BOOK REVIEW: The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce

Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Series: Book 4 of Quartet (Complete)

The Realms of the Gods: ★★★★★/5

Summary: During a dire battle against the fearsome Skinners, Daine and her mage teacher Numair are swept into the Divine Realms. Though happy to be alive, they are not where they want to be. They are desperately needed back home, where their old enemy, Ozorne, and his army of strange creatures are waging war against Tortall. Trapped in the mystical realms Daine discovers her mysterious parentage. And as these secrets of her past are revealed so is the treacherous way back to Tortall. So they embark on an extraordinary journey home, where the fate of all Tortall rests with Daine and her wild magic.

The last book of the Immortals series! Ah. This was bittersweet. The battle between Tortall and Carthak, which even brought the gods into the mix finally comes to an end. Daine and Numair is brought into the Realm of the Gods and she finally meets her father, the God of Hunt, Weiryn.

The book starts in immediate conflict as we find that Tortall is in constant war with Stormwing Ozorne and his forces who is playing a dangerous game against the gods. Daine and Numair get pulled into the realm of the gods and need to find a way back to the mortal realms in order to help Tortall win a battle they seem to be losing. It starts a bit slow as they make their way to the dragons to hitch a ride back.

DAINE: Daine finally meets her dad, the God of the Hunt, Weiryn. There’s not much of an exchange between them and I kind of wished they had a conversation or two, separate from the other gods. In this final book, Daine has become a young woman. She’s strong, independent, and powerful. I love how, even though she’s only sixteen, she takes the initiative and is comfortable in her own skin(s). Daine is blunt and a refreshing protagonist.

NUMAIR: Ah…I love Numair. I will definitely miss him after this series. Despite his age, he has a young soul and is absolutely adorable. He finally makes a move too! He does everything in his power to keep Daine safe and never gives up on her even though there’s a possibility she’s dead. He cares for her as a student, friend, magical partner, and love. He’s extremely respectable as he continues to try and protect Daine’s innocence, though she won’t have much of it as she is very blunt with the matter.

RIKASH: I appreciate that Pierce developed a sort of humanity in the Stormwings when you hated them in the first parts of the series. Rikash is an honorable Stormwing and even Daine finds a friend in him.

DARKINGS: In the beginning you hate these little things and curse Daine for being naively kind to them. But by the end of the book you love these little inkblots. I love how each of our characters had one as a companion. It’s absolutely adorable that even King Jonathan had one.

Ok, so I’ll finally talk about the romantic relationship between Numair and Daine. I know some people criticize it because of the age difference (14 years). And, believe me, I am not a personal advocate of age differences in relationships. BUT, readers should remember that this is set in an age where girls are married extremely young and it is not uncommon for them to marry older. Plus, Numair possesses a young, pure soul and Daine is much more mature than her age reflects, so I calculate they meet somewhere in the middle and true age difference is around 4 years. I love the fact Daine realizes that Numair loves her with the little locket he’s been keeping and that she’s not all shy about it and is very upfront. They have been through so much together in the past 3-4 years that I really believed the development the relationship made. They struggled through life and death situations and at the end of each battle the first person they look for is each other, which does not change in this last book.

Pierce really developed the magical realms in this finale. You learn more of the immortals and the gods and their rules. It’s nice to see that even within the existence of gods there are limitations and rules and punishments. Overall, I loved this series. It was a reread from my middle school years, and it definitely renewed my love for fantasy.

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BOOK REVIEW: Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce

Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Series: Book 2 of Quartet (Complete)

Wolf Speaker: ★★★/5

Summary: When humans start cutting down trees and digging holes in peaceful Dunlath Valley, the wolves know that something is wrong. They send a messenger to the only human who will listen — Daine, a fourteen-year-old girl with the unpredictable power of wild magic. Daine and her closest companions heed the wolves’ cry for help. But the challenge they are about to face in the valley is greater than they can possibly imagine…

Now Daine is 14-years-old and has a better handle on her powers. She’s called to Dunlath Valley where the wolf pack she first connected with needs her help. In this book she learns a new facet of her wild magic. I was definitely glad to see Daine growing up. There is a clear difference in Daine’s maturity in this second installment compared to the first, from her actions to her thoughts. She is also making the transition from student to friend with Numair!

I finished the whole quartet, but I decided instead of reviewing it as a whole, I would review each book individually. This book was my least favorite of the four, not to say, I still enjoyed reading it, but you always have a least favorite. I guess it has to do with the fact that I thought it dragged a little bit in the middle while Daine was waiting for Numair to return, though it was necessary to move the plot along with the two different perspectives. However, once the action did pick up, it didn’t stop and I couldn’t stop reading until I finished.

