Winter’s Reach by Craig Schaefer

23508962Rating: 4 stars

Series: Revanche  Cycle #1

Epic fantasies are not my favorite. Unlike most epic fantasies, this wasn’t weighed down with overly complex world building, which made it easier to get into. It did have a lot of characters, but not so many that it was hard to keep track of who they were and how they were related. However it didn’t grab me from the start. I had tried to read this 3 other times and never got more than a few chapters in. I’m not sure why it interested me this time. Maybe I needed to be in the right mood for it.

The pope is dying and wants his worthless son to take over when he dies. The other clergymen weren’t blind to the son’s faults and knew letting him be in charge would be disastrous. Many other powerful men and ones wanting to get more power were taking advantage of the situation in the church and playing their own manipulative games.

I didn’t love any of the characters. Some are definitely better than others, but I have the feeling we’ve only scratched the surface in regards to what these characters are capable of. It doesn’t appear that this is a series with clearly defined good and bad guys; these people have varying shades of gray. I am curious to see how all of this plays out because knowing Craig Schaefer, things are bound to take a few unexpected turns.

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Lost Boy by Christina Henry

61siwssh-el-_sx329_bo1204203200_Rating: 4 stars

Peter Pan has never been one of my favorite stories. Everything I know about it comes from the Disney movie and Finding Neverland. I never read the original. With that said, I did like it, but it took awhile for me to get into it. The first half of the book was slow moving. It was obvious Peter was a selfish ass, but I kept waiting for more. Once the story got going, things got crazy.

Peter’s issues went far beyond being an extremely selfish child. He was a psychopath in the truest sense of the word. It was hard for me to understand the love any of the boys had for Peter but Jamie in particular. He was never charming or kind. Manipulation made his island of lost boys possible, but it was almost like his magic made them blind to his faults.

This is the story about how Jamie aka Hook finally saw Peter for what he was. Jamie was the good guy. However he wasn’t truly a good guy; he was just good in comparison to Peter. Despite all of the good things Jamie did, he had lots of blood on his hands, most of it for no reason other than to please Peter. The worst thing about Jamie was that he did not see Peter for who he was for well over 100 years. Everything Jamie did was out of love, even when he did horrible things for Peter. They loved each other as friends but it was more like obsession for both of them.

At first I was annoyed by Charlie. The island of lost boys felt extremely domestic because of him. He was the driving force behind the story, which was obvious by the end. Sal was a great addition. There were a few unexpected twists and a few heartbreaking moments. The end was not a happy one, but I hadn’t expected the story of two friends becoming enemies to be happy. It will probably never happen but I’d love a sequel where Hook gets the upper hand.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

26032825Rating: 4 stars

Series: The Folk of the Air #1

Think Game of Thrones without sex and less violence with fairies.

It had a slow start. For a while it seemed just like tons of other YA novels about the fae where the lowly human and faerie prince beat the odds and eventually fall in love. That’s where I thought this was going. I was wrong. Halfway through I couldn’t stop reading. The level of treachery impressed me. I had a few things figured out but not all of it.

I’m giving this 4 stars because of the phenomenal plot. It would have been 5 if I had liked the characters. It is told from Jude’s POV. I did not like her and couldn’t relate to her at all. She reminded me of Arya on GoT, but even she is more selfless than Jude. Being angry and bitter caused her to be hellbent on getting vengeance on the people who had wronged her. To stop people from looking down on her, she needed power and lots of it. Jude wasn’t evil but has the potential to be because she wanted power for all the wrong reasons. It could easily corrupt her. Power was a way for her to make her life better, not the lives of others. Her concern for the downtrodden was vastly eclipsed by her concern for herself. Anger and selfishness are two of my most hated traits in people, and Jude exuded them. Her lot in life was not fair, but it is no excuse for the person she became. Despite her claims that she was an excellent spy, clearly she was not. There were many things she did not figure out and could have if she looked beyond the obvious.

Surprisingly Cardan was the only character I really liked. Despite his tendency to be an asshole, he was incredibly charming when he wanted to be. Some of his appeal may be because he wasn’t drawn to power although he was in a position of power. Ironically Jude was like him, the prince she hated. Both were mad at those in their families who had wronged them and took it out on people their own age to feel better about themselves.

There may be a romance later on in the series, but it wasn’t the focus of this. It’ll definitely be a slow burning enemies to lovers romance. It was great that Jude didn’t turn into a complete idiot just because a good looking guy showed interest in her. I was very happy with the ending. Jude’s plan was not sitting well with me, to think that she would subject a young child to that kind of life with no choice of their own in the matter. I am looking forward to the next one to see where it goes from here.

