Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle
Rating: ★★★★★

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

I’ll be honest. I went into this book thinking it couldn’t live up to the last two books. Not because I don’t think Stiefvater can’t write well, but because I couldn’t see how the story could possibly get any deeper than it already was. The last two books were so good that I didn’t think there was much room left to develop the story. And I was completely wrong. Thankfully.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue starts right where The Dream Thieves left off. Blue’s mother has gone missing and everyone is about to start school again. Gansey is devoted to finding Glendower. Adam has promised himself to Cabeswater and is feeling the weight of his promise. Rowan is trying to bring his dream world and the real world together. Blue is experiencing what true friendship is as she falls even more for Gansey.

Each of these characters has a piece of my heart. They each have their struggles, but they are really showing how true and strong their friendship is. They are there for each other, not out of obligation, but because that is what friends do. The little moments between Blue and Gansey are slowly cracking my heart. Each time they have a moment alone, the emotions are right there, nearly punching me in the gut.

I don’t want to talk about the plot of the story too much, since I think this novel is best experienced without and preconceptions. I will say that new characters are introduced, new complications arise concerning Glendower, and the world of the Raven Boys becomes even more clouded and wonderful.

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. It had a little of everything I wanted. Characters are continuing to develop, as are their relationships with one another. There never feels like there’s a slowing of the pace and I was anxious with every page turn. I’m in love with this series and can’t wait to see how everything finally comes to an end.

If you’d like to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to NetGalley and Scholastic Press for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

New Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Title: Exquisite Captive
Author: Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan series
Rating: ★★★★★

Exquisite Captive

I loved this book. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. If I’m being honest, my only real experiences with jinn are those of “I Dream of Jeannie” and Genie from “Aladdin.” Those are not even close to the jinn in Exquisite Captive; Demetrios created an amazing story surrounding her characters.

Nalia is the last jinni of her race. She survived a coup that left everyone she cared about either dead or tortured. She is stuffed into a bottle and sold into slavery. Enter Malek. He is her master. He is abusive. And controlling. And confusing. But he is not a love interest.

I am sure some people will disagree with me on that point. Nalia does have conflicted feelings about Malek, but I don’t believe she ever feels love towards him. Caring? Sure. Sympathy? At times. But not love. Her relationship with Malek is like that of a Stockholm Syndrome victim with his or her captor. Malek has had power and control over her for so long, and has scarred her enough with her bottle, that when his behavior changes, she finds kindness.

The relationship between Malek and Nalia is an abusive one. Nalia recognizes that what she feels for Malek can’t be called love, just as what Malek believes he feels for her is not love. Not once did I get the feelings that I was supposed to want a romantic relationship between them.

On the other hand, Nalia’s relationship with Raif is not abusive. It starts out rough because they each want to use the other for a purpose. Raif wants the ability to save the Jinn races, and Nalia wants to be free from her bond to Malek. However, there is not the same abusive tone with their relationship. They certainly don’t like each other right away, but neither individual abuses the other. They develop their relationship slowly, and I enjoyed every second of it.

I am absolutely enthralled by this story and hate that I have to wait so long for the next book. I want to know what is going to happen next, both on Earth and in the jinn world. There are so many pieces to this story that just as I start to think the book couldn’t get any better, it does.

This is definitely a must read book. Demetrios will draw you right in and, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to put the book down.

If you’d like to read Exquisite Captive, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Rating: ★★★

I am confused on how to rate this. There is no denying that Hodge created a beautiful, interesting world with an interesting history. The characters are flawed, yet wonderful. The ending felt a little fast, but I still liked it. I’m not quite sure that it’s “Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast,” but it’s still a captivating read.

Nyx has known for most of her life that she would be the sacrifice. Here sister is the beloved daughter and she is the useful one kept at a distance. She knows she will be married to the Gentle Lord, the one who rules all demons. She knows she is expected to destroy him, and in the process either be trapped with his forever or die. Nyx has never felt loved or valuable to her family, something that plays an important role later in the story. She’d developed a tough skin and an even tougher heart. She knows that if she doesn’t let herself care for anyone, no one can use that against her.

Nyx fascinated me as a character. Her father has never shown her much love, instead showering her sister with affection while training Nyx to be the revenge he desires upon Ignifex. Nyx and her sister were part of a bargain their father struck with Ignifex, but it cost him his wife. As revenge, Nyx is supposed to marry and destroy him and his castle. Her father’s desire for revenge leaves no room for compassion and love for Nyx. She’s angry and hurt. She wants someone to feel for her situation. She feels like she is not a person, just a tool.

Ignifex somehow breaks her down and reveals a different side to Nyx. She suddenly has someone she wants to care for. She’s meant to destroy him, but finds common bonds that make that task difficult. The main fault I find between Ignifex and Nix is that they barely spend much time together before it becomes love. I wish the relationship had been developed a little more right from the beginning.

The world building was done well. There’s some Greek mythology mixed with the Beauty and the Beast elements. My favorite piece was the castle, though. It’s forever changing, revealing new secrets and hiding others constantly. I loved reading Nyx’s wanderings of the castle. Everything was so vividly described I could picture it all easily. The castle is its own character.

In the end, despite how I loved individual pieces of the novel, I didn’t fall head over heels in love with it. It was good, yes, but not amazing. I think the Beauty and the Beast elements will really draw people in. It’s a lovely and well-written novel, just not exactly what I thought I was getting into. Still worth a read for the imagery alone. Everything else is just an added bonus.

If Cruel Beauty sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Title: Wildefire
Author: Karsten Knight
Series: The Wildefire Trilogy
Rating: ★★

I wanted to like Wildefire, I really did. A book that includes all gods and goddesses from the world’s cultures sounds like it could be amazing. Instead, the book felt disjointed and the action didn’t really start until near the end. I’m all for a thorough set-up, but the ratio of set-up to plot was off for me. The reason I kept reading, however, were the characters Knight created. They weren’t enough to save the novel though.

The book starts in the middle of a fight between Ashline and Lizzy, a girl at her school. Ashline’s sister arrives and escalates the fighting to a crazy level. From there, the story takes a while to unfold. Ashline leaves her school in favor of a private school, far away from the events of the first chapter.

Knight was able to write fantastic characters. They encompass the teen years perfectly. With each character, not only could I picture them as real, but I could see how they would have fit into my high school circle of friends. Ashline’s sarcasm won me over. She had a quick wit and a dry humor that I loved. Colt is sweet and persistent without being too much. Even Eve, the evil sister was written well. She was evil, but Knight wrote cracks into her toughness.

My main problem with the novel is how long it took to get to the things in the book description. Maybe it’s because I was expecting something else based on that description, but I found myself anxious and not in a good way. I was interested in the action of the book description. It’s quite possible that if someone had handed me the book, told me it was about a teen goddess, and sent me on my merry way, I would have enjoyed it more. I just didn’t find myself enjoying the build-up. It seemed like there was a lot going on, but it didn’t seem to move the novel forward much.

The other thing that turned me off right away was the fight in the beginning. Not that it was over a boy, things like that happen when you’re a teen girl. I was a little bothered by how violent it was even before Eve arrived and made things worse. I’m not usually bothered by violence, but something about these few opening scenes bothered me. It might be because I didn’t know the characters before being dropped into the middle of a violent fight.

Ultimately, this wasn’t the book for me. The characters were well written, but that couldn’t make up for the rest of the novel. Things took a little too long to develop and by the time the action really started, I was already taken out of the novel. I know this will be a book for some, but just not for me.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Wildefire, you can do so here:
Barnes and Noble