Review: The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

The Gilded King has a lot going on.

From the very beginning, the book is set in a world that has been taken over by zombies and vampires thanks to some sort of apocalypse. The Gilded King is set in a post-apocalyptic world where only one civilized city seems to have remained run by a noble class made up entirely of Vampires. The city they live in is blue and safe, and everything beyond the boundaries is red and dangerous. The book unfolds itself from two key points of views. One from Julia, our human protagonist and Cameron (referred to as Cam throughout the book), our vampire protagonist. From these two main characters, we learn about the city of Blue and the dangerous world outside of it.

From Julia, we see how humans are treated in this society. The human world is separated into Servants (the lowest of humans), Attendants (next rank of humans that are basically also a vampire’s personal blood bank), or Candidates (the worthiest of humans, ones that might be given the chance of becoming a vampire). Candidates are the only humans who have a chance of becoming nobles.

Julia, a teenager, is our eyes and ears for the city of Blue. While at first, she’s completely averse to the way humans are treated in the city of Blue, that all changes when she meets a young noble named Lucas.

From Cam, we learn about what the world outside of the Blue is really like. Outside the city walls is a place of vampires gone rogue and an unstoppable virus that affects vampires and humans in entirely different ways. There is a war that’s been building up for centuries as tensions against the vampires rise. Cam is how we see the war as it’s raging and how it will change the game for the humans who have been able to survive so far.

In the Gilded King, Information and key plot points are sprinkled throughout this first book so that the reader is left piecing information together bit by bit. It’s not immediately easy to understand how the city of Blue came to be and what exactly the Red outside of it really is.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Lots of stories drip feed their readers lore and background about the world that they’re in.

The problem with the Gilded King is that the characters are built in a way that makes them feel one-dimensional.

I won’t go into exactly why since that’s spoiler heavy. Inevitably though, there isn’t enough to leave you intrigued about the characters by the time the last chapter and cliffhangers of the book are presented. The end of the Gilded King makes it clear that it was written to keep the reader waiting for book two.

Beyond complaints about the characters, it was strange to be reading a book centered around vampires in 2018 when the fad feels like it’s fading. The Gilded King was released six years after the last of the Twilight movies and a year after Vampire Diaries had ended. Aren’t we collectively tired of vampires yet? Wasn’t The Mortal Instruments fantasy’s last-ditch attempt at making this particular subset of the genre cool again?

These fads are cyclical, they’ll come back around, but focusing on vampires now is a little old-fashioned. I’m conflicted. I feel like I’m being too critical in my judgment of the first book in this series. I hope the second book surprises me, but I’m not sure what The Sovereign series will add to the genre.

Although I wasn’t a fan of the way the plot was spread out in the Gilded King, I can appreciate the way the author sprinkled key plot points and new lore developments throughout the book. Cam’s back story isn’t just handed to you and the book makes the reader work to piece things together. If you want to understand the city of Blue and what in the heck is happening in the Red surrounding the city, you need to put the work in.

In the end, the Gilded King is fine. It’s just fine. Maybe I’m exhausted by the idea of vampires. Or maybe I had to work too hard to piece together all the information strewn throughout the book. But by the time I reached the last page of the Gilded King, the cliffhangers left by the author didn’t matter enough to me.

There was so much story to be set up in the Gilded King, so much lore to establish without giving too much away that the characters felt incomplete even when it was over. I suppose since this is book one in a series of however many, this was meant to set the scene rather than involve you.

Every fantasy genre book you pick up will have its own rules and lore to learn and figure out. I don’t have a problem with that. Except with the Gilded King coming in just under 288 pages, focusing so much on the environment meant something would be left lacking. And in this case, unfortunately, it’s the characters. I will say though, that the cliffhangers at the end of the book are great. They’re a real ‘oh snap’ moment.

It’s fine. It’s just fine.

2.5 / 5

See y’all for The Silver Queen (Sovereign #2)!

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Gilded King by Josie JaffreyThe Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey
Series: Sovereign Series #1
Genres: Fantasy, young adult

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two-half-stars

In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty – Review

Lock & Mori
By Heather W. Petty
Young Adult, Mystery, Romance
Buy on Amazon
Lock & Mori (Lock & Mori, #1)

Knock, knock. It’s a modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, kind of like the brilliant one done by the BBC except this time they’re teenagers and we’ve lost nearly all the emotional depth of the show.

