Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

The Exalted by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Thank you so much to Inkyard press and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.

Here is the summary from Goodreads;

Alskad has been ruled by the singleborn…but the new heir to the throne carries a secret that will change everything

When an assassin’s bullet takes the life of Queen Runa and allows an impostor to steal the throne, Bo Trousillion is forced to flee the empire that is his birthright. With few choices left and burdened with a secret that could disinherit him, Bo pursues an alliance with Noriava, the Queen of Denor, but the devious royal ensnares him in a trap and demands a huge price for her aid.

To the south, Vi Abernathy—Bo’s secret twin—joins a ragtag army of resistance fighters, determined to free Alskad and the colony of Ilor from the control of the corrupt temple and its leaders. But as Vi discovers a strength she never knew she had and prepares to rejoin her brother in Alskad, news of the coup and Bo’s narrow escape arrive in Ilor.

Determined to rescue Bo, Vi sails to Denor with the rebels at her side and a plan to outwit Queen Noriava, knowing there’s only one way she and Bo will be able to save the Alskad Empire—together

When I first requested The Exalted I didn’t realize that it was a sequel, so I had the pleasure of binge reading the duology. One thing I really appreciate is how The Diminished ended in a very. satisfying and non cliffhanger ish way, so I was more than ready to read this but did feel pressured to. I was glad to have it lined up!

This book put me through the entire spectrum of emotions, I was laughing, clapped a few times, spilled a few tears for various fallen warriors, and ended with a book hangover that resulted in a grossly delayed review (I’m sorry, my bad). There was a LOT going on in this book though -the Suzerain (religious sect/temple) took down the queen and plotted a coup, Bo had to go deal with Noriava, all the rebel fighting, then the maneuvering to take back the throne… Very busy but very well fleshed out and surprisingly linear novel – I had to force myself to put it down.

The Exalted moved a lot faster than the previous book and every part of it mattered. I was reading as much as I could each day! I loved Bo and Vi’s family and the little girls were hilarious. All of the new characters were great, Noriava as cunning as anyone, the general, and the camp warriors who we met. There were some surprising characters too but I will leave it at “holy cow, the Shriven”! (They are the Suzerain’s warriors.)

I do believe that some books read better with a rough ending, and I appreciate that in a war important people are going to die…but really? I wasn’t sure if I should be impressed at how many main characters died or if it was overdone. One particular hero I do feel like should have gotten some last words, or something, he was so important and if you were reading quickly you would have missed where he died. Bye bye new and shortlived book boyfriend 😦 😦 😦

Why did H die and not M? the twin thing didn’t seem entirely consistent but I am so glad there were also some platonic relationships in this book. I also think Vi’s depressive bout was real and important, this whole book just felt very,,,real…at times.

Anyway – Found families, gay characters, I don’t understand nonbinary but that was mentioned, strong female leaders, and nail biting nonstop action with a twist of court intrigue and betrayal out the wazoo…if these are your tropes and you’re not afraid to cry, go grab this duology and get to it! An easy 5 stars for this book!

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

I requested The Exalted on NetGalley without realizing it was a sequel, and then had the pleasure of binge reading this duology by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson.

It is hard to go into a lot of summary without spoilers, so here is the GoodReads summary:

In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone

The Singleborn
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.

The diminished
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.

As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.

The Singleborn are few and born to rule and be leaders, while most of the population is born as twins to keep their other half in check. This ties in with the pretty cool lore and world building, depicted by the halved moon on the gorgeous cover. See this below! The lore and premise really had me interested in this series and I found a lot of unique elements. I also freaking loved Queen Runa by the way.

What I really liked was the world building, political structures, and how quickly the action progressed. I liked the journey but some parts felt too easy, like Mal and Quill coming out of no where and being Vi’s new bffs. I was also cringeing at the insta love between like…everybody, but at least they kind of recognized it as lust and didn’t get all emotional at first. Bo is also extremely gay which seems to be a big draw these days.

Really though between the world, the friendships built, the unlikely families and friends, the betrayals coming from unlikely places, and how terrible certain things end up being for Vi’s old friends…This story really twined together quite nicely and progressed quickly enough to keep me fairly rapt. I think the author took riding lessons or has horses as well, because Vi’s riding lessons had me laughing at the 😂

This might be book two but the atrocities that the Suzerain and the temple are committing are like 😳, fear ruling bastards. I honestly forget where in the major plot line book one ended, but it was not a cliffhanger. The book didn’t need one, I already knew I would be reading the sequel and appreciated the solid ending of this first installment.

Highly recommend to any fans of fantasy, found families, political betrayals, and thick plot building!

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Gilded Wolves

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release date: Jan 15th 2019

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Would I let my kid read this? 100%

I was lucky enough to receive a digital ARC from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review, thank you!!!

The summary from Goodreads

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

The Plot

In short – this is a heist story. It is also a story of magic, friendship, puzzles, and history. There are a lot of themes packed into this book and it moved along at a steady pace. By the end I wished that it was the second book about to be released, not the first! I was so wrapped up when it ended that I just wanted the book to keep going, probably in part due to the baby cliff hanger. where no one was dying or in imminent danger, nothing crazy happening, but a firm hook is set and you know you are going to be eagerly awaiting the next installment!

The Characters

The Gilded Wolves had me wanting to crush on half of the characters before I realized they were all teenagers. I am not going to go into individual characters here but they are a band of misfits. They are a pretty typical group on the surface – awkward girl, fake girl, braniac, the immature one, the moody leader…but under the surface and throughout the book their secrets are told and they become dear to the reader, or at least to me they did. The point of view switches between four of them – I think – throughout the book, with one exception that made sense at the end. I had noticed his missing voice before the end and was going to bring it up, but now….well, what would it say?

The Writing

Chokshi has an unbelievably poetic writing style. My favorite passage was this:

Kisses were to be witnessed by stars, not held in the presence of stale death. But as the bones rose up around them, Laila saw fractals of white. Pale constellations of bone. And she thought that, perhaps, for a kiss like this , even hell would put forth its stars

The descriptions throughout the book were flowery almost to the point of excess, but not quite. Her world is full of magic and she did an amazing job bringing it to life. This book is meant to be savored, not skimmed. I only skimmed when the one character started rambling about math and puzzles, those descriptions were not my brain’s favorite. I also didn’t mind the multiple points of views as it was not repetitive and kept the story moving.

Overall Impression:

As I write this I feel like I should have given it five stars, but it was a little drawn out at times and I was jarred by the last few chapters. You all know how I LOVE endings that just wreck your life…you might have to read the last few chapters a couple times and contain your meltdown, but that’s OK❤ The book mainly has positive relationships, clean language, and is lgbq+, but it doesn’t really read like a young adult book and I know adults can get into it too. In that spirit I would say yes, let your young adults read this (then read it after). Anyway, I give it a solid 4/5 stars and would recommend to anyone who likes heists, fantasy, magic, young adult, fiction, or a good book in general!