Book Feels: Villains, Rebellions & the Art of the Slow Burn

**Before we get in to the mini reviews, I have some breaking news!**

I decided to try something a little different with my reviews. I’ve fallen sooooo far behind on writing them (eight to be exact) and every time I sit down to try to get caught up I get overwhelmed and intimidated…losing any motivation I may have had. Actually, writing reviews has become my least favorite part of blogging lately which is why you haven’t seen one from me in so long. I know, I know…I’m a book blogger isn’t that what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing? REVIEWING books? Well, yes, but I also feel like if I force myself to churn out review after review, I’ll lose any creativity that may be inside this little pea brain of mine. Because of this, I’ve decided I’m going to try writing mini-reviews in groups and posting those three or four times a month. In between I’ll have more creative posts featuring a book or books I want to talk about more and then if I come across a book I absolutely LOVE and want to go on and on about, I’ll post a single, full-blown review.

So, that’s what I’m thinking for now. I’ll try it out for a bit and see what happens. My hope is that it jump starts my blog and allows me more freedom and creativity. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I have three reviews for you today that feature three young adult fantasy books that I’ve read recently! I’d love to hear your thoughts on them in the comments below, so make sure you take a couple of minutes to let me know what you think!

-a space where I share my thoughts and feelings on upcoming and recent book releases –

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Feels: Villains, Rebellions & the Art of the Slow BurnForest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1) by Julie C. Dao
on January 1st 1970
Pages: 363
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound
Goodreads
four-stars

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

This book is billed as an “evil queen retelling with an East Asian twist” and the second I read that description,  I was ALL IN! There’s been a few villain origin stories that I’ve really enjoyed in the past couple years (Heartless and The Young Elites to name a couple)  but this one was definitely my favorite. To be quite honest, I never really saw the main character, Xifeng, as a straight forward villain. What I did see was a young woman who had been through so much in her short life and was facing some pretty horrible choices as a result. All Xifeng wants is to break free from her past and forge a new path. She’s a fiercely determined young woman but also conflicted in what she needs to do to reach her goals. I was intrigued by her story and totally invested in the outcome. Each and every character in this book serves an important purpose in Xifeng’s journey and it was so fascinating to see how they all contributed to the development of her character.

Being immersed in the beauty and tradition of East Asia was one of my favorite aspects of the book. From Xifeng’s village in which the story begins, to the forest through which she travels and finally to the Imperial Palace in which she uncovers her fate. Each one more beautiful and evocative than the last, Dao has an uncanny ability to put the reader into her story and creates a gorgeous tableau on which the story can unfold. I personally can’t speak to how authentic the representation was, but the world and culture felt fully formed and true to its source. I’d really love to hear from those who are more informed to see if my assumptions are correct.

perfect for those looking for a complex and unique tale about a young woman’s struggle between love and power.

– forest of a thousand lanterns –

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Feels: Villains, Rebellions & the Art of the Slow BurnRosemarked (Rosemarked #1) by Livia Blackburne
Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 7th 2017
Pages: 400
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound
Goodreads
four-stars

A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes.

Oh man, did this book sneak up on me. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Not that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, it’s just that I hadn’t heard a ton about the book so I didn’t have any preconceived notions or over-hyped expectations when I started in on it. I love when a fantasy novel throws together an unlikely couple and forces them to work together towards a common goal. Add in the memory loss trope, in a very creative way I might add, and I was completely hooked. I loved that both Zivah and Dineas had completely different motivations behind their actions but still managed to find a way to protect those they love…by working together. I should add that Rosemarked is told through their alternating POVs which added some great perspective to some of the drama. Naturally, these two also find themselves fighting against their ever-growing affection towards each other and watching them both navigate those feelings was both captivating and frustrating. Sigh, I love a good angsty love story! Did somebody say slow-burn.

There’s a lot of political power plays and maneuvering in Rosemarked with the requisite secret keeping and manipulation. The concept of a plague being a catalyst for much of the drama in the book was intriguing and it created a very familiar dynamic of classism and prejudice that we (sadly) deal with in the real world, so it felt very timely. The pacing was slow and steady, which meant there wasn’t a ton of action, but if you enjoyed books like the Winner’s Trilogy from Marie Rutkoski and The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty then I think you’ll enjoy this as well.

Rosemarked is perfect for readers that are looking for a sociopolitical drama with a fantasy feel and a slow-burn romance!

– rosemarked –

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Feels: Villains, Rebellions & the Art of the Slow BurnFrostblood (Frostblood Saga, #1) by Elly Blake
on January 10th 2017
Pages: 376
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound
Goodreads
four-stars

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Sooooo, this is going to be an interesting (and probably confusing) review. I initially rated this book four stars but upon some reflection I really think I’d rather rate it three stars. While I enjoyed the book and didn’t have any huge issues with it, there was also nothing that really jumped out and grabbed me about it. Case in point, I read this book about 2 months ago and had a really hard time remembering details for this review. Maybe it’s because I’ve read a TON of fantasy young adult novels and have read every trope out there because most of them were in this book. A young woman struggling to harness her powers is the chosen one to bring peace to the kingdom. She goes through trials and tribulations, including a tournament of champions and an epic showdown with an evil king. Oh, and she falls in love with the grumpy but loveable guy who she thinks hates her. While fun and exciting, it also felt very familiar.

I did enjoy the magic system that was woven throughout this book. While ice and fire is certainly nothing new in the fantasy genre, I still found the way in which is was developed in this book to be intriguing. I guess at the end of the day my feelings are…if this was one of the first YA fantasy books I had ever read, I would have been blown away! But it wasn’t the first, so I was left feeling a little uninspired.

Frostblood is a solid YA Fantasy filled with everything we all love and know from our Favorites. It’ll feel like an old familiar friend.

– fireblood –

Have you read any of the books featured here? Let me know what you thought! Also, what do  you think of my new review format? Let me know in the comments below.

Sarah

One comment for “Book Feels: Villains, Rebellions & the Art of the Slow Burn

  1. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns sounds very interesting. I love that it’s from the villain’s perspective. I will definitely be reading this one. Thanks for the heads up!

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