#TheReadingQuest Recommendations

 

So you’ve signed up for The Reading Quest, but you’re not sure what to read. I get you. Trust me, looking at that Quest Board is a beauty to behold, until you look at how many choices you have, then you freak.

Thankfully, I quickly found my choices (having a stock pile of books sitting on your shelf will help). But if you’re having a “I don’t know what to read next!” moment, I’ve made a list for each character class so you can find your next read. I’ve thrown in some to-be and recently released books as well!

Naturally, I procrastinate by making this post, while I should be catching up on my own quest. Go me. 😅 Hopefully, these recs help!

Now I’m listing several books that work for multiple classes and squares (you don’t want to see my written list. It’s way too bloody long). These choices give you different options so you won’t get stuck on a square or class. If you’ve already chosen one square for a book, just move on to the next.

 

Happy questing!

Blogiversary Part I | Wonder Woman: Warbringer Giveaway

 

Well, I celebrated my first blogiversary late last month, and I forgot to mention it. But I cannot believe I’ve lasted a year. For years, I’ve wanted to start this blog, and while I got off to a rough start, I’m still here. And I want to thank every single blogger, publisher, and reader for supporting me. You don’t know how much I appreciate it! As you can see, I’ve broken up my blogiversary post into multiples, so don’t miss my next post. I’ll be making some big changes to my blog (and yes, that means the name!).

So to celebrate my first year as a blogger, I’m giving away a copy of Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer! ENTER HERE for your chance to win.

Here are the rules:

  • You must be a follower or subscribe to be one.
  • You must also complete the required Rafflecopter entries.
  • All information you provide (including your email and mailing address) is not shared, but it will be used to send you this prize. So please ensure that all information is accurate.
  • You must use one email address only. If you have one email for your Facebook and another for Twitter/blog, pick just the one so you won’t miss out on entries.
  • You can reblog and retweet once a day for more entries.
  • The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL. I’m using Book Depository, so please ensure that BD ships to your country. If you do not know, here is a list. If not, I’m sorry, but you cannot enter this giveaway.
  • If you are under 18, please have parental permission to give me your address, before you enter any entries. If you enter the giveaway, you confirm you have said permission.
  • Absolutely no giveaway blogs.
  • If you are the winner, you have 48 hours to respond to my email. If you not do, I’ll select a new winner.

Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Published by: McElderry Books

Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 701

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.


“We fear things because we value them. We fear losing people because we love them. We fear dying because we value being alive. Don’t wish you didn’t fear anything. All that would mean is that you didn’t feel anything.”

I went into this book thinking that the storyline will eventually go dark. And it does. But what I expected does not compare to what I got. The second instalment in the Dark Artifices, Lord of Shadows will shatter your expectations, divide the already fractured Shadowhunter world, make you ugly cry, and change the Downworld forever.

Even though Emma Carstairs has slain her parents’ murderer, she faces a more troubling situation: the love she has for her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn. A love that’s forbidden to all parabatais. But as she dates Mark so she can convince Julian she doesn’t love him, the faerie courts stir up trouble. Mark, Julian, Emma, Christina, and the rest of the Blackthorn family race to find a way to protect their own and hope to prevent a war among all Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

I raged, I yelled, and I cried once I finished this book. I saw the heartache weave through each page and path these characters take, and yet I’m so conflicted! And I have a hard time rating Lord of Shadows because it has obvious flaws in it, but it took me on an emotional ride I haven’t felt in awhile. I warn you now that Lord of Shadow is a tear-jerker. It will demand all your emotions and tears.

Shadowhunter lovers will know where I stand. Like I said before, Cassie’s work is like a Russian roulette for me. I don’t know if I’ll like her next piece. While I enjoyed the book, some storylines were drawn out too long, long chapters were draining, and some scenes were questionable.

But Cassie’s writing has improved over the years, and I appreciate her attention to detail to the expanded faerie world, the Julian-and-Emma arc, the adorable Kit-and-Ty relationship, and the overall tension the Downworld faces. This hostility among the Council, the Cohorts, and the Centurions heavily reflects our current political environment. And what I love most of YA books and authors is how they show our flaws in our society and aren’t afraid to speak up. I have to give thanks to Cassie for standing up.

