Book Review: Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

rr.jpg  Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on November 7, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Western, Historical Fiction

Pages: 384 – hardcover & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: NetGalley

Previous Books in Series: Vengeance Road

PURCHASE LINKS

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Blurb:

REDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE
When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.


Review:

After Vengeance Road, I didn’t think I’d really enjoy any follow-up novel to this series. Boy, was I wrong. Retribution Rails was just as good as, if not better than, Vengeance Road, IMO. If you’re reading this book just for Kate and Jesse, you definitely won’t be disappointed, because there’s plenty of them to go around in this book. Although this is just a companion novel to Vengeance Road, I advise reading the first book to really get the full story.

Erin’s ability to write tough-minded, strong young women of the west truly never ceases to amaze me. Charlotte has such a vivacious character that you just can’t help but root for from the very beginning. Throw in her determination and quick wit? You’ve got yourself a helluva character! Oh, and don’t get me started on Reese Murphy. His character really brings in a certain kind of complexity that was not present in the first book. Haunted by his actions, he struggles to reconcile who he is versus how he views himself. He tries to right his wrongdoings every chance he gets, and is constantly at war with himself. When Charlotte and Reese collide, they slowly change each other’s perceptions of themselves and of the other. Their interactions were something I constantly looked forward to!

The writing, as always, was top notch! Erin has such a vivid writing style that immediately transports you to the Wild West, infusing your imagination with exciting train robberies, gunfights, and showdowns. The world is very impressively well-built and immersive. It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever read — very refreshing!

I truly can’t recommend Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails enough! Before VR, I never would’ve thought of myself as someone who would pick up a book from the Western genre, but I’m a changed woman now! Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

From the well-written vernacular to the complex characters to the immersive world, Retribution Rails is a wild ride from start to finish. So buckle up!

*Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

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Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

now i rise  Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published by Delacorte Press on June 27, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy

Pages: 471 – hardcover, 480 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Previous Books in Series: And I Darken

PURCHASE LINKS

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Blurb:

She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.


Review:

Holy crap. Can this series get any better? It’s been such a long time since I read a 5-star book! Honestly, I think the last time I felt this strongly about a series was after reading the first 2 books in the ToG series. If you’ve read And I Darken and found yourself thinking, “Can this get any better?” The answer is yes, my friend. It definitely has.

This series has been coined with the popular phrase: “a teenage Game of Thrones set in the Ottoman Empire” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s brutal & dark, while still managing to remain utterly captivating. This book demands your attention with every single paragraph, making it very difficult to tear your eyes away from the page. So clear your schedules folks!

Our protagonists are Radu and Lada, presented in alternating POVs. In this book, Radu is spying in Constantinople for Mehmed whereas Lada is trying to reclaim the Wallachian throne and become Prince.

I didn’t even think it was possible to love Lada even more than in the first book, but boy was I wrong. She is such a fiercely complex character, gaining her the title of ‘antihero’. However, this does not stop her from demanding the reader’s sympathy and attention. You can’t help but root for her, despite all her cruelty. Even though she struggles with being a woman in a patriarchal and heavily male-dominated society, she sure as hell does not let that stop her. Lada plays by her own rules, and you see many characters throughout this book appreciate that about her.

Meanwhile, Radu is in Constantinople struggling with his intense feelings for Mehmed. As expected, being a spy is no easy task. Radu sees the goodness of the people in Constantinople and grapples with all the atrocities he must commit for their enemy and his friend. He is caught in between, until the lines blur and he cannot distinguish friend from foe. A new character from the last book is brought into the mix, making it even harder for Radu. I really admire Radu’s character for how smart & collected he is, as opposed to Lada’s brashness. In my opinion, Lada seems to see the world in black-or-white, whereas Radu is in the gray zone. His POV highlights all the morally ambiguous choices he has to make, further endearing him to the reader.

This book isn’t all gloom and doom, though. Nazira’s vivacity and charm are a welcome reprieve from all the darkness. She’s probably the purest character in the whole series! The Jannisary characters also bring in a much needed dose of levity. Their funny banter was such a pleasure to read, and their dynamics were top-notch.

