Spoiler-Free Review: One Good Dragon Deserves Another

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One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers #2) by Rachel Aaron
Published: 01.08.2015

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★
Goodreads


I won’t provide a synopsis as this is the second book in the series.

This review is spoiler-free, even for those who haven’t read the first book.

I did write a review on the first book in the series, Nice Dragons Finish Last, which you can find here.

review

I really enjoyed the first book in the series, so I couldn’t wait to read the sequel. I picked this one up while on vacation, and I’m so glad I chose to read it then. It was the perfect quick and fun read that had me smiling by the pool.

This book included even more family moments, which I adore. I think too little books out there, especially YA ones, include a family. Heartstrikers is centered around Julius’ family: the Heartstrikers. That’s the core of this series, and I absolutely love it. In this book, we get to see a lot more of Bethesda, Chelsie, Justin, etc. More dragon-siblings were introduced, like Amelia. Bethesda is the Heartstriker-mother, and every time she has a clutch of children she names them with the next letter of the alphabet. You know, to keep track. Julius is thus a recent child, as his name starts with a J. Amelia however, is the only remaining A which makes her very old -and very powerful. I loved meeting more of the Heartstriker family! They are all so…surprising. 

I think there is a lot of character development in this book and series. Julius is no longer so naive, and has learned to see more value in his skills. Yet he is still the nicest guy. I think that’s why I appreciate this series so much. For once, the nice guy is valued over the rest. Julius and Marci make an incredible team, and their business isn’t doing badly at all. Their friendship/romance is so slow, and it makes me savor every moment. It’s just adorable.

Because the Heartstrikers are dragons, intrigue and scheming is of course involved. It was so much fun to try and decipher all the plots, to discover who was in on it -and who was not. There is also more history in this book. History of the family, and history of the world -which I very much appreciated. 

I have to admit that I didn’t see the twists coming. The schemes and manipulations all come together at the end, and I didn’t foresee the scope of it. I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t wait to see what the 3rd book brings!

Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last

nice dragons finish lastNice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1) by Rachel Aaron
Published: 13.07.2014
Genre: Urban fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience. Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ–a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit–Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test. He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons…

review

I have loved Rachel Aaron’s work since I read her Legend of Eli Monpress series. I was hesitant for a little while about reading this, because I was afraid I’d be disappointed. I’m so glad I took a chance and picked it up though, because I absolutely loved it. It’s so incredible to me that Rachel Aaron self-published this series!

WORLD

So in this urban fantasy world, everyone knows about dragons -and the dragon clans. Julius is a member of the Heartstriker clan, which is pretty much an enormous clan. So big that every “generation” starts with a letter of the alphabet. Julius is thus one of the youngest, as his name starts with a J -so there are 9 groups of dragon-children before him. 

A lot of this story plays out in the DFZ (does that stand for Dragon Free Zone? I don’t remember) which is ruled by a sea-godlike-creature who hates dragons. Dragons aren’t allowed in the DFZ. So Julius has to be careful, while trying to fulfill his mission. I love the fact that Julius had to stay low during this novel, because we got to know the darker parts of the DFZ, as well as the wealthy parts. 

I really loved the setting of this book. Because it’s urban fantasy, there is still such a big part of the world you can relate to. Yet you have these amazing elements added: magic, dragons, seeers. 

PLOT

The story starts when Julius gets punished by his mother, Bethesda, the ruler of the clan. She believes that Julius is a disappointment for dragons everywhere. Dragons are supposed to be masters of manipulation, deceit and success. They infiltrate the highest levels of any sector that suits them. Whether that’s political or corporate/financial. If it’s profitable or gives power, they’re there. But Julius doesn’t want to do any of that. He wants to be left alone so he can play video games or interact with his human gaming friends instead of his family. So Bethesda seals him in his human form -so he can’t become a dragon anymore- drops him in the DFZ and orders him to prove himself as a dragon. Either prove yourself, or die.

I really enjoyed the action-packed plot of this novel. Julius frantically trying to save his own life, yet stick to his character. I really like books with politics, schemes and intrigue, and this book was filled with it. Because dragons are so manipulative,  Julius not only needs to survive but try to uncover all the threads of the web he’s stuck in

CHARACTERS

Julius is such a fun main character. First of all, he’s extremely likable. I just love him, for the same reason his dragon family doesn’t: he’s so nice. Yet not stupid or naive. Actually, they sometimes call him Julius the Nice Dragon. It’s meant to be insulting of course, but I’d take it as a compliment. I love how smart Julius is, and how witty. He loves his family -or the part he’s met at least- yet at the same time doesn’t want to be like them. 

