Wrap-up: March 2017

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Faeries, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, beautiful storytelling, and political plays? I’m set. This series has been on my TBR list for almost a year, and I regret not reading it sooner. I’d definitely recommend it, but hold out on your opinions on the book until you read the sequel! You’ll be surprised at the turnaround.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

How many times do I say the sequel is better than the first book? RARELY. But A Court of Mist and Fury destroys every expectation you may have. Sarah masters foreshadowing. Perhaps some people didn’t like the pacing in the book, but I enjoyed it a lot. This sequel is definitely on my reread list. I can’t wait to get my hands on A Court of Wings and Ruin.

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was a huge surprise for me. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but surprisingly, I do. I may have liked it better if I weren’t in such a reading slump, when I read it. Labyrinth Lost is a unique, diverse find. Zoraida incorporates many Latin American traditions. The culture in this book makes it shine and stands out against many YA novels. And I’m a sucker for beautifully designed books.

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MOM by Collin Piprell

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

MOM has taken me on a psychedelic trip, and I’m still trying to land on my feet. Picture a futuristic world where the remaining human population lives in malls. And MOM goes from protecting people to becoming self-aware. But their world is turned upside down when they realize MOM may have lied all this time.

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Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Extent: 336 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland.


“It’s my turn to shape the galaxies.”

Are you looking for a story with brujas, brujos, magic, love, and betrayal? Well come here. I have a book to tell you about.

Labyrinth Lost, the first book in the Brooklyn Brujas series, takes you a magic-filled journey that will thrill you from the first to last chapter. Alejandra, also known as Alex, lives in world where magic rules and may take away everything you’ve ever loved. She doesn’t want to claim her powers, yet refusing them is simply unheard of. But when she decides to give them up, her world is torn apart when she inadvertently sends her entire family, living and dead, to Los Lagos.

I’ve been dying to finally crack open this book. Just look at it. It’s gorgeous. I’ve fallen in love with the design already. Sourcebooks Fire, you’ve done great! More importantly the author weaves together a colourful and diverse story where a teenage girl learns of self-acceptance, falls in love, and rises above her former self.

One quality that sets this book apart from other YA fantasy books is Alex’s family structure. It’s paramount in this book. And it’s something I’ve been waiting to read for a long time. How many books do I know of, where the family’s bond is positive? I can’t count on my left hand. She and her sisters share a typical sibling relationship, one I’ve been craving to read. And their mother gives up everything to ensure they’re safe. But the story doesn’t stop there.

Labyrinth Lost is rich in Latin American history. Zoraida incorporates many Latin-inspired traditions and mythology (some she’s created her own). A great aspect to this book is the level of detail in culture and lore. It keeps me turning the page and wanting to explore this world more. When Alex uses magic, it comes with a steep price (when doesn’t it?). A price that all brujas and brujos pay. And given she is a novice bruja, she doesn’t understand the consequences. Alex and Nova, a guide who conveniently knows the way, must travel to the centre of Los Lagos, an Underworld-type dimension. But magic isn’t as it seems in this other world.

 

“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”

Alex, the leading lady, is a strong protagonist. She’s spunky, lively, reserved, and guarded. Instead of being afraid of her sexuality, she fears her powers, which she cannot control. She even believes that they chased her father away. Throughout the story, she faces many tests so she can save her family. But in doing so, she needs to learn how to trust in who she is, what she can do, and why she owns this power.

Nova is your typical badass. He’s cocky and sometimes self-absorbed. Yet I find his history intriguing. I’m sorry, but not sorry. I’ll always look for a broken character who has a deeper and more caring soul than any other. Rishi is a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting her to be included in Alex and Nova’s journey, because she doesn’t know Alex’s secret. But she offers an airy and uplifting side to this trio. And I love her unwavering faith in Alex.

I think the only negative I have with Labyrinth Lost is Alex’s relationships with the secondary characters. I’m thrilled to read a LGBTQ book. I want to find more strong and positive gay stories. Yet I find the relationship Alex has with Rishi is slightly strained. Rishi, in my opinion, almost worships her, and sometimes I wonder if the relationship Alex has with Nova holds a stronger flame against Rishi. I feel that Alex has more attraction toward him. Even with that negative though, I love Alex’s sexuality. She’s free and not afraid to show who she is. And I adore these parts in the book. Her sexuality doesn’t hold her back, certainly isn’t a struggle she must overcome, and is a natural extension of her. Zoraida beautifully represents the LGBTQ community, and I’m proud she’s done so.

