City of B

Royal Bastards (Royal Bastards #1) by Andrew Shvarts

Royal Bastards (Royal Bastards #1) by Andrew ShvartsRoyal Bastards (Royal Bastards, #1) by Andrew Shvarts
on May 30, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .


Hands down this is one of the best books I’ve read this year!

Do you like Game of Thrones? Royal Bastards often reminded me of it, because of the scheming, backstabbing, epic fight scenes, despicable people, and terrifying beasts. Royal Bastards is definitely not as effed up as Game of Thrones though. It’s tamer, lighter, funny, and of course YA.

I chuckled a lot! The constant humor in Royal Bastards was one of the best parts of the book. The writing is chill and casual, which really surprised me when I started the book, because most fantasy stories have dense, poetic-like descriptions and dialogue. The informal writing made reading this book easier and more fun.

Tilla is a gem! I loved her immediately. She was always making me smile and laugh with her hilarious inner and outer dialogue. Tilla’s a bastard, which means she’s had the short straw since the day she was born. She’s such a good, brave, and caring person, and it was so unfair how awful she and the other bastards were treated because of a ridiculous label.

There’s great supporting characters! Jax, like his sister Tilla, is also very funny and brave. His jokes helped raise everyone’s spirits during the awful times. Zell is attractive, brooding, and stoic, which meant I fell for him instantly. The princess Lyriana annoyed me in the beginning, because she was super bubbly and naive. Eventually she grew on me when she got smacked with a dose of harsh reality, and started to mature. The other characters were likable enough, I just didn’t like them as much as Tilla, Jax, Zell, and eventually Lyriana.

You need to read this book! It’s entertaining and never boring.

four-half-stars
City of B

Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1) by Kristina Pérez

Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1) by Kristina PérezSweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez
Published by Imprint on June 5, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.


So I’m a complete mess right now. I’m stuck between wanting to scream or cry. Maybe I’ll just cry very, very loudly, because I’m angry and so intensely sad. The ending of Sweet Black Waves shattered me. This book is loosely based off of Tristan and Eseult, a story that I’m not entirely familiar with, except for the fact that it’s a tragedy. I knew going into Sweet Black Waves that it wasn’t going to end with sunshine and daisies, but ugh, I still didn’t expect it to hit me so harshly.

Branwen is a complex character, who I loved immediately. She’s got a huge heart, always giving, and putting everyone, especially Essy, first. Sometimes I was mad at her, because she kept harmful secrets and made dubious decisions. I wished that Branwen had been more forthcoming sometimes, and let herself lean on others, instead of always letting them lean on her. But that’s not in her nature. She wants to fix everything, and everyone, herself, and her constant love and sacrifice made me love and care about her even more.

The Tristan and Eseult connection wasn’t what drew me to Sweet Black Waves. I immediately knew I wanted to read Sweet Black Waves, because it was described as being a book that fans of The Mists of Avalon – a huge favorite of mine – would love. I’m also obsessed with the Mabinogion, which some of the characters and their stories in Sweet Black Waves, are loosely based on. I loved Pérez’s new spin on this beloved literature of mine! You can tell that she also really loves the Mabinogion.

I thought the story was dragging a bit during the last third of Sweet Black Waves, but then thankfully two hugely significant things happened. One that thrilled me, because I never ever expected it, and I’m really excited to see how it plays out in the future books. The second thing completely broke my heart. Even though I knew something of the sort was coming, it still caught me unawares.

I read an ARC of Sweet Black Waves, but fully plan on buying a finished copy for myself.

four-stars
City of B

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1) by Soman Chainani
Published by HarperCollins on May 14, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 488
Source: Self Purchase
Goodreads
four-stars

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?


I read The School for Good and Evil many years ago, and had always meant to continue on with the rest of the series, but one thing led to another, and I sort-of forgot all about it. Well, after spending some time removing books from my Goodreads TBR list, ones that I knew I’d never actually get to, I came across book two in the The School for Good and Evil series. I recalled enjoying book one, so then and there I decided I wanted to finally continue with the series. However,  first I needed to re-read book one, because it had been so many years, and I definitely knew I didn’t remember enough to read books 2, 3, and so forth.

And, wow! It only took about 50 pages, before I remembered that I loved The School for Good and Evil. This series is a delicious, magical dish, concocted with clever, hilarious, heartwarming, and at times, very dark ingredients. It explodes with creativity and magic, and I hated having to put it down for silly things like work, sleep, etc.   