DAINE: Daine is growing more confidence in herself and her power. She continues to venture further to see where her wild magic will lead her. Her thoughts have become more complex as a 14-year-old and she still remains loyal to her beliefs. She has a deep concern and love for all the animals and is still learning the balance between asking for their help and sending them to die. Daine has a tender heart and it is very endearing because of her tough past.

NUMAIR: Numair’s feelings for Daine continue to grow. He cares for her and is constantly making sure she’s safe. However, I do appreciate the fact, despite her age, he trusts her in important situations. He worries for her but believes that she can handle more than the average teen. You can see the small signs that Numair is developing deeper feelings for her.

MAURA: Maura is the runaway princess who wants to warn the king of an uprising. She’s mature for her age and very open-minded as she befriends a Stormwing named Rikash. Even though she is only ten, she has a noble sense of responsibility and right and wrong.

WOLF PACK: These wolves are smart, smarter than the typical animals. It is mainly due to the fact the wolves had a deep connection with Daine, who seems to have that affect on the animals she comes in contact for in long periods. They act more like humans and have developed complex thoughts for their problems. Whether for their own good or not, you’ll have to find out.

The conflict is getting deeper and more complicated. Readers start to find out that Carthak is making a move against Tortall. I love the relationship developing between Numair and Daine and it’s one of the main reasons I continue to read!

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BOOK REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: Grisha Trilogy (Book 1)

Shadow and Bone: ★★★★!!

SUMMARY: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

HOLY SHIZZ! This book is seriously the best book I have read this year. Red Queen was the first book to really get me out of my reading slump, but SHADOW AND BONE seriously dug up my passion for reading fantasy books that I hadn’t noticed I buried for so many years. I LOVED IT. First off, I have nothing bad to say about it. It’s the first book of a trilogy and I have Siege and Storm (Book 2), but I refuse to start it until I have Ruin and Rising (Book 3) because I don’t want to be antsy waiting for it since I’m sure I’ll finish the second book even quicker than I did the first one. Okay enough fangirling, I’ll write my review now (hopefully without spoilers!)

I loved Bardugo’s writing style. Technically, it was simple and I felt like there was the perfect amount of variety in sentence structure. It didn’t feel as much as reading as it did the words flying into my head into a visual tizzy (if that makes any sense–I’m a very visual person). I thought there was just enough foreshadowing and I’m not sure if certain points of the plot were intentional, but the flow of the book was spot on. There’s this one part (by the lake) that when it happened, I had to reread it because it was so sudden and random that I thought it was a poor choice of a plot point, but then once I finished the book, I thought back on it and realized how ingenious it actually was.

World building. Perfect. I didn’t get bogged down with unnecessary descriptions and I never felt like the book was dragging. Everything was believable from the characters to the setting of the world. Page count wise, it’s actually a pretty lengthy read, but while I read it, I never even noticed; if anything, I noticed how fast I was flying through the pages. It was absolutely fantastic.

There are similarities to other young adult fantasy books I’ve read recently (from what I know, this one was written first sooo….) but it was definitely original enough for me to not care. Just to give you an idea, here’s an example:

Red Queen: The main character is a Red (person with no special powers) but in a life threatening situation she discovers she’s special and actually does have powers.

Shadow and Bone: The main character is a seemingly normal girl but desperate to save her childhood crush, she discovers she’s special and has a power that rivals the strongest man in the world.

(Each novel has their own reasons why the powers exist in each individual and both are unique so it didn’t bother me too much. In my opinion, I think Shadow and Bone is more original than Red Queen, though.)

I had so many emotions reading this book. I’m sure my sister found me annoying, because while I was reading in my room I would be yelling, groaning, and squealing more often than someone, who could be considered sane while reading words on a page, should be. But, seriously that’s how engrossed I was while reading this book. It’s been a SUPER long time since I felt this way about while reading anything. And I typically never reread books, for whatever reason, but I honestly would consider reading this one again. Obsessed I am.

ALINA: She has her faults, but I’m glad because no character, especially the main character, should be perfect. She was definitely a likable character and an honest to good girl, who got lost here and there (but who doesn’t?). She discovers who/what she is and what she is capable of. Every choice she makes is understandable because you read enough about her past that helps to really form her into a living being. Making a choice that haunts her in the end makes me look forward to how she’ll overcome it in the next book.

MAL: wahhhh I love him. Can I have him? He’s the childhood friend/crush. He’s absolutely adorable and while his physical presence is absent the majority of the book, it makes his return that much sweeter. Even though he doesn’t have special powers like Alina (or does he?) he’s reliable and not whiny. He is the naive boy next door, who becomes a man by the end of the book. There were hints of a love triangle going on, but at the end you feel like that possibility is squashed, but I’m staying on my toes because I really don’t know what Bardugo has in store for them.

