Review | Why Is The Winner’s Trilogy So Hyped?

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By: Marie Rutoski

Overall Rating: ★★★

Kestrel is the daughter of the Valorian Military General. Arin is a Herrani slave turned rebel. Their paths cross, they struggle with their feelings for each other, and they obviously hate that they’re both Slytherins who want to live in a better world. Without going into spoiler territory you’ll run into: A d-bag Emperor who wants to rule the world, lots of moody, spoiled white aristocrats, and some weirdly specific bug-related metaphors.

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TL;DR:

I did not enjoy this series as much as I wanted to. Kestrel and Arin had sooooo much potential as characters and as love interests, but they fell short. The story was a jumbled mess full of miscommunication, lies and deception – which usually I find really appealing in stories. If you’re into insta-love or simplistic YA novels, you might want to give these a try, but overall I’d say stay away if you have other TBR options.

The Good

*It was really hard for me to not just put “NOTHING” in this section. But, being as unbiased as I can…here it goes. I may end up ranting at some point. Who knows.

(Some of) The Supporting Characters

You know you’re in for a bad time when you fall in love with the unimportant secondary cast, but here I am, telling you that the main characters suck and you will live for all the supporting characters (except for Jess. She can go die in a ditch). They have personality, swagger, and stick to their motives and goals, unlike some characters, which I will get to shortly. I loved  Prince Verex and I wish he was in more of the story. I also lived for Eastern Prince’s sass and wit. But that’s not saying much since not many of the other characters have an ounce of personality. Even the Emperor, regardless of how evil and cruel he is, was a more developed character than Arin or Kestrel.

The Battles

The war and battle scenes were the only thing keeping me going while reading these books. No joke, it was a struggle to get through 300 pages and if there weren’t a handful of good fighting scenes I would not have survived. If there’s one thing this series got right, it’s the war and the battle strategy.

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The Bad

The Main Characters

KESTREL WAS MY GIRL. I had SO much hope for her as a heroine. She started off as the Slytherpuff I never knew I needed. She was cunning and smart and tried to use her talents to help those around her…but then she had to go and ruin it. She doesn’t grow or develop through the entire series. Instead, she slowly regresses into someone you would have met on page one, book one – second-guessing herself, and not trusting her instincts. Not to mention that really unnecessary memory-loss moment she has, which only works if you’re Peeta Mellark and have a cute game you can play to remember what is real and what isn’t.

…And then there’s Arin. Talk about a tall, dark and handsome Slytherin who’s perfect on paper but sucks IRL. He’s set on freeing his land and his people from the Valorians and his inner monologue tells us he thinks he’s clever enough to see truth from lies. BUT, he proves again and again and again that he CLEARLY DOESN’T KNOW WHAT A LIE IS. He’s kind, he sings, he can fight, and he’s beautiful. But there is no depth to Arin or his motives and he is a bit of a wet noodle.

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The Love Story

Okay, so let’s start of with the disclaimer that this starts off as insta-love but then takes a turn into weird, angry “I don’t know if I want you” love. It’s frustrating and annoying and not at all something I enjoyed. Book One, Kestrel and Arin hate each other. They spend like 5 afternoons together and then all of a sudden they’re in love. Don’t forget that at this point, Arin is still a slave, owned by Kestrel, and he’s planning to overthrow her father and taking over the city…so like WTF ARE YOU THINKING ARIN? This just ping pongs out of control in books two and three, with Kestrel and Arin both denying then not denying their feelings. It’s eye-roll worthy. Then there are some weird romance vibes going on between the Eastern Prince and Arin. Then some weird romance vibes between Arin and the Eastern Queen. Apparently, everyone has the hots for Arin, but Kestrel is the only one who lies to herself about it. It was like a really bad car crash that you can’t look away from.

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The Ugly Truth

I wouldn’t recommend this series unless you are really patient with your main characters and have some free time you’re willing to throw around. There isn’t much depth to the story or the characters, but you may like the warring bits like I did.

