Author: C.J. Redwine
Series: The Courier’s Daughter, Book 1
Published: September 2012
Source: Review copy from publisher
Rachel’s world is confined to the protective walls around her city. Beyond them are violent wanderers, extreme terrain, and a danger straight out of legend: a beast called the Cursed One that devastates everything in its path.
When Rachel’s father goes missing, she is desperate to search for him. But her attempts to flee the city bring her to the attention of its overbearing ruler. His efforts to control her make the world within the walls seem as dangerous as that outside.
Her only chance at escape is Logan. Once her father’s apprentice, and now her only protector, he feels that helping her might mean losing her completely. But if he can put his feelings aside, they might be able to save more than Rachel’s father. They might be able to break down the walls, and set their people free.
Defiance is an incredible book, with each page like a move in an intricate, high-stakes chess game between the characters. It was beautifully written and full of unexpected twists. Best of all, it has Logan, who in the author CJ Redwine’s own words is like the love-child of Sherlock Holmes and MacGuyver.
The book is set in a dystopian city-state society, where citizens live in walled cities in fear of a Leviathan-like ground monster called The Chosen One. Baalboden, the city where the story starts, is ruled by the sinister, power-hungry Commander Chase who tells Rachel that her father, a courier, hasn’t returned on time and has been declared dead. He hands over her Protectorship to her father’s young apprentice, Logan.
The story was well-plotted, working both character-driven scenes and high action. Even when I thought the story was going the way I expected, Redwine managed to catch me out at every turn. It kept me on my toes the entire time. The words were also beautifully crafted and showed a great range from humorous awkwardness, real heart-wrenching emotion and everything in between.
The book uses an altering point of view narration between Rachel and Logan, and subsequently both main characters were incredibly well-developed. Their motives, priorities and feelings matured with each chapter. Rachel, with each passing loss grew from being stubborn, determined, and impulsive to more thoughtful, grounded, and detached and I came to admire how she coped with the cruel hand fate dealt her. Logan, always logical and well-planned, started to act on his emotions a little more. It was a nice contrast as they took on some of the other’s personality traits–they are an extremely well-matched pair.
The narration style also allowed us to get into the hero’s brain, and boy was it a good one. I wanted to take a blanket and snuggle up inside the head of our resident inventor. Logan grew up as an outcast orphan, his mother sentenced to death for breaking the law at the hands of the Commander. He taught himself how to wield a sword and to invent tech in order to create a better life for himself and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a smart, skilled fighter. Logan also has a strong sense of justice, loyalty and fairness, and when mixed with a certain awkwardness makes him extremely charming. I especially love his logical mind, always thinking through best and worst case scenarios, always having a plan of action, always succeeding in finding a way out of each passingly worse situation. This is definitely someone I would want as my Protector—or, you know, to Claim me.
The Commander is an excellent villain, the perfect mix of ruthless and controlling. He was a genuine threat to Rachel and Logan throughout the book and I always felt nervous during each of their encounters. Sweet Oliver was a great father figure to them both, someone they loved and respected and he was comforting. There are also glimpses of other minor characters that I have a feeling will grow into their own in the second book and I can’t wait.
I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of anything dystopian, fantasy or if you’re just in need of a new book boyfriend. Best Case Scenario: You love the book. Worst Case Scenario: You dislike the book, but love Logan anyway. It’s a win-win. Trust me, Logan won’t let you down. “If you can’t believe that right now, believe in me.”
Thank you to Atom for providing a copy for review.
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, Book 1
Published: August 2012
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Once in a while you discover a new fantasy world that blows you away with its great characters and killer dialogue. Throne of Glass, the debut novel from Sarah J. Maas has that and more in spades and I was utterly engrossed by heroine Celaena Sardothien’s journey, as she weaved seamlessly through a world filled with swordfights and magic and beautiful ball gowns.
I’m a huge high fantasy fan and I wish this book was around for teenage me to read…oh wait, it was! Then called Queen of Glass on Fictionpress, it was one of the most popular stories on the site. I really wish I had discovered it then, as Maas does a great job world-building, giving you a sense of the landscape, political state, and hints of magic. The settings are memorable, particularly the grandeur of the glass castle built atop older ruins (I would love to see this brought to life!) and I can’t wait to be treated to more of the world as the series progresses.
The best thing about the book is the characters—each interesting in their own way with a great combination of wit and vulnerability. Celaena is a tough, skilled fighter, but she’s also arrogant, vain, and frivolously girly. She shows spite just as much as compassion. She’s not a character people immediately like, but it made her unique. Celaena’s various friendships definitely helped me warm to her, especially with Nehemia, who was a great character in her own right. There was a great mutual respect there, and even though they had reasons to be suspicious of each other, they found a way to enjoy each other’s company.
