Air Awakens: The Complete Series by Elise Kova

GoodReads Summary:
Air Awakens
A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all–the Crown Prince Aldrik–she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
Fire Falling
Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?
Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?
Earth’s End
A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.
Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.
Water’s Wrath
Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.
The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.
Crystal Crowned
Long live Solaris.
One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?
Air Awakens Complete Digital Boxed Set (Books 1-5):

Review:
I’m going to do this as a series review because I’m reading it on my Kindle as a ‘boxed set’ so it’s basically like one GIANT ebook. So I’m going to just write some brief thoughts I had during each book and then do an overall how I felt about the series kind of idea. Also! This is a reread for me. I read this series about a year ago and LOVED it. So I’m rereading it because when Antonia finally started it, I really wanted to revisit this world

Air Awakens

Some thoughts while reading:

I literally wrote on GoodReads, “UGH, what a way to end the first book.” Because it’s so so true. The ending is killer. I also wrote, “I LOVE Vhalla. She’s a timid turned fierce girl who just wanted to work in the library. I’m usually kind of over the whole ‘woah I’m magical’ trope, but Kova does it well. I love the magic system in this series. It’s unique and interesting.”

Some quotes:

“I’m simply learning where I’m meant to be.” It was the only response because it was the truth.”

“‘Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other’s existence.’”

“He’s a much better a person than I’ve heard people give him credit for. He’s worth a lot more than many of the people in this room, and it’s not just because of the crown on his head.” She looked back at the Emperor. “He wanted to help. If I am guilty of anything, it was putting him in a position where he felt compelled to do so.”

“She would cut it away. She would cut away the anger, the pain, and the frustration. She’d cut and cut until she was sculpted into something better, something stronger. They wanted to kill her, so this Vhalla would die, she resolved, and a new Vhalla would be born from her ashes.”

Fire Falling

Some thoughts while reading:

I LOVE Fritz, Larel, and Vhalla’s friendship. They make me laugh and keep me entertained. They’re likable and Kova really makes me care about them. They’re great friends to Vhalla even when she thinks she doesn’t deserve it. I love watching them each develop but also develop together as a group of friends.
Slow burn romance is always good. Though the hot and cold, back and forth because he has to put on a show for the world was slightly annoying. I love their romance anyway. It’s slow and satisfying following them as they get to know all the deep dark things about each other.
The Golden Guard, Prince Baldair’s guards, were funny and kind to Vhalla. I loved their scenes.
Less about the plot. More about story progression and character development. We’re following the characters as they travel with the army. But the characters are training to fight with fists and magic, learning more about each other and themselves.
WHY DID YOU DO THAT. HOW COULD HAVE LET THIS HAPPEN ELISE KOVA.
I’m not sure how but Kova has broken my heart and then in the last pages of Fire Falling, broken it AGAIN.

Some quotes:

“There was something severed and rough about her, something tainted and, yet, at the same time those jagged pieces were the makings of something fearsome. She’d wanted to become someone the Senate would fear. Why not shatter the sky?”

“Magic, she was discovering, was like poetry. Once you understood the logic, the meter, the rhyme behind it, you could embellish upon it and make it your own.”

“Even something very small can cast a large shadow when it is close to the sun.”
“Unfortunately for them, one couldn’t break what was already broken.”

“You’re not someone to live in darkness or sorrow.” Larel reclined on the bed, inviting Vhalla to do the same. “You’re a light that can shine brighter than even the sun.”

Earth’s End

Some thoughts while reading:

Already so much more action. We’re finally getting into the thick of it. Vhalla is so fierce and really coming into her powers. In the fighting scenes, it’s so clear how much she’s grown from the timid girl in the library until now.
A slight love triangle in a yicky kind of way.
The emperor is TRASH.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO ME LIKE THIS ELISE KOVA TWO BOOKS IN A ROW.

Some quotes:

“I told you this would never be easy, I warned you. I begged you to spare my heart if you weren’t ready for this fight.”

“Truthfully, I think we both wanted the same thing: forgetfulness of the holes in our hearts left by other people.”

““I was raised in a world where I had thousands of friends, each one waiting for me on a shelf every day. While you practiced with the bow or sword, I read. The Imperial Library houses my confidants, and I spent nearly a decade hanging onto their every word. I know them well, and if you will stop questioning me, I will be so kind to impart their secrets to you.”

