Wrap-up: February 2017

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I loved February. I got to read the books I’ve been dying to get my hands on. And my heart, psyche, and well, mind are all in revolt. I can’t count how many times I’ve cried. So here are the reads that kept me up past midnight!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Naturally, my first carnival book is, in fact, my favourite. Yes, Caraval has a insta-love feel to it, but the author makes a nice twist to it. The hype is real, so magically real, and I can’t help but gush about this book.

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A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kelley’s books are always instant buys and instant reads for me. I’ve read most of her work and probably own well over thirty of her books. I’ll warn you now: this book is dark and may trigger some readers. Kelley has an uncanny talent for writing complex and utterly intriguing characters. I can’t get enough of the series and hope to get my hands on the next instalment.

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King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I need a support group, stat. Please. King’s Cage is a vast improvement from Glass Sword. You can feel how much time and effort Victoria put into this book. It’s deliberately slow paced, yet it smacks you with intensely real emotions at the end. The sequrel cannot come soon enough.

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A poignant tale of a girl falling in love with the Goblin King and finding herself and her music in the Underground. I knew I had to read this story. Don’t expect anything similar to the Labyrinth. Wipe the slate clean and prepare yourself for this gut-wrenching love story. Highly recommended!

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Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

22328546.jpegRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 10, 2015

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian

Extent: 383 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.


“We will rise. Red as the dawn.”

I read Red Queen last year, and it has stuck with me ever since. I took a risk with it because I was hesitant to fully get into YA. Sure, I’ve read some YA series, but I hadn’t dedicated enough time to the genre and wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy it. But sparks have flown. And I am hooked.

Mare Barrow, a Red living in the impoverished Stilts, is thrown into a politically charged world when the Nortan nation discovers she posses powers. The King hides her among the Silvers so they won’t discover her true identity. Once he transforms her into a long-lost Silver princess, she swears allegiance to the Resistance. When she does, she puts her world in chaos.

Victoria blends together dystopian and high fantasy into a captivating universe. While you’ll see old relics from the former country, she creates a world entirely her own. Fear, death, and slavery govern the poor while the royals live in grandeur but fear political turmoil. The hierarchy stays prominent throughout Red Queen. People are either Red, who are humans, or Silver, whose silver blood provides otherworldly abilities. But Victoria throws in a divide in the Silvers by creating a sub-hierarchy. I enjoy the change in society. Instead of the Silvers fighting oppression and starvation, they dominate the Reds. But, as we all know, humans push back, and you see the first inklings of a revolution.

Victoria has written an enthralling tragedy. Our society doesn’t exist. Our history is lost. And another race has risen out of the ashes. What strikes me the most are the character relationships, politics, and family. The story dug in to my mind and stayed there days after finishing it. She also hasn’t put in a lot of teen angst, and I have to thank her for it. Her characters are also authentic to her world.

 

“I told you to hide your heart once. You should have listened.”

Mare, who posses the ability to create and to control lightning, loses her fate, her life, and her choice. The heroine encounters manipulation and betrayal at every step. She’s forced to summit to the Silver King, who demands her to marry his second son, Maven. He pits her against her own kind. So she must play princess, or she faces a deadly future. I liked her sarcasm and strength. But I find that she needs some character development.

Cal, the heir to the throne, extrudes filial piety. He’s an intriguing character. His crown has mapped out his life. But how can he change an already predesigned fate? He can’t. The attraction between him and Mare balances out the story, and it’s rather sweet. But his loyalty will test them.

Maven lives in his brother’s shadow and under his mother’s control. I find him a conflicting character who I can’t seem to wrap my head around. But somehow I see his humanity, which confuses me even more.

 

The political tension in Red Queen is superb. Victoria weaves in current political issues into her debut novel. The Scarlet Guard, a rogue Red organization looking to overthrow the current government, sparks my interest. While it’s a strong opponent for the King, Victoria doesn’t quite lift the veil, making it more mysterious. What I look for in a book is how much I hate certain characters. And I can’t help but loathe the weak King, Evangeline, and Elara, Maven’s mother. You know you’ve written convincing antagonists when I wish for their deaths.

 

She has written a compelling multi-layered story that triggered my love for YA. Yes, Red Queen is a typical dystopian novel with some clever twists. And it does give off a “special snowflake syndrome” vibe. The politics and human resilience help with some of the drawbacks, though. But I see past the issues a debut novel will contain. Her writing draws you in. Her characters are engrossing, and her hidden message will speak to you.