As always, the world is so richly fleshed out and the writing so richly expressive that putting this book down was a struggle. Writing a fictional book about history is definitely not easy, so kudos to Kiersten. The history surrounding the fall of Constantinople seems so fascinating; I’m definitely invested in reading more about it.

I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy of this book, but if you’re looking for a book with a hella dramatic plot and some hella self-destructive, badass characters, then you’ve come to the right place. I really don’t think this review does this book justice, so all I have to say is — just pick it up, you won’t regret it.

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Rating: 5 fish

fish rating

Book Review: After the Game by Abbi Glines

AtG After the Game by Abbi Glines

Published by Simon Pulse on August 22, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 320 – hardcover, 352 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

Previous Books in Series: Until Friday Night, Under the Lights

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Blurb:

Two years ago, Riley Young fled from Lawton, Alabama. After accusing the oldest Lawton son, Rhett, of rape, everyone called her a liar and she had no option but to leave. Now she’s back, but she’s not at Lawton High finishing up her senior year. She’s at home raising the little girl that no one believed was Rhett’s.

Rhett is off at college living the life he was afraid he’d lose with Riley’s accusation, so Riley agrees to move back to Lawton so she and her parents could take care of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the town still hasn’t forgotten their hate for her, and she hasn’t forgotten the way they turned on her when she needed them most.

When town golden boy Brady Higgens finds Riley and her daughter, Bryony, stranded on the side of the road in a storm, he pulls over and gives them a ride. Not because he cares about Riley, of course, but because of the kid.

But after the simple car ride, he begins to question everything he thought he knew. Could Brady believe Riley and risk losing everything?


Review:

After Under the Lights, I really really hoped that this book would be better & that my mixed feelings about UtL were just a fluke. I was relieved when — fortunately — I loved this book just as much as the first one. Of course, Until Friday Night will always remain my favorite of the series, but After the Game comes in at a close second!

All the books in this series can be read as standalones, but personally, I think you should read the first two before reading this one. This book is pretty connected to the first 2 books, and for someone who hasn’t read them, that could be confusing. In addition to that, Book 2 sets the stage for this book, so you really don’t want to miss that.

I’ll start off by saying just how much I adored Riley in this book. I’ve always wanted to read more about her; now I’ve finally got the chance to get to know her in this book! I really like how this book doesn’t shy away from the truth. Riley’s just like, “Yeah, he raped me, and I don’t care whether you believe me or not.” She didn’t give a shit about what the rest of the town thought and I loved that.

“Just because others hadn’t accepted me hadn’t made me less of a person.”

I also enjoyed catching up with the other characters, West & Maggie… Gunner & Willa… All their stories are interconnected so seeing everyone interact made me so happy, especially Riley, Maggie, and Willa. Also, can we just take a moment to talk about the real star of this book? Bryony was so adorable! I just wanted to reach out and squeeze her. She was a ray of sunshine amidst all the negativity. Somebody please give her all the cookies!

This book was very family-centered, even more so than the previous books. Riley always makes sure she puts Bryony’s needs first, and Riley herself has such an excellent support system in her family. The book didn’t focus on the rape itself so much as the aftermath. You’d think that I’d be more emotional if Riley was unhappy and depressed, but what got to me was how happy and satisfied she was to have Bryony in her life. It was honestly the sweetest thing ever.

It was also really nice getting a more in depth view of Brady’s character. I’ve always thought of him as one-dimensional and as that “nice guy”. I’m glad this book delved deeper into his character. Also, like Riley, family plays a major role in Brady’s POV. I won’t say more because that would be considered a spoiler; you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Despite the above, there were a few things that kind of weighed the book down, the first being the pacing. I expected Riley and Brady’s “friendship” to last a little while longer before they started locking lips, but that didn’t happen. I didn’t want a slow burn or anything, but a lil angst sure din’t hurt nobody… which leads me to my next point. This book, overall, was definitely less angsty than the first two. There were a few unexpected turns of events, but not many and they were far too predictable & anticlimactic. Maybe this book was more about wrapping everything up, rather than starting new drama.

