Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

Series: The Queens of Renthia #3 (end of a trilogy)
432 p.
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: 5/15/18
Source: From author for review

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The battle between vicious spirits and strong-willed queens that started in the award-winning The Queen of Blood and continued in the powerful The Reluctant Queen comes to a stunning conclusion in The Queen of Sorrow, the final volume of Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia trilogy. 
Queen Daleina has yearned to bring peace and prosperity to her beloved forest home—a hope that seemed doomed when neighboring forces invaded Aratay. Now, with the powerful Queen Naelin ruling by her side, Daleina believes that her dream of ushering in a new era can be realized, even in a land plagued by malevolent nature spirits who thirst for the end of human life. 
And then Naelin’s children are kidnapped by spirits. 
Nothing is more important to her than her family, and Naelin would rather watch the world burn than see her children harmed. Blaming the defeated Queen Merecot of Semo for the kidnapping, Naelin is ready to start a war—and has the power to do it.
But Merecot has grander plans than a bloody battle with her southern neighbors. Taking the children is merely one step in a plot to change the future of all Renthia, either by ending the threat of spirits once and for all . . . or plunging the world into chaos.
My thoughts:

This is the last book in the Queens of Renthia trilogy. Like the other two, I really enjoyed my journey to it's conclusion. Often the last book in a series is usually not my favorite but with short series (trilogy, duology) that isn't a problem. It wasn't a problem here and while I was still sad to see it end, I did feel satisfied. Also, it is good to note that while I do see these as YA, there are adult characters that take center stage in the last two books in particular so adults who aren't as fond of YA should enjoy these as well.

This is also a story to read in order as the events build on the other as well as character growth. For me, it is the characters in the books that make me enjoy this trilogy so much. You get a varied bunch but it isn't overwhelming and there is no question who is who and everyone is easily followed.

I don't want to give too much away but I do have to say that I did enjoy the adventure and as soon as one problem is solved another crops up but in a way I didn't expect. I usually like this author's "bad guy(s)" as they aren't usually one dimensional but have their own motivations that aren't all inherently evil or egotistical. Don't get me wrong... they ARE evil and/or egotistical, but it is an aspect of their character and not the whole shebang.

In the end I liked how things were solved and I didn't guess how it would exactly end. My only complaint is that I would love to know the origin story of Bayn, the wolf, which would probably be the origin of Renthia. *hint* *crosses fingers* πŸ˜‰ I give this story 4 stars and while this is the end of this adventure, I do understand that more may be on the horizon set in this world (Bayn origin story... just sayin'...). I highly recommend these books to those that enjoy magic, a slice of romance (it is not romance heavy at all but it is present) and a harrowing adventure.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst

Genre: MG Fantasy
 337 p.
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: April, 3, 18
Source: From author for review
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Exploring the power of stories and storytelling, Sarah Beth Durst presents the mesmerizing adventure of a girl made of living stone who braves unforeseen dangers and magical consequences on a crucial quest to save her family.

Mayka and her stone family were brought to life by the stories etched into their bodies. Now time is eroding these vital marks, and Mayka must find a stonemason to recarve them. But the search is more complex than she had imagined, and Mayka uncovers a scheme endangering all stone creatures. Only someone who casts stories into stone can help—but whom can Mayka trust? Where is the stonemason who will save them? 
Action and insight combine in this magical coming-of-age novel as the young heroine realizes the savior she’s been searching for is herself.
My thoughts:
The author surprised me with this book in the mail and while I don't read much MG, I'm always up for a good story. I also love the author's work so adding this to my review pile was a no brainer. I was also not disappointed.

The story is of stone which comes to life if a skilled stonemason carves and then gives story to the various forms of rock. Mayka has been made by one of the most skilled stonemasons and she and her family of creatures all have the choice to expand upon their own stories. It's very much like how children are given a bit of their story from the parents but then go on their own to create their own tale. Yes, I loved how she weaved this concept in the tale.

In the beginning of the book, we find Mayka and her family in the mountains since their father preferred solitude surrounded by his stone creatures who had died several unnamed years ago. Mayka finds that turtle, who was carved first by their father, stopped moving as his story started eroding away. Other of her friends all have various problems and they all realize that they need a stonemason or they will either have an unrepairable break or they will stop moving like turtle. Mayka decides to become more than the story her father gave her and sets out on the quest to find a skilled stonemason. She had not see anything other than her cottage and mountain so he bravery in going to the unknown was not overlooked by any of the creatures.

I loved all the little philosophical tidbits (nothing that a child wouldn't get) woven throughout the tale. To become more Mayka had to leave her "safe" surroundings and venture out into the unknown to find herself. She learned that sometimes bravery is deciding that fear will not rule her story and to trust her instincts and kindness of others. She also learned that standing up for what she believed also expanded who she was and how it affected not just her, but others around her. She did not seek to be something she was not (like in Pinocchio) but to expand and find out what she really could do in the world. She found more than expected and she did find her stonemason.

I give this story 4 1/2 stars. It is a great MG book and also could be read by younger children. If you have a child who loves chapter stories read to them, I also say this could really be a book for the shelf. It is filled with adventure and it has a great HEA. It is a simplistic HEA but fitting.