Family is such a prominent aspect in this book. Not just Julius’ family, but Marci’s too. Marci is the main female character, a human magician. Her story revolves around her father basically. I love family ties and struggles in books, because family is such a big part of my life. Although my family is nowhere near as crazy/big as the Heartstrikers clan is. I really loved the dynamics between the family members. Bethesda, a mother, yet a ruthless ruler of her clan. Justin, Julius’ brother, who loves him yet is basically the complete opposite. It’s fun to read about. 


I’m urging everyone to read this. Everyone. It’s such a fun urban fantasy story with family and schemes/intrigue at its heart. Julius is such a likable character, you’ll be rooting for him throughout the whole book. And lastly, Rachel Aaron self-published this book. I’m so in awe of her for creating this and getting it out there on her own, I’d love to support it.

Review: Fortune’s Pawn

This review is spoiler free. 

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Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach
Published on 07.03.2013

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Goodreads | Bookdepository

Synopsis: Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet. That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

review

In every post in which I’ve mentioned this book, I’ve also mentioned that I don’t read much science fiction. Especially this subgenre. The words “space opera” don’t really inspire excitement in me as I feel like it sounds a bit ridiculous? For clarification, I’m not calling the genre ridiculous, just the name.

As I hadn’t read this genre before, I wanted to look up a definition first. This is the one I found on Goodreads: “Space opera is a subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing powerful (and sometimes quite fanciful) technologies and abilities.” To be honest, that’s exactly what this book is.

I had never read anything from the space opera genre, but I felt quite optimistic about this book. Why? The author, Rachel Bach, has written one of my favorite underrated fantasy series The Legend of Eli Monpress, under her name Rachel Aaron. So I figured there was a big chance I’d like this too. 

WORLD

This novel is set in space (duh). Aside from the different planets, each with different creates, cultures and habits, there are also different dimensions you can jump to. Doesn’t that sound incredible? 

There are several different species in this novel, each intriguing in its own way. There’s a bird-like species called aeons for example. I really enjoyed reading about these different types of characters and planets. It was especially interesting to see what kind of reputation the races had with others. For example, Devi’s people (Paradoxians) are people of war and conquest. They have a reputation of a love for fighting. Obviously, Devi fulfills that stereotype in a way because she’s a mercenary. Another race, the xith’cal have a terrible, and well-deserved, reputation. With regards to them, Devi had a “shoot first, ask questions later” policy because their race eats humans. Yuk. It’s very fascinating!

Here are two quotes I loved about the bird-species.

“But I’d faced down much scarier things than overgrown chickens with bad attitudes, and I held my ground.”

“An officer with literal feathers to ruffle. This was going to be rich.”

PLOT 

In my opinion, this book was very action-packed. We start the story with Devi, who has just come back from an assignment with a famous mercenary group. She has fought her way up the rank for a while, raking in promotion after promotion. She’s advancing much faster than anyone has in a long time, but it’s not enough for her. She wants to be a Devastator, the best mercenaries alive, and personal protectors to the King. But to become a Devastator, you need to be asked and most of all, you need years of experience. Devi doesn’t want to wait for that long, and thus decides to take on a job she despises: guard duty on a spaceship. This spaceship however, is very special. The Glorious Fool (the ship) has the worst reputation: mercenaries barely every survive a year, which is rare for a trading ship on that normal route. One year in the service of The Glorious Fool could very well earn her a place on the Devastator team. 

I really enjoyed the plot of this book. I do think some parts of it were rather predictable, and as mentioned in the description of the genre, it is a melodramatic adventure with a focus on romance as well. I found it to be a quick, and most of all fun read. I had so much fun while reading this book! I loved watching it all unfold, and seeing how Devi would solve every crazy attack happening to the Glorious Fool.

CHARACTERS

Of course, I have to talk about Devi. She was such a fun main character. As I’ve mentioned, she’s a Paradoxian mercenary. Paradoxians take their merc jobs seriously, and they are very technologically advanced. They have made their armor into an art, and Devi saved up for years to by her Lady (which is what she calls her suit of armor). They allow her to see in a 360° angle, lend her great strength, endurance, and so on. Kind of like an Iron Man suit, but more slimmed down? A less chunky Iron Woman, you could say. She lives for her job as a merc, and you can see her years of experience throughout decisions she makes, conclusions she draws in situations and so on. One downside is that she mentions her job as a merc, and how good she is at it, often. After a while, that can be a bit annoying. 

