Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Title: Reign of Shadows
Author(s): Sophie Jordan
Narrator(s): Phoebe Strole, James Fouhey
Series: Reign of Shadows, book #1
Length: 8 hrs 20 mins
Publisher: HarperAudio
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher, audiobook from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Although I love retellings as a rule -- and this is a retelling of Rapunzel -- this story did little for me. I liked the aspects that stayed true to the original tale, especially the one element that Tangled managed to completely eliminate in its reimagining of the story, but the characters just fell flat for me. Almost as if they were trying too hard.

Maybe it was because of the romance that I just couldn't connect with this story. It was basically insta-love, even if the characters themselves denied their feelings as long as they possibly could. And then it was overprotective, overbearing hero to the rescue. Secrets revealed. Ugly truths uncovered. And I was just done with it.

The one thing I really did enjoy about this novel was the setting. Where the author failed at making me fall for her characters, she very much succeeded in putting me in that dark, swampy forest full of Dwellers, fearing any noise and movement. Her depiction of the all-encompassing forest, of the darkness that let up for only a small sliver of time, was eerie and complete. And the creatures that dwelled there were even creepier.

That ending left me totally pissed off, though. Talk about a cliffhanger from hell! I honestly don't want to continue this story, but I can't promise that my curiosity over the why of that ending won't lead me to pick up the sequel. This would be one of the underlying reasons why I despise cliffhangers so much.

About the author:

Sophie Jordan took her adolescent daydreaming one step further and penned her first historical romance in the back of her high school Spanish class. This passion led her to pursue a degree in English and History.

A brief stint in law school taught her that case law was not nearly as interesting as literature - teaching English seemed the natural recourse. After several years teaching high school students to love Antigone, Sophie resigned with the birth of her first child and decided it was time to pursue the long-held dream of writing.

In less than three years, her first book, Once Upon A Wedding Night, a 2006 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Nominee for Best First Historical, hit book shelves. Her second novel, Too Wicked To Tame, released in March 2007 with a bang, landing on the USA Today Bestseller's List.

Find Sophie:

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Title: Sword and Verse
Author(s): Kathy MacMillan
Narrator(s): Emily Rankin
Series: Sword and Verse, book #1
Length: 11 hrs 34 mins
Publisher: HarperAudio
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Source: from publisher via Edelweiss, audiobook from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Raisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the King, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery. Everyone knows that Raisa is Arnath, but not that she is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that, although she may have a privileged position among slaves, any slipup could mean death.

That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the Resistance could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved, an honorable man she knows wants to help the slaves.

Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.

And Raisa is the one holding the key.

Ugh, even listening to the audio, I just don't think I can bring myself to care enough to finish. Thus, DNF at 30%.

This story is nothing I haven't seen before, which made it all the more boring and tiresome. At the point that I stopped is where I thought the romance should have started, with Raisa being forced to question what type of relationship she, a lowly slave and tutor, could actually have with the Crown Prince. Of course, this only happens AFTER she's already fallen for him, already given herself over to him with ZERO thought to what would be expected of him as the prince.

There's a Resistance that probably would have interested me, but very little of it is seen up to this point. Pretty much all that's happened so far is the doomed romance and Raisa studying symbol after symbol in an effort to understand something her father left her before he was killed.

Bland, uninteresting, and totally not worth my time to finish. And the choice in narrator left me feeling like I was listening to another installment of the Selection series, with her tendency toward the dramatic and a woe is me, however did I get here? main character.

About the author:

Kathy MacMillan is a writer, American Sign Language interpreter, consultant, librarian, signing storyteller, and avowed Hufflepuff. Kathy is the founder of The Sweet Sixteens (www.thesweet16s.com) debut group of 2016 middle grade and young adult authors, and serves as the Published and Listed Member Coordinator for the Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia Region of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is a volunteer director and board president of Deaf Camps, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides camps for deaf children. She lives near Baltimore, MD with her husband, son, and a cat named Pancake.

Find Kathy:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest


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