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Fantasy Book Reviews: A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKE

 

Happy Monday all!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  We had wonderful weather to usher in the first day of Spring so I definitely won’t complain.  I was also finally able to get my first dose of a COVID vaccine this weekend, which has really got me hoping this is the start of good things to come.  Anyway, back to blog stuff…  I’m sure you guys are used to mainly seeing rom-com reviews from me these days, but I actually did veer away from the rom-coms long enough to read a couple of new fantasy novels this month and wanted to share my thoughts on them with you.

 

Fantasy Book Reviews:  A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKEA ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4) Goodreads

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing

I’m going to confess right now that I went into Sarah J. Maas’ new novel A Court of Silver Flames with somewhat low expectations.  For me, A Court of Mist and Fury set the bar so high that the rest of the books in the series have paled in comparison.  Nesta Archeron was also one of my least favorite characters in the series, so I was not overly excited to have an entire book that focused on her.  All of that said, I was very pleasantly surprised with this book.

Maas does a beautiful job of taking us inside of Nesta’s thoughts so that it’s so much easier to understand how much pain she is in and why she lashes out at everyone the way she does.  From losing her father to having to live with the guilt of how she treated him while he was alive, and of course, having to deal with the fact that she was forced to become High Fae against her will, Nesta’s life has been turned upside down in every way.  When the story opens, she is not taking any of these things well and has pretty much turned her back on everyone who cares about her.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers about Nesta’s journey in this book, so I’ll just leave it at there’s definitely plenty of the badass Nesta we already knew, but now we’re allowed to see a whole new vulnerable side that makes it much easier to have empathy for her.

In addition to Nesta’s journey, I was also a big fan of the further exploration of Nesta’s relationship with Cassian.  It’s no secret that the two of them are attracted to one another, but this book takes that attraction to a whole new level, both sexually and emotionally, as Cassian is the one who is there for her no matter how hard she tries to push everyone away.  I loved that he was so supportive of her and that he also wasn’t afraid to show her tough love if he thought that’s what would best serve her.  And of course, don’t even get me started on the sex scenes. The sexual tension between Nesta and Cassian makes Rhys and Feyre’s scenes seem tame by comparison.  Holy hotness!

Aside from getting to know Nesta and Cassian better, I also just loved being back in this world again and seeing some of my old favorites, like Rhys, Feyre, Mor, and Az, but I also loved that some great new characters were introduced.  Gwyn and Emerie, two women Nesta meets while she’s avoiding everyone else, are such great additions to this cast of characters.  I don’t want to give away too much about them but they are the friends Nesta doesn’t even realize she so desperately needs and they provide her with a sense of sisterhood that she is unable to achieve with her own biological sisters right now.  I loved their bond and really hope that they will make appearances later in the series.

Bottom line:  I was not expecting to come out of A Court of Silver Flames adoring Nesta and wanting to see more of her, but here we are. Well done, Sarah J. Maas!  4 STARS

 

Fantasy Book Reviews:  A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKENamesake (Fable, #2) Goodreads

Author: Adrienne Young

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Namesake is the second book in an exciting YA fantasy duology by Adrienne Young.  I loved the first book, Fable, because it featured a badass heroine and of course pirates, so I couldn’t wait to dive into the finale.

Namesake picks up right where the first book leaves off so you definitely need to have read the first book to have any idea as to what is going on.  The crux of the story is that even though all Fable wants to do is sail away with the Marigold ship and its crew, free from the influence of her estranged father, Saint, Fable instead finds herself being used as a pawn in what turns out to be a very complicated scheme, the ultimate goal of which is to eliminate Fable’s father as a force in the shipping trade.  Even though she’s estranged from Saint, she doesn’t want to see him ruined and so Fable must come up with a plan of her own, to save her father and to get back the crew (and the man) she loves.

Fable and her relationship with her father has definitely been one of the major draws for me of this series, so I was pleased to see it at the forefront of the finale.  I was excited by the depth of the family drama that we delve into, not only with Saint, but also with Fable’s mother, who apparently took some pretty big secrets to the grave with her when she died.  Where the first book in the series was all about gem trading and Fable trying to make her way in the world, Namesake is all about secrets, betrayal, deception, and the idea that no one Fable has known throughout her life is entirely as they seem.  I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say here that I never would have expected going into this duology that Saint would end up being one of my favorite characters, but that’s exactly what happened.

