Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Review: Defy

The Blades of Acktar: Defy by Tricia Mingerink

Recommended for: Ages 13 to Adult

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, intense torture scenes, and intense epic battle sequences)

The war for Acktar has begun. 

With his betrayal revealed, former Blade Leith Torren flees into the Sheered Rock Hills, pursued by King Respen’s vengeful Blades. 

Left behind at Nalgar Castle, Renna Faythe tries to find her purpose, yet that purpose isn’t what she expected. 

Brandi Faythe has been torn from her sister, and that isn’t all right. If Leith can’t rescue Renna, Brandi will take matters into her own hands. 

War demands sacrifice. Courage falters. Who will find the strength to defy King Respen?

Acktar rests on one hope: 

The Leader is ready.  
*Incoherent screaming* Okay, okay, I'm calm, I'm calm. (Not really, but who cares?) Oh my goodness, wow, that was an AMAZING book. I was literally shaking during some intense scenes of the book. And I, who have only ever been brought to tears by one piece of fiction in my life (Star Wars Episode VII: the Force Awakens), had a tear in my eye because of this book. Somehow, without me realizing it, this book series became my second favorite ever, only topped by the ever amazing Ilyon Chronicles (because while Leith Torren is one of the most amazing fictional characters I have ever read about, he has not and can never pass up Jace). This book was simply amazing. After I finished it, I had to scream into my pillow because I couldn't hold it in and didn't want to scream in front of my sister.
I received this book free as a result of winning the Name That Character contest, and was simply ecstatic when the email with the book arrived on my kindle on May 25 (when I was struggling to hold my eyes open because of exhaustion from the election the night before plus Benadryl). Due to some problems with my email, I wasn't able to send it to my kindle and actually read it until that night, when I was halfway through Brothers-In-Arms, which I preordered on kindle. I finished Brothers-In-Arms late last night, and early this morning, when I couldn't sleep because my stomach was in knots because of pollen allergies, I picked up the book and barely put it down until I finished it. Just...wow. Please excuse all the fangirling bound to end up in this post, but IT WAS JUST SO GOOD!
Writing: 5/5
I think I noticed a couple typos or something...I'm not sure...if there were some, they weren't enough to detract from the story. The three main POVs were perfect, and Tricia included just the right number of scenes, with no extraneous ones and no essential ones left out. Poor Leith can never fully recover from what he went through... What happened to him ripped my heart out, but also satisfied me as an author's promise to her readers finally fulfilled. (So many authors break the promises they make to the readers. So glad Tricia isn't one of them.)
Setting: 5/5
Great. I loved Eagle Heights. It was so interesting. And I liked seeing more of Nalgar Castle. Mostly, it was good enough to let the characters move around in and add to the plot without getting undue attention.
Plot: 5/5
Oh my goodness. This is how authors get inducted into the evil author society. SPOILER Tricia can't pretend for one minute she didn't enjoy torturing Leith. END SPOILER All the things they went through, it's amazing more people aren't dead. The plot was well-paced and exciting and gripping and...oh, for Pete's sake, just go read the book!
Character Development: 5/5
Why are you still standing here? Oh, right, I have to finish the review. Leith was amazing, and so strong in his faith, the dear boy! Renna has grown so much, she's so strong and full of courage and kindness! She was only made stronger by what she went through. And Brandi, poor, dear, innocent, light-hearted Brandi had to grow up completely.
Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I feel just like Mushu watching Brandi, though. The other characters were great, too, and OH MY GOODNESS I just remembered, I was not expecting that plot twist in the middle when that certain character showed up and was alive and started hating on Leith (how dare he!)
Don't nobody go hatin' on my babies.

But I guess he's okay now, since he's finally started to forgive Leith. SPOILER So sad that Respen never converted before he died! But Martyn is starting to see the light, as well as the other Blade, so I guess that makes up for it. END SPOILER
So anyway, now that I have that off my chest, I can go do something productive! Au revoir!
Oh, and by the way, check out Defy's BLOG TOUR!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Movie Review: Walt Before Mickey

Walt Before Mickey

Recommended For: Ages 10 to Adult
Rating: PG for period smoking throughout, mild thematic elements, and language
(From the Amazon description of the book)
For ten years before the creation of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney struggled with, failed at, and eventually mastered the art and business of animation. Most biographies of his career begin in 1928, when Steamboat Willie was released. That first Disney Studio cartoon with synchronized sound made its main character―Mickey Mouse―an icon for generations.

