Blogmas Book Review: Rogue by Julie Kagawa

fullsizeoutput_238b

GoodReads Summary:
Deserter. Traitor. Rogue.
Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.
Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.
A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?
Rogue (Talon, #2)Review:
I just am having a really hard time WANTING to read these books. I remember loving them when I first read them. But I’m just over it. Antonia said that they get really good in this book and the next one. While I didn’t hate Ember in this one as much as I did in the last one, I still didn’t love her for most of the book.
Ember is now a rogue dragon. But instead of helping Riley figure out who the mole in his system is or literally doing anything useful, she is determined to rescue Garret, who is going to die because he spared her life. I get that she loves him, and in any real situation I probably would do the same thing, but I just hate him. Aside from that, Ember does and experiences things that really affect her. It was nice to see her trying to work through these issues rather than just glossing over it like too many stories do.
I love Riley. He is the end game I want and if I don’t get it I’m going to be very upset with Julie. We get bits and pieces of his backstory and the events that led to him going rogue and I really enjoyed that. I just love Riley.
Garret is okay, I guess. I mostly just want him to go away. I don’t hate him only because he does anything in his abilities to protect Ember. I just wish Ember had never gotten involved with him.
Overall, Ember did grow and become less annoying in the second half of Rogue. I’m interested to see what the gang does next. I am going to do my best to finish this series, but if I’m not enjoying the next book I might just have to give up on it. There’s no shame in DNF’ing friends.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Talon by Julie Kagawa

