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Don’t Pass It Up: Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

Hi!

Have you ever postponed reading a book because you thought you knew what it was about and you were just certain you weren’t interested?  I have on a few occasions. I had this experience with Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby, but in the end I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. It is a fantastic story!

Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig, along with her Icefall by Matthew J. Kirbybrother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father’s victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, and a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

Those charged with protecting the king’s children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father’s watchful eye? Can Solveig and her siblings survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he succeeds in destroying a kingdom?

Seriously, this book was a huge surprise to me. I have no idea why I thought this wouldn’t appeal to me…maybe it was the cover? Not sure. But honestly, why didn’t anyone tell me how awesome of a book this is?!?!

First of all Icefall reminded me of a fairy tale. Yes, it has some magical elements to it, but I think it felt fairy tale-like to me because I have almost no knowledge of the Nordic setting or culture. Medieval Nordic culture is so far from anything I’m familiar with that it just felt like it was laced with magic. It was so interesting to see glimpses of the daily life in a winter hall like the class structure, the story telling, even down to the wild behavior of the Viking Berserkers. I think the mix of learning about a different culture and Kirby’s amazing story telling skills worked together to make this book completely engrossing. I only put it down because I actually had life responsibilities (like work haha).

The King’s middle daughter, Solveig, is our unlikely heroine and Icefall is her coming-of-age story. In the beginning, Solveig is haunted by her father’s disregard for her. She is not her beautiful sister, or her “future king” little brother. Solveig believes that she is of no true importance and craves her father’s approval and attention. But as she is caught up in the midst of an atmosphere of danger, distrust, and treachery Solveig begins to come into her own and even realizes that she has gifts and strengths that are, in fact, important. She is a character painted beautifully and with much detail.

Additionally, Kirby’s entire cast of characters are so multifaceted that anyone can be the traitor and the reader really is left to discover the truth as Solveig does. The complexity of the characters is impressive as we learn, like Solvieg that even those who commit the worst of crimes have real motives and real strengths and real faults. Not every thing or everyone is painted black and white and Solveig learns to see the gray areas, as in any quality coming-of-age story. Ahhh! I want to give examples here but can’t because I’d give so much away!

Please don’t make the mistake of passing this book over, like I almost did. It is a well told middle grades historical mystery that anyone who enjoying a well crafted story will enjoy. Also, listening to the audiobook is a great choice that I highly recommend, as the narrator’s voice is so lyrical and only adds to Icefall’s themes of storytelling.

Author: Matthew J. Kirby

Publisher: Scholastic Audio (October 1, 2011)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 9 hours and 18 minutes

Narrator(s): Jenna Lamia (she is awesome)

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: Icefall

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Fulfilling Fantasy: The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Hi there!

Have I told you how much I am loving my winter break? Because I totally am loving it! This morning we went to the local SodaCity Market. It was cold (yay!) but fun as usual!

In addition to fun outings my winter break has been full of blogging! I’m finally getting back on track after about two months of letting the blog lag a little. Normally, when I read a trilogy I either review the books as a whole, or each title individually. Well, I already reviewed the first book in Rae Carson’s trilogy, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but to make things a little easier on me, I’m going to combine the last two books, The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom together into one review.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old.The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds.

I have to start by saying this fantasy trilogy is wonderful. I adored the first book, and the last two didn’t let me down. Elisa’s world of Joya d’Arena is so full of magic and mystery, I don’t think I could ever get enough of stories set in this world! One of my favorite thing about both The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom is that both books are centered around journeys (both physical and emotional). Because of these journeys we get to see so much more of Joya d’Arena and the surrounding nations. In general, I prefer when stories open up and the author gives us a glimpse of the world our characters live in. Also, journeys, like Elisa’s allow for more adventure and excitement to enter the plot…which of course, is awesome.