I find writing this review without tears challenging. Cassie knows how to rip out your heart. And the characters’ progression throughout this sequel is hard to read, yet each one captivates me. That endearing Mark will always bring a smile to my face. I personally want him to separate from his potential love interests. I want him to find himself, but the love triangle with Mark, Christina, and Kieran prevents him from doing so. I see a new side to Kieran, and while I still hate what he has done, I received a better perspective of him.

Besides Mark and Emma being my favourite characters, Christina shines above them all. But I hope to see a forceful side to her in the next book. She may just be the Shadowhunter who gets rid of the Cold Peace, but if she wants something, fight for it. I was waiting for her to do so. The one trio that surprises me the most is Livvy, Ty, and Kit. I loved reading their scenes, and their dynamic plays off the page rather well. Finally, finally, we see the backstory to Diana and her possible love story. You have no idea how much I squeed. And Julian and Emma comes last, as always. I’m still hesitant with them. Their arc worries me, and I don’t see happiness in their future, which I find disheartening because they deserve it the most.

Surprisingly, Lord of Shadows represents many pieces in our society, from sexuality, mental illnesses and conditions, and diversity. I haven’t seen this much representation in one book alone, and I love how it naturally flows through the story.

If you honestly think Cassie’s first and second series are heartbreaking, prepare for this book. Stock up on your Kleenex and hope you don’t break down. I can’t wait to see what Cassie has in store in the finale.

The Reading Quest TBR

I’m participating in my first—yes, you read that correctly—reading challenge, The Reading Quest, hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight. CW @ Read, Think, Ponder created all the character designs. If you want to sign up, you have until August 13th to do so, so don’t miss out! This challenge runs from August 13th to September 10th. You can find more details at Aentee’s original post linked above.

This book nerd is giddy to get started! Naturally, I pick the Mage, but you have many other character classes to choose from: the Rogue, the Knight, or the Bard. Take a look character classes below.

 

 

As I previously stated, I haven’t done a reading challenge before, but this one brings challenges to a new level. It’s styled like a video game. It has more of a D&D feel to it, which I appreciate. I’m not looking to win anything, other than to meet, connect, and chat with bloggers and readers. Here’s the quest board:

 

 

Well, you can’t do a challenge post without listing the books you’ll read. So here are my choices (which might change throughout the challenge):

The first book of a series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

A book set in a different world: Unseen Wings by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

A book based on mythology: The Darkest Seduction by Gena Showalter

A book that contains magic: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

A book with a one-word title: Rituals by Kelley Armstrong

 

I’m still debating on the side quests, but I’ll list them here if I decide to complete them!

 

If you’re new to challenges and have no clue of how to calculate the points you earn, visit Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews, who has created a Google spreadsheet. Thank you, Lauren!

 

I hope everyone has fun! Happy reading.

Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published by: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance

Page Count: 471

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.


“She was a dragon. She was a prince. She was the only hope Wallachia had of ever prospering.”

And she would do whatever it took too get there.”

If you want a richly intense and savage story that shows women, too, are just as ruthless and dangerous as men, then put down your book and pick up this one.

Lada Dracul has given up the love she holds for her brother, Radu, and Mehmed, the sultan who claims her heart. With only her soldiers, she tears her way through the countryside so she can claim her birthright: the Wallachian throne. But her brother chooses Mehmed, who tasks him the perilous duty to infiltrate Constantinople. As empires fall, and faiths are pitted against each other, Lada and Radu test not only their loyalty but also their souls.

I haven’t heard of Kiersten or her books, but I fell in love with this series when I first picked up And I Darken. She creates a realistic portrayal of what life was, how religion clashed and even destroyed civilizations and countries, and how war moulded people into their own enemies. Her writing envelops and delivers you to a savage world where women and children are often used as currency, and religion has shaped this harsh backdrop. Now I Rise is an eloquently crafted sequel that will break your heart, disgust you, yet demand your attention. This book wants to be heard, and you cannot help but hear its call.

The characters drive the storyline, and I love Lada’s and Radu’s character progression. Kiersten cleverly reverses the gender roles. At first, I couldn’t stand Radu because he was often the weak child, but he transforms into a man who is tormented by his true desires and is shaped by his morals and faith. When he allows Mehmed to send him to Constantinople, my heart broke. Radu’s pain and unbreakable loyalty he possesses for Mehmed splash across each page, and this heartache is simply haunting. I wanted to shield him from this suffering because this spy game conflicts with who he is as a person. I haven’t sympathized over a character this much.

