Review of The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine

thecursedqueenThe Cursed Queen
By: Sarah Fine
Release Date: January 3rd 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating
star

Summary:
Ansa has always been a fighter.

As a child, she fought the invaders who murdered her parents and snatched her as a raid prize. She fought for her place next to Thyra, the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain. She fought for her status as a warrior in her tribe: blood and victory are her way of life. But the day her Krigere cross the great lake and threaten the witch queen of the Kupari, everything changes.

Cursed by the queen with fire and ice, Ansa is forced to fight against an invisible enemy—the dark magic that has embedded itself deep in her bones. The more she seeks to hide it, the more dangerous it becomes. And with the Krigere numbers decimated and the tribe under threat from the traitorous brother of the dead Chieftain, Ansa is torn between her loyalty to the Krigere, her love for Thyra, and her own survival instincts.

With her world in chaos and each side wanting to claim her for their own, only one thing is certain: unless Ansa can control the terrible magic inside her, everything she’s fought for will be destroyed.

My Thoughts:
Last year’s The Imposter Queen was one of my favorite reads of the year so I was beyond happy to see a sequel being released. I hadn’t expected for this sequel to be more companion novel than sequel and for it to focus on  new characters but it did. I was thrown off at first but it didn’t take long for me to really get involved in this story.

A lot happens within this novel and so the pacing was fast. I felt it was an easy book to get immersed in and it was never a struggle to pick it up. I was always eager to see what would unfold next.

In The Cursed Queen we follow Ansa, a warrior and Krigere (they are a tribe and were mentioned in the first book but briefly). Her life with her tribe is rough and violent. She’s been raised to strive for more kills and be ruthless. This book focused on her growth and her realization that she has been cursed with the magic her tribe fears and hates. When she’s suddenly an outsider amongst the people she’s strived to be accepted by it really rocks her world view. I loved that she had so much to figure out about herself and the world. I loved delving into her life, memories and choices for the future.

Her relationship with her Chieftain, and love interest, Thyra was really well done and developed. You could easily feel the tension and chemistry between these two. Fine always excels at creating realistic and deep characters and she succeeds in this book. Even the side characters are unique and captivating. Even the characters with dark motives interested me and I could see glimmers of good in them. This is my favorite aspect of Fine’s writing- her ability to put heart into each character.

I really loved that this story overlaps and intersects with The Imposter Queen. Both stories take place at the same time and as you read you start to see them connect and everything falls into place. This set-up worked so well and I just know that the final novel will be amazing. I’ll be so well connected to all the characters I’m sure it’ll be one emotional read.

thecursedqueenig

Final Thoughts:
As with all of Sarah Fine’s books, The Cursed Queen, was a fast paced novel with incredible characters and a storyline to keep you hooked. I loved how it intersected with The Cursed Queen though focused on different characters. I though this was a bold and unique way to continue the story.

Review of Splinter by Sarah Fine

SplinterSplinter
By: Sarah Fine
Release Date: August 2nd 2016
Publisher: 47North
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

My Rating:
star

This is an adult book so there are scenes with sexual content and violence.

Summary:
Mattie Carver has relinquished the world of magic, with all its dark temptations. In six weeks, she’ll marry Ben Ward and claim the safe, small-town life she craves. But Mattie’s talents as a reliquary—someone able to smuggle magic within her body—make her a valuable commodity, even to those she trusts the most. Forced out of retirement by a painful betrayal, she must seek the help of the man she’s tried desperately to stay away from: Ben’s estranged brother, Asa.

Asa, a sensor and magic dealer, may have saved Ben months ago, but he’s complicated Mattie’s life beyond imagining. Trailed by lethal mobsters through Chicago’s seamy magical underbelly and an eerie traveling carnival, Mattie struggles to endure the priceless magic she’s holding and her feelings for Asa. Once, she thought she’d chosen her path. Now the only option may be to succumb to the destiny that’s choosing her, and hope she’s strong enough to survive.

My Thoughts:
After I read Reliquary I had to know what would happen next with Mattie and Asa so immediately ordered Splinter. This book was just as addicting as the first book. The pacing was so fast and there were so many great action sequences this book was easy to devour in one sitting.

I’ll admit, I mostly love these books because of my obsession with Asa and Mattie. I love their chemistry together. These two work so well together I am sad any time they aren’t sharing a scene. And Ben. My goodness Ben. I’m not sure I’ve ever hated a character so much. I found it nearly impossible to understand why Mattie was even speaking to him let alone giving him the benefit of the doubt. I had to consider how long she’d been with him and all the wedding prep but grrrr. He drove me mad.