GoodReads Summary:
To take her rightful place in the Talon organization, young dragon Ember Hill must prove she can hide her true nature and blend in with humans. Her delight at the prospect of a summer of “normal” teen experiences is short-lived, however, once she discovers that she’s also expected to train for her destined career in Talon. But a chance meeting with a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught.
As Ember struggles to accept her future, St. George soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian is tasked with hunting her down. But when faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything the Order has ingrained in him—and what he might be willing to give up to uncover the truth about dragons.
Talon (Talon, #1)Review:
This is my third time reading Talon by Julie Kagawa. This was clear to me because I ended up skimming the first fifty or so pages. I just felt like I’ve read the start of this story so many times. I think because of that, I was a bit ‘meh’ toward the rest of the story. Also, already knowing parts of what will happen in the future had me rolling my eyes at certain events. I think I’ll end up liking the next books in the series more because I don’t remember them as well as I do for the first book.
Ember had me rolling my eyes left and right. The fact that she was suspicious of Garret being St. George but repeatedly ignored the signs and convinced herself that he couldn’t be was so dumb. Like, WHAT TEENAGE BOY HAS NEVER BEEN TO AN ARCADE EMBER??? This really drove me crazy. He said and did so many suspicious things and she just brushed it off like an idiot. But other than that. I liked her. She wasn’t willing to just do what she was told, even when he brother tells her she needs to fall in line, she doesn’t let her love for him push away the doubts she’s having. I liked that.
Garret was interesting because it wasn’t as obvious that Ember was the Dragon he’s been sent there to find. But then he falls in love, and when he realizes that she is a Dragon, his whole world is changed. I think he was interesting and complex, fighting what he’s been taught with what he has seen for himself.
Then there’s Riley. He’s my favorite. He’s just a dude trying to help little dragon babes escape Talon. He’s completely my first choice for Ember. I wish I could just get rid of the love triangle and have Ember be with Riley.
Overall, this was a pretty average book. Maybe if I didn’t remember parts of this story so well I’d feel differently. But Ember was a little annoying when it came to Garret and don’t even get me started on her brother Dante.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Summary:
In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.
The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1)Review:
I read The Last Namsara as a buddy read with my favorite Buddy Reading Squad, Rae @ Thrifty Bibliophile, Alana @ The Bookish Chick, and Books in the Skye. I love when we find time to read something together and discuss as we read it. It’s always so much fun even if we don’t agree with the book (like this one).
Sadly, I didn’t love The Last Namsara like I thought I was going to. I really thought this was going to be a five-star read for me. It has all of the things I love. Dragons, the hate to love trope, lady power, but for some reason this book fell flat for me.
I liked Asha but I didn’t love her. She was supposed to be this powerful big bad but we don’t really get to see that. I feel like there was too much telling and not enough showing. She’s supposed to be the Iskari but we just see everyone afraid of her, we don’t see why she’s supposed to be scary. We get a lot of her being afraid of the villain, and that really didn’t help me believe that she was big and bad. Then there’s the villain. We’re supposed to immediately dislike him, but he saved her life in the beginning. I didn’t really get why we were supposed to dislike him until halfway through the story. I did actually adore the love interest. He brought out the good in Asha and helped her see that something in her life wasn’t right and someone was lying to her. I liked their relationship. He was everything she wasn’t supposed to have and I loved it. I also loved her brother, Dax, and her cousin, Safire, they were so good and kind and loyal and clever.
There were a lot of politics which I enjoyed, but there weren’t enough of the parts that I liked the most. I didn’t get enough dragons. I wanted more. There also wasn’t enough of the Old One and Elmora. I really was interested in this aspect of the story but didn’t get enough of it.
Overall, I liked this story but sadly didn’t love it. Something about it just fell flat for me. There was more telling rather than showing and parts of it just weren’t believable. I didn’t really care about the characters. I wanted to love this story but I just didn’t.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Summary:
Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, vital skills of the Dragon Rider. It is the journey of a lifetime, filled with awe-inspiring new places and people, each day a fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and Eragon isn’t sure who he can trust.
Meanwhile, his cousin, Roran, must fight a new battle back home in Carvahall—one that puts Eragon in even graver danger.
Will the kind’s dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life…
Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle, #2)Review:
Eldest is the second book in the Inheritance Cycle. I’m buddy reading this series with Antonia because she’s wonderful and bought the whole series for me as a Christmas gift. Check out my review for the first book, Eragon, here.
I enjoyed this book, not quite as much as the first, but I enjoyed it. There was a lot of traveling and learning in this book that tends to come with fantasy books but I don’t mind that. I really enjoyed following Eragon as he learned all about the history of the Dragon Riders and elf culture. I thought the world in this book is incredible. It’s so complex, intricate, and well built. The writing is also intricate and well done. The story flows smoothly and is filled with creative and interesting language.
I believe that the most impressive part about this book is Eragon’s character growth. He learns so much about himself and about the world around him in these pages. By the final page he is not the same boy that he was on page one. He really takes the things he learns and adapts his world view and opinions. He’s not afraid of learning new things and letting those things change him. He becomes a man in this book.
I was blown away again and again by the plot twists Paolini threw at us. I’m not sure how many texts I sent to Antonia saying, “WHAT DID HE JUST DO” because the author had me dropping my jaw a fair few times at the end of the story.
We were introduced to a few new characters in this second book. the one that I’m most interested to learn more about is the elf that trained Eragon in the Dragon Rider ways. I just have a feeling that there’s more to his story that we haven’t learned yet.
The only aspect of this story that I didn’t enjoy was the changing perspectives. I’m usually all for different perspectives, but one of the points of view was from Roran (Eragon’s cousin)and I just couldn’t bring myself to care about those chapters at all.
Overall, this was pretty much what I was expecting from this sequel. We traveled. We learned. We grew. I loved it and I’m very excited to see where the story goes from here.

“How terrible,” said Eragon,”to die alone, seperate even from the one who is closest to you.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Inferno by Julie Kagawa

Summary: TODAY, WE STRIKE BACK.

WE SHOW TALON THAT WE WILL NEVER ACCEPT THEIR NEW WORLD.

Ember Hill has learned a shocking truth about herself: she is the blood of the Elder Wyrm, the ancient dragon who leads Talon and who is on the verge of world domination. With the Order of St. George destroyed, Ember, Riley and Garret journey to the Amazon jungle in search of one who might hold the key to take down the Elder Wyrm and Talon—if they can survive the encounter.

