Heart of Thorns book cover

City of Bastards (Royal Bastards #2) by Andrew Shvarts | An okay sequel

City of Bastards (Royal Bastards #2) by Andrew Shvarts | An okay sequelCity of Bastards (Royal Bastards, #2) by Andrew Shvarts
on June 5, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 377
Source: Library

Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend Zell and best friend, Princess Lyriana.

So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city's prestigious University.

Then, Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate, a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she's suggesting is impossible... and treasonous.

But Tilla can't, won't, let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire Mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.

✦ Click here to see my review of Royal Bastards ✦

I really loved Royal Bastards. It was funny, imaginative, and just overall an enjoyable read. The ending left me wanting more and I was super excited for what would happen in City of Bastards. Unfortunately, City of Bastards didn’t live up to my expectations.

Zzzzzz. The first half of this book felt like a chore to read. Tilla is now at Lightspire with Zell and Lyriana, and all we pretty much got in the first 100 pages was Tilla walking to class, going to parties, making out with Zell, and eating delicious food.

Poor Lonely Tilla. Tilla kept pretending that everything was okay when it clearly wasn’t. She’s still reeling over her brother’s death and her father’s evil deeds, and because Zell is keeping secrets and is often MIA, and Lyriana is almost always on a bender, Till is left isolated and sad. The lack of interaction between these three also contributed to the boring parts of the book.

Whodunit. The murder mystery hinted to on the cover was good. The reason for it, and culprit’s reveal, was surprising and clever.

Shocking ending. There’s a huge cliffhanger that changes everything for the characters, and I’m looking forward to see how they’re going to deal with it in book three.

I’m not totally surprised that book two wasn’t as good as book one. This unfortunately happens a lot. I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope that book three will be better.

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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

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.

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These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1) by Amie Kaufman

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1) by Amie KaufmanThese Broken Stars (Starbound, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Published by Disney Hyperion on December 10th 2013
Pages: 384

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

Before I started These Broken Stars I was convinced that I was going to love it. Unfortunately this book ended up being just an “okay” read. I liked the characters and the setting in These Broken Stars but not the huge plot twist that occurred 3/4 through. The twist confused me and I didn’t like the direction the story went after it was introduced.

I really liked the dynamic between Lil and Tarver, because they come from completely different worlds, and therefore they often contradicted each other. Tarver is a well-mannered, country boy, with a military background, and Lil is a spoiled, young heiress, who gets everything she wants. At least, that’s what people like Tarver believe. Yes, Lil’s been pampered her whole life and has a taste for upper class life, but she’s not a snob who thinks she’s above everyone else. It was so much fun watching them try to work together to survive when they constantly challenged each other.

I definitely understand why some readers have made the comparison between These Broken Stars and the movie, Titanic. Lil (Rose) and Tarver (Jack) come from completely different classes. They fall in love and then try like heck to survive an impending tragedy. Their story also reminded me of Romeo & Juliet, because their forbidden romance is living on borrowed time.

Things got really weird 3/4 through this book. There was a big plot twist that I didn’t like. I thought the story was just going to focus on Lil and Tarver getting to know each other, falling in love, surviving the planet’s climate and creatures, but then out of nowhere this huge, weird plot twist entered the mix and I didn’t know how to respond to it. The concept was heavy and confusing and I wasn’t happy with how it changed the overall story

In conclusion, I didn’t care much for These Broken Star’s story-line, but I did love Lil and Tarver’s relationship. I’ve skimmed the descriptions of books two and three and see that they follow new characters. I’m hesitant about continuing with the series, because I want more Lil and Tarver, and I’d be super disappointed if the new characters didn’t compel me like they did.

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Alienated by Melissa Landers

Alienated by Melissa LandersAlienated (Alienated, #1) by Melissa Landers
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 4th 2014
Pages: 344

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

I enjoyed Alienated in the beginning. Cara was fiery and fierce. She really spoke her mind and stuck with her personal beliefs. Aelyx was cute and funny. His ways are so different than ours. His people are very formal, bland and unemotional. It was great following his explorations and budding emotions. I was really digging the slow building relationship between him and Cara.

