Book Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

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This book was an absolute pleasure to read. It was magical. It was charming. It was exciting. It was just absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend this book for its wonderful storytelling and unique storyline and characters.

Plot: The book is about a talented singer named Cecile, who is kidnapped and taken to an underground city of trolls called Trollum. Here, she is forced to marry the prince of trolls, Tristan, because they believe she is the girl destined to free them from the curse that has kept them from going out in the sun all these centuries. Lo and behold, not everything is what it seems. There are hidden agendas, conspiracies, betrayals, and deceptions.

The plot is amazing. I didn’t know how much I could love a book centered on trolls, but now I know the answer. A lot. The world is fantastic, but there is a darkness to it. Beneath the magic to Trollum lie a lot of issues. There is prejudice, slavery, and a lot of hatred and bitterness. There are layers to the story that makes the readers unable to put the book down.

Characters: The characters are fantastic and very well developed. I have high standards for young adult heroines, and Cecile did not disappoint. Yes, she is scared and dejected at first, but who wouldn’t be? Despite every obstacle in her way though, hope glimmered inside her, and I found myself really loving her character. I sympathized with her. She is an innocent girl who got caught up in something much bigger than herself. She is bold, stubborn, selfless, and compassionate. She refuses to sit around and be idle when there is so much secrecy going around, and it makes the readers root for her.

The leading man is just as brilliant. Tristan comes off as cold and snarky at first, but it ends up making sense. He is witty and clever, and this, paired with Cecile’s own boldness and cleverness, makes for some pretty awesome dialogue throughout the story. Tristan is loyal to his subjects. He is kind and would do anything for the people he loves. This is what a main love interest should be like. Tristan is sarcastic and confident, but it doesn’t translate into being a jackass. I loved him as a character, and together, they made for a great couple.

Romance: I am not a fan of romance. I have said this many times, but this is the kind of book that makes me want to read about love and whatnot. The romance between Cecile and Tristan feels real. It snuck up on me. There is no instalove thank goodness. And no love triangles! Hallelujah! There is, however, chemistry there and tension that makes the romance so worthwhile. And even though romance is a big aspect of this novel, it didn’t overshadow the wonderful plot and world the author has painted for us, which is a great achievement.

World-Building: The world is absolutely fantastic and mesmerizing. I could feel the magic, and I felt as if I was truly there. Trollum is dark and dim, but it is overflowing with magnificent magic. It is an otherworldly place that I couldn’t get enough off. The hierarchy with the trolls, half-bloods, and humans is well developed and a nice addition to the plot. It is unfair, and it feels real. It’s a parallel to the real world we live in, so it makes us connect with these characters. It makes this wholly magical place feel real. We want to root for these people – see good triumph evil.

Overall, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. It’s a wonderful fantasy book filled with tons of magic that will leave you wanting more. I am very much looking forward to the next installment.

Book Review: Scintillate by Tracy Clark

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Scintillate is a book about a young girl named Cora who can see auras. She goes on a quest to find out the truth about her mother and the truth about what she is. She finds herself drawn to the new Irish exchange student. When he goes back to Ireland, she follows him because that’s where her mother was researching. She then finds herself in grave danger from those who want to use her power.

Being from Ireland, I was beyond ecstatic when I received a copy of this book. I mean, a book having to do with my childhood land, auras and whatnot? Count me in. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations. The major problem I had with this book is that, for the most part, it was entirely and disappointingly boring. I had to force myself to finish it because it was just so clichéd and banal. It fell into so many annoying young adult tropes.

1.The Mary-Sue/Special Snowflake

“You’re different from them.”

“It’s not just the color of your eyes – though, damn, that emerald green against your black hair slays me. It’s what’s in them. I feel like I know everything… and nothing, when I look your eyes.”

Cora is just so special. She really is. The readers are told she is plain, but how can we believe that when two amazingly gorgeous guys fall instantly in love with her? She has a hot Irish exchange student from Ireland and a gorgeous Italian boy pining after her. To top it off, she has an extremely rare power and is being hunted because of it.

Cora also makes stupid decisions. After being told how dangerous her gift is and not to trust anyone with the secret, she immediately tells her two friends. She researches in a PUBLIC library. She goes against all of her instincts to be with a guy she barely knows. Even her cousin is okay with letting him drive her home after having fainted. This is how horror movies happen, my friends.