Another thing worth mentioning is how Rhett got off practically scot free. I feel like he was forgiven at the end merely as a means to tie off any loose ends. That doesn’t sit well with me. What he did was a crime, so why is no one fighting it? I just find it so sad because it reflects how the world views rape and its victims.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that reading this book was bittersweet. It was like the end of an era. Our characters are all grown up! I can’t wait to see who the next book centers on. My guess is either Asa, Ryker, or Nash. Either way, I’m so pumped to read whatever comes next and follow new (and hopefully old) characters on new journeys!

Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views & opinions above.

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Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

 

 

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

when dimple met rishi When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Published by Simon Pulse on May 30, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 380 – hardcover, 384 – paperback, 320 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

PURCHASE LINKS

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Blurb:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This. This was the perfect cute summer romance read. Filled with dynamic characters and a very engaging plot, this book was an absolute delight to devour! I’ve been looking forward to this book for ages, and it did not disappoint at all!! I don’t know how many times I’ll be saying this in my review, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

The story is told through the alternating POVs of Dimple and Rishi. The alternating POVs allowed us to view scenes from Rishi’s cheerful, optimistic perspective and from Dimple’s cautious, realistic perspective. It’s also written in 3rd perspective – which actually didn’t detract much from the story being told!

Rishi and Dimple’s interactions were always something to behold. I reallyy loved them. Their first meeting was hilarious, and the consequent ones were equally as entertaining to read. They were such dimensional characters, and their romance was so cute! I think Dimple is an amazing heroine – she’s smart, cautious and levelheaded. She is definitely her own person. Rishi is so swoon-worthy, too! He’s adorkable and goofy and just perfect! The yang to Dimple’s yin. (Or was it the other way around? Don’t attack me.)

Rishi and Dimple’s dynamic is made even better when you throw the “arranged marriage” aspect into the mix. Typically, books pertaining to arranged marriage are always negative and depressing as hell, with the parents being depicted as evil dictators. However, in this book, that was not the case at all. Rishi and Dimple’s parents were (relatively) chill about it. They weren’t all “Get married or die!!”; they were more like “Here, we arranged a quite opportune marriage for you. You don’t have to do it, but it’d be cool if you did.” They obviously wanted what’s best for their children and didn’t try to force anything they didn’t want on them.

In addition to all of the above, the cultural aspect of the book was soo perfect! The way it was presented made me curious to know so much more! The clothes, the food, the homage to Bollywood movies… everything! Both Indian and non-Indian readers alike are sure to appreciate this.

I do admit, there were times when the story felt a little too predictable, especially towards the end when I felt like I was reading a mix of contemporary romance novels. But that definitely isn’t enough to keep me from reading.

Overall, this book had all the feels! This was a light, fun, engaging read with constant humor and swoon-worthy romance. The characters were realistic and dimensional, and the diversity was on point. The writing flowed really well with the story, and the alternating POVs offered fresh insight into the characters’ minds. I really recommend this book if you need a quick, unique read to devour and feast on!

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Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

alchemists of loomThe Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Published by Keymaster Press on January 10, 2017

Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk

Pages: 380 – hardcover & ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Keymaster Press

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.


Review:

*Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.*

Wow. It’s a known fact that Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series is one of my all-time favorite books. So you’d understand why I had doubts about going into a whole new world (without Vhalla & Aldrik!) Fortunately, these doubts were unfounded. This was an extremely captivating book, and it was nothing like Air Awakens! I was blown away by the complexity of the world & characters. The imagination and creativity needed must’ve been off the charts! Round of applause to Elise!

When I first started reading, I may have struggled a bit to get past the first 10-20% of the book. This was probably because it took a while to familiarize myself with the world & its characters. Seriously, when I say the world was complex, I mean it. It’s overwhelming to a reader who usually sticks to YA Fantasy. This is high fantasy. However, when I got past the beginning & really started to connect to the characters, I was hooked. The book is told in the alternating POVs of Arianna, Cvareh, and Florence (and occasionally, Leona).

Don’t expect the characters in this book to be the warm, heroic type, because they certainly aren’t. They all come from different backgrounds and have their own agendas. Everyone is cutthroat as hell. I really grew to love everyone, though. Especially Arianna. The way Arianna’s character is written at the beginning makes it hard for the reader to really connect with or even like her. However, as the story unfolds, we get glimpses into her past which really helps the reader put together a clearer picture of Ari. In a way, she reminded me of Celaena from ToG and Arya Stark from GoT.

