Review: Whitley: Roundup

Oftentimes I'll read a book and simply don't have enough to say about it to make a whole review. "It was a book, and it booked bookly."'s a few of those.

mini reviews

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

I kind of feel bad; my co-blogger adored this one. For me? I liked both the sisters together, but once they split up I had a clear preference for Isabelle and none for Aurora so half the book dragged. The fairy magic was kind of cool, but again, all the neat tithe things were in Isabelle's half. Aurora's dream land seemed...kind of stock? Sorry, CJ. This one was good, but not for me.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants. Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea. But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

This do I say this...this is Adult fiction for adults who read Young Adult. IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. This book felt like all the zaniness of everything good about comics and Saturday morning cartoons, with grown ups. Technically. (I mean, I'm a grown up and don't feel like one.)  And kind of the opposite of boring books, this is one where I can't think of what to say except "you should read it because reasons." It's awesome and I am incoherent.

Princess Contessa of Costenopolie knows everything a royal should about diplomacy, self-defense, politics... and shopping. She ought to. She had every reason to believe that she was groomed to rule. But her next lesson is in betrayal... The sudden arrival of her betrothed, a prince from the kingdom of Misdev, has forced Tess's parents to come clean: She's no princess. Their real daughter was raised in a nunnery for fear of assassins. Tess is nothing but a beggar's child bought off the streets as an infant and reared as a decoy. So what's a royal highness to do when she discovers she's a royal target? Ditch the Misdev soldiers occupying the palace, use magical abilities she didn't even know she had, restore the real princess to the throne, and save her own neck. But first, Tess has to deal with the scoundrel who's urging her to run away from it all, and the Misdev captain who's determined to thwart her plans...

Bit of an oldie that I found at a thrift store, largely because I thought it was another 'fake princess' book that I vaguely remembered. (This one is much better than The False Princess.) It was good, I liked both princesses in their own way, and the main character was badass. A pretty standard fantasy, but a good one nonetheless. Reviews for the sequel have me super bummed out and not about to search for it, though.

To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology. Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne. Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own. With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.

Not a terrible fantasy...and that's all I've got. I was put off by the constant "vaguely threatening rape without actually calling it such just to introduce an air of danger as if the magical malady flying around wasn't bad enough." I didn't understand the magical malady very well and I don't know if that's my fault or the book's. And I really, really wanted to like Bryn and root for her as a ruthless queen, but what started out as a potentially badass character turned...rather flat, by the end there.

While you were sleeping... With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie... I told everyone I was your wife When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbor back in England. If only it were true... Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.

While I liked the romance in this one, the entire framing plot about searching for her missing brother was a huge let down. Tension has to either come from the couple or the framing plot, and in this book the couple got along well and ignored the brother-search, so... Meh.

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