Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Review

Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Cover Reveal 2017Empress Of A Thousand Skies (Empress #1)

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 314

Summary: CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Belleza delivers a character driven sci-fi space opera that discusses very timely issues + politics as a princess + a tv celebrity find themselves on the run!

Empress had so many great elements! It was very plot + character driven and had little to no romance for most of the novel.

Being told through dual POV (3rd person) and it worked extremely well for this story! Because both characters aren’t exactly together for most of the novel, we get to see the politics, culture, etc. of the unique worlds from differing perspectives.

Aly, due to his Wraetan background is seen as different by others and fears if he is to do anything to damage his reputation while on TV, it would look bad for all Wraetans. Reading that made me feel so bad for Aly (with all the pressure upon his shoulders). Reading from his POV brought up very relevant and timely issues one could mirror to our own world that is sadly still seen today, how there are those out there who aren’t as accepting when they view people from other cultures and see them only as “different.” Which is so wrong!

Through Aly’s POV we see that just because he is Wraetan, he is framed from Rhee’s assassination.

Aly really goes into depth about his war-torn home and the struggles he’s faced to get to where he is. I loved the expansion on this subject, not only because it mirrors our own and gives perspective, but it shows how wrong/harmful these ideas are and can be.

As with Rhee, she flees her home planet after she nearly escapes an assassination attempt on her own life. She finds herself charting across different planets to track down who she suspects is behind her assassination and reclaim her throne!

She was very determined and came up with plans, however usually hesitated when the moments to enact her revenge finally came. With this all suddenly upon her, it would make sense that she would have her reasons for hesitation. Regardless, while she does make mistakes, she grows and no matter what happened along the way, she stayed true to herself and her goal. She never strayed away from it!

My heart broke reading what he had faced! I loved reading from both POV’s however Aly’s was definitely my favorite! Aly lost his family, his home, faced discrimination but no matter what, he kept pushing forward and never gave up fighting to clear his name.

From what I’ve read, I’m pretty sure there is a sequel! So I’m hoping with the next one, Rhee, Aly and the other characters introduced are given even more background and development, because there was so much mystery surrounding these characters.

I loved the unique aspects that Belleza was able to weave into this story, from the memory cube technology to the unique creatures found across the planets.

Additionally, a majority of the cast of characters were people of color, which is amazing!! I’m always happy to read a book with a diverse cast!! ❤

For the plot as a whole, I was kept surprised with each and every page! I could never guess where the story was headed which I adored, because it kept me invested from start to finish!

As for the pacing it was rather slow for me, however the mysteries that unfold had me turning the page to figure out who was behind it all!

As mentioned + introduced above, Belleza continued to discuss very timely issues such as immigration, politics, views on technology & privacy + so much more!

That is an aspect I loved so much about Empress! She really makes them an integral part of the plot and overall themes of the novel that really have you thinking all through out the entire story.

Additionally, there are so many layers to the story as a whole. Essentially, from Rhee’s perspective you learn there is a treaty in place and while it made the worlds stable when Rhee’s father established it, there’s still discrimination and tension between the planets.

Now as to why it wasn’t a full 5-stars:

First off I will admit, the summary was a little misleading for me, because going into the book I assumed Rhiannon + Aly would be together for most of the novel, however that wasn’t the case which is what I was expecting.

There were some moments I wish the worlds themselves were fleshed out a little more, while a lot of social issues are brought up within each world and discussed when Aly or Rhee visit them, in terms of descriptions + atmosphere I wanted a little more!

Empress Of A Thousand Skies is a thought-provoking story which takes the time to discuss very timely issues, introduces multi-layered politics and world-building, puts characters and plot at the center, and overall delivers a refreshing and unique tale in YA Sci-Fi!

February 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 8

traitor-to-the-throne-by-alwyn-hamilton1.Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel Of The Sands #2)

Traitor To The Throne Full Review

Publisher: Faber&Faber

Release Date: February 2, 2017

Pages: 512

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fantastic sequel that truly surprised me! Hamilton focuses more on the politics and world of Miraji, while expanding on the magic/mythology. Her writing style as with Rebel keeps the story moving and really immerses you into the story! I am beyond excited for what’s to happen in Rebel Of The Sands #3!

kings-cage2.King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #3)

King’s Cage Full Review

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 528

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

Overall Thoughts: The world and characters really develop over the course of this novel compared to the previous installments. There is much needed expansion beyond Norta & many aspects of the world and politics surprised me + really added more depth to the world. However with the addition to multiple POV’s, there was 1 POV in particular really dragged the story  & did more of *showing instead of *telling.  Additionally, there are certain characters who I wish were present more. Regardless, Aveyard’s 3rd installment was entertaining and kept me turning the page! Interested to see how the Red Queen Series ends in Book 4!