My favorite thing about this book is the slow burn relationship of Ari and Cvareh. I’m a sucker for the enemies-to-reluctant-friends-to-lovers(¿) trope. I loved how hot and cold Ari’s attitude was toward Cvareh at times and I absolutely loved how Cvareh wasn’t having any of Ari’s shit. Their relationship dynamic was really intense & complicated. There are obviously still quite a few secrets between them; I’m excited to see where they’re headed in the next book! They’re no Vhalla and Aldrik, but I still absolutely adored them.

Of course, Ari & Cvareh’s isn’t the only amazing relationship. The dynamic between Cvareh, Florence, and Ari was phenomenal; I loved reading their interactions! They all have such different personalities that really shine through on the page. Such well-rounded, dimensional characters!

This book wouldn’t be what it is without the extraordinary plot and worldbuilding. The wonderfully set up atmosphere of the story, combined with the extremely detailed world, made for a kickass story. Elise really outdid herself with the worldbuilding in this one. The writing also contributed to the excellent worldbuilding. It really helped further immerse the reader into the story. It was excellent, as per usual.

In conclusion, if you’re a fantasy or steampunk fan, then The Alchemists of Loom is sure to delight you. This is a world where the magical and the mechanical collide. Although it took me a while to acclimate to it, the world is wonderfully built and the atmosphere is wonderfully set up. The characters are very dimensional, with distinct personalities that really shine through on the page. Also, their relationship dynamics were very intriguing to read about. The Alchemists of Loom has it all — a highly intelligent, unapologetic protagonist, an action-filled plot, an elaborate world, and superb writing. I’m so glad Elise Kova blessed us with this!

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Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

 

Book Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

of-fire-n-stars

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Published by Balzer + Bray on November 22, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT Romance

Pages: 389 – hardcover, 400 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 2 stars

Source: HarperCollins

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


Review:

Thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions.

Honestly, the f/f romance is the only thing that intrigued me about this book. If it weren’t for the romance, I probably would have skimmed right past this book and onto the next one. It’s that unmemorable. The most frustrating thing in the whole entire world is reading a book with such.good.potential. I didn’t even have any expectations and this book managed to let them down.

Firstly, what irked me the most was the complete, utter lack of character depth. This isn’t like in most books, where only the secondary characters lack complexity. Here, even our main protagonists are as shallow as a kiddies pool. Denna was so incredibly boring. I’m glad hers is not the only POV, because I might not have been able to finish the book otherwise. It’s obvious Denna is meant to be the “good” one, with repeated mentions of how sweet-tempered, polite, and intelligent she is. The literal embodiment of a princess. Mare, on the other hand, is the “wild” princess; she’s fiery, tomboyish, and disobedient, as is repeatedly stated every few chapters. I liked their relationship and how it progressed from enemies to friends to lovers, but I did feel like there was certainly an element of unnecessary angst. The forbidden romance wasn’t even “forbidden”. The ‘I-love-you-but-I-can’t-be-with-you’ trope was heavily employed as a means to further the plot’s angst, which was very annoying.

Aside from Mare and Denna, literally no one else is worth mentioning. The secondary characters are even more unmemorable and shallow than the main characters. What even was their purpose? I wouldn’t even be able to tell you their personalities, because they have none!! Go ahead, ask me their names. I guarantee you, the only name I’d be able to recall is Mare. She’s the only character who was on the right track to being properly fleshed out.

The second thing that bothered me about this book was the insane amount of plot holes and nonexistent world-building. We’re plunged into this world with no knowledge of the political and cultural workings of the land we are in, and no knowledge of the magical system there — something about ambient magic and a siphon and a silver bowl was dropped three-fourths through the book, what is all that? Also, why do the Mynarians hate magic? Who are these ‘Six’ that everyone keeps running around and cursing? Why is there even a need for a political alliance between Havemont and Mynaria? Why does everyone hate the Zumordans when they’ve done nothing to you? I understand this is YA Fantasy, but I’m not expecting Game of Thrones level world-building. Is it too much to ask for at least some semblance of an explanation for the world we’re plunged into? Unfortunately, this book reads like it was written for a much more juvenile audience that wouldn’t care much for character complexity and world-building.