“I am finally learning my lesson, Anyone can betray anyone.”

What are your thoughts on Red Queen? Do you like the change from supernaturals being the oppressors? Let me know!

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Book Haul: January and February 2017

I’ve been waiting forever to buy these books. Ah! Okay, clearly I didn’t have a huge haul for these two months, but I’m giddy to see them in the mail.

January

27883214Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I’ve read a lot of raving reviews for this book. And each one just solidifies my need to buy Caraval. The story has intrigued me from the first day I heard about it. It is my first carnival-themed novel, so I wasn’t sure if I’d like. I was wrong. I love it. Caraval is one of my favourite books for 2017!

I’m tempted to buy a UK edition, too. The book designs are simply beautiful!

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February

91519King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Queen Victoria, you bless us with another enthralling story….And now I sound obsessed. Great.

I can’t wait for this book! I’ve been waiting for a good year or more. And while I saw the betrayal coming, Victoria’s debut novel just sparked something in me.

Victoria is an outspoken author, but that trait draws me to her books. And I hope that her views will translate into some interesting stories!

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24763621Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I can’t get over that Sarah, aka JJ, expands on the Goblin King universe! And I’ve been drooling over this cover for months. I have huge hopes for Wintersong. And I love how she incorporates German folklore. She also draws a lot of inspiration from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, which is one of my most beloved movies. It contains layers and undertones in each shot, so I expect nothing less for Sarah’s debut novel.

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31338270A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Not too long ago, I finished reading City of the Lost, but I can’t even enough of it. Kelley weaves in these dark and twisted arcs that just hook you from the very start. This series is a departure from her fantasy realm, but she has touched on mystery, thriller, and crime in her other series, though. So I have a feeling this book will ignite a new love. City of the Lost is definitely one of favourites!

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Wrap-up: January 2017

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I’M BACK! Finally, I can blog full-time. 😌 I’ve been trying to catch up on my TBR pile on my shelf so I can be ready for the release of Victoria Aveyard’s King Cage and Kelley Armstrong’s A Darkness Absolute. And I have to throw in a little weirdness to boot.

 

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve fallen in love with this book. I adore Kelley’s fantasy work, and she’s known for that genre, but this series just brings an exhilarating twist to her repertoire. Her writing shines in City of the Lost. It’s one of her best works in the last few years, and I highly recommend. Kelley has a huge reservoir of stories, and you may feel overwhelmed. But the Rockton Thriller series steps away from previous characters and solely focuses on a solid psychological thriller. If you love her Nadia Stafford series, you’ll love this.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I cannot get enough of this series. Yes, there are some issues with the whole special snowflake syndrome, but, and I mean BUT, Victoria’s storytelling makes up for some of these problems, and she takes a new spin on that trope. Like The Hunger Games, Red Queen inspired me to take more risks with picking up YA books, and I’ll always be grateful for her work.

Reviews for both Red Queen and Glass Sword will be coming soon!

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Glass Sword has an X-Men feel to it with Mare, Cal, and the other newbloods (Reds with Silver abilities) looking to find, well, more of their kind. Mare and Cal try to deal with betrayal they never saw coming in Red Queen. And throughout the book, Mare struggles with herself, fighting an internal tug-of-war. Her transformation is hard to read. THAT ENDING. My feels can’t take it.

#freemare!

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The Boatman by Kat Hawthorne

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So my girl Kat hooked me up with her charming and dark little MG story revolving around a girl after my own heart. It has a dash of Coraline and a sprinkle of Tim Burton’s magic. Kat offers such a refreshing tale. I simply love this book.

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The Oddity by Kat Hawthorne

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book looks wonderful in person. I read it back in late 2016, but it has always struck a cord with me. What is life? What is death?  The Oddity is one of the most intriguing and thought-provoking stories I’ve ever read.

I will always support small publishers. So if you want to do the same, go directly to the publisher and buy here.

Find my review here.

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Wrap-up: November 2016

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2016 is the greatest year for YA books. Agreed? And I still need to read more books waiting on my shelf. Unfortunately my blog took a hit last month because of my schooling. However, I was able to squeeze in these books.

And I’ve completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Eee!

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’m in love. YOU’RE KILLING ME OVER HERE, LEIGH. Thank you, but damn, woman. This book is on my re-read list.  Understanding this world took awhile since I haven’t read the Grisha series––I’ll soon rectify that problem soon enough––but I love Leigh’s undeniable and uncanny ability to build worlds. You  get layer after layer. I highly recommend this series. Review will come soon!

