Review | Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Witches

Page Count: 528

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

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Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.


“I loved her. Despite everything. Despite the lies, the betrayal, the hurt…I don’t know if she returned that love, and I didn’t care. If she was destined to burn in Hell, I would burn with her.”

You can set my pyre on fire. I’ve found my new enemies-to-lovers fave. All I needed to know is that a witch and a witch hunter fall hard for each other. Then I’m hooked. But if you’re looking for a filthy but perfect romantic fantasy, Serpent & Dove is your book! I fell for this book. It took me weeks to dig through my emotions and thoughts. Shelby’s debut novel may be one of my favourite reads of 2019. And I wasn’t expecting such a reaction though.

Shelby crafts convincing, endearing main characters who make you invested in their journey and struggle. While the plot is a solid read, I believe the characters are what makes this debut. Louise le Blanc, a witch who abandoned her coven, makes me laugh, cry, and squeal. Yes, squeal! Her mouth is dirtier than mine. And I adore how she has survived so much. She’s ruthless, but she’s universal.

Shelby’s storytelling gives you a unique outlook into Lou’s and Reid’s inner thoughts. Each chapter offers up a stronger understanding of these multi-faceted characters who were pawns in a larger game. Reid Diggory, the holiest witch hunter I’ve ever read, may be my next love. Seeing him evolve from a naive boy into a male of worth is one of the best character developments I’ve seen lately.

The romance and the writing follow at a close second. I cannot separate them since they work together beautifully. This love story will break your heart. The writing and storytelling will keep you fighting through the pain. The hype is strong yet real, so don’t let that worry you though. Serpent & Dove is a superb debut worth the read.

“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from you.”
“Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.”

Review | Evermore by Sara Holland

Evermore by Sara Holland

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: December 31, 2018

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 368

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchase

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Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: She is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Now Jules must piece together the stories of her past lives to save the person who has captured her heart in this one.


“Don’t you know, Jules? Everything worth doing is dangerous.”

After reading Sara’s debut novel, I knew Evermore would be at the top of my most anticipated TBR list. There was no way I’d let this sequel pass me by, especially with that whiplash plot twist Sara threw at her readers. So even though I love the journey she takes us on, I feel a bit let down.

Sara is a natural born storyteller. She weaves tales, from past to present, to plot out intriguing worlds. So it pains me to say that I’m disappointed with how the finale turns out. I hate writing this sort of review because I know how difficult creating a novel truly is. Sometimes, though, a sequel simply falls into the second book syndrome and doesn’t carve its own path to originality.

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Review: Everless by Sara Holland

Everless by Sara Holland

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 368

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

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In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.


What if the person to be feared is me?

 

Sara Holland’s debut novel will transport you to a dark and twisted world where people pay with time. This eloquent and beautiful story enchants, surprises, and shows you that Sara possesses a raw talent YA readers have been waiting for.

Jules Ember, along with her father, left her life in Sempera, a ruthless kingdom where the elites, the Gerlings, extract time from the poor so that they will prolong their own lives. As she discovers her father is dying, she decides to find her way back to this city where she was forced to leave because of a deadly secret. But as time reigns supreme, she uncovers secrets that may threaten her and the people she loves.

Sara has amazed me with her writing, storytelling, and world building. I don’t always find a YA that keeps me hooked and makes me want more once I’ve finished reading. But Everless does just that. I actually need the sequel. She hauntingly portrays how cruel this kingdom is. And the originality of her storytelling impresses me. I rarely say that about a debut author. She sets up Everless as a slow burn with hints of romance and some action injected in periodically. And I must say that Everless reminds me why I love YA.

Sara weaves together the past, present, and future into this spellbinding fantasy filled with political games and deceit. Time is currency, and you will discover that the rich always thrive, and the poor suffer. She brings a realism to her book by introducing a two-tiered society. The poor will give up their remaining years, which is extracted from their blood and turned into currency, so they can feed their families or pay the rent. What strikes me the most is how the aristocrats, who hoard these time coins or devour them to lengthen their lives, are often oblivious to the consequences of this currency. The parallels between this realm and our own society leap off the page.

