book review | red rising by pierce brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

This is the story of Darrow, who lives on Mars, which has society structured by color. Darrow is a Red, the group of people at the very bottom of society, who work in the mines to prepare the planet for habitation by the other, higher colors. Darrow’s wife, Eo, has dreams for a better life, and she begins a series of events that draws Darrow into a group of rebels to fight for a world in which color doesn’t define who you are or your quality of life.

Recommended if you like:

  • Dystopias or space or any combination of the two
  • Ruthless, morally gray characters
  • Bloody and stabby stories

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My Spoiler-Free Review

I’m a little late in reading Red Rising, I know; this book was published over three years ago. However, it’s been on my radar for a while and I *finally* managed to get my hands on it. Oh boy, am I glad I did! I really enjoyed this.

There’s something really edgy about this series that made it unputdownable and different than anything else I’ve read–even though there are many familiar tropes in this book. Darrow begins his story as a teenager, but this is not a YA book. It felt like a cross between Captain America and Percy Jackson at Camp Half Blood and the Hunger Games–but an adult version, with more violence and swearing. (If you’ve read Red Rising, do you agree with this?!) However, these tropes and ideas all felt fresh in this setting and with these characters. And besides, they’re all tropes I like to read, so I wasn’t bothered in the least.

The setting and characters really made this story. The setting is awesome–MARS. This is a full-fledged sci-fi world, where they have technology and animals and food unrecognizable to us. Not to mention they use terminology that went right over my head sometimes. You get thrust into this space world, and it’s super awesome and only a little confusing. Pierce Brown’s world-building really is great. I just wish I understood it more. (Maybe a re-read would help me.)

And the characters! Man. Pierce Brown knows how to do side characters! They are all so well-developed with their own quirks and weird personalities. Seriously–there are so many weirdo characters, but those are the ones you love the most! *Ahem* Sevro, anyone? Aptly nicknamed the Goblin. Or Pax au Telemanus, a friendly(-ish) giant.

There’s also excellent friendship–I do love me some bromances. And even the romance I thought was really well done. I liked the love interest, and I liked her and Darrow together.

The only real complaint I have with this book is Darrow himself. The main character. I know–this seems like it’d be a big problem, to not like the protagonist. But let me explain.

I like Darrow well enough. I just didn’t really connect with him. He starts off in this series as an arrogant boy, who goes about collecting “worshippers” even though in the grand scheme of things, he’s a little lost. He’s following this dream of his wife’s and I’m not sure I understand *his* motivations for all the things he does. Throughout the book, I was still pulling for him–he is the protagonist after all–but I just didn’t quite click with him. He experienced a lot of growth throughout the book, but he still didn’t make it to the leader I expected him to be. (But with two books left in the trilogy, there’s time for that yet!)

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an edgy, bloody, spacey read.

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Let’s just say I was pretty smart when I snagged all three books from the library at once.

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Have you read Red Rising? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,

Brianne

book review | a court of wings and ruin by sarah j maas

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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

My Rating: ☆☆☆

A Court of Wings and Ruin is the third book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and concludes the story arc for Feyre and Rhysand (as far as we know, anyway). Feyre finds herself back in the Spring Court and immediately begins her work that continues throughout the rest of the book: stopping the King of Hybern from destroying the world she knows and loves. Along with the help of the Night Court, her sisters, and other allies, Feyre concludes her epic journey, though not without some mishaps and romance on the way.

Recommended if you like:

  • Fantasy of the fae and fantastical creatures variety
  • Steamy romance
  • Fun, dramatic characters with great chemistry

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My Spoiler-Free Review

Just like many other readers I know, I eagerly anticipated the release of this book for months. I enjoyed book 1 in this series, and book 2 was even better–possibly one of my favorite new books. I couldn’t wait to see how Feyre’s story would wrap up.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

After loving the first two books so much, I certainly had high expectations, but the book fell short on so many levels that I can’t figure a way I’m being unfair. It just missed the mark. I didn’t love the writing, I didn’t love the plot, and I finished the book feeling unsatisfied.

The few things I enjoyed about the book were enough to keep me reading; most of all, I love Feyre and Rhysand. Their relationship was what I loved most about book 2, and Rhys continues to support and love Feyre just as hard in ACOWAR. He makes me swoon for days. *heart eyes*

I also love many of the side characters in this series, and it was fun to see how newer characters meshed with those I grew to love in book 2. There was interesting and entertaining chemistry between some character that I didn’t expect.

It was clear that Maas took to heart some criticisms regarding diversity in her books, because ACOWAR included many diverse characters! That was great to read.

However, for all the things I enjoyed, they still weren’t quite what I’d hoped for.

In book 2, it was great to see Feyre and Rhysand’s growth, individually and together. ACOWAR really lacked any sort of growth between them or in each individually. Not to mention that Rhysand is basically perfect–he has no flaws. While I still adore him, looking back on it, his character was a little flat in this novel.

There were SO MANY side characters, and I often found them overly dramatic. They’re supposed to be immortal fae, but they act and talk like immature teenagers in this novel. This didn’t sit right with me, and neither did some of the romantic pairings.

And as for the diversity, the representation was great but it didn’t feel genuine. Many of the LGBT+ characters seemed to be thrown in just for the sake of being there. I liked the diversity, but I think it could have been done in a better way.

I could probably go on and on–I have a lot of thoughts about this book. If you’re interested in reading more, check out my Goodreads review, which includes more spoiler-free thoughts and also a spoilery gushy/ranty section.

