Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo
Posted on Thursday, August 10th, 2017 by Emily May

Wonder Woman by Leigh BardugoWonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Random House Children's Books on August 29th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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She will become one of the world's greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .   Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.   Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn't know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.   Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

“Sister in battle,” murmured Diana, “I am shield and blade to you.”
“And friend.”
“And always your friend.”

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 by Emily May

Hunted by Meagan SpoonerHunted by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperCollins on March 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian Staveley
Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by Brandi

Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian StaveleySkullsworn by Brian Staveley
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
Published by Tor Books on April 25, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, print ARC
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Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess attempting to join the ranks of the God of Death.

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."

Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love...and ending it on the edge of her sword.

"A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor's Blades

“Music is inextricable from its own unmaking. Each note is predicated on the death of those before. Try to hold them all, and you have madness, cacophony, noise.”

I’ve made no bones about how much I love Brian Staveley’s writing, and when I saw he was bringing one of my favorite characters back for her own story I was overjoyed! The bad news is that this took a bit for me to feel pulled in, but full disclaimer – I have been in the most epic of epic reading slumps. Literally the worst slump since I learned how to read. I’m pretty sure that’s what my disconnect was all about but the start was a little heavy, a little purple-y, but that could just be me right now.

This story is about Pyrre, who became one of my ultimate faves in his Unhewn Throne series, and it was super awesome getting inside her head and learning some of her past. This story is set before the Unhewn series and is about Pyrre becoming a Priestess for her god (the god of death). She decides to go back to her homeland to carry out her Trial with Ela and Kossal as her Witnesses. Ela is enchanting and I would happily devour a stand alone or more of just her (please, Brian!!), and Kossal was the perfect compliment to both women. Pyrre, of course, knows that she must give to the god someone for whom she loves but she can’t quite decide what love is and how to get to that point. Ela and Kossal can only do so much to help her understand what love is, and there were some serious philosophical conversations within Pyrre’s own head on this matter. Her story is a tense waiting game to see if she’ll succeed or meet her god.

“The goddess makes us in endlessly different ways. Our Struggles are no more the same than our face.”

Pyrre is fascinating to crawl inside of: her childhood was shocking, her training relentless, her mind a warren of endless entertainment. I loved going between deep philosophical debates on love and worship to seeing her biting humor and adventurous spirit. Seeing her find the one person she might be able to love and going through that journey with her was tough. The synopsis tells us what she has to do so as I’m falling for Ruc I’m all upset that his death is coming and I would go back and forth between glaring at Staveley and feeling sad for Ruc and mad at Pyrre. Even in my horrific slump Brian Staveley knew just how to draw me in.

“All that they have is the old stories, stories of snakes in throats and violets in eyes – those stories are their only weapon, and stories are only weapons if you repeat them.”

“As long as they remained unspoken, they could be denied, disowned, but saying a thing gives it strength.”

This book is a true stand alone but I can’t recommend the Unhewn series enough, Pyrre is a supporting character there so you really can read this without them, but it’s the same world which always makes the reading that much more interesting I think. This book has all that I love in stories: action, adventure, love, sex, humor, myths, legends, and fun. It is an easy read being pretty short for a fantasy which is a great way to break into the genre if you’re not already a fan – or don’t like reading super long books. Brian Staveley is a must-read author.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2016 by Emily May

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey CoulthurstOf Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Published by HarperCollins on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Young Adult
Pages: 400
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An atmospheric and romantic debut fantasy perfect for fans of Ash and The Winner’s Curse.
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.
Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Let’s start with the positive: there’s an LGBT romance. And also there’s… er, nope, sorry, that’s all I got for you.
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One Star

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Posted on Monday, November 14th, 2016 by Emily May

Heartless by Marissa MeyerHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Pan Macmillan on November 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 324
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Long before she was the Queen of Hearts, Catherine Pinkerton was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

“These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,” he said, vanishing up to his neck. “They happen only in nightmares.”
His head spiralled and he was gone.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Posted on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 by Emily May

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica CluessA Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, Book One) by Jessica Cluess
Published by Random House Children's Books on September 20th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
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I am Henrietta Howel.The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.The prophesied one.Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.
Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.
But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one. As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

“Now, listen, Miss Howel. I’ve never seen another girl who could do what you’ve done, and I’ve searched for four years. I’ve never met another sorcerer who could burn and walk away unscathed.”

