Sunday, January 27, 2013

TBR Reading Challenge

The Crimson Crown
(Seven Realms series)
by Cinda Williams Chima

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed — Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.
Now, once again, the queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible. Tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.
Navigating the cutthroat world of blueblood politics has never been more dangerous, and former streetlord Han Alister seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?
A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

The Seven Realms saga has been a favorite of mine from the beginning. I knew this final installment would be nothing short of amazing. Frankly, I expect no less from Cinda Williams Chima.
She is after all one of my all time favorite authors, and for good reason. She's simply brilliant. BRILLIANT. If I didn't know better, I'd swear she's a mage herself. The magic she weaves from page to page is all at once enthralling and enchanting. It's gut wrenching to have to put a book of hers down. It's downright painful. Yes, she's THAT good. Of course if you're reading this review of the fourth and final book in the series you already know this. Am I right?
So I was very excited to get my hands on yet another GORGEOUS book and pick up where we left off a little over a year ago. Unfortunately my excitement was also met with a bit of apprehension. I didn't want this to be the end. I couldn't bear to say goodbye to my dear friends. They were/are in my heart and soul.
And yet we'd been through so much together, I knew I had to see it through. There had to be a HEA (Happy ever after). I just knew it. In fact, I think Chima may have promised it. Still it was an ending. So I somewhat reluctantly returned to the world of the Seven Realms and found myself completely immersed and right at home within the first few lines. Once again I was mesmerized.
The writing in this book was just as captivating as the first. The world building is so strong, so complete, you always have a perfect visual of where you're being taken. Each action clear and concise, as well as the dialogue. In short it was perfection.
There is more than enough action to carry the entire tale. The constant battles among the divided territories- so caught up in the past and desperate to have absolute control. But it is of course the love story that fuels it all and feeds our need. Raisa and Han never cease to amaze with their stubborn minds and willful hearts. Raisa so certain she can change the way her people think. And Han determined to give her what she dreams of and win her heart at any cost. It doesn't get much more romantic. Theirs is a love story for the ages.
The Crimson Crown has all the the elements of the previous installments; a world constantly on the verge or in the midst of war. Secrets, lies and betrayal run rampant. And it's impossible to know who the enemy really is.
Comradeships falter, new alliances form, but no one, especially our Queen, knows who can be trusted. Lifelong beliefs are questioned, and loyalties are put to the test.
I love Raisa and Han almost equally. They are both such amazing characters. Driven by their hearts and their strong convictions, both will stop at nothing to do what they perceive is right. And they love wholeheartedly.
For me this book was Han's shining moment. Much of what takes place centers around his relationship with Crow and discovering the truth behind the stories of Hanalea and the Demon King. It's truly fascinating and exciting. You really see Han come into his own.
But don't discard Raisa. She's a strong Queen who won't turn her back on her beliefs, or concede to the pressures from the many who attempt to influence her.
They struggle together and apart in a gut wrenching battle against enemies seen and unknown.
With all that takes place- and there is a LOT, this may be the most exciting installment of them all. And that speaks volumes for Chima's talent. Never dull or repetitive, The Crimson Crown is all at once heart stopping, thrilling, exhilarating and thoroughly entertaining.
With all our key players returning including Amon (I still love him so), Nightwalker, Dancer, and of course my other favorite wizard, Micah (how can you NOT love Micah?!?!), and CROW, there's more than enough romance and excitement to keep you eagerly turning the pages and hoping it never ends.
So get ready for a few surprises-  an EPIC battle of wits, brute strength and flash, a fairytale romance that just get better and better, as well as one of the most well crafted and captivating legends you'll find in YA Fantasy. As with all of the previous Seven Realms novels, The Crimson Crown does not disappoint. I couldn't have asked for anything more. It's the perfect ending to a phenomenal series, and one that will stay in my heart forever and ever.
*If you've not read the series that started it all- The Heir Chronicles, begin it NOW. Cinda Chima has promised us two more books in the series. With any luck, we'll get a peek back into the Seven Realms as our heroes discover their talents and their histories. Until then...
May the Gray Wolves protect you. 
 The Vincent Boys
by Abbi Glines

Ashton is getting tired of being good, of impressing her parents and playing ideal girlfriend to Sawyer Vincent. Sawyer is perfect, a regular Prince Charming, but when he leaves town for the summer, it’s his cousin Beau who catches Ashton’s eye. Beau is the sexiest guy she’s ever seen, and even though he’s dangerous, Ashton is drawn to him.
Beau loves his cousin like a brother, so the last thing he wants to do is make a move on Sawyer’s girl. Ashton is off-limits, absolutely. That’s why he does his best to keep his distance, even though he’s been in love with her forever. When Ashton wants to rekindle their childhood friendship in Sawyer’s absence, Beau knows he should say no.
Ashton and Beau don’t want to hurt Sawyer. But the more they try to stay away from each other, the more intense their urges become. It’s getting way too hard to resist...

 Joining this challenge was a great idea just so I could go ahead and get to some of those I have put on my TBR Pile because I really wanted to read them....
Yet, life catches you and the next thing you know, that book get puts to the wayside one more time...
WELL, not this time...My very first choice for this challenge was The Vincent Boys and MAN..WHY in the hell did I keeping putting this one aside?
I heard the raves about it.  Knew it was fantastic because of the trust I have in the friends who have read it...but how fantastic was only going to be found out by me reading it myself.
So, here I go...starting this review after I have read The Vincent Boys.
OMFG!!!  This story had me so wrapped up from the get go.  Starting out with the prologue and getting to meet the Vincent boys as kids and of course their bestie Ashton...Good, fun times...AND then....
Whoosh...we are now thrust in to summer of this trio and WOW, things have changed.  
This trio is not the best of friends any more and two have even split off to be boyfriend/girlfriend...And who are together?? Sawyer and Ashton.  The sweet perfect couple.  Doing everything right, not breaking any rules...oh you get the picture.
So, Sawyer is gone for the summer.  And good ole Ash is home being the good samaritan when that leads her to the other Vincent boy, yep, the "bad boy" of the town, Beau.  
But, this chance moment leads us on the fabulous tale and I am telling you...I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN!!!
You instantly are drawn in to the bad boy Beau, wanting to be all bad with him...but what you see is not always what is.  The saying "Don't judge a book by its cover"...YEAH, goes perfect right here.  
Anyway, I must get back to my thoughts...A whirlwind relationship takes place for Ashton and Beau after a major event happens for Ash.  With this one moment, she realizes it is time to be herself.  Not to act like everyone wants her to.  It is finally time for her to be with who she yearns for.  Lo and behold, this is Beau.
I love these characters.  They are fun, compassionate, endearing...their growth throughout this books grows by leaps and bounds.  
There is lots of action and drama all throughout keeping you on your toes the whole time.  I was constantly biting my nails eager to see certain events unfold, aching when certain secrets revealed, and ultimately elated by the ending page.
As I am now done with The Vincent Boys, I know exactly why everyone RAVED about this book.  It captures you...yep, you are ensnared and instead of pulling away you willing go, being reeled in with every passing, hot moment detailed in this book.

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