A Shadow Bright and Burning

23203252.jpg A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

**This review is based on an ARC I picked up at BEA in Chicago, release date is 9/20/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

My thoughts:

I am pretty impressed with this book, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into and I feel like there has been some overkill on fantasy lately or too many with the same kind of story, not sure what it is. Anyway, the description of this one was short and sweet and did its job to pull me in. I liked the magic story with a female point of view, which is a little less common I think.  I really liked most of the characters in this book, Henrietta was smart and funny and Magnus was a jerk, but also wonderful if that makes sense. He made me laugh often. I even grew accustomed to Blackwood, even though he was a bit of a bump on a log. Betrayal is pretty abundant in this story and I didn’t see the events at the end coming, but surprises are a good thing in this kind of book. I would recommend to my students and will be purchasing for my school library.

My rating: 4/5

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

16096824 A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, released on 5/5/15.

I am still a little bit unsure how I feel about this book. I haven’t gotten around to reading her other popular series, Throne of Glass, though it is on my TBR list; so I thought I would try for an advanced copy of this one to see if I liked it. I enjoyed the premise of the story and some of the characters, but did have to force myself to keep going a few times, just felt like it was a little slow.

Feyre (pronounced Fey-ruh) kills a wolf at the beginning of the story who turns out to be a member of the High Fae court in a nearby town(?) that is considered the opposition to humans in her world. In order to atone for her sins, she is forced to live with the Fae for the rest of her life in accordance with a treaty from many years before. Since she is not being held as a slave, her time with them turns out to be not so bad, pretty lavish in fact compared to her pitiful life before. Though she doesn’t want to, she ends up developing a deep attraction to one of her captors. This, in turn, leads to a battle with “her”, not referred to by name until fairly far into the story. She, Amarantha, has forced the other Fae to live in fear and according to her will for many years and Feyre is their only hope. She is forced to complete tasks or solve a riddle in order to free them from Amarantha’s hold. Along the way, she finds help in unexpected places.

I felt the relationships in this story were very dysfunctional, but then again, they are in many of these fantasy stories. It is very reminiscent of the romance in a lot of other books I have read, in my personal opinion. As usual, there is somewhat of a love triangle going on, and I found myself actually rooting for the “bad guy” a few times. I did like the book enough to make me want to try others by the author, so I guess it was a success in that manner. Though many of the characters did despicable things at one point or another, it was still easy to like them and hope things turned out well for them. I just wished all of the action in the last 25% of the book could have been spread out somehow. I have purchased this for my high school library and know it will get some circulation, especially among Sarah’s already established fans.

My rating: 3/5