Hope and Red by Jon Skovron

25804214Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: June 28th, 2016

Series: Empire of Storms, #1

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi, YA

Rating: 4/5

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, and I was even less sure when I started reading. It took me a while to get settled into the world, and here’s why: this book is Pirates of the Caribbean meets the Godfather meets Elektra meets I-don’t-even-know-what.

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This book is the ultimate combination of pirates and ninjas with a fantastical, slightly sci-fi twist. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out. But to Skovron’s credit, it totally did.

As a young child, a girl witnesses the horrifying massacre at the hands of the Empire’s biomancers, mages capable of manipulating living materials. Traumatized and orphaned, she is taken in by a group of warrior monks called Vinchen and secretly trained in their ways despite females being forbidden from the Vinchen order. Unable to recall her own name, the monks give her the name Bleak Hope in honor of her destroyed village.

In another part of the empire, an eight year old boy finds himself orphaned by drugs and illnesses, forcing him out into the slums. He is discovered by the criminal Sadie the Goat, who recognizes his cleverness. takes him aboard her crew and calls him Red for his red eyes as a result of his mother’s drug use during his pregnancy. Sadie teaches Red the ways of a wag, to fight, steal, and throw knives. Red grows up, esteeming to be the greatest thief in Paradise Circle.

We follow Hope and Red’s individual stories till they converge when the two are older. They’re both interesting characters, but follow familiar archetypes. Bleak Hope is the perfect name for our female heroine. She is stoic, solemn, and honorable. She’s obsessed with the vow she’s taken to avenge her village. Some might find her a bit lackluster since she’s not your typical saucy, sarcastic woman that we often see in the warrior female lead roles. Personally, I’m a such a softie when it comes to stories about women taking on men’s roles. And let’s remember that she is a ninja after all: you know, quiet but deadly. Red, on the other hand, is the charismatic thief with a heart of gold. He’s definitely the funnier one of the pair, but they end up complementing each other and making a great dynamic duo. Naturally, there’s also a romance element between the two, but it wasn’t all soppy and gross, thank goodness.

While the pair can at times come off as “Mary and Gary Stu” with their mad skills and ability to overcome insurmountable tasks, I think what sells it was the world building. With the crazy mix of plot elements and tropes, Jon Skovron is able to pull it off by building a world that neatly connects them together and makes it believable. He creates rich cultures, social classes, and even an impressive vocabulary of unique lingo and curses; though be warned, crude references to genitalia are common in the dialogue.

The real reason I rated this a 4 star as opposed to a 5 was that the plot structure seemed a bit wonky to me, like the book almost should’ve been split into two parts. The plot structure I was always taught in English was: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution. This seemed to happen a few times within the book.

025c5a9a2c7357d8dc616cd812318382455a58f89302b71ea53312c1df10f50cI’d be reading along and something crazy would be happening. I’m staring at my Kindle screen, saying to myself, “Oh my gosh, this is crazy, this has to be the climax of the story! Oh wait, I’m only 57% through the book…” This may have happened a few times, which drove me a little nuts. I feel that perhaps emotionally I might’ve felt a deeper connection to the Hope and Red if the book had been split in half.

But, I will say the ending note that the book left off on was surprising, totally unexpected, and left me anxious to see what happens next.

All in all, I call that a success! The book is being released on Tuesday, so go out and get it!

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Okay, the blog might be a hit or miss this week because I am apartment searching again, and it’s a real pain in the butt; the place we’re looking to move is a 40 minute drive away. Thus I may not be home much to do the things I want to do. Please pray for me, everyone, that we find a place because I need to get out of here. I am getting desperate!!!

But let’s get back to the subject at hand.

My tribulations notwithstanding, I had the time this weekend to read this book by Kiersten White called And I Darken. It’s being released at the end of the month.

And. Oh. My. Gosh.

Continue reading “And I Darken by Kiersten White”

Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler

25700544Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press

Publication Date: June 15th, 2016

Series: Seasons of the Sword, #1

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 1/5 

As a disclaimer, I have to say that I rarely don’t finish a book even if I hate it. And this book, I even tried to like. I tried so hard. But I got to a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I just couldn’t. Continue reading “Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler”

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

16096824Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s

Publication Date: May 5th, 2015

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 

After seeing the popularity of this book in the blog-o-sphere and all over Instagram, I figured it was high time that I found out what all of the hullabaloo was about. And I must say, now I can why everyone is making such a fuss.

I read this book as fast as I could. And part of me isn’t quite sure why. Continue reading “A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas”

May #Shelfie

It’s been an interesting month as far as my reading as been concerned. I read some amazing books and some truly heinous books. It was a busy month, yet I still managed to read eight books.

Let’s get right to it then. Continue reading “May #Shelfie”

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

No. No. And let me think, NO! This is not how I expected this review to be going at all. I was so excited for this book.

“For the winner of the game, there would be unimaginable power.

For the defeated, desolate oblivion.

The Crown’s Game was not one to lose.”

Funny because it seemed to me that Nikolai and Vika’s resolve to win the game lasted for all of two seconds! Continue reading “The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye”

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey

I’m not here typing this on this day. Today, I’m away from my computer, enjoying the pleasures of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Feel free to be jealous. I certainly would be if our circumstances were reversed.

Before I departed on my holiday to Florida though, I had the pleasure of finishing Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey, and it was stupendous! I was feeling frustrated last month with the excessive amount of romance books I was reading. I don’t particularly enjoy the genre in general, and every book I read seemed to be oozing with silly, romantic fancies. If I’m going to read a romance novel though, then I want to read more like this one! Continue reading “Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey”