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Photo Review – The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles #2) by Laurie Forest

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The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles #2)

by Laurie Forest

SummaryElloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

Source: I preordered a hardcover

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Review:

I really liked the first book, The Black Witch, and was eager to read the sequel. It was awesome and very well done. Elloren was a much more likable character than she was in book 1 and she very publicly stood for what she believed in at the moments where it truly mattered. It took her forever to get there, but it was worth the wait, I think.

The story was full of action, politics that got even scarier than they were in the first book, magic, choices, and even some romance.

I have to say, the ending left me a little sad that I have to wait another year for the next book because it dropped some pretty hefty revelations, but I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I was also glad the naive but-I-don’t-have-any-magic thing finally came to an end as she DOES get to discover she has magical abilities in this installment! (Finally!)

I know I rated book 1 5 stars, but I did that mainly because I liked the book and felt that it was getting some pretty unfair 1 star reviews because people didn’t open their minds to the possibility that the author was trying to make a VALID POINT about prejudice and was building the blocks. I highly recommend this series so far for that point because the author does it well and it’s shocking. I added the star in order to help contribute to offsetting the overall average on Goodreads. The readers who have enjoyed the series or at least given it a chance have been pretty kind to the reviews for the 2nd book so I’m only rating it 4 stars because that’s closer to how I feel. It’s not without flaws and the writing isn’t super spectacular or anything, so it’s 4 star YA.

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Star 4

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Photo Review – Rose Madder by Stephen King

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Rose Madder

by Stephen King

SummaryThe #1 national bestseller about a woman who escapes an abusive marriage is “one of Stephen King’s most engrossing horror novels. Relentlessly paced and brilliantly orchestrated…fueled by an air of danger immediate and overwhelming” (Publishers Weekly).

“What woke her up was a single drop of blood, no larger than a dime.”

After surviving fourteen years of hell in a violently abusive marriage, Rosie Daniels finally summons the courage to flee for her life. But leaving her husband, Norman, for a new city and a new start is a very daunting prospect. It’s hard for Rosie not to keep looking over her shoulder, and with good reason—Norman’s a police officer with the instincts of a predator, a force of relentless terror and savagery…a man almost mythic in his monstrosity. He’s very good at finding people, even if he is losing his mind. Rosie’s only hope for salvation may lie in a far more dangerous place, where she must become her own myth and the woman she never knew she could be….

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Someday, I’ll finally complete what seems like a never ending Stephen King to read pile. I picked this up at the store when I realized I hadn’t yet read it or owned it. I didn’t know anything going in, which I sometimes enjoy because then I have no expectations.

Rose Madder was a completely engrossing tale about an abused woman who decided to leave her husband one day. Her husband was a police officer and she was terrified of him finding her.

In a lot of ways, the plot is kind of similar to Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, but it’s much more horrifying and it ends a bit differently. Rosie was terrified of her husband, but eventually, with help from people she met in her new town, she was able to grow and flourish into an independent woman.

I loved the book because it was real life horror combined with an element of fantasy. It was incredibly well told considering the author has likely never been a battered woman, but I felt that Rose’s story was authentic and chilling.

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Star 4

Photo Review – Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1)

by Zoraida Cordova

SummaryNothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

I enjoyed the premise of the book and the culture and mythology surrounding the family. The story felt magical in a rich, dark, and beautiful way. I wished the main character would’ve immersed herself a bit more in her culture, but I could understand why she wished to be rid of magic and her abilities altogether.

I loved the book for most of the first portion as she met someone willing to help her give up her powers forever and she followed him through the rabbit hole and through a magical journey.

The rest of the book felt rushed and convenient, so much so that I’m surprised it was on lists for featuring LGBT or feminism. The main character turned her back on her culture, let someone she didn’t know guide her without once asking herself it was a good idea, and yet she seemed really headstrong and firm in her opinions. I felt like I knew her character, until the end when suddenly she was in a relationship that came out of left field.