But Steamboat Willie was neither Disney’s first cartoon nor Mickey Mouse’s first appearance. Prior to this groundbreaking achievement, Walt Disney worked in a variety of venues and studios, refining what would become known as the Disney style. In Walt before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years, 1919–1928, Timothy Susanin creates a portrait of the artist from age seventeen to the cusp of his international renown.

After serving in the Red Cross in France after World War I, Walt Disney worked for advertising and commercial art in Kansas City. Walt used these experiences to create four studios―Kaycee Studios, Laugh-O-gram Films, Disney Brothers Studio, and Walt Disney Studio. Using company documents, private correspondence between Walt and his brother Roy, contemporary newspaper accounts, and new interviews with Disney’s associates, Susanin traces Disney’s path. The author shows Disney to be a complicated, resourceful man, especially during his early career. Walt before Mickey, a critical biography of a man at a crucial juncture, provides the “missing decade” that started Walt Disney’s career and gave him the skills to become a name known worldwide.

As life-long Disney lovers, of course our family jumped at the chance of watching this when it was on Netflix. While it wasn't made very well, it accurately portrayed the struggles Walt Disney went through to get to writing Mickey and was a very enjoyable movie.

Technical: 3/5
The actors...couldn't act. At least most of them couldn't. the most blatant bad actor was Roy Disney.  Thankfully, the others weren't half as bad as Roy and I got used to them. Roy, however...ouch.The dialogue also could have been better written, and the beginning was slow, and there was a little too much showing rather than telling. But other than that, it seemed well made.

Setting: 5/5
From what I know, it seemed very accurate to the times. The settings are well fleshed out and vibrant, but not more prominent than the characters and plot.

Plot: 4/5
It was mainly from Walt's years trying to jumpstart a studio right to his first Mickey cartoon. The plot was well-spaced and well thought out, although again, told a little too much rather than shown. All in all, a good plot that could have been better executed.

Character Development: 4.5/5
Since I never knew any of the people in this movie, I can't know for sure if the movie makers got their characters right, but I think they were well-done, all except Walt himself. He didn't have quite the fun and imagination shining through him that I've seen in the videos of the older Walt. Maybe that was just the actor not quite being able to pull Walt off completely. I don't know. I just wasn't completely satisfied with the seriousness of Walt.

This was a good movie despite technical problems that I would recommend for any Disney lover.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Book Review: The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

Rating: PG-13 (violence)

Recommended for: Ages 13 and up

The wild rush of action in this classic frontier adventure story has made The Last of the Mohicans the most popular of James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. Deep in the forests of upper New York State, the brave woodsman Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo) and his loyal Mohican friends Chingachgook and Uncas become embroiled in the bloody battles of the French and Indian War. The abduction of the beautiful Munro sisters by hostile savages, the treachery of the renegade brave Magua, the ambush of innocent settlers, and the thrilling events that lead to the final tragic confrontation between rival war parties create an unforgettable, spine-tingling picture of life on the frontier. And as the idyllic wilderness gives way to the forces of civilization, the novel presents a moving portrayal of a vanishing race and the end of its way of life in the great American forests.

I was told that this book was really good and really terrible because people died. It is not my favorite book that I have read for school this year, but there are some good things.

Writing: 3/5

The style is the same as most classics. So, it was wordy and difficult to focus on. There would be some action and it would be interesting and then it would get boring again. There were a lot of notes at the back of the book in the edition that I read. I didn't read all of them but the ones that I did read were helpful. They would explain about the different names of the Indian tribes, which could get confusing.

Setting: 4/5

The story takes place in New England during the French and Indian war. There was a lot of description about the landscape and the Indian villages and about some historical things. From what I learned in history, one character was wrong about the behavior of the American soldiers in battles, saying they didn't fight in a way that they did. I learned that the British made fun of them for fighting in that way.

