Review: Exile by Anne Ousterlund

by First Mate Keira

Title: Exile
Author: Anne Ousterlund
Format: Trade Paperback
Page Count: 304 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 7-12

Summary: Aurelia has exiled herself from the court in the last book, bearing her name, when she refused to marry the creepy king of a neighboring kingdom. She plans to tour the country of Tyralt (her soon-to-be kingdom) and visit the whole of it to get a feel for the people from every part. Almost immediately she suffers another assassination attempt. Who’s behind it this time? Can it be that her sister, Melony, has their father’s support now? Is there nobody she can trust? Well there’s one… Robert.

Why I started this book:

I was given a copy by the author.

Likes:

  • The growing relationship between Robert and Aurelia. It’s sweet and grounded with room to blossom.
  • Aurelia’s ability to charm those around her even when they’re hostile. A good quality for a leader.
  • The trip up the Gate… I mean the gauntlet. Very vivid imagery and sad too when they come to the wagon wedged into the rock.
  • The desert tribes sequence was one of my favorites. Loved it.

Dislikes:

  • The first assassination attempt in this book leads to a major melt down for Aurelia. Luckily it doesn’t last forever.
  • Aurelia’s real mother. Talk about a trying parent. That woman needs a kick in the rear and someone to shake some sense into her.
  • I got tired of the guilt both Robert and Aurelia visited time and again for doing what they had to do in order to survive the final confrontations in the previous book. A little was fine, even expected, but it dragged the story down and made it more somber.

Last Minute Thoughts: Robert takes a while to confess his love, but you’ll love it when he does. She too is pretty reserved until she isn’t. This can be at times very frustrating! I’m so glad he finally made a move and stood his ground not willing to be cowed because of her title. Who’s ready for the next book? I am! I want to know more about the new Heir of Vashone.

Buy: Exile

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

by First Mate Keira

Title: Eyes Like Stars [Théâtre Illuminata (Act 1)]
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Format: Trade paperback
Page Count: 384
Grade Reading Level: Grade 7+

Summary: Beatrice Shakespeare Smith lives inside a magic theater where all the players from all the plays ever written and performed come to life. Some are her friends, some are not, and some are indifferent. The same can be said of the adults who manage the theater productions and control the players. In life all Beatrice wants to find her parents (mom) and get this boy she likes to kiss her… that is until Management tries to force her to leave, then all she wants is to find a way to stay.

Why I started reading this book:

Saw the book cover at another blog and read the review. It looked good.

Likes:

  • Nate. He’s a random pirate from the Little Mermaid and wants to be Beatrice’s boyfriend. He’s sweet and cute and fun. Not a bad choice. Kind of like Jacob Black from the Twilight Series, but better. Too bad the Sea Witch claims him and won’t return him.
  • Ariel. He’s the mysterious boy, sort of the Edward Cullen. Is he good? Is he evil? All we know for certain is that he was once Beatrice’s friend until he was warned away by Management and that he’s terribly unhappy living inside the walls of the Théâtre Illuminata.
  • The three fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They’re good for a laugh and are clearly good friends to each other and to Beatrice.
  • The magical Théâtre Illuminata. What a great setting! Very cool idea.

Dislikes:

  • The play that supplants Beatrice’s Hamlet makeover at the end of the book. It was necessary but didn’t do much for me.
  • What happened to Beatrice’s mom and how Beatrice once figuring out who she is leaves the theater without bringing her mom along.

Last Minute Thoughts: Can’t wait for the next Act, Perchance to Dream.

Buy: Eyes Like Stars: Theatre Illuminata, Act I

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

by First Mate Keira

Title: The False Princess
Author: Eilis O’Neal
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 319 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 11-19

Summary: Nalia is a shy bookworm princess whose only close friend is her best friend Kerinan, the son of an earl. On her 16th birthday, Nalia is told she’s a substitute princess; a stand-in, someone to take the place of the real princess while her life was in danger. But now the danger that the prophecy predicted had passed without a hiccup, they didn’t need her anymore. Her parents are suddenly the king and queen of Thorvaldor and Nalia turns from beloved daughter into something the cat dragged in. She’s kicked out immediately with few possessions and a small bag of coins for her services to the crown. The only thing that’s truly hers is her new name… Sinda, but who on earth is Sinda?

Why I started this book:

I saw it on the shelf in the library and thought I would like the book because the cover reminded me of the original cover for Ella Enchanted.

Likes:

  • Keirnan’s loyalty to Sinda. He wasn’t in love with her because she was a princess and could elevate his status and that of his family. He loved her when her position as the heir to the crown would have hurt his chances with her and now that she’s a commoner, nothing will stand in his way to keep her safe and reveal his feelings.
  • The fun old fashion names: Orianne. Sinda (I really thought at first this would be turned into something like Sindarella), Mika, etc… and the names of the kingdom and major city Vivaskari. They’re fun to repeat aloud.
  • It’s got it all. There’s magic, and romance, and journeys, and self discovery and flare. I love the world, the pacing, and the plot.

