The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell Review

The Last Magician by Lisa MaxwellThe Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (TLM #1)

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: July 18, 2017

Pages: 512

Summary: Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past. 

My Rating:★★★☆☆

My Thoughts: The Last Magician mixes fantasy with historical fiction as we follow Esta and her mission to travel back to 1902 to find an ancient book protected by the Order! With the book she will be able to save Mageus, such as herself, in the present and hopefully, future! Maxwell’s novel has elements of fantasy, mystery and adventure to keep you turning the page!

After reading the synopsis, hearing great buzz, and reading such positive reviews, I went into The Last Magician expecting to really enjoy it, sadly that wasn’t the case and I found myself quite disappointed.

While this book wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, there were definitely elements I really enjoyed and the plot itself has me intrigued to read the sequel and see what happens next!

Overall my biggest issue was the writing-style. It felt very flat to me and did more “telling” rather than showing. Because of that, it gave too much of the characters upfront and never really left room for interpretation. With the writing, so much of the characters motivations and personalities were stated so obviously and the writing itself was very direct, so I never really felt connected to any of the characters.

While it was great to also see the story from differing perspectives through the 3rd person POV, the pacing did become extremely slow and because of the writing style, the characters and elements of the story felt very flat to me. I had to put down the book a number of times within the couple weeks I read it, because the pacing and writing never really clicked.

While I found the characters a little difficult to connect to, Maxwell did make the story very character driven which I liked!

There was definitely a fantastical/magical tone that came with the story, though the writing which I liked! I also really enjoyed how the writing flowed well among the multiple POV’s. Being split among 4 parts, I did find parts 1 & 4 to be the most fast paced and immersive!

Time travel is something I enjoy in stories and felt that Maxwell did a great job at easily transitioning the tone of the story from present to early 1900’s and the setting, while very surface level at times, was presented well.

The plot itself left me very invested to see how Esta would be able to find the Ars Arcana, the Book and use it to bring down the Order, an ancient + secret organization that doesn’t like magicians such as herself.  The first chapter really pulled me into the story as the action started right away!

Professor Lachlan, her father-figure and guardian has trained her as a thief to find and protect artifacts used by the Order. So, he instructs her to use her ability to manipulate time to travel to 1902, find the Magician and prevent them from losing the book and ensure she can bring the book back to her time.

Once in the past, we learn more about characters such as Harte Darrigan who wants to find the book as well, but to be able to escape New York and start a new life. There’s also a gang introduced called The Devil’s Own, led by Dolph Saunders who’s crew is made up of Mageus and he’s looking for the book as well.

Esta spends a majority of the book with The Devil’s Own and I couldn’t help but compare the group to the crew in Six Of Crows! While they do have their differences, to be honest there were so many similarities that I picked up on between the characters. I never really found a connection to them, because they felt too much like characters I’d read before.

The magic system in this book was introduced very well and I found the idea of the Brink to be the most interesting aspect. The magical barrier that kept magicians trapped in New York was explored through the multiple POV’s in different ways and I really enjoyed that. But it would have been great to get more background on the magic because many aspects were very surface level.

As Esta becomes more involved with the characters in that time period, she learns more about the Order and how they work in early 1900’s New York and just how much is at stake if she doesn’t find the Book.

Overall this book had a lot of well thought out elements, I just personally found that the execution of the story sadly didn’t really work for me.

The ending did have twists and turns I didn’t expect, but it did feel a little too rushed when all the pieces finally came together. However, I was left very interested to see where the plot would be headed in the sequel!

The Last Magician is an enjoyable historical + urban fantasy novel to check out! While the pacing can be slow at points and the writing a little flat, the story itself has a lot of good elements for an immersive and character-driven tale!

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The Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave Review

The Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood HargraveThe Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Publisher: Chicken House

Release Date: May 4, 2017

Pages: 288

Summary: Ami lives with her mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. It’s all she knows and loves, but the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: her island is to be made into a colony for lepers. Taken from her mother and banished across the sea, Ami faces an uncertain future in an orphanage. There she meets a honey-eyed girl named for butterflies, and together they discover a secret that will lead her on an adventure home. Ami must go back to the island of no return, but will she make it in time?

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Island At The End Of Everything is a captivating tale of adventure and courage, with such lyrical writing and messages of hope, this novel also heavily discusses themes of family and friendship.
I adored Kiran’s debut The Girl Of Ink And Stars and was eager to read her next book.

Along the similar lines of her previous novel, Hargrave uses a poetic and lyrical 1st person narrative as her stories follows young women on journeys of friendship, family, and finding their way home.

What made this novel different from her previous one, was that it was based more on history than just fantasy. 