Elisa’s, like before, is an inventive character. She has already gone through so much maturation and BitterKingdomgrowth in the first book, that I was afraid Elisa would fall a little flat in the sequels. Elisa, however continues to be as interesting as before: she is strong, vulnerable, afraid of her older sister, wise, frustratingly stubborn, and massively in love with a man who doesn’t always seem to reciprocate her affections. Elisa has a lot going on! And at the start of The Crown of Embers Elisa is forced to stretch herself even further as she now has the weight of a nation on the brink of war on her shoulders.

Also, I have to add that my favorite character by far is Storm, the enemy defector. He is completely sassy, suspect, grumbly, and all around hilarious. His presence adds just the right amount of sarcasm and intrigue to the already strong story.

And we cannot forget that there is some major, major swoon-worthy romantic tension going on in these second and third books! The back and forth between Elisa and her man (you’ll have to read to find out who…although it’s pretty obvious from the get-go) due to some heavy power and gender issues. But all this pent-up passion makes for amazing romance scenes! I think I swooned a thousand times. Yes. It is true.

So, in the end The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom are a fulfilling final two books to Rae Carson’s trilogy. If you’re a lover of fantasy, whether you’re in high school or older, this trilogy is completely recommended to you! You will not be sorry!

Author: Rae Carson

Publisher: Harper Collins, Recorded Books (September 18, 2012 & August 27, 2013)

Format: audiobook

Length: The Crown of Embers (11 hours and 41 minutes), The Bitter Kingdom (12 hours and 58 minutes)

Narrator(s): Jennifer Ikeda, Luis Moreno (The Bitter Kingdom)

Series: Fire and Thorns trilogy, books 2 and 3

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  The Crown of Embers (Girl of Fire and Thorns) The Bitter Kingdom (Girl of Fire and Thorns)

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Something Familiar: Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Hola!

As you may know my husband and I moved from Florida to Columbia, South Carolina this past July. We’re loving the fact that we get to experience the change in seasons and that we’re really close to the mountains. It is just a great area to live in. It’s not that we didn’t like Florida, it’s just that it wasn’t the place we wanted to be forever.

Pretty shortly after we moved however, I realized that Chomp by Carl Hiaasen was on the South Carolina Junior Book Award list for the 2013-2014 school year. I was pretty excited to read Chomp because it, like all of Hiaasen’s books, takes place in southern Florida and in the midst of our move I needed to read something familiar.

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his bChomp by Carl Hiaasenackyard. The critters he can handle.  His father is the unpredictable one.

When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.

They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun.

Although I’ve always enjoyed the Hiaasen books that I have read, his books are not always my favorite. However, I think out of all of them Chomp might have been the one I liked the most. There was just so much more humor in this story and I stopped my husband to tell him about the story more than I usually do when reading. I especially loved the reality show idea and my husband and I are big fans of Bear Grylls and his survival shows, so I got a kick out of the Derek Badger character, who is obviously a mocking portrayal of Grylls and survival show hosts like him.

In Hiaasen’s books the setting is always a character in its own right. And although I’ve never been to the Everglades (even after living in Florida for around 15 years) I know enough about Florida wildlife and geography to completely understand and appreciate this setting. Hiaasen throws in so many Florida “inside jokes” or references that I absolutely felt like I was back in the Florida sunshine.

The main character, Wahoo and his friend (something more?!), Tuna, are really fun and lovable characters. These two are one of the main reasons why I enjoyed Chomp more than Hiaasen’s other books. Wahoo and Tuna were both so realistic and tender in their new-found friendship that you can’t help but fall for them both.

OMG! I almost forgot! Do you even know who narrates this audiobook!?  I freaked out when I pressed play for the first time and heard the voice I hadn’t heard in like 10 years…DAWSON LEERY! Yes. You read correctly. Chomp is narrated by James Van Der Beek! High School Tina swooned a little. For real.

Chomp, definitely comes recommended for middle grade readers considering jumping into Hiaasen’s books who enjoy survivalist stories with some humor thrown in. Although, I do enjoy Hiaasen’s books they are definitely written mostly for their middle grade audience and I think it would be a stretch for older readers (especially adults) to really get into.