Meanwhile, Ember’s brother, Dante, will travel to China with a message for the last Eastern dragons: join Talon or die. With the stakes rising and the Elder Wyrm declaring war, time is running out for the rogues and any dragon not allied with Talon. 

The final battle approaches. And if Talon is victorious, the world will burn.

Review:

DISCLAIMER: Since this is the last book in the series, there may be spoilers from previous books in this series. If you haven’t read books 1-4, you may not want to continue reading.

I. Love. This. Series.
Inferno is the fifth and final book in the Talon series and I’m happy to say I was very pleased with this last installment. That’s not to say it was perfect, but I wasn’t really disappointed by anything.
Ember continued to grow into herself right up until the end; from the impulsive, immature child to the daring rogue ready to take on everyone and finally, to the young woman at the end who I’d love to be friends with. Good character development is one of my favorite things so the fact that Ember went from someone who really annoyed me to a character I can actually admire made me extremely happy.
This was somewhat true for Riley and Garret as well. They didn’t have as much growth as Ember did but as I slowly got to know them better throughout the series, I liked them more and more.
The only character I actively dislike is Dante. There are a lot of bad guys in the series that I can appreciate as villians but Dante wasn’t one of them. He really just annoyed me for most of the series until I ended up hating him at the end. I think mainly it’s because his actions in this book felt off to me; the Dante I’d been reading about wouldn’t act like this. It might just be me but I definitely found the end of his story arc frustrating.
I really enjoyed most other aspects of this book. As with most series conclusions, there was a lot happening but it didn’t feel like I was being overloaded with information or like everything was happening too fast. One of my favorite bits was that Riley finally got a chance to go after the Talon facility that houses their breeder females. (It’s basically a lab where female dragons who aren’t considered important enough for anything else are kept as broodmares. It’s despicable but I can’t get started ranting about it or I’ll never stop.) This has been Riley’s white whale for at least a few decades. He’s been searching and searching for it in order to free the dragonells but was never able to find it until now. I really loved seeing what this meant for his character.
I also really liked getting to finally see the Elder Wyrm in dragon form. It. Was. Amazing.
Overall I really loved this book. It made an excellent conclusion to a wonderful series. It fits more into the YA and fantasy genres but I believe it can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone. Let me know what you think in the comments and thanks so much for visiting our blog.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Legion by Julie Kagawa

Summary: The legions are about to be unleashed, and no human, rogue dragon or former dragon slayer can stand against the coming horde.

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all–dragons do not suffer human emotions–let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she’s capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante–the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.

Review: So this one’s probably going to be a little short because I just want to read the last book.
Like the last book (see my review here), Legion had a lot more forward momentum than the beginning of the series. Tons of action and it really felt like the story’s progressing quickly and in the right direction. One of the things I loved about this book was the protagonists finally starting to convince members of Talon and St. George to question the beliefs each organization has instilled in them. Don’t get me wrong, everyone didn’t suddenly decide to get along but a few have made an attempt to see other points of view and it makes me hopeful for where the series will go from here.
Ember once again had some really great character development. I mentioned in my review of the first book (read it here) that Ember’s human side and her dragon side were kind of at odds and it’s continued that way since. In this book, Ember finally realizes that while they are different aspects of her personality they’re still the same. They’re both Ember and it’s okay that they’re different, she can still be both. Her realizing this also led to a big decision in her love life so the love triangle is officially over!
I won’t tell you who she picked. It wasn’t who I initially wanted her to end up with but I ended up being really happy with the way it turned out anyway.
I’m not going to talk too much about the men in the story since my thoughts on them haven’t really changed since the last book. I keep liking Garret more and more. He’s also had some really great character development and he has flaws but is mostly just a really kind person.
I still love pretty much everything about Riley and Dante still drives me nuts. I think the only difference in my feelings for Dante was that I’ve lost hope for his redemption. I always figured Ember might find a way to make him see Talon for what it really is but at this point I think he’s too far gone to see reason.
Overall I loved this book and I can’t wait to see how the series ends. I’d recommend this series to pretty much anyone, but it’s definitely targeted more towards YA and fantasy. Let me know what you think in the comments and as always, thanks for reading.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Soldier by Julie Kagawa

Summary: The price of freedom is everything.