So say your cantos, jump through the portal, and take a trip to Los Lagos. Labyrinth Lost won’t disappoint, and I’m sure you’ll be wanting more when you finish the book. I know I do.

 

“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”

 

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Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

27840861.jpegCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Published by: Henry Holt

Publication Date: September 27, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Mystery, Crime

Extent: 546 pages

Rating: 5/5


When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.


“When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.”

I finished this book back in December. But writing this review took even longer. I adore this series and absolutely fell in love with both books. But the both of them stuck with me long after I finished. Not many books have that effect on me.

Instead of revelling in the spoils from the greatest heist ever pulled off, this badass, chaotic gang Katterdam dredges up from the ruthless Barrel looks for retribution. Double-crossed, Kaz and his group race against impossible odds to save one of their own, pull off another job, and prevent jurda parem, a highly addictive drug that changes Grisha powers, from slipping into the wrong hands.

The stakes touch on insanity. Leigh blends together power plays, masterful arcs, heartbreaking pasts, and unattainable love in this ingenious sequel. I don’t know how I can possibly express how much respect I have for her. I’m still picking up the fragments of my shattered little organ I once called a heart.

Leigh masterminds a well-thought-out story that kept me thinking and picking over every little detail, and yet she fools me every bloody time. Crooked Kingdom is one of my favourite reads in the last few years. She combines an intricate storyline, engaging characters and antagonists, and arcs I hadn’t seen coming. The character development just completes the book and series. These characters bring more vibrancy to this world. You don’t fall in love with the world; you fall for them, who keep calling you back.

 

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

The diverse team currently deals with the aftermath of its heist gone wrong. In Six of Crows, Jan Van Eck tricked Kaz, the cleverest mastermind in Katterdam. And I think you all know what happens when people cross the Bastard of the Barrel. Scheming face? Scheming face. He matures into the most cunning and well-written character out of the gang (out of any series really), yet I didn’t see enough of him. However, the moments Leigh offers you make up for his absence. I haven’t wanted a character to succeed, break the bonds that bind him, and win than I have with Kaz. You can’t imagine how happy I was when witnessing his growth. Kaz’ disability, psychical and mental, isn’t his shield. It grows into his strength.

That girl Inej has more balls than, I dare say, Kaz does. She kills it in this book. Leigh reveals her weaknesses and her insecurities, then somehow gives her a life she isn’t hoping for but keeps fighting to get. Kaz and Inej’s relationship slowly unveils. The littlest actions show how much he loves her. They’re a smouldering chaos that would bring Katterdam to its knees.

Jesper is one cocky bastard, I’ll tell you that. His past, his powers, and his growth just add to the book. I wanted to smack him in the last one, but now, I’ve fallen in love with getting to know him more. And Wylan, that little devil, may just break every heart imaginable. He somehow brings semblance to these delinquents.

Nina and Matthias grow into the brightest flame of the book. I consumed every passage, conversation, and slightest touch between the two. He transforms into the character I wanted him to be. And bless Nina, this woman owns my heart.

My love for these crazy characters has transitioned into the fanatical zone I’ve never thought I’d cross.

Crooked Kingdom lives up to the claims. It’ll make you cry, rage, scream, cheer, and otherwise obsess over Leigh’s beautifully crafted world. Each characters’ personal battles will break your heart but keep demanding more from you. I want back in to Katterdam. I want to know how Kaz will fleece another pigeon, and I just want to live in this pandemonium.

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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: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

17927395A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Published by: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: May 3, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Retelling

Page Count: 626 pages

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase


Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.


“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal. I was a survivor, and I was strong. I would not be weak, or helpless again. I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”

Do you know when a book sneaks up on you and sparks your every emotion, then buries itself deep in your conscious, where you can’t stop thinking about it? Well, A Court of Mist and Fury is that book. This poignant yet alluring and seductive sequel has hollowed me out, and I’m stuck with the worst reading slump imaginable. Betrayals, political plays, captivating arcs, and stunning plot twists set ACOMAF apart from other books.

