Review: Pirouette by Kenley Davidson

Pirouette (The Andari Chronicles #3)Pirouette by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where do I even begin? The third addition to Kenley Davidson’s Andari Chronicles was an adventure in and of itself. (Side note: If you’ve read Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher, then this book is going to feel very familiar.)

In Pirouette, I finally got the world-building I was looking for. Caelan is a magical, middle-eastern type country straight from a Scheherazade tale, full of spicy princesses and sultry gardens. I liked the setting a lot, and was intrigued to see how the plot would turn out.

A few rules for reading this book:
Rule #1. Things are never as they seem.
Rule #2. If you’re worried things are about to get worse, then you can stop worrying. They do get worse. A lot worse.

Seriously, the plot was full of all sorts of twists and turns that left me mystified, relieved, and worried by turns. Not necessarily in that order. And the author again left me applauding her audacious use of unfamiliar vocabulary words.

The characters were, of course, magnificent. I’ve come to expect nothing less than well-rounded, complex characters from Kenley Davidson, and she has not disappointed me. There may have been a touch of insta-love (one-sided) from a character in this story, but it fits with his/her character, so I’ll let it go. 😉 We also saw the return of a much-despised villain (view spoiler)

One thing I have yet to mention about Davidson’s style of writing is the way she writes point-of-view. Her books usually feature 2-3 main characters, and we get turns with each to see from their point-of-view. Sometimes we even see the same scene again, but from a different character’s pov. Sometimes she throws in an extra scene written from someone other than the main character’s pov to add a twist or further muddy the shark-infested waters. It’s very unique, given that a lot of YA books are written these days in first-person, or deep pov from only one character.

However, there is a few caveats. Davidson has an unfortunate tendency to sprinkle profanity liberally throughout her books, and this one was no exception. She added in some crude, obscene curses as well, that would have been better left unsaid.(I’m really tired of profanity in books-any books. Writers, you have a thesaurus. Use it. And NOT in an obscene or offensive way! There are lots of better ways to express emotion than turning to crude language– and most will enhance your writing talent and grow your audience.) A star deducted for language concerns. There was a good bit of violence as well (view spoiler).

Overall, Pirouette was a fantastic story, marred only by the unfortunate choice to include obscenities. A well-developed culture, complex characters, and a touch of magic make this story worth reading. (With a Sharpie handy.)

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended: 15 and up (mostly due to language concerns and violent/disturbing deaths)

Content guide (may contain minor spoilers):

Language: 8/10 (profanity used fairly regularly. addition of crude, obscene phrases)
Violence: 6/10 (violent deaths, a bit gruesome. characters incur serious wounds. murder.)
Sexual Content: 0.5/10 (barely any–only thing that comes to mind was a man thinking he wants to kiss a woman)

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*

For more reviews, see gabriellenblog.wordpress.com and fullofbooks.com

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Review: Goldheart by Kenley Davidson

GoldheartGoldheart by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this one! (I knew I would as soon as I read the first few pages–absolutely lovely writing!) In my personal opinion, it was even better than the first book (Traitor’s Masque).
Technically, it should be rated 4.8 stars–there was some profanity again, as well as a rather violent death. But 5 stars for everything else!

I loved the characters. Elaine is such a sweetheart–and an artist! Double points. Will and Blaise were great as well (view spoiler), and the villains were spine-crawling creepy. As in the first one, the characters were the best part of the book.

Not much world-building in this one, but where I had missed it in the first, I didn’t notice the lack of it as much in this one.

The plot was great–I am not a fan of the Rumplestiltskin story in general, but this retelling was genius. It was very subtly woven in, and it worked perfectly. Even though Goldheart is significantly shorter than Traitor’s Masque, I truly didn’t notice. The plot was neither rushed nor incomplete, but was wrapped up well. It really is the perfect length for this story.

Last note: Goldheart was beautiful, suspenseful, and a perfectly lovely retelling. I loved this set of characters even more than the ones from Traitor’s Masque, and I really hope we’ll see more of them in coming books! (view spoiler)

Rating: 4.8 stars

Recommended: 13 and up (mostly due to language concerns and one violent scene)

Content guide (may contain minor spoilers):

Language: 4/10 (profanity used here and there.)
Violence: 7/10 (one character insinuates violence and abuse against another character. a violent suicide.)
Sexual Content: 1/10 (one light kiss, not described.)

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*

For more reviews, see gabriellenblog.wordpress.com and fullofbooks.com

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Review: Traitor’s Masque by Kenley Davidson

Traitor's MasqueTraitor’s Masque by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sigh. By now, I’m sure you all know what a sucker I am for fairytales. And when I saw a review mentioning that this book is similar to the movie Ever After (my favorite), I had to read it.

This was such a beautiful book. Not super intense, or suspenseful, but just enough to keep me hooked. The pacing was not extremely fast, but it wasn’t so slow it was dull, either. It was more like climbing a staircase–steady, but relentless. The plot itself was great–it stuck with more of the traditional feel of fairytales while still being fresh. There was no Prince Charmings (view spoiler), no magical fairy godmothers (view spoiler), and no pumpkin coaches. But it still was very much a Cinderella story. If you’ve seen Ever After (if you haven’t, you must–right now), you will understand what I mean.

The main characters were not perfect, but flawed. They were relatable and understandable. They were real. They would make a decision and I would think “Yes! That’s exactly what you should do in this situation.” Then I would see how that would turn out and be like “Oh. I didn’t expect that to happen. Should have thought things through.” Can’t fault them too much for making bad decisions–I probably would have done the same things. I also loved their sense of humor, and the brilliant, witty banter that went on back and forth. The characters were definitely the best part of this book.

Another thing about this book that amazed me was the incredible vocabulary the author possesses. I came across words such as wastrel, supposition, pungency, and insouciance (the last one was a bit over-used in the first part of the book.) It is rare for me to find a book containing words I am not already familiar with, but this one did the trick. Now, to find a way to incorporate insouciance into everyday language…

Some minor quibbles: I took one star off for the combination of the following: first of all, the setting–while being very traditional–could be improved. I’m a big fan of amazing world-building (think Nadine Brandes’ Out of Time trilogy), so I would have liked to see more in Traitor’s Masque. Another thing: the stepmother and stepsisters could use some rounding out, and something to make them a little more sympathetic. They felt flatly villainous. And last of all, it had a good bit of profanity. Not a fan. Other than that, I’m satisfied.

Wrap-up: Traitor’s Masque is a perfect retelling of Cinderella. It is traditional without feeling dull, and features characters that could be easily transplanted to the real world (as long as it was back in the 17th or 18th century). You also might wish to keep a dictionary on hand while reading.

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended: 13 and up (mostly due to language concerns and one violent scene)

Content guide (may contain minor spoilers):

Language: 6/10 (profanity used fairly regularly)
Violence: 6/10 (violent death of a character, a bit gruesome. characters incurs serious wounds while escaping.)
Sexual Content: 1/10 (characters is referenced as being a womanizer, but that is the extent. one light kiss, not described.)

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*

For more reviews, see gabriellenblog.wordpress.com and fullofbooks.com

View all my reviews