From Breath and Ruin (Elements of Five, Book 1)

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Author: Carrie Ann Ryan

Series: Elements of Five

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Indie

Pages: 351

Lyric is a typical eighteen-year-old girl, who has no idea what direction her life is going to take. She hasn’t really thought tings out much, aside from attending college in the fall. For as long as she can remember, she has had nightmares about monsters and these two central figures that feel very real to her. She knows that they can’t be real, though, right? 

The Maison Realm was torn apart hundreds of years ago in to warring factions of Elemental Wielders. Now factions of both light and dark have been sent to the Earth realm in an effort to find the Spirit Priestess who is prophesied to wield the Elements of Five that will bring the fractured kingdoms together. Rhodes and his sister, Rosamund, were sent from the light realm  on this mission. 

When an incident occurs while out on a hike, Lyric’s whole world is turned upside down. Everything that she thought couldn’t be true suddenly seems incredibly real and very dangerous. She is suddenly in a battle for her, and others’, survival. 

This is the first book in a new YA Fantasy series out from author Carrie Ann Ryan. She is multiple best selling author of many series in the adult arena, but this is her first foray in to the YA world. Let’s dive in! Ok, the premise: Honestly, it can be very difficult to come up with something in the YA Fantasy world that isn’t tropey or hasn’t been done and re-hashed before. Guess what- she found it! This felt fresh and not overdone. This didn’t feel like something that I have read over and over again, and I really enjoyed it. The pacing was great. It slowed a little in a couple of parts, but that happens in the first books of multiple book fantasy series when building the foundation, and it picked right back up. The characters were engaging and fleshed out well. I enjoyed learning their stories and she gave me someone to root for. The world building was wonderful! Now, this is not something new for this author. She writes PNR in the adult arena (also, if you read PNR check hers out), but this is much more detailed world building and she did a lovely job of it. I’m hoping that it keeps building even more in the books to come. Overall, I would say that Ryan’s venture in to the YA Fantasy world is a success, so far! 

The Next book in the series, From Ash and Flame, is due out in mid November & I can’t wait! 

 

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Here There Are Monsters

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Author: Amelinda Berube

Genre: YA Fantasy/Thriller

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

Skye has grown up being the protector to her younger sister, Deirdre. Deirdre was always caught up in her games of queens, castles, and knights, and drug Skye in to them with her. She named Skye the Queen of Swords, the one that would protect her against everything, and that’s what she became. She also became an outcast because of it, the weird girl’s weird sister. When they moved to their new home, far away from their previous residence, Skye felt it was time for a new start. When they arrive, Deirdre is delighted that their new home is surrounded by woods and swamps to explore and create new kingdoms in. Skye, however, is done playing Deirdre’s games and makes a new circle of friends to call her own. Left to care for Deirdre while their parents are out one evening, Skye falls asleep and is awoken by her mother frantically looking for Deirdre. Deirdre is gone. Rescue crews continue searching to no avail, until Skye knows that she is the one who must go and find her. She must become her sister’s protector and play the games once again. 

Let’s start with the cover of this book. How creepy and beautiful is that?! It’s very fitting with the tone and story, and I just love it. Now that I got that out of the way, on to the book itself. It started out a bit slow for me, so I was a bit anxious that I wasn’t going to like it and I was not happy about that, as I went in to this very hopeful (this is definitely my kind of read!). Fortunately, it did pick up after a bit and I got in to it. The story is told in alternating time periods, as it flashes back between earlier in the girls’ childhood and present day. I did enjoy that as it gives a clearer picture as to what may have led up to the present day situation. The characters, especially the main characters, were well developed. The two main characters, Deirdre and Skye, however, were not particularly likeable characters in my opinion. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the main characters do not have to be likable for a book to read well. I do know that some readers are put off by this, so I wanted to throw it in in case this is a sticking point for you. There are some supernatural elements that come in to play as the book moves on, and this was a fun element. It is a very atmospheric book, which I believe may have been my favorite thing about the writing of this book. The author did a wonderful job of building the world/atmosphere and making it fit the story well. Where the beginning of the book suffered from a bit of a slow start, the end could have used a bit of a slow down. It felt a bit rushed to tie everything up, and left me feeling like a may have missed something. Overall, though, it was a solid read and if the author were to write something else in the same genre, I’d pick it up. 

This book will be released on August 1.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to review this.

Circle of Shadows

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Author: Evelyn Skye

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Pages: 464

Sora and her gemina, Daemon, are apprentices in the Society of Taigas- warriors who are chosen by the goddess Luna and trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect Kichona. The kingdom has been relatively free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion a decade before, when the now Empress Aki had to fight her twin, Prince Gin, to the death for rule of Kichona. He was letting the power go to his head and was set to lead the kingdom in a dangerous direction. While on a scouting mission in the time leading up to their graduation, Sora and Daemon come up on an encampment that seems a bit off. They make a decision that may change Sora’s life and the life of everyone’s life around her forever. 

This is the first book in a new duology from the phenomenal Evelyn Skye (you’ll remember her from my gushing about The Crown’s Game duology!)!! This book was beautiful! I mean that in every way. The cover was beautiful, the writing was beautiful, the plot was beautiful, you get the point. Let me break it down for you, though. Obviously, you can see the cover, and it is even prettier in person (I’m a sucker for a pretty hardcover). The characters were all so well developed. The two main characters, Sora and Daemon, were obviously the most fleshed out, as they are the focal point of the story. The secondary characters, however, also have great stories, were incredibly well developed through the story, and a couple of them actually ended up being some of my favorites. The plot is fresh and new, which is something that I was looking for. It moved along at a great pace, so this long book really read quickly. Honestly, The Crown’s Game duology is one of my absolute favorite series (one that I recommend very often), so I was a little afraid. Trust me when I say that I was not disappointed in the least! I’m just sad I have to wait for the next one to find out what happens now. If you’re looking for a new, fun YA fantasy give this one a try!