Water’s Wrath

Some thoughts while reading:

Vhalla what is you doing girllll?
Yaaas, Jax. He’s vulgar and entertaining but secretly a soft boy.
I’ll forever love Mohned for being a mentor to Vhalla. He did his best for her and I just love him.
I really love that Larel still plays her own special part in the story.
Vhalla’s “magic sight” is a little corny.
HOW DOES KOVA MAKE ME CRY IN EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE BOOKS SO FAR?! MY FRAGILE HEART CANT HANDLE THIS.
I like the northern princess, Sehra, she knows so much more than she’s letting on. I’m interested to see her role in the final book.

Some quotes:

“The fire burned too hot, and we didn’t notice until it consumed everything.”

“But never lose faith, never lose your beautiful heart. Don’t let them win, those wicked men and women who would do anything to cage you or kill you.”

“Love was bravery and-perhaps most importantly-forgiveness.”

“You can’t buy peace with war.”

Crystal Crowned

Some thoughts while reading:

How could you do this to Daniel? He got the short end of the stick again and again.
Even though the circumstances are pretty awful. I love the friend group (despite those that are missing). Jax is as vulgar as ever, Fritz is a cinnamon roll and I love him, Elecia is sassy and all sharp edges and Vhalla and Aldrik are perfect as usual. But all of them together is funny and sassy and full of love.
Vhalla seeing her childhood home and her father was so sweet and heartwarming. It was wonderful to see this sweet innocent moment amidst the chaos.
I really appreciate that Vhalla isn’t just suddenly good at leading. She’s learning from Aldrik. And while she does have people skills and good ideas, she still takes the time to watch him and learn from his example. She also doesn’t hesitate to ask questions when she’s unsure.
AGAIN WITH THE CRYING.

Some quotes:

“I crave peace, and I fear that I am a creature whose fate is written in bloodshed.”

“I suppose it’s a good thing I like books more than most people,” Vhalla muttered.

“You are trapped in a vortex. Time and again, you will repeat your fate dutifully. If we cannot change fate itself and save our world.”

“You have hopes that no one else would allow themselves to even dream of.”

“Every chance worth taking will make you a little scared. That means you’re taking a risk. And where there is risk, there is reward.”

“To kill a monster, you must become one yourself.”

Overall thoughts

I still adored this series. I still cried my eyes out at each of the heart-wrenching moments Kova wrote.
I really really enjoyed the seeds that Kova planted to lay the foundation for the next series (starting with Vortex Visions which I will be starting ASAP.)
I think the ending was perfect especially with what I said above. The fact that there’s another series and we’re going to see more of this world I think the way Crystal Crowned ended was excellent. It left me wanting more where I want to neglect all the other books I need to read and just go right to Vortex Visions.
Finally, I loved this series. I love these characters. The relationships are amazing. There is diversity and elemental magic and war and all of the things that make an incredible story. If you haven’t read these books please go do so now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Girl Who Dared Series by Bella Forrest

Summary:
How do you fight an enemy when they’re inside your mind?
A gargantuan glass-walled tower looms over a deadly wilderness. They say it’s all that’s left.
The Tower’s survival is humanity’s survival, and each must serve it faithfully…
Twenty-year-old Liana Castell must be careful what she thinks. Her life is defined by the number on her wristband — a rating out of ten awarded based on her usefulness and loyalty to the Tower, and monitored by a device in her skull. A device that reports forbidden thoughts.
Liana is currently a four, the lowest possible acceptable score, and despite her parents’ perfect scores of ten, she struggles to increase it. Rebellious ideas come all too easily, and resentfulness seems part of her being. She is an overseer-in-training, but her future will be dark if she cannot raise her worth…
Threes require drug treatment.
Twos are isolated.
Ones disappear.
When Liana’s worst nightmare comes to pass and she drops to a three, desperation spurs her down a path few dare to tread. A chance encounter with a cocky young man whose shockingly dissident attitude toward the Tower couldn’t possibly have earned him the perfect “ten” on his wrist, sets her on a trail to save herself–even at the risk of dropping lower.
Stalking the young man seemed like a simple enough task, but after events take an unexpected twist, Liana finds herself taking a treacherous dive into the darkest depths of the Tower… and the decades’ old secrets buried within.
In a society where free thinking can make you a criminal, one girl dares to try…
An unforgettable tale brimming with suspense, mystery and romance – The Girl Who Dared to Think will thrill fans of The Gender Game , Divergent & The Hunger Games.