Mattie’s character development continues to be addressed. Splinter picks up months after the end of Reliquary (I believe 8-9 months) and Mattie’s life is in shambles. She has tried to rebuild after the events of the last book but she has not succeeded and it’s very obvious to everyone around her. I found Mattie’s situation so sad and I wanted nothing more than for her to escape. The story really picks up once she is thrown back into the magical underground and Asa shows up.

Seriously, I am so in love with his character. We are only shown bits and pieces of his back story and the more we learn the more my heart breaks for him. I find him to be such a strong and sympathetic character-he is the complete foil to Ben’s character and personality. Also, I’ve got to say, his relationship with Gracie, his dog, is a real high point for me too.

The secondary cast was awesome as always with the people Mattie ran into on her adventure being incredibly interesting in their own right. None have all that much page time but the bits we see make them seem human to me.

I really love how Fine has described the magic system in this world. The different types of magic and how they impact those around them and the entire magical system with sensors, reliquaries, etc has really well done. I love that it all takes place in our world.

These books have been such a fun reading experience for me. I’m ramping up for my kiddo to get back into school and these have been the perfect way to get my mind off of all the stress and relax for the hours I’m absorbed. They type-cast some groups of people (mob types mostly) which could be problematic for some and there is a love triangle (between brothers no less) but even with any errors these are just far too fun to read. The adventure, steamy bits and chemistry between the characters have me completely absorbed and eager for the last (I think) book in the series.

SplinterPic

Final Thoughts:
Reliquary and Splinter are perfect for a binge read over the weekend. Both books are extremely fast paced and incredibly fun. I am always a fan of Sarah Fine’s writing and these are no different. Go into these books expecting lots of action, steamy scenes and an overall fun reading experience. Be prepared thought to be fully addicted.

Review of Reliquary by Sarah Fine

ReliquaryPicReliquary
By: Sarah Fine
Release Date: June 14th 2016
Publisher: 47North
Format: Paperback
Source: Wunderkind PR

This book is for mature audiences. This is an adult paranormal so there is sexual content not suited for a young audience.  You’ve been warned.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.

Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

My Thoughts:
I have loved everything Sarah Fine has written so it was a no brainer that I had to get my hands on this latest of hers and read it immediately. I was not disappointed in the slightest. This book grabbed me immediately and didn’t let go until the last page. I closed the book and hopped on Amazon to purchase the second book, Splinter available now.

I was so addicted to this book while reading it and I’ve got to admit it’s been hard for me to move on. I got so invested in Mattie and Asa that I was not ready to put them up yet. I loved their dynamic and chemistry. Plus, this book was so much fun and very, very steamy. It was the perfect summer read.

Sure, this book plays on some typical paranormal tropes but Fine’s writing and characters stick out. We did have a love triangle (but I think it was handled well and honestly I hate Ben so I wasn’t bothered). Though there was non stop action I felt that, for me, this book was driven by the characters. They are very complex and not at all good or evil. Ok, some are pretty damn evil. But, the main cast straddle the line of what is right and wrong which makes the reading experience that much more interesting.

I would classify this book as the type of fun had while reading the Sookie Stackhouse books (the first 4) because of the fast pacing and paranormal leaking into the everyday life of a ‘regular’ gal. I love stories where the main character is learning about the world and themselves along with the reader and this is exactly like that. I was just as lost as Mattie when trying to navigate the magical underworld. I felt that not only was Asa leading her on this adventure but me as well.

Reliquary

Final Thoughts:
Reliquary is a perfect read for the urban fantasy/adult paranormal reader. I loved the character dynamic between Mattie and Asa and honestly became incredibly addicted to needing them to be together always, haha. I would say that for any faults this book might have the fast pacing and entertainment value alone make this one to read.

Review of The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

TheImposterQueenThe Impostor Queen
By: Sarah Fine
Release Date: January 5th 2016
Publisher:   Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

My Thoughts:
Oh, how I loved this book! I’ve read a good amount of Fine’s other books and have loved all I’ve read from her. But this one stood out to me as the best so far. I was immediately pulled into the world, magic use and setting. It was the type of book I melted into and didn’t want to end.

The world building was incredible- I loved that we were introduced to Elli as she waits to take on the role of Valtia. Her future had been mapped out for her and as the reader we felt the pressure, expectations and excitement that she felt. I loved the power of Fine’s writing and her ability to enhance on the plot summary I read before starting the book. I knew from the tag line that Elli wasn’t going to take on the Valtia’s magic nor fulfill her prophesized role. At times, knowing these things prior to reading the novel might take away from the experience but not so in this book. I knew what was coming but it in no way detracted from the suspense I felt. As the story progressed I dreaded the moment Elli would find out that things weren’t going to happen for her as suspected. I worried for what would happen to her with the priests.

