- Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Book Description: For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain — time enough for their magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophecy has spoken of a union that will set the trolls free, and when Cécile is stolen away to fulfill it, she enters a world that is both magical and deadly. Cécile has only one goal after being bonded to the prince of the trolls: escape. Except while awaiting the perfect opportunity, she discovers there is more to the mysterious crown prince than anyone realizes. As rebellion brews and the political games escalate, Cécile becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes the hope of a people — someone who has the power to change Trollus forever.
My Take: This was my first book by this author and I was pleasantly surprised. The characters were likable, the description of Trollus and the magic system was great. I do think Cécile and Tristan’s relationship was a little…not rushed, per se, but just sort of disengenous. But I did find myself rooting for them. The book had some great scenes: Cécile returning to Trollus for Tristan was my favorite. The ending was a medium-ish cliffhanger and I’m excited to start the next book in this series.
2. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout
Book Description: A Maiden…Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers. A Duty…The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden. A Kingdom…Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.
My Take: It took me a while to get into this book. The first 50 pages were meh because it felt like an info-dump, but once the plot got moving it was a real page-turner. I thought the plot twist was honestly quite predictable. Hawke/ Casteel was an okay character, kind of an ass sometimes though. I still am a little salty about Rylan. Poppy was strong and not a damsel-in-distress,which I appreciated, but sort of stupid. The magic system and the whole Ascension and Atlantian history thing was quite confusing. There were some surprisingly modern words — sweater? Earth? Which you wouldn’t expect in a fantasy book. Added to the mix were new species like wolven, the Craven, Atlantians and whatnot: it was hard to keep track of. The world-building was alright, very typical and not too original. This was a strong YA book for its target demographic with a solid romance.
3. A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L Armentrout
Book Description: A Betrayal…Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her. A Choice…Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants — to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself — about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation. A Secret…But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late
My Take: Ugh. This book, though not terrible and somewhat engaging, was worse than the first. Poppy and Casteel just constantly annoyed me. Armentrout made Poppy’s character sort of.. predictable. Her trying to kill Casteel got old, his being drawn to her violence got old, everyone trying to kill her got old. Poppy’s endless questions which were meant to make her quirky just exhausted me. Her internal monologues dragged on. It was a filler book with no major event happening till the end. The entire plot of this book could be summarized in 3 sentences. I did like the new side characters like Kieran and Netta. It was fun to read in short spurts. About 70% of the book was travelling. I have high hopes for the next book, considering this one ended on a pretty cool note.
4. Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Book Description: Bound as one to love, honor, or burn. Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned. Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union — holy matrimony. The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made. And love makes fools of us all.
My Take: Again, it took me a few chapters to get into this book. This was a kind of no-brainer, fun book to read. The enemies-to-lovers romance trope was tried, tested and held true. The magic system was interesting, the witches vs witch-hunters dynamic was electric, the setting was slightly confusing. It’s basically medieval France but not-France. The banter between Lou and Reid is angsty and fun. The book verges a little on ridiculous when someone manages to save Lou from extremely powerful witches by distracting them by singing a song (?!) called ‘Big Titty Liddy’ (double ??!!) But overall a good read. Will pick up book 2.
5. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Book Description: Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe. Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
My Take: I loved this book. It opens with the murder of Jude’s parents and then switches to ten years later. Jude’s sisters and her are each trying to fit into the magical world in their own way. Cardan is a bullying, narcissistic, abusive asshole- with a tail. Honestly, the world-building, drama, suspense and politics in this book, as well as the crazy ending, left me wanting more and I can’t wait to start the next book in the series.