When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side.

As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rises.

Review:

I. Am. SO. Mad.
But I can’t really talk about it because spoilers. Suffice it to say, the ending was extremely suspenseful, then suddenly everything seems fine and it’s going to end relatively happy, then at the very last second it’s NOT OKAY and I’m texting Amanda freaking out.
Overall, this has been my favorite book of the series so far. There were conflicts in the first two books (see my reviews here and here) but they’ve been smaller; you can tell it’s slowly leading up to one big conflict and it finally reached that point in this book. We also get to see the story from four different points of view which was partly nice and partly annoying. Nice because we got to see different sides of the conflict but annoying because it would switch after mini-cliffhangers so I would just be sitting there trying to focus but going, “But what’s happening to that other character right now!?”
Speaking of characters, I’ll start with Ember. She’s grown so much since the first book in good ways and bad. For most of the book, Ember is suffering from ptsd after the events from the second book and I was really happy about it. I don’t mean to sound like I’m glad she’s suffering but I get a little sick of books that involve war and violence where the characters just go along without any emotional trauma. It’s war. Of course she’s going to be affected by the things she’s seen and done. During the second book, everything’s happening so fast that she doesn’t really have time to process anything and now it’s hitting her all at once. She’s seen humans and dragons murdered in front of her, she’s killed people, seen the skin of a dragon no older than her hanging on a wall. And don’t take it less seriously because it’s a dragon. Just picture for a second, a child’s skin hanging on someone’s wall like a trophy; because that’s what it means to Ember. I just can’t adequately explain how much I appreciated a book like this showing that sort of emotional trauma and doing it really well.
Ember’s brother, Dante, drives me freaking nuts. He’s completely loyal to Talon to the point where he’s betrayed Ember more than once. It was really good to see his side of things throughout this book. My problem is that everytime Talon tells him to do something that seems wrong to him he justifies it saying, “Well, Talon knows what it’s doing. This is for the good of the organization.” YOU’RE KILLING PEOPLE. YOU KNOW THIS IS WRONG. Everytime he does it it just makes me hate him a little bit more.
I’m going to group Garret and Riley together because my thoughts on them are pretty much the same. The love triangle is back! I’m mildly annoyed about it but I like both characters enough that I’m tolerating it. They’re both amazing in such different ways that I continue to enjoy getting to know them better. Especially Garret since we got to see flashbacks from throughout his life during this book and it helped me understand his character a lot better.
I loved this book and absolutely can’t wait to see what happens in Legion. I’d absolutely recommend this book to anyone who likes YA or fantasy (or anyone else because it’s really good and you should just get out of your comfort zone). Amanda hasn’t read it yet so please tell me your thoughts in the comments. I need someone to freak out over it with. Thanks so much for reading.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Rogue by Julie Kagawa

Summary: From the limitless imagination of bestselling author Julie Kagawa comes the next fantastic adventure in the Talon Saga.

Deserter. Traitor. Rogue.

Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant. 

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George. 

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?