Thank you, Dana, for introducing me to this series!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

Since Red Queen, I’ve been dying to read Queen Coriane’s story. Cruel Crown includes two short stories focusing on Coriane Jacos’ journey to Queenhood and Farley’s path to the bombing set in Red Queen and ultimate exposure of the Scarlet Guard. I love seeing Farley’s human side, not just the captain. And I’ll forever hate Elara.

Thanks again, Dana!

I can’t wait to read Glass Sword.

Check out my review here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.75)

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Well, I’m still tackling this whimsically fantastic piece of magic. But I definitely know what I’ll give it, though. Crooked Kingdom quickly starts off from the explosive ending of Six of Crows. The crew must seek revenge and take back what’s theirs. Leigh builds off this multi-dimensional world. And I’m eating up her every word.

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Joint Review: A Torch against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

atorchagainstthenight_051116-1A Torch against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Published by: Razorbill

Publication Date: August 30, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian

Extent: 464 pages

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purhcase


Following the events of the Fourth Trial, an army led by Masks hunts the two fugitives as they escape the city of Serra and journey across the vast lands of the Martial Empire.
 
Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—and save her brother, whose knowledge of Serric steel is the key to the Scholars’ future. And Elias is determined to stay by Laia’s side…even if it means giving up his own chance at freedom.
 
But Elias and Laia will have to fight every step of the way if they’re going to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Helene’s mission is horrifying, unwanted, and clear: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.


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I just. No. I. Ugh. WHY. Why do you do this to me, Sabaa? Why? That ending. No, wait, this book. And honestly, I thought––clearly wrong––I understood your plot twists, but no. To be fair, I was expecting spectacular arcs, unbelievable despair, blood-stained streets, redemption, and an unsatiable desire to kill the Commandant, Marcus, and, surprisingly at the end, someone else who shall remain nameless. Clearly, I’ve received all these goodies, except they broke me. ANYWAYS. Now let’s move on to the review so I can wallow in my pain.

And don’t forget to check out Dana’s review @ Dana and the Books as well! I also want to thank Hafsah Faizal @ Icey Books for allowing me to use this ATATN quote banner! I love it.

***

A Torch against the Night quickly starts off where An Ember in the Ashes ends. While the fury of the Commandant, the Academy, and the Masks sweeps up behind Elias and Laia, they escape the ruins of Serra by travelling through the catacombs. Fighting against time, destiny, and unforeseen forces, Elias must find a way to rescue Darin, Laia’s brother, who’s trapped in Kauf Prison. Yet what is he willing to give up to break out Darin, protect Laia, and redeem himself? Everything. Sabaa sucks you back in this world by starting off Torch with heart-thumping and nail-biting action.

She weaves in a cold brutality into her world. It snakes through the darkened streets and touches every single person in the Empire. Either it kills those people, or it moulds them into something fierce, hard, and sometimes maniacal. She creates such a superb world building that may outshine her first book and offers much more backstory, which I love. The Nightbringer’s decision to decimate the Scholars brings a whole new twist to the series.

She also opens up this world through cut-throat politics. You delve more into this complicated realm, where one-upping your opponent doesn’t mean you impale them on your sword. You outwit them. And I have to admit that Kauf Prison scares me. Not many things do. Well, okay, beauty pageant kids, peacocks, and blue jays unnerve me, but everything else is fair game. Sabaa’s prose evokes images of the unkempt bodies, tortured screams, and death on your skin. Reading the prison scenes are torture.

The characters and their journey shape this book into a solid character-driven story. They become the book’s backbone. Sabaa expands on her characters as well. You get to see Mamie Rila, Avitas Harper (I DID NOT see that plot twist coming), Afya Ara-Nur, Helene’s family, Shaeva, and many memorable others. She continues with the first-person, multiple POVs. And she gives you Helene’s! Helene’s honour and her vow to Empire and Emperor will tear you apart. She, the new Blood Shrike, feels the crushing weight to keep order, find and possibly kill Elias, and restore power to an Empire that she ultimately questions.

 

“Failure doesn’t define. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.”