Overall, I really loved her though. She lives for the adrenaline and adventure. She’s confident, proud of her body and her abilities, and not afraid to show what she wants. She drinks. She curses. It makes for a hilarious character, really. I absolutely loved reading from her perspective. 

I didn’t mind the romance either. I’ve read some reviews in which people say they just didn’t feel the romance, but I quite liked it. There’s just so much attraction in the beginning, and Devi constantly flirting. It’s fun. You go, girl! Plus, you could expect a pronounced romance in this book, because it’s literally in the description of the genre.


Overall, I really enjoyed this read. It was fun, fast-paced and an incredibly quick and captivating read due to Devi’s fun character. I immediately picked up book #2, which I also enjoyed and am currently waiting to pick up book #3. To me, this was a great introduction into the space opera genre, and Rachel Bach has pleasantly surprised me again. 

Mini review: Spirit’s End (Legend of Eli Monpress #5) by Rachel Aaron

spirit's end Title: Spirit’s End
Author: Rachel Aaron
Series: Legend of Eli Monpress #5
Published: January 1st, 2012 by Orbit
Genres: Fantasy, magic
Rating: ★★★★★ – 5/5 stars

GoodReads | BookDepository

I won’t provide a synopsis here as this is the 5th book in the series, but you can always click on the Goodreads link above. I am a BookDepository affiliate, which in no way affects my opinion.

 
 

Review

I did it. I read this entire series in the month of December! I almost never finish an entire series at once because after 2 or 3 books I feel filled with the world, like I need to take a break from it. The Legend of Eli Monpress series was the complete opposite of that for me: I couldn’t get enough of this!

If you don’t know what this series is about, here’s the basic synopsis of the first book: Eli Monpress is the greatest thief in the world and he means to prove that by raising his bounty impossibly high. To achieve that though, he’ll need to pull of some big heists and what better place to start than by kidnapping the king?

He gets into the most ridiculous situations together with his two travelling companions Josef, the greatest swordsman, and Nico. This series just made me laugh constantly. Eli is such an incredibly hilarious character -and not a modest one either, but we’ll forgive him for that.

This is the final book in the series and let me tell you: IT WAS SO SUSPENSEFUL! This book was full of surprises and action and let me tell you, it wasn’t going very well for the world they live in. Because I was so attached to the characters, I couldn’t tear myself away from it. I can’t really tell you more about it because that would just spoil the entire series for you.

I’ll just leave you with the following advice and observations:

Eli Monpress is a genius character. Honestly, I loved reading about him.

The Shepherdess should really go see a psychiatrist.

This world is incredible, I’d like to live in it.

GO READ THIS SERIES.

Mini review: The Spirit War (The Legend of Eli Monpress #4) by Rachel Aaron

the spirit warTitle: The Spirit War
Author: Rachel Aaron
Series: The Legend of Eli Monpress #4
Published: January 1st, 2012 by Orbit
Genres: fantasy, magic
Rating: ★★★★½  – 4.5/5 stars

GoodReads | BookDepository

I won’t give a synopsis here, since it’s the 4th book in a series. However, you can click on the GoodReads link if you want to see it.

Review

I called this review a “Mini review” in the title because it’s the fourth book in a series which means that there are lots of things I can’t even talk about. Because I don’t do spoilers. I hate them -so much- so from now on I might do mini reviews on sequels. Let me know if you like this! My reviews will always be spoiler-free, even if you haven’t read the first book in the series.

I love so many of the characters in this series! Firstly, there’s Eli of course. I absolutely adore Eli! He’s cocky, smart, funny and witty and his arrogance amuses me to no end. And I am usually a person that does not do well with arrogance. Eli is so charming though, he kind of gets away with it. And Josef is sort of the opposite of Eli: he’s a no-nonsense kind of guy and that attitude gets tested A LOT in this book. The Spirit War focuses more on Josef than the other books have and you get to learn so much about him in this book. I had to stop myself from yelling: NOOOO or WHAT? out loud several times. And Nico, brave and yet shy Nico. How I admire her. Then there is Miranda, with her strong morals and beliefs and her incredibly ghosthound Gin.

I know I just rambled on about the characters, but they truly make this series. The plot of this one was a lot different than the others, which is not a bad thing at all! War is coming -I don’t feel like this is a spoiler, because look at that title- and everyone is preparing. I really enjoyed the battle scenes and fights in this book and there was a lot more explanation about the world they live in. It’s always been mysterious because every single spirit is forbidden to talk about the Shepherdess but here we find out more. And all I can say to that is that I LOATHE THE SHEPHERDESS. I hate her. SO MUCH. And I couldn’t deal with the ending to this one, I immediately picked up the next -and last- book in the series. I don’t know if I’m ready to say goodbye to these characters yet.