After surviving Amarantha, who enslaved the High Lords of Prythian, Feyre tries to move past her guilt of what she’d done Under the Mountain. She survived the trials that broke Tamlin’s curse. But this mortal-turned-High Fae discovers that more than just her body was broken. Tamlin changes. And she must fulfill her pact with Rhysand, the Night Court’s High Lord. But her world shifts, and she must now live with the aftermath. But once she heals her mortal heart and discovers who she is, a new threat from Hybern’s King may just take it all away.

 

“When you spend so long trapped in darkness, you find that the darkness begins to stare back.”

ACOMAF breaks the mould for sequels. It is light and dark, hate and love, and pain and happiness all rolled up in a beautifully executed book. I haven’t devoured a book with this intensity than I have with ACOMAF and haven’t been this impressed with one in a long time. I don’t want this series to end, because I feel I haven’t experienced and lived in it long enough.

 

“He locked you up because he knew—the bastard knew what a treasure you are. That you are worth more than land or gold or jewels. He knew, and wanted to keep you all to himself.”

Feyre‘s development is emotionally charged. It makes for a beautiful yet difficult arc to read. I can’t remember how many times I wanted Feyre to find a way to heal herself from the past that haunts her. Her choices Under the Mountain wrap a hold of her and refuse to disappear. She cannot shake them, she cannot move past them, and they won’t let her see past her pain. Feyre fought for Tamlin’s love in ACOTAR. But in this story, she lays bare her broken soul, walks through the darkness, and rises to claim her hard-fought and life-changing love.

 

“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”

Tamlin may be the light, but Rhysand shines in the dark. He is, by far, my favourite character. If Feyre deserves solace, he deserves life. Even thinking of his growth makes me weepy. His selfless acts save his people. Darkness lives within him, yet he’s gentle, caring, utterly damaged, but determined to save her. When he does so, Feyre also saves him. I don’t want to list how many chapters Rhys broke my heart. I’ll need thick paper, many pens, and a stockpile of Kleenex. How can I not love this High Fae? I think I squeed for a solid minute when I found out he has bat wings.

 

“But then she snapped your neck.”
Tears rolled down his face.
“And I felt you die,” he whispered.
Tears were sliding down my own cheeks.

Cauldron, boil me, because the romance in this book nearly kills me. It turns into a slow burn that’s tangible and adored. And the banter! I love their banter. The ships must be protected at all costs. Please. PLEASE. If I become a blubbering mess when I read A Court of Wings and Ruin, I may just swear off books for several weeks (trust me, this declaration is unheard of).

 

“He did—does love me, Rhysand.”

“The issue isn’t whether he loved you, it’s how much. Too much. Love can be a poison.”

Oh Tamlin, I was rooting for him. We all were. He had her right in front of him, but he gave up on her and let Amarantha win. Tamlin––the fandom affectionately calls “Tamlin the Tool,” and I have to agree––reverses into a controlling and scared High Lord. His progression may not look abusive, but remember that any control is. I understand why he turns into this man, how he changes so rapidly, and some readers, even to this day, hate how Sarah has made him into this beast. But a character does devolve this way. A traumatic event will break anyone, and it broke both Feyre and Tamlin.

 

Sarah opens up the Prythian world tenfold. She lets you travel from the Spring, to the Night, and to the Summer Court. She also include Rhys’ Inner Circle: Morrigan, cousin and third-in-command; Cassian, childhood friend, general commander, and one of the most powerful Illryian warrior; Amren, second-in-command who is shrouded in mystery; and Azriel, spy, childhood friend, and Shadowsinger. Sarah weaves their history into the story so effortlessly. I LOVE THEM ALL.

I’ve only wanted to reread a handful of books after I finished them. And I cannot stop myself from glossing over passages in ACOMAF. I want to jump back into Sarah’s world, dance down the streets of Velaris, and fly over the Sidra River. The Court of Dreams, a sub-court of the Night Court, becomes a character in itself. Rhys and the High Lords who preceded him protect the court. The sacrifice Rhys has taken on to ensure the safety of his people pierces your heart. You don’t get the true understanding of his pain until you read ACOMAF. And he is one character I fiercely want to shield from this cruel world.