This atmospheric YA also offers some treats. The mythology is the highlight of the story, as it guides the narrative along. And as the story progresses, I fell in love with these multi-dimensional characters. Poverty has shaped Jules into who she is, yet her quiet demeanor draws you in. I often find the quietest voice to be the loudest. The two Gerlings brothers, Roan and Liam, are polar opposites. I do not trust Roan though. Yet Liam, the brother Jules originally fears, is the hidden gem I surprisingly like. The relationship between Jules and Ina Gold, the Queen’s ward, is outright refreshing. They both love Roan, yet they aren’t fighting each other to win his love.

Everless unsettles yet allures you. Secrets, plot twists, deception, and hidden family history shape this debut novel into a stunning and compelling series. I cannot wait to see how Sara concludes it.

 

It’s possible to feel joy and grief at the same time. It’s possible to look forward to the horizon while mourning what you’ve lost.

Review: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

91519King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopian

Extent: 528 pages

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase


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.


“He’s terrified.

For a second, it makes me happy. Then I remember―monsters are most dangerous when they’re afraid.”

YES. Finally, yes. King’s Cage is the book I’ve been hoping for in this series! But be warned. You’ll need a good supply of Kleenex, a support group at the ready, and strong liquor. I had nothing, and this book has gutted me.

Packed with ruthless political plays, heartache, and trickery, King’s Cage brings you back to Maven’s playground. Mare is now his prisoner. As Maven strips away her lightning ability, he prepares to annihilate the Scarlet Guard and his brother, Cal. As they watch, the resistance braces for war and recruits Reds and New Bloods, while Cal will sacrifice anything to get Mare back. But Norta barely holds itself together when Silvers turn against their own.

Victoria touches on the political landscape in Red Queen and Glass Sword, but it explodes in the third instalment. I’ve been waiting to see more politics in King’s Cage, and Victoria doesn’t let me down. Throughout each chapter, you see how much dedication she puts in to her work. She meticulously details every passage, scene, and conversation. They are well thought out. The storyline hooks you from the first chapter. And while several readers hate the pace of King’s Cage, I love it. I don’t expect a war to start off fast. It’s slow yet brutal. But when that speed is needed, Victoria just punches you in the gut with it.

She also presents new POVs, which I enjoyed reading and were wholly needed. This world unleashes itself onto you. Victoria jumps from Norta, to Piedmont, to the Lakelands, then to Montfort. Her world building expands greatly. She then throws in some fantastic battle scenes and introduces new characters who, I know, will probably just add to the ever-growing list of people who I’ll mourn.

 

“I live in a shrinking world where the only thing I can trust is Maven’s obsession. Like the manacles, it is a shield and a slow, smothering death.”

Maven uses Mare to taunt the Scarlet Guard and Cal. He turns her into his own tortured pet. And under his control, she loses her lightning power by Silent Stone and Silence guards, who neutralize abilities. I found her character development inspiring. She refuses to let him break her. She still owns her spark he can’t touch. And honestly, I’m proud of her. Through betrayal, pain, and a heartbreaking revelation, Mare emerges from the ashes of her former self and steps up to be ther leader her people deserve. The book realistically illustrates Mare’s grief, loneliness, and PTSD. And these elements adds new layers onto an already complex story.

I’m no Team Brothers. I’m Team Mare. When I read the epilogue, I wanted to punch both of these boys. I don’t understand Team Maven. No, he didn’t shield her from his world in King’s Cage, and he certainly didn’t protect her from torture either.

 

“You are only a shadow, and who looks at shadows when they have flame? Who would ever choose a monster over a god?”

The Queen may be dead, but she has destroyed Maven. What she has done to him unsettles me. Her ghost chills me every time Maven explains his upbringing. It still doesn’t excuse him though. I thought his obsession with Mare in Glass Sword is disturbing, but it does not compare to what he does to her now. Now seeing their relationship, if a twisted connection is what you call it, makes the story more complex. She witnesses who Maven was, what he could have been, and what he is now. Is that outlook a form of empathy? I don’t know. Their relationship borders on frightening. But he is one character who completely surprises me. Victoria pushes him down a path I wasn’t expecting. I thought I could anticipate his moves. But no, she shuts me down every time.

 

“The crown is in the heart, and the heart do not change.”

Sometimes I love Cal, and sometimes I want to throttle him. Pick a side! Choose her! She is right there. I predicted that his arc may take him a direction I won’t support. He’s the heir who hasn’t made a choice yet. He fights for Reds, he enlists the help of New Bloods and other countries, yet he does not choose a side. I don’t like where he’s going. All I see is pain, blood, and heartbreak.

