A SPARK OF WHITE FIRE is a nicely paced start to an epic series. The novel fuses science fiction and fantasy together, and although it doesn’t alwaysA SPARK OF WHITE FIRE is a nicely paced start to an epic series. The novel fuses science fiction and fantasy together, and although it doesn’t always mesh well, it’s intriguing. Fans of the lost princess trope and of political fantasy will no doubt fall in love with this first book in the Celestial Trilogy.
Esmae, a lost princess determined to return to her family and homeworld, spends most of the book debating politics. I struggled with understanding her motivation to return to a family that abandoned her. Multiple people, including herself, inform her that she is due a certain quality of life, that she’s spent too much time in the shadows. But she has chitchats with gods, was trained by a legendary warrior, and was raised alongside a prince. In every way except for title, she was already a princess. And because of the way she grew up, the conflicts of A SPARK OF WHITE FIRE barely present any challenges for Esmae.
A SPARK OF WHITE FIRE mainly serves as setup for the next books in the series. It kept me reading, but I craved more action and intense stakes. The fantasy elements, bows and arrows, mixed with advanced spaceships, were sometimes distracting, especially since none of the ships were described. I found elements difficult to picture and had many questions that may be answered in later books....more
WITCHMARK is a sweet story full of magic, bicycles, romance, and mystery. It'll delight fans of Edwardian England, though it's based in an alternate wWITCHMARK is a sweet story full of magic, bicycles, romance, and mystery. It'll delight fans of Edwardian England, though it's based in an alternate world where the war between Aeland and Laneer impacted lives and changed fates. I was immediately drawn into WITCHMARK as it jumps straight into the main mystery.
However, my attention began to drift a few chapters in. There's very little description or buildup in WITCHMARK. Dialogue is relied upon for both character development and worldbuilding. Terms are thrown around without much explanation. Polk trusts the reader to fill in the blanks, but I often found myself distracted with questions the text didn't quite answer when it came to the war, the government, and the society.
Despite my complaints, WITCHMARK is a romance at its very core, and it does that romance well. The world is unique and intriguing, and Miles' POV is engaging. And as there is a sequel incoming, many of my questions may yet be answered....more
THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME promised a light, fun read about superheroes from the point-of-view of someone ordinary. And while that is true, the majorityTHE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME promised a light, fun read about superheroes from the point-of-view of someone ordinary. And while that is true, the majority of the novel takes place at Abigail's high school, focusing more on the drama of auditioning for a play and dealing with potential crushes than on superheroes and villains.
A quick read, THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME is predictable and not always in a fun way. Abby is clumsy, caught in a potential love triangle, and lacking in agency. As the back copy states, she follows Iron Phantom around. It's more his story than hers because there's never a moment where she decides to investigate the threat for herself. Iron Phantom provides the questions and the answers while stalking her and refusing to tell her his true identity for the sake of creating extra drama.
Readers looking for some light hearted high school drama will find enjoyment in THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME's pages. The relationship between Abby and her brother is heartwarming. But the novel suffers from pacing issues, and a lack of conflict and agency on Abby's part....more
GIRL AT THE GRAVE is a small town, atmospheric novel full of dreary days and mysterious murders. While the title may imply a supernatural element, theGIRL AT THE GRAVE is a small town, atmospheric novel full of dreary days and mysterious murders. While the title may imply a supernatural element, the only monsters in this story are human ones.
Valentine, isolated because of her mother's alleged actions and largely left alone by her father, has two love interests and no other friends. As such, the majority of the book is focused on developing her relationship with Sam and with Rowan. I would have loved for the mysterious deaths to take center stage. Instead GIRL AT THE GRAVE largely depends on relationship drama to pad out the pages; however, it's quickly determined which of the two boys is meant to be Valentine's true love.
In the end, I wanted more from GIRL AT THE GRAVE. While I was initially drawn in by Valentine's character, I quickly lost interest as Valentine remained passive and indecisive until the last pages. Readers who enjoy characters agonizing over the right love choice and gothic atmospheres will find more to like in GIRL AT THE GRAVE....more