I completely fell in love with Elli’s character. I found her innocence (possible naiveté) to be enduring and honestly incredibly relatable. I could see myself reacting very much how she did to her situation. Though she accepted her role she didn’t hold off on asking questions and learning more about how things worked. I loved her inquisitive nature. Her character growth and development was exquisitely done and really a pleasure to read.

Another character I loved was Oskar. He came into the story about midway and was such an amazing character. I loved his stoic nature (and he maybe reminded me a tiny bit of Jon Snow?) I could picture him so clearly and really felt his character. I loved his internal struggles, denial/guilt and loyalty. The perfect foil to his character was Sig. I expect to learn much more of him in the next book and look forward to it. I didn’t care for him initially but I must say he really grew on me with his cynical humor and all out there attitude. The little tid-bits we learn of his history were so interesting (and heart breaking).

The dynamics between the characters were so strong and there was so much chemistry. It was easy for me to connect the characters and understand what drew them together. I loved the sibling, romantic, and friendship relationships throughout the novel. Not only that, but the bad guys were extremely bad! I felt fear in regards to their plans and power.

Final Thoughts:
It is very difficult to review this novel because of my overwhelming love for the characters and world. I am completely entranced with this story and am desperate to read more. I’ve not seen how many books will be in this series but I honestly would be happy for more than just three. I want sooo much more (yes, I’m greedy). I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fine’s other work, fantasy or generally great books.

In short- read this book- you won’t regret it.

Review of Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine

OfDreamsandRustOf Dreams and Rust
By: Sarah Fine
Release Date: August 4th 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

This book was given to me in consideration for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
War erupts in this bittersweet sequel to “Of Metal and Wishes”, inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and called “relentlessly engrossing” by The Romantic Times.

In the year since the collapse of the slaughterhouse where Wen worked as her father’s medical assistant, she’s held all her secrets close. She works in the clinic at the weapons factory and sneaks away to nurse Bo, once the Ghost, now a boy determined to transform himself into a living machine. Their strange, fragile friendship soothes some of the ache of missing Melik, the strong-willed Noor who walked away from Wen all those months ago—but it can’t quell her fears for him.

The Noor are waging a rebellion in the west. When she overhears plans to crush Melik’s people with the powerful war machines created at the factory, Wen makes the painful decision to leave behind all she has known—including Bo—to warn them. But the farther she journeys into the warzone, the more confusing things become. A year of brutality seems to have changed Melik, and Wen has a decision to make about him and his people: How much is she willing to sacrifice to save them from complete annihilation?

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed Of Metal and Wishes and knew that I’d love this sequel and conclusion. Of Dreams and Rust did not disappoint and I enjoyed it possibly more than the first book.

I felt that the first book had a slower pace than this one because in this installment we venture out of the slaughterhouse. Beyond that Fine has written a few epic battle scenes. They were so eloquently written and vivid I could picture them as if I were watching a movie. Fine’s descriptions are always beautifully done and emotive. I love that not only can I picture what she’s describing but I can feel it too.

Once again we follow Wen’s story. Some time has passed since the last book and she’s been separated from Melik for a long time (a year!). Her heart still yearns for him and he’s never far from her thoughts. She still works with her father and sees Bo daily. Seeing her every day life you could feel the absence Melik had in her world.

Wen’s character has always been strong, courageous and a wonderful in depth character. Her compassion for all types of people and courage really stood out to me. And really…her COURAGE. She hears of war brewing and she decides to leave all she knows and travel into a war-torn land with people considered her people’s enemy. Now, in some books you might read something like that and really wonder about the character’s sanity. It could seem less brave and more idiotic but Sarah Fine wrote her character in such a way you’d never think that. You are 100% rooting for Wen and you can understand exactly why she’s doing what she’s doing.

The romance in this book was swoon-worthy as you would expect but I appreciated that it was in no way easy. There are miscommunications, misunderstanding and everything you’d expect after being separated from someone so long. And I could have used more pages of Wen and Melik interacting.

Bo was less prominent in this novel but the scenes he was in- wow. He really made an impact but I’ll not go into details since I’ll let you experience it on your own. I did find myself not connecting to him as well as I did in the first novel though he was still an intriguing character.

Final Thoughts:
Of Dreams and Rust was beautifully executed, fast paced, epic, and highly emotional. I adored the writing and characters and can’t wait to read Sarah Fine’s next book.

Extras:

  • Review for Of Metal and Wishes
  • Blog Tour for Of Dreams and Rust– Guest Post from Sarah Fine