Set in the early 1900’s Philippines, we follow Ami as she lives her life on the beautiful Culion Island with her mother. However, many of the people who live there have leprosy.

When government official Mr. Zamora arrives, her world is changed forever. Not having leprosy herself, she is forced to leave her mother and her home to Coron Island, where she will live in an orphanage with other people not having leprosy, to avoid getting it herself.

What I love about Hargrave’s writing style so much is that each sentence brings the story, characters, the lush setting of the Philippines, everything to life. Its lyrical and beautiful. As you read The Island At The End Of Everything, you can tell each sentence is put there for a reason and from the beginning to the very end, you’ll be in awe at how the story comes together through the writing!

I’d never read a novel set in the Philippines before or one that discussed this part of history. I’d never heard about this leprosy outbreak until I’d read about it in this novel, but I’m glad a novel like this exists for middle grade readers to learn about it.

Reading from Ami’s POV gave so much depth to this novel, not only to bring the setting to life, but also the characters. From her mother, to her local neighbors like Bondoc, Capuno, the Sisters, Mari, every single character felt so real!

Ami is heartbroken to be leaving her home and mother behind. However, when she reaches Coron, she finds solace with her new friend Mari. Ami was so brave and just reading from her POV was so empowering, reading about her journey to get back home and see her mother again.

Additionally, this novel is very diverse! Almost all of the cast of characters are Filipino + Mari is shown to have a disability (withe her hand) with her hand and Hargrave discusses it with so much care.

The 2 develop a beautiful friendship and over the course of the story, Mari becomes a very central character + such an important friend that Ami is grateful to have.

What I love about Hargrave’s novels, is the emphasis she puts on family, friendship and independence. Those themes are present all throughout this novel.

While Hargrave’s novels are marketed as middle grade, they are novels that can honestly speak so much to readers of any genre. Her novels have messages that anyone can relate to (Understanding who you are, discovering friendship, and the emphasis and importance of family).

My only issue is that the epilogue did feel rushed and I did find the pacing to be slow towards the middle.

Aside from that…

The Island At The End Of Everything is a tale of friendship, family, and finding your way home. Hargrave’s writing is captivating, bringing the setting and characters to life as we follow Ami and her journey to find her way back home! Highly recommend this novel!

April 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 4

The Golem And The Jinni1.The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker (The Golem & The Jinni #1)

The Golem And The Jinni Full Review

Publisher: Harper

Release Date: April 23, 2013

Pages: 486

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: I hardly ever rate books a full 5 stars, but this novel truly deserved it! It captured my heart! I loved everything about this novel from the characters, writing, world-building…I could go on & on about this book! It follows both Chava (a Golem) and Ahmed (a Jinni) as they learn more about  themselves and the world when they find themselves in 1899 New York. There is multiple POV, but Wecker does a fantastic job at differentiating them through the 3rd person POV. This is a novel I will never forget! A true gem + Highly recommend!

Hunted by Meagan Spooner2.Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Hunted Full Review

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: A magical and captivating Beauty & The Beast retelling! Spooner delivers such complex characters and makes them + their development a huge part of the novel! The writing really delivers a “magical” tone to the novel and I loved that! I do wish there was more description for setting + faster pacing towards the middle/end. Regardless, this is a captivating tale with an immersive plot and wonderfully written characters/atmosphere! Spooner takes a classic fairy tale and makes it her own!

A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi3. A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2)

A Crown Of Wishes Full Review

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Pages: 369

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Chokshi’s previous novel, The Star-Touched Queen was one I felt dispapointed me, however A Crown Of Wishes blew me away! It was phenomenal! Following Gauri and Vikram, they find themselves teaming up to compete in the Tournament Of Wishes! Chokshi’s writing is exquisite, she elegantly crafts her characters, world/setting and plot through both 3rd + 1st person POV! The plot is filled with twists & turns + is nothing short of magical! I adored it! ❤

Every Heart A Doorway4. Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #1)

Every Heart A Doorway Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Pages: 173

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: This novel takes the idea of of portals and other worlds and gives it depth. The main characters struggle when they find themselves returning from their Door, eager to find a way back. Filled with a diverse cast of characters, atmospheric writing, and a good amount of mystery, McGuire’s novel is engrossing and unique! My only issues were slow pacing towards the middle and a few disappointments plot-wise. Regardless, this unique tale will keep you turning the page!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Literary Listens: YA Books That Need Podcast Adaptations

Waiting On Wednesday I #9 (When Dimple Met Rishi)

Literary Listens: YA Books That Need Podcast Adaptations

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-bannerLiterary Listens is my newest blog series/feature where I discuss podcasts & books!

