Review of Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

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Given to the Sea
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Putnam’s Childrens
Format: E-Arc
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Everyone has a place.

Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.

My Thoughts:
I really love that McGinnis’ style and genre changes for each book she releases. When I saw she was venturing into fantasy I had to have this book. It was a tad different than I expected but it did have some of the McGinnis trade marks- it wasn’t an overly happy story and it had a complex world. The story was told from 4 point of views. I am a fan of multiple POV so I didn’t have trouble with this though I did sort of mix up a character or two. For some reason the Witt story line had me confused each time it went to his chapters. I don’t know if I couldn’t get a good feel for his character or what but I was always having to remind myself who he was.

I thought at first that I would enjoy Khosa’s character the most but I never did really connect to her. I thought the idea of her family history and her draw to the sea was so interesting though. What a completely original story idea! Her constant draw, even against her will, to the ocean was mesmerizing. The fact that she felt dancing in her bones and the need to dance to her death? Wow, that’s dark and awesome.

The characters I really grew to like were Dara and Donil. The fact that they were the last of their race was so sad to me. I loved their magical abilities and how much it really weighed on them and their actions. The unrequited love Dara felt had my heart breaking for her. Really- they just had such a sad story.

Vincent was likeable and easy to read about. I enjoyed his POV and I might have felt he was the easiest to connect to. With the combination of all these characters and their stories it was a really complex storyline. I admit, there were times I wasn’t sure what was happening! I still felt the draw to continue reading regardless.

Final Thoughts:
Given to the Sea wasn’t what I expected exactly but regardless I found the characters and story to be incredibly interesting even if I didn’t follow everything throughout my entire read. It all pulled together and the further I read the more I could grasp the world and reasoning behind character’s actions. As with most McGinnis books, this one wasn’t overly happy but it had a realistic quality to it that I really appreciated.

Review of Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

DuelandDeceptionDuels and Deception
By: Cindy Anstey
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Format: Print arc
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

My Thoughts:
Duels and Deception was exactly what I expected and wanted! It was a fast, fun read that had that Jane Austen feel and such a cute story. Have you read any of Tessa Dare’s historical romance novels? This book had that feel but for a YA audience.

The pacing was quick and this was one of those books that’s perfect for vacation reading, waiting for an appointment- really- the kind of book you stick in your purse and read whenever you get a few minutes. The driving force in this novel was by far the characters and the chemistry they have with one another. I immediately liked the main character Miss Lydia Whitfield. She’s pragmatic and knows exactly what she wants out of life. She’s got everything planned (if only others would play by her rules a little easier).

The law clerk, Mr. Rober Newton, was so cute. I shipped these two quickly and looked forward to their interactions. I loved their misadventures and how they brought out the best in one another.

This book wasn’t overly mysterious- I thought it was obvious what the outcome would be but that didn’t diminish the fun of reading for me at all. It was, as they say, the journey that mattered and not the destination. Reading about these two characters was so much fun. I loved the historical setting and felt that the author did a great job of taking the reader there.

Final Thoughts:
Duels and Deception was an adorable read with quirky characters you love and a fun story line. It’s a standalone and perfect for a vacation read or something quick to pick you out of a reading slump.

Review of A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

apromiseoffireA Promise of Fire
By: Amanda Bouchet
Release Date: August 2nd 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this book on Twitter and after seeing that cover and reading the summary I was eager to jump in. I really enjoyed this book! It was a fantasy romance so there were some sex scenes so younger readers take note. This book was a quick read with characters I found easy to like and a nice helping of action and magic.

We are introduced to the lead, Cat, at a circus where she performs as a soothsayer, fortune teller and uses this backdrop as a means to hide out from her past. We follow the story from her point of view and I found her to be rather likeable- though she is STUBBORN. She has a really dark past and I think the reader can figure out pretty early what and who she is. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be obvious or not but it was to me. The other characters see that there’s more to Cat than she lets on but no one knows her secret. I think this disconnect between the reader knowing and the other characters not can be a tad annoying at places. Cat’s complete refusal to tell Griffin anything relevant about herself grated on me as well.

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Now, Griffin. What a character he was. He’s the Beta Sinta (second in command)-his family had just overthrown the ruling family in Sinta and he’s fighting to capture the respect and trust of the people his sister (Alpha Sinta) rules. He has need of Cat’s skills and was given an oracle dream that helped lead him to her. I completely pictured Jason Momoa when I was reading which was very nice, haha. His character was for the most part very likeable and, he too, was very strong willed. You don’t have to read for long before his life collides with Cat’s and these two bold personalities created many disagreements, and honestly, humor. I loved how these two pushed one another. I really enjoyed the romance (it does play a large role in the novel) and felt that these characters were well matched. Both struggle with flaws so it created a realness that I appreciated.

Magic had a huge role in this book and Cat seems to be able to do it all. It veered on convenient at times but I could go with it because the rest of the book was so entertaining. There are reasons she can harness all this magic but it, at times, makes her invincible. Regardless, I did worry for the other characters and their fates.