While I enjoyed the family aspect of Namesake immensely, especially the unexpected addition of another member of Fable’s extended family who isn’t what she seems, I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I enjoyed the first book in the duology.  There were some places along the way where the pacing felt a little slow for me, particularly each time they went back into the water looking for gems. I think it was such a novelty in the first book that it fascinated me, but by the second book, I just really wanted to get back to the family drama stuff with Fable and didn’t care as much about how skilled she was at finding gems.  I also wasn’t as into the romance in the second book as I was in the first.  I’m honestly not even sure why.  I think maybe it was, again, due to the fact that I was most interested in the family drama and everything else just felt in the way.

Even with those couple of issues though, I still found Namesake to be a satisfying conclusion to the series overall.  I even teared up a bit at some of the final family moments.  I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoy YA fantasy, pirate adventures, and stories that feature complicated father-daughter relationships.  3.5 STARS

Reviews: September Book Releases That Should Be on Your Reading List

 

Happy September everyone!  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on some great books that you’re going to want to add to your reading list.  If you enjoy historical romance,  YA fantasy, and/or YA contemporary, you’re going to want to check these out.

 

Reviews:  September Book Releases That Should Be on Your Reading ListRecommended for You Goodreads

Author: Laura Silverman

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Laura Silverman’s new novel Recommended For You is an absolute delight.  I was in love with it from the moment I saw that adorable cover and my love only grew as I started reading.  The story is set at Once Upon, a popular Indie bookstore, over the holiday season and follows Shoshanna Greenberg, a Jewish teen and veteran bookseller at Once Upon.  When we meet Shoshanna, it becomes clear right away that she views the bookstore as her home away from home and her escape from the stress in her life.  It also becomes clear that Shoshanna is dealing with some pretty major stress:  1) there are money issues and her car is on its last legs, and 2) there is a tension between her mothers that she has never seen before and she’s worried they may split up.  There’s a light at the end of the tunnel with respect to her car when her boss announces a holiday contest – whoever sells the most books will receive a cash bonus.  Shoshanna is stoked because she knows she can outsell everyone…that is, until Once Upon’s newest employee, Jake Kaplan arrives on the scene and throws a kink into Shoshanna’s plans.  Shoshanna can’t stand Jake from the moment she meets him and the tension mounts the more they try to outsell each other.  Who will be the last bookseller standing?

I really adored both Shoshanna and Jake.  Shoshanna is a messy and flawed character who often acts without thinking.  Even with her flaws though, she’s still completely lovable because she has such a huge heart.  Nearly every impulsive thing she does is because she’s trying to help someone she cares about.  Even though she sometimes does more harm than good, her heart is always in the right place.  One of my favorite parts about Recommended For You was watching Shoshanna learn and grow as a person when she has to deal with the fallout from some of her more impulsive moves.  It’s a very personal journey for her.  Jake is also just an adorable character.  Even though Shoshanna wants to hate him because he’s not even a reader and he’s standing between her and that cash bonus, he still manages to eventually win her over.  Since Recommended For You is being advertised as a rom-com, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say there’s an enemies/rivals to friends/more than friends vibe going on between Shoshanna and Jake.  I think the coming of age aspect of the book takes center stage over the romantic vibes, but it’s definitely still there as the sparks and witty barbs fly between these two competitive booksellers.

Recommended For You is a fun and heartwarming read about love, friendship, and personal growth. Everything Shoshanna goes through kept me fully invested in her journey, and the adrenaline rush of the book competition kept me fully entertained and chuckling to myself as I was reading.  If you love coming of age stories with a side of romance and family drama, and of course Indie bookstores, Laura Silverman’s Recommended for You is the book you’re looking for.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  September Book Releases That Should Be on Your Reading ListA Rogue of One's Own (A League of Extraordinary Women, #2) Goodreads

Author: Evie Dunmore

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

In the past I haven’t been much of a Historical Romance reader.  Last year I decided to give Evie Dunmore’s A League of Extraordinary Women series a try because I loved that it centered on the women’s suffrage movement.  I ended up pleasantly surprised by the first book and so was eager to get my hands on the latest offering from the series, A Rogue of One’s Own.  I’m thrilled to say that as much as I enjoyed the first book, this new book is even better!  It was just so much fun to visit again with this merry band of feminists and see what they’re up to.

