Welcome to yAdult Review, a space where two girls review novels from across the genres, from YA and MG, to fantasy and sci-fi, to historical fiction and mystery, with a sprinkling of non-fiction too. We hope you enjoy your stay here as much as we enjoy ours.

Tag Archives: genre: fantasy

20443235The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:  Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?. – Goodreads

Review:

To be completely honest, I struggled with this book. In part due to my mood — where every book I was reading was a struggle, but that being said, I’m so glad I read The Winner’s Kiss. When we finished the second book The Winner’s Crime Rutkoski left us on the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers. Arin was lead to believe that Kestrel lied to him and actually became engaged to the emperor’s son, not knowing it’s all part of a ruse. Because Arin was convinced that Kestrel has changed, and not for the good, he is now prepared for war.

Kestrel; however, is now a prisoner of war and what she quickly learns is the way everyone survives is to be drugged. I spent a good portion of this novel with my heart in my throat because I honestly wasn’t sure where Rutkoski was going to take the novel. You can tell that her craft is finely tuned and really at its best throughout The Winner’s Kiss.

“Nobody hurt her. This was very Valorian. Kestrel was here to work for the empire. Damage bodies don’t work well”  –6%

Kestrel’s scenes throughout the prisoner period were extremely painful to read. What Rutkoski did was make me, as the reader, feel as if I was there in the jail with Kestrel. It was uncomfortable and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The chapter breaks of Arin’s point of view was not helpful either, because he was not having an easy time himself. Although The Winner’s Trilogy has always been Kestrel’s trilogy, The Winner’s Kiss is really Arin’s time to shine. Although there was a very slow start to this book, by about 15% of the novel the speed begins to pick up and doesn’t stop until the final page.

A pivotal moment in the book is the moment Kestrel and Arin are reunited and one of them doesn’t recognize the other. It’s painful, harsh and cuts open a few wounds, but it was needed. It made The Winner’s Kiss an even stronger novel. Kestrel has obviously changed after her time in the worker’s camp and has extreme PTSD.

As well written this book was, I extremely struggled with The Winner’s Kiss, based on the fact that I’m a mood reader, I wanted to quit at about 40%. I understand that this sounds like sacrilege, but it’s true, I really struggled with this book. Ultimately for a final book, I expected more.


25817407The Siren by Kiera Cass
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: ALAMW16
Rating: starblank_starblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

From Kiera Cass, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series, comes a sweeping stand-alone fantasy romance.

A girl with a secret.
The boy of her dreams.
An Ocean between them.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of.

Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart. – Goodreads

Review:

I wanted to like this book. I did. But it took me over a month to read and that’s not a good sign. The Siren was a complete and utter snoozefest. Shortly through reading about 50 pages of this book, I texted my friend telling her it read like it was Cass’ first book. I want to make it clear, there is nothing wrong with that. There are many debut books I adore, but The Siren  was not one of them. I am aware of the fact that this version is completely different than the original book she wrote, but that actually worries me more.

The Siren is the story of Kahlen and her instalove boyfriend, Akinli and here’s the thing: the instalove does not work. If it was a Disney movie, the instalove would have worked. But Cass never made their love work for me, to the point I thought it was pulling the story down. I would have much preferred a story about Kahlen finding herself because that I could have seen working.

What also didn’t work was Her. Her was too much like God for my liking and the parallel was not working for my liking and made me extremely uncomfortable. What also made me uncomfortable was how “perfect” Akinli was. There seemed to be no substance to him and I was not a fan of that. Give me a reason to root for you! Too often parts of The Siren were idealized and were not working for me.

While I was looking forward to reading a light, fluffy, read. I was highly disappointed and let down that it was anything but that.


keeperThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Library
Rating: DNF
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. – Goodreads

Review:
Oh, YA fantasy, you never fail to NOT SURPRISE ME AT ALL. This was recommended to me awhile ago and I couldn’t get into it at the time (burn burnout is LEGIT), but it’s been so long that I figured I’d try again. And I enjoyed it. But I also rolled my eyes the whole time. So the thing with YA, as I’m sure all of you know, is you often have to suspend your disbelief a little. Or a lot. Enough to accept that the most feared assassin in the land is 18 years old and obsessed with fashion. The standard YA protag has dozens of boys after her and some impossible qualities and weird interests. This book is sort of what I imagine is under the definition of “impossible YA.” Celaena is impossible. She’s a character that could not possibly exist, but the world she’s in makes it possible for her to. She’s also apparently Special (some kind of fairy was my guess), and she’s also the Person Who Can Save The World. Well, of course she is. It wouldn’t be fantasy without a one-dimensional Big Bad, an evil force, or something of that nature, going up against an Assassin with a Heart of Gold. Around the three-quarter mark, I lost interest a bit, but that has more to do with me than this book; it happens a lot. But around three-quarters is when the action might have started picking up, and it just…didn’t.

