{ENDURE Blog Tour+Giveaway} Reviewing DEFY and IGNITE by Sara B. Larson

Follow the Blog Tour for guest posts, reviews, and more!

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
12/28/2015- Fiction FareReview
12/29/2015- Dark Faerie TalesInterview
12/30/2015- A Backwards Story- Feature Post (You're Here!)
12/31/2015- Magical Urban Fantasy ReadsGuest Post
1/1/2016- The Book CellarReview
Week Two:
1/4/2016- Supernatural SnarkInterview
1/5/2016- Novel Novice - Guest Post
1/6/2016- Page Turners BlogReview
1/7/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
1/8/2016- Mundie MomsReview

The first book in the series, DEFY, 
is on sale for


as an ebook! 
What a great deal!!!

B O O K   T R A I L E R:

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

***This opening is from DEFY, the first book in the series!***

    THE CRACKLE AND HISS OF the flames devouring our house couldn't block out the screaming and wailing of those who were still alive. My friends, the children, and babies. Orphans. Most of the men were dead. For how few of us there were, scattered around what used to be our village, the noise was almost deafening. I stood in the damp mud in front of our home, pressing my hands to my ears, trying to shut out the sounds. My jaw was clenched, but I couldn't stop the tears from welling up and slipping down my cheeks.

(pg. 5, US e-book edition)

*This review was first posted on A Backwards Story on January 5, 2015.

One thing I love about blog tours is the way they give me an excuse to read books I've been coveting, since I read more review books than I do my own purchased copies. I pre-ordered DEFY by Sara B. Larson a year ago and never had time to read it. But oh, how I wanted to! A girl disguised as a guy, one who can fight better than anyone else?  And kingdom politics?  SIGN ME UP. Now that the second book in the trilogy, IGNITE, is newly out, it's time to play catch up!

(Note: At this point, the final book in the series, ENDURE, is out next week! I just haven't had a chance to finish reading it. I'm looking forward to doing so in the new year!!!)

I'm going to review both books today, but it's so hard to talk about IGNITE without spoilers, so I'm going to focus more on the first book, DEFY.

Alex is hiding a deep, dark secret: Her true name is Alexa and she is female. When her parents are killed during a war, her twin brother Marcel chops off her hair to disguise her gender. It's either join the army as a male or enter the breeding houses to produce as many future male soldiers as possible. Alex and Marcel rise through the ranks fast, and are soon personal bodyguards to Prince Damian. After Marcel is murdered in an attempt on the prince's life, Alex suddenly risks having her carefully concealed secret exposed. Who can she trust in this high stakes game brought on by war?

DEFY is perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce's Alanna books. Being a girl doesn't hinder Alexa's abilities to fight. She trains long and hard to be good, and was trained all her life by her powerful father. Unlike in THE CADET OF TILDOR by Alex Lidell, where the main character isn't as strong as the boys and must keep up in other ways, in DEFY, she is the strongest of them all. It isn't arbitrary, either, but makes sense in context and is believable in the same way that, through context,  we understand Katsa's
strengths in Kristin Cashore's GRACELING. I really enjoyed the story elements that evolved through world-building  and was eager to know the backstory of all the aspects being introduced.

There's also a lot of romance in the series, which, at times, creates drama and leads to the action taking a back seat. There's a really big love triangle that develops between Alexa, Prince Damian, and fellow bodyguard Rylan, after her identify is revealed. Love triangles often make me groan. They often aren't developed well and are lopsided, and lead to too much drama (And you know how I hate all the drama). This triangle had the drama, but it's also more fleshed-out. Not only is it hard for Alex to choose between the two, it will be hard for readers as well. Both Damian and Rylan are developed characters. They're both great guys with their own pros and cons. These days, I fear love triangles. Too many authors of decent love triangles have made the final decision easier by killing off the "spare." I don't want that to happen next year when the final book comes out, so it makes me nervous! Larson doesn't shy away from character deaths,  and IGNITE's ending leaves the possibility of something bad on the horizon looming in its conclusion.

(If I can make one more comparison to other books in existence, Damian's character development reminds me a lot of Prince Dorian's in THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas. Neither Alexa nor Celaena quite know whether or not they can trust the Crown Prince: Is it all a ruse, or is the prince as close-minded as his father, the king with the bloodthirsty eyes and iron fist?)

I really like the diversity in the world of DEFY, though I'm ambivalent at the way we're introduced to such things through Alex's oogling of the males around her despite being disguised as a male. The diversity becomes more seamless later, and I really enjoyed its existence. I also liked seeing Alex battle her wants vs. her reality. She's been forced to hide during her formative years, and she doesn't know how to act after her secret is exposed. She goes through a lot of discovery in IGNITE, though this, at times, also creates a lot of drama. Her heart is in the right place, but she can be impulsive and doesn't always make the right choices, which creates extra hardships for herself and the people around her.

There wasn't a huge cliffhanger in DEFY, but more of a build-up. Many elements fell into place, there was a conclusion to the crisis at hand, etc. IGNITE rebuilds and introduces new elements and higher stakes. There's more of a drop at the end that makes readers want the next book now, but there are also a lot of decisions made and finalized; everything ends on a more decisive note, even as so much hangs in limbo. I'm looking forward to seeing how the finale shakes out!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( kissing; innuendo )
Language: PG ( innuendo )
Violence: PG15 ( fighting; murder; death )
Other:  ( mentions of rape and a "breeding house" )

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

So, so pretty in person! 

Here is a picture from author Sara B. Larson's blog of her holding a finished copy, though:

©Sara B. Larson
And here's a close-up:

It is shiny and shimmery. AND PURPLE!!! The bow really pops because the gold is embossed and rises right off the book:

So, so pretty. I would want to pick this book up blind and find out more!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  DEFY
Author: Sara B. Larson
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Received: Purchased

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

Title:  IGNITE
Author: Sara B. Larson
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Received: For Review

Murder, abductions, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson's acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.

Alexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion's people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy -- before it's too late?

Author Sara B. Larson
Sara B. Larson is the author of the acclaimed YA fantasy DEFY, and the sequels IGNITE and ENDURE. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes in brief snippets throughout the day (while mourning the demise of naptime) and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting for her sugar addiction.


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