 

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Have you read ACOWAR? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

book review | warbreaker by brandon sanderson

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Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Warbreaker centers around five main characters: two sisters, two gods, and the Warbreaker. Two countries, Idris and Hallandren, are on the brink of war, and the king of Idris sends off his daughter to marry the God King of Hallandren to fulfill their treaty and hopefully appease his enemies. Except, he sends his younger daughter Siri, instead of the expected older sister, Vivenna. Suddenly, Siri finds herself completely unprepared in the city of T’Telir, about to marry the all-powerful God King, and Vivenna finds herself purposeless. She decides to take on a new mission: to save her sister and take her rightful place as wife of the God King. However, she find herself pulled into more than she expected in T’Telir, something a reluctant god, Lightsong, is also starting to discover on his side of the city. And finally, Vasher, the Warbreaker, is wreaking havoc for mysterious reasons, with his sentient sword Nightblood. All five of them play important roles in shaping the events in T’Telir as they resist–or provoke–the war.

Recommended if you like:

  • High fantasy
  • Multiple POVs
  • Slow-developing yet intricate story lines
  • Characters with chemistry and dynamic relationships

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My Spoiler-Free Review

I finished this book days ago and I’m still thinking about it. Just when I wondered if it was really possible Brandon Sanderson was the writing god I suspected, I read this.

This book, guys. It ticks all the boxes.

✓ Well-developed, super interesting fantasy world!
✓ Dynamic, interesting characters!
✓ Teasing romance and burning chemistry!
✓ Just the right amount of action!
✓ Political intrigue and questioning religion!
✓ Ridiculously satisfying ending!

I just adored this book. I wish there could be more in this world (and maybe there will be someday?), but it did work really well as a standalone. Sanderson wrapped everything up and left the reader satisfied yet hopeful for the future of the characters, yet also mourning bittersweetly over those who didn’t make it. (It’s a Sanderson book–yes, there were deaths. Bah.)

I can’t help but marvel again how Sanderson creates such great characters, who have amazing  chemistry with each other, AND puts them into these amazingly, intricately developed fantasy worlds. I was hesitant that I wouldn’t like his other books because I so enjoyed the Mistborn world, but Hallandren and the magic of BioChromatic breath sucked me in (ha) and didn’t let me go. I’m not sure I loved the magic as much as the Mistborn world, but it was still so well written. I wish we could have seen even more regarding the use of BioChromatic breath–we didn’t really see what it was or what one could do with it until much further on in the book. But still–super cool.

And can I just gush about the characters a minute? These characters are all working out their role in their world, yet they’re all so unique, with clear motives and problems they want to solve. I love that Sanderson’s characters question themselves and their beliefs, and come out better for struggling through it. They all manage to niggle their ways into my heart for different reasons, and I just love them dearly!

Warbreaker is definitely less action-packed than some of Sanderson’s other novels, but it worked for me. I could see how other readers might find it slow, but the politics and the developing relationships were enough to propel me forward (and even look ahead in a few spots, oops). I mean, c’mon…who WOULDN’T keep reading for more of Siri and the God King? Sanderson did a better job writing a fantastic romance than most supposedly dreamy YA authors I’ve read lately.

Overall: again, this book ticked all my boxes and then some. I loved it. I think especially women would enjoy this book, but Sanderson has a great way of writing to appeal to a broad audience. Basically: READ THIS BOOK. You won’t regret it.

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Have you read Warbreaker? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

BOOK REVIEW: wintersong by s. jae-jones

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

My Rating: ☆☆☆

Wintersong is about a girl named Liesl, eighteen years old and a composer. She writes music for her little brother, Josef, who is a prodigy on the violin and the other half of her soul, and she loves her younger sister, Käthe, who is beautiful and adventurous. The book begins on the night the old year dies, according to the calendar of the Underworld. It is a time when the threshold between the world above and below is thin, and this is the start of Liesl’s pull down to the Underworld and the Goblin King, and the beginning of her self-discovery.

Recommended if you like:

  • Hades/Persephone inspired stories
  • Teasing yet steamy romance
  • Strong sibling relationships
  • Classical music

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My Spoiler-Free Review

This book is dark, creepily fascinating, infused with music. Although the overall experience wasn’t a perfect hit for me, there sure were some elements in this book that I don’t think I’ve ever read before.

Wintersong felt like a cross between Phantom of the Opera and Caraval. In fact, it had all the elements I had expected in Caraval and didn’t quite get when I read it earlier this year–Wintersong has strong sibling relationships that were prominent and relevant to the plot, mind-bending games that actually did confuse me, and true chemistry seen in the romance between Liesl and the Goblin King. After being let down by Caraval, it was nice to get these things out of the book even though I hadn’t been expecting them from Wintersong.

I certainly identified with Liesl, but I’m not sure I really connected with her, if that makes sense. She’s the older sister who isn’t extraordinary or amazingly beautiful; she easily fades into the background. I feel that on a deep level. But I didn’t quite connect with her and sympathize with her; I still saw her as the confusing, though selfless, and rather horny (lets be real here) girl that she truly was.

I think it came down to the writing and the plot. It was all very YA, if that makes any sense, though the book certainly had some more mature than YA moments. Events were a little all over the place, there really weren’t many secondary plot lines going on, and the world-building was practically nonexistent. If the whole book was developed just a bit more, and a bit more cleanly, I think it would have wowed me a lot.

That said, I did enjoy Wintersong. It only took me a few hours to read because I really was weirdly fascinated with what was happening and definitely wanted to know more about our dear, austere Goblin King. I also loved that music played such a big role as that’s something I can also identify with greatly and enjoyed reading about. I’m happy there will be a sequel because I wouldn’t mind more of a resolution to this story; it doesn’t quite feel finished yet.

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Have you read Wintersong? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!