Review:
The last book in this series (book seven) came out recently and I’ve been putting off reading it, mostly just because I wasn’t ready for the adventure to be over. Part of me right now wishes that I hadn’t decided to read it today on this 8 hour car ride because I’m really sick of my husband asking me if I’m okay when he realizes that I’m balling my eyes out and I have to explain to him (again) that I’m crying because of this book. I’m going to review this whole series in one post because this is a series I found on my kindle while I was taking a break from writing reviews, but it’s an amazing series that everyone should read. The Girl Who Dared series is one that will make you laugh and cry. It’s full of characters that will frustrate you, but also you will have to admire them for all the things that they deal with.
Let’s start with our main character, Liana. At the beginning we see Liana struggling with life inside the tower, to the point where she has to go to medica (their version of the doctor) and essentially get medication for depression that completely changed her as a person. Living with her parents who are forever disappointed in her and wishing her brother hadn’t moved departments and left her alone with them she can’t seem to get it together and do better. But the further we get into the story we realize that Liana isn’t in the wrong like she thinks she is. We learn that life in the tower isn’t what it was meant to be and everything isn’t fine and dandy like those in charge would like you to think. When this series opens, Liana seems to get find herself in bad situations all the time. Things just seem to happen to her rather than her making things happen. Even though she is trying to do better by everyone else’s standards, she still feels like she’s failing, until she realizes some important things. Liana is my favorite because she developed the most as a character throughout these books. She went from being a girl who couldn’t seem to keep her life together and trouble just fell into her lap to a woman that’s confident and fearless and an amazing leader. Some of this is absolutely due to the people around her. We get to meet some interesting people during this story and when Liana first meets them, it’s not under the best circumstances. but regardless of all of that, they become their own sort of family.
I love this little squad so much. I’m not going to name any names because they’re not a little squad from the start and it takes some time to get to where they end up but it’s worth the wait. They all compliment one another so well. Where some aren’t skilled, the others are. Each member of their makeshift family has an essential role to play in their survival. They also just work so well together. They do their best to lift one another when they’re feeling down, they say all the right things to inspire confidence and the desire to continue on regardless of the latest setback or horrible thing. It certainly takes them a few books to get to this well-oiled machine that they are in the final book, but that’s one of the things I loved about the story, watching these characters develop into their best selves was so enjoyable. There’s realistic and hilarious and traumatizing development with all of the characters and it’s just one of the many things that made this series as great as it is.
Another thing that made this series so fantastic was the actual story. The author, Bella Forrest, has become one of my favorite authors in the last year or so since I’ve discovered her books. The Girl Who Dared series is based in a futuristic world that she’s already written another series in (The Gender Game.) The worlds basically unrecognizable because of a long-ago war. This series was another group of “survivors” in this desolate world who believe that they only survive because of the tower they live in. They’re all led to believe that life outside the tower isn’t possible. The world that Bella Forrest has created inside the tower is so incredibly intricate. I would love to get inside her head just to see what other ideas she has in there that she isn’t sharing with us (she has like four other series that she’s written / still writing). So along with the crazy story that is life inside the tower, there are the details that just make the story better. I’m going to try to explain what I mean without giving anything away. The characters in this story are essentially fighting rebels within the tower that most people don’t even know exist. Because of this, there are quite a few really screwed up things that happen (from near deaths to actual deaths to learning that everything they’ve always been told is a lie), Forrest goes the extra mile to show her characters dealing with these horrible life events and what comes after them. Too many stories have terrible things happen to their characters and then their just fine a few days later as if nothing happened. That’s not how these books work, the characters deal with their traumas and struggles realistically. Liana not being able to feel anything or focus or really have any desire to get out of bed or continue on with their mission, and if there’s no time for the characters to deal with their emotions appropriately, Forrest shows the thought process behind it and the characters supporting one another through it. I just thought this whole series was written really well with characters that were realistic in their trials and tribulations even in a world so foreign from the one we live in today.
I could honestly go on and on and on saying wonderful things about The Girl Who Dared series because it was just that good (which yes, is how I feel about all of Bella Forrest’s books.) But I’ll stop while I’m ahead because I really don’t want to give too many details away because I would like anyone and everyone to read these books. I can say that I enjoyed getting lost in this uniquely creative story that’s full of so many extra little details that just make the story that much better. Forrest has really gone the extra mile to make her story something relatable even though the world is nothing like the world we know now, but just similar enough that we could see how today’s world could end up at that point. Please, go read these books so that you understand what I’m saying. Also so that you love these characters as much as I do and cry huge ridiculous tears while reading the last book only to find out that we were lied to and tricked. So please read them and feel the emotions that I’m currently feeling and can accept that the story of these characters that I’ve fallen so in love with is actually over.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.