Friday, August 7, 2015

What I Read: July 2015 - Royal Rebels: Thrones, and Queens

 Yes, it's Friday, but unfortunately this is not a Fandom Friday post :(  Today's prompt was "Favorite Fanfictions", and since 'fanfic' is still brand new territory that I'm just now discovering, I can't name five favorites! So instead, here's my post on what I read in July!

Aside from Amelia Cole, everything else I read in July had a theme of "royalty", it seems! But these weren't your typical sort of 'fairy tales'. And they were each so different.

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

Starting with this one because it's the book I enjoyed the MOST this month. I literally devoured it in a matter of days. A coworker read it and told me that it was good, and she was right! If you're a fan of the Hunger Games, then I think you'd really enjoy this new series. In fact, they were very similar, in a lot of ways. At first that kind of bothered me, (as it seems every YA novel out there wants to become the Hunger Games, these days), but certain details were so different and felt fresh that I can honestly say that Red Queen deserves to stand apart from the rest of the 'wannabes'.

The similarities lie in how it's a story that takes place in the distant future/post-apocalyptic style setting that sees a sharp contrast between the people in power (uber rich and ignorant), and the people who serve them, (poor and with little hope of any kind of future for their children). Our main character/heroine (named Mare Barrow) is similar to Katniss Everdeen in how she takes charge for her family, sometimes doing 'illegal' things to guarantee their safety, even if it means putting herself in danger. Mare also has a little sister, like Katniss, that she feels has more of a future, and that she is willing to do anything for to guarantee that. There are also 'fights to the death' performed for 'entertainment', and a growing unrest amongst the ones who are treated the worst, and promises of a rebellion. Where the similarities end, however, is in the strong FANTASY aspect of this: the governing body of people in power run the whole show because they have special abilities that seem almost magical, and possible because of the color of their blood. It doesn't run red.. it's silver. And that, in their eyes, makes them better than the poor/normal red-blooded people, like Mare and her family.

The silver-bloods are essentially kind of like X-Men: some of them can bend metal, some can manipulate fire, or water, or the earth itself, and the creepiest ones can not only read minds, but control them.

When Mare has to (unfortunately) accept a job inside the silver royal family's palace to help feed her family, she gets into a fate-changing situation that puts her in mortal danger. Mare has an accident that almost kills her, but she (as well as the entire royal family) soon discover that silver-bloods might not be the only ones with 'magic powers'... And that's when Mare's entire world turns upside down and things get intense. Intrigue, mystery, life, death, questions of who (if anyone) can be trusted, and the consequences of choices and actions. That's what this story is all about.

And like any YA novel, there (of course) has to be some sort of 'romantic plot point', (which I think I've mentioned before, how it annoys the hell out of me), but it's not that bad in this novel. The main character's focus remains on the task at hand, for the most part.

Just pick up this book, already! It's amazing!

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

From one semi-fantasy novel to one that's full-on fantasy! This is the first book in a series that I keep seeing everywhere, (but the newer editions have vastly different artwork/covers.. just google them. Such a sharp contrast between this one (in the photo) and the new one!) But differing artwork aside, this was an interesting book. Actually, I still have a few more chapters before I finish it, so I guess this won't be a full-on review, but here are my thoughts so far: I was initially very excited about this one, but after the awesomeness that was Red Queen, (and maybe because of it), this one kind of feels like a bit of a let down. I just.. well, honestly, I can't quite pinpoint what about it isn't working for me, but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting.

We have our main character: Caelena Sardothien, a teenage girl whose been sentenced to work as a lowly slave in this land's salt mines until she dies. So how exactly did she end up there? Well, apparently she killed a man.. or a few. Turns out there's more to little Caelena than meets the eye: she's known as an assassin. Or, rather, THE assassin of her home land of Adarlan. (And there are different countries/lands.. and plenty more assassins where this girl came from).  And once upon a time, the fae/faery folk lived amongst the humans. But as usual, a king with just a little too much pride and stupid ideas of wanting to be the ONE true ruler of the world decides to shake things up and kills all the magical folk, and banishes the art of magic, itself. So Caelena gets a chance to fight for her freedom by competing in a contest run by the king. She has to beat a whole bunch of other 'assassins' to become the one true assassin for the one true king!

That's all fun and good, and all. So, like I said, I don't know why I didn't enjoy the first 2/3's of the book as much as I thought I would. I mean, I really wanted to.. The writing itself isn't too bad, (not amazing, but not bad..).. So maybe it's the character development? I honestly can't decide if I like Caelena or not. Sure, she's a tough chick who is also funny and sees humor and things, but she can also be kind of annoying, at times. And it takes too long to get her true back story, and even when we do, it still doesn't fully explain a whole lot. Her family was killed, and she was raised by an assassin, therefore she is an assassin... Okay. And of course, the two main dudes just happen to be madly in love with her... naturally.

But, hey, maybe it's just me. The part where I finally started getting REALLY into this book was when we finally see a hint of magic/fae resurfacing in this imaginary world. *SEMI-SPOILER ALERT TIME*: A ghostly former fairy queen starts haunting Caelena in her dreams, and that's when things start to get REALLY interesting.

And that's where I'm at in this book. I have no idea how it will end, but I do intend to find out. I just hope it doesn't end in a huuuge cliff hanger, but I have the feeling it might. 

Amelia Cole and the Hidden War (Volume 2)

I read the first volume last month,  and I'm really enjoying this series! Amelia has been promoted as "Protector" of the city, but she soon finds out that her new boss might not have the kindest of intentions in mind. There are new monsters threatening the city, and Amelia is pushing herself harder than ever, but she is determined to find out the truth and to save as many people as she possibly can.

Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery (Volume 1)

I read this as part of the Iggle Comic Book Alliance for July, and I liked it a lot, even though I initially thought I wouldn't! The Rat Queens are essentially a 'girl gang' who get themselves into a lot of trouble, now and again, but their intentions seem good, for the most part. They are fiercely loyal to each other and good friends, too. My favorite character is probably Dee, with her purple outfits and skull jewelry! I'm eager to check out the second volume!

And that's it for July! Stay tuned for August.

Until next time,


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