THE DARKLING: Ok, so I’m still on the edge about this character. I really don’t know what to expect because in the beginning he intrigued me, then I started to like him, and then I was like “what the hell…” But I feel like there is so much more to this character and I know he’s a complicated fellow because at ~120 years old, how can you not be complicated?

They’re making Shadow and Bone into a MOVIE. YESSS. Because, seriously I was able to picture every single detail in my head. And as much as I love to create the image in my mind, I love it when I can actually see it come to life. I. can’t. wait. Fantasy movies are the best, I don’t care what anyone thinks. They are.

SHADOW AND BONE gets a standing ovation of 5/5 stars from me. And if this book is on your TBR list, then move it up to the top immediately and start, because it’s fantastic and you will not regret it. Comment what you thought, I need someone to talk about this book with!! HEH.

Buy it on Amazon!

Flash Reveal! – Kalcyon Prologue

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about Kalcyon, the second book of The Phoenix Ashes trilogy. Today, I decided I’m going to release the prologue! I can’t wait to release this book, because I’m loving it even more than Karnage (I didn’t even know that it would be possible)

 

Prologue

“WOULD YOU PLEASE come down from there?” I fidgeted, absentminded I kicked a small rock on the ground. Alythea always had a mind of her own and there was nobody who could stop her from doing the crazy things she did. It was a God-given gift that she hadn’t died yet, and sometimes I really believed that she never would.

            Her Phersu was a beautiful creature. Its wings were smooth opaque chimes that released the most musically hypnotic sound making you feel lost in a never-ending dream. It was an impossibly majestic bird, frighteningly enchanting with a daunting prowess—they always said Phersus took after their owners.

            Alythea was one of the first and only students to have a hatched Phersu. There were rumors of one other student who had one before her, but we had never seen him attend a class in the time we had been there.

            “Care to join me?” she teased with a wide grin. I rolled my eyes and placed my hands on my hips as I glared up at her. She knew exactly why I refused to join her in the obscenely tall tree in the first place.

            I was deathly afraid of heights. I preferred to remain grounded; I didn’t trust anything that I couldn’t feel or see. Alythea on the other hand, loved everything about the sky; she reached for it as if she would one day be able to grab hold of it, and the impossibility only kept her from giving up. It was the ephemeral reveries that tickled her mind that had her asking for more, demanding for something beyond ordinary. And, she was anything but ordinary. It was fitting that her Phersu had hatched to be a bird.

            Sometimes, I wondered how we were such good friends when we were so different. Maybe it was because I secretly wanted to be like her: hopelessly free, uninhibited, and boldly daring. They were qualities that indisputably sparked my curiosity but crept like a haunting trance that threatened to overpower me.

            I heard the jingle of her Phersu’s feathers. It never got old. The tickle in my ears left a light and pleasurable feeling inside and smoothed my wrinkled frustrations with Alythea away. A soft thud on the bouncy grass blowing in the breeze told me she had finally decided to come down and join me.

            “One day, I’ll get you to come up the tree with me,” she vowed. Despite their lack of color, her steely eyes had more depth than anyone I had ever known. It played with the lights and reflected any vibrancy it took in.

            “I insist you stop trying,” I negated. “I really love it here on the ground. Always have and always will.”

            “The world is a whole new place up there.” She admired the endless blue sky. We took a moment to soak in the warm inviting rays of sunlight that escaped through the whimsical thicket of the leaves as it kissed the goosebumps on our skin away. It was amazing that only a decade had past. Celestria was beautiful and at peace once again.

            It was a time of healing and rejuvenation for Valkryns was on the rise. In Celestria, Valkryns had always been reveled and honored. Greatness was Valkryns. Only when the Night of the Phoenix had devastated Celestria had fear ever been connected with the Valkryn name. Nonetheless, somehow the Founders managed to restore Celestria’s trust in Valkryns and the wish to possess a Ceres was once more, the most desired gift. I guess it was a blessing in disguise, because we were now given the opportunity to receive proper training at Vanderwald.

            A crack of a twig and the crunching of the earthy ground caught our attention. As usual, against my better judgment, I had followed Alythea here even though I knew we were deeper in the forest than students were instructed to go.

            Then I saw him. His black hair was brushed to the side as he walked with an assertive and strong gaze locked on us. My heart skipped a beat for the first time and something inside me ignited. The sensation pulsed and a strong pull struggled to break free. His eyes flickered to mine as if he sensed the power struggling inside of me; I was immediately drawn in by his dangerously ash gray eyes soaked with calamity.

            This was the moment that changed everything. There was no way I could’ve known what was in store for me. Little did I know, I had been born for this single minute; the wheels of fate had begun to turn in the cruelest possible way. The three of us stood in the forest staring at each other for what felt like an eternity; this moment would be forever etched in my memory; and, it was the last thing I saw when I died.

            It all began the day I met Logan Bray.

-Kalcyon