Author: Carl Hiaasen

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 27, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 6 hours and 13 minutes

Narrator(s): James Van Der Beek

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: Chomp

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Waiting on Wednesday: Defy

Yes, it is my birthday! Yay! Happy Birthday to me!

Since my husband had to be out of a town for a few days we’re waiting to celebrate with a little shin-dig on Friday!

It is still Wednesday though and with that comes another edition of Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine)! This week I’m waiting on Defy by Sara B. Larson.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Defy by Sara B. LarsonAlex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

I am pretty much always in the mood for a good fantasy and Defy sounds like it has the potential to be a fun read! It sounds a little like a mix between The Cadet of Tildor (Alex Lidell)and The False Prince  (Jennifer A. Nielsen), both of which I enjoyed so hopefully that is a good omen! We’ll have to wait until January 2014 to find out though!

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Awesome Points: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Well hello again!

When I first saw this book I was a goner. If you’ve known me for any amount of time you probably know that I really, really am a total sucker for covers with girls in beautiful gowns, mostly because I just want to wear them. Well, Grave Mercy has an awesome gown on the cover and an awesome fantasy inside!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversWhy be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I knew this book was going to be fabulous just from looking at the co ver andGrave Mercy didn’t let me down. Grave Mercy has a hardcore heroin, smouldering romance (yes, smouldering), and an absorbing fantasy storyline.

Ismae is seriously bad@$$. She transformed from a vulnerable victim to someone with the power to choose her own future. Also, she trained at a convent for assassin nuns. ASSASSIN NUNS. For real. Doesn’t it make you think of that Doctor Who episode, Tooth & Claw with the werewolves and assassin monks?!

The whole fantasy mixed with adventure and alternate history is right up my alley. I love how the setting is a mix of medieval Europe and a completely created world where supernatural things can happen. The idea that the god of death leaves a kill mark for his minions to find is so creepy-cool.

As usual, I like a good romance. Now, I do need to say that the love story is so incredibly expected. I mean, you know from the start who the love interest is, but that doesn’t matter! This romance is just so sexy that it wraps its tentacles around you and completely sucks you in. Awesome points for Robin LaFevers!

So, Grave Mercy definitely has the BookTasty stamp of approval! If you’re high school aged, a fan of fantasy and you’re looking for a new series to get lost in, the you need to read this one. I’m hooked in this series for sure!

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 3, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 14 hours and 14 minutes

Narrator(s): Erin Moon

Series: His Fair Assassin #1

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Living

Hi there!The Living by Matt de la Pena

Let’s celebrate Wednesday by talking about an upcoming new release! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine and I love participating in it every week!

This week’s spotlight book is The Living by Matt de la Pena.

Shy took the summer job to make some money. In a few months on a luxury cruise liner, he’ll rake in the tips and be able to help his mom and sister out with the bills. And how bad can it be? Bikinis, free food, maybe even a girl or two—every cruise has different passengers, after all.

But everything changes when the Big One hits. Shy’s only weeks out at sea when an earthquake more massive than ever before recorded hits California, and his life is forever changed. The earthquake is only the first disaster. Suddenly it’s a fight to survive for those left living.

Doesn’t this sound like a cool survival, adventure story?! What an intriguing premise; summer dreams turn into a fight for your life against the forces of nature?! Very exciting!

The Living will be released on November 12, which is actually the day before my birthday!

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TraumaBonds and The Kill Order by James Dashner

Hi there BookTasty friends!

I’m  glad that it’s Friday and I get to bring you another book review…although today is my official last Friday of freedom before the school year starts as next week is all preplanning. I do love my job (so much!) but I also love my summer vacations so it’s definitely a mix of excitement and lament!

Well, let’s talk books! Today’s review is for James Dashner’s The Kill Order.

