Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Hero at the Fall
(Rebel of the Sands #3)
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Hardcover, 463 pages, Viking
Genres: YA, Fantasy

When gunslinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. 

Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

My Review

Alwyn Hamilton has built such a unique and interesting world. Her characters are complex. Her magic system is fantastic. And her settings are phenomenal. However, despite enjoying Hero at the Fall overall, I have to say that I was left a bit disappointed after having recently read the first two books in the trilogy.

I read a review before I picked up Hero that talked about the pacing of this story, and how the reviewer wasn’t even sure if the climax had happened. I agree 100% with that reviewer. The pacing of this book was nonexistent. Instead of one cohesive novel that had a clear goal, this book felt more like a bunch of short story adventures stacked on top of each other until the characters eventually decided to go back and fight the bad guy. There were weird time jumps and a lot of convenient additions to an already established, complex world.

While I adore the original world the author created, I think she was trying to throw too much into the last book, almost like she had written herself in a corner in book two. Perhaps splitting the last book into two—to have a total of four books in the series—would have been a better idea…?

Something else that got to me was Amani and the lack of other characters. Amani kept taking stupid risks and not telling any of her friends what her plans were. It’s war time and she’s off by herself doing god-knows-what. As for my lack-of-other-characters comment, I don’t mean that there weren’t other characters in the story, I just felt like they didn’t play any significant roles in this one. I love Jin, but he’s barely in this book. He probably has less than 20 lines in this entire thing! I missed Amani and Jin’s dynamic from Rebel of the Sands. I also missed Shazad and Ahmed. I mean, Ahmed is supposed to be the next sultan if the rebels win the war, but we hardly get anything from him! It was just all about Amani, all the time. *cries* I miss Jin!

I do have to say that I still enjoyed the book. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t up to par with book one or even book two. It read more like a middle-book-syndrome finale. Oh, and the showdown towards the end was so rushed and mediocre, at best. The battle fell flat and the epilogue was so-so. I wanted epicness from the author, but I didn’t get it.

All in all, definitely read this to conclude the series, but don’t expect the awesomeness that was Rebel of the Sands.

*Note: I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Laura Sebastian's Ash Princess NYC Launch Event Recap

Last Tuesday, I attended Laura Sebastian’s NYC launch event for her debut novel, Ash Princess. I’ve already read and reviewed the book, so if you’re interested in my thoughts, head on over to that post.

This event wasn’t at the usual bookstore my roommate and I go to for author signings. This one was at McNally Jackson. And, even though it was a bit farther from us than Books of Wonder, we ended up getting there roughly 30-40 minutes early.

I’m thinking that our early arrival was why what happened next actually happened. When I went to purchase my copy of Ash Princess, the manager of the store (I’m assuming, as he worked there), gave my roommate and I each a rose…? We totally weren’t sure why, because we seemed to be the only people at the event that had them. Maybe because we were the first to purchase a copy of the book for the signing? But whatevs. A free rose is a free rose? I guess…

There was macarons and wine at the event. Laura and some of her friends set it up very quickly a few minutes before starting the actual panel. Even though we had to wait to eat the macarons, it was a pretty setup.

Once everyone had gotten their wine (I forewent the alcohols), Laura answered some questions from her friend, who helped emcee the event. One major question Laura answered was how she pitched her book. She posed it as a “Slytherin Sansa Stark Story.” Sansa Stark is not my favorite GoT character, but I can see the comparison, as Theo—Ash Princess’s main character—isn’t my favorite, either.

Laura also discussed how she let the girl she babysat read drafts of her work. Oh, and Laura apparently wrote ten other stories before finally getting a response from an editor/agent. Another question the emcee had revolved around Cress, Theo’s friend in the story. To Laura, complex female friendships are important, so she wanted to make sure to include one.

Also, there was a lightning round of questions. Laura quickly answered what her favorite childhood book was: Ella Enchanted. The book she’d wish she’d written: The Winner’s Curse. And who she wanted to blurb her book: Gail Carson Levine.

Once the emcee finished asking questions, the audience Q&A opened up. Laura discussed love triangles, how she added violence to her story because her editor said she should go there, and how her book boyfriend would be Carden from The Cruel Prince.

The actual signing portion of the event went by pretty quickly. Laura signed my book, I signed her copy that she was letting all the attendees sign, and I grabbed a macaron.