I really recommend this series! It’s just such a fun read.

-I am a BookDepository affiliate, which in no way affects my opinion.-

#FridayReads December 26th, 2014

Hello everyone! The week is almost over which means that it’s time for another #Fridayreads post. The study-period for me began last week, which means that until the 12th of January I will be studying every day and barely do anything else. And then, from the 12th to the 31st of January, I’ll be making all of my exams. I will try to read some books during this time, but I will probably read less than any other time. Or at least I should!

spirit's end

I am currently reading Spirit’s End (The Legend of Eli Monpress #5) by Rachel Aaron. I just finished the previous book and couldn’t believe the ending! I HAD to read on. This series is so good! I think I would recommend it to everyone.

It’s a fantasy series but I think that I would also recommend it to people that don’t usually read fantasy. This series is quite easy to get into and I got attached to the characters pretty quickly. It doesn’t have that enormous list of important characters that some fantasy series do -yes, I am talking about you Game of Thrones- so it’s not that hard.

If I finish this one this weekend, I don’t know what I’ll pick up next. I have quite a few books for review that I need to read so maybe I’ll read one of those. I’ll have to see what I’m in the mood for!

Are you reading anything right now? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Review: The Spirit Eater (Legend of Eli Monpress #3) by Rachel Aaron

the spirit eater

Title: The Spirit Eater
Author: Rachel Aaron
Series: Legend of Eli Monpress #3
Published: December 1st, 2010 by Orbit
Genre: (high) fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★ – 5 stars

GoodReads | BookDepository

I won’t include a synopsis because this is the third book in the series.

This review is spoiler-free, even if you haven’t read the first book, The Spirit Thief.

Review

Before I talk about the actual story, I just want to dedicate a moment to the cover of this book. This series is absolutely amazing, but the covers are so terrible! I’d never guess this was a high fantasy novel about a wizard thief. I’m guessing that this is supposed to be Nico? Let’s just say that in my head, Nico doesn’t have the time -nor does she care- to put on twenty coats of eyeliner. Just, no. Anyway, let’s talk about the actual book.

This book focuses more on Nico, Eli’s traveling companion. You get to know more about her and her past and most of all, the struggle she faces every day. Nico is a demonseed -not a spoiler, it’s in the description of the first book, I checked- which means that there is a seed of a demon growing inside her. It gives her certain powers like being able to step or flit through shadows and incredible strength but with that comes the knowledge that one day, the seed will overpower her. When that happens, she’ll become an actual demon, which is a creature that eats spirits -and gets stronger with every spirit it eats.

The first book focuses mostly on Eli, the second one on Miranda and this one on Nico. I say mostly because all the other characters obviously still have their POVs, it’s not only told through Nico’s. But she’s more prominent in this one. I don’t know whether that made sense but we’ll just go with it. I really liked getting to know Nico more because like every member of the traveling company, she is just so mysterious! I also felt like it also helped me understand a big part of the world. You get a bit of history in this novel, related to demonseeds.

I also enjoyed the adventure Eli, Nico and Josef take us on in this one. Especially how much intrigue and scheming there was, and how many facts or twists surprised me so much. One of the facts that took me by surprise was Home. I absolutely love the idea of it! I wish it was a place I could actually visit. This series often makes me wish for a TV series adaptation, because there are so many aspects of it that would translate into absolutely beautiful scenery.

I really enjoyed the adventure and characters in this novel! I am just on a journey with Eli and I don’t want it to end. I can’t really say much about it because that would spoil not only this book but the previous ones as well. I am just in awe of the series.

In the beginning, I was a bit confused about all the Councils and so on. You have the League of Storms -who seem terrifying- the Council and the Spirit Court. They all have their separate functions but in this novel you can see how they are all tied together. There is more scheming and plotting from their sides and I feel as if there is also corruption etc. at the top… I am curious to find out what they are all planning and how the character’s stories are going to end.

I would highly recommend this series! I’ve read quite a lot of fantasy but usually, they start with the world-building aspect. I feel as if this series is the other way around. While you accompany the characters on their adventures, you slowly get to learn about the world and its inhabitants which is very intriguing.