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

34050917Rating: 4 stars

Series: The Winternight Trilogy #2

Vasya was independent as ever. She refused to do the only two socially acceptable things which were get married or go to a convent. With the help of Morozko she went out to see the world. The only way to do it was to pretend to be a boy. After inadvertently getting the attention of the Grand Prince, she put the lives of her siblings in danger.

I admired Vasya for being bold and brave. She was willing to risk it all to live life on her own terms. However risking it all meant possible death. She had no desire to die, but didn’t do much to prevent it either. Her recklessness aggravated me. It was hard to believe someone could be so cavalier about their own life. It was that behavior that made her seem immature. Even with everything she had been through she managed to be incredibly naive about the dangers of the world.

In those days the world did not favor women, so pretending to be a boy seemed wise in the moment. Some things about it did not seem entirely plausible. It was always emphasized that Vasya was not pretty, but would she have passed for a boy? Masculine was never used to describe her. It was unusual that two of her siblings lived in the palace yet no one thought it odd that they had a brother whom they’d never heard of show up. It irritated me that Vasya was blind to the consequences of her actions. Her rouse put her siblings and nieces in danger.

Morozko was my favorite character. He stole every scene he was in. I really like him and Vasya together although when I think about it I don’t understand why he feels the way he does about Vasya. She always doubted his motives. Creatures like him don’t do things out of the goodness of their hearts. OTOH how many times does he have to come to her rescue before she sees the truth? Almost everyone in her life let her down at one point or another, so that may be why she was hesitant to trust him.

It didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but a lot was left open ended in regards to Vasya’s fate and her relationship with Morozko. I looking forward to the next book especially since this was even better than The Bear and the Nightingale.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

33380869Rating: 3.5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this. It wasn’t face paced, but I didn’t want to stop reading either. The writing was good enough that I still liked it despite being aggravated at some of the things going on. The first half was so good. I wanted to know what would happen next because it was obvious whatever goal Hector was trying to achieve was going to blow up in his face. Nina was so innocent. I felt bad for her. I didn’t like what Hector was doing, but I understood it.

Things changed about halfway through. I liked Nina and Hector much better then. They both grew and matured. The amount of drama that ensued was too much. It was frustrating and not in a good way. The one thing this story had not needed was another love triangle thrown in in the second half especially since it was obvious Nina did not have feelings for the other guy. Nina’s behavior was aggravating at times and seemed somewhat OOC compared to the earlier part of the novel. She had always been the type to do what she wanted regardless of whether or not others approved. Some of that defiance disappeared. Most of the truly dramatic parts towards the end could have been completely avoided if Nina would have been honest with herself and spoke her mind. The end was satisfying, but I wish there had been less angst in the process of getting there.

Thanks to Netgalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

51jpv68vvzl-_sx333_bo1204203200_Rating: 4 stars

New York City was surrounded by a barrier called the brink. It prevented anyone with magic from leaving the city. It would strip them of their magic and at best cause considerable pain and at worst cause death. The order, a group of humans, created the brink. Those with magic wanted to be free and were trying to find a way to take down the brink and the order.

It took a little while to get into it, but it was so damn good. Esta had the rare ability of being able to travel through time. Her guardian used her ability to go back in time and steal items from the order. There was a bit of an info dump in the beginning. It complicated matters more that Esta was sent back to the past and the world building of that time period had to be introduced also since what was going on in the world magically was quite different.

The whole cast of characters was interesting. I liked Esta. Her ability was useful and got her out of a few tricky situations. Her actions in the past were important because the butterfly effect was a major possibility. She was loyal and trustworthy which made her more unpredictable as the story went on because it was hard to tell if she’d be loyal to the people of her time or to the ones in the past she’d grown close to. I loved Harte Darrigan. He and Esta had good chemistry from the first time they met. For most of the book I wasn’t sure how to feel about him. I genuinely felt that he was a good guy at heart, but part of him was incredibly selfish. His main concern was always getting the best possible outcome for himself even if it screwed everyone else over. It was his connection to Esta that made him think of others more, but I hadn’t been sure where his loyalties would lie in the end. Dolph was the leader of a magical mafia. It was obvious he was trying to do the right thing all along. He had a rat in his midst and was going to get screwed for trusting the wrong person. I wanted him to be more proactive and figure things out.

The end was shocking! I was really surprised at how far the bad guy was willing to take things to achieve his goal. I did not see that coming at all. The truth about Esta’s past was revealed. I probably should have pieced that together, but so many other things were going on that I didn’t even give it any thought. The only thing that truly disappointed me with this book was that I didn’t know it was the first in a series. A lot of things still need to be resolved, but I can’t wait to read the next one!