Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

29346927★★★★

I did not expect this book to be as good as it was. I put off reading it, thinking it was just another typical YA fantasy, but the characters won my heart in the end. The plot, although not action-packed, made me want to keep reading, and the setting was fantastic.

Zivah and Dineas are both under the rule of the Amparan empire. Zivah’s people of Dara are peaceful, and acquiesce to the empire’s demands, but after Dara’s healers failed to cure the empire’s soldiers after an outbreak of the deadly rose plague, their village is put under the spotlight. Now rosemarked from contracting the plague, Zivah is unable to practice her art of healing that she has trained so hard for. Meanwhile, Dineas has just escaped from the Amparan prison and is reunited with his people, the Monyars. He wishes vengeance for the brutalities done on him, and a way to stop the Amparans from conquering his people. A chance encounter between Dineas and Zivah spawns a plan that could bring the empire to its knees, if the pair can play their cards right. Read More »

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The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

34050917★★★★★

Enchanting and bewitching, the Girl in the Tower does not disappoint. Arden transports readers back into the snow filled world of Rus’, this time into the heart of the capital with its snow-capped rooftops and burning wood stoves. With its vivid descriptions, enthralling plot, and beautiful prose, this book cements the series as one of my all-time favorites.

After the events of the first book, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and sets off from her village to become a traveler and to see the world. But Vasya soon finds that the world is a dangerous place. When she saves three girls from the Tar Tar barbarians, Vasya unintentionally catches the Princes’ eye, and is whisked off to the capital, where her siblings Sasha and Olga reside. Her reputation hangs by a thread, for if anyone discovers who she really is, the repercussions for her and her family would be dire. And strange events are happening behind the kremlin bound gates of the city, which may bring in a whole new enemy. Read More »

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

36325370★★★★★

The Bear and this Nightingale blew me away. Be transported into the frigid Russian wilderness, where creatures of fairytales breathe and frost demons wander the woods. Gather around the warmth of the hearth, around the crackling flame, and hear the story of Vasilisa, the girl marked by the winter king.

The atmosphere and setting of this book was magical. The way Arden writes every word and strings them into sentences and build them into pages is enthralling. Her descriptions are vivid, and made the setting come to life. Set in a village on the edge of the woods, in a place where the snow almost never melts, the role of nature plays a key role in both the plot and the setting. Creatures like the domovi, which are the household spirits that protects the inhabitants, and the lake spirit added a mystical quality and dimension. Throughout the pages, I could see the glint of sunlight on frost, feel my breath mist the air, and look out to a landscape of white. A warm house with a roaring flame never felt so good. This book utterly immersed me into a whole new world that I was eager to be lost in. Read More »

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

23264671★★★★

Woooowwww. I’m still reeling from this. So about a year ago, I read Nevernight, the first installment of the series and I thought it was a bloody, murderous book. Here, Kristoff ups the game with even more brutality, which I didn’t even think was possible. I’m slightly stunned, but I think in a good way.

Mia is now a full-fledged assassin of the Red Church, and she’s ready to kill some people. Specifically, Counsul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, the two bastards who took her family away from her. But the Church won’t allow her to, so Mia decides to go rogue and handle this on her own terms. There’s a chance at a clean kill for both of them at the end of the Grand Games, a form of mass entertainment that showcases the Republic’s finest gladiators fighting to the death. Only by killing off all her competition can Mia become the victor of the games, but the price she must pay may be too steep for the reward.Read More »

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

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What a shame. I thought I would like this book, but I guess this is a classic case of it’s not you, it’s me. An interesting enough storyline, but the silliness of the characters trumped and affection I had towards the book in general.

The characters weren’t real enough for me. The wizard(I forgot his name, it was way too long), Mary Grue, and Prince Lír felt like something out of a kid’s cartoon: adorable with their inane and fatuous actions, but at the end of the day, still flat. Everything we know about them, like the wizard’s immortality, Mary’s childhood, Lír’s dreams and fears, were all bluntly told to us. There’s no suspense, no delight in figuring out a character from the story, just a bland recollection of who they are. Read More »

The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst

32600602★★★★

This is one of the most original fantasies I’ve ever read. The world is beautiful, unique, deadly, and the characters aren’t your typical cast of heroes. This was such a gripping read; I finished it in one sitting and was very satisfied.

The Reluctant Queen picks up after the events of the first book, The Queen of Blood, with Daleina sitting on the throne. But she’s sick, and she doesn’t have much longer to live. If her champions don’t find someone to replace her, the spirits will run rampant and destroy everyone. Enter Naelin, a simple woods woman with two children and lots of raw, untapped power. Being Queen is the last thing she wants, but it seems that she doesn’t have much of a choice when champion Ven comes knocking. She and her children are whisked away to the capitol, where Naelin has no choice but to shoulder the responsibility of becoming heir. And to add to all the mess, the mountain country of Semo is becoming increasingly aggressive, and soon they might have an invasion coming. Read More »

Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

I used to think the world had heroes in it. But the world is full of monsters. . . . Perhaps the best we can hope for is to have the most terrible of them on out side.

23278586★★★★

What a thundering conclusion. Dark and gritty, Half a War lives up to its name. With twists and turns, Abercrombie keeps us on our toes until the very end.

This book follows Skara, Princess of Throvenland. In the first scene of the book, her family is ambushed and slaughtered by the High King’s henchmen. Armed with nothing but an empty title and a desire for vengeance, Skara flees to Gettland to throw her stake at war. There, she discovers the burden of being a queen, the power of words, and finds herself desperately holding together a fractured alliance. But when a game changer is introduced, and a chance for victory with it, the lines between good and evil aren’t as defined as they once were, as characters old and new alike struggle to choose the greater good and the lesser evil.
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