welcome-to-the-ballroom-volume-13.Welcome To The Ballroom Vol. 1 by Tomo Takeuchi

Welcome To The Ballroom Full Review To Come

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Pages: 192

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

Overall Thoughts: A great introduction to a new manga series about Tatara, a high school student who gets involved with ballroom dancing! I wish there was more development with the characters b/c they were all introduced wonderfully! Overall there’s comedic moments, dynamic characters and a unique plot that has me eager to read the next volumes!

the-valiant-by-lesley-livingston-book-review4.The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (The Valiant #1)

The Valiant Full Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A character-driven tale about a Celtic princess turned gladiator! The engaging and well-rounded characters made this novel so much fun to read. I do wish the story’s pacing was a little faster + had more action! Regardless, this was an immersive tale about sisterhood, family, & honor! Cannot wait to read where Fallon’s journey is headed in the sequel!

because-of-the-sun-by-jenny-torres-sanchez5.Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Because Of The Sun Full Review

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Pages: 272

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: The writing style is very “dream-like” and makes this YA Contemporary so unique! Dani has lost her mother and must adjust to a new life with her aunt in New Mexico. She forges a friendship w/ Paulo and he is very supportive during her time of grieving. There is an additional POV in this story, which added tons of background but did slow the story a little for me. Overall, themes of grief, family, love and loss are weaved perfectly into this novel that truly focuses on Dani’s journey as she comes to terms with her mother’s death.

ronit-and-jamil-by-pamela-l-laskin6.Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Ronit & Jamil Full Review

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 192

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Written in verse, Laskin’s modern take on Romeo & Juliet is lyrical and fast-paced! Ronit & Jamil can’t help but fall in love. However a wall across their lands keeps them separated, but they know deep down their love won’t be fractured. Conflicts arise and their family wants what’s best for them. While there are some moments it does feel rather rushed, overall this tale delivers a message of hope!

A Conjuring Of Light7.A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (Shades Of Magic #3)

A Conjuring Of Light Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 624

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Phenomenal character development + world-building weave throughout the masterfully crafted plot! A truly phenomenal conclusion to the Shades Of Magic Series!

monthly-girls-nozaki-kun-volume-28.Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun  by Izumi Tsubaki (Vol. 2)

Monthly Girls Full Review To Come (Vol. 1-3)

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: February 23, 2016

Pages: 144

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun is easily becoming one of my favorite Manga series!
As always, romance/high-school tropes are given unique+comedic spins & that’s what makes it so fun to read! There is tons of character development and the plot continues to be fun, unique, & engaging! Cannot wait to read volume 3!

Additional Posts From This Month:

~None This Month~

Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez Review

because-of-the-sun-by-jenny-torres-sanchezBecause Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Pages: 272

Summary: Dani Falls learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.

But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.

Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paulo, and Dani begins to heal. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.

*Note this novel does contain physical/emotional abuse*-Be aware if those are triggers for you.*

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Because Of The Sun follows Dani as she grieves the loss of her mother. Told through a unique prose, this novel discusses death, family and love.

This was a unique contemporary I won’t forget!

What made this novel truly stand out was the atmospheric writing-style! Written in an almost “stream of consciousness” we follow Dani Falls, who has lost her mother due to a violent accident and must now leave her home in Florida behind to live with her aunt Shelly in New Mexico.

After spending weeks at her aunt’s house, she rarely leaves and manages to speak only a few words at a time. We begin to wonder if Dani will ever recover and find the strength to accept.

Blurring the line between reality and dream, a bear is mentioned when Ruby passes away and throughout the novel and just like Dani, we are left to question whether it was ever truly there to begin with.

Through out the story, she struggles with the fact that she had a very difficult relationship with her mother and wonders if she ever even truly loved her. When truths about Ruby Falls comes to light, Dani questions whether she even knew her mother at all.

The characters were all very well written and I could truly picture them and understand them fully through Dani’s eyes!

She comes to know Paulo and the two bond over movies! Dani gets to know Paulo and while the do start a relationship Sanchez never makes it a central part of the novel and truly focuses on Dani’s personal growth as she grieves and comes to terms with whats happened. I adored the dynamic between the two of them and no matter what, Paulo respected when Dani wanted to help herself and always gave her the space she needed!

I do wish Paulo was included more, because he was a very loving and supportive friend/boyfriend to Dani. However I loved that Sanchez really left the romance in the background!