Review: First things first: this review will be a little shorter than usual because most of my thoughts on this book are similar to my thoughts on the first book. (You can read my review of Talon here.) Once again Julie Kagawa wrote a fun, suspenseful, fast-paced book that kept me hooked all the way through. This book had a lot more action than the first, which I enjoyed immensely. I find reading action scenes can sometimes be a little tedious since it can be hard to visualize certain things but Kagawa does it in a way that I can picture really well; which is particularly impressive when you consider many of the fight scenes involve literal dragons.
Book 1 ended with Ember and Garret realizing their respective organizations are corrupt and turning their backs on them. In this book, you get to see them dealing with the various consequences of that choice and coming to terms with the serious life change it created. Mainly it means they’re both going to be on the run for the rest of their lives.
Ember especially didn’t think this part through as much when she decided to go rogue but she handled the pressure relatively well. I enjoyed seeing her grow a bit more throughout this book. She still had a few impulsive, immature moments but she’s headed in the right direction and I can’t wait to see how she develops through the rest of the series.
I also liked getting to see from the perspective of someone inside Talon. Personally I love when I know more than the characters do and this way I got to see things from both sides of the conflict.
Overall this was a really great book with a fast-pace and an interesting storyline. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA or fantasy. As always, thanks for visiting for blog and please tell me your own thoughts and opinions in the comments.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Summary: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey—and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him—and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Review: I loved this book when it first came out in 2014 but for some reason I never caught up after the second book. Now that the fifth and final book just came out I’ll be reading and reviewing the entire series.
I’ll start with the basics. I LOVE dragons. Always have, always will. It’s an autobuy topic for me so I’ve read a lot of books about dragons. You’d think I’d get sick of them but somehow authors keep managing to surprise me. In this series, centuries ago when dragons were hunted near to extinction, they learned to become human and now hide among us, still hunted by the Order of St. George, an organization descended from dragon slayers.
Dragons but it still takes place in our world? YES PLEASE. Since dragons can shift between their dragon and human forms, they’re able to blend into human society. Over time this allowed them to gain positions of power to build Talon into an organization that could actually threaten humanity. At first we only see how it directly affects Ember and Dante. It seems overbearing and rigid in it’s control over dragonkind but you can sort of understand their reasons; they remember a time when dragons were ruthlessly hunted and killed and they want to protect their species. Throughout the book though, you learn more and more about what Talon doesn’t tell it’s members. Terrible secrets that make Ember question everything she’s been taught her entire life.
The Order of St. George is basically the same. Two groups that have been enemies for centuries and are on completely opposite sides of this conflict, but they operate in the same ways. They control their members to an insane degree and have no tolerance for anyone being even slightly less than perfect. If their own members go against them, they kill them without question. I enjoyed seeing the parallels between the two groups.
Ember is a 16-year-old hatchling, sent to California with her brother for the next step in their education; observe, assimilate, blend in. They’ve been holed up in the desert with Talon their whole lives and now it’s time for them to learn to act like humans. This part was actually pretty funny because they’ve been taught about humans but you can only teach so much so some of their interactions with their new friends are very awkward. Ember takes to human life really quickly. She loves hanging out with her friends, surfing, and just being a teenager. She knows she’s not supposed to. She’s been taught that dragons aren’t supposed to feel emotions the way humans do. Humans are the inferior species and they don’t matter. But Ember does feel these emotions, she cares about her human friends and even falls in love. I really liked watching Ember as she learned about the organization that raised her as she slowly comes to realize that there is nothing wrong with her, she’s just been lied to.
Garret also had some great character development and I loved that it mostly paralleled Ember’s. They both learn that the “right side” of the war isn’t what they thought it was and that there’s more to their enemy than they were told. This was even harder for Garret to go through because he’s always believed that dragons were evil creatures. Devoid of emotion or anything resembling humanity. Until he meets Ember, he’s killed dragons mercilessly, and it was difficult to watch his entire worldview crumble.
Riley is the third POV we see in this book. He’s a rogue dragon on the run from both Talon and St. George who tries to show Ember the truth about Talon so she’ll run from the organization with him. Riley is my favorite. He tries to show this carefree, bad boy demeanor but as the story progresses you see the side of him that risks his life for others and cares deeply about Ember.
Which brings me to the always unnecessary YA love triangle. I won’t rant again about how much I hate them but I will say one thing about this triangle in particular. The only reason I didn’t throw the book across the room in frustration was Ember’s side of it. There’s two separate parts of her, dragon and human; the dragon is more animalistic and is at odds with the human emotions she begins to feel. It’s not so much one girl loving two guys as a human girl loving a human boy and a dragon loving a dragon. You can see very clearly how these different parts of her are pulling her in two different directions. The reasoning behind it made me tolerate this love triangle more than I usually do.
Overall I loved this book. It’s fast paced, funny and suspenseful. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA or fantasy. As always, thanks for visiting our blog and please share your thoughts in the comments.

