BOOK REVIEW: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Series: Trilogy (Ongoing)

Three Dark Crowns: ★★★/5

SUMMARY: When kingdom come, there will be one. In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

There are a lot of mixed reviews for this book. First off, it took me FOREVER to finish it. I ended up taking a LONGGGG break halfway through before buckling down and forcing myself to finish. I only gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars because of three reasons:

  1. The premise was interesting and fresh
  2. The writing was easy to follow and visually descriptive
  3. It was unpredictable and surprising

Overall, I only enjoyed around 20% of the book, which were the last 100 pages or so. The beginning dragged on and I’m guessing the author was taking her time to really get readers to buy into each of the queens’ characters/personalities, but at times I found it really long and uninteresting. There were parts in each queen’s story that I thought were repetitive and unnecessary. Also, for most of the book, I didn’t really enjoy any one character and couldn’t find myself attached to any. However, that could have been the author’s intentions to keep readers from cheering on any one of the queens throughout the book.

Character Development: There really wasn’t any present throughout the book, but from the few reviews I read about the second installment, it seems most of the growth will happen in the next book. I’ll talk about a few of my favorite to least favorite characters.

Arsinoe: The Naturalist queen. Her personality was the most dynamic and interesting. I found her refreshing and honest. She accepted the fact that she was “giftless” yet she was doing everything she could to make some sort of gift arise from inside her. Her efforts were admirable despite the fact her methods may not have been. I enjoyed reading her chapters as I found myself curious as to what she would do next. Her relationship with Jules and Camden were heartwarming. I love them both.

Jules & Camden: Jules is one of my most favorite characters. She’s true to herself and Arsinoe. Her loyalty and honest to goodness towards her friends is to die for her. She never waivers and her strong personality always shines in whatever she does. I’m sure the next book has a lot in store for her.

Mirabella: The Elemental queen. Known to be the strongest with the backing of the High Priestess, she’s destined to be the reigning queen. However, her powerful exterior conflicts with her delicate heart. Though she was the strongest of her sisters, she was the most empathetic and hesitant. She was misunderstood because of the image the priestesses painted of her. She was frustrating to read about at times, because if she took a little bit more of an initiative a lot of the problems would have been solved. I hate when miscommunication is a factor of a problem remaining unsolved.

Katherine: The Poison queen. She’s my least favorite. Her character is just unlikable in my opinion. If I were to guess, I would say she is only going to get worse in the next book. I didn’t like her in the first and I’m pretty sure I’ll dislike her even more in the next book if she stays on the same path.

Joseph: I hate this guy. I’m not going to spoil the book, but in the beginning I really enjoyed reading about him with Jules. But by the end of the book I wanted to strangle him. He’s so worthless and his words never support his actions. Weak-minded guys are the worst.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you’ve got nothing on your list to read. It’s not an immediate go out and buy type of book, but maybe more of a library check out kind. The cover is beautiful though. It was well written and though some people might find the shifting perspectives jarring, I thought it was organized enough to follow without getting confused. Just be prepared to have to trudge through at least 75-80% of the book before you can really get into it. The ending was very interesting and I didn’t see the twist at the end–the cliffhanger at the end itself makes me want to read the second just to see what happens. Though I have no strong attachments to any of the characters to see how things turn out for them.

Buy it on AMAZON.

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UPDATE: It’s Official!

My Kalcyon ARCs have officially been delivered and I have never been so excited to open a package. It looks even better than I had hoped for it to. I love the new cover concept that I incorporated into it. For those who purchased my VERY first edition, I did make many changes to the cover and format, but I appreciate each and every one of you for your support ❤ On the plus side, it is technically a specialty product! (Get the hardcover! It’s 100x better.)

Kalcyon is slated to be officially released on January 31, 2015, however this will only be the paperback and e-book version. I am going to try my very best to get the hardcover version finished by this time as well, but the company I use has a somewhat slow turnaround rate for proofs. I am keeping my fingers crossed though.

This is such a surreal moment for me. And the best present I could have given myself for Christmas! I hope you all have a great holiday, and if you do have the chance, read my first book, Karnage, to get ready for the release of Kalcyon!

You can find Karnage on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Leave me a review and tell me what you thought!

Tata for now~

ARTICLE POST: Planner or Spontaneous

Are you a planner or the spontaneous type? I rest somewhere in-between the two. On one side, I love to plan–I spent $14.99 on a calendar app, yes, a CALENDAR APP. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself, but then again it’s probably the only app I haven’t regretted buying, and literally use it to list day-to-day tasks and events (It even color-codes! yaaaas). Then on the opposite spectrum, I am so spontaneous–I love surprises and surprising, and trying new things. If you’re my friend, I’ve surprised you once or twice, just for the heck of it.