I find Lada challenging. I love her tenacity, her drive, her passion, her fire, and her strength. Yet sometimes those qualities are all you see in her. However, while the story progresses, Kiersten gives readers a glance into Lada’s vulnerabilities, which I mentioned in my review of the first book. Now they’re few and far between. And I was hoping to see more of them so that Lada can develop into a character who is more tangible. Anger will only get you so far, and unfortunately, Lada may figure out that problem sooner than she thinks.

I give credit to Kiersten for respectfully representing the Muslim faith, which just seems to be attacked by all sides lately. You see, faith plays a strong part in this series. And I thought it might turn me off, but she depicts the conflict between the Muslim and Christian faiths beautifully. She doesn’t pick a side though, and I appreciate her decision not to.

The Conquerer’s Sage keeps on surprising me. And while I showed up late to this series, I keep loving it more. It’s brutal, harsh, dangerous, and deadly, yet it shows you the human strength. I absolutely adore these books. Now I Rise rightfully deserves its spot on my favourites list!

Waiting on Wednesday: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, is a weekly meme that showcases upcoming book releases readers are eagerly awaiting.

 

Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: August 29, 2017

Page Count: 384

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: Wonder Woman. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning….

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository

 

Why Am I Waiting?

Wonder Woman? ✔️

Leigh Bardugo book? ✔️

I’M IN.

 

 

Guys, we have only 20 days left!!! This giddy book nerd is excited (if you haven’t figured out by now). I’ve been wanting to move more into the DC universe, and Leigh writing a Wonder Woman just seems like a natural stepping stone to get into it. And frankly, I’ll read anything she publishes.

And I must admit, I haven’t seen the movie, and I regret every second not doing so! 😫 But I believe DC’s move to have these books written by well-known (and well-loved) authors is the smartest idea yet. I’m curious to see what Leigh brings to this universe. And a little woman empower doesn’t hurt anyone. I cannot wait to buy this book!

 

And don’t miss my upcoming giveaway post for a chance to win a copy of WW!

Reading Wrap-Up: July 2017

July was a busy month, but I could only squeeze in four books. I finally got to read some books that have sat on my TBR list for a good year, and I regret not reading them sooner.

As you can see, I’ve got some new banners. 😊 I’ve been playing around with a few designs and came up with these beauties. I hope you like!

What have you read in July? Let me know in the comments!

 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I absolutely loved reading this book. It is one the most unique stories I’ve found, and I instantly ordered the sequel so I could jump back into Victoria’s world. Victoria mixes in time travel, betrayal, and magic into this enchanting story. I can see this series become one of my favourites. I can’t wait to read A Gathering of Shadows!

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository

 

And I Darken by Kiersten White

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kiersten creates such a chilling and dark storyline that you cannot help but love it. I love how she swaps the gender roles. Lada, the female version of Vlad the Impaler, is ruthless, cold, and deadly, while her brother Radu is gentle, kind, and vulnerable. I just finished the sequel, and I want the final book now!

Don’t miss my review of this book.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository

 

The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

⭐️⭐️⭐️¾

I’ve always been curious to see how Amum’s, the keeper of Secrets, story might play out. I think he’s an adorable character, but I was hoping for more tension between him and his love interest, Haidee, the assassin who killed Baden, another Lord.

Darkest Secret isn’t my favourite, but I enjoyed reading it though.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository

 

The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Darkest Surrender is my favourite out of the Lords of the Underworld! For months, I’ve been dying to read this story of Strider (keeper of Defeat) and Kaia (a harpy). Gena injects sexual tension, sarcasm, and expanded mythology. She kept me hooked until the last page, and I couldn’t get enough of these two characters. I cannot wait to review it.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository

Review: The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: March 29, 2011

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Page Count: 410

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when the immortal warrior is chained and isolated to protect those he loves, death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty.

Haidee is a demon-assassin, raised to despise Amun’s kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul…and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.


“He gave her what no one else had ever been able to give. A past to cherish. A present to enjoy. A future to anticipate.”

With a touch of redemption, hope, and forbidden passion, The Darkest Secret takes you on a fast-paced love story with just enough supernatural flare that ignites your love for paranormal romance. Don’t expect a dull moment in Gena’s world.