Plot: 3.5/5

Throughout the entire story, they were mostly just escaping, being kidnapped, rescuing each other, and fleeing. I think I mostly followed the plot, but there were a couple times where I was a little confused. The plot itself wasn't that complicated, as long as you remembered where everyone was. If you are able to get into this story, it would be pretty intense and exciting, but the writing style kept me from getting into it.

Characters: 4/5

There was one character that sometimes went by his first name and sometimes by his last name. I had to ask if they were the same person. The characters are mostly unique from each other, but I don't remember there being a huge difference between Cora and Alice. I do think that they all could have been developed more. The main bad guy is vindictive and tries to hurt the father of Cora and Alice because he is mad about having been punished. Hawkeye picks on David for singing Psalms instead of using a weapon, and, although David isn't a fighter, he is willing to put his life on the line for others. There is also some romance.

While this wasn't my favorite classic, it is still good and clean (unlike The Hunchback of Notre Dame), and there is Christianity in it, though one character has kind of left it. If you like classics and like this period of history, you will probably like this book.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Book Review: Samara's Peril

Samara's Peril by Jaye L. Knight

Recommended for: Ages 14 to Adult

Rating: PG-13 (for violence and references to rape; one woman was attacked by a ryrik in the past and a young man tries to drag off a young woman. He is prevented from doing anything, but later accuses another of the same act. All very well handled.)

When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen.

Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.

Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks!


Samara's Peril. Book three of the amazing Ilyon Chronicles. Each book in Ilyon just gets better. I loved this book, every bit of it. It's intense and heartbreaking, but has such happy moments as well. There were parts where my whole body was tense, and there were parts where I'm pretty sure I was probably grinning like a silly idiot. Parts that I've reread many times, parts that make me very happy, parts that make me sad, parts that fill me with hope. I'm just going to go ahead and say that I highly recommend it.

Writing: 5/5

Yep, the writing is just as good as in previous installments. I really felt the intensity and sorrow, the happiness and hope. Jaye really gets into her characters' heads. I felt all of Jace's struggles, experienced his trials and successes, resonated with Kyrin's emotions. I look at the way Jaye does things to figure out how to write deep character point of view.

Setting: 5/5

And the new stuff. Because the old settings are consistent with previous books. We visit Ashwood, the home of Sir Rothas. It's kind of like a clean version of Downton Abbey, but it fits perfectly within the Arcacian worldbuilding. We also visit the country of Samara in this book. It's got a different feel from Arcacia, but it works very well. And the Biblical parallels. One after another stood out to me as I was reading. I don't want to give too much away, but the allegorical side of the story is very powerful, in my opinion. I thought it was very well done.

Plot: 5/5

The storyline includes finding out Jace's backstory as well as significant progress in Jace and Kyrin's relationship. Of course it's amazing. :) Jace finds out his backstory and it has both positive and negative effects. That part of the story is definitely packed with conflict, and is kind of stressful, but never dull. Then they go to Samara as Jace is on a downward spiral. Battles ensue, both on a spiritual level and on a physical level. I thought the plot was well constructed, flowed well, and made sense. There was a perfect balance of external conflict, internal turmoil, and sweet squeal-worthy moments. Loved it all.

Character Development: 5/5

Jace and Kyrin. <3 I love those two. Their relationship does take some stress in this book, but they come out better than they were before. I just love how three dimensional the characters are. I met my most hated Ilyon villain in this book. I cannot stand Rothas. I want him to die. Please, Jaye? ;) But Elanor is so sweet, Charles is awesome, and so is Rachel, James needs a good mentor, Balen is a great king...all the new characters add so much to the story. We get plenty of Kyrin's family, we see Rayad, some of Trask...oh, and Anne was fantastic in this book. Definitely some "Go, Anne!" moments. Leetra is softening ever so slightly, Timothy and Aaron have some roles. And there's Elon. I wasn't exactly expecting it in this book, but I can't see it happening any other way. He was exactly what Jace needed, and it was powerful.

So good. Because of some Ashwood details, I'd recommend it for mid teens and up, but definitely recommended.

