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Monday, September 5, 2016

REVIEW: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

Book 3 in Kagawa's Talon series, Solider once again follows Ember and Riley, two rogue dragons on the run from Talon as well as their unlikely alliance with enemy-ex-soldier, Garret. This story continues their quest for truth and the plan to ultimately bring down Talon's oppression. While trying to regroup from the event of Rogue, the characters wrestle with personal feelings and some startling secrets that rock both the dragonslaying and the dragon world.

A lot of readers would sigh and say, "Another love triangle??" However, there is a complexity to the relationship dynamic between Ember, Riley and Garret. Ember is torn between these two because of her own split identity.  Spending 90% of her time in human form, Garret has challenged her beliefs about her human side.  One the contrary, her dragon calls to Riley and his own dragon-side, Cobalt - finally learning that they are destined to be life mates.  This is a lot of emotion for a young woman, especially while different factions are gunning for them.

What I enjoyed about Soldier was the suspense of the plot.  Talon is a deliciously evil villainous organization made even worse by their experiments and the fact that Ember's twin, Dante is tasked with leading the whole shebang. Toss in the bomb that St. George's patriarch is also in cahoots with Talon is highly entertaining. The final showdown was epic as was its tragic outcome.  I wasn't ready for that emotional roller-coaster nor can I wait for the fallout in the next book.  I can't wait to see how the next phase of this series develops based on the over big reveals at the end of this book.

This is very much Garret's book which makes sense to me now in light of the title and other events.  At first, I had some difficulty with some of the transitions throughout the narrative but in hindsight I now view these as artistically essential to the storytelling.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @Jkagawa

#soldier #talon #dragons #yalit #romance

REVIEW: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

*Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for an ARC in exchange for a fair review*

Expected publication: September 20, 2016

Stealing Snow is a twist on the classic Snow White fairy tale. Snow has spent the majority of her adolescence as a asylum patient in New York, medicated by pills she dubs with dwarf names.  Her only solace is Bale, the troubled young boy she loves. Extreme emotions and anger tend to make very strange things happen around Snow. When Bale disappears and the mysterious Jagger provides Snow an opportunity to escape, her world turns upside down.  Discovering that she's the long lost princess prophesied to save a fantasy kingdom from the evil king, Snow has to learn not only to control her own magical powers but also who to trust as she seeks to save Bale and the land from her evil father's clutches.

What to say? What to say?

This was one of my highly anticipated titles of 2016.  However, I struggled getting through the narrative for a variety of reasons. The premise is strong and the story begins with promise but this first book fails to live up to the expectations set by Paige's Dorothy Must Die series.

One problem I had was with characterization.  Snow lacks a truly dynamic personality.  Sure she's been isolated and has a lot to acclimate to given the reveal of her heritage but she really comes across as rather bland.  There is a push for her to turn into a more of a heroine by the novel's end and perhaps she'll grow more for the next book; however, I was just disappointed and wanted a character with more snap and snark like Amy in Dorothy Must Die.   Similarly, as 'the love interest', Bale falls flat since he really isn't featured much.  I prefer Jagger and to another degree, Kai but there is also room to see if this characterization develops further into the series.

Another disappointment for me was pacing. I really felt as if the flow of the narrative was all over the place.  There are just too many scene locations without strong connections between them. Snow hops from the asylum to a fantasy land but then proceeds to jump between other locations and scenes without fully utilizing the introduction of these locales or characters.

Overall, I still liked the book but its flaws tarnished my expectations. I had to push myself to even finish it at times because I just couldn't fully engage with the characters or storytelling.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @daniellempaige

#daniellepaige #stealingsnow #netgalley #YAlit #teen #review