Thirdly, nothing remotely intriguing occurs in the entirety of the book! The politics were extremely yawn-inducing and the incompetence of the adults extremely frustrating. I was looking forward to Mare and Denna’s horse training, but that (like many other aspects of the book) completely fell short. Frankly, I felt like the horses were given more depth, complexity, and attention than the main characters.

In conclusion, I could go on and on about so many other disappointing aspects, such as the obvious contrivedness of some scenes and the predictability of the whole book in general. Of Fire and Stars is a book that had great potential with its f/f romance, but failed to follow through on that potential. Lack of character complexity, one-dimensional relationships, nonexistent world-building, and a tedious plot are mainly what ruined this book for me and many others who had eagerly anticipated this read.

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2 fish

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

tdcThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published by HarperTeen on September 20, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 398 – hardcover, 416 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 2 stars

Source: HarperCollins

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

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.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

I know a lot of people have been looking forward to this book, myself being one of them, but I just- couldn’t. Three Dark Crowns had an interesting premise and lots of potential, but it unfortunately failed to live up to it. I would’ve thought that my dislike of this book was because of my reading slump (gosh darn it, school) if I hadn’t seen quite a few reviews complaining about it, too. I never DNF books, and yet I was VERY tempted to do so for this book. It was just.so.boring! While I was reading the book, I actually looked up a few spoiler free reviews to see if anyone struggled as much as I did. I found a few, but they said that it gets interesting near the very end (“with a mind-boggling plot twist!!1!” they said). So I skimmed to the last few pages, and read the “plot twist” and all I thought was Okay? That’s it?? I was just soo frustrated that I wasted all this time on this book.

My main issue with this book is that it’s just so tedious and boring. We have three main POVs from three triplet queens – each with her own unique power. Katharine is a poisoner, Arsinoe, a naturalist, and Mirabella, an elemental. They can’t get the throne merely by royal birth – no, they have to fight each other to the death in order to get it, and the last one standing becomes Queen until she produces triplets and so on. You’d think that with 3 main characters and 3 POVs I’d enjoy at least one of them, right? Wrong. I didn’t look forward to any of the POVs, and I literally didn’t care about any of the aforementioned characters. There’s Jules, Arsinoe’s best friend, though. I didn’t hate her as much as the other characters, but I just wish she was developed a bit more. She deserves so much better!

Since we’re on the topic of characters, let’s take a moment to talk about the love triangle. Yes, yes, I hear y’all groaning. I usually don’t despise love triangles as much as the rest of the book community seems to do, but this one, you guys, this one. I’m internally screaming in frustration just thinking about it. YOU HAD A PERFECTLY GOOD COUPLE, BUT NOO, YOU JUST HAD TO TURN IT INTO AN UGLY ASS INSTA-LOVE TRIANGLE. Add to that the fact that the love triangle includes cheating? Um, I’m out. I’m not going to post major spoilers, but if you typically dislike love triangles, then this definitely isn’t for you. Also, much like the rest of the book, the romance in this book was very dull. There was no spark between the characters and their love interests, and I frankly couldn’t care less about any of them.

Okay, so let’s talk about the actual plot of this book. The reason I haven’t talked about it earlier is as follows: it’s practically nonexistent for the first 80% of the book. Seriously, for a story about sisters having to kill each other for the throne, the action was seriously lacking. The pacing was slow, and the atmosphere was very quiet and restrained. This book was in desperate need of a healthy dose of bloodletting and politics. It may have picked up toward the very end, but that still doesn’t make up for the lack of plot in the first place.

In short, I don’t think Three Dark Crowns lived up to its hype. I tried to find something positive to add to this review, but I couldn’t, so that’s saying something. The three main characters were just there, serving no purpose whatsoever, and the pacing of this book was extremely tedious. Plus, the terribly executed love triangle certainly doesn’t get any bonus points in my book. It’s frustrating thinking about what this book could have been because the premise and cover are absolutely stunning. I may be the black sheep amongst the tons of reviews praising this book, but this just wasn’t for me.

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