Review: Royal Bastards

July 29, 2017 in Book Reviews, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Royal BastardsRoyal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 30th May 2017
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

Royal Bastards is an easy-to-read, action packed read, that although fantasy is not super-intense fantasy. Narrated by our main character Tilla, the story is told in a modern style. It’s banterous, playful and witty while simultaneously dangerous, bloody and violent.

We follow a bunch of five teens, 4 ‘outsiders’ and a Princess who are thrust together when they see something they shouldn’t have and find a bounty set on their heads.

Tilla is the daughter of Lord Kent of the Western Province and a low born woman. All she has ever wanted is to be legitimised, allowed to sit at her father’s side rather than at the bastard table at the back of the hall. But her father now has trueborn heirs and so Tilla spends the majority of her time with her half brother (same low born mother) Jax. I really liked Jax and the playful nature of their sibling relationship.

Then we have Miles, the bastard and only son of a Lady, Lord Kent’s best friend. We have a Princess who seeks to defy convention and a Zitochi warrior, Zell, who is sullen, serious and strong.

I very much liked the fact that although narrated through Tilla, we got to know the other characters and their back stories. I felt we saw the progression of each of the characters, with Tilla obviously being the predonimant one.

As fantasies go this isn’t too heavy. If you feel intimidated by fantasy then perhaps this YA fantasy would be a good place to start?

I did find the light narrative style to be somewhat at odds with the violence and implied violence. I guess it showed Tilla’s naivety as this disparity definitely seemed to lessen as the story progressed.

All in all, a good read with some interesting characters. I believe this is the first book in a trilogy so I look forward to book two.

three-half-stars

Mini Review: Avenged

June 7, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mini Review: AvengedAvenged by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #2
Published by HarperTeen on 2nd May 2017
Genres: YA Fantasy, Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A war that will fuel her. A bond that will destroy her.

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister, Olivia, from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory.

But just because Em and Olivia are out of Lera doesn’t mean they are safe. Their actions over the past year have had consequences, and they are now targets of retaliation. Olivia will destroy everyone who acts against Ruina. Em isn’t as sure.

Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir’s betrothed in Lera, she’s started to see another side to this war. Lera may have destroyed the Ruined for decades, but Em knows that Cas is different. And now that he’s taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em’s romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement.

Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, she faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she’s the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.

It was great to be able to pick up Avenged so soon after reading the first book in this series, Ruined. I wasn’t ready to leave Em, Cas and co. behind just yet! Now though, I face a yearlong wait until I can rejoin them and experience the conclusion of this trilogy.

What can I say about Avenged? There’s war, hatred, betrayal, friendship, loyalty and trust. I love that we see more of Aren in this book; he’s a character I wanted more of in Ruined.

Avenged is full of action as Tintera once more immerses us in her world. Yes, it might be a little predictable in places, but I didn’t care. It’s an easy-to-read YA fantasy with some fantastic characters and engrossing writing.

four-half-stars

Review: Defy The Stars

June 2, 2017 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Defy The StarsDefy The Stars by Claudia Gray
Series: Constellation #1
Published by Hot Key Books on 6th April 2017
Genres: YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up - they know that Earth's settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth's robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis' salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her - even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He's a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth's various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer - both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world's fate, and Abel's.

Noemi is risking her life to save her planet, Genesis, from their ancestors-turned-enemies, Earth. In three weeks she’ll participate in a suicide mission to damage the Gate that links the worlds and find Genesis some much-needed time. At least that’s the plan until she discovers another way to potentially save her planet, a theory that will result in a race across the galaxies adventure.

Abel is the most advanced mech ever created. Mansfield has created mechs for Earth for every scenario – healthcare, labour, war, but Abel is Mansfield’s one-of-a-kind creation.

When Abel and Noemi’s paths cross they are of course enemies, Earth vs Genesis. However, Abel’s unique programming offers Noemi the chance to utilise him – that is until she realises that he is no mere robot.

There is much to like in this novel. At times I can struggle with world-building set in space, but actually I got on pretty well with Defy The Stars.  Admittedly there’s stuff I didn’t completely follow; the politics and the exact reason for the war still eludes me but that’s probably just my foggy brain. However, as a result, I didn’t feel like I cared as much as I should have.

My favourite element of the story was Abel which to be honest took me by surprise. I loved the concept of him, his interactions and the way his character developed. I enjoyed the storytelling style too – the mix of perspectives of both Noemie and Abel. I thought it worked well.

Yet, while I enjoyed this book I didn’t LOVE it. A cursory glance on Goodreads tells me I appear to be in the minority with this one though.

Will I read on in the series? Probably, depending upon the focus of book two.

 

three-half-stars

Review: The Ship Beyond Time

May 29, 2017 in Book Reviews, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Ship Beyond TimeThe Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
Series: The Girl From Everywhere #2
Published by Hot Key Books on 9th March 2017
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father?

Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices. Heidi Heilig weaves fantasy, history, and romance together to tackle questions of free will, fate, and what it means to love another person. But at the center of this adventure are the extraordinary, multifaceted, and multicultural characters that leap off the page, and an intricate, recognizable world that has no bounds.

Last year I read the first book in this series, The Girl From Everywhere (see review) and thoroughly enjoyed it. So naturally the second book in this duology The Ship Beyond Time was high on my 2017 TBR list. I was really excited to revisit Nix, Slate and Kashmir and join them on their time-travelling (navigation) adventures, but sadly I just didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first.

My main issue was that I found this book confusing. Now, you all know that my brain’s rather foggy, so this could be entirely a personal issue. However, I found it hard to keep up with the time travel, the dates and, I guess, the chronological order of the story. Personally, I found it challenging and ultimately this affected by enjoyment of the book.

Of course, there were elements I enjoyed too. As with the first book, I enjoyed the blend of fact and fiction – the history, myth, and legend entwined within Nix’s story.

I also enjoyed Heilig’s writing although I definitely didn’t feel as connected to the characters in this second book.

Although this is a duology, I do feel we have been left with the chance of more Navigation stories, and although I didn’t love this book I’ll certainly be looking out for more of Heilig’s work.

three-stars

Mini Review: Ruined

April 29, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

Mini Review: RuinedRuined by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #1
Published by HarperTeen on 3rd May 2016
Genres: YA Fantasy, Fantasy
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

 

Sometimes I go through phases where I’m enjoying what I’m reading but I’m not consumed by it. It seems I’ve had a run of those recently – until now. I picked up Ruined and from the outset, I was swept up in the story. It was just what I needed – action, intrigue and a pace that kept me reading.

 

Tintera has created some fantastic characters in this world, a world where the Runed are feared and slaughtered for their magical abilities. It’s a world where Em has seen her parents murdered, her sister kidnapped and she has set out for vengeance. Except it turns out that not all of her enemies are easy to hate.

 

If you enjoy YA fantasy, banterful characters, strong heroines, action, friendship, loveable Princes, well, this is one for you. Thankfully book two, Avenged, is out next week so you won’t have too long to wait after THAT ending!

four-half-stars