So. I had misgivings about all the tropes in this one, but I still liked it. I liked Celaena because she wasn’t some mousy, timid, doesn’t-know-she’s-beautiful type. She’s vain, mouthy, arrogant, and very very proud of her abilities and status. She has a softer side and a lot of pain and regret, so she’s a somewhat well-rounded character. I also liked Chaol, for reasons mostly unknown, or maybe I just liked him more than I liked Dorian. Hell, I liked Kaltain more than I liked Dorian. Dorian has his own issues, but he’s still about as deep as a mud puddle. I liked the writing and the pacing, even though the book is a little long (and I hear they just get looooonger). I also would have liked to see a little of Celaena actually assassinating people instead of just telling us all about how she used to assassinate people, but this book is not about that, it’s about this weird love triangle, and supposedly it’s about the quest to become Champion, even though we all know right off the bat that Celaena is going to win. In all, I found this one to be pretty standard, typical YA fantasy, which is probably why it’s so popular. The standard formula works and appeals to lots of people. I just wish Celaena could take some pointers from Ismae or Sybella.

I just found this to be SO BORING. It took me almost two months to read and I had to force myself to do it. I got stuck at the three-quarter mark and just couldn’t force myself to finish. I eventually had to quit. I read something like 4 or 5 books in between putting this down and picking it back up. I love fantasy, but I didn’t love this.



15806868Towering
 by Alex Flinn
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: e-book from library
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

High in my tower I sit. I watch the birds fly below, the clouds float above, and the tall green forest stretch to places I might never see.

Mama, who isn’t my mother, has kept me hidden away for many years. My only companions, besides Mama, are my books—great adventures, mysteries, and romances that I long to make my reality. But I know that no one will come to save me—my life is not a fairy tale after all.

Well, at least no one has come so far. Recently, my hair has started to grow rapidly and it’s now long enough to reach the bottom of the tower from my window. I’ve also had the strangest dreams of a beautiful green-eyed man.

When Mama isn’t around, I plan my escape, even if it’s just for a little while. There’s something—maybe someone—waiting for me out there and it won’t find me if I’m trapped here Towering above it all. – Goodreads

Review:

I am here for your YA fairytale re-tellings. Give me all of them! This is why I was so excited to read Towering by Alex Flinn. Told in multiple POVs Towering is the story of, Rachel, who is stuck in a tower, Wyatt who is dealing with his own demons and Danielle’s diary entries. From Long Island, Wyatt is forced to move up north, to live in a small no-named town and live, with who we are lead to believe, is the town crazy, Ms. Greenwood. It’s a dark and drafty old house and the first thing he sees is a ghost.

You came here to get away from your problems, but instead, you’re stuck with an old lady and her long-dead ghosts” — pg 57, ebook

And that’s when we find out Wyatt’s demon is the fact that his best friend has recently died. His best friend has recently died and now he’s stuck in a home with, currently, no working wi-fi and cell reception. Wyatt isn’t too sure if he’s better off here.

“If you’re not the hero, does that make you a villain?” — pg 175, ebook

To be honest, there was nothing overly exciting about this book. What kept me hanging on was ultimately how the three POVs looped and weaved together. What ultimately happened was one of my least favorite YA tropes–instalove. (YAY!)

“I loved him. Though we had barely met, there was some power greater than me, greater than all, that bound him to me” — pg 260, ebook.

Ultimately this book fell flat for me. I wanted to love it. But in the end it was to convoluted for me to buy into the plot line, or the love story.


23310714Finding Fortune by Delia Ray
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: DNF
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Running away from home isn’t as easy as Ren thinks it will be. At least she isn’t running very far-just a few miles to the ghost town of Fortune . . . or Mis-Fortune as everyone else calls it. Mis-Fortune on the Mississippi. Supposedly, there’s an abandoned school on the outskirts with cheap rooms for rent. Ren knows her plan sounds crazy. But with only a few more weeks until Dad comes home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, she also knows she has to do something drastic so Mom will come to her senses and stop seeing that creep Rick Littleton, the creep she promised she would stop seeing but didn’t, for good.

