Category Archives: Young Adult Fantasy

Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

daughter-of-a-pirate-kingTitle:  Daughter of the Pirate King

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: February 28th, 2017

17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there’s only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who’s going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it’s down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Summary from Goodreads.com

My Review:  Daughter of a Pirate King is a book that keeps coming up on my friends Goodreads pages as a great book and I was lucky enough to get a copy through NetGalley, yay!  Before I review the book can we talk about that cover?  I like the concept behind it, but the execution I think is off.  To me, this cover looks like a middle grade book and it most definitely is not.  It is more an upper high school level to me just because of the content and some of the things that going on throughout the novel.  However, as the phrase goes, don’t judge a book by its cover and you should listen in this case, because the cover does not do this book justice!

Now onto the book itself, which was awesome.  The main character, Alosa, is the daughter of the pirate king (hence the title) and is one kick ass heroine.  She is smart, sassy and resourceful.  I loved how she could take care of herself and never made foolish or reckless decisions that would just not fit with her character.  Too many heroines in YA books seem to make stupid, out of character, decisions as the plotlines unfold, which becomes annoying, but not Alosa.  She knows exactly what needs to be done, analyzes the best way to get there and follows through.  She is easily one of my favorite heroines of all time.  She was always surprising me, making me laugh out loud and I fell in love with her.

We also get to know Riden, the first mate on the ship that Alosa lets herself be captured on.  He was pretty great as well.  He has a fierce loyalty for his brother that seems a little misplaced, but he is the only family he has left so he will defend him at all costs.  Riden is torn between that loyalty and the feelings he is developing for Alosa.  He is also a heck of a fighter and gives Alosa a run for her money when they are sparring, both verbally and physically.  I really enjoyed the banter between them and watching them try to cope with how they feel for one another.  They are on opposite sides, each trying to get information out of the other, but they have a slow burning romance that builds naturally and is very sweet.

The plot itself moves along very quickly and as a result, I devoured the book in just one day.  I was so engaged with the storyline that I never even looked to see how much longer I had to read, which is rare for me.  I love the descriptions of a pirate life, the folklore in this world and how Alosa fits into all of it.  She really makes the story worth reading.  The plot itself was very clever, but she was just an outstandingly well written character who made the book the standout novel that it was.

I am hoping this is part of a series since the ending is open ended with a lot of questions still unanswered.  I want to learn more about the girls is Alosa’s crew and more about the other pirates that sail that same seas as her.  I am also eager to learn more about Riden and this connection that he and Alosa share.  I am hoping to see much more from Alosa and Riden in the future and will be interested to see how they tackle the obstacles that are now laid before them.  Daughter of a Pirate King is in my top three of favorite books this year, it was clever, funny, has an amazing female lead and drew me in from the very first page.  I absolutely loved this world and all is had to offer.  It was original in a world where many of the books seem to blend together.  I will be recommending this book again and again and eagerly look forward to when I get to spend more time with Alosa and her crew.

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FTC: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book/Audiobook Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

vassa-in-the-nightTitle:  Vassa in the Night

Author:  Sarah Porter

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy/Re-Telling

Release Date:  September 20th, 2016

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

Summary from Goodreads.com

My Review:  This is one of those books that kept popping up in my Goodreads and Amazon pages as suggested reads and I thought it looked interesting, but man there are some very mixed reviews about it out there so I was a little hesitant.  I downloaded the audiobook and started that way, which I think was good since the book was a little slow to start in the beginning.  The narrator did a fantastic job though and I loved her voice and pace as the novel unfolded.  I ended up half listening half reading the book because there were some events that I could not wait until I had to get back into the car to listen too.

Vassa in the Night is based off a Russian Folktale, Vasilisa the Beautiful, that I had actually not heard of before.  I did not read it before this book either, because I wanted to just go into it not really knowing a whole lot about it. Which in hindsight might have not been the best idea because I was thoroughly confused for the first few chapters of this book and reading the folktale might have helped with that.  On the other hand, I think this book is meant to be a little fantastical, so some confusion might have been normal.

Vassa herself was very interesting character, lost after the death of her mother, she does not really know where she belongs.  Except for her doll that has been her companion for six years, she feels alone. The book explores her ability to find out who she is and what she is going to choose to stand up and fight for.  She is stumbling through life at the moment and as readers we are right there with her trying to navigate the world she is in and the obstacles she faces that seem impossible much of the time, but then have very simple solutions.  She has quite a bit of help from unexpected places as well, to guide her to her ultimate end goal.

While the magical elements of the novel were no surprise to me, the amount of bloodshed did catch me a little off guard.  I guess it shouldn’t have, since outside the BY’s store there are detached heads on pikes, but the first half of the book did not have a lot of things happen that were bloody.  The second half though, there are quite a few moments that were pretty gruesome.  Not stomach turning, but just things I did not expect.  It took on a darker tone than the first half of the book.

Reading this review, I know I am not describing the book very much, but honestly, I could not do that in a simple review.  There is way too much happening in this book and giving all of those details away would just ruin it I think.  I liked this book, I did not love it.  I really did not love the ending, but I read that there might be another book in this world eventually which I think is necessary.  If you want to read something that is very different from anything else out there right now and just strange, then I would give this book a try.  I would read the folktale it is based on first, just so you have some idea of what is going to unfold as you enter this world.  I will be watching to see if there is a sequel in the future.

 

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Book Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and BeautyTitle: Of Beast and Beauty

Author: Stacey Jay

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Fairy Tale

Release Date:  July 23rd, 2013

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

-Summary from Goodreads.com 

My Review:  I am a sucker for retelling and fairy tales. I read Princess of Thorns by this author and loved it, so after I finished that I immediately got my hands on this book. Of Beast and Beauty puts a sci-fi twist on Beauty and the Beast that I found fascinating. It took place in a world where the god, for lack of a better way to describe it, is split in two, one good and one evil. Interestingly enough, the evil spirit watches over the “smooth skins” who are people without blemish (for the most part) and live within the only cities left surrounded by walls to keep others out.  There are monarchs that rule in these lands and every so often the queen must sacrifice herself to keep their lands prosperous. The good half of the spirit has been suppressed for far too long and has left for the lands outside of the walled cities to live in a wasteland.  The “monsters” who live in those desert lands starve and perish very quickly. To break the curse in this world a smooth skin has to fall in love with a “monster” and after that happens all the lands will be prosperous again. Too bad neither of them ever see one another and hate each other fiercely. Enter, Gem and Isra.

Watching the two interact together and slowly learn not to hate one another was so sweet. These two have centuries of embedded hatred for each other’s people to overcome. Once they can start to get past that and slowly appreciate each other is when it really starts to get interesting. I loved the slow build of the romance and how the two of them learned more about themselves as they got to know one another.

I loved the world itself and all of the legends and interesting mythology that came with it. Overall, just a great read.

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