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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Waiting on Wednesday: Flame in the Mist

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

23308087.jpegFlame in the Mist

Renée Ahdieh

Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Extent: 368 pages

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

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Why Am I Waiting?

Flame in the Mist is a retelling of Mulan. MULAN, I REPEAT, MULAN. What more can I say? I’m slowly getting into retellings. But this one, set in Feudal Japan, is just the book I’m looking for. Since childhood, I’ve adored her story. This year, I hope to find more stories focusing on POC protagonists. I’ve heard a lot of Renée’s previous series. So I look forward to see how Renée incorporates the Japanese culture into her book.

And  I can’t get over that cover.

Review: Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong

21480854Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Extent: 432 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


Sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood.

Or at least, they were.

Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, they are all but prisoners in court, forced to watch and wait while the Emperor decides whether to help the children of Edgewood, who remain hostages of the treacherous Alvar Kitsune.

But when the emperor finally sends the girls on a mission to rescue the children – accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of men – the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. With lies and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on every bit of influence and power they possess to unite their people and avert an all-out war.

In this second book in her epic and captivating Age of Legends trilogy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong blends romance, danger, and magic to send readers on a heart-racing journey through an unforgettable world.


Empire of Night is what I’ve been waiting for out of this series! It bursts with honour, duty, filial piety, betrayals, and political trickery and plays. It certainly doesn’t suffer from second book syndrome. It is, by far, my favourite out of the series. Kelley’s plot twists are action packed and fast paced.

Once Moria and Ashyn, the Keeper and Seeker, find refuge at the Empire, Emperor Jiro Tatsu tasks them with the duty to find the missing Edgewood children, along with Ronan, an exiled convict who escapes the Forest of the Dead with Ashyn, and the Emperor’s bastard son Tyrus. But this journey proves more dangerous than anyone expects.

In this instalment, you get more multi-layered characters. Tyrus is a worthy companion for Moria, and while he doesn’t push Moria like Gavril does, he has a sixth sense when it comes to her, as if he and she have bonded over years rather than weeks. They share an intense chemistry, but I wonder which relationship will prevail: Moria and Tyrus or Moria and Gavril.

And here is where I gush over Moria’s arc. What more can you throw at a character? Kelley pits her against ruthless guards, dangerous beasties that she’d never think she’d see, and the savage Alvar Kitsune. Moria is the star attraction. I love her growth. But I can’t forget Ashyn. She’s one character who exhibits a strong quietude that flourishes once she sees herself as something more than her sister’s shadow. Because of their Northern heritage, Ashyn and Moria are seen as fetishes, a part of a minority, and simpleminded creatures. Readers can argue that the main characters are still white, but Kelley plays these race scenes and division in ethnicities rather well, and they bring a unique twist to the series.

Japanese heritage and history take centre stage in this instalment. Kelley sticks to the honour and duty that many families revered in that society, especially filial piety. And these morals intertwine in each character and arc. You especially see them in Tyrus and Gavril. Although I enjoyed reading Sea of Shadows, I felt that is too isolated, and even though the reawakened creatures and the kidnapped children carry the book quite well, Empire of Night expands on the world building tenfold. You finally see how the imperial city rules its lands and its people and how the citizens of the Empire are anxious, wary, and concerned of the unexplained occurrences.

Alvar––the former imperial marshal and father of Gavril, a warrior who helps Moria escape the ruins of Edgewood in Sea of Shadows––uses that suppressed fear and morphs it into a beast waiting to attack the imperial family and Empire itself. Some residents still question the exile of Alvar. Gavril doesn’t play a huge role in Empire of Night, but he does play a pivotal one, though. So at least we get some good Gavril parts.

The Age of Legends series gets better after every book. Forest of Ruin will be a great finale to this thrilling series! I hope Ashyn gets her chance to show this cruel world what her strength really is. And that ending killed me.

What did you think of this book or series? What were your thoughts on that ending? Expecting it or not? Tell me in the comments!

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Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

17236366Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Kelley Armstrong

Publication Date: April 8, 2014

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Extent: 416 pages

Rating: 4/5


In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.


Strong female leads, legendary creatures long thought as extinct, riveting storyline, and unexpected betrayal––What more can you get out of a book? With Sea of Shadows, you get all the above and more. Kelley hasn’t delved into high fantasy before, so I wasn’t sure what to anticipate with this debut novel.

After Moria and Ashyn’s town is massacred, the Edgewood children are kidnapped, and the Seeking is interrupted, Moria, Ashyn, Gavril, and Ronan plunge into a perilous journey that forces them to fight reawakened creatures and to cross the deadly Wastes so they can save the children.