Unfortunately, halfway through this book the storyline took a nosedive. It just really dragged and I found myself steadily losing interest.

Also, I appreciated that there was no insta-love but when the feelings were finally expressed between the two leads it was extreme (to say the least). They were ready to forget everyone else for each other. Cara is bitter and constantly remarking on the fact that her older brother, barely takes interest in her, or their parents. The moment that Cara falls in love with Aelyx she’s ready to ditch Earth and hop on a ship with him. She herself, quickly forgets her parents and sees only Aelyx. That was a huge 360 for Cara’s character. And a letdown.

I don’t know what else to really say. This book just ended somewhere completely different than it started. I’ve easily become bored with the Cara and Aelyx relationship. Given hints towards the end of Alienated, a love triangle might be on the horizon for book two. If anything, I might read the sequel to see what this new guy is like and if he can re-spark this story for me again.

Heart of Thorns book cover

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra BrackenThe Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Published by Disney Hyperion on December 18th 2012
Pages: 488

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

One of the greatest feelings in the world at least the book blogging world, is starting a book with high expectations and then being able to finish said book, with an even greater amount of excitement. I’m not going to beat around the bush. The Darkest Minds rocked! From start to finish my hands were glued to this book and my eyes to the pages. I couldn’t get enough!

The Story: Bracken proves that there’s still plenty of originality left in the dystopian genre having crafted an incredibly original tale of (future) disarray, destruction, subjection and fear. The world in DM is so large and full of possibilities. With so many different organizations/groups at play, you never really know who to trust, or who’s the bad guy. The plot is very twisty at times. Just when you think that you’re safe, you realize you’re not, or vice versa. Bracken throws out a lot of false trails, continually and successfully leading us down wrong paths.

The Main Character: I had quite the love-hate relationship when it came to Ruby. On one hand I found her incredibly naive. Having firsthand witnessed Thurmond’s cruel treatment and quite literally laughable ”rehabilitation” methods, you’d think that Ruby wouldn’t be so quick to trust. Unfortunately that’s not the case due to the fact that she makes a lot of stupid mistakes. These mainly involve trusting anyone who promises to help, save or protect her. Ruby is flawed for sure, but the parts of her that shine the brightest are the good parts, like her huge heart and budding determination. She grows a lot throughout the story. In the beginning you find a girl too scared to stand up for herself, let alone anyone else. By the end, Ruby is ready to strike down whoever tries to comes at her or especially, her friends.

Supporting Characters: A lot of DM‘s strength comes from its core group of supporting characters. Unlike many books that feature their S.C. in the background, DM‘s remain constantly upfront, thickening and propelling the story forward. Each one, Suzume, Chubs and especially Liam, burst with strong individuality. Their quirky, irritable yet hilarious and charming personalities (in that order) fill out this book with emotion. No characters fall flat in DM because they are all carefully constructed and considerably utilized.

The Romance: Sigh! Swoon! Drool! You name it!!! Since the description makes mention I don’t feel spoilery for saying that there is a lot of lurve brewing between Ruby and my dear, Liam. Besides the fact that I personally want to transport into DM‘s world and snatch Liam for myself, the chemistry between Ruby and Liam is just so damn powerful. Watching their relationship slowly (sometimes painstakingly) build, kept me hooked the whole way through. What I like is seeing love not being told there’s love. DM excels at this. You won’t see any pre-mature “I love you!” and “I love you tos!” Instead you get the story of two people, having met under incredible and horrific circumstances, learning to trust and lean on one another through dangerous after dangerous situation, and finally realizing that their feelings of friendship branch deeper and stronger.

Because at times the story did slow down and it was a bit of a struggle to get through, I give The Darkest Minds 4.5 stakes. I’m so bummed that it’s going to be a year before book two comes out. After the mind-blowing cliffhanger in DM and Ruby’s new-found realization and determination I CANNOT wait for the book(s) to follow.