The novel focuses in on Sherlock (Lock) and Moriarty (Mori) and their burgeoning relationship with each other. The father of one of their classmates is murdered and since the police are content to leave the murder unsolved, Sherlock challenges Moriarty to solve the case with him. Moriarty is unsure of her feelings. She has her brothers to think of and what would her cop father think if he knew she was mucking up crime scenes?

All of these questions and more are vaguely brought up in Lock & Mori without any real resolution.

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As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti – Review

[I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley in return for an honest review.]

Imagine a town named Madison in the desert where everyone gets one wish. On the night that they turn eighteen, they’re allowed to make one wish for almost anything they want. There are only a couple rules. One is that no one can know about the town, so you can’t wish to become the next international superstar. The other rules are basically the same as the Genie’s from Aladdin. No wishing for more wishes and you can’t bring someone back from the dead.

Already my mind went to some terrifying conclusions with this, conclusions that (to be fair) As You Wish doesn’t shy away from.

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch – Review

I’m going to level with you right now. My first instinct was to call shout from the heavens that I’ve found Eat, Pray, Love for young adults, but… I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love and I only have the loosest idea of what it’s all about (I do know that Julia Roberts was in the movie though, so that’s something). So let’s not be disingenuous or misleading and instead look at Love & Gelato it’s own merits.

The title is apt and I guess what I wasn’t expecting out of this was the interesting dynamic between all the main characters. Normally parents in young adult novels play strictly supporting roles. They’re there to smile, help out, and then possibly die when the stakes need to be ramped up in a hurry.

Not so with Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. Kind of… It’s complicated.

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The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward – Review

There are work weeks where you feel like it’s never going to end. Or maybe it’s when school is being killer. My go to has always been light-hearted books in those weeks. Ones that were cute, had some stakes to them, but that never made me anxious or worried. The Potion Diaries fits into this niche perfectly. Want a way to unwind? Want something fun and uncomplicated to read as you’re winding down for the weekend?

Start here.

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The Book of Whispers by Kimberley Starr – Review

[A copy of this book was provided to me by Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.]

I feel like if I were to have a catchphrase, it would be “X novel wasn’t what I was expecting”. Although I enjoyed nonfiction Medieval Christian Literature (particularly Hildegard of Bingen or Teresa of Avila), I’ve never enjoyed the fiction aspect of it. Perhaps it’s just too raw and comes too close to being preachy or maybe it’s because aspects of the Christianity that existed then still exist today. Especially when it comes to the Crusades.

The closest I’ve come to being fascinated the Crusades was when I was watching Kingdom of Heaven and that may just have been because it starred Orlando Bloom.

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The Changeling by Philippa Gregory – Review

From the very beginning of this novel, I was thrown off. Although this is set in the 15th century, the very first sentence threw me out of the book:

“The hammering on the door shot him into wakefulness like a handgun going off in his face.”

I had to put the novel down and go to Wikipedia, determined to find out the truth of the matter and grow about my own superior knowledge. I skimmed some of the entry and then happened upon this small paragraph in the handguns entry:

Handheld firearms first appeared in China where gunpowder was first developed. They were hand cannons (although they were not necessarily fired from the hand, but rather at the end of a handle). By the 14th century, they existed in Europe as well.

You win this round, Philippa Gregory.

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6 Books with Flawed Fathers that You Need to Read

When you’re younger it’s easy to think that fathers are infallible. Maybe it’s just because they’re so tall, but fathers seem perfectly capable of chasing down monsters when you’re a kid. They’re there to be goofy with you, to help support your dreams, and to help you grow into the best adult that you can be. But there are times when fathers fall short of who they’re supposed to be.

Maybe it’s apparent when you’re a kid. Maybe you don’t realize until you’re older, but eventually that shoe has to drop.

Dads are people too and even if you love your father, he’s probably just as flawed as everyone else.

So in honour of Father’s Day and all those dads with all their flaws, here are my top 6 books with flawed father figures.
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