The type of person and my personality is reflected in my methods as a writer. Every idea has been a result from a spontaneous actions I’ve taken, but if I wasn’t a planner, I would NEVER finish a book. Why you ask? Because behind spontaneity, there is no real sense, it’s purely force of will and desire–a rush of adrenaline. I have this general surge of excitement about an idea, but it’s only a matter of time when I run out of gas, and that’s where my planning side comes into play. Drawing up maps of connections between the characters, listing personality traits and physical appearances, accounting the pasts of each character until they’re real-life people to me, timelining all the events of the world, and outlining a whole series is ridiculously fun to me. It might be because I’m a bit of a controlling, methodical person, and as the holder of the pen, I possess all the power–to kill, to resurrect, to bring together, to separate forever.

But I think every writer needs to be spontaneous. Not only does it open new avenues into your writing, it’ll also reveal hidden doors to amazing discoveries. A writer needs to be open-minded to the outrageous. But they also need to know how to rein in the crazy so that they can get the most out of it.

As you might know, my first published book, KARNAGE, was a self-published book and also a baby of a seventeen-year-old’s spontaneous idea. It some ways, I may have rushed the publishing of this first book. There wasn’t much planning involved and it ended up just being straight doing. I’ve definitely slowed down the pace with the second installment of the series, KALCYON, which is scheduled to release late January, as I am taking the steps of marketing it before its release.

I’m also writing a new manuscript for a new series, titled DEATH WISH UNDONE. I’m hoping to get this series published through traditional methods. I’ve already pitched it to two agents who both found the idea intriguing and asked me to send the first 50 pages of the manuscript. I haven’t sent it to them yet, but I’m hoping to send it out soon. This manuscript was a product of much planning and not much spontaneity. In my opinion, while the world building is much more solid, I feel the story still lacks a spicy kick of sorts and I’m trying to figure it out before I send it.

Anyway, when all is said and done. If you’re the planning type, go out and do something spontaneous. If you’re the spontaneous type, sit down and write down a plan or outline. Either way, you’ll be surprised with the results you get and the ideas that will form!

Check out my young adult fantasy book Karnage (The Phoenix Ashes Book 1)! If you love special powers, dragons, and fantastical worlds then you’ll enjoy it!

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ARTICLE POST: Writing Convention – Always learning no matter how long you’ve been writing…

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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.

BUY IT ON AMAZON

BOOK REVIEW: Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce

Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Series: Book 3 of Quartet (Complete)

Emperor Mage: ★★★★.5/5

Summary: Sent to Carthak as part of the Tortallan peace delegation, Daine finds herself in the middle of a sticky political situation. She doesn’t like the Carthaki practice of keeping slaves, but it’s not her place to say anything — she’s just there to heal the emperor’s birds. It’s extremely frustrating! What’s more, her power has grown in a mysterious way. As the peace talks stall, Daine puzzles over Carthak’s two-faced Emperor Ozorne. How can he be so caring with his birds and so cruel to his people? Daine is sure he’s planning something. Daine must fight the powerful Emperor Mage, knowing that the safety and peace of the realm depend on stopping Ozorne’s power-hungry schemes.

In this third book, I was reminded that Daine is still a young child compared to her company. Though she does hold herself more mature than most children, there did seem to be a separation when peace talks were taking place and the emphasis on her behavior. Necessary, but just a small reminder.

DAINE: She begins to get frustrated with a new power bestowed upon her from one of the gods as she’s used as a vessel for this god’s deed. Daine also becomes closer to Prince Kaddar as she spends most of her time with him during this book. I did wish there was a bigger romance conflict with the both of them and Numair. (There was one little one). You also discover more about Daine’s parents.

NUMAIR: I just love how clever this fellow is. You end up meeting one of Numair’s former lovers, which irks Daine (a little). But even throughout this book, Numair continues to show his feelings for her when he goes to Prince Kaddar and has a little “talk” with him. That part made me smile. heh

PRINCE KADDAR: The prince is an honorable and sweet young teen. He feels open and vulnerable around Daine (as most people/animals tend to feel) and readers will come to enjoy his presence.

KING OZORNE (EMPEROR MAGE): Readers finally meet the villain in person, the Emperor Mage. Daine is torn between his two faces–the animal lover and the evil ruler. He hates Numair and has an ulterior motive against him. He is evil. Hate the guy.

The conflict really gets a kick start in this third book. You find out that the workings in the mortal world are causing a drift even in the immortal realms. And there is a foreshadowing that this problem is bigger than anyone can even imagine. Also, this huge event happens at the end that makes Daine go ballistic, it’s merited of course. I won’t spoil it, BUT I do think that the effect would have been better if Pierce really emphasized it a bit more.

BUY IT ON AMAZON

BOOK REVIEW: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (#1)

Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Romance
Series: Duology (Complete)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: ★★★★★/5

SUMMARY: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

First off, let me tell you something about me as a reader before you read my review. I typically dislike fiction contemporary romance books. I’m a complete addict when it comes to a good fantasy book though, but I usually don’t read contemporary romance books. It’s hard for me to get into a fiction book because I love everything fantastical. That being said, I absolutely LOVED this book! (I may be subjective, and you’ll see why in a moment).