The Kill Order by James DashnerBefore WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees. Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

The Kill Order is Dashner’s prequel to the amazing Maze Runner trilogy, which my husband and I read together and loved. Because we loved the original Maze Runner books we were both excited to read this prequel…although I was also a little hesitant as well.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it…especially when I realized none of the previous Maze Runner characters I loved were in it (which makes sense since it’s a prequel duh!). It quickly became clear that although this book had no Thomas, Newt, Minho, or Brenda in it, that didn’t even matter. The new characters, Mark, Trina and Alec were just as interesting and the story was action packed with intensity the whole way through!

One thing you need to know about James Dashner’s books is that whenever the characters start to feel even the smallest ounce of security and safety it is violently ripped from them! Seriously, he’s done this from book one and it’s only magnified in The Kill Order; the craziness just doesn’t let up. The events of Mark and Trina’s story go from bad to worse quickly and just keep getting worse. It is relentless…but in a thrilling page-turner way. Even the ending (which I’m not spoiling) isn’t necessarily a victory because we already know what happens in the rest of the Maze Runner series.
So, Mark and Trina. How did they stack up to my beloved Gladers? They were just as likable and interesting. Mark and Trina have this relationship that feels like the only fresh and positive thing that either one of them has. Their friendship is long-standing, starting even before the sun-flares, and now it is blossoming into something deeper and more romantic than either of them is sure of. Similarly is the relationship between Mark and the gruff Alec. They have this whole father/son thing going on, but there is also a certain level of respect and equality between them, especially as the story progresses. Dashner’s characters form these strong bonds fast. It’s kind of like relationships formed at summer camp…only with demented “people” hunting you….(gosh I hope that makes sense). My husband calls them “TraumaBonds”.

If you haven’t read any of The Maze Runner books they are absolutely fantastic reads.  Once you’ve read all three of the original books, go and read The Kill Order. They’re all fast-paced dystopian, creepy thrillers that are great for both guy and girl readers. I also highly recommend the audiobooks of all the titles in this series; the narrator is talented and does a great job with all the voices. If you needed anymore motivation to read them just know that they’re currently filming The Maze Runner movie and it’s scheduled to release in February 2014!

Author: James Dashner

Publisher: Listening Library (August 14, 2012)

Format: audiobook

Length: 10 hours and 2 mins

Narrator(s): Mark Deakins

Series: Prequel to The Maze Runner trilogy

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: The Kill Order (Maze Runner Prequel) (Maze Runner Trilogy)

 

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Fantasy, Don’t Fail Me Now: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Well hi there!

Guys! Fantasy is just so darn good!

Seriously. I recently finished Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock and when I finally put the book down I said “I LOVE fantasy” out loud, to no one because I was alone.

Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchettayears. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.

Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father. But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin’s faith in her . . . but in himself.

I’m very guilty of passing over this one at my public library multiple times. Probably because of the fact that it has a male main character…which you know I have issues with. So, I had been intimated by this one but I knew how much other bloggers loved it so I finally decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did!

I was hooked right away. Marchetta’s writing style is riveting. Finnikin of the Rock had some of the most amazing world building I’ve ever experienced. I was so eager to learn more about Lumatere’s strange and dangerous history and culture. The people of Finnikin’s nation are so bound by their history that as the reader you’re right alongside Finnikin and Evanjalin as they feel both frustration and compassion for the people of Lumatere.

Marchetta’s characters are so beautifully sketched. Each person in Finnikin’s circle is full of courage, faith and perseverance that I couldn’t help but admire them. They’re not all perfect, by any means, but they are loyal to their nation which allows them to spur others on at difficult times throughout the story. And Evanjalin?! She’s a badass. Sorry, that is the only word I can think of!  Also, the enemy, the Imposter King, is so terrifying a character…he really is the stuff of nightmares, even though we actually never really meet him. Which proves Marhetta’s skill – to be so frightened by a character that we never see?!?! Awesome!

I had my suspicions but the plot twist was sooo well done that it totally took me by surprise and  made total sense at the same time.  I actually think my reaction was the same as some of the characters upon realizing the truth!

