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Review – Fire Study (Study #3) by Maria V. Snyder

 

Fire Study (Study #3)

By Maria V. Snyder

SummaryThe Apprenticeship is Over Now the Real Test has Begun.

When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder able to capture and release souls spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena’s unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before….

Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself and save the land she holds dear.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

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Review

Fire Study was the third book in the Study series and took place right after Magic Study ended. It concludes the Study series, but there is also a spinoff trilogy that involves some familiar characters and extends this series. Yelena discovered she was a Soulfinder and so did the Council, which raised some eyebrows of concern. The last Soulfinder was power hungry and awful and Yelena’s knack for acting without thinking was a dangerous trait for someone so powerful. She was set to pair with a Magician who hated her in order for Yelena to better hone her skills. 

I really enjoyed Poison Study and gave Magic Study a lot of slack because it switched settings and was definitely different from the first book. But Fire Study tried my patience and left me feeling frustrated and annoyed. The plot was over the top and I found myself unable to care about any of the characters anymore. Fire Study could’ve bridged the gap between the amazing first book and the second book that suffered from second book syndrome, but instead, it continued along the downward spiral of the series. Not even Kiki the horse could cheer me up or make me care about anyone or anything.

The plot was full of crazy theories and plans, holes, leaps of logic, and shockingly convenient solutions. Yelena’s go-get-em attitude didn’t seem to evolve and just started to get old. Even Valek was watered down and lame, always swooping in to save the day and whisper sweet nothings instead of being the strong character he was in book one. The whole story was full of convenient actions and started to feel like one of those series where suddenly this one person has all of this influence with two warring countries in a way that makes absolutely no sense. Also, I hated that all of the good guys were always on Yelena’s side and all off the bad guys were people she just couldn’t get along with. It was so juvenile for the actual bad guys to be conveniently people that she just couldn’t seem to like or didn’t like her. That’s not how the real world works and I would’ve preferred to see the story take the path it was supposed to with her training and have her actually learn stuff instead of galavanting into the wilderness to save the day. 

The spin off Soulfinder series has much better reviews, so there’s no telling whether I’ll continue at this point, but I know it won’t be anytime soon. I have no idea what happened to the amazing story from book one, but it got so ridiculous. 

Star 2

Review – Magic Study (Study #2) by Maria V. Snyder

 

Magic Study (Study #2)

by Maria V. Snyder

SummaryA lesson in loyalty, a master class in intrigue

So far, I’ve managed to survive. You would think after being kidnapped as a child, imprisoned in my teens and released to become a poison taster, I would have endured enough. But no. The discovery of my magical abilities, powers forbidden in Ixia, has resulted in an execution order. My only chance is to flee to Sitia, my long-lost birthplace.

But Sitia is unfamiliar. I’m treated like an enemy, even by my own brother. Plus I can’t control my powers. I want to learn about my magic, but there isn’t time. A rogue magician has emerged and I’m targeted as his next victim.

Will my magical abilities save me…or be my downfall?

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

Magic Study has some mixed reviews and I think it’s primarily due the abrupt setting change and lack of familiar characters with no plan to return to the original setting. Yelena was no longer allowed to remain alive in Ixia at the end of Poison Study and she left with Irys to the south to find her family and learn more about her magic. It is rightly titled Magic Study in the same way that the first book was named Poison Study. It was a bit disappointing to not have Valek front and center, but I was curious enough to continue. 

(For anyone put off by Valek’s absence, I will say that he does make an appearance at some point, so it’s not without it’s moments between Yelena and Valek. I think, especially since Yelena is so similar to Celaena in Throne of Glass, people may have worried about a love interest shift. No need to worry!)

I enjoyed Magic Study, although Yelena’s I-Can-Tackle-Anything attitude was becoming more reckless than helpful, but I think she had/has to fail in order to teach herself to be patient and also she needed/needs to push herself to show others that she is more than capable. She came into the magic game late and was behind, so very few people seemed to grasp that she was more than capable of helping, even if she didn’t know how to formally do whatever it is with her magic that needed to be done.

Some reviewers have mentioned the fact that all of the villains seem obsessed with rape and torture and it’s excessive, but I feel like it fits in a fantasy setting and with Yelena being so outspoken and powerful, she draws unwanted attention from villains who would be of that type. It fits for me and doesn’t seem like it’s over the top. And I love that Yelena has learned how to overcome her past and help others heal and realize that they aren’t responsible. There are some great messages there and I think it fits and is relevant to the setting, the characters, and the growth that Yelena has experienced from the beginning of the story. 

I also love that Yelena’s homecoming was nothing like I assumed it would be. I’m glad that her clan and family welcomed her because I was afraid they wouldn’t, but I’m glad that there was a bit of a complication with Yelena’s brother. I like when things aren’t neat and tidy and a homecoming that brought everyone together would seem just a little too neat to me. I like the messiness of the guilt and hatred and shame that Lief seemed to have towards her because it seemed a bit realistic to me. 