This time the story focuses on Lucie, the leader of the group, and Lucie is on a mission.  She is trying to secure controlling interest in a major publishing company because to do so would make it all the easier for her group to push forward with their feminist agenda.  It’s unheard of for a woman to control a publishing house, but Lucie could give a flying fig for what’s heard of or unheard of.  There’s just one unexpected obstacle standing in her way…the handsome Lord Tristan Ballentine who has, unbeknownst to her, just purchased 50% ownership of the publishing company in question.  The situation is made all the more complicated by the fact that Lucie and Tristan have a history, specifically, Lucie has loathed Tristan since she was a child and he used to spend his summers at her home, making her life miserable at every turn.  How will she possibly manage to wrestle publishing control over a man who lives to torment her?  Yep, you guessed it; it’s an enemies to lovers story, my favorite!

As much as I enjoyed Annabelle in the first book, it’s Lucie that has really captured my heart. I just love her determination and grit and the fact that she’s doing everything she’s doing for the women’s movement in spite of the fact that her family has cast her off and refuses to have anything to do with her.  I love a scrappy underdog and Lucie fits the bill.  Tristan is a fantastic character as well.  I love that he’s a bit of a rogue, but that there’s also a lot more to him than first meets the eye.  He’s used to having ladies practically swoon at his feet, so it’s hilarious to watch him try to win Lucie over knowing that she can’t stand him.  The battle of wills between the two of them as they each try to secure what they want, all the while fighting their obvious attraction to one another, is so entertaining!

I will say that there was one moment in the story that gave me pause and it involved a tattoo of a naked dancer that was apparently inspired by a Hindu God. It was on the chest of a white man and while the tattoo itself serves a purpose later in the story, that particular choice of tattoo felt unnecessary and potentially offensive.  It didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment of the book, but since this is an honest review, I wanted to mention it.

I don’t want to give anything else away so I’m going to stop here and will just say that if you’re into fun, steamy stories with characters who are passionate and full of heart, you’ll want to check out A Rogue of One’s Own.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  September Book Releases That Should Be on Your Reading ListFable (Fable, #1) Goodreads

Author: Adrienne Young

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Fable, the first book in Adrienne Young’s YA fantasy duology of the same name, is my third read from this author and I swear her writing and storytelling just keeps getting better and better.  Seventeen-year-old Fable is the daughter of a powerful sea trader.  She hasn’t seen her father in four years, not since he abandoned her on a remote island after their ship sank during a terrible storm and her mother drowned.  Since being left on this island to fend for herself, Fable has worked as a dredger, locating gems at the bottom of the sea, and trading them for coin.  Her goal is simple:  to earn enough coin to purchase passage off the island so that she can then track down and confront her father.  Fable’s plans get turned upside down, however, when she runs into unexpected trouble and needs to get off the island sooner than planned.  She begs a young man named West, her primary buyer, to take her on as a passenger.  Even though no one from his crew wants her on board, West reluctantly agrees to help take her to where she thinks her father is.  Fable has no idea what kind of danger she’s getting herself into though, as nothing and no one, including West or her father, is what it seems.

Fable is such a fantastic character.  I love how strong and resilient she is, and how she refuses to take no for an answer.  Most thirteen-year-olds dumped on an island to fend for themselves would probably have died, so the fact that she survived and managed to secure some semblance of a living for herself says a lot about her character.  Fable also possesses a rare gift that was fascinating to read about.  Somehow she is able to actually hear gems when she’s near them.  It’s this gift that made her so successful as a dredger and it’s also something she needs to keep hidden.  If any of the other roguish traders out there knew she could do this, it would put a target on her back.  Aside from Fable, I also really enjoyed West and his crew.  There’s a bit of a ‘found family’ vibe there as they grow to slowly accept Fable’s presence among them.

Aside from great characters, I also thought the worldbuilding was fantastic.  I loved the descriptions of the sea, beautiful and serene one moment, dark and deadly the next.  Young paints an incredibly vivid and realistic portrait of this dangerous environment Fable’s father has thrust her into.  Not only is the sea itself dangerous, but practically everyone around her is a dangerous scoundrel as well.

Fable is a story that is beautifully written on every level. The characters are all so well-drawn and complex, and the story itself is fast-paced and action-packed.  I breezed through it in a day and immediately wanted to get my hands on the second book because this one ends with a major surprise and I just have to know what happens next.

If stories about the sea that feature scrappy resilient heroines, found families, and a hint of magic appeal to you, definitely check out Adrienne Young’s latest novel, Fable.  You won’t be disappointed.  4.5 STARS