Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication date: September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Summary from Goodreads:
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
Kaz leaned back. "What's the easiest way to steal a man's wallet?"
Here is an author who knows how to write multiple narratives, creating great characterization, and an exciting plot! There are six narratives, which can be so confusing, but Leigh Bardugo beautifully weaves internal dialogue (that also offers outside observations of the other characters) with memories and present conversations for each narrator. On top of characters with unique backgrounds and personalities, Bardugo writes one exciting heist adventure. Think – Oceans 11 meets down and dirty, gritty fantasy.
Kaz narrowed his eyes. “I’m not some character out of a children’s story who plays harmless pranks and steals from the rich to give to the poor."
Kaz, the leader of the group, was equally difficult for me to like and totally intriguing. A hardened gang leader who’s out for the long journey of revenge, Kaz’s humanity and story is slowly revealed. It’s his humanity that makes him so intriguing. He’s lethal with a limp and a major handicap disguised by monstrous rumors. And just when you think Kaz will never have a trustworthy relationship with anyone, he discovers new desires during the course of their heist.
“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”
Title: Legacy of Kings
Author: Eleanor Herman
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: August 18, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.
Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to a newcomer…
Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But she doesn’t account for her first love…
Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince.
And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.
In Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman writes about a compelling group of characters all on the brink of becoming who their fated to be. This first book in the series feels like the coming-of-age story, where characters discover themselves and begin to take on their specific roles in fate.
While Alexander stands out as the notable historical figure (think: The Great), the story focused more on the surrounding characters, especially, Katerina. While I anticipated Alexander becoming who he’s famous to be, my interest stayed with Katerina—her mission and mysterious abilities. And while there’s supposed to be a great connection between Katerina and Alex, I never felt the connection, only kept hearing about it by the author’s insistence. Katerina and Jacob’s relationship also fell short for me. Eleanor Herman is better at plot than character development, which is somewhat problematic for a book about multiple characters.
Title: The Last of the Firedrakes
Author: Farah Oomerbhoy
Published by: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Publication date: August 15, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.
Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.
With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.
I got this book free for Kindle on Amazon.com, because it sounded like a fun fantasy adventure. I like to read these kinds of stories, so I was hopeful. What I discovered is a story with borrowed themes and a winey, immature protagonist.
None of the characters were very developed. I wanted to like Aurora, but she was a body of contradictions—capable and powerful one moment, unable to hold her head up against a bully the next. She didn’t make sense to me. I wanted her to be bold and confidant, strong and worthy, but even when she comes into herself she doesn’t take counsel from those around her, but makes rash decisions.
I was more interested in Rafe’s Robin Hood-esque adventures than Aurora’s coming-of-queen story. Rafe was not a bad character, but a little cliché. The romance with Rafe was too fast and underdeveloped. They hardly spend any time together, but he’s handsome and rescues her multiple times and makes her heart flutter and smirks…he’s a smirker—UH! And Aurora spends most of the book making assumptions about Rafe’s feelings with little context. How can she know anything about how he’s feeling? They don’t know each other!
The world building in the book relied heavily on borrowed ideas from Lord of the Rings about elves, dwarves, and wizards, and their multiple kingdoms.
I thought Farah Oomerbhoy’s story could’ve been more unique. The heroine could've been stronger the the characters more developed.
Would I let my teen read this book?
I’m not giving this book one star, because on the positive side—the book is free on Amazon and it’s totally clean. If you’re young daughter likes fantasy and struggles to find appropriate books, then this is an option. I just can’t promise a lot of substance.
Age recommendation: 12
Language – None
Drugs & Alcohol— One character had been drinking
Sex – One kiss
Violence – There is mention of magical, stuns, burnings, and killings, but it’s stated, not depicted.
My Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.