I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author
Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

Shameless backward plug:
To all you fellow Ilyon fans, my sister and I made Tyra plushies that we have for sale on Etsy. :) Go check them out.

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Samara’s Peril, a John 3:16 necklace by FaithWearDesigns, and a green wire dragon bookmark by Wirelings! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Rating: PG (violence)

Recommended for: Ages 12 to Adult

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. 

This is going to be more of my thoughts on the series than a regular review. Because as far as a literary analysis goes, this series gets 4-5 points all the way, and I don't want to keep saying the same things over and over again. Addy, don't get onto me for not following the system.

"I like it except..."

A few weeks ago, a friend and I had a conversation about Mulan and Disney movies, and how for pretty much all of them it's "I like it except..." For instance, I like Mulan except the whole ancestor worship thing. But I realized the same is true for most fiction. For Percy Jackson, I like it except the fact that the assumption that Greek gods are real denies the existence of the One true God.

That's a pretty big except, the same one that caused me to hate Disney's Hercules. It's not one that can be reconciled. Indeed, if I didn't have Christian friends who like the series, I never would have read the books, let alone bought them. It's a tough call. I don't have any more problem with the Percy Jackson series than I do with learning about the actual myths. In fact, I'm sure with my own children it'll be "Now, we're done with our study on Greek myths. HERE'S PERCY JACKSON, GO READ IT. AND NO, WE ARE NOT WATCHING THE MOVIES." But is it truly okay? I don't know. Because I still don't like Greek myths, I'm still not okay with pretending they are real, and (though this is utterly impossible) I'd like it better if it didn't make Greek mythology "real." But I do like Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

 The Characters

The main reason I like these books is because of the characters. They're all very well developed and each one adds to the story.

Percy Jackson
Percy is the protagonist, son of Poseidon, and the narrator of the series. In a lot of ways he's a fairly normal preteen/teen, but in a lot of ways, he's so much better. He's ADHD and dyslexic, common signs of being a halfblood, a demigod, and he's got a crazy sense of humor. So often I laughed or just had to read something out loud because the wording or the metaphor used was just so unusual and funny. And he's very loyal to his friends. He'd do anything to save them. He really would. He'll even fall into Tartarus with Annabeth, though that doesn't happen until the second series. Percy isn't perfect. He makes lots of mistakes, and his fatal flaw is that he's willing to go too far in protecting his friends, or at least so he's told by Athena. But Percy is strong and a great fighter, and he doesn't know it. He doesn't realize how awesome he is, and that just makes it better.

Annabeth Chase
Annabeth is the daughter of Athena. She's smart, she loves architecture, she has a deathly fear of spiders, and she wants so badly to build something permanent. She's had a rough life, but Camp Half-Blood is her home, and Percy becomes her best friend. Eventually. I love watching their relationship grow throughout the series. She always calls Percy Seaweed Brain, but when she uses it, it's more of a term of endearment than an insult. He's Seaweed Brain, and it's sweet. Just believe me.

Grover is a satyr, Percy's best friend at the beginning of The Lightning Thief. He's funny too. But he's also devoted to his cause. He's pretty great.

Tyson's such a sweetie. He's a cyclops, he loves peanut butter, and he looks up to his "big" brother Percy so much. (All cyclopes are apparently children of Poseidon.) He's willing to fight for what's right, he loves "ponies" (centaurs), and did I mention he's sweet? "Though 'peanut butter' is a strange battle cry."

Thalia Grace
Daughter of Zeus, reminds Annabeth a lot of Percy. They are similar, though I don't think Thalia quite shares Percy's sense of humor. She's had a rough life. I like her.

Chiron, Mr. D (Dionysus), Charles Beckendorf, Silena Beauregard, Nico di Angelo, Rachel Elizabeth Dare, Luke Castellan, Sally Jackson, Mrs. O'Leary (the hellhound), Apollo...they all spring off the page, they all add something to the book, they (the heroes) all will fight to the death to defend their friends and family, to defend their home, to defend the earth. That's why I like them.

My friend tells me that's the fan term for Percy's character voice. It's very unique, and a good reason to like these books. 