The world Bouchet has created was SO original! I think the mix of a new world, fantasy elements and ancient Gods really pushed this book into something so unique. I love that Hades, Poseidon, etc all have a role to play as they enforce their will on humanity. I loved that this element was woven into this world.

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Final Thoughts:
I will be reading the second book because I must know what will happen next. This book didn’t really leave you on a cliff hanger though people and events have moved to lead up to an epic battle that has to be on the horizon. If you are searching for an unique fantasy with a hate to love ship and some steamy scenes this book is for you.

Review for The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

thediabolicThe Diabolic
By: S.J. Kincaid
Release Date: November 1st 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating
star

Summary:
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

My Thoughts
I think that The Diabolic will be a great hit with many readers. It’s an action packed story with intrigue, a touch of romance and wonderful setting. For me, I really enjoyed this book but at the same time I felt that some of the pacing was rushed and I wished I’d had a deeper connection to the main character, Nemesis.

There were aspects of this book that I felt were incredibly strong and well done. The world building was really interesting and I loved the descriptions and the issues that Kincaid drew out with the Diabolics, Excess and Royals. Because of there being such extensive unrest in this world there was real tension in this book and it made the reading experience exciting.

The characters were a mixed bag for me- I really loved Tyrus the nephew of the Emperor. His character was the most interesting to me and I would have liked to have read more about him. I loved how he interacted with the main character, Nemesis. I honestly liked her the most when she was interacting with him.

Speaking of Nemesis- I enjoyed her character on a whole but there were times her decision making really aggravated me. I could understand her motives but it didn’t take away from my frustration while reading. I do think she was well developed and her history as a Diabolic was horrifying to read about. I appreciated that Kincaid chose to tell this story from a Diabolic’s perspective but I do wish I could have connected a bit deeper to her.

The side characters were less thrilling to me. Many, like Nemesis’ charge, Sidonia was sadly not all that well developed to me. I never was able to connect to her and at times I feel her storyline was there for the sole point of advancing the plot or being an inconvenience to it.

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Final Thoughts:
I found The Diabolic to be an exciting read and well worth the time though I couldn’t connect deeply with the main character. I found the world and story to be well done though and I would read a follow-up if there was one. I’d especially love to read more about Tyrus.

Review of The Swan Riders by Erin Bow

Ttheswanriderscoverhe Swan Riders
By: Erin Bow
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Greta Stuart had always known her future: die young. She was her country’s crown princess, and also its hostage, destined to be the first casualty in an inevitable war. But when the war came it broke all the rules, and Greta forged a different path.

She is no longer princess. No longer hostage. No longer human. Greta Stuart has become an AI.

If she can survive the transition, Greta will earn a place alongside Talis, the AI who rules the world. Talis is a big believer in peace through superior firepower. But some problems are too personal to obliterate from orbit, and for those there are the Swan Riders: a small band of humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.

Now two of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion, and the dry grassland may hide insurgents who want to rescue her – or see her killed. Including Elian, the boy she saved—the boy who wants to change the world, with a knife if necessary. Even the infinitely loyal Swan Riders may not be everything they seem.

Greta’s fate—and the fate of her world—are balanced on the edge of a knife in this smart, sly, electrifying adventure.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed the first book, The Scorpion Rules, and looked forward in reading what happened next with these characters. The Swan Riders has a much different feel and pacing than the first book but continues the story wonderfully. I felt it was a very strong follow-up.

The Swan Riders focused more on Talis (the AI) and Greta as well as the elusive Swan Riders we briefly see in the first book. The hostages for peace view the Swan Riders as the dreaded reality of their fates. Riders come and select the hostage who is next to die. We see this in the first book but only in this one do we really get an idea of what these Riders are all about. We get to see how they experience life and where they train and live. I found it all very interesting and just another aspect of this world that is so messed up.

Greta in this book is grappling with becoming an AI herself. The transition is not easy and it more often than not kills the human transforming. Greta is strong and with the aid of Talis we get to see her try to maintain herself yet become something else. Greta’s struggles were done wonderfully and Bow really adds a dimension of confusion and disorientation for Greta. As the reader we are pulled on this journey and are able to really feel the losing of Greta’s self.

Talis is such an intriguing character- I adored his evil ways in the first book and I was so happy that he makes a very large appearance in this book. He is such a complex character and Bow really dives into his past in this book. We also get to meet the other AI’s- which was creepy and oh so interesting. This world is so creepy to me and so flawed. Bow has really created something believable yet very original.

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Final Thoughts:
Erin Bow continues the story from The Scorpion Rules wonderfully in this follow-up. I felt that we got a much more detailed look at the characters and watching them grapple with their fates was interesting. I was so happy we got to see more of Talis and the AI’s in general. What an immensely brutal and creative world Bow has created.