Review: Defend the Dawn by Brigid Kemmerer

Alexis holds a copy of Defend the Dawn in front of bookshelves in a bookstore.

Alexis: 

Did this book just come out on Tuesday? Yes. Did I binge read it and finish it today? Also yes. 

Defy the Night is one of my favorite books, so it’s safe to say that Defend the Dawn was one of my most anticipated reads. And I’m happy to say it did not disappoint.

Defend the Dawn brings even more political intrigue, plot twists, and morally gray characters. I was constantly second-guessing what I knew about character motivations.⁣

⁣While the middle moves a little slowly, in classic second book fashion, I still really enjoyed it. I love both of the main characters, Tessa and Corrick. I loved reading about their messy emotions and relationship. I also really enjoyed getting to know Corrick’s brother, King Harristan, better, and I love his brotherly relationship with Corrick.

While Defy the Night only has 2 POVs, a third POV is sprinkled into Defend the Dawn. I found that it worked really well for the story, especially since Tessa and Corrick are on a ship for the majority of the book.  ⁣

⁣And then of course, we have the ending. The appropriate reaction is “ahhh!!” It was so action-packed and I loved it, but of course it ended on a cliffhanger. Now I have to wait and see what happens, and I’m an impatient reader!

If you still haven’t picked up this series, it’s a New Adult fantasy series filled with politics, a rebellion, a pandemic, outlaws stealing for the sick, and of course a dash of romance. It’s also low fantasy, so if you want a fantasy without magic, then this is the series for you.

⁣VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⁣

Alexis’ October Wrap Up

Alexis. wearing a gray sweater, stands in front of a bookshelf while holding a stack of books.

🎃 𝐎𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝗪𝐫𝐚𝐩 𝐔𝐩! 🎃⁣

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⁣

Kingdom of the Cursed ⁣by Kerri Maniscalco

I’ve already written my review, but this second book in the trilogy was passionate and electrifying. It was great to see Emilia’s character arc, and Wrath’s, as well. Is it a perfect book? No. However, this was a thrilling sequel that completely sucked me in!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⁣

Kingdom of the Wicked (re-read) by Kerri Maniscalco ⁣

Vow of Thieves ⁣by Mary E. Pearson

Vow of Thieves is the sequel to the Dance of Thieves duology. I loved the more fast-action plot, as compared to the slow pace of the first book. Overall, I just enjoyed this one much more than the first, despite the fact that Kazi and Jase, the main characters, are separated from each other during the majority of it. It added more tension!

Six Crimson Cranes ⁣by Elizabeth Lim

This book is an East Asian inspired fairytale retelling. It follows a cursed princess named Shiori who attempts to break the curse cast on her six brothers; their stepmother turned them into cranes. I loved Shiori’s character arc, and I enjoyed the worldbuilding. I do wish the romance was more developed, and I wanted more dragons! But this was a great read overall.

⭐⭐⭐✨⁣

Vespertine ⁣by Margaret Rogerson

Vespertine follows Artemisia, a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on. When a revenant, an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic, is woken up, it attaches itself to Artemisia. While this was a cool concept, I wasn’t feeling the book overall. It was missing the charm and humor of Rogerson’s other books. In the acknowledgments, Rogerson mentions that she wrote it while depressed and under Covid lockdown, and unfortunately, you can feel that heaviness really come through. The extra half star was for Artemisia’s character, who I thought was a unique main character; but ultimately, I didn’t connect with this story as much as I wanted to.

⭐⭐⭐⁣

Dance of Thieves ⁣by Mary E. Pearson

The first in the duology, Dance of Thieves had the potential to be a 5-star read; however, long sections of this book dragged on with extraneous detail. After some insta-love, Kazi and Jase go back and forth between enemies and lovers constantly, and it gave me whiplash. The writing is 5-star worthy, and while there were moments I loved, I found myself skipping large chunks of paragraphs just to finish the book.

⭐⭐✨⁣

Sky in the Deep ⁣by Adrienne Young

The story follows warrior Eelyn in a Viking-inspired world. When she discovers her brother, Iri, is actually still alive, she is stolen by Fiske, the same man who saved Iri. But Fiske, and now Iri, belong to an enemy clan, and Eelyn can’t wait to escape to go back home to her father.

Maybe because I heard glowing reviews of this one, but the writing just felt very bland to me. The character development and romance didn’t have a great arc, and while I loved the world and the vibes, I found myself detached from the story. However, I highly recommend reading Fable by Young if you haven’t already.

⁣October felt like a very long month. I read a wide variety of books, with my reviews across the board, and I’m looking forward to some great reads this month!

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

A library copy of Addie LaRue is being pulled out of a bookshelf, alongside a candle.

Alexis:

Look what I finally got from the library!

I was a little afraid to start Addie LaRue to be honest; it’s been hyped up so much that I was afraid to be disappointed.

However, I really enjoyed reading this book. Schwab’s writing is more poetic and lyrical than in other books I’ve read by her, and it sucked me into the story.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows, you guessed it, Addie LaRue. In France in 1714, Addie dreams of escaping her small village, but most of all, she’s desperate to avoid getting married. So she makes a deal with the devil. But the deal goes wrong, and not only is Addie now forgettable, she’s also immortal until she decides to give up her soul. 

While I’m not usually a huge fan of non-linear stories, including Vicious by Schwab herself, I think it actually worked well in this book. We jump back and forth between present time (2014 in this case) and Addie’s past escapades. Overall, this book is a slow-moving character study of Addie, and I enjoyed learning about her unique life. I appreciated the emphasis on art, and loved the overall atmosphere of the story.

There were a couple of things that kept this from being a 5 star read for me, however. While I like slow-moving, character-driven stories, I just couldn’t get over the fact that this book is devoid of basically any plot for the first ¾. And this book is a whopping 442 pages long. Instead, we spend most of the time following Addie as she suffers on the streets of different cities, and focusing on all the different lovers she takes up. 

There’s one sparse chapter about her being part of a war, which I feel like could’ve been a much more interesting part of Addie’s life, not to mention a much more interesting plot, yet we never see how it impacted her. Despite this being a highly character-driven story, I feel like Addie’s character never actually changes or evolves. And I guess that could be the point, couldn’t it? But not changing in 300 years?

It was also a little strange that Addie is alive for 300 years yet never makes it past Europe and the US. That, and the romance part of this book was subpar for me; the romantic interest was just not an interesting character to me. It didn’t help that the grandiose ending felt a little melodramatic.

Keep in mind that I can’t turn off the critical reader part of my brain. I guess getting your MFA and editing novels will do that to you! So even though there were parts of this book that I think could’ve been done differently, I still enjoyed the overall writing and the reading experience, and I think it’s worth a read.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5