The School for Good and Evil is a shining example of the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. You have two girls, one dark, sullen, and macabre, and one who’s vivacious, bright, and constantly called extremely beautiful. You’d think it’d be obviously as which girl belongs in which school, but not so fast! Looks can be extremely deceiving, and in a surprising move to everyone in this book, the melancholy girl is dropped into the school for good, and the angelic-looking one, the school for evil.

I loved how this book was all about shades of gray.  There’s no such thing as perfect. Everyone has their own strengths, flaws, and weaknesses, and hard choices to make, and those choices are what defines you, not your appearance and/or personality. Being beautiful doesn’t make you good, and being ugly doesn’t make you bad.

I’m so glad I reread this book! It’s got magic, budding romance, and lots and lots of fairy-tale characters and creatures. Plus, it’s all about sisters before misters. *high five*

four-stars
City of B

The Traitor’s Kiss (The Traitor’s Circle #1) by Erin Beaty

The Traitor’s Kiss (The Traitor’s Circle #1) by Erin BeatyThe Traitor's Kiss (The Traitor's Circle, #1) by Erin Beaty
Published by Imprint on May 9th 2017
Genres: Romance, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: Self Purchase
Goodreads
five-stars

An obstinate girl who will not be married. A soldier desperate to prove himself. A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

About 3/4 of the way through The Traitor’s Kiss, I was sure that it was definitely going to be a 4 star read, then all the sudden this amazing twist occurred, a new, exciting, and daring revelation that blew me away. I truly didn’t see it coming! It catapulted my love for this book to 5 stars. The rest of the book was just as awesome, with more twists, and a lot of action, so of course the 5 stars stuck.

Sage starts out as an easy girl to like, and then she quickly becomes someone you love. She’s incredibly smart, book and street-wise. She’s very stubborn, and has a bit of a temper, but when shit hits the fan, I definitely want her on my team. Sage thinks she’s plain and unremarkable, but that’s so far from the truth. She’s charming and perceptive, and easily blends into different crowds, something that the matchmaker instantly notices and respects. The soldiers who were chosen to escort the matchmaker’s group of brides-to-be across the country, are also wowed by Sage, because she’s magnetizing, quick-thinking, and overall, a kick ass spy for both the matchmaker, and the soldiers.

I love how Sage and Mulan, from Disney’s Mulan, are kindred spirits. They’re both the girl that everyone takes for granted. Society thinks that Sage/Mulan are impossible to tame, because they don’t want to spend their lives running a household, gushing about dresses, and other typical things that “proper” ladies do. They want to throw on britches, and get their hands dirty. They’re both highly capable, out-of-the-box thinkers, who get the job done in ways that baffles and amazes others. Sage and Mulan would totally be best friends.

Sage’s foil ends up being a particularly attractive soldier, who is charged with monitoring her for suspicious activities. These suspicious activities are basically just Sage collecting intel on attractive bachelors, for her job as an apprentice matchmaker. Sage also suspects that this handsome soldier is hiding secrets, and it’s so funny watching the two of them spying on each other, while also trying not to fall for each other.

Seriously, read this book! If not just for Sage, then also for a hot, slow brewing romance that you don’t want to miss.

five-stars
City of B

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King #2) by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King #2) by Tricia LevensellerDaughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King, #2) by Tricia Levenseller
Published by Feiwel and Friends on February 27, 2018
Pages: 352
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Alosa's mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he's under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father's justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.


We learned a lot more about sirens. We got to deeply explore the mind of a siren when Alosa started practicing her abilities with Riden’s help.

We learned more about the women and men in Alosa’s crew. There wasn’t a lot of details, and we didn’t learn about all of them, but we did get little tidbits on a few crew members, their backstories and what skill they possessed that caught Alosa’s eye.

The reality and acceptance of death. These are ruthless pirates. They may be a family on the ship, Ava-Lee, but there’s still plenty of villainous pirates in the pirate king’s crew who show no remorse or hesitance in cutting a person down. This book may have many lighthearted and funny moments, but it’s still about murderous pirates. Characters die even ones we care about.

The bad:

The story moved too damn fast! Months at sea consisted of a few pages. I wish Alosa’s journey to Isle of Canta had taken longer with more emphasis on crew life.

Riden and Alosa… facepalm. Will they or won’t they. Alosa spends this book, once again, questioning Riden’s motives. Why does he compliment her, why does he want to protect her, why does he stare at her like she’s the only girI in the world. I was so over Alosa’s angst after the first 100 pages of this book. I started not even caring if they would end up together which was super depressing, because their relationship sizzled in book one.

In conclusion:

I’m glad this series is a duology because the story played out as far as I think it could have gone. Book one was great and book two was “okay”. I look forward to any new books this author publishes in the future.

 

three-half-stars