Laia, the Lioness’ daughter, goes from a scared girl who spies for the Resistence to a woman who won’t let pain or fear control her. Her failures and missteps turn her into a leader and break that little girl who made jams with her Grandmother. Instead of wallowing in self-doubt, she learns from them and learns how to be the leader who she must be. What I love the most is that she refuses to let this betrayal destroy her. She rises above and and lets the past, these mistakes, and the people who help her shape her.

 

“You are my temple,” I murmur as I kneel beside her. “You are my priest. You are my prayer. You are my release.”

Elias. Oh my, Elias. I thought I had fictional crushes before, but I was wrong. He stays true to who is. His character development jumps off each page I read, and I lapped it up every chance I got. He devotes his life to redeem himself so he can change this world. And he will not let destiny outsmart him. He won’t let his training turn him into his mother or won’t allow this world destroy him. Besides Helene’s growth, his is one of the best I’ve read. God, I can’t get enough of this character!

And I can’t help but say that MY OTP LIVES! And no, I won’t tell you who it is! MUAH! 😈

 

Sabaa’s writing will take hold of you and won’t let go. Prepare to cry, rage, throw your book (lightly please. Book abuse should be criminal!), and cry some more. I’m emotionally unstable after this book. Wake me up when the third book is out!

 

What did you think of A Torch against the Night? Did it meet your expectations? Bore you? Tell me in the comments! I’ve been dying to talk about it.

 

And here’s the perfect GIF for THAT moment in the book:

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And at the end:

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August 2016 Book Haul

Ah! My first blog book haul (for the blog at least). Look at these beauties. I’m about to cry. So, as you can see, I’m a tad late with last month’s book haul post. But at least I got it up.

 

Harry Potter Box Set: The Complete Collection by J. K. Rowling

IMG_0319This box set is gorgeous, much more gorgeous in person. I had spent some time looking for the right set. I’m not a huge fan of paperbacks, so hardcover it is. With the children’s box set, I feel as if I can relive my childhood thrill of opening up my first Harry Potter book.

I wasn’t as dedicated to the books as I was with the movies. A teacher ruined the series for me back in Grade 6. But I’ve read about half of the series, though.

But when I opened up this set, I was more giddy than a child on Christmas (sadly enough, the set is for a Christmas gift, so I’ll have to wait reading the books (WHY did I agree with having these as a Christmas gift? Why?!).

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Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

IMG_0325.jpgI received an ARC from Random House Canada, so I know what happens in the book. But I want to complete my collection, so tada, another Kelley Armstrong book!

This book has a tons of backstory in fae lore, and it sets up for a fantastic finale. The love triangle in Betrayals can be dicey for some readers, but the way Kelley has handled it moves the story and the characters in a great direction.

You get to see Ricky shine in this sequel, and I can’t help but feel sorry for him. You also see more POVs, which I appreciated greatly. I’m still hesitant with Gabriel because of Gwynn’s sway on him, but Gab prevails in the end.

I cannot wait until I read the last book in the series.

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A Torch against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

img_0351It’s here. It’s finally here! I haven’t waited as long as other readers, but doing so was tough. I fell in love with Sabaa’s debut novel. I’m currently reading this one, and I’m blown away! My fangirl is screaming and crying. I have bigger hopes for this book than I had for the first one, and so far, Sabaa is meeting all of them.

And the book is so pretty. Instead of being wrapped in traditional black, the book is in a navy blue, which matches the colour theme in the cover. And there are maps on both endpages! The back endpage shows the Kauf Prison! Eee!

I really don’t know how I can wait for the third book.

😍😍😍

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Waiting on Wednesday: King’s Cage

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

91519King’s Cage

Victoria Aveyard

Publication Date: February 2, 2017

Extent: 448 pages

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Why Am I Waiting?

I haven’t read Glass Sword yet (yes, I know I need to! And this WoW is yet another I-haven’t-read-the-sequel-yet-BUT post), but I’m still counting down the days to King’s Cage. We have only 161 days to wait. The Red Queen surprised me. I didn’t know I would like it so much. Scratch that. I love it. Supernatural beings controlling humans? You had me at the word “controlling.” (I’m not sure if you should worry about that sentence…) And how can I say no to reading a beautifully designed book? With the first book, I couldn’t put it down, and I went through a tough reading slump afterwards.

With King’s Cage, I want to see how Victoria takes this captivating series and also want to see how far her characters will push themselves. And I’m not sure if I want to kill Maven or not. I’m still debating.

And no, I have yet to read this book’s blurb! I don’t want to be spoiled. The things I do to myself for this blog. 😑