Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Short and (Bitter)Sweet: Chantress Alchemy & The Beautiful Ashes

Chantress Alchemy (Chantress, #2)Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Series: Chantress, #2
Published: May 6th 2014
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Lenght: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Lucy races against time and magic in this sequel to the “richly and thoughtfully written” (Publishers Weekly) Chantress.
Lucy is the last Chantress, the only remaining girl who can sing magic into the world. Since she defeated the evil Lord Scargrave, England has changed—and not for the better. With crops failing and the people rebelling, Lucy is called urgently back to King Henry’s court. His Inner Council is convinced that making gold through alchemy will save England. But a critical element to the alchemical process has been stolen. Lucy is tasked with finding it with her magic… or else. And until she succeeds, the castle is on lockdown.
Court too has changed. Scargrave's brutal Chantress-hunter has become King Henry's closest advisor. Lucy’s beloved Nat has fallen out of favor and is shunned by his colleagues; their romance means trouble for both of them. Worst of all, something goes wrong with Lucy’s magic. The palace is a labyrinth, and there’s a monster at its heart — a monster who may have the power to defeat Lucy once and for all. 
Amy Butler Greenfield returns to the beguiling world of Chantress for a suspenseful tale of courtly intrigue, music, and magic in Chantress Alchemy.

Chantress Alchemy, the sequel to Amy Butler Greenfield’s YA historical fantasy debut, is one of my hotly anticipated releases in 2014. Everything I loved about Chantress - the gorgeous setting, fabulous characters and Butler Greenfield’s elegant writing – is present in this sequel as well. Not only is Chantress Alchemy as good as its predecessor, I dare say it’s a much better book in some regards.

As much as I enjoyed Chantress last year, I thought its plot wasn’t complex enough. It was fairly straightforward when I wanted something elaborate. In that, Chantress Alchemy shows a significant improvement. Due to King’s gratitude, Lucy has a voice in the council and is much more involved, which means that the plot is richer and far more dynamic. Lucy’s voice is now heard when she talks, and not just when she sings, and her opinions are taken into consideration by the King. I loved seeing her play a more important role, but what’s more, I loved that she wasn’t always up to task. She is young, after all, and she was constantly being attacked by much older shrewd politicians.

The romance was just as lovely, if not more. Both of these characters are strong and interesting in their own right. The final installment promises to be very hard for them both, but I have no doubt that they’ll come out as winners in the end.

Chantress is an unusually well written trilogy worthy of your time and attention. I listened to a part of it and the audio is excellent as well. If you decide to go with that format, you won’t be disappointed.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.

The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny, #1)Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Broken Destiny, #1
Published: August 26th 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Lenght: 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate. 
Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her. 
Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

After more than ten books in her Night Huntress world, Jeaniene Frost bravely decided to do something else entirely. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy transition for her just like it isn’t easy for us readers to adapt, but was it successful? I’d say the jury’s still out.

The world of Broken Destiny is not an original one. We’ve read about angels and demons battling it out far too many times to count. Yet Jeaniene Frost somehow managed to put a slightly different spin on this never-ending battle which I enjoyed immensely. Her worldbuilding was detailed and gorgeously described, the dark and violent realms depicted in finest detail. Ivy’s world and its many creatures are this book’s biggest strength and I can’t wait to see them developed even further.

The same, however, cannot be said about the romance. Just like the battle of angels and demons, he star-crossed lovers trope has been done one too many times, and there’s nothing to make Ivy and Adrian stand out. The amount of instalove and insta-trust was just creepy and the whole reason for staying apart not convincing at all. To make matters worse, Adrian is the epitome of tortured hero, without a shred of charm to soften the blow.

I’ll continue the series simply because Jeaniene Frost is writing it. If Ivy and Adrian manage to find a sense of humor in time for the next book, all the better. There’s definitely hope for Ivy, but Adrian and humor were never officially introduced.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. It's a shame Frost's new series hasn't impressed you much. I liked the first Night Huntress novel but I certainly wasn't crazy about it and am not too keen to continue the entire series but I do want to read more of Frost in the future. I'm hoping the sequel to Beautiful Ashes manages to convince both you and me to continue with this series. As for Chantress, I'm thrilled the trilogy is working out so well for you. I haven't heard much about it beyond your rave reviews but I'll certainly be binge-reading the series if this conclusion is just as rewarding as these first two installments. Wonderful mini-reviews, Maja!

  2. Gotta love when a second book is better than the first!
    Glad you loved this one!

    As for Beautiful Ashes, yeah it had it's ups and downs but overall I think it will be a good series, at least I am really keeping my fingers crossed that it will be.

  3. i still havent read Chantress but it is definetly on my tbr list. I am excited for Beutiful ashes, I read every book from Frost so I will read this one even though I hate insta-love and maybe I will love it, who knows. Great reviews..

  4. I had no idea that Chantress series was a historical fantasy series. That's one of my favorite genres and judging from your raving review for book 2, it's a series I shouldn't be missing out on. I especially like the sound of the romance and how the two characters are actually interesting outside of their romance.

    As for The Beautiful Ashes, everyone has been saying the same thing about the romance. That it's insta-lovey and creepy. That's such a shame because it sounds like it could have been an easy 4 stars read for you if the romance had been better. Regardless, I want to pick it up when it releases.

    Lovely reviews, Maja!

  5. "and the whole reason for staying apart not convincing at all."

    While I liked The Beautiful Ashes more than you did, I do wholeheartedly agree with the above. That's in part why I had issues with Ivy's attitude change toward the end, I didn't quite understand why she suddenly didn't trust Adrian when she's known about the supposed prophecy all along. I need more than prophecies as reasons for a couple not to be together. I did really enjoy this one overall though:)

  6. I'm still excited to pick up The Beautiful Ashes, I can't resist Jeaniene Frost. As for the romance, hmm ... I'm going to into it with an open mind - lol. I love a good swoon, so we'll see if I can handle the insta-love feel. The rest of the plot sounds interesting to me :)

  7. I will have to check out the Chantress series. I am sad that no one is really loving the Frost book. I had high hopes.

  8. Chantress sounds good and one I need to do on audio. I love that they make her opinion important. We rarely get that with female characters.

    Sorry the Frost book didn't quite measure up. I am like you and will read it because she wrote the book. I have this one up for review and at least now I'm more prepared.

  9. I am pleased to hear that Chantress improved for you, that is good to hear for somebody who has yet to start the series. Having said that, I am sorry to hear Frost disappointed a little because I am honestly a huge fan of that woman, and whilst I know there are mixed thoughts on her as an author, I will almost certainly try the book for myself, just because I am incapable of resisting anything written by that woman!

  10. I know we both agreed on our opinion of Chantress, so reading in your review that all the good things were present in the sequel and that it got better and more complex made me really happy and more excited to finally get my hands on Chantress Alchemy! Thank you for your great reviews, Maja!

  11. I can't, for the life of me, remember the plot of Beautiful Ashes...I do remember thinking it was good but not standout. (oops!) Yay for the Chantress Academy.

  12. I have Beautiful Ashes coming up and pretty much everything Ive heard about it lines up with your review.

    The Chantress Academy sounds wonderful. I hadn't heard of that series before.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  13. I've been super excited about Beautiful Ashes but all I've heard is so-so things and that's super disappointing. I think I'll wait for now, I have a couple books of hers to catch up on anyway.
    The other series, I have one of the books but not the first. So maybe this one? I got an ARC but hadn't read the first. Since you really enjoy I guess I"ll pick up the first. It sounds like one I would like.


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