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Adult, Review / November 29, 2016
Elantris by Brandon SandersonElantris
Publisher: Tor
Date: May, 2006
638 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

Brandon Sanderson’s cosmere universe is large and can seem intimidating from the outside. Many recommend  Mistborn as a good starting place. Elantris  gets my vote. Some practical reasons for this: Elantris is a stand-alone. Mistborn is a trilogy with each book on the long side. And while his Stormlight Archives are my absolute favorite, the learning curve on the world building is pretty high.

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By: Diane
Young Adult / October 28, 2016
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Date: 4th June 2015
450 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?

For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.

For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.

When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.

But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

I read An Ember in the Ashes by the wonderful Sabaa Tahir last year after receiving the beautiful UK hardcover from my boyfriend. Honestly, if you haven’t seen it, it is beautiful. Once the jacket is off, it is this lovely gold and I am basically in love with it. Anyway, enough about how in love I am with the cover and more about this review! I thought I would do a mini review for An Ember in the Ashes before I share my review of A Torch Against the Night, the second book in this series. As I read Ember in Summer last year, I thought it would be best to post a short review, although I know that I may omit some details as I have read quite a few books since last summer.

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By: Vicky
Review, Young Adult / October 4, 2016
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Date: 09/2016
546 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

“They don’t know who we are. Not really. They don’t know what we’ve done, what we’ve managed together.” Kaz rapped his cane on the ground. “So let’s go show them they picked the wrong damn fight.”

Six of Crows was one of my favorite books of 2015 and I was a little nervous going into Crooked Kingdom. I needn’t have worried about the quality of the story, the plot was fast paced with frequently shifting sources of tension and danger. Kaz and company feel a little less ahead of the game than last time. Fighting for more personal reasons than money, and doing so against adversaries who know they are coming, plenty of ugly surprises are in store. This wasn’t like taking the Ice Court by surprise; coming up against a very-prepared Van Eck and Pekka Rollins, the gang frequently struggled and had to re-plot in their quest for revenge and redemption. I kept turning the pages wondering how Kaz and team would manage to achieve everything this story has been set up for. From beginning to end the plot flows masterfully with only small breathers before the next big disaster hits.

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By: Diane
Adult, Review / August 30, 2016
Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher: Tor
Date: 19/05/2015
438 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

This is a spruced-up version of a review I wrote on my old blog last year for Uprooted. This book instantly became an all-time favorite of mine and even won the Nebula Award last spring!

Uprooted was scary, fun, and even at times romantic. It’s similar to Patricia McKillip’s novels in that it has a pastoral fairy tale feel, but is longer, with a more complex plot.

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By: Diane
Review, Young Adult / August 20, 2016
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonThe Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Date: July 2014
489 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

The Kiss of Deception took me 10 months to read. Yep, that’s right. I began reading it in September 2015 but only just finished it July 2016. This wasn’t because it was a bad book at all, slow but not bad. The reason why it took me so long is because I have been in a big reading slump since September 2015. I’d read a book and then be in a slumpy mood again and it has been the worst but I think I’m really beginning to come out of it now!

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By: Vicky