Saturday, August 29, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Synopsis credited to

The concept for this book was good. I've read a lot of reviews that compare this book to The Red Rising, which I can't say I read. Other reviews claim this is the holy grail of everything fantasy and sci-if related. This is going to be a spoiler free review, so do your thing readers and read on.

Let's start with the characters. Mare is a good main character. She's not overpowered and she's not a complete snob either. Cal and Maven were okay. To me, they felt sort of the same and I didn't really prefer either of them. They gained more individual personality later on though, and a warning, there was a love triangle. It's not the type of love triangle that makes you feel like pulling out your hair though.

Was this book focused more on romance or the rebellion? A little bit of both, I think. I didn't really get into the romance and I didn't really care who Mare ended up with. Of course, the ending mixed things up a bit and even if you don't like this book in the beginning, read the ending, because you might be surprised. I was impartial towards the character, but I can see why the ending was massively shocking to those committed readers, if you are one.

What was really cool in the book was the sibling relationships between the characters. There was an older sibling overshadowing a younger one. There was also a younger sibling exceeding an older one. Relationships with other characters more relatable and interesting. I really love when authors put in different types of relationships because a reader can usually connect with at least one.

Now, what about the plot? It was good, but not as good as the hype made it out to be. It revolves around Mare's life as a lost silver princess. It's her struggle to live in the palace even as she worries about her family. She also has a hand in the Scarlet Guard, which I felt could have been written a little better. I didn't get a sense of mystery, darkness or interest in them. They were just a rebellion like the one seen in different books. There's nothing that different that made them that interesting.

Before I end this review, I'd like to make one comparison to another book that's not Red Rising, but to Legend, by Marie Lu. There's actually quite a few similarities. There's a rebellion and a girl who doesn't know who she really wants to help. There's two love interest (eventually). The ending also has its similarities, which I won't really go into.

Overall, I would give this book a 9 out of 10. You should give this book a check out if you ever find yourself without something to read. JC, have you read this?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Awakening of Ren Crown by Anne Zoelle

Florence Crown was a normal seventeen-year-old girl quietly navigating her senior year in the shadow of her popular twin, then came magic, and devastation.

Taken to another layer of the world where magic reigns supreme, transportation is instantaneous, mages transcend death, and creatures perform their own enchantments, Ren is locked away--a secret inside a secret world.

Possessing a rare form of art and creation magic, Ren breaks free and illegally haunts the libraries and laboratories of the prestigious Excelsine University, where every crevice of the mountain campus is filled with extraordinary magic, and where anything within the realm of imagination is possible--including overturning death.

Determined to reverse what happened the night her world transformed, and surrounded by brilliant magic users who could help--or enslave--her, Ren becomes part of an elite group of unconventional students who delight in skating the edge of the forbidden.

But caught up in a painted universe of layers, hidden agendas, and factions on the brink of war, Ren has to discover just how far she can bend reality before she breaks--and annihilates every layer of the world around her.

Overall Review:
Wowowowow. Seriously, wow. When I first looked at the book, I honestly wasn’t expecting much since it was listed as a free book in the “Featured” category of iBooks (I still had to pay for it, so I’m not really sure what’s going on there . . . I guess the author changed the price and the iBooks people didn’t notice?).
A lot of the free books that I’ve read have had decent but very clichéd storylines, horrible grammar, and irritating and/or holier-than-thou characters who knew everything and could do no wrong (okay, maybe there aren’t a ton of those characters, but I just read a book with one, and it’s still annoying me). Some of them were okay, so I tried to keep an open mind, but I know I definitely wasn’t expecting the amazingness that was this book.
First off, the heroine herself, Ren, is hilarious and really, really easy to like. She’s loyal (almost to a fault), super trusting, and perfectly aware of how imperfect she is. She also tends to form connections with random things (i.e. dancing gophers, a drawing of a butterfly, and some rocks), which I found super adorable. Everything just seemed so alive in this book, and honestly, I loved those rocks almost as much as she did.
The other characters are really great and dynamic, too--even Olivia, Ren’s seemingly cold and unfeeling roommate. The world that Anne Zoelle created in this book is exciting and intriguing. I seriously wish I lived in Ren’s world, even with all of the scary, dangerous parts. Though some of the descriptions were kind of hard for me to follow . . . I couldn’t really picture some of the stuff that was in this book, probably because I just didn’t really understand some of the explanations. A lot of the descriptions went right over my head, even in the second book (which, by the way, I bought immediately after reading the first one).
Also, unlike a lot of YA fantasy books, the romance in The Awakening of Ren Crown (if there really even is one) is present (kind of?) while definitely not being the focus of attention. The book instead focuses on some of Ren’s other relationships, particularly her friendships and her connection to her twin brother, Christian. I thought this was interesting, though I really do hope that the romance further develops as the series goes on.
My only complaint, really, is that the explanations and descriptions are a little confusing. The grammar wasn’t . . . perfect, but it was pretty close (honestly, the whole grammar complaint is just me being annoyingly nitpicky . . . it really wasn’t all that bad). Overall, though, I seriously loved this book, so much so that I’ve already purchased the third book, even though I haven’t finished the second one yet. I really hope that more people decide to read the awesomeness that is this book (and that Anne Zoelle writes her next book soon), and I’m definitely recommending it to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy books.
My rating for this book is a . . . 9.2. Comment or email us at if you want to hear more about the book or if you have any suggestions for our next review(s). Okay, that’s it!
Thanks for reading,
JC <3