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YA Book Review: Lastland

02-02-16

Lastland by A.R. Ivanovich
This final installment of The War of Princes cracked straight open full of action and kept you pretty much on the edge of your seat from that point on.  The tightly-woven tale of Katelyn Kestrel draws to a close with quite a bang.  Prince Raserion and Prince Varion have reached Haven despite all of Katelyn’s previous attempts to keep them out.  With her sidekicks, Rune and Dylan, Katelyn hurries back to Haven to try to stop it from being destroyed.

But Rune is still struggling with the shadows.  And Dylan is still struggling to be good.

It’s a perfect recipe for all hell to break loose, and it does–with vigor.  Ivanovich’s writing transports once again.  Lastland delivers just as well as its predecessors, if not better.  I wasn’t really surprised by the ending, but it was so beautifully wrought I freely admit to tearing up as I read the last page.  And the epilogue?  The story was so action-packed and fast-paced that I had completely forgotten the loose end addressed in it, but that made me smile all the more as I read the final words.

As ever with these books, if I tell you too much, I’m giving too much away.  Just believe that this is one of the finest fantasy series I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  It has settled into place beside The Hunger Games, Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky, and Scott Westerfield’s Uglies on my heart shelf of YA Books I’ll Never Forget.  There is nothing like an invented world that makes you Believe.  And this one did.

Putting down the final book in The War of Princes was like saying goodbye to an old friend.  Or, well, more like ‘so long.’  I’ll be reading them again soon.

I hope you will, too.

Love wins,

KT

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YA Book Review: Monarch

01-26-15

Monarch by A.R. Ivanovich

Okay, so Ivanovich completely took my breath with this one.  I had settled in to third installment of the War of Princes series with the expectation of a certain story–a certain kind of story–and she went and turned it on its head.  Remember last week in my review of Paperglass when I said these books get better as they go?  I did not then realize the enormous truth of that statement.  So let me say it again.  So far, each of these books has been better than the last.

I mean… I thought the Prince of Shadows was bad.  The hints the reader is given in the first half Monarch about Prince Varion are even more shudder-worthy than his shadowy brother.  I found myself biting my nails (no, literally) as I read about him.

It did not prepare me for the reality.  Let me just tell you without giving away too much that there are a couple of twists here that shocked, amazed, inspired me, blew me a-freakin’-way!  And the great part is I never even suspected them, which made them all the more gratifying.  Have I said Ivanovich has the stuff?  Because she does, in spades.  The growth of each character in this series is exquisitely thought out and paced to keep the reader glued to the pages.  And I was.  Am, because I’m reading the final installment now an I Cannot Put These Books down.

My favorite line in this book is this:

Just a couple of kids from Haven.  We weren’t meant for this.

The honesty of that statement, the reality of a character even having that thought, is one of the things about Ivanovich that sweeps me away.  You don’t often find an author who is both a superb writer and an excellent storyteller, especially in this genre.

I can’t wait to see how Katelyn’s story ends.

Love wins,

KT

YA Book Review: Paperglass by A.R. Ivanovich

01-19-2016

Paperglass by A.R. Ivanovich

Paperglass is the second installment of The War of Princes series by Ivanovich.  Yeah, I reviewed the first one last week, but I am binge-reading this shit, so you’re going to hear all about it.  These books are incredible.  You know how sometimes you read the first book in the series and then the next one isn’t quite as good and it just gets worse from there?  These are so not those books.  They actually get better as you go, like The Hunger Games (books, not films-the reverse is true with the films) or the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.  Paperglass is even faster-paced than Haven, and the danger was more palpable since I already knew the dangers of the Outside world.  Can I just say my heart pounded nearly the entire time I was reading because I was well aware the whole time of the tightrope Katelyn was walking?  How often do you get that from a book?!  Only when it is done extremely well, and Ivanovich has the stuff.

In this chapter of Katelyn’s story, Haven has been threatened and Katelyn has no choice but to venture back Outside in order to prevent a catastrophe.  Rune and Dylan are both back to make her life complicated, albeit in different ways.  I love Dylan’s character–the reader is never any more sure about him than Katelyn is.  He’s superbly imagined and written.  You couldn’t ask for a better herring.  Katelyn’s love life follows an obvious but important thread, too, and you have to cheer about it because it never gets trite.  Her mission to protect Haven is tangled by meeting the Margrave (a high power in the Outside army) and brushes with the Prince of Shadows.  Ivanovich’s world is believable, lush, and complex, and her characters are the same.  You can’t ask for more than that in a fantasy for any age.

Like last week, if I give you too much I’m giving away the story.  Buy these books.  They’re relatively cheap for your Kindle, and you will not regret it.  I’m in the middle of the third installment now, so I’ll let you know next week if the series continues to rock.  (Here’s a hint–Hell yeah, it does.)

Love wins,

KT

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YA Book Review: Haven by A. R. Ivanovich

1-12-16

Haven by A. R. Ivanovich

I have to start by saying this a really good book.  Sure, there is a believable world created here as a backdrop.  But what I loved was that it was really well-written in a strong female voice.  Katelyn Kestrel is the kind of hero a girl can believe in.   She lives in a mountain valley called Haven–and I mean a valley completely surrounded by towering mountains through which there is no way out.  Supposedly.  No one has been outside of Haven in over 700 years.  It’s sort of a steam punk meets epic fantasy kind of place.  Mechanical carriages to help the horses out.  Running water.  Weather men.  In a land where things are simple.  I like true fantasy, where the setting is more medieval, but I have found that I also enjoy the modernized take on the old standby.  Ms. Ivanovich pulls it off with vigor.

Katelyn is a curious girl, and she wonders what lies outside those mountains.  So one night, after a particularly humiliating experience among her school peers, she decides to try to find her way out.  And some strange pull inside her leads her directly to the only path out of the mountains.  She finds her way Outside.  What awaits her there makes high school look like a day at the park.  A war is waging Outside and she gets caught up in the middle of it.  Her allies Outside are Dylan and Rune, two very different young men who affect her very differently.  Dylan is charming and flirtatious while Rune is distant to the point of cruelty.  What’s cool here is that Katelyn isn’t a gullible girl.  She sees through to who the true good guy is, even from the beginning.  Though she grows to trust Dylan, it takes him a while to get to her.  She trusts Rune from the start.  I liked that I wasn’t supposed to be believing that this girl just trusted and threw herself at everybody.  Believing that anyone could be so… stupid.  There are books like that out there.  You know it’s true.

But that’s not the main story.  Oh no, the main story is that Katelyn has to find her way back to Haven without leading all the crazies from Outside to her home.  Because the Outside world has been searching for Haven for centuries, and it has sinister plans for its inhabitants.  And Katelyn is a prisoner, one way or another, from the moment she reaches Outside.  Super sinister bad guys, untrustworthy good guys, new friends, and bitter disappointments pepper Katelyn’s action-packed adventure, but she stays true to herself and her motives and fights back even when there seems to be no fight left in her.

I can’t say much more without giving too much away, so I’ll leave it at this–this book is kind of epic.  I can’t think of a single protagonist who made a foolish mistake that made me want to put the book down (that happens, too.  You know it does).  They all made right choices.  Human choices.  Believable choices. It rocked.  And the last paragraph… Let’s just say it punched me in the heart.  Pick up this wonderful book for yourself your teens and tweens if your looking for something to truly engage them.  Read it with your littles if they love adventure and you want to teach a lesson about loyalty and courage.

Happy reading.

Love wins,

KT