There is also a big emphasis on family. With the loss of her mother, Dani comes to know her aunt Shelly and understands she isn’t alone and that she can confide in her through her struggles. She also finds comfort with Paulo and his grandmother as well. They provide her with the emotional support and love she never had.

In terms of plot, it mainly focuses around Dani and her new life when she moves to New Mexico and comes to terms with her mother’s death. What I also really loved about the plot was how this novel truly centered around Dani and her personal growth.

After completing the novel it was clear that Dani still had a long way to go to recover and was doing it slowly but surely, however Sanchez did a fantastic job to show that her recovery wasn’t going to be an easy transition and would take time. She was still accepting the truths she learned about her mother, but with her new family and friends it was clear she would be okay.

I will admit I did take off a star, because while the inclusion of Shelly’s POV added much more to the story and really gave more background to Dani’s mother Ruby and why she was very detached, it did slow down the story for me. However, I really got to know more about Shelly and that was great because through Dani’s POV, I felt there was still a lot to learn about her.

Additionally after the section centering around Shelly + Ruby’s past, I felt that the ending felt a little rushed and wanted more page-time/interactions with Dani & the side-characters who now really supported and helped her when she needed it most.

Through a dream-like writing style we follow Dani as she adjusts to a new home and grows to find the strength to accept her mother’s death and all the complexities that come with it!

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard Review

kings-cageKing’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #3)

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 528

Summary: Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

My Rating:★★★★☆ (maybe 4.5? Still deciding on rating!)

My Thoughts: King’s Cage expands the Red Queen world and Aveyard delivers incredible character development + will leave readers ready for Book 4!

Looking back while Glass Sword wasn’t the strongest addition to the series, King’s Cage definitely delivered!

I’m never let down by Aveyard’s writing and as always I find myself surprised at how fast I finish reading her books!

~Major Spoilers Ahead~

The story starts off with Mare as both Maven’s prisoner and pawn. She is being tortured and due to the Silent Stone, can’t use her ability!

Maven forces Mare to use her identity as the “Lightning Girl” to bring Newbloods and Reds to his side and expand his power as king.

An aspect which took me by surprise was seeing the inner workings of Maven’s rule! Mare states during her time in the palace, he looks weaker and more tired. Due to all the stress he is put under, he knows he can easily loose his grip on power, so he will do anything to keep the throne!

The Scarlet Guard doesn’t give up hope to get Maven off the throne & it was definitely a surprising twist to see them get stronger as the months passed, becoming an unexpected obstacle for him.

Mare comes to terms with how she treated people back in Glass Sword + over the course of the novel she really changes and reflects on her behavior to become a better person.

The last act mostly revolves around getting Mare comfortable with the guard/her friends & family now that she’s escaped + prepping her for to join the expanded guard ready to fight Maven!

The aftermath of the battle was definitely fast-paced and had me unsure what was going to happen next!

*No spoilers, but while I didn’t absolutely love it, I really enjoyed the ending to King’s Cage and I definitely feel the final installment will end the series off on a good note!

One of the best parts of this series is Maven! Aveyard really knows how to handle his character and we really come to know more about him and his past! While I do enjoy reading about him, I definitely applaud Aveyard for not excusing or showing redemption for his behavior!

Over the course of this story I really felt more connected to Mare than I did in GS and through her narrative it was clear that Maven’s equally expanding rule would bring trouble for the Scarlet Guard as well!

I adored getting more from the world! We know there is more beyond the Kingdom of Norta and while we get a bigger scope of RQ’s history we also get introduced to the surrounding kingdoms and their rulers.

Another interesting addition was Multiple POV! I’ll be honest, my rating is low because while I enjoyed the new perspectives and adored the characters themselves, *Which I won’t spoil* and while I enjoyed both pretty equally I felt one of the POV’s both dragged the story and just directly told us of events going on behind the scenes, instead of letting us figure it out ourselves.

As for other aspects I really loved about King’s Cage:

~What truly took me by surprise was the inner turmoil and rebelling of the other Houses! How it was developed was something I really enjoyed. I loved how Aveyard showed the costs for Maven taking the throne! I was not expecting Maven to show stress/fear from his position!

~We get more development from characters like Evangeline, Maven of course, Kilorn and it was great to see different facets to their character. (Kilorn + Cal development was also done very well!)

~I loved the Cal + Mare development! 

~Mare bonds more with the other women in this series which was awesome and I loved how they helped/relied on each other along the way!