Check out my most recent feature, which was “Podcast Recommendations For Writers.

This week’s post is all about “adaptations”–in a way.

I’ll be sharing with you YA Books that I’ve read, that would translate very well to audio and should have their own audio drama podcasts!

~Every now and again on Twitter, I update with my latest podcast obsession I’ve caught up with! 😂😂

While I am by no means an expert, I have listened to quite a few “Audio Drama Podcasts.” The easiest way I can explain them are, essentially stories/overarching plots (like that of a novel) told episodically through audio.

What makes them so unique compared to other mediums is that because its told through sound (sfx, voice actor/actress, etc.) everyone’s interpenetration of characters/setting can be vastly different and the episodic format of podcasts can give you an in-depth perspective on the story being told!

Now onto the list of YA Books that would make a great transition from page to audio!

six-crows-leigh-bardugo-cover1.Six Of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

The Six Of Crows duology has such a fascinating and rich world from the bustling streets of Ketterdam to the wonderfully written characters like Kaz Brekker, Inej Ghafa, and the other members of the Dregs! 

~Add in the high stakes and expansion of the world further developed in Crooked Kingdom and it would make for quite a series!

Bardugo is a master at crafting characters, descriptions and dialogue that’s witty, clever and creates such an atmosphere! If this were to ever happen and the right voice actors were found, it would truly bring her world to life through a podcast!

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore2.When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

McLemore creates such vivid and unforgettable characters and through her magical writing, it delivers such a rich and magical story!

Through her lush writing style, the Latinx folklore, magical realism, and important themes and messages weaved throughout would translate perfectly!

Crafting such a magical and memorable story When The Moon Was Oursif it were to be adapted as a podcast, would be a captivating one!

This Savage Song July 53.This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (TSS #1)

The uniqueness and creativity of Schwab’s worlds, especially in This Savage Song would make for such a compelling podcast! 

Through audio, the characters of Kate Harker & August Flynn would really be at the center, with the depth and emotion that Schwab brings to them in the novel a driving force, if this were to become a podcast!

~Just picture each chapter in their POV like one episode! Each chapter of the story could translate to one episode of them…recording their thoughts or relaying them through a diary??

Plus the city of Verity itself is dark yet has so much mystery that it would interesting to see unfold through a podcast! Even with its monsters like the Sunai, Corsai, and Malchai!

97800623807534.The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (TGFE #1)

What I adored about Heilig’s novel The Girl From Everywhere, was not only the rich history weaved throughout, but the overall originality of the plot!

16th Century Hawaii + Ships + Maps that can take you anywhere in time? Wouldn’t that be just beyond amazing for audio?? ❤ ❤

There are so many important themes such as family, friendship and finding yourself found all through out the story. Additionally there’s a great + diverse cast of characters! (character who’s bipolar, characters of color- 1/2 Chinese, Persian)

The beautiful imagery/description of setting that Heilig weaves into her story I feel would also translate seamlessly!

With the fascinating plot, diversity and important themes, The Girl From Everywhere would make such a magnificent audio drama podcast!

wintersong-by-s-jae-jones5.Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong was an enchanting tale! Along with the gorgeous writing, dazzling setting and fascinating characters, Jones’s story could really be brought to life through audio! (Like the Underground and Goblin Grove!)

~Music is a big factor in this story and as a podcast, would add even more!

Through Liesl’s elegantly-constructed POV, it would really transport the listener and bring the enchanting world to life!

Do you think these YA Books would make interesting audio drama podcasts?

Any YA Books you think would be great as podcasts?

Let’s Discuss In The Comments Below! 🙂

The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker Review

The Golem And The JinniThe Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker (The Golem & The Jinni #1)

Publisher: Harper

Release Date: April 23, 2013

Pages: 486

Summary: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Golem And The Jinni is a wondrous story filled with such in-depth characters, fascinating world-building, and a magical plot that will leave you captivated long after the final page!

Originally on my Goodreads review I rated it 4.5 stars, but honestly I’d spent maybe a month or so reading this book (which I’d been wanting to read for years now! ❤ ) and now that I’ve finished, this story truly a masterpiece and I felt it deserved a full 5. Aside from a minor issue (mentioned later in my review), The Golem And The Jinni is a tale I’ll never forget!

I don’t usually mention my “reading experience,” but that’s definitely another aspect that made me love this book so much. No matter where I stopped, I was immediately thrust back into the magical world of The Golem And The Jinni whenever I picked it back up! ❤ ❤

*~While I mostly read/review Young Adult, note that The Golem And The Jinni is an Adult book!~*

There were so many incredible aspects of this book I’ll try my best to explain them all.

