Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.”–from Goodreads

I wasn’t totally sure how to review this book when I had finished it. So, I gave it three stars–not bad, but not great. Three stars is my “undecided” rating. Since I’m not totally coherent on how I feel, my review of this book is going to look a little bit different from my usual review. Here’s some of my thoughts on the book:

What I liked:
–One Thousand and One Nights atmosphere.
–The world-building: seriously, it was amazing. I loved the locations that the author created. They were very well fleshed out, and full of magic and mystery.
–Gauri. Because who doesn’t love a break-your-heart-or-maybe-your-arm type of heroine?
–Aasha. The sweet, poor, poisonous little darling.
–Magic. I like magical fairytales, so this is no surprise.

What I didn’t like:
–Demons.
–Creepiness. Like the whole undead monster valley thing.
–The intensity of the love/lust relationship. (They didn’t get beyond kissing/cuddling, but it got pretty heated. And it was brought up. Overall, it made me uncomfortable.)
–All the violence.

What I wasn’t sure about:
–Vikram. I haven’t decided whether I like him or not.
–The Lord of Wealth. I wasn’t sure whether he was a good guy, or a bad guy–maybe that was the point?
–All the deep, philosophical points made. For example, “Desires are dangerous” was repeated almost ad nauseam. Yes, I like my books to have a theme. One or two is good. Maybe even three. But the book was liberally sprinkled with insight, and a lot of it becomes lost when there is that much.

That sums up most of the things I’ve been thinking about. I know it’s not super clear, but I hope it helps you a little bit in deciding whether or not to read this one.

*Many thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy to review!*

For more reviews, or to have your own book reviewed, see gabriellenblog.wordpress.com

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Review: Shadow & Thorn by Kenley Davidson

Shadow and Thorn (The Andari Chronicles)

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by Kenley Davidson (Goodreads Author)
I really liked it 4.0/5

A spellbinding romantic fantasy inspired by Beauty and the Beast…

“An exiled king.
An elusive thief.
And the treasure they would give their lives to possess…

Alexei is returning to his homeland after more than twenty years in hiding. His kingdom is destroyed, his people dead or enslaved. His only hope to provide sanctuary for those few who remain is the uncertain word of a traitor, a broken man who claims to know the hiding place of Erath’s greatest treasure. To find it, Alexei will have to return to the place where Erath fell, and brave the shadowed halls of a castle that echoes with the ghosts of his past.

Zara is a woman without a future—a treasure hunter, and a thief who hates to steal. Trapped by fate in an abandoned castle, she encounters a destiny she could never have predicted, and uncovers a treasure far greater than she ever imagined.

When their paths collide, Alexei and Zara may both have a chance to atone for past mistakes… unless they kill each other first. Brought together by enemies both expected and unexpected, they will plumb the depths of an unimaginable betrayal and forge the foundations of a love they would risk anything to keep.

A gripping tale of adventure, betrayal and romance, Shadow and Thorn is the fourth book of the Andari Chronicles, a series of interconnected but stand-alone fairy tale retellings.”-summary from Goodreads

 

An unconventional beauty. A handsome, despicable beast. One who happens to be very familiar—hello, Rowan. We were all waiting for you to show up again. *sharpens guillotine* And a malicious, sentient castle. Intrigued yet? You should be.

Shadow & Thorn is the fourth book in the Andari Chronicles, my favorite fairytale series. Each book is a standalone, with a complete story to tell by itself. However, some elements intertwine throughout them all: a few familiar characters, the same world, and the same time period. I highly recommend reading them in chronological order, just to get familiar with where everything is and what’s going on.

Let’s start with plot, shall we? Kenley Davidson has officially mastered Murphy’s Law in her writing: just about anything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Be still, my aching heart. This author is not a fan of sparing her characters any complicated situations. Oh no—why let them get a break when you could paint them into a corner instead? Oh well. At least it makes for a very nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat novel!

The characters, as always, sparkled with wit, vivacity, and life-likeness. We got to see the return of some familiar faces—Alexei, I’m looking at you—and also the introduction of some new ones. Zara was a real treat. She was so fun to read about! And I couldn’t help grinning with glee when Rowan finally met the one woman who wasn’t ready to fall at his feet! By the way, I am SO glad he finally got what was coming to him. Although I am curious to see what the next book will be about with the way things turned out in this one. I love how Davidson does such a good job of getting inside her character’s heads, and letting us live as them for a little while. Silvay, Wilder, Gulver, and Malichai were great as well, and I really hope they show up in future books, as I would hate for this to be goodbye!

