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.

Best Books of 2017

Happy almost New Year everyone! It’s a fitting way to end the year with a list of my favorite books that were released this year. Most of the books I read this were less than noteworthy. There were a few that stood out as ones I’ll think of often.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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My favorite book of the year! It was not perfect, but I absolutely loved the way it showed that it is dangerous to make assumptions and to judge others. Read my review here.

Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire

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The best book in the series yet, and the first one featuring Antimony as a MC. I was surprised to like this as much as I did. The glimpses of Antimony from the other books didn’t make me look forward to being in her head. It all worked out for the best though. Read my review here.

The Soul Eater series by Pippa DaCosta

The last three books in the series were released this year, and what a wild ride it was! It’s a blend of fantasy and urban fantasy. It’s not often that Egyptian mythology is featured in this type of story. It was great and completely original. All three received 5 stars from me. Read my reviews here and here.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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I’m not usually a fan of books with carnival themes, but this worked for me. I devoured this in three and a half hours. It was that damn good! Read my review here.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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The best book no one is reading. This had a few surprises, and it was YA that wasn’t obnoxious. I’m hoping for a sequel. Read my review here.

The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

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As you may have noticed, I’m a bit of a Seanan McGuire fangirl. This is my favorite series ever! If you haven’t read it, please check it out. If you don’t like the first few books, keep reading. I promise it gets much better. Read my review here.

Double or Nothing by Craig Schaefer

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It’s dark UF with a slower pace. Nonetheless it is compelling read. I love this series! It always manages to surprise me with the way Daniel Faust gets himself out of impossible situations. Read my review here.

The Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews

Ignore the cheesy covers. This series is amazing! It’s UF, not romance. I waited a long time for these to be released, and they did not disappoint. Read my reviews here and here. I went to a book signing of theirs this summer. ICYMI here is the post I wrote about it.

The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

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I loved this series! It’s PNR with gothic mysteries. Definitely worth the read. Read my review here.

What were your favorite books from this year?

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

32667458Rating: 3 stars

Series: Iskari #1

Asha was the Iskari, the dragon slayer. That’s what irked me from the start. Dragons are awesome! I couldn’t get behind the MC killing them especially when they weren’t a threat. She went out of her way to hunt them down. They weren’t actively going after people.

Asha was very hard to like. Blinded by her own hatred, her view of the world was skewed. Her greatest pride was her ability to kill dragons. There were reasons for her desire to kill them, but it was clear she never looked deeply into the situation to see if there were more to the story. She genuinely believed that she was better than the people her people had enslaved. These are not qualities I want in a MC. Obviously things happened that began to change her views, but she was obstinate.

All of the side characters were one dimensional. Jarek was a power hungry evil bastard. Safire was cool, but there wasn’t a chance to learn much about her. Dax had a lot going on, but most of it happened off page. The details of what he was doing were nonexistent. Torwin was by far the most prominent side character. I liked him.

It was the romance between him and Asha that I couldn’t get behind. It wasn’t insta-love because Asha resisted for a long time. For half of the novel she referred to him as the slave. If that doesn’t say true love, then IDK what does. I would have been happy if he told her to fuck off. It was one of those relationships where they developed feelings for each other for no apparent reason. The second half of the book focused on their romance more which is why I didn’t like that part as much.

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.