Aside from some minor issues with the POV, I also took off a star b/c:

~I wish there more  page time with Cal + Maven! I felt this novel showed how big of a role they have in the series overall+ once Book 4 comes and overall it would have been great to get more scenes with them!

+ I tried my hardest to, but personally I just couldn’t avoid similarities between this novel and another I previously read before getting into King’s Cage! 😥

Regardless of those issues, King’s Cage is filled with fun twists and turns, expansion beyond Norta and overall this novel truly shines because of its characters! Aveyard as usual will leave you wanting the next book right away!

January 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

uncaged-wallflower-by-jennae-cecelia-review1.Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

Uncaged Wallflower Full Review

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: October 6, 2016

Pages: 70

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: An inspiring collection of poetry! Filled with such positivity, Uncaged Wallflower had me hopeful and inspired! It was a spectacular read to start off the new year! Highly recommend!

a-list-of-cages-by-robin-roe2.A List Of Cages by Robin Roe

A List Of Cages Full Review

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 320

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Roe’s debut is not one to miss! Adam and Julian (Adam’s foster-brother) find themselves meeting again after some time apart! A List Of Cages tells the story of the power of friendship and kindness, even when facing the most difficult situations. This novel is heart-breaking *discusses abuse & neglect* but you will feel so attached to these characters, even the minor ones through Roe’s spectacularly written dual POV.

frostblood-by-elly-blake3.Frostblood by Elly Blake (Frostblood Saga #1)

Frostblood Full ARC Review

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fantastic start to a new fantasy series! Blake delivers great character dynamics which is clearly seen between Ruby and Arcus! History and politics play a huge role in the world. The division/hierarchy between the Firebloods and Frostbloods was wonderfully done and its clear its not all black and white which was one of my favorite aspects! The plot while slow at times, definitely keeps you hooked as you learn more about Ruby and the world she’s in! 

crystal-storm-by-morgan-rhodes-review4.Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #5)

Crystal Storm Full Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: December 13, 2016

Pages: 379

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Not the strongest novel in the series in my opinion, however it is very character driven and expands even more on the world/magic Rhodes has built thus far! The slow pacing/plotting and introduction to certain characters/motives really made the tone of this novel feel rather off than previous novels! However, the ending definitely will leave you eager for Book 6!

Take The Key And Lock Her Up5.Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #3)

Take The Key And Lock Her Up Full Review

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 336

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Carter delivers such originality to her stories, there are twists and turns you don’t see coming. There are new characters introduced just in this final novel that Carter manages to create so memorably! Grace’s repetitive narrative, lack of side-characters prevalent in previous novels and overly cryptic characters made this novel rather confusing at times due to lack of info which made this a little disappointing! However, Carter ties up the story delivering a satisfying conclusion to Grace’s adventures on Embassy Row!

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silvera6.History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me Full Review

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Told in Griffin’s POV’s  (History & Today) we come to understand how his best-friend  +first boyfriend Theo, died. Through out this novel are themes of love friendship, love/loss + acceptance. Through the writing the characters truly come to life. This is a gem of a story you don’t want to miss!

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2017 Book Blog Goals {Bookish Goals}

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Top 5 Wednesday {#2} Underrated Books

What Books Did You Read In January?  🙂

Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter Review

Take The Key And Lock Her UpTake The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #3)

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 336

Summary: The princess is dead. Long live the princess.

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.

Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Carter delivers a satisfying conclusion to her Embassy Row Series filled with intrigue and twists you don’t see coming!

With every novel, Carter always delivers a plot with such originality and I love that! There isn’t so much politics/intrigue and mystery to where it seems like too much and Carter knows how to balance them very well.

This novel concludes Grace’s adventures on Embassy Row as she learns more about her fate as a future princess, the mysterious Society and her mother’s secret ties to the Society + what she had uncovered all those years ago.

Carter continues to build upon the fictional country of Adria, introducing prince Thomas and the king, while also revealing more about the Society and how it plays a major role in Adria’s long and complicated history.

People want to get rid of Grace and her family, but she knows she’s not going down without a fight. Essentially this whole novel is Grace finding out more about what her mother discovered and how she can put an end to it.

As for overall plot, Princess Ann (now who I can gather was the overall antagonist) develops a plan for Grace to assume her role as princess and marry her son Thomas so Amelia’s lineage can continue. And Grace knows there is more to this than what she is led to believe.

Alexi’s mother is finally introduced! Overall she was a wonderfully written character and it was interesting to see how she was weaved into the plot and her history with Grace’s mother.