Firstly, the plot. It was beyond amazing~ It follows Chava who is a Golem (creature made of clay) and her beginnings as she is created for Otto Rotfeld, who wants a wife. But her husband falls ill on their ship voyage to New York and passes away.

A Golem itself is also created to follow the desires/wishes of its master, however now that her husband Otto Rotfeld has passed, the desires/thoughts of people around her begin to invade her mind and she is unsure of what to do as she tries to better understand herself and navigate this world alone.

Then there’s the Ahmad the Jinni. He finds himself in a tinsmith’s shop in New York and realizes he’s been trapped in a flask for thousands of years. He does have gaps in his memory, but remembers for sure that there was a wizard who trapped him. All he wishes for is freedom.

These magical creatures are now understanding who they are and where they fit, in this new world.

As for other elements of the story (like plot) I don’t think I’ll go too much in depth, because I feel this a tale you really need experience for yourself without much background. But, I will mention the basics and a few specific elements that I really loved!

The writing (3rd person POV) is very descriptive and creates a magical atmosphere which immediately draws you into the story. There is a lot of description of food, setting/nature, that the setting feels rich and immersive.

There are multiple POV’s however, Wecker does a masterful job at making them distinct, really letting you understand each and every character with such depth that they feel so real throughout the story!

The story weaves together phenomenally which is shown masterfully through the differing POV’s.

At its heart, this tale is about finding yourself and understanding who you want to be. I loved that theme of self-discovery was weaved all throughout the story.

The diversity was fantastic! There’s mainly a Syrian and Jewish cast of characters and an array of ages among them.

I adored the world-building! There’s so much detail put into the differing neighborhoods, buildings and architecture. Additionally, I found each character lends a unique scope to the world-building as well, which truly made the settings come to life.

While reading I could really picture the wear and tear of the apartment buildings, the baked goods, the sunsets, bustle of city life…everything! Being able to really envision these little details really transported me.

Magic weaves with history and religion as this tale, which fuses both Jewish and Arabic folklore, unfolds.

The female friendships in this book were fantastic! While a problem or two arises along the way, they show support and care for each other no matter what!

I suppose my only minor issue pacing with some moments throughout the POV’s where it is rather slow.

The Golem And The Jinni is a captivating & atmospheric tale that melds history with fantasy. Filled with compelling characters, themes of family, friendship, and a dazzling setting, this is not a tale to miss!✨

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~

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston Review

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

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Pages: 384

Summary: Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

*Received a finished copy through a giveaway*

My Thoughts: Livingston delivers a character-driven tale about a Celtic princess turned gladiator!

Recently announced, The Valiant will b getting a sequel!! I can definitely see how the ending would be nice to it conclude it as a standalone, but I truly fell in love with this world + characters and I’m so happy there’ll be a second book!

The first few chapters alone, really pull you into the story and wastes no time showing the complexity and depth of the main character Fallon.

While this novel does have action, it is definitely more of a character-driven story and the gladiator aspects do appear throughout the novel, but a really featured more at the end!

Fallon truly changes over the course of this story, but above all changes for herself and is an independent and determined heroine! I loved reading from her POV!

On the evening she is hopeful her father will add her to her to the warband, she gets captured and is forced to become a gladiator for Rome. Once there, she is determined to get her freedom, however along the she learns more about herself and her family, but mostly the enemy territory that invaded her home years ago.

While forced to train as a gladiator, she learns more about the people who brought her to Rome and what the costs truly are if she is to find a way back home.

The other side/main characters were also very well written and developed. Through Livingston’s writing, you really get to understand these characters, even with just a few passages! (Cai & Elka were my favorites!)

There’s so much girl power + amazing female characters. Over the course of this novel, Fallon finds friendship between her gladiatrix companions (especially Elka) even the Achillea  and its clear while they may not always get along, they are there to look after each other!

They were very much like sisters and overall I loved how the females were given a central role in this world/story!

Reading about these female gladiators was truly fascinating and it sucks there isn’t much historical record of them, but it was definitely wonderful to get a chance to read about them from this novel!

Fallon struggles with the loss of her sister and it’s clear that both her sister Scorcha & the loss of her, pushes her and has molded Fallon into the person she is.

I felt it had the perfect amount of romance! Wonderfully done! It never felt too forced and it never felt like it took over the plot or changed Fallon’s motivations in any way! Through out the novel she really focuses on earning her freedom on her own personal development, with out help from Cai and it showed just how determined she was to prove herself.

I did take off 1/2 a star b/c I felt the pacing was slow at times & I wanted more action!

Regardless, this is a very character-driven novel with twists + turns and delivers a tale about honor, family and sisterhood + foreshadows an even more epic journey to come in the sequel!