I cannot recommend the book enough. Read it because, while readers may have objected to some issues in the first book, ACOMAF will destroy any expectations you have. I still cannot get it out of my head. This character-driven treasure will forever stay on my favourite’s list and hold a little piece of my heart.

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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas16096824

Published by: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Retelling

Extent: 421 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.


“She stole a life. Now she must pay with her heart.”

I may have arrived to this fandom late, but I’m here to stay. In this faerie folkore meets Beauty and the Beast mash-up, Sarah creates a realm uniquely her own. I’ve been waiting to read her work for some time, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Feyre lives in a divided world where faeries rule, and most mortals fight to survive. When a High Lord demands retribution for the Fae wolf she kills, he gives the 19-year-old hunter, who despises Fae, two options: sacrifice her life for the life she has killed or live out her life in his Spring Court. She reluctantly agrees to the latter. In time, they fall love in. But a curse may just break them apart.

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses is my first exposure to Sarah’s writing. Sarah doesn’t just stick with a Beauty and the Beast storyline, though. She introduces a new approach to this well-told tale. The first instalment draws you in to an authentic realm. It is a richly thought-out fairytale. And I’m surprised by how much I enjoy reading this book. The story and characters develop beautifully. And the writing and storytelling compel me to keep reading. I couldn’t get enough of the story.

I was hoping for more politics in ACOTAR. And even though you get some hints, especially in the last half of the book, Sarah doesn’t give enough. What the book lacks in politics more than makes up for in folklore. She weaves in these fairytales and produces an elaborate world that keeps you guessing and wanting more. She impresses me with her world building and keeps me on my toes.

 

“Because your human joy fascinates me—the way you experience things, in your life span, so wildly and deeply and all at once, is … entrancing. I’m drawn to it, even when I know I shouldn’t be, even when I try not to be.”

I enjoy Feyre’s storyline. Her voice is strong, and her strength pulls you in. I was hoping for a stronger bond with her sisters since she risks her life for them. But they’ve built a barrier among themselves. Their father’s fall from power pushes Feyre and fuels her need to protect her family. The father infuriates me, but I find that Feyre thrives as a character who takes charge. Obviously I was expecting her eventual attraction and love for Tamlin. I wasn’t expecting her to give up everything to break his curse.

 

Do not expect Tamlin to be the beast. The High Lord wants nothing more than to break the curse that strips him of most of his powers and forces him and his people to wear masks. Feyre has a hard time believing faeries can show kindness, which he does give to her. Instead of imprisonment, he gives her freedom. I find their slow attraction sweet. But something in him bothers me. Lucien, that glorious fox, I could eat him up. Sass and sarcasm mix up to create this delicious man. I adore him, and I hope that Sarah builds off this character.

 

“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

Someone should have warned me how dangerous this Rhysand is. He needs a warning sign permanently slung around his neck. Surprisingly, I see more attraction between Feyre and him than I did with Tam and her. While he’s complicated like Tamlin, I find his character more alluring. I want to punch him, but his actions surprise me the most.

 

This book will not appeal to all readers. Some will hate the controversy and won’t move past these passages. Others will question the drugging and lack of consent in the last half of the book. I was fully warned about these issues. So while reading, I expected them. And even though I don’t like some of them, I look at the overall story itself and see how they build an intricate world where nothing is as it appears. I don’t condone them, but the author integrates them into her world for a reason.

I’m slowly introducing myself to the retelling genre. And while I always adore Beauty and Beast, I enjoy this new twist. This enticing and sensual retelling will lure you in. Even though some scenes are difficult to read, this book catches me off guard. No, I wasn’t expecting to revel in ACOTAR, yet Sarah has an uncanny talent that traps people. I can’t help but admit that this series may just ruin me.

 

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Wrap-up: February 2017

february-wrap-up

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: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

24763621Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Published by: Thomas Dunne

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Extent: pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.


“There is music in your soul. A wild and untamed sort of music that speaks to me. It defies all the rules and laws you humans set upon it. It grows from inside you, and I have a wish to set that music free.”

Be careful what you wish for. Haunting, frightening, dark, yet beautiful, Wintersong takes claim on your heart and reveals a realm beyond the veil that you have never seen before. You won’t escape its spell.