I’m not only a Korean-American, but I’m also the middle child of three sisters! HAH Hi, my name is Lara Jean. Jk. Lara Jean’s and my personality are actually really different, but I still enjoyed reading her POV. However, writing letters to past loves is SO something I would do. Of course, if someone sent said letters out, I would beat the culprit up, unlike Lara Jean. Moving on to my actual review now!

I love romance stories, so typically I look for a good romance in every book I read. The thing that made this book enjoyable was that I felt the romance was very believable. I watch a lot of Korean dramas and this book is somewhere along those lines. (I’m sure Jenny Han binge watches a lot of K-Dramas on her spare time~) I’m glad the “letter sending” scandal started pretty early on. For some reason, I thought it was going to happen at the end, but now that I think about that assumption now, it doesn’t make sense. Han wove each letter into the story perfectly; every time I felt I needed something more, I got it. I couldn’t stop reading and that’s why I ended up having to force myself to sleep at 4AM, only after I finished this book and moved on to the finish a quarter of the next, P.S. I Still Love You.

I’m going to spend most of my review on character analysis. So here goes it!

LARA JEAN: She’s a somewhat timid girl trying to fill the big shoes (literally, HAH) left by her older sister, Margot, who left for college in Scotland. At first, she’s a train wreck, but as the story progresses she begins to step up and become the older sister to Kitty she wants to be. I was glad that Lara Jean wasn’t annoying. I hate when a female protagonist is hopeless and weak, but Lara Jean owned it well. You see glimpses of her “quirky” personality and it’s something you grow to love. She reacts like any normal teenager would in the situations she’s thrown in, and handles it pretty well. She looks up to Margot as her example and has complete loyalty to her family, which is quite endearing.

KATHERINE aka KITTY: Kitty is the sassy youngest sibling. She watches HBO shows and has some lip to her. Nothing gets past Kitty’s eyes; she’s a bit snoopy but also very observant in her respect. Even if she does something bad, you can’t really dislike her because her character is so cute. I love how friendly she is with the boys and seems older than she actually is. I think Han did a great job of making her the little sister who grows up just a bit quicker because she has two older sisters, but still possesses a youthful heart and mind.

MARGOT: Margot is the reliable eldest sibling. She is on top of everything, the responsible big sister you know you can go to when you’re in trouble. She’s strict and at times judgmental, but it’s all from love and not from spite, which is portrayed through the way she says things and comforts her sisters. I do like how you find something out that makes her “not-so-perfect.” She’s the idol to her younger sisters and it was healthy to see how the sisters react once they find out something they never imagined Margot would be capable of. It shows the true essence of sisterhood, and the bond that can never be broken.

PETER K.: KAVINSKY! He’s the hot, everyone-wants-to-date, athlete, high school boy, and one of Lara Jean’s past crushes, her first to be exact. I think I fell in love with Peter the same time Lara Jean did. His character is one that just grows on you the more you read about him. He comes out as an ass in the beginning, but then you realize that’s his charm. I loved the fact he noticed more than Lara Jean gave him credit for. It’s always nice to know when boys see the small things, it shows they actually care about a person. I’m excited to see what the next book has in store for him. I hope he steps up because I have big hopes for him.

JOSH: The boy next door, literally. He’s one of Lara Jean’s past crushes as well as Margot’s first boyfriend and ex-boyfriend. I loved Josh’s character. He’s got that older brother vibe because he cares for the Song sisters and wants what is best for them. He’s not the macho boy at school, and not your typical crush. He’s the nothing-physically-special nerd at school. But then you see his true qualities that draw you in to ride the Josh Train. His character pokes in here and there, and every time it did, I loved what I discovered about him. I’m rooting for him and hope things look up in the latter part of the series.

The plot was great. There wasn’t quite a plot twist, but I feel that’s a bit more difficult to do in a contemporary romance because it has to be believable. I already had my suspicions of who sent Lara Jean’s love letters, so it wasn’t a surprise. I’m not sure if other readers were surprised by it. (If you were, let me know!) Each character had a unique personality that brought them to life on the pages and the writing was simple, yet engaging. Not sure what the expect from P.S. I Still Love You, but I’m glad I gave this book a shot, because even though it’s out of my comfort zone, I loved it.

If I had been left with just this first book and waiting for the second, I think I might have lost my mind a little. The way the first book ends, you literally HAVE to reach for the second one. So make sure you have both books before starting!!

BUY IT ON AMAZON

Karnage Soundtrack

Music plays a huge role in my writing process–I always have to be listening to it. The most exciting thing is when I stumble upon a song that fits perfectly to what I’m trying to convey in my writing. I usually try to stay away from the mainstream songs because they tend to be overplayed over the radio, but there are a few that I loved so much that I just couldn’t. I know this is long overdue, but this is the soundtrack I had on repeat while I wrote Karnage. (In no particular order)