From the moment she enters the school’s shadowy halls, Ren finds herself drawn into its secrets. Every night old Mrs. Baxter, the landlady, wanders the building on a mysterious quest. What could she be up to? And can Mrs. Baxter’s outlandish plan to transform the gym into a pearl-button museum ever succeed? With a quirky new friend named Hugh at her side, Ren sets out to solve the mystery that could save Fortune from fading away. But what about her family’s future? Can that be saved too?– Goodreads

Review:

I feel Finding Fortune could have been really, really good, but it just didn’t work for me. From pacing, to characters, to setting I could not find myself able to get through it. I wanted to know the answers to the questions that had been posed. But after two months of trying to read Finding Fortune I decided it was time to put it aside. I may come back to it later because I was enjoying it. Just not enough.


21947304 (1)Star Wars: Episode IV a New Hope: Being the Story of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the Rise of the Rebellion (Star Wars Illustrated Novels #1)
by Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Disney LucasFilm Press
Source: Audio from library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

The galaxy is at war.

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to unveil the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen–the Death Star. The Rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy….– Goodreads

Review:

I’m going to say something…taboo. I’m not a big Star Wars person. I know. Sacrilege. How can I live this life. However, this past summer when I had a chance to go to LucasFilms when I was in San Francisco, HECK YES I went. And I got it. I got the love of Star Wars. I also got excited about Alexandra Bracken’s newest book in the universe.

Star Wars: Episode IV a New Hope: Being the Story of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the Rise of the Rebellion is a retelling of Episode IV, from four points of view. Where this story shined for me is the fact I listened to this as an audiobook. With two narrators and sound effects I felt like I was there, in the middle of all the action and I wanted more. I think this story will be good for people who are beginners of the series.

 


hannaThe Wizard’s Promise (The Hanna Duology #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source: Library
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.

As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help. – Goodreads

Review:
This duo of books is a companion series (a sequel of sorts) to the Assassin’s Curse series. Hanna is named after Ananna, but due to northern accents, no one can pronounce her true name, rendering it Hanna instead. Hanna’s mother is a former pirate, her father is a fisherman, and Hanna’s dream is to train as a witch, though for now, she’s apprenticed to a thoroughly boring fisherman named Kolur. Or she thinks it’s boring anyway, until Kolur takes her on a trip far out of her comfort zone. He is also extremely reticent, telling Hanna next to nothing about their journey, neither purpose nor destination. One night, Hanna meets Isolfr, a strange, otherworldly creature human in shape, but able to swim in the frigid waters of the north. Isolfr needs her help, and Hanna’s loyalties are to be tested.

Hanna can be pretty obnoxious, but she has some reason to be, considering she’s been lied to and almost killed on this trip. All she wants to do is go home. So when their ship gets blown off course, way off course, Hanna decides to leave Kolur and Frida and strike out on her own. She is working on a fishing boat, saving money to go home, making friends with the couple renting the houseboat next to her’s, when something terrible happens. Hanna realizes that she is not going to be able to escape this mission she’s been forced to go on, but she still insists on doing it her own way.

I found this book slow and boring. I liked the world and the magic and the people, but nothing happens for so much of it. Just Hanna slogging along, Hanna being lonely, Hanna being surly, Hanna eating fish with her neighbors. Not much happens. It’s like this book suffers from second book syndrome somehow, even though it’s the first. It took me forever to finish this one. I’m so sad that Strange Chemistry shut down and I won’t be able to read the next one though. That is a real shame.


23734628Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters. – Goodreads

Review:

I wanted to love this book. I am a Rainbow Rowell fangirl. I don’t hide from this fact. I’m proud of the fact and that I own far too many copies of Fangirl. (My BFF doesn’t hide from the act that she’s trying to get me to get rid of them. Because I only need..one?) That being said I struggled with Carry On and that kills me. I think it stems from the fan that it’s a chosen one story. A Harry Potter story and to be honest, Harry Potter has never really worked for me. I know. I know. Sacrilege. But it’s true. I read Harry Potter too late in life for it to touch me in the way it touched all my friends. Because of this fact I struggled with Carry On.

Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, the kid who does not want to be the chosen one. As a reader, we learned a bit about Simon from Fangirl, but this is really his moment to shine. I also want to be clear there is nothing wrong with Carry On. It’s solid story, which characters that I adored and a plot that wasn’t too shabby. It’s the chosen one stereotype where this fell flat for me..I just didn’t care about the storyline or Simon. By the time I did ultimately care about Simon, the story was almost over.

I may go back and re-read the story sometime because I did find it enjoyable, it was just more of a me problem than the book.