In this thrilling seventh instalment in the Lords of the Underworld, Amun, the keeper of Secrets, wishes for death, when hundreds of minor demons take possession of his body. His only salvation lies in Haidee, a demon-assassin determined to eliminate his kind. Passion erupts, bonds are tested, and the past is finally revealed. But their attraction may not be the only problem Amun and Haidee face.

I was a little hesitant in picking up Amun’s book because I haven’t seen much of him in previous books. But what I have seen goes from not fully understanding Amum as a character to sympathizing with him because of his struggles. I see him more as a secondary character, which I find disappointing because he has a lot of potential. He’s understanding, caring, and just damn cute at times. But in this book, I finally witness who he is as a man who constantly fights with a demon who survives off secrets. He has gained tremendous empathy from me. Gena isn’t afraid to torture her characters, especially if that act puts them on a better path.

In The Darkest Lies, Amun, Aeron (former keeper of Wrath), and William (an immortal) travel to hell so they can rescue Legion, a demon-turned-woman whose is Aeron’s adoptive daughter. Remind me to cleanse my soul before I die, because the hell Gena depicts is just down right creepy. Imagine the worst acts a person can commit, then ramp them up to a hundred.

What I like from this instalment is that Gena focuses solely on the romance between Amun and Haidee, then throws in some tension from Strider (keeper of Defeat), who thinks he is falling for her. Amun and Haidee balance each other out quite nicely. He calms her down, while she revves him up. I was hoping for more tension between them though. He’s a Lord possessed by a demon, and she’s a demon hunter, who killed his best friend Baden, a few millennia ago. However, this sequel transitions from a romance to a redemption story. Unfortunately, Gena sidetracks from the other storyline of finding Pandora’s box and locating the other warriors possessed by demons. I don’t mind that detour, but I was hoping to see some progression in this arc.

But what she does provide hooks me in though. I’m seven books into this series, and Gena hasn’t revealed how the Hunters, humans who pursue and kill the Lords, started. Until now. In other novels, she gives you the gist of their beginning, but she hasn’t explained it in any great detail. So I appreciate the backstory to the Hunters. And their inception maximizes the level of world building.

Gena is one author you should keep on your radar. If you’re looking for an action-packed paranormal romance that will surely keep you up at night, pick up her books. You won’t be disappointed.

The Mystery Blogger Award

Hello, my bookish dearies! I haven’t been nominated for an award in a long, long time, so I’m excited to do this post! JoBeth @ Blue Binding nominated me for this award, created by Okoto Enigma. Thank you!!! I’ve been wanting to interact with the blogging community more, and this award does just that. I hope you enjoy!

 

Award Rules

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  6. Nominate roughly 10-20 people for this award
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
  8. Ask your nominees five questions.
  9. Share a link to your best/favorite post that you’ve written

 

Three Things About Me

  1. I used to draw. Certainly not award-winning, but I dabbled in realistic until one teacher criticized my work and just killed my passion for drawing.
  2. I hate musicals, yet some of my favourite movies are. Nightmare before Christmas is my number one movie, and I can’t get enough of it.
  3. When I was young, I wanted to build a library of thousands of books (clearly, my dream isn’t dead), because my Mom is illiterate. For years she slowly taught herself some words, and when I was older, I taught her more. Reading is a privilege that some people take for granted. And I appreciate every book she’s ever given me.

 

JoBeth’s Questions

Is there a book that you continuously recommend to people?

HA! Just one? Wintersong, An Ember in the Ashes, A Court of Mist and Fury, and Six of Crows are the ones I automatically recommend.

 

What is the number one thing that you look for in a book?

Even if the story is a retelling or is something original, I want authors to make it their own. A good example is the ACOTAR series or the Lunar Chronicle series (I regret I haven’t read it yet. Don’t kill me!).

 

What is your favorite kind of blog post to write?

Joint reviews and bookish chats.

 

If you could be any book/movie/TV show character for a day, who would you be?

Right now? Kell from A Darker Shade of Magic. No doubt. I want his coat (who bloody doesn’t?!). And I want to travel to different worlds.

 

Where was the coolest vacation that you ever went on?

