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Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

Ivory and Bone by Julie EshbaughIvory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Series: Ivory and Bone #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 7th June 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

Thoughts before reading this book: Prehistoric world? Fantasy? Sign me up!

Thoughts after reading this book: Oh. Well. That was disappointing.

Is just one book that ticks all of my prehistoric/dinosaur nerd boxes too much to ask for? Apparently so. I was so, so excited about Ivory and Bone before I read it because I’m all for prehistoric settings. Unfortunately I didn’t connect with the way the book is written, and I didn’t care for any of the characters. Bit of a downer.

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword by Victoria AveyardGlass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #2
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 9th February 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

I requested Glass Sword right after finishing Red Queen because the book was just THAT GOOD. I couldn’t wait. And I absolutely flew through Glass Sword as well because it certainly didn’t disappoint.

I’ll start with the negatives first because I like to get those out of the way. And, really, there’s only one major point that I want to bring up. Cal and Mare is obviously a relationship that has been building up since Red Queen, and in Glass Sword it made a bit more progress. I was okay with that. I don’t OTP them, but they’ll do as a ship. But what I didn’t like was the fact that Mare kept repeating the fact that Cal was oh-so-bad for her and she “can’t let him go”. She said this so many times, and it was annoyingly redundant and repetitive. I was unimpressed. Like, I ship it, but you’re in the middle of a war and there’s no need to keep telling me what you should do but can’t at the most inopportune moments.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 10th February 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart ...

I had put off reading Red Queen for over a year. In the beginning, it’s just because I forgot about it, and then the mixed reviews started rolling in and no matter how hard I tried to avoid them, I still caught a glimpse of people’s thoughts or star ratings. I honestly wasn’t going to pick this up any time soon, until Joan asked if anyone wanted to buddy read it with her. I jumped at the chance because I needed motivation, and 48 hours after the buddy read started, here we are.

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Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Assassin’s Heart by Sarah AhiersAssassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Series: Assassin's Heart #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2nd February 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

Well, I’m more than a little disappointed. Assassin’s Heart has an interesting sounding premise. A girl who comes from a family of assassins, who feels little remorse for killing people? Awesome. I was intrigued as soon as I heard about it. Unfortunately, the book let me down.

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Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillanSword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Series: Sword and Verse #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 19th January 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

I’m not entirely sure what the plot of Sword and Verse was meant to be. It had such promise. Promise of a revolution, of a slave fighting back for her people. Typically those are the stories that pull me in and make me fall head over heels, but in this case it fell flat. It just wasn’t executed in a way that was enjoyable for me.

The biggest problem with this book is that the main focus is the instalove and romance between Raisa and Prince Mati. Obviously, this is forbidden, since Raisa is a slave, but there was no tension and no chemistry between them at all. They fall in love right away, and I was expecting Mati to be an “innocent first love” type thing, but that didn’t turn out to be the case at all.

I also had issues with the timeline of the story and the pace at which it progressed. The book skips forward a year after the first chapter, which would normally be okay, but we missed a lot of build up between Raisa and Mati, which would have been essential for a book with this amount of romance. Then we continue to skip forward months into the future, and again, I feel like we missed a lot of character growth because of this.

I started skimming after a while because the entire first quarter – or first half, really – was just about Mati and Raisa’s “love” and also about Raisa learning to read and write. There were too many descriptions of these writing lessons. I don’t care if a letter has a curve that goes left or right, I just want something to happen!

I’m incredibly disappointed by this book, and I’m hesitant to call it a fantasy novel. It’s definitely more of a romance.