Quintana of Charyn | Review

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Quintana of Charyn (The Lumatere Chronicles #3) by Melina Marchetta

The third book in The Lumatere Chronicles picks up where Froi of the Exiles left off, with a pregnant Quintana hidden, Froi nursing his wounds after being left for dead, Finnikin and Isaboe plotting against Gargarin, and Lucian starting to become the leader the Monts need.

This entire series has just escalated and broadened throughout. We started with just Finnikin and his quest to break the curse on Lumatere, and we’re ending with Quintana and Froi fighting to take back Charyn, a country we hated in the first book.

The characters are all lovely and wonderful, complex and layered. Some of them are rash and impatient, others are stoic with hidden passions, and there are a lot of hurt feelings and recovery. I love getting multiple characters’ perspectives, and that the side characters are at times more interesting than the mains. Who knew I’d love Lucian and Phaedra’s story so much?

tumblr_m81txjrE7Y1r3ibgko1_1280While Quintana isn’t my favorite character, and being in her head can at times be too much to handle, she definitely has a lot of interesting and captivating things about her, and you can’t help but wish her happiness.

I loved the overall growth of the characters throughout the series, whether it was Isaboe going from the feisty novice Evangelin to the Queen Isaboe who offers her hated neighbors help; the street rat Froi to the patient and respected Dafar of Abroi; or a Finnikin who’d given up hope to the queen’s consort trying to do the right thing by his people and his queen.

The plot isn’t as strong as it was in the first two installments, but the characters are put through a lot more emotional and internal dilemmas, and they struggle with where they belong and who they’re meant to be. Heavy, beautiful stuff, but slower to read at times. There are still some pretty cool action sequences (a particular one on ice sticks out in my mind), and some nuggets of information are dropped to broaden the story even more, but the best part is how the story and all the plotlines were wrapped up. It didn’t feel cheap, it felt right.

The Lumatere Chronicles doesn’t feel like YA, and it’s a beautiful, epic fantasy of love, faith, acceptance, growth, and hope.

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Morning Star | Review

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Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

OMG. All the feels.

I hate ending series because I’m overcome with an emptiness, knowing there’s no more. And Morning Star was no different.

I discovered the Red Rising series last year on a lucky ‘buy 2 get 1 free’ whim, and fell in love with it immediately. It’s the story of a corrupt futuristic society, where people are born into a “color,” which is arranged in a hierarchal pyramid with Reds at the bottom and Golds at the top. Each color has a specific role in society; the Reds are the slave miners, the Golds the gods. Darrow is a Red in the mines of Mars and knows nothing of the world above him until his wife’s death sets off a chain of events that has him striving to “break the chains”. And break them he does.

pyramid-allcolorsThe first book is about Darrow’s infiltration of the Gold society, a Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones style school where he learns combat techniques and how to be a leader. Golden Son, the second book, is when his arrogance gets the best of him, and his usage of his friends to further his own goals backfires. Morning Star, the finale, is about Darrow fighting back from the ashes of his mistakes to finally become a good leader.

The scale of the books keeps getting bigger: Red Rising is set in the Institute on Mars; Golden Son deals with Mars as a whole and the space around it; Morning Star goes from Earth’s Moon (Luna) to the moons of Saturn and is an all out war.

Unlike the typical dystopian trilogy, which tends to end in the rebellion turning into war, Brown explores the aftermath and effects of that war on the people and the places involved. Darrow is haunted by the “what happens after we win” question throughout, unsure what to do and how to be the leader the lowColors believe him to be. How to break the pyramid, the prejudices, the ingrained beliefs.

One of the strongest things about Morning Star isn’t the epic space battles – which are pretty epic indeed, always surprising me – but the side characters. While they’ve been developed over the previous two books to some degree, Morning Star really lets them shine. We see redemption, heartbreak, love, and strength, and each character holds their own. The women in particular have really grown and aren’t the foils they were in Red Rising, but become leaders and symbols of strength and intelligence.

imgresWhile the first hundred pages or so were slow, bringing the reader and Darrow back into the world after a year’s absence (in both cases), the last 300 were tense, heartbreaking, and cathartic. The ending shocker caught me off guard, but it wasn’t hard to figure it out after that initial surprise, though it was still wonderfully executed and a smart move by Darrow and Brown.