After listening to many audiobooks, I’ve come to realize that audiobook narrators can really make or break a story. This narrator  was incredibly talented and really added so much to the story, although there were a few points where some of his accents faltered.

Is Finnikin of the Rock a great fantasy read? YES! So, if you’re into fantasy you should totally read it. As far as age recommendations, I wouldn’t suggest a middle schooler read this one as I’m pretty confident it has some material that might be too disturbing for those younger than high school (think terrifying king), although a mature eighth grader may be able to handle it.

So…YAY for fantasy! This genre rarely fails me! It definitely didn’t fail with Finnikin of the Rock.

Author: Melina Marchetta

Publisher: Candlewick on Brilliance Audio (September 29th 2008)

Format: audiobook

Length: 12 hours and 25 minutes

Narrator(s): Jeffrey Cummings

Series: First in the Lumatere Chronicles

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles)

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Waiting on Wednesday: Spies and Prejudice

Hiya everyone!

Welcome back to BookTasty!

As you know, I participate in Waiting on Wednesday each week (hosted by Breaking the Spine) and love to shed some light on upcoming new releases I’m greatly anticipating.

This week, I am pretty excited about Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance.

Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy. Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vancespray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death. But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

If you don’t already know (how could you not by now…) I’m a little tiny bit obsessed with all things Jane Austen. Her books are marvelous and I think books that pay homage to Jane Austen and her works are usually pretty fun, so I can’t wait to give Spies and Prejudice a try! I’m also a fan of spy fiction, so the mix between the two sounds like it has potential to be a pretty entertaining read.

The bad news is that Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance isn’t expected to be released until June 11 by Egmont. So we have a way to go before we can read it! :(

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Magic and Mobsters Unite: The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell

Well hello there!

As you may already know (from the buttons on the left side of the page or my earlier post) 2013 is the second year I’m participating in the Debut Authors Challenge! I had so much fun with this challenge last year, as it introduced me to so many new authors to love! Well, this year the first debut novel I read was The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell. Thank you to Dial books for the e-galley!

There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidellangling to exploit the young Crown’s inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

I love fantasy! I really, really do! And I really, really, believe that The Cadet of Tildor is a great addition to the genre. The world building is well done and I felt like I could clearly imagine this world where magic and mobsters unite.  There is just so much political and criminal intrigue that I want to know more about this world Renee, Savoy and Alec live in! Give me more Tildor books!

Lidell’s take on the heroine, Renee, is an interesting one. Renee, although talented, isn’t the strongest student at the Academy.  She is weaker than everyone else and is even in danger of loosing her place in the school. I appreciate that Renee, isn’t automatically this crazy beefed-up warrior girl, but that she instead works hard to get to where she wants and needs to be.

I had head a few other bloggers saying that there was no romance in The Cadet of Tildor, and how relieved they were. No romance?! I completely disagree! Although there was no major romantic story line, I found tendrils of romance throughout the story and can’t wait to see what forms in the next installment…I assume there is a sequel! I asked author Alex Lidell about this on Twitter and all she did was smile…so we’ll have to wait to see if my romance sniffing skills are as good as I think they are!

I was a little disappointed with Alec’s character. Throughout the story we’re reminded that he is Renee’s best friend, but in my opinion, he sure doesn’t act like it!  Alec doesn’t defend Renee when he should and pretty much leaves her on her own for most of the story. I guess, I need to consider the inner confusion and turmoil Alec is dealing with, but I just wasn’t a fan of Alec and how he treated Renee.

There is some violence…okay a lot of violence! But I think Lidell does a pretty good job of being realistic without being too graphic, which is always a good talent to have!

If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, I think you’ll be pleased with Lidell’s debut, The Cadet of Tildor. It is a fun example of what can happen when fantasy and political thrillers unite! If there is to be more of Renee’s story, I will definitely be on the lookout for it!

Author: Alex Lidell

Publisher: Dial (January 10, 2013)

Format: e-galley (ARC)

Length: 400 pages

Series: standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  The Cadet of Tildor