-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine & Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Sorry I’ve been slacking on reviews. To make up for the past three months of barely reading (seriously, four books in April, ZERO in May, and three in June), I’ve spent the last two weeks reading constantly and not really stopping for anything. So in the next few days I’ll try to write a bunch in between books.
One thing I’ve noticed about the more than thirty books I borrowed from the library is that there’s quite a few that have very similar storylines. In order to consolidate the number of reviews I need to write, I’m going to do something a little different and group some of the books together and compare them instead.
For this first review I’m comparing two middle-grade books about princesses: The Two Princess of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine and Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Two Princesses of Bamarre Summary: When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy.

Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other.

The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

Princess Ben Summary: “My gown suited me as well as I could ever hope, though I could not but envy the young ladies who would attract the honest compliments of the night. My bodice did not plunge as dramatically as some, and no man–no man I would ever want to meet, surely–could fit his hands round my waist. What I lacked in beauty I would simply have to earn with charm…”
Benevolence is not your typical princess–and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale.

With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?

Plot:
I loved both plots equally. In Two Princesses, shy and timid Princess Addie has to go on a quest to save her sister. There’s magic, dragons, trolls, fairies, etc. I loved the way this was executed. Since it’s not a terribly long book, you might think too much information was crammed into it but Levine makes everything work together wonderfully. With the help of her Seven-League boots, Addie can move between different sections of the kingdom instantly and encounters tons of different creatures. Many of them, (trolls, specters, gryphons) are simply monsters but I was happily surprised to find the dragon was intelligent and had a complex personality. She was still evil, but the depth she gave to the story was fantastic. Though the story revolves around Addie, the secondary characters were well rounded and I felt like I knew them just as well as I knew Addie.

In Princess Ben, Benevolence must overcome unforeseen circumstances to save herself and her country. There’s magic, dragons, a somewhat evil queen, a war with neighboring country Drachensbett, etc. This was also executed fairly well and I enjoyed the little bits of history of Montagne that we were given. I also enjoyed the fact that the love interest started out as the enemy. I love when misunderstood characters are simply that: misunderstood. That probably stems from my long-standing love of Beauty and the Beast.

The Heroines:
I adored Princess Addie. At first I thought I wouldn’t because of how timid she was. Terrified of everything, she hardly ever left the castle and when she did, she stayed on castle grounds. I was expecting to be annoyed by her, but when her sister’s life is in danger, Addie pushes back her fears in order to save her. She doesn’t suddenly become fearless, but she doesn’t let her fears control her either and by the end of the story she comes to realize that some of her fears (not all of them) aren’t as scary as she thought they were. I loved watching Addie grow into herself and couldn’t help but admire her strength and resolve.

Princess Ben, quite frankly, annoyed the crap out of me for most of the book. I understand she’s young and I understand her parents didn’t raise her to act like a princess, but from what we learned of her parents I would have expected her to be a lot more mature than she was. She was petty and spiteful and made the same mistakes over and over again. No matter how many bad things happened, she never grew up or took responsibility until she became a prisoner of Drachensbett. After that, I liked her much better and she became someone I could relate to, even though she was still a little impulsive and stubborn.

Overall:
Two Princesses was a quick, fun read that I enjoyed immensely. Everything tied together to make an exciting, heartfelt story that I couldn’t put down.
I also loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting and was a little bittersweet, but I was glad there wasn’t a random and improbable miracle to make everything end perfectly. Even though I love reading about magic and fairytales, I also believe magic should have limits and while I want every book to have a happily ever after, I don’t particularly like when they become completely unrealistic.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales and strong, smart heroines.

Princess Ben didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The first half was slow and I didn’t like the protagonist at all. Murdock made up for it in the second half where the pace picked up and it became a story I couldn’t put down but I still can’t forget the fact I almost put it down in the beginning. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes fairytales, but if you’re the type of reader that needs a fast-paced book to hold your attention, this might not be the book for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on either of these books and what you think of this joint review. Should I do another like this or stick to regular reviews?
-Antonia.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Cover Trends I Like/Dislike

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s prompt is top ten cover trends you like or dislike most. I’ve decided to do a mix of both.