Dislikes:

  • The “Nameless God” is a pagan god. The god is said to have infinite wisdom and yet he can’t see all things or the outcome of the Sidna’s journey. It’s frustrating to say the least.
  • Tyr. At first I liked him, but in the end I’m glad his pursuit of Sinda didn’t get very far beyond a single kiss.
  • The end where somebody nice dies. :(

Buy: The False Princess

Rating: 4 Treasure Chests

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Review: The Fall (Seventh Tower, Book 1) by Garth Nix

Reviewed by Quartermaster Alyx

Title: The Fall (Seventh Tower, Book 1)
Author: Garth Nix
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 195
Grade Reading Level: 3rd-5th

Summary: In this world if your family doesn’t have a Primary Sunstone then you will be forced into a life of servitude and will never be able to acquire a Spirtshaddow (a helpful companion that you bind to yourself in place of your shadow). Unfortunately for Tal, his dad has gone missing and with him his family’s Primary Sunstone. Even worse, his mother is sick so no one can help him find a way to gather a new one so it falls to Tal to save himself and his younger siblings. He tries everything from asking his aunts to entering a competition to trying to seek an audience with the Empress but is unable to procure a Primary Sunstone. This only leaves only one option for Tal: he must steal a sunstone.

Why I started reading:

My brother really enjoyed the series so I decided to give the first one a go.

Likes:

  • There was tons of action!
  • The characters are great. Especially the hero, Tal, and his crazy uncle. The vast majority of the characters feel very real and I found myself wishing that I could meet them.
  • The world the book takes place in is super original and is described very well. I was able to picture everything that was happening in my head perfectly.
  • The shadow creatures that (almost) everyone who lives in the towers receive. They are so cool, I want one myself!
  • The Beastmaker game that Tal play’s is remarkable. I think the scene where he plays against the guards is my favorite.

Dislikes:

  • Huge cliffhanger at the end, it’s definitely not a stand-alone book. I had to run to the bookstore as soon as I finished so I could find out what was going to happen next.
  • I think that Tal’s immediate family should have been developed a little more. He’s going on this quest for his mother but the only thing that we really know about her is that she’s sick.
  • Tal’s aunts. They are unnecessarily cruel. I can’t believe that they wouldn’t help their own family out.

Buy: The Fall (Seventh Tower #1)

Rating: 4.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

by First Mate Keira

Title: Aurelia
Author: Anne Osterlund
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 246 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 7-12

Summary: The book begins with a dead body being carted away. Readers soon learn that there’s a plot to kill the crown princess of Tyralt, but the princess herself is unaware. A grown up school friend returns to the palace to help unravel the mystery on behalf of the king. The clues all seem to be leading to the princess’ stepmother, the Queen, or to a King from a neighboring kingdom.

Why I started this book:

I was offered the second book, Exile, in the series and needed to read this book in order to be caught up for the second.

Likes:

  • Who’s behind the assassination plots? The mystery is handled extremely well. I had considered and thrown out the real culprit way early in the story based on red herring information. Well done!
  • Aurelia is not a common princess, as she loves her common subjects and prefers to be among them. She sneaks out of the palace and goes around in disguise (but I’m pretty sure the people know her despite the disguise) and mingles with everyone as often as she can. She dreams of being able to travel, but a crown princess can hardly go into the capital city, let alone visit the farthest reaches of her kingdom. She also wishes for more learning opportunity like university.
  • Robert is a nice guy and I hope to see his suit with Aurelia blossom.

Dislikes:

  • The ending is wholly unsatisfying as the person behind the murder attempts is left unpunished. Well… sort of… I hope said person is forced to marry a certain someone. Would serve that person right!

Buy: Aurelia

Rating: 4 Treasure Chests

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Review: The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3) by Jennifer Nielsen

the shadow throneReviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3)
Author: Jennifer Nielsen
Format: Ebook
Page Count: 341 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 8-12

Summary: The Kingdom of Carthya is surrounded on all sides by enemies. Allies are too far away to help. King Jaron must use his wits to outwit neighboring kings and their armies in what is essentially a no-win situation. Carthya doesn’t have enough troops to support all fronts of the war… something must give… then Imogen is kidnapped and Jaron has to decide – does he save the girl or his kingdom?

Why I started this book:

I requested and received this book from NetGalley because I loved the first two books in the trilogy.

Likes:

  • I’ve always liked Jaron/Sage. His character is so deeply embodied, he practically leaps off the page brandishing his sword. I love how Jaron simply does not accept no-win scenarios as the only conclusion or solution. He’s clever enough to spin webs and webs of trickery and seem so innocent while doing so.
  • The romance between Jaron and Imogen. It is sweet, convincing, and emotionally rich.
  • The final scenario and solution to the war and the ending of the trilogy is one of the best endings to a series that I have ever read. All my expectations were met and more were fulfilled that I didn’t know that I wanted. You will not be disappointed. All threads are wrapped up and it’s very, very satisfying.

Dislikes:

  • It’s over! Jennifer, please write another trilogy! I’m ready!

Final Thoughts: I loved this trilogy and recommend it to all readers, both young and old. The world of the Ascendance Trilogy is rich, the characters vibrant and palpable, and the story captivating.

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

Buy: The Shadow Throne: Book 3 of The Ascendance Trilogy

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