What I’m Listening To: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Young Adult Audiobook Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

This finally book in the Caraval Series didn’t let me down! After reading the first book and liking-but-not-loving it, I listened to the second book, Legendary, on Audiobook. You can read my review of that here.

Because the first book of Caraval is from one sister’s perspective (Scarlet), and the second book is by the other’s (Tella), I figured that the third book could go either way. I didn’t like the Scarlet book as much, so would I like a book told by both sisters? It turns out I did. I loved it.

There is just so much marvelous world building in this series (especially in books 2 and 3, which is why I loved them more than one). There is also the perfect amount of romance and adventure. But most, I just loved the magic. I’ve always had a thing for Tarot Cards, and I think anyone who has that interest will enjoy these books. I could easily read another book set in this world that deals with all those other fated places and things that we didn’t see in this trilogy (is it too much to hope??).

And as an audiobook, the narator did a marvelous job. I loved all the voices with perhaps the exception of Julian’s, since it felt like a bit too much, slightly jarrring as he had a fairly heavy accent compared to all of the other characters and it didn’t seem like he would considering spoilery things I won’t write here.

I recommend this book to any fantasy lover. 5/5 Stars

Have you read Finale yet?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Young Adult Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is a young adult fantasy (with a little bit of tech), about a girl who ends up embroiled in a plot to kill the four queens of the land.

From the start, this book was a bit different than the other young adult fantasy books out there because of the little bit of tech thrown in, which I found interesting. But for me, this book was an up and down read, I really liked the beginning, which was promising, felt a bit lost in the middle, and liked the near ending, and wasn’t sure quite what to think about the ending.

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Four Dead Queens certainly kept me on my toes. I’m pretty good at guessing plot twists, but I didn’t quite guess these ones correct, which is always a nice surprise. This is also a stand alone fantasy, which can be hard to find (and sometimes it’s so nice to read just one book, don’t you think?).

I loved the maps in the book, but wish that the main characters would have traveled a bit further a field. I mean why have elaborate maps in a fantasy book if the characters aren’t going to journey to these far off lands? Still, it was a worthwhile read for me, as it’s nice to find a fantasy with a bit of mystery.

3.5/5 stars.

JEH

What I’m Reading: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The final book in the Grisaverse Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, was everything I expected it to be—almost. Same great writing, same lovable characters, broken hearts and action and adventure. But there was on thing I didn’t get, and from what I’ve read of other reviews, other people seem to feel much the same way. If you want to know more, scroll past the picture, but if you don’t stop reading now.

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The one thing I felt this book didn’t deliver to me on was the ending. I was expecting much of what happened. But I was expecting/hoping for all of it to end much more tragically than it did. Maybe I’m just all dark and twisty inside, but sometimes a happy ending seems to me to be too happy, almost forced, and almost not realistic. But also, I was just hoping for a different pairing at the end than what I got.

Still, I love this magical world and all of the unique elements to Grishaverse. I’ll probably read the other Grishaverse books. I hear that the other books are even better. Maybe I’ll even start one this weekend.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

GrishaVerse is one of those series that you can’t stop hearing about. I was able to borrow the original GrishaVerse trilogy from a friend a while back. The books are told by the perspective of Alina Starkov, a teen-aged orphan who, surprise, turns out to have magical powers. While this series starts like many a fantasy novel before it, Leigh Bardugo manages to create a fairly fresh fantasy landscape with strong, believable characters.

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The first novel of the trilogy sets up the world of the Grisha, the magic wielders  in this universe. Borrowing on Russian history, culture, and mythology, Shadow and Bone has a fresh appeal for those used to reading more ‘European’ type fantasy. What I liked best about Shadow and Bone, however, was the play between Alina and the Darkling. This book had twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, and Bardugo did a good job of keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Have you read Shadow and Bone? What did you think?

4.5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Wicked King by Holly Black

You know, I’m pretty sure that in all my life I will never be able to say enough about Holly Black and her fantastic writing. I grew up loving the idea of Fairies (the big, human-ish ones that we now call the Fae, in order distinguish them from the tiny little ones with wings (which I also love, but that’s a tale for another day)). And Holly Black really brings them to life for me.

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The second book of the Folk of the Air trilogy is perhaps better than the first one, The Cruel Prince, which I reviewed last year, and if I have to give a reason for this it is because in The Wicked King we get to see the underwater fae, and if you’ve read my books, you know that I love underwater kingdoms—they are just so exotic! (also, Hello! Aquaman!) Jude continues to be a strong kick-a** hero, who isn’t afraid of a good fight. What could be better? I can’t wait for the next book.

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Young Adult Book Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I finished this series a while ago but I am just so behind on my book blogging! Long story short, I love The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. In fact, The Raven Cycle Series is definitely in my top 5 favorite YA Fantasy Series.

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The Raven King was a fantastic ending to this series. While I didn’t love Blue Lily, Lily Blue, The Raven King was the wrap up that I was looking for. And, if you listen to the books on audio, you also get some really cool themed music.

Have you read The Raven Cycle yet?

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Young Adult Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

When I first heard about this book, I was tempted to pick it up straight away, but it’s a good thing I didn’t since I received it in the OwlCrate box that month. Melissa Albert’s writing style was a bit different than I’m used too, with some sentences that took a couple reads to understand, but once I adjusted, I quickly fell into the pages of the story.

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Now, I enjoyed The Hazel Wood, but something about the ending didn’t quite jive with my expectations at the beginning of the book. I loved the beginning. I loved the promise of the mystery and the shadowed back story, but I felt the end took this twist that was unexpected but also not quite as full as I was expecting. It was fast and happened really quickly, when it probably could have had much more time devoted to it.

The main character Alice as fun and loveable, as were Finch and Audrey and most of the other characters. This book is very fairy tale, but modern, which I really like. Now, apparently, this is the first book in of two, or possibly a trilogy, I’m not sure. But according to GoodReads a second book is expected next year. However, The Hazel Wood ends well as a standalone, so I don’t really feel like I’d have to pick up the second book. I’m thinking that maybe the second book is about different characters in the Hazel Wood world, so it will be interesting to see how that ends up.

Here’s a quote I that I loved, from page 128 of The Hazel Wood:

“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.”

Overall, I’d give this book 4/5 Stars, but if there were room for decimals, it would probably be just a bit below a four. Have you read The Hazel Wood yet?

JEH