Edgewood is perched on the border of the Forest of the Dead, where the Empire sends its convicts. The Seeker begins the annual Seeking, a day to relinquish the trapped and enraged spirits. The Keeper stays to protect the town and its people. Many of the Edgewood residents staunchly believe in the legends of old. Moria and Ashyn are often revered by the town. The book’s shining beacon is the twins. But they are nothing alike. Moria is sharp and hard like steel, while Ashyn is quiet as a breeze, but she has a hidden strength not many see. Together? They are an unbelievable force.

“She watched as her sister read it. Watched as her face crumpled, as her shoulders shook. Ashyn caught her and held her, and they fell against each other as the tears came.”

I adore Moria and Ashyn’s relationship. I got to see how siblings truly protect each other. I grew up with half-siblings, but I’ve never felt a sisterly bond with any of them. The twins’ relationship is effortless, relatable, and, at times, gut wrenching. Moria and Ashyn, along with their father, often defy tradition and the Empire as a way to honour their mother, who took her life to protect them. Reading the twins’ bond, I now see how a real blood bond looks like.

Getting into the Age of Legend series took me a while, but with a second, and for this review, a third reread, I truly enjoyed the book. Kelley creates a captivating world that I haven’t seen in other stories. Sea of Shadows is a solid high-fantasy YA novel that’s rich in mythology. It may have a slow start, but at the heart of this story are two sisters whose wish is to serve their Empire and their people. As Kelley brings long-lost legends to this series, the backstory for each just adds more to the world building. I can’t wait to visit this world again.

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Wrap-Up: August 2016

August2016roundup

This month certainly wasn’t the most productive, and I haven’t put a dent in tackling my bookshelf. But I’ve read some captivating books!

The Oddity by Kat Hawthorne

How much can I gush about this small little treat? Kat’s work made me think. A lot. And not many others do. Sure, you get some books that may make you question a few things, but this one made me think. The story is simply stunning and enchanting, and I hope to have this book on my shelf soon!

One thing I can say is that I love me some beautifully designed books. My Ryerson program has taught me how to appreciate the simplicity and the love of book design. Here’s my review.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong 

I’ve read this book about three times, and every time I do, I fall in love with the world building, the characters, and the storyline. What I love about this series is that it still contains similar themes as her other work, but this one has such a dynamic world I haven’t seen before, and I truly appreciate the mythology behind this story! It truly captured me.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong

Moria truly shines in this sequel. While I didn’t like how the twins were separated, I love how they grew as indidivuals. And the mythology in this book is superb! My God, I love it. I cannot wait to read Forest of Ruin.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ll be posting my reviews for both books soon! And you’ll soon see a big change on my site, so don’t worry. A different name but the same content! One reason why I haven’t been around lately.

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. 😑

Review: The Oddity by Kat Hawthorne

7ea7ea_e3a172eb0b7a42618cde0fc328529d09~mv2_d_1800_2475_s_2The Oddity by Kat Hawthorne

Republished by: Common Deer Press

Republication Date: August 10, 2016

Genre: Literary, Fantasy

Extent: 100 pages

Rating: 4/5


You know those books you’ve read about fair maidens trapped by unkind relatives in high towers with no hope for escape? You know the stories about charming knights keen to rescue the fair maiden? Are those the kind of stories you like? Well, sorry to disappoint, but The Oddity is nothing like that.

What if the fair maiden is actually a genetically engineered monster capable of great destruction? What if the relatives have a good and just reason for keeping the maiden under lock and key? What if the knight couldn’t charm his way out of a paper bag let alone yet another jail cell? There is a good chance that is what you’ll find in this book.

Based on the Tarot and full of deep thoughts about life and death, right and wrong, betrayal and…the opposite of betrayal, The Oddity is not like any other book you’ve ever read.


Note: I’ve received an eARC for a honest review. Again, receiving one doesn’t sway my opinion. This book was previously published as a ebook by another publisher.

Time is terminal, the greatest killer anyone has ever know. But physical death is not what’s important. The soul is eternal. It’s what you do with your time that determines who you are and what you are capable of.

A genetically engineered girl who can see the future? A book that makes you ponder everything in life? Hear my fangirl call! Kat has such elegant prose and wit. They drew me in at the first paragraph.

While you read this book, your own perception of life and death, fate and free will, and consequences is put at odds with Kat’s work. When a book wakes you up, then pulls you in so masterly that you believe you live within these pages, you know you’re in for a stunning read. Oddity truly is that. I felt as if I was reading one of Chuck Palahniuk’s pieces. Kat explores the ramifications of peoples’ choices, and she masterfully injects tarot into her storytelling. She is able to draw readers in and forces them to reflect on their decisions, whether small or large. Not many authors can put me in a crash course in existentialism, but she has! Her characters are so believably real. I loved how Kat ties them together at the end.