There’s introductions to the king and Prince Thomas of Adria who was definitely one of my favorite characters in this final novel (possibly even the whole series! Even though he was just in 1 book<3)

While he wasn’t in the book too much, Thomas was definitely one of the most memorable characters as was Alexi’s mother! Both were wonderfully written and developed.

While its obvious this series focuses on Grace, I felt the side-characters (Alexi, Rosie, Noah & Megan; even Grace’s brother Jamie who was quite an important character in See How They Run) weren’t given much page time for a majority of the novel and only showed up when it was convenient for the plot. That was a real bummer considering in book 1 All Fall Down, they were with Grace most of the time. They were wonderful additions to the story and it would have made this book much better if they were all together.

Regardless, it was definitely great to see Alexi and Grace together! There were more moments between them which was nice. Everytime they interacted it was clear that Grace really cared for him and vice-versa.

What I love about not only this series but Ally Carter’s books in general, is that regardless of what is going on in the story she always keeps her plot focused and doesn’t take the story in unnecessary directions. 

I did take off a star because while I adore the originality of Carter’s stories, I found myself annoyed with Grace’s voice/character. She was very repetitive about her craziness and in general repeated multiple lines over and over regarding it, among other things which really didn’t add much to the story itself a majority of the time.

Additionally, I felt certain characters (like Ann) were too cryptic and secretive about things, to the point where reading from Grace’s POV felt a little confusing at times, because no one would tell her anything!

Also as stated above, it would have been better if the side characters were included more in this final novel.

Aside from my cons about her, honestly I’ve never read about a character like Grace before, so it was great getting a unique 1st person POV and additionally what I do enjoy about her character is her independence and strength to fix problems on her own.

Overall Take The Key And Lock Her Up is a mysterious and engaging finale which ties together the mysteries that Grace has been trying to solve on Embassy Row!

Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes Review

crystal-storm-by-morgan-rhodes-reviewCrystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #5)

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: December 13, 2016

Pages: 379

Summary: The ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.

In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.

Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.

The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Rhodes delivers a character-driven continuation to her Falling Kingdoms Series!

It saddens me that this wasn’t a 5-star read, but it definitely sets up for an epic conclusion for the 6th and final book in the series!

This novel picks up right away following the events of Frozen Tides and Magnus + Cleo find themselves following King Gaius to unlock the Kindred’s magic!

As with the previous novels, Rhodes executes the multiple POV’s wonderfully and with each chapter I’m never left confused as to who’s POV I’m reading from.

Many of the main characters like Cleo, Magnus, Jonas, Nic and Ashur have now teamed up to find a way to take down Amara who has taken control of Palesia due to some convincing of Kyan.

Lucia is on a mission of her own to understand what her magic is destined to do her and what is to become of her and her child. She makes her way to the Sanctuary and meets Timotheus who tells her of her fate and what is happening to the magic of their world b/c of the Kindred.

Now Lucia wants to set things right and find her family.

Character development was a huge part of this novel. However there is significantly more depth given to Gaius, Amara, Jonas & Lucia!

With King Gaius and Prince Magnus, their father-son relationship is really given more development. Secrets are revealed and you come to learn more about the King Of Blood and his past. Overall it becomes quite a big element of this novel in terms of character motivations and plot direction!

We come to have a behind-the-scenes look at Amara’s plan as she takes over Palesia and what she’s willing to do to gain even more magic and power.

In terms of world-building, there is definitely more expansion on the Kindred and development on who is now, as I can gather, the main villain Kyan! As the story progressed, I felt there was more depth given to the magic system and world of Mytica as a whole.

There was obviously a lot of things that happened, but there were issues I had which makes me really unsure of how to rate this! (Though the pros do outweigh the cons).

I took off a star because, I personally felt that the stakes weren’t as high as with Frozen Tides for instance and I feel that has mostly to do with the pacing which was slow for me in parts.

There were events that occurred or POV’s we followed which really dragged the story in some parts (especially in the beginning), for example Lucia’s! Personally I’ve always found it difficult to enjoy/connect with her character, but as I neared the end I found myself enjoying her development at seeing her redeem herself in wanting to set things right.

However as I reached the end, the pacing was much faster which I loved! Secrets are revealed and I found myself turning the pages wanting to know what was going to happen. The characters come together nearing the conclusion and I loved their interactions/dynamics!

Regardless of those minor issues…

Rhodes continues to deliver an engaging, character-driven fantasy  with secrets, schemes and Crystal Storm definitely hints at an epic conclusion I will absolutely be reading!

I’m definitely marking my calendar for book 6 to see how it wraps up!