Magic Study felt different from Poison Study in many ways, so I understand why there are many mixed reviews. It’s not really more of the same, which is what people normally expect from sequels. But I like the change in scenery and characters. I liked seeing Yelena discover her past and her abilities. It seems like the series will expand on her character throughout each book and I’m enjoying the journey. 

Star 4

Throwback Review – Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder

 

Poison Study (Study #1)

By Maria V. Snyder

REREAD

SummaryMurder, mayhem and magic…
Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman’s noose.
But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia’s food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander’s food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

**** Originally posted Mar 2016****

Poison Study was great! I absolutely loved the story. In some ways, it was similar to Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which is great because I’m constantly on the lookout for books of that caliber. Yelena was a prisoner and was to be executed for murder. Under the military regime, things were even, yet not necessarily fair in the way that we understand fairness. Murder was wrong, regardless of why you did it, even if you had a good reason. It was the same for everything. Punishment was to be exacted for every infraction, even not wearing your uniform to work, regardless of why. However, the next prisoner on the chopping block was meant to have the opportunity to be a food taster for the Commander. Luckily, Yelena was next in line and was given a shot at life, with restraints.

Yelena was a likable character. She was fierce, but good at heart. She learned poisons under Valek, who taught her what to look for and what the effects were to various types of poison so that she could effectively do her job. The Commander was always under some threat of murder and poison, so Yelena had to taste everything. Her position was, of course, one with a very high mortality rate.

The book was full of magic and mayhem, with lovable characters. I cared about each of Yelena’s friends and people who attempted to help her. While I disliked the way the regime was set up, I understood why it was so drastic after the way magicians ran the kingdom previously. I also respected Commander Ambrose. He was soft when he needed to be and seemed to trust Valek, who extended that trust onto Yelena.

I enjoyed the slow romance in the book as well and I liked that it wasn’t all front and center, but kind of played out in the background.

I definitely recommend Poison Study and I will read the sequels. It was a beautifully written and enchanting YA fantasy and I can’t wait to find out what will happen to Yelena next.

 

REREAD 2017 Updates: I decided to reread the book so I could recap before starting the sequel and I still loved it just as much as the first time! It’s kind of a nice story to read if you’re looking for something like Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas because Yelena and Celaena have some similar traits and backgrounds. 

 

Star 4

Review – Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L Demeter

 

Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1)

By Rachel L Demeter

SummaryExperience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

* * *

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy

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Review:

Despite reading a Beauty and the Beast retelling recently and deciding that they really just aren’t for me, something about this synopsis made me pick the book up. I am drawn to the themes of Beauty and the Beast, so I figured I’d try another retelling. I loved that it also included some Phantom of the Opera themes, promising a haunted Beast, but one that was still human.

Beauty of the Beast was not YA, but it also wasn’t incredibly sexual, either. There were some moments, especially towards the end, but it wasn’t like a smut filled Beauty and the Beast retelling, either. I liked that the story felt like it had some mature characters and less magic involved, especially since Adam was human. 

Prince Adam was a captivating character. He watched his family suffer during a massacre that he survived, but he let the world thing he was dead. His castle was crumbling and cold, as was what was left of his humanity after the event. I could tell he was suffering and wanted to know more. Isabelle was much like the Belle most of us are all familiar with, but her “Gaston” was a much bigger nightmare for her. Her imprisonment in the castle wasn’t necessarily the worst option for her, even when she assumed Adam was the villain. 

I thought both characters came together well and realized how much they had in common. Some of my favorite aspects and scenes from the original tale have a place in the book, but it was different and intriguing because I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen since the book changed the relationship between Belle and her family in many ways. 

I loved that the story kind of did what Beastly did, but in a better way to get the message across. In Beastly, it was a form of magic and punishment disfiguring the “beast” and it was about learning to see past beauty (which was cool, but somehow ruined the message when the guy gets to be hot again after learning a lesson). But in this one, the beast truly was scarred by the massacre of his childhood, marring much of his body. He didn’t think he was worthy of being in society or love, giving into baser instincts. Isabelle found beauty within him and truly saw him as beautiful in the end because of who he was. There was no magic “ta-da” suddenly he’s super hunky with no scars and I LOVED that aspect. It felt more real.

If you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast retellings, I definitely recommend this one. It was one of the few I actually enjoyed more than I thought I would.

Star 4

Review – A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

By Sarah J Maas

SummaryLooming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I absolutely love this series. And Sarah J. Maas. This was another brilliant five star book that had me twisted into a ball of emotions the whole time. I was on the edge of my seat with so much hanging in the balance. There were alliances, court scheming, plots, betrayals, quests, romance, adventure. I think ACOWAR is even more complex than the second book with the political plots and bargains and favors. 