There are no epic battles or slain emperors in The Oddity; there are questions that flash across the page and demand you to answer them, and you may not like the result. The Oddity is a rare piece of fiction. What surprised me the most was how Kat tricked me with that unexpected twist (never saw it coming!). If a book does not make you think, I don’t believe it’s good fiction. I want more from this cleverly crafted world. I want to walk the streets and see the Oddities. Hell, I want to be one.

Time is the pathway to divinity, for it could be said that the one who controls time controls life and death, and the one who controls life and death transcends the realm of mortality and enters into the realm of the Gods.

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Wrap-Up: July 2016

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In July, I found some memorable reads and some fantastic ones. I’m only eight books away from my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Woo!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

A thought-provoking WWII story that explores the heart-breaking journey of two sisters who survive in occupied France. I haven’t cried so hard when I finished this book.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

A heart-pounding and character-driven fantasy that is sure to captivate any reader. Sabaa has a rare and upcoming talent that I hope will enchant me even more. I simply adore her debut novel. Her characters are one the best I’ve seen in years. I can live in her book for weeks!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

I can’t ask more from Kelley. She sure knows how to write a suspenseful and action-packed thriller. I love how Kelley brings out the psychologist in her. Her ability to address mental illness is superb.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

A great Canadian read from my favourite author. This novel has a sprinkle of mystery, suspense, and supernatural. I love the banter between the two main characters.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

A heart-wrenching fantasy that will not let you go! Kelley excels in her fantasy worlds. She is a master in her craft. I’m in love with this Cainsville series. I was not expecting this ending. Wow, I’m blown away. I can’t wait until Rituals is out!

Kelley’s fourth book in the Cainsville series will be out on August 9. You can also find the first five chapters here.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (4.5 actually)

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Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

20560137An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Published by: Razorbill

Publication Date: April 28, 2015

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian

Extent: 446 pages

Rating: 5/5


LAIA IS A SLAVE. ELIAS IS A SOLDIER. NEITHER IS FREE.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


 …As long as there is life, there is hope.

I AM AN EMBERLING. Just so that I can get this declaration out of the way. An Ember in the Ashes was risk for me. I thought that either Sabaa’s debut novel will burn, or it will fall. And it burns indeed! I have not devoured a book with such intensity in a long while.

Lately, Goodread has been heating up with fantasy stories that take place in the desert, have non-Caucasian protagonists who kick ass, and destroy many expectations. I hoped Ember might contain the same traits. But Sabaa’s work is more than these qualities, though. It morphs into a character-driven gem that travels with you for days after finishing it. Sabaa has a raw talent that, I hope, will continue to evolve into something breathtaking.

At first, I didn’t think that having two POVs would hold up, but Sabaa creates an effortless transition from Laia, who is a Scholar, and Elias, who is a Mask at the Blackcliff Military Academy and son of the Commandant. I enjoyed both POVs. From them, I could see how this haunting and savage world breaks its people. Sabaa creates such a captivating realm that entrances and scares you.

Laia––who escapes being arrested with her brother, Darin, or killed with her grandparents––becomes a spy (and therefore the Commandant’s slave) for the Resistance, the very one her mother and father led, so it can save her brother. Her character development is slow, but she beautifully evolves from a self-doubting child to the Lioness’ daughter who gives her her body and her safety in order to find Darin. Now Elias is my favourite character. I first thought that he might be cliché. But his rebellion is more than defiance. Relentlessly beaten down, he must conform to the Empire’s will. The Martials give him no choice but to desert. But his desire for escape is destroyed when the Augurs, the Empire’s holy people, declare the Trials. Cain, the leader of the Augurs, gives him the choice to run or to fight. He doesn’t surprise me when he picks the latter.

I’d rather die than live with no mercy, no honor, no soul.

What I love about Ember is that Sabaa brings back long-feared creatures that the Empire forgets and how she creates her multi-complex world. On every page, she builds on this dominion. From beginning to end, every dark alley of Ember enchanted me. Sabaa keeps you on the edge; she has a way of tricking you into believing you’ve figured out her work, when, in reality, she weaves in these surprises that will floor you.

What surprised me the most was the love triangles. Yes, they’re in Ember, yet they’re not the central point. I do not find them distracting. They illustrate how people have little to live for and will risk to find solace in a dark and twisted world. It is indeed sick. Not many books will conjure up strong emotions in me, but there were times when I was livid. I was rooting for the Commandant’s and Marcus’ death. Sabaa does the Roman Empire great justice! I believe the only downfall Ember has is the cliffhanger. Coming in at a later time, I’m glad there’s sequel. But I’m still counting down the days to A Torch against the Night pub date!

Sabaa forges a heart-pounding fantasy that will certainly stand among the great YA novels.

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