that it was definitely a little disturbing.


All in all, while there were some aspects of Dark Companion that I thoroughly enjoyed, the book didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It was a little too creepy in some parts and a little too bland for the rest of it. Some people might totally love it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Pages: 368

Publication Date: July 3, 2012

Publisher: Tor/Macmillan

Rating: ★★☆☆☆



Book Reviews
March 19, 2014 posted by Emma

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) – Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.


Hopefully I don’t jinx myself, but I’ve honestly had the best luck with books lately. And I’m so happy to say that The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski was no exception!

This book was pretty hyped up on Goodreads and I was concerned going into it that it wasn’t going to measure up. But I was so wrong! The Winner’s Curse is absolutely phenomenal…a gorgeous blend of lyrical writing, well-fleshed out characters, a detailed fantasy world, and the most beautiful romance.

I’m not even sure that I could pick a favorite aspect, honestly. One thing that I particularly enjoyed though was the world building. Sometimes in fantasy novels I have trouble navigating through the unfamiliar terms and complex societal structures, but this was definitely not the case with this book. Everything is pretty clear from the beginning and Ms. Rutkoski does a great job of easing the reader gently into the world. It’s more historical fantasy than anything, which will appeal to readers who struggle with high fantasy and magical elements. The structure of the society was very much similar to that of ancient Greece and Rome, with the more barbaric Romans (aka the Valorians, in this book) conquering the more culturally refined Greeks (the Herrani).  It was really fascinating and utterly captivating at times…I loved living in it along with the characters!

And as for the characters…oh, I have so much love! The main heroine, Kestrel, is really truly wonderful. As the daughter of the highest-ranking Valorian general, she’s expected to be strong, ruthless, and kickass. And she definitely is…just not necessarily physically. She’s a brilliant strategist, and I loved watching her best the arrogant men in this novel again and again. She’s also sympathetic, sweet, and a genuinely good person. Gahhh, I loved her!

The main love interest, Arin, is just as great. As a Herrani slave to the Valorians, he’s so angry and so bitter, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to read about his story. He’s just as smart as Kestrel, and the two of them prove to be quite the match. Their slow-growing attraction is forbidden, of course, but that just makes it all the more delicious!

The only thing some people might dislike is that it’s told from split perspectives (Kestrel and Arin). However, I didn’t mind…in fact, I thought it added a lot to the understanding of the characters and the story, and I really loved being in both of their heads. 

All in all, this book is definitely worth it. Although the plot doesn’t pick up until about halfway through, there’s enough character development and interesting world-building to hold your interest. And then once it does pick up…oh boy, hold on! It’s a wild ride. On top of that, Ms. Rutkoski’s writing is so poetic and lyrical. It practically sweeps you along from page to page.

The Winner’s Curse is a must-read! Go pick up your copy ASAP!

Pages: 355

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Publisher: Farrar Strous Giroux

Rating: ★★★★★



Priscilla the Great (Priscilla the Great #1) – Sybil Nelson
Book Reviews
January 4, 2013 posted by Nichole

Priscilla the Great (Priscilla the Great #1) – Sybil Nelson

Meet Priscilla Sumner, an ordinary seventh grader with extraordinary gifts. As if middle school isn’t hard enough, not only does Priscilla have to fight pimples and bullies, but genetically enhanced assassins trying to kill her and her family. Armed with wit, strength, and a genius best friend, Priscilla must defeat the Selliwood Institute, an organization dead set on turning children into killing machines.

Add an older brother annoyingly obsessed with Christina Aguilera, mischievous baby twin brothers who could scare the sin off of Satan, and parents more puzzling than a Rubik’s cube in the Bermuda triangle and expect a smoking page-turner!


Priscilla the Great is an amazing middle grade series about a young girl who can shoot fire from her fingers. Priscilla’s mom is never around much since she’s doing good deeds clear across the world, so it’s just Priscilla, her dad, her older brother, and her two younger twin brothers. Talk about a lot of testosterone.

When Priscilla gets her first period, she starts to develop a lot of weird abilities that …well….she’s never even heard of anyone experiencing before. She’s faster than normal, she can hear everything, and, oh, yeah….she can shoot fire from her fingers! Life has taken a new turn for Priscilla, and she’s not quite sure how to handle it.

While trying to balance her new found powers, Priscilla also has to attend middle school, fight her feelings for her crush, develop new feelings, and spend as much time as possible with her bestest best friend in the world. But soon, Priscilla learns that things are much bigger than she once realized. Her mom? Yeah, her mom isn’t no normal mom. Her mom is a badass superhero that is out trying to save the world. And she wants Priscilla to help her. Join Priscilla and her family and friends to discover if they succeed.


I have such a strong passion for middle grade novels, because I truly believe that some of them are absolutely brilliant. Sometimes I want to take a break from thinking…from vampires, werewolves, aliens, lovey dovey romances…all of that jazz. Sometimes I just want to jump into the mind of a seventh grader and join them on the wacky experiences that make up their lives. I can usually tell if I am going to like a mg novel based on the cover, so I felt pretty secure with Priscilla the Great. I wasn’t disappointed. I loved Priscilla. Actually, I loved the whole entire book. I found it to be light and refreshing, as well as comical and spunky. I loved it.

Priscilla was such an amazing character for me! I love reading about strong girls and women. There’s something so empowering about watching/reading them take charge and try to fix everything themselves.  I hate….let me stress this….haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate! reading about females who solely depend on men to fix their problems. Men aren’t all that! Women are pretty dang tough too! I felt that that was greatly portrayed in Priscilla the Great, and I would encourage parents to introduce this book to every girl.

Apparently I have some huge fascination with superheroes that I was never aware of. I don’t read comic books. I don’t really care about superhero movies. Man, I haven’t even watched The Avengers yet. But earlier this year…well…I guess it will be last year when you guys read this….I read Dark Star by Bethany Frenette. LOVED that book! Anyways, the book is about superheroes, and I just went gaga for superheroes! I can’t get enough of them! Same thing with this book, I lovvvved the superhero aspect! I thought that Priscilla’s powers were just so cool! I couldn’t get enough of it. I also enjoyed watching Priscilla’s powers develop as well as her maturity. Don’t get too excited over the maturity thing. Thirteen year olds can only mature so much. But I did notice a difference in her character by the end of the book. It was a really enjoyable experience to watch Priscilla’s growth throughout the book.

I would absolutely recommend this book to every middle school and high school level child. Heck, I’d even recommend this to adults who enjoy mg books. I know that I sure enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest in the series! Priscilla the Great is a book that will keep you on your toes and leave you craving more.

Pages: 309

Publisher: Little Prince Publishing

Publication Date: December 13th, 2010

Rating: : ★★★★☆


Teaser Quote: “I caught up with Charlie first. I picked him up and threw him on the couch. Then I sat on him and farted. Yeah, I farted. So what? When dealing with little brothers, sometimes you have to get gross.” (pg 49.)