Review: The Spirit Rebellion (Legend of Eli Monpress #2) by Rachel Aaron

the spirit rebellion

Title: The Spirit Rebellion
Author: Rachel Aaron
Series: Legend of Eli Monpress #2
Published: November 1st, 2010 by Orbit
Genres: (high) fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars

GoodReads | BookDepository

I won’t include a synopsis, seeing as it is the second book in the series.

Review

After reading the first book and loving it, I immediately went on to the second one. I have a review of the first one up as well, which you can find here. I often have a problem finishing series. I pick the first one up and enjoy it but don’t feel like continuing immediately. With the Legend of Eli Monpress, I knew I had to go on as soon as possible. I just couldn’t let go of the world and the characters yet. And the sequel didn’t disappoint either!

In this novel, we get to see a tiny bit more of Eli’s past. Once I finished the first book I realized that I knew next to nothing about Eli -aside from the obvious characteristics. We get a little glimpse here, yet I want to know so much more. I have so much questions about him. Who the hell is the White Lady? But in a weird way, I don’t mind being left in the dark for a bit more. I feel like I’m waiting for the big reveal, and I have a feeling my mind is going to be blown.

I really enjoyed reading more about every character. Even though I just said that I know next to nothing about Eli’s past I do feel like you get to know him. Like you don’t need his past to know his character. And the same for Nico and Josef. You learn more about each of them. You can see Nico struggling with the demonseed inside her and get to explore Josef’s unwillingness to pick up the Heart of War in a fight. And Miranda! Her situation changes so much from the first book yet she still holds her beliefs and hopes -even if Gin, her dog, has to remind her once.

Overall, I thought this was a solid sequel! The story itself was very interesting, I never knew where it was going to go. In the first novel you know from the synopsis that Eli is stealing the king and everything unfolds from there. Here, I didn’t know where to even begin, which was so much fun!

I picked up the third book and am currently reading that. So far, it’s a series I would highly recommend -even if the covers aren’t pretty. At all.

Review: The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1) by Rachel Aaron

the spirit thief

Title: The Spirit Thief
Author: Rachel Aaron
Series: The Legend of Eli Monpress #1
Published: October 1st, 2010 by Orbit
Genres: (High) fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars

GoodReads | BookDepository

Synopsis: Eli Monpress is talented. He’s charming. And he’s a thief. But not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age – and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners – a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls – he’s going to put his plan into effect. The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start small for now. He’ll just steal something that no one will miss – at least for a while. Like a king.

Review

Let me just start by saying that while I expected this book to be good, I didn’t expect for it to be THIS good -I have quite high standards for fantasy reads. I have barely any free time at the moment because of university, yet I read this book in two sittings. In fact, the only reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting is because it was midnight and I had to go to class the next day.

The wizards in this world are very different than what I’ve read before. Often, they talk about using energy and channeling it to do whatever they want. In this world however, the only way a magician differs from a normal human is that they can hear the spirits talking. Normal humans can’t do so. Everything has a spirit. The bench you sit on, the trees and grass outside, the curtain, everything. They all talk, yet only wizards can hear them. These spirits make wizardry possible. There are different kinds of wizards: Sipiritualists and Enslavers. Spiritualists make a sort of contract with spirits: their service for the wizard’s energy. The spirits enter into service willingly but they are servants of the Spiritualist. An Enslaver however, breaks a spirits will until it does what the wizard wants it to do.

Do you see how incredible the world already sounds? Then there is the Spirit Court: he ones who keep the balance between spirits, wizards and humans. Eli Monpress is a wizard and a thief, which makes him a violator of the rules of the Spirit Court. Which is why Miranda -a Spiritualist- is sent to Mellinor, to catch Eli before he steals a precious artifact.

I don’t want to tell you where the story starts off or where it goes because you just have to experience it for yourself. Just know that it is absolutely magical! Also, I was expecting a different story. I was expecting it to be more like The Lies of Locke Lamora, where they slowly build up to the theft/score. Here, that wasn’t the case. Yet I loved it too. SO MUCH.

And the characters. I can’t even… First of all, Eli is pretty much the most fun character to read about. He’s funny, witty -and a bit arrogant too- and I can definitely say that his motivation for stealing is unique. His traveling companions are very interesting too! Then there is Miranda, the Spiritualist of the Spirit Court. She’s smart, stubborn and proud yet she is a lovable character. And her giant dog (?) Gin was witty and loyal and just great. I can’t even.

I am going to read the second book immediately, because I can’t let go of the characters and the world. I NEED MORE. Rachel Aaron, I can’t applaud you enough for creating this.