All in all, it was a fun event, simply because of how charismatic and genuine I felt Laura was. While Ash Princess wasn’t my favorite YA fantasy, I am excited to see what happens next in the world, so I’m glad Laura was a nice and pleasant author to interact with.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Stacking the Shelves: The Take Shelves of Doom Edition

 "Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

This week has gone by really fast. I feel like I just wrote my last Stacking the Shelves yesterday. But, I’m pretty darn happy everything is going by fast because today is the day I’m flying home. And hopefully, today is the day I get to see Avengers: Infinity War! I’m pre-scheduling this post, so I’m not even sure what the heck the day is going to hold.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (ABM)
The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty
The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz (ARC)
Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore (ARC)
Between the Blade and the Heart &
From the Earth to the Shadows by Amanda Hocking (ARCs)
The Handsome Girl and Her Beautiful Boy by B.T. Gottfred

Well, for books this week, I had a pleasant surprise. I found out where the Take Shelves are at work. As you can see, I went a little crazy. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to read all of these, plus the ones I nabbed earlier this year. I’m going to have to get on that. Yikes.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

I also bought Ash Princess during Laura’s launch event. I’ll have a recap of that up tomorrow. Thankfully, though, I’ve already read this one.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

And, lastly, I have two ebooks that I got this week. Kiss of the Royal is a review copy from NetGalley, while The Royal We was an impulse buy. The Royal We was only $1.99 on Kindle, so I one-clicked it. I’ve been craving some royalty contemporary romance after finishing Rachel Hawkins’s The Royals. Any recommendations for such books?

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you watch the gif.

Dean may be the weirdo in the show, but Jared is the bigger weirdo in real life. To be fair, Jensen is pretty weird too.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

My Personal Ranking of the MCU Films

So Avengers: Infinity War is almost upon us! I’m so freakin’ excited for this film! I’m super wary of the internet right now because of potential spoilage. It’s a scary place right now.

To get myself pumped for the movie (or even more pumped than I already am), I thought I’d do a ranking of my personal favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Now, I’d like to start out with a disclaimer that 1) these are my current favorites, which means they could move up or down as time goes by, and 2) these are my opinions. Yours could be different. No one is right or wrong when it comes to their favorite MCU films. Books, yes. MCU films, no. ;)


18. Iron Man 3

This film was awful. This is probably the only one that I’d have to say must be in the bottom of everyone’s list. I’ve fought with my roommate over how terrible this movie is. (Not literally fought, but had strong words.)

17. Iron Man 2

Meh. It was alright. I don’t even remember the villains name, though.

16. The Incredible Hulk

Good movie, but I just wish the actors had stayed the same.

15. Spider-Man: Homecoming

I actually liked three out of the five other Spider-Man movies more than this one. This one was just predictable and not as awe-inspiring, even though Peter is actually a high school kid.

14. Doctor Strange

I need to re-watch this one. I’ve only seen it one time, and while it was good, Dr. Strange’s powers just are a little trippy for me. Plus, white washing. Boo.

13. Black Panther

I liked this one, but the CGI threw me off. I’ll need to see it a second time to get a definitive ranking (same for a lot of these, actually).

12. Avengers: Age of Ultron

I wish this one was higher on the list, but the Black Widow + Bruce Banner relationship was too much. Otherwise, I could have enjoyed this one with no problems.

11. Ant-Man

A funny movie that took a spin on the comics, but a movie about a shrinking/growing man just can’t be up to par with some of the other heroes, despite its humor.

10. Thor: The Dark World

I haven’t been able to re-watch, so I don’t remember a lot. I do know it was good, and that Chris Hemsworth is very nice. ;)

9. Iron Man

Even though I’m not a Tony Stark fan, I still have to appreciate how amazed I was at this first MCU film. I remember laughing very hard.

8. Captain America: Winter Soldier

I think this one would be higher on my list if I had re-watched it recently. I’ve only seen it 1.5 times, but I remember seeing some awesome fight scenes.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

No Baby Groot for this one, but it was still funny, and the music is amazing.

6. Thor

I didn’t appreciate this film as much when I first watched it in theaters, but now, all I can say is “Another!”

5. Captain America: The First Avenger

Oh, Captain, my captain. Can I just say that Steve Rogers is a sweetheart? He better not die in Infinity War. (He’s probably going to die… Boo.)

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II

This film was just hilarious. While it didn’t really fit in the overall plot of the MCU’s other films, it had Baby Groot, so all was well in the world.

3. Avengers

The first time the characters were together in one place! Gosh, it brings back so many memories!

2. Captain America: Civil War

Umm… Iron Man got his butt kicked. It made me happy, okay? Plus, all the characters plus some coming together was cool.

1. Thor: Ragnarok

I loved this movie! I’m obsessed with it! I think it’s because of how Thor’s powers developed in this one. The humor could have been lessened a little bit, but otherwise, this film was awesome! I’m hoping Avengers: Infinity War knocks it down to second place, though.