One salvageable quality he has is loving Mare. We get to see their love story. Three books in, I was getting worried Victoria might not show it. But my God, she does. But come on! That epilogue still haunts me.

 

“An all-too-familiar ache rises in my chest as I settle onto my throne. I do my best to keep composed, quiet, and dutiful. Loyal to my blood. It’s all I know.”

I do not believe I can type these words, but I feel for Evangeline. I still don’t. Even a month after reading this book, I can’t wrap my head around my turnaround. Let’s just say you get perspective of this merciless character. And a part of me is rooting for her.

King’s Cage steps up and becomes the story I’ve been looking for. I cried. I laughed. I seethed. And I cried some more. I’m not ready for the final book.

 

What are your thoughts on the progression of the Red Queen series? Can’t get enough of it? Let’s talk!

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Review: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

23174274Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 9, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Extent: 464 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.


Victoria Aveyard’s Glass Sword is a heartbreaking, volatile, and twisted sequel that tests the strength of every character. Savagery seeps through and corrupts even the most loyal ones.

Betrayed, accused of murdering the King, and hunted by Silvers, Mare and Cal search for and recruit newbloods, Reds who possess Silver abilities. But they aren’t the only ones who do the same. They escaped their execution, but Maven, the new merciless king, now haunts them still. Lines blur, loyalties are tested, and Mare fears that what she’s demanded to fulfill will turn her into the very monster she thought she loved.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Victoria revels in her readers’ pain. She has a knack for hitting you in the heart and expects you to turn the page. Clearly, I’m a sucker for her writing. She expands on her characters and gives you a larger scope of her world. She shows you the inner workings of the Scarlet Guard. And she has written a diverse cast of newbloods. Finally! I get more Shade, the brother who apparently faked his death in Red Queen. She even includes more scenes of Farley and Kilorn.

 

“No one is born a monster. But I wish some people were. It would make it easier to hate them, to kill them, to forget their dead faces.”

Maven’s cruelty over Mare intensifies. He finds new ways to taunt her and to control her every move. Some scenes shocked me, and not many do in other books. Glass Sword is dark. Victoria heightens the brutality of warfare, and you get a sense of how savage this world truly is. But she does gives you some light within the dark.

Cal and Mare know their love for this tainted king may be their undoing. But they understand the love they share between each other will also hinder their task. Their private moments make me tear up. They both live in chaos, pain, and guilt, yet they find solace in each other.

 

“I am a weapon made of flesh, a sword covered in skin. I was born to kill a king, to end a reign of terror before it can truly begin.”

Am I cruel to say I enjoyed reading Mare’s progression? I do. Her strength is in her pain. Mare secludes herself from the people she loves so they won’t feel the debilitating control Maven holds over her. While reading, I felt conflicted with her development. She questions herself on if she’s turning into Maven. Yes, she gives the newbloods a choice to join the Scarlet Guard, but she makes the hard decisions. Reading this growth tugs at your heart.

Cal is still the reluctant heir. He cannot come to terms with killing Silvers, even though they threaten the mission. He fears the group’s actions will simply put a new king onto a throne and not change the course of the nation. Taking down one monster but sliding in a new one don’t sit well with him.

Victoria offers you a better perspective of how Elara, Maven’s mother, infects and pollutes Maven. She turns him into her own puppet, and yet he has the power to destroy her. He commits to tracking down Mare and Cal, ending their mission, and getting her back. He develops an obsession with his lost red queen. But he doesn’t scare me as much as Elara does, though.

I’m intrigued with the Scarlet Guard. It offers sanctuary for Reds and aligns itself with new allies. You delve deeper into this secretive resistance and see how it works. But I sometimes question the loyalty it has now when it faces a new obstacle: the newbloods. The Colonel, Farley’s father, spares no trust for them. And I find him a difficult character to read.

The ending! Oh God, that ending. Why. Why, why, why?! Yeah, I knew that scene was coming. The book I’ve been dying to read gets spoiled by the author. How? Tumblr, that’s how. I can’t catch a break.