Influenced by Shakespeare, Roman history, Star Wars, and Dune, among others, the Red Rising series is smart, dark, complex, and beautiful.

I love the growth of Darrow from a small Red to a humbled leader of no color, understanding what it means to be a leader, what it means to follow your heart, what it means to be a man.

Although it’s not perfect, I love this series with all my heart, and I’m sad to have to let it go. The great thing about books, however, is they’re always there for me to revisit, and I think I’ll be revisiting the world of Red Rising for some time to come.

5 stars

The Heir | Review

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The Heir (The Selection #4) by Kiera Cass

Roughly 20 years after the events of The Selection, Princess Eadlyn, the first female heir to the throne in Illea, must go through her own Selection, but for reasons other than finding a husband.

King Maxon changed a lot when he ascended the throne, including the dissolvement of the caste system that had been in place. Although the people were happy about it at the time, now they’re lost and unhappy, and blaming the palace.

Princess Eadlyn, born just a few minutes before her twin brother Aaron, has a heavy weight on her shoulders. Her parents changed the rules, allowing her to become Queen, but she is a resentful, narcissistic brat who refuses to let anyone in her world. Now, to help her parents distract the people, she must court 35 strange gentlemen and pretend she’s falling in love.

Except Eadlyn sucks. Seriously. A lot of people complain about America in the first three Selection books, but Eadlyn is so much worse. She’s closed-off, spoiled, and cold. Her country doesn’t connect with her or respect her, she’s cruel at times to the boys, and she’s very, very selfish. While listening to her whine on my commute home from teaching teenagers, I found myself yelling at her to grow up and stop being a bratty bitch.

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Having heard a similar complaint from many readers, I listened to the audiobook in hopes her brattiness would be somewhat less, but I was disappointed. The narrator did a good job with her – she reminded me of a mix between Jasmine, Ariel, and Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars – but her portrayal of the guys did anything but make me swoon. And I used to find Maxon so dreamy… well, sort of.

I liked seeing Maxon and America as adults, as King and Queen, and still so deeply in love. Without the love triangle of the first three, America is even likeable!

I love the boys (even if Eadlyn treats them like crap); they were definitely the best thing about this installment. They’re personable and creative, though I wish some of them were developed past what Eadlyn sees at face value.

Throughout the course of reading, I was under the impression this was only going to be a one book spinoff, so the ending cliffhanger took me by surprise. I kept waiting for things to be wrapped up, for Eadlyn to choose a winner, but no such luck. I guess I’ll have to wait for The Crown to find out which of my predictions comes out correct.

This book seems to be about Eadlyn’s stubborness to change and her struggles with accepting her role and learning to allow others in, but it isn’t until the last chapter that she realizes it, that she starts to accept it, and hopefully The Crown will bring her growth. Because right now, I don’t want her as Queen either.

I felt about The Heir the same way I felt about The Selection: it’s fluffy, with annoying but manageable main characters and a cute love story, and I couldn’t put it down.

Nimona | Review

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

I was first introduced to Nimona at YallFest, when my group of BookTube friends and I put together a Hunger Games challenge, where we pitted different book characters against one another and discussed who would win. Nimona made it to the Quarter Quell, and almost won. After having finally read the graphic novel, I’m confident in saying I think she’d win the entire thing.


Nimona is a shapeshifting young girl who teams up with the resident supervillain, Lord Ballister Blackheart, because she wants to kick some ass. She’s impulsive, brash, and quick to kill, but she’s also brave and smart and becomes what he needs to take down the group who claims to be the kingdom’s protectors, including his former best friend-turned nemesis, Ambrosius Goldenloin.

nim53_0I love Nimona. She’s funny, richly developed, and has an interesting yet vague backstory. She’s wild, has a devil-may-care attitude, and can shapeshift! Blackheart and Goldenloin challenge the typical ideas of heroes vs villains in the same way Gru and Megamind do, and I love the flipped stereotype.

Nimona began as a web comic, with the story and art both done by Noelle Stevenson, and it’s both a well crafted story and comic, and the art style definitely suits the story.

Dragons! Villains! Shapeshifting! Badass characters! Nimona is perfectly wonderful.

4.5 stars