My choice may seem cheesy (definitely cheesy), and it may not be the coolest, but the vacation I took with just my mom to a cottage my family rented out is my favourite. I didn’t have to wake up at an ungodly hour, make food when someone told me to, and socialize with family members. I painted, I read, I swam, and I found me.

 

I’m being too cheesy in this post. Someone help me.

 

My Best/Favourite Posts

My review of A Torch against the Night is where I found my voice. I didn’t want to sound like a book critic, just me. And finding it took a lot longer than I had anticipated.

 

My Nominations

Now on to my victims (ahem, nominations).

  1. Grace @ Grace Gets Books
  2. Flavia @ Flavia the Bibliophile
  3. Zoe @ Book Addict Rambles
  4. Maddie @ Well-Read Twenty Something
  5. Sue @ Sue’s Reading Corner
  6. Suzy @ Suzy Approved Book Reviews
  7. Shelly, Abby, Casey, and Kira @ Dust off Your MacHalo
  8. Kathy @ Books and Munches
  9. Laura @ Snazzy Books

 

My Questions

  1. Who is your guilty pleasure author/series? Do you love to hate it or hate to love it?
  2. What is the latest book you’ve read that you’ve absolutely hated/loved?
  3. What bothers you in your favourite genre (e.g., love triangles in YA)
  4. What is the most underrated book/series/author?
  5. If you could pick a book you wanted to change, which book is it, and how would you change it?

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Published by: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: June 28, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance

Page Count:

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”

Powerfully captivating, richly dark, emotionally disturbing, and utterly gut-wrenching, And I Darken captures readers from the opening sentence. Don’t expect this world to be kind, and certainly don’t hope for the characters to be either. This princess will not only slit your throat but also revel in doing so.

Lada Dragwlya, the princess of Wallachia, thrives in brutality. She lives in a world where women do not rule and are the possession of men. When her father uses her and her young brother, Radu, as political pawns and sends them to their enemy, the Ottomans, she must play a deadly game in order to survive. When they meet Mehmed, the son of the sultan, their lives change. While they band together, their troubled and poisonous relationship may test even the strongest bond.

Historical fiction is somewhat difficult to work with since the author must not only make it believable and factual but also make it entertaining. Kiersten takes this part of history and claims it as her. Yes, she does stay true to important events, but she brings a new twist to this written past. And I Darken is dark, rich, engrossing, and richly detailed. It compels you to turn the page.

While I found this world Kiersten builds sinister and haunting, I wanted to find out how these characters survive in such a brutal world. I enjoy reading twisted stories, but sometimes I needed some time to process what just occurred and separate myself from the book.

And I Darken may be the difficult yet rewarding book I’ve read this year. It is a story about survival. Sometimes, people simply survive or die, and in this world, the odds are stacked against everyone, especially women. Kiersten explores the way life existed back in the 15th century. What she achieves is a beautifully written and plot-driven story. I haven’t read any of her previous work, but her attention to detail and richly layered and complex character arcs set the bar for other historical fiction novels.

 

“Her spine was steel. Her heart was armor. Her eyes were fire.”

The characters are at the centre of this piece, and Lada, Radu, and Mehmed captivate me beyond what I thought they would. Lada, my spirit animal and queen, will burn this world down and walk through its ashes. Her cruelty hides her weaknesses and her love she holds for Radu and Mehmed. Sometimes I thought that she was too vicious, but look at who she is. She’s the female Vlad the Impaler. The scenes where she shows her vulnerabilities overshadow her savagery. I love her progression throughout the story. And her scorn for the treatment of women enrichens the story.

Radu, my little cinnamon bun, breaks my heart. He faces constant beatings and torture at the hand of his brother and other children. But he transforms into a complex character. I welcome more gay characters, and Kiersten elegantly handles his secret part of his life, and I have to thank her for doing so. Mehmed, the sultan’s son, is iffy for me. The relationship among the three are more complicated than the synopsis portrays. Half the time I wanted to throttle him, and the next I sympathized with him.

If you’re looking for a YA story that breaks the mould and strikes its own path, pick up And I Darken. But understand that this book demands more than just your attention. Take a chance on it. This well-woven novel surprises even me. And I cannot wait how Lada, Radu, and Mehmed survive the next journey.

 

“Fire burned in her heart, and her wounded soul spread out, casting a shadow like wings across her country.”