Friends with ARCs | Empire of Dreams + Don't Call the Wolf

pub 4/7/20 by Greenwillow Books
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received e-ARC from pub for review
I did not expect another installment (granted, it can be treated like a standalone) of the Fire and Thorns series! I read the original trilogy as each book came out which means I hadn't dived back into this world since 2013! Ideally I would've liked to reread them before picking up Empire of Dreams but that didn't happen and honestly, even though it would've enhanced the reading experience, it isn't necessary and I still adored this book. Our heroine this time is sixteen-year-old Red Sparkling Stone, a foundling orphan from the trilogy (I barely remembered her!), who's about to be adopted by Empress Elisa and Hector (my loves!). But the empress's rivals find a way to block the adoption and makes them realize there could be enemies in their midst. Red comes up with a plan to join the legendary Royal Guard—typically not open to women—as a way to prove her place and to protect her family. Even though it took a while for me to remember Red (thank you Rae Carson for the flashbacks!), I enjoyed her voice a lot. Her journey and personality is different from Elisa's, but at the core, they share the common thread of being two women who are figuring out what they want and yearn for love and acceptance, from themselves and from others. I also liked the overarching plot line of Red joining the guard and proving women should never be underestimated. I definitely found myself surprised at times but it was really the emotional core and Red's personal journey that was the strongest part of the novel for me.

If you could only pick one object to take with you always, what would it be? | My mom's engagement ring. I wear it on days when I'm feeling sad and missing her a lot (like even more than I usually do).

pub 4/28/20 by HarperTeen
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received e-ARC from pub for review
I have to honest, a lot of these Young Adult fantasy books are starting to all blend together for me. (Empire of Dreams and the entire Shadow of the Fox trilogy excluded, of course.) Don't Call the Wolf had an interesting premise, likable characters you want to root for, but that element of excitement and deeply connecting to the characters was missing. I find myself feeling this way a lot with YA fantasy. I'll like the books well enough but I just don't love them. In Don't Call the Wolf, we get the two perspectives of Ren, a young queen of the Kamiena forest, and Lukasz, the last survivor of famous family of dragon slayers. They both have a common enemy—The Golden Dagon—and make a deal. She'll help him find the brother who disappeared into her forest if he'll slay the dragon. Of course, nothing is that simple. Both are slow to open up and have their fair share of secrets and agendas. But along this journey they each bring friends, new and old, and they become this unlikely team of sorts. Ren has always struggled with being a human girl and a part-lynx forest queen while Lukasz struggles under the pressure of his legacy and missing his family. I wish I had connected to them more because I do think their backstories and motivations are interesting, along with the overall lore of the book. It really would've benefited from more world/history/character building and a more compelling villain, even at the risk of slowing down the pace a bit.

What kind of shapeshifter would you want to be? | I'd choose a horse! Aside from the fact that I just love horses, I also associate them this image of being able to run wild and free, plus the long mane is so me haha.


Collaborative feature with Alexa. We read ARCs together and post our reviews on the same date.

1 comment

  1. Empire of Dreams was such a pleasant surprise! I'm glad Rae Carson chose to revisit this world through the eyes of a different narrator, and I'm also happy we both enjoyed Red's story so much.


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