     Ever had a flying burrito hit you? Well, it's a deadly projectile, right up there with cannonballs and grenades.
     At the Hoover Dam--“Let us find the dam snack bar," Zoe said. "We should eat while we can."
     Grover cracked a smile. "The dam snack bar?"
     Zoe blinked. "Yes. What is funny?"
     "Nothing," Grover said, trying to keep a straight face. "I could use some dam french fries."
     Even Thalia smiled at that. "And I need to use the dam restroom."
    ...I started cracking up, and Thalia and Grover joined in, while Zoe just looked at us. "I do not understand."
    "I want to use the dam water fountain," Grover said.
    "And..." Thalia tried to catch her breath. "I want to buy a dam t-shirt.”
    She'd also called me brave...unless she was talking to the catfish.
    We only came close to dying six or seven times, which I thought was pretty good. Once, I lost my grip and found myself dangling by one hand from a ledge fifty feet above the rocky surf. But I found another handhold and kept climbing. A minute later Annabeth hit a slippery patch of moss and her foot slipped. Fortunately, she found something else to put it against. Unfortunately, that something was my face.
    "Sorry," she murmured.
    "S'okay," I grunted, though I'd never really wanted to know what Annabeth's sneaker tasted like.
     I don't recommend shadow travel if you're scared of:
a) The dark
b) Cold shivers up your spine
c) Strange noises
d) Going so fast you feel like your face is peeling off
    In other words, I thought it was awesome.
You probably get the point. Persassy alone was enough to keep me reading.

Despite the fact that the Greek gods are supposedly real, right is right and wrong is wrong, and there's no confusion between the two. The one time Percy sneaks away from camp, they're under a really horrible camp director who shouldn't be in charge, gets replaced at the end, and wasn't following procedures correctly. And they were helped by Hermes.

It does get a little violent. They do end up at war with the Titans. Percy gets put into a gladiator arena in the Labyrinth. I didn't find it too gruesome, though. As far as romantic content goes, it's really clean. Sure, there is some romance, but it's pretty slow. There are a couple kisses, but it doesn't go any further in the description than to say that they kissed. I found it extremely refreshing. Spiritual content is the trouble, but there's not really anything you wouldn't expect from Greek myths. So if you're okay with reading Greek myths, you should be okay with Percy Jackson. And there was one bit of conversation. I hate that it was applied to a Greek god, but I still think it made a powerful point.
     "Dad," I said, "when I was in the maze, I met Antaeus. He said...well, he said he was your favorite son. He decorated his arena with skulls and--"
     "He dedicated them to me," Poseidon supplied. "And you are wondering how someone could do something so horrible in my name."
    I nodded uncomfortably.
    “Percy, lesser beings do many horrible things in the name of the gods. That does not mean we gods approve. The way our sons and daughters act in our names... well, it usually says more about them than it does about us."
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a difficult topic. There are many pros, but there are also serious cons. I personally like the series a lot, but I'm glad I waited to read it until I was a more mature reader. For younger kids, since they are clean and well written, I would recommend them as a follow up to a school study on Greek mythology. As such a supplement, they are fantastic. Be careful to treat it wholly as fiction, and enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful (TV version)

Oz the Great and Powerful

Rating: PG

Recommended for: Ages 8 and up

 This is the story of how Oz came from Kansas to the land of Oz and how he became the wizard in the Emerald city.

 As with most Disney movies, I wasn't interested in it when it came out. I have been a big fan of The Wizard of Oz since I was about three. My sister turned Oz the Great and Powerful on and I ended up watching it even though I had intended to work ahead on school. There are some things I don't agree with in this movie but I really enjoyed it.
Technical: 4/5

 I think that overall it was done really well. There are some things that don't look entirely realistic but it could have been done on purpose. The movie starts out in black and white and then goes to color when Oz reaches Oz. I liked the way that they switched it, it wasn't too sudden. There were also references to things that will happen in The Wizard of Oz, such as someone who is going to marry a John Gale, and a person who makes scarecrows. I think that there were some parts with the munchkins where you could definitely tell that they were fake.

Setting: 5/5

 Oz works at a circus at the beginning of the movie. It was very much the same as all the circuses I have come across in fiction and didn't seem out of place. Oz is very colorful and bright with many fantasy elements, like flying monkeys and china people. There are familiar places and landmarks like the Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald city.