I love how Maas creates characters that end up growing and changing. Comparing ANY of the characters in ACOTAR to the ones in ACOWAR would show just how much they’ve all been affected by the events of the world. Feyre did a lot of her growth in ACOMAF, but in ACOWAR, we got to see her strut her stuff as High Lady of the Night Court and truly flaunt her power. I will always love the romance between her and Rhys because they just believe in each other, lean on each other in times of need, and never let their worry stop them from letting each other do what needs to be done. I love villainous and terrifying love interests, but I melt even more when they treat their romantic leads as equals and believe in them. And it really doesn’t happen as often as it should in romance, so I can’t get enough of Rhys and Feyre. They are both so full of compassion and yet rippling with terrifying power. 

But while ACOMAF was more focused on the romantic tension between Rhys and Feyre to some degree, ACOWAR was definitely more about introducing more of the rest of the characters and their stories along with the threat of war, and so there was a lot going on. For anyone who was sticking through it just to get more romance, while I think ACOWAR has a lot of great romantic moments, it definitely wasn’t quite the same kind of story. This book wasn’t just the two of them soaring through the night and stealing moments, but of them covered in blood and sweat and leaning on each other because they just couldn’t stomach the battle without each other. Which was better to me, but might not satisfy people who crave romantic tension. 

I don’t know what to say without spoiling the many twists and turns in the plot. The story started in such a different place than it ended, with a host of various schemes and problems along the way. But I LOVE this series so much. It brings real fantasy elements and real character growth to YA that I just don’t see often enough in other books. It is rare that books touch upon the strength it takes to recover from traumatic events, the love that is real and makes us better people, the friendship between people who are good to each other, and the complexities of the Fae world. There are layers upon layers to everything in the series and none of it feels contrived or lazy or predictable. The characters are amazing and I just loved every second. 

I can’t wait to see where the series will go after this, but I’m also glad to get some closure, too, which is what I have not yet gotten from the Throne of Glass series. 

I highly recommend the series and this book was as good, if not better, than the second in the series, so it did not disappoint. I truly cannot comprehend anyone not loving this series if they are into fantasy and Fae lore at all, unless it has to do with the more mature violence and romance being off putting for people who stick to YA for the cleanliness. This series is definitely mature, but not quite as graphic as adult romance. I highly recommend it.

Star 5

Series Reread, Book Tour, Etc: A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J Maas

 

With the release of A Court of War and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J Maas in early May, I was so excited to reread the existing books. I was also able to attend a book signing for the ACOWAR Tour in Connecticut before I moved across the country. 

My original reviews of book 1 and book 2 are still exactly how I feel, so I didn’t bother writing any reread thoughts. 

I think reading A Court of Thorns and Roses was a bit different because I knew what would happen in book two for the first time, but I still found myself drawn in the parallels to Beauty and the Beast, even if I knew the Beast wouldn’t be right for the Beauty in the story. I still loved watching it all unfold, but I did pay extra attention to the section of the story that took place Under the Mountain in preparation for the book two reread. 

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR #1) Review

 

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2) Review

 

 

 

A Court of War and Ruin (ACOTAR #3) Book Tour!

 

 

 

 

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson

 

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2)

By Rae Carson

SummaryShe does not know what awaits her at the enemy’s gate.

Elisa is a hero.

She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country’s ruler should be secure. But it isn’t.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.

If she’s lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

The Crown of Embers was such an awesome sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns. The Elisa I couldn’t stand in book 1 was completely gone. And while she still second guessed some of her decisions as queen, she did so in a way that seemed less attributed to lack of self esteem and more legitimately not knowing if her decisions were good for the country. She was so much more mature and willing to do what was necessary.

Elisa managed to find some allies and people she trusted. Despite her losses in book one, she was still willing to open herself up and trust. She was eager to lead, eager to do what was necessary as one of the bearers of the Godstone. What defeated the army in the first book was no longer a solution as the other Godstones were tapped out. But as wave after wave of attack or secret plot threatened her, she knew she had to embark on a new path.

The Crown of Embers did not suffer from the dreaded second-book-syndrome. Elisa was so much stronger, yet still vulnerable. I loved watching her lead, rule, and make difficult decisions. She was unconventional and a tad reckless, but she wasn’t naive about it like she was in the first book. I loved watching her feelings for Hector unfold as impossible choices had to be made. She had so much farther to go as a developed queen and I love seeing it happen. I cannot wait for the next book!

I recommend The Crown of Embers and I think the series will be a good one and I can’t wait to see how it ends. Now that I am where I am, I think I can even appreciate Elisa’s beginnings in book one.

Star 4