The setting was very well done in this one as well. I loved reading about Erath—or rather, what’s left of it—and the culture the people of Erath embody. I had been very curious about this mythical country since it was mentioned in Traitor’s Masque. The atmosphere Davidson created of ancient magic around the benevolent, though introverted, society worked perfectly for this fairytale. The one caveat is that it wasn’t totally clear how their magic system worked, and I would have liked to learn more about it, but it wasn’t strictly necessary to the plot.

And now for the malicious sentient castle. I couldn’t decide whether this belonged under setting or characters, so I decided to make it its own section. Athven Nar, where most of the plot takes place, is a centuries-old castle that has had magic, hope, and patriotism poured into it for all of its existence. I have only come across this concept maybe twice in all of my reading, and I was very pleased to see how Davidson spun it into the story. I won’t say more for fear of spoiling it all. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Shadow & Thorn is a little bit of Diana Wynne Jones, and a little bit of Robin Mckinley, but entirely of Kenley Davidson. Magic, mystery, and love all make this Beauty & the Beast retelling very much worth the read. Bonus points: there was a lot less profanity in this one! Kudos to you, Davidson, for cutting it down. Your readers appreciate it.

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended: 14 and up

Content guide (may contain minor spoilers):

Language: 3/10 (one bad word used 3-5 times)
Violence: 5/10 (some fights and injuries—non-graphic. one character almost dies)
Sexual Content: 2/10 (a few non-detailed kisses)

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

 

Review: Out of the Shadows by Emma Carrie

Out of the Shadows (The Tacket Secret, #1)Out of the Shadows by Emma Carrie

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“A genetically enhanced teen assassin on the run. A rogue general on the hunt. And a relationally damaged detective sucked into the chase.

Three years ago, Emily Brelin escaped the general who trained her. She fled across the globe to Golden City, New York, where she sought anonymity and redemption.

But now her murky past is about to catch up with her.

When the professor who protected Emily’s secrets dies, the will names Detective Victoria Tacket as her new guardian. The detective botches the adoption process, leaking Emily’s location. Emily fears the general will kill anyone to recapture her, so rather than risk the detective’s life, she plans to run away.

Detective Vick Tacket is shocked when she learns her best friend has died. Furthermore, her friend had a hidden dependent and named Vick—a single woman with no maternal interest—as the girl’s guardian. Convinced she’d be a terrible mother, Vick plans to decline guardianship, until the teen disappears.

Vick scours the streets of Golden City, searching for Emily—but what she discovers threatens not only her own life and Emily’s, but others’ lives as well.”–Goodreads

“Out of the Shadows” by Emma Carrie is a mystery-soaked suspense novel that left me wanting more. A lot more. Only a minor story arc was resolved in this novella, while the main plot was left hanging. It only barely scratches the surface of the story waiting to be told, and feels incomplete. Perhaps this would be better as “Part One” of a full-length novel than a stand-alone novella. However, the writing itself is good, with a few rocky spots. It was tight, and fairly well-crafted for a beginning author. You can tell there was a lot of thought and effort put into writing and revising this work. I’m eager to see how Carrie develops with her writing in coming works.
The characters were vivid, and full of personality. However, I feel like the author was a little hit-and-miss with this aspect. For example, while the protagonist (a fourteen-year old girl) was supposed to be very smart and mature for her age, at times she felt a little too smart and mature, almost to where she felt robotic. The other protagonist had the opposite problem–even though she was supposed to be an experienced homicide detective, she got carried away by her emotions several times, and was led into bad decisions. I think with a little more work, the characters would be spot on—but as of now, they fell a bit flat.
I was very curious about the setting. It takes place in Golden City, New York. It was unclear whether this was set in the present or the future—I lean towards present—and if it was even a real city. I think some more details to round out the setting would have been good.
Overall, I’m afraid I can only give this book 2.5 stars. The story and characters were good, but had some iffy elements, while the world-building was almost non-existent. It did a good job of holding my interest, but ended far too quickly and left many things unresolved. You can tell the author has a lot of talent— it just needs some developing. I do look forward to reading more of her writing in the future, however, and have high hopes for coming books.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommended: Yes. 12 and up.

Content guide:
Language: 0/10
Sexual Content: 0/10
Violence: 5/10 (characters are attacked and injured)

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

For more reviews, or if you are interested in having your own book reviewed, see gabriellenblog.wordpress.com

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