Plot: 4/5

 This is an origin story about how Oz became the wizard. I don't know if there is a book about it or not but it did tie into everything you learn about the wizard in The Wizard of Oz, except that in this movie he doesn't think that he is a good man, but that is a view that can change over time. The slippers are silver like in the books and they did incorporate the china village, only you only see one of the people. There still are good witches, which don't exist. The plot made sense to me and wasn't confusing. The finale was pretty funny and clever on the characters' part.

Characters: 5/5

 Disney always has well developed characters even when they aren't good people. Oz is not a good person, he is a trickster and tries to kiss several different girls but gets interrupted a couple of times. He is not very nice to those who work for him and is willing to lie for power. He is told that he is a wizard from a prophecy and goes along with it even though he is not a wizard. Glinda might have been okay with him lying to give the people hope, but I couldn't quite hear what they said. He does grow throughout the movie in a good way, but he still is tricking people at the end, which is consistent with The Wizard of Oz. Glinda is pretty good and doesn't seem to really have any flaws. The wicked witch of the west becomes evil in this movie. It was sad because she was nice at the beginning of the movie and someone's lie is what brought her to it.

 I really enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to people who like fantasy, origin stories, and The Wizard of Oz.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Book Review: Champion in Flight

Champion in Flight (The Champions Trilogy book two) by Tyrean Martinson

Recommended For: Ages 10 to Adult

Rating: PG (for violence)

A year after she won the battle for Septily, Clara feels trapped in Skycliff by the Allied Council. As the last pieces of information about the Healing Caves fall into place, Clara is attacked by an assassin. Covert Drinaii mercenaries and the Council aren't going to stop Clara from her quest to heal her broken blade. As Champion of Aramatir, she must act.

Meanwhile, in the joint kingdoms of Rrysorria and Wylandria, the youngest and still-cursed swan prince despairs of ever being whole again. In a moment of anger, Liam discovers a blood link between him and a dark sorceress.

Clara won the battle for Septily, but her battle isn't over.

Champion in Flight is the second book in The Champion Trilogy.

I finished this book a while back, I just got sick and then got busy and never got around to writing it. Also I was somewhat avoiding typing anything on the computer. I actually enjoyed the book, though, despite the fact that it was not written as well as the first one was.

Writing: 4/5
The writing was pretty much the same as the last book, though Clara's POV did get a little deeper. One thing that annoyed me was the "big reveal" of the bad guy and the hero being family and how broken up it made the hero. Seriously? It seemed like a cliche thrown in just because it's "what's done." Plus, the blood link between Liam and the dark sorceress is only threatened, but never used, and is removed by the end of the book without ever actually serving a purpose except to freak out poor Liam.

Setting: 4/5
The world got built on some, but not much. There is so much potential for great world-building in here that isn't realized at all. I got less of a sense of the intricacies of the world than in the last book, as if the author gave up on world-building or something. the world-building could be considered good, but compared to the potential it doesn't realize, it's frustratingly not good enough.

Plot: 3/5
The story structure of the plot was so completely off I couldn't even pinpoint one little element of story structure in the story. As a result, the plot was off, and while it was there, didn't move the trilogy along quite as it should have. Though it didn't lack for conflict and therefore wasn't boring, it did drag a bit at times for the lack of a solid plot. It moved incredibly slowly, and by the time it got to where the first major plot point could have actually happened and the plot moving quickly, we were slapped with a climax.

Character Development: 5/5
The real reason I kept reading and am actually interested in finishing the trilogy. I really like Clara and Liam, especially Liam. While Clara had to grow on me through the entire last book, I liked Liam almost immediately. Even though I was impatient for the plot to actually get moving and it never did, I enjoyed this book because of Liam (and Clara, too, but not as much). There aren't as many characters present in this book, but for the most part they're well-written.

While not as well-written as even the last book, I enjoyed this book, and would like to read the next one (preferably sometime after May when I'm much less busy). I would probably recommend this book, if only for Liam. (Which just goes to show that a reader can overlook a multitude of writing sins if the characters are well-done and lovable.)

I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.