Alright, there you have it. My ranking of MCU’s superhero films. What’s your favorite Marvel movie? What’s your least favorite? Sound off in the comments.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Catwoman: Soulstealer

 "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

Catwoman: Soulstealer
(DC Icons #3)
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Hardcover, 304 pages, Random House
Genres: YA, Sci-Fi

When the Bat's away, the Cat will play. It's time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City's slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing's undoing.

My Thoughts

Like last week’s Bright We Burn, this is another one I’m waiting for the UK cover to be revealed. I’m collecting the other two books in the series in the UK covers because they’re freakin’ gorgeous, especially compared to the US covers. The US ones just have a lot going on. Although, I do love the color purple.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Top Ten Frequently Used Words in YA Fantasy Titles

It’s Top Ten Tuesday time!

If you’re unaware, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly original feature created by The Broke and the Bookish, and it’s now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week there’s a new Top Ten theme that the blogger responds to with their own list of answers.

This week’s theme is… *drumroll please*…

Frequently Used Words In [Insert Genre/Age Group] Titles

I decided to do Frequently Used Words In YA Fantasy Titles.

There are so many words for this one. So many. These are just the ones that came to mind first.




Alright, there you have it. My list of frequently used words in YA fantasy titles. What did you put on your list? Let me know in the comments section.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess
(Untitled Trilogy #1)
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Hardcover, 432 pages, Delacorte
Genres: YA, Fantasy

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed “Ash Princess.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she's not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but one: Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe.

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't keep her feelings and memories pushed down any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Or for her rebel allies to challenge her friendship with the one person who's been kind to her throughout the last hopeless decade: her heart's sister, Cress.

Cornered into impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become queen.

My Review

You ever read one of those books that just frustrates you to no end, but you still want to know what happens in the next few pages, chapters, or sequels? Well, that was me with this book.

Be prepared, because I have some thoughts on this one. A lot of thoughts.

Okay, so first off, Theodosia, or Thora, as she’s referred to by the Kalovaxians who invaded her homeland, is a very frustrating main character. She reminds me a lot of America from The Selection series. There were always choices that I wanted her to make that just seemed to never come to fruition. The same with speeches. She’s the princess/queen of her decimated people, so I wanted her to really inspire her citizens and chew out her enemies, but she just never went there. I wanted some gruff and power from her, but she was just too weak and naive at points.

Now, there were other characters in this book that were also just as frustrating. Soren, the prinz (aka prince) was cute at first, but then you learn he’s been letting dear ol’ dad hit an innocent girl for years. He’s also remained complacent for a lot of the massacring of Theo’s people. That was a major turn off. Yet, somehow, Theo still had feelings for Soren… Stockholm syndrome, perhaps?

The other characters, like Blaise, the book’s second love interest, is a pretty decent character for like 75% of the book. HOWEVER, him and his posse of rebels as well as the rest of Theo’s people somehow believe that she’s a spoiled princess living it up in the Kaiser’s castle, yet she’s being tortured??? How can they be that stupid? There just wasn’t a good enough explanation for why her people had such animosity for her when these “punishments” weren’t private events. A lot of people know the Kaiser was having her whipped.

And that brings me to my biggest and weirdest pet peeve of this book. The word “whippings” is atrocious, and I hate it. It sounds so unsophisticated and hickish (I’m from the Midwest, so I know hickish). Also, the way it’s used in this book along with the word “punishments” sounds eerily like some sort of naughty romance book. I just wanted those two words to stop. Ick.

Oh, and is anyone else tired of the poor beautiful princess being tortured trope? Especially by two-dimensional cliché ugly, evil kings? I don’t know. I just think there’s too much violence for the sake of violence in this book. Also, the plot is kind of slow because no real action happens. I’d say it’s more of a political fantasy, but it’s not even really that…

Another small thing, but still. Thora, even though she’s been beat by the Kalovaxian’s multiple times, she somehow always knows what the Kaiser is thinking, even though she never knows what anyone else is thinking and she makes bad choices because of it?

Okay, the next thing I want to talk about is how the Kalovaxians won this invasion when Theo’s people are supposed to have Avatar-esque powers? It wasn’t really explained as well I’d like how exactly the war/invasion went down. I needed more backstory there.

All in all, Ash Princess is eerily similar and as frustrating as Kiera Cass’s Selection series and Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse. I’ll probably continue with the series, just like I did with those books, but I’m still wary. I also just really want a physical copy of this book, because hey! Pretty cover!

*Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion/review.