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Have you read this series? If so, what did you think of it? Will you be adding this to your TBR?

Review | The Crowns of Croswald

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By: D.E. Night

*Stories Untold Press sent me a copy of this book for an honest review.*

Overall Rating: ★★★

In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

TL; DR: This is a magical series for the next generation of young readers. If you love Harry Potter and the magic of Disney princess stories – this book is for you! Night draws inspiration from stories such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Inkheart and creates a mystical world that anyone can enjoy.

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The Good

The World of Croswald

I love me a good fantasy world, and Croswald is full of wonder and excitement! It’s not quite Hogwarts, but the Halls of Ivy comes close. It’s a school full of ghosts, magical crowns & quills, and enough mystery to keep anyone coming back.

The Villain

The Dark Queen is just present enough to make her feel like a prominent threat. She’s clouded in mystery – no one knows what she looks like, where she came from, or why she’s so bad – but you know when you meet her bad things are going down. She reminds me of a cross between The Evil Queen from Snow White and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty – constantly trying to find the one hidden thing keeping them from true power.

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The Mystery

From the very beginning you know Ivy is special but not why. As the story unfolds you get answers but also more questions and I loved that I wasn’t able to guess every plot twist. It makes me excited for book two!

The Bad

The Heroine

Ivy Lovely isn’t my least favorite heroine, but she isn’t in my top 5. She’s impulsive and doesn’t always think about the greater good. I’m hoping she grows into her personality as the series progresses, but she was lacking something for me.

The Familiarity

While the magic of Croswald is fun to experience, I found myself comparing it to other well known stories. This isn’t always a bad thing, every amazing writer gets inspiration from somewhere, but I wished I was able to dive in and feel like I was somewhere entirely new.

The Ugly Truth

The next generation of young readers may have found their version of Harry Potter in Ivy Lovely. The Crowns of Croswald is a whimsical, witty story that anyone would enjoy. I can’t wait for The Girl With the Whispering Shadow.

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

Review | An Enchantment of Ravens

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By: Margaret Rogerson

Overall Rating: ★★★

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. But when she receives her first royal patron – Rook, the autumn prince – she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, a weakness that could cost him his life.

My TL:DR before I get into all the deets: An Enchantment of Ravens is a more dangerous version of Alice in Wonderland with a hint of  Dorian Gray thrown in. It’s whimsical, with just enough danger to keep you on your toes, but I found myself wanting more. More romance, more answers, more in-depth character backgrounds, more everything. 

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The Good

The Atmosphere

I’ve read so many books about faeries, but for some reason Rogerson’s take just seemed way more magical. When I say this reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, it’s because the world is very bizarre and whimsical in the most entertaining ways – from the fae princes down to the food they eat, there’s always something mystical to find.

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The Heroine

Isobel isn’t fierce or quick-witted like we’ve become accustomed to with YA heroines. She’s subtle, soft, smart, and endearing. Yet, she still manages to handle herself among the fae by being the cool, collected artist they crave. She sticks to her principles and even scolds herself when she knows she’s being like “those girls”. She isn’t the typical type of character I end up loving, but for some reason she just works. Not everyone needs to be a warrior princess to be amazing.

The Bad

Lack of Details

This isn’t to say that the descriptions and attention to detail were lacking, I just wish there had been more development with everything. I’m pretty sure this is just me being a sucker for a good series and never wanting stories to truly end but…¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

I just can’t stop thinking about things like: Why can’t faeries do any type of crafts? What happens to Rook and Isobel? What about the King? What about the world that people sail to to get away from magic? I just have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. They’re definitely all unnecessary, but alas, I still think everything ended too quickly.

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The Ugly Truth

This book is a quirky, quick and fun read. If you’re into faeries and the lore, then you will definitely enjoy Rogerson’s world. Isobel and Rook are so precious and pure, their relationship will warm your heart like a mid-summer night’s dream (get it…because Puck, *badumpsh*). I’d recommend this if you need a pick-me-up from a book hangover or if you’re just looking for something light!

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?