I also loved her relationships with the two main men in the book. Chaol Westfall is the strict and discreet Captain of the Guard who acts as Celaena’s
overqualified babysitter trainer throughout the competition. Their relationship was very well-developed; from frustration to mutual respect, friendship, and possibly attraction. With Chaol, it’s a quiet simmering affection, which suits his personality.
On the other hand, there was more flirtation than friendship with Prince Dorian Havilliard. Initially cold, they bond through their mutual love of books and puppies, and boy does it get steamy! Plus, Dorian is witty, charismatic and growing into his own conscience—he’s becoming the ruler the country needs. He reminds me of Arthur Pendragon from BBC’s Merlin and anyone who knows me knows that makes me Team Dorian all the way.
The book just falls short of perfect marks for me due to the assassin competition being given less prominence than expected. Some of the events were, but others were only mentioned in passing. I’m going to notch this one down to editing the book down to a reasonable length, but I for one was hooked with this premise in the synopsis and I would’ve loved to read each task in all its detailed glory. I’m also hoping there will be more assassinations as the series goes on!
If you’re a fan of high fantasy, freshened up like Graceling by Kristen Cashore, then Throne of Glass is a must read for you. I’m currently keeping myself occupied in this world a little longer with the four prequel novellas, starting with The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, but I absolutely can’t wait for the sequel!
Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing a review copy via Netgalley.
Author: Rachel Harris
Series: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Published: September 2012
Source: ARC from publisher
On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.
Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore.
Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was a breath of fresh air! I loved the sound of the book from the blurb and I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint one bit! This debut is full of charm and is a light funny read while staying true to beautiful sixteenth century Rennaissance Florence.
Cat Crawford is the daughter of a famous Hollywood director and actress. Since her mother abandoned her and her dad, she likes her life out of the spotlight. So when her future stepmother Jenna steps in and wants to plan an extravagant Sweet Sixteen party to further her own career, Cat vehemently refuses and it takes a trip to Florence, Italy for art-loving Cat to reluctantly be persuaded by her dad. Little did she know her trip would whisk her back to the sixteenth century in order to learn some important lessons about herself!
It was great fun reading about Cat trying to fit into sixteenth century culture. When she arrives, she assumes the role of Patience D’Angeli, a relative from England, and stays with her aunt, uncle and cousins Cipriano and Alessandra. Her ‘Englishness’ hides a whole mess of historical faux pas, but the reaction of the locals is priceless. I love how Rachel Harris writes Cat with such spunk that you can’t help root for her, even through that cringe-worthy singing!
Author: Tara Fuller
Series: Kissed by Death, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Published: August 2012
Source: ARC from publisher
Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky — and unending — lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.
It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn’t let her die before, and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he has left…his soul.
I love death. Not so much dying, but the personification of death. He’s one of the best characters that crop up in literature, DEATH of the Discworld being a very notable example. So whenever a story has reapers in it, I get overly excited and my expectations probably rise tenfold. Thankfully, Inbetween hasn’t let me down.
Inbetween is told from the alternating point of view of Finn and Emma. Finn died as an 18-year old WWII fighter pilot and now works as a reaper, specialising in sending souls to the ‘inbetween’ where they await a second chance at life. Emma keeps getting into accidents and she’s certain she’s not crazy. Finn has sworn to protect Emma since he helped her survive a car crash two years ago that killed her father and inadvertently led a vengeful soul to take revenge through her.
This is a sweet love story that spans reincarnations. The plot is interesting and actually takes you to hell and back. The mood of the story shifts seamlessly from light-hearted humour to deep tragedy and I’m not ashamed to say that it made me well up with tears a few times. Tara Fuller’s writing is extremely emotive, especially in the way she captures danger and heartache. Despite all of that though, the book stands out most for me because of the wonderful characters.
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Series: The Assassin’s Curse, Book 1
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Published: October 2012
Source: ARC on Netgalley
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.
And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
I wanted to read this debut due to a review that said one of the main characters reminded her of a certain scarred prince close to my heart. I also love high fantasy, pirates, assassins and eastern-influenced culture and this book had it all in spades. While the world building was phenomenal, the aforementioned main character was a complete let down. In fact, both of them were.
Ananna of the Tanarau is the only daughter and successor to a wealthy pirate clan. In order to carry on the legacy, her parents arranged for her to marry Tarrin of the Hariri, another pirate clan. Like every girl who finds herself with an arranged marriage, she felt it would crush her dreams of being the captain of her own ship. So instead of going through with it, she goes all runaway bride and takes the risk that the Hariri clan would send an assassin after her for disgracing them.