Glass Sword shapes into a fast-paced, gut-wrenching story. You’ll cry, you’ll yell, and you’ll more than likely curse. But it demonstrates how humans stay resilient, resist oppression, and stand up when they have little chance of survival.

FREE MARE!

 

What did you think of the ending? Are you excited to read King’s Cage? Let me know in the comments.

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Wrap-up: January 2017

january-2017-wrap-up2

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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Book Haul: December 2016

This month’s haul certainly isn’t big. But I’ve been dying to get my hands on these books. I’m not sure if I should have, since I’ve bought seventeen for Christmas. Did I say seventeen? Yes. And I still can’t fathom the number.

I hope these are great!

 

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong 26869354

Danya @ Fine Print (again!) got me into this series. I was a little hesitant with it, though. And at the time of buying, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But Kelley has travelled down this suspenseful road before with her Nadia Stafford series. I love that she’s set City of the Lost in Canada. Many of her stories take place in the States. But when she weaves in a little Canadiana, I feel right at home. I’m almost done the book, and I definitely love it!

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake 28374007.jpeg

I look forward to the sister dynamic in Three Dark Crowns. I’m also curious to see how the author plays off that and how it’ll affect each character. And I also love the fantasy part. How does the sisters’ ability change or hinder them?

I took a peek in the book, and I love the design! This book looks gorgeous. 😍

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0062421379Divergent Series Box Set by Veronica Roth

Thank you, Indigo Teen! I won this series through its giveaway. Yes, I haven’t read any of Roth’s work, since someone online decided to ruin the last book, but I’ve been hoping to tackle the series, though.

I’m starting to appreciate box sets more since I don’t have to wait until the next instalment. I hope this series is good!

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Mini Review: Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

25944381.jpgCruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian

Extent: 208 pages

Rating: Queen Song: 3.75/5

Steel Scars: 3.5/5

Source: Purchase


Two women on either side of the Silver and Red divide tell the stories no one else knows.

Queen Song

Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.


Steel Scars

Diana Farley was raised to be strong, but being tasked with planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected. As she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital, she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation—Mare Barrow.


Queen Song

This book is certainly a quick read. I wasn’t expecting huge revelations, but I needed more history than what was in Red Queen.

“There is nothing so terrible as a story untold.”

IMG_0245 copyKing Tiberius Calore VI, Cal and Maven’s father, refuses to follow the path of other kings when he looks for his queen. So when he chooses Coriane Jacos, a singer from a poor family, he angers many families and powerful daughters who are aiming for that gleaming crown. Victoria transports you back through Coriane and Tiberius’ love story. Their marriage isn’t shiny by any means, but you see how they loved each other. And I truly enjoy the lack of blood lust in this marriage, like the others from the Queenstrial, where teenage girls from the High Houses compete against each other and display their abilities in front of the royal family. I also love how Coriane, while she isn’t there in person in the Red Queen, influences Cal on a much deeper level than I previously thought. Like her, Cal loves to build, a trait he inherits from his mother. Unfortunately, the King and Queen’s marriage does not survive after the birth of their son, Cal, when unforeseen forces tear down the protective walls in Coriane.

Yes, yes, yes. I get more Coriane! Her life has always intrigued me. And while I knew who killed her, I never understood how Elara breaks a singer. Tiberius and Coriane’s story is what I was looking for in this dreary universe. Something I see as real and beautiful. Victoria really sparked my interest in this piece of history. How her prose changes in this story brings out Coriane’s POV. You get a lot of spunk and sarcasm when Mare takes the stage, but with Coriane, you hear her quiet but determined (albeit sad) voice.

Steel Scars

Victoria shows Farley’s roots in Steel Scars. So finally you watch how Farley, the Scarlet Guard captain from Red Queen, transforms into who she is now. She has a deeper backstory and a stronger rage than any of her scars. Farley’s story lays out the leg work for the eventual exposure of the Scarlet Guard and the attack on the Silvers in Red Queen.While this story doesn’t instantly capture my interest as Queen Song does, I love how Victoria wraps up some burning questions I’ve had since I first read Red Queen. And finally I understand Farley’s conviction behind her decisions to do what she must. Victoria incorporates top-secret correspondences among the ranks. And she also shows you how the the Scarlet Guard works, something I’ve been trying to figure out for quite awhile. And I get more Shade Barrow! What more can a woman ask for?

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