The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre

Title: The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Adventure, Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017

Note: This book is written as a stand-alone prequel to The Two Princesses of Bamarre. If you are new to the world of Bamarre, I suggest beginning with The Two Princesses of Bamarre, since it introduces us to some of the characters in this book. 

The Two Princesses of Bamarre was the second book I read by Gail Carson Levine, and it became an instant favorite. I was pretty excited when she wrote this prequel over a decade later. I had high hopes for this book – and it did not disappoint. It is also worth mentioning that this is a subtle (so subtle that I almost missed it) Rapunzel retelling. You know, stolen from her family as a baby, locked in a tower (albeit only a brief section of the story), magical hair, young man who climbs said hair to visit her… can’t believe I didn’t catch it right away!

Peregrine is born a Bamarre, the people hated and oppressed by the Lakti. Taken from her family as a baby, Perry is raised as an ideal Lakti: she runs the fastest, fights skillfully, and says it like she sees it – a trait noticed and admired by her best friend, Willem. Raised to see the Bamarre that live among the Lakti as inferior, she never gave them much thought. Until, of course, she learns that she herself is one of them.

Thrown amongst a people she does not know, Perry sees that the Bamarre are not weak and cowardly as she was taught to believe, but kind and brave. With the help of her newly discovered people, her family (including my favorite: little brother Drualt!), and her love, Willem, Peregrine becomes the reluctant hero who must deliver the Bamarre from the oppression of the Lakti before their entire civilization is slowly wiped out and forgotten.

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War Storm

Title: War Storm
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, 4/4
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: May 15th, 2018

Note: This post reviews the fourth and final book of the Red Queen series. You may like to read the first three books in the series, Red Queen, Glass Sword, and King’s Cage, before reading this review. 

Ok Red Queen fans, here it is. The finale we have all been waiting for… War Storm.

The ending of the third book of the series, King’s Cage, left us just as brokenhearted as Mare Barrow. (Unless, maybe, you happen to be a Maven fan, in which case, leave.) When Cal ultimately chooses his crown over the girl he loves, Mare (and the Scarlet Guard) must continue to fight for what they have all been working toward – taking Maven down. And the only way to take down the prince who nearly broke her is to side with the prince who just broke her heart.

But this rebellion is bigger than just a messed up triangle, and always has been. The future of Norta, and the kingdoms surrounding it, is at stake. Will the Reds rise together as the dawn and defeat the Silver oppression once and for all, or will they be so defeated that they will never rise again?

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
Author: J.K. Rowling 
Genre: Fantasy, Screenplay, YA
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: November 18th, 2016

Note: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them can be read as a stand-alone book, as it takes place long before the events of Harry Potter with a completely different cast. However, you may enjoy it more if you have the groundwork laid by the Harry Potter series first. 

Like most Harry Potter fans, I was sad to see the series come to an end, both on page and on screen. I remember being so excited when this and Rowling’s other screenplay, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, were first released back in 2016. I liked seeing the classic series continue, in one way or another. The mistake I made was seeing the movie first, I think. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie – but I think I would have enjoyed reading the screenplay first, before seeing it brought to life on the big screen.

Newt Scamander is a British Magizoologist – a person who studies magical creatures –who has just arrived in New York City for work. What happens when his magical briefcase that holds a world of fantastic beasts is misplaced, and some of its contents are released? How does Newt keep his magical friends safe in such an unmagical place as New York City? And where does the muggle-hating Grindelwald fit in with all of it? Find out in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

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A Court of Frost and Starlight

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses series, a novella
Genre: Fantasy, NA, Romance, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: May 1st, 2018

Note: This post reviews a novella of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. You may like to read the first three books in the series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin before reading this review. 

Additional Note: I would like to emphasize that this series is written more toward the New Adult genre than the Young Adult genre. Because the NA genre focuses on protagonists in the 18-30 age range, the content, especially the sexual content and the language, is much more mature than the average YA novel. 

Let me begin by saying that I really do like this series. I especially loved the third book, A Court of Wings and Ruin. The characterization was rich, the writing was better than the first and second books (for the most part), and the finalé was pretty powerful. When I reached the end of book 3, I realized that Maas planned to continue the series – when it would have made a perfect trilogy! There is such a thing as dragging out a series too long, and I’m worried about this happening with an already good series. Is this going to become another Throne of Glass series for Maas, where we are now waiting for the eighth book in the series to be released?

Once I accepted the fact that the series was TBC, I eventually looked forward to the release of ACOFAS. I had my reading calendar (nerd) marked for the books’s release in May, as some of you might recall from an earlier post. I hadn’t known that, unlike the other three books in the series, it was in fact a novella. But the length of the book wasn’t what bothered me.

What bothered me about A Court of Frost and Starlight was the utter lack of plot.

I’m serious, guys. Nothing. Happened. I gave myself a few days in between reading the book and writing this review to have a clear head, but when I think back to the book, I remember the characters planning a party, shopping for gifts, exchanging gifts, having conversations, and – oh yeah, it’s Maas – having sex. I’m sorry if this is an unpopular opinion, but I do not think this makes for a good book, not even a good novella. There was no tension, no suspense, no plot.

The one thing this book had going for it was – the best part of this series! – the characters. I love Feyre, Rhys, Cassian, Nesta, and the rest – but… having great characters who simply interact with each other on the page, no matter how much we love them, is not enough. They have to do something – and they need to do more than plan parties and shop for gifts.

Having said this, if you plan to continue with the series, you should probably not skip this novella. It does set the reader up – barely – for what is to come, mostly concerning Nesta. The last ten pages of the book – the sneak peak of what is to come – offered more to the reader than the 250-page novella.

After all that, I just have to add… isn’t that cover a stunner?!

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