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One Star

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Posted on Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 by Emily May

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa TahirA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Penguin on August 30th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 464
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Elias and Laia are running for their lives.
After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.   Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars' survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.  But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
Bound to Marcus's will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape...and kill them both.
From the Hardcover edition.

I realize I am not staring into his eyes. I am staring into my future.
I see it for a moment. Pain. Suffering. Horror. All that I love, all that matters to me, awash in blood.

Oh my god. I loved it.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by Emily May

Nevernight by Jay KristoffNevernight by Jay Kristoff
Published by Macmillan on August 9th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.
Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.
Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.
Revenge.

“The three suns hanging on a chain about his throat tried to gleam, but the clouds in the crying sky told them no.”

If I were to write a review in the style of this book, it would begin something like this:

I turned these pieces of former tree, the midnight ink recounting a narrative tumefied by metaphoric wanderings. It pained, O readers, it pained! Persevere, I thought. Quitting now would be a mark of failure, like a baby bird that flutters its wings for the very first time, stretching them out with the promise, the hope, of flight, only to return, defeated, to its nest.

I didn’t finish it. Judge away, O readers, judge away, but I could not force myself through. It was a nightmare. I was so freaking bored. And I had to go read the blurb to remind myself what the book was about. Nevernight is so difficult to get through that I got to a point where I was just counting the pages until I could return to Tana French. Ulysses is easier to read than this book.

You know what it reminds me of? Shatter Me . A denser version. I once said that Shatter Me was not a novel; it was a collection of similes and metaphors that do not make sense. That is a fantastic description for this book! A collection of similes and metaphors that do not make sense. Clearly this works for a lot of people, but it was not for me.

The book is heavy. Lots of descriptions, overuse of similes and metaphors (did I mention that they don’t make sense?) until I had no idea what was going on. I read sentences and thought “Huh?!” It hurt trying to figure out what Kristoff was saying.

There were the ones that I understood but were so eyeroll-worthy that I wished I didn’t:

“Mia sighed. Took her temper by the earlobe and pulled it to heel.”

And then there were all the ones that I really just didn’t understand:

The girl felt the words in her chest. In the deepest, darkest place, where the hope children breathe and adults mourn withered and fell away, floating like ashes on the wind.
**
If her face were a puzzle, most would put it back in the box, unfinished.
**
Something had followed her from that place. The place above the music where her father died. Something hungry. A blind, grub consciousness, dreaming of shoulders crowned with translucent wings. And she, who would gift them.

No, seriously, what the fuck is happening?

And everything is so overwritten and melodramatic. To borrow the quote Anna used: “She introduced her boot to his partner’s groin, kicking him hard enough to cripple his unborn children.”

???????????????? Just say you kicked him in the balls! ^This does not better writing make.

I can’t do it. I’m going to go bury myself in a place where love blossoms and life finds itself carried away on the wings of wonder. Read a better book, that is.

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One Star

And I Darken by Kiersten White
Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2016 by Emily May

And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Published by Random House Children's Books on June 28th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 496
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NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”

4 1/2 stars. This book is totally fucked up. In the best possible way.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 by Emily May

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn SkyeThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Published by HarperCollins on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
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Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know.  The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

She was the sun, and he was a mere rock, drawn in by her gravity. He needed to be closer, to feel her magic, to touch . . . her.

Anyone for another boring, fluffy fantasy full of magic and murder instalove, love triangles and ballgowns?

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One Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a book lover, beta-reader, and Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My go-to genre would have to be Urban Fantasy, but any fiction is game really.

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