 

Cover Trends I Like

1. Pretty Dresses-

When it comes to clothes and shoes, I am such a girly-girl. I love wearing dresses and wish I ever had occasions to wear the beautiful ballgowns and evening dresses I see so often on book covers.

ruby red bewitching alex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Dark with a Splash of Color- 

I don’t know what it is about these covers that intrigues me, but I think the contrast between the dark or gray-scale and that pop of color is striking.

dark visions city of ahses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Dragons-

I’ve always been fascinated by dragons and seeing one on a book will make me instantly pick it up and read the description.

Eon sanctuary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. A Simple, Title-Only Cover-
It doesn’t have to be completely blank, but covers that only have a simple design around the title make me want to know what the book’s about since the cover doesn’t tell me anything.
eternity curetfios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. One Object that Connects to the Book-
It’s easy for me to imagine what the characters look like and my vision of them doesn’t usually match how they look on the cover. I love when, instead of showing the main character(s), a cover has a design of an object that’s important to the books plot.
demon kingscarlet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Trends I Dislike

6. Partial Faces-

I really just don’t understand this trend at all. Whether its book covers, movie posters, selfies, etc. What’s the point in showing half a face?
deliriumvampire-diaries-the-return-nightfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Cartoons-
I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a children’s book when I’m not in the children’s section. (Note: I have nothing against Rainbow Rowell or these books. I’ve heard good things about them, I just couldn’t think of any other cartoon covers off the top of my head.)
eleanor & parkfangirl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Rainbow or Clashing Colors-
I find covers with tons of colors or with colors that don’t work well together (or even just one color that I don’t like) distracting.
little miss redperks of

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Busy Covers-
If there’s too much going on, I feel like the book is going to be chaotic. When I’m trying to scan shelves quickly, I don’t want to have to take five minutes to figure out what’s on the cover. Also, if the title font is hard to read. I know fancy fonts are pretty, but if I can’t read it easily it sort of defeats the purpose.
dreams of gods and monstersdash and lily

Eona by Alison Goodman

Goodreads Summary: Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled “Emperor” Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power – and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .
Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create.

I just finished reading Eona by Alison Goodman and, just like Eon, I couldn’t put it down. Eona continuously surprised me. I honestly couldn’t guess what would happen next and every time I thought the characters were safe, the next page I was scared for their lives again.
I really liked these books. I thought the characters were built up well. Eona pissed me off a lot in the first book. She was trying so hard to do what was expected of her but she was constantly doing the wrong thing. It was wicked aggravating. During the second book, she FINALLY steps up and doesn’t mess up every five seconds. She starts listening to her instincts more instead of always doing what everyone tells her to do. She’s also finally learning how to be a girl and I loved seeing her grow into herself.
I adore Kygo. Mostly. He can be irritating at times but usually just when he’s doing something he HAS to do as emperor. Eona might not like it, but he is the emperor. He doesn’t always have a choice. As (understandably) annoying as he can be, I still love him. He genuinely wants what’s best for his people and he makes the right choice in the end.
I still love Dela and Ryko. Dela is just fantastic no matter what she’s doing. Ryko drove me a little nuts every time he and Eona were around each other. He was so mean to her, but, like with Kygo, I understood why so I can’t really be mad at him.
What I couldn’t stand about this book was Eona and Ido’s relationship. I hate him. He’s an asshole. He will never stop being an asshole. I understand he was necessary for teaching Eona how to use her dragon, but he made me so angry, especially at the end. Every time he opened his mouth I just wanted to punch him.
The end of the book was crazy. So much was happening all at one time and I really just wanted to cry. In a mostly good way.
I really like these books. They’re fast-paced and suspenseful. They have action, betrayal and love. I would recommend them to anyone who liked fantasy books and maybe even if you don’t. Amanda’s not usually a big fan of fantasy but she really liked them so, in this case, don’t judge a book by its genre.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!