2. The Love Triangle

It has the love triangle. It makes no sense to me because they instantly feel protective of her. They instantly need her. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around how Cora is so special. I detest love triangles, but I like them when they are done well. This is not the case which brings me to my next point.

3. Instalove

I think this category is pretty self-explanatory. This may work for tweens, but authors should know better than this. Seriously. I want development. I want the feelings to sneak up on me. I don’t want love at first sight.

4. The Cheesy Dialogue

I can’t count the number of times I rolled my eyes during this book.

Little mini-hearts floated into my bloodstream. “Love?”

We did that thing again, where we looked in each other’s eyes a fraction longer than was considered comfortable in polite society.

“Since I met you, nothing else exists. No one has ever touched me the way you do. You’re like a fookin’ hypnotist.”

 “It’s the sun on my back after days in the rain.”

“…to the wider world you are enchanting.”

5. The Twilight Plot

There’s the immediate attraction. There’s the “I’m not good for you, so I’m going to go leave you now.” There’s the love triangle. There’s the perfect character who everyone loves. She doesn’t know how special she is though.

6. OMG- I’m what?

Yup. It’s the “I don’t know what I am. I’m going to go on a quest to find out.” I mean, there’s nothing wrong with this. It can be a great tool for a fantastic plot. I just hated the way it was done here.

Overall, this was so disappointing. I gave it two stars because the latter part of the book, towards the end, is a lot more interesting than the beginning. For this reason, I can see myself picking up the next book and giving it a chance, but I don’t see myself recommending it.

Book Review: The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

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Today’s book review is going to be on The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist. I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, and I finally got a chance to do so. With such a beautiful cover, I just had to have this on my bookshelf, and as for the book itself, it’s quite a nice read.

Synopsis. The book revolves around the lives of two girls, and each chapter switches from their points of views. It starts off with Elara’s story line where she is an orphaned girl living a Cinderella-like life with an abusive mistress. She knows nothing of her past, so when her teacher gives her a book from her mother, she knows she must follow this lead. It leads her to the royal capital where the Masked Princess is having a masquerade. The story line switches to that of the Masked Princess, otherwise known as Princess Wilha. Princess Wilha has been made to wear masks ever since she was a child, and she has no idea why. For this reason, rumors surrounding her have surfaced such as her having the power to either kill or heal people with her eyes. The girls meet face to face after an assassination attempt and so begins their journey of finding out the secrets that have been kept from them.

Plot. The plot of this book was nothing groundbreaking, but it was a nice, quick read. It was terribly predictable, but I still cared enough about the characters to continue on, and I don’t regret finishing the book. If you’re a fan of fairy tales and stories like the Princess and the Pauper, then this is a book you should definitely check out. I will say, however, that overall this book feels a bit incomplete and has a lot of loose ends. I know it’s the first book in the series but I expect it to have a level of coherence and completeness which I felt was a bit lacking in this story.

Characters. This is where the story shines for me. I love the two main characters, Elara and Wilha. They are so different, and the dynamic between them is absolutely brilliant. You feel the bitterness. You feel the sympathy. It’s great. The characters completely make up for the lack of depth in the story for me. They are just so believable and real. Their personalities completely match their backgrounds. Elara, being from an abusive family, is guarded and cunning while Wilha, having been sheltered within the castle walls, is obedient and naive. Another great aspect of this book were the relationships between the characters. They were not rushed and were allowed time to develop, and you find yourself rooting for the characters all the way.

Romance. This is a young adult novel, so the romance was definitely toned down. There were kisses and fluffy moments, but I like my books to be more intense with the chemistry and tension. However, it does fit in with the whole tone of the book and fairy tale aspect, so I can’t necessarily say that it’s a bad thing. For that reason and the fact that the writing style is very simple, I recommend it to younger readers. It is quite an innocent book for the exception of one lecherous character. Overall, the romance was nice and sweet. A little bit boring for me but to each his own.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and  romance. I had quite a fun night reading it because it’s a very cute story and it’s a very easy read. I’m glad to say that I shall be reading the next installment of the series when it comes out next year. What did you guys think of this book?