Hello readers! It’s time for another round of Mini Reviews, where I talk about some of the books I don’t write full length reviews for. This installment, let’s chat about three books: Broken Throne, Two Dark Reigns & Again, but Better.
Broken Throne (Red Queen #4.5) | Victoria Aveyard
Return once more to the deadly and dazzling world of Red Queen in Broken Throne, a beautifully designed, must-have companion to the chart-topping series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Aveyard.
Fans will be delighted to catch up with beloved characters after the drama of War Storm and be excited to hear from brand-new voices as well. This stunning collection is not to be missed… Goodreads
Broken Throne starts off with several pages of documents and written notes detailing the history of Norta and the Calore line, (perhaps in a little too much detail) and particularly how this world of Silvers and Reds came to be. Definitely interesting, but this book in my opinion, has been overhyped and it did not live up to it.
Broken Throne contains two previously released novellas, Queen Song and Steel Scars which I had not read before (since I always delay reading novellas until the last possible minute). Queen Song in particular was an intriguing read, getting to know Cal’s mother, Coriane Jacos, a character only mentioned in the series. Steel Scars was Farley’s story, leading up to her meeting Mare for the first time, and it provided some insight into the workings of the Scarlet Guard pre-Nortan civil war. As for the new stories,World Behind, which takes place in the Disputed Lands, was an interesting story, but it ended far too quickly and didn’t really add much.
It was nice to see how Norta is rebuilding and essentially relearning their way of life after the war. With how War Storm ended on such a vague note, leaving so much to question, Broken Throne fills in a lot of the gaps, but still leaves some to imagine. In Iron Heart, it was great to see Evangeline and Elane adjusting to their new lives as Evangeline and her brother prepare to formally abdicate the throne of the Rift and this was by far my favourite story in this set.
Now I understand that the biggest question mark was what happens with Cal and Mare after that finale, but Fire Light was far too angsty for my taste. It was good to get that closure I suppose, but that was about the only thing I liked in that story. Fare well was unexpected, but surprisingly beautiful despite its brevity as Cal and Maven say goodbye.
Overall, not a bad read and a decent addition to the series. Novellas have never been my favourite stories to read, but this series definitely needed one to tie up the loose ends and the story of Red Queen finally feels complete.
Publishing Date: May 7th, 2019 (HarperTeen)
Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns #3) | Kendare Blake
Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.
Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn. Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.
This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected…. Goodreads
Katharine is now queen crowned, and though she wants to rule justly, the dead queens inside her often force her into taking ruthless and cruel actions. Meanwhile, the mist that has always protected Fennbirn is rising against the people with horrible consequences, and there are whispers once more that Katharine is cursed, the Undead Queen. Mirabella and Arsinoe are on the mainland with Billy, but Arsinoe receives visions from the fabled Blue Queen, clearly ordering her back to Fennbirn for some reason. Following the escape from the Volroy and Jules’ subsequent return to the island, she is now in Bastian City, the stronghold of the war-gifted. Emilia Vatros, who briefly appeared in One Dark Throne convinces Jules to take on the mantle of the Legion Queen and lead a rebellion against Katharine. But Jules’ war gift is only bound, and by low magic at that – if the binding is broken, the legion curse will be as well.
So I wasn’t initially very happy to learn that the series had been extended to four books, but there is definitely enough complexity to this story now to keep it going. The best thing about Two Dark Reigns is the parallel world-building, giving us a glimpse of Fennbirn’s past, the myths and legends, and through Arsinoe’s visions, the history of the Blue Queen. Characters wise, the story definitely revolved around Katharine and Jules, and apart from the visions from the Blue Queen, Mirabella and Arsinoe’s POVs were pretty boring. Jules, as a character, I find that I didn’t really like her in this book. She seems to have gone from the fierce and highly gifted naturalist to someone who has basically allowed herself to be made into the face of a rebellion based on…prophecy? The rebels, Emilia and Mathilde in particular came off as awfully pushy, and it is quite evident that Jules is only half-heartedly in agreement with the whole affair. Also, I can’t picture Jules as a queen and I found this plotline rather ridiculous. It was always meant to be between the three sisters and this feels like an unnecessary addition of conflict.
Luca’s suggestion towards the end was an interesting twist, and it was even more surprising that Mirabella seems to have agreed to it. I do wonder how Arsinoe is going to take Mirabella’s decision – I half hope she joins her as it would definitely be an exciting twist! As for Katharine, I get the feeling the author is aiming to set her up as the villain of the story, which is just unfair. She is hands down my favourite character in this series, and her determination and strength, despite being effectively possessed is amazing. Her’s has been the best character arc throughout, in my opinion.
Fast-paced and an engrossing page-turner, Two Dark Reigns was an interesting third installment to the series that leaves a lot of questions and a setting for an epic finale. Overall, 4 stars from me, and I can’t wait for Five Dark Fates to be released later this year!
Publishing Date: September 4th, 2018 (HarperTeen)
Again, but Better | Christine Riccio
Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!
Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart… Goodreads
Shane is a model pre-med student, but all she wants to do is write. Convinced that she’s doing college all wrong, she signs up for a study abroad writing program in London and also gets the opportunity to intern at a travel magazine – and spend one summer far from her family and their expectations.
Now this is a book I would have loved to read when I was in university. Again, but Better captures the stresses and struggles of college life so perfectly, and though I’ve been out of college only around a year, it still made me nostalgic. Quite well written and engaging for a debut, I give this an A+ for character development especially on Shane’s part.
The only thing I really don’t know what to think about is the fantastical element that came in halfway through the book – it felt like it came out of nowhere to be honest, because I was expecting something thoroughly realistic, contemporary and relatable. Also, the 2011 pop culture references, while amusing at first, just became a little too much by the end and more distracting than anything. Apart from that, I was also a little bemused at the weird names of almost every character.
Again, but Better was a cute and fun read, and I would definitely recommend it. It has its downsides to be certain, but I would say it’s worth the read purely for the entertainment value and the genuine feel to the narration.
Publishing Date: May 7th, 2019 (Wednesday Books)
Have you read any of these books or do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!