I only gave the book 3 stars because I didn’t like how it all concluded. I have read that the second book follows someone else in the family and is better, but I’m not sure that I’ll continue reading.

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Star 3

Photo Review – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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The Cruel Prince

by Holly Black

Summary: GUARD YOUR MORTAL HEART.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him—and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Source: I received an exclusive cover signed book from Owlcrate

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Review:

I read the book back in the spring. Though I forgot to review the book, I did not forget about reading it as I tend to do sometimes when the book is forgettable. I enjoyed the story quite a bit. I love the world of the Fae and I’m a fan of Holly Black, so this was definitely on my radar when I got it.

I don’t think Black developed a unique setting so much, so it some ways it pales in comparison to other Faery books, but Black did spend a lot of effort creating characters and that’s where this book really shines.

We’ve always heard the stories about cold and calculating Fae, but I don’t think any stories really capture the essence of that as well as this one. The Fae are ruthless and cold, but not even really in the same way that a human would be if they were terrible to one another. I was so invested in the story and I will definitely read the rest of the series when the books release.

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Star 4

Photo Review – The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Summary: One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

Source: I purchased a softcover.

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Review:

I read The Hobbit a few years ago and absolutely loved it. The Lord of the Rings has been on my to-read list for years and years, but it just seemed so daunting and long. Much like other older fantasy books, I expected it to be long and boring and dry, so I kept putting it off. For the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, I decided I would finally read it this year as Book Mentioned In Another Book and finally get to scratch it off of my 100 Essential Books Scratch Off Poster.

I’m glad I read it! It wasn’t nearly as slow as I’d expected and I was able to match up a lot of the characters with those in the movie, which helped me put some faces to names and keep it from being confusing. It also helps that I read The Hobbit, so I cared a lot about the events in the beginning and I’m not sure I would have cared about Bilbo and his party and his birthday if I hadn’t read The Hobbit.

I still prefer The Hobbit because Frodo just isn’t as fun as Bilbo (not that his task was really fun in the first place) and because everything was so dark and serious and dramatic and I much preferred the lightheartedness of The Hobbit. Still, LOTR was really good and much better than I expected it to be.

Photo Review – Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #1) by Mary E. Pearson

Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #1)

By Mary E. Pearson

Summary: A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

Source: I received a digital copy from Netgalley and a signed hardcover from Uppercase.

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Review:

This was a spin off series set in the same universe as The Remnant Chronicles and I read this immediately after finishing it.

Dance of Thieves had completely new characters in a new setting, but Lia was mentioned a few times, so I feel like I got a little closure from knowing how she was doing.

I loved the characters in this book. It had such a different feel than The Remnant Chronicles and I loved that. It was a new culture, a settlement than the kingdoms didn’t even recognize, hence Kazi’s presence there, trying to get information for Lia.

I enjoyed the politics and schemes, as well as the push and pull of Kazi and Jase as they ended up on their own, both with plans to betray the other. It was so much fun and I couldn’t wait to see how it played out.

You don’t have to read The Remnant Chronicles to enjoy this series, but it does take place after the events, so it’s a bit of a spoiler that Lia is Queen, but I don’t think it’s a big deal if you just ignore that and just don’t read the series immediately after with her and her court’s names fresh in your head!

August 2018 Uppercase featuring Dance of Thieves:

Photo Review – The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3) by Mary E. Pearson

The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3)

By Mary E. Pearson

Summary: Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy

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Review:

I really enjoyed this trilogy. Every book had different enemies and different politics, yet they all related to everything else and impacted the core group of characters. There were so many plots and schemes. I loved the character growth.

If you’re looking for a YA fantasy that is more than the familiar tropes, this is one to check out. It’s complex, yet also full of hope with a determined young heroine. And full of angst and romance, but not in a way that overshadows the rest of the plot.

I highly recommend this series!