Liesl, an 18-year-old inspiring musician, hides her gift from the world. Burdened by responsibility, she gives up her fantasy of composing music and her memories of an enchanting boy who she believes is the Goblin King so that her gifted brother takes centre stage. But when the Goblin King kidnaps her sister, Käthe, and offers her a deal, he doesn’t just fuel her need to find her loved one; he offers her the path to her emotional awakening.

Wintersong is more than just a sister sacrificing her life for another. It illustrates how Liesel discovers who she is and what she can create. It is lyrical, seductive, and whimsical but touching yet tragic. Music anchors Liesl. It encases her soul, but fear entraps her, preventing her from introducing her talent. But she realizes that giving up her life in her world comes with a price. The Goblin King warns her that if she agrees to marry him, she will ultimately relinquish her life. Both worlds live off of the soul and the death of the Goblin Queen.

 

“Life,” he said softly, “is more than flesh. Your body is a candle, your soul the flame. The longer I burn the candle…”

Sarah has an undeniable skill for a debut author. She conjures up a poignant story that sneaks up on you. She integrates music, longing, and nostalgia into her writing and creates a raw and visceral narrative that will simply bewitch you and your imagination.  This tragedy consumed my thoughts. And sometimes it forced me to put down the book so I could process Sarah’s storyline. The characters themselves stand out among the pages, and they captivate your immediate attention.

 

“Your music,” he said at last. “Your music was the only thing that kept me sane, that kept me human instead of a monster.”

Liesl evolves from the heroine who trades her soul for her sister to the Goblin Queen, who will burn both worlds. Her mortality, her soul, and her fire feed the old laws. Her progression throughout the story is heartbreaking but empowering. Her impending death brings a dark allure to an already enticing realm. It haunts the walls of the Underground and creates another character in itself. The love she has for her sister and her brother (who possesses a musical talent of his own), her sacrifice, and her untamed gift are what provide her the strength she needs in this world. Yet you want to scream at her and tell her to run, you can’t help but watch her slow demise. I find her character development tragic, but I couldn’t get enough of it.

 

“What is eternal life but a prolonged death.”

Do not expect the same Goblin King you’ve watched in the Labyrinth. It inspired me more than any other movie, yet I wondered if I’d see a familiar king, but this one is the exact opposite. This Goblin King protects her from his realm. His cruelty and wariness grow into a shield between Liesl and him. He doesn’t wish to be cruel, yet he knows what will happen if they break that wall and let each other in. But inevitably, he sees how quickly the Underworld will claim Lisel. The Lord of Mischief changes from the king who looks to obey the old laws to an enigmatic man who finds love. He has a tortured soul, and he develops into complicated king who may break your heart.

You can’t deny that Wintersong is one of 2017’s most anticipated books of the year, and it lives up to this claim. Since first hearing of it, I knew I had to read it. The author not only takes you on a girl’s journey of self-discovery but also captures your wildest imaginations. So walk through the veil and down to the Undergound, where magic rules, and music consumes.

 

What are your thoughts on Wintersong? Let’s talk about this beautiful book!

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About the Author

125028184.jpegS. Jae-Jones (called JJ) is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and erstwhile editrix. When not obsessing over books, she can be found jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, co-hosting the Pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, or playing dress-up.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in North Carolina, as well as many other places on the internet, including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and her blog.

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

23437156.jpgSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Published by: Henry Holt

Publication Date: July 28, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Mystery, Crime

Extent: 462 pages

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.


“No mourners. No funerals.”

Once you read the first page, Leigh throws you in a dark and gritty landscape that you know you should leave but are just too tempted not to. I’ve been waiting for this kind of wickedly charming book for years.

When a mercher enlists his help to break out a hostage held in the Ice Court, Kaz Brekker, Katterdam’s criminal mastermind, knows he can’t pass up this impossible heist. To do so, the Bastard of the Barrel finds the most intriguing bunch of street rats Katterdam has to offer.

When I started reading Six of Crows, I hadn’t known of the Grishaverse. I heard of it, but I walked in to this series with no expectations, no previous knowledge of this expanding world. So starting this new series grew into a complicated learning curve. However, I was up for the challenge. I’m in love with Leigh’s world building. Leigh creates these complex layers that are more satisfying than the last. She takes the characters’ history and blends it in to the present, seamlessly converging both into a thrilling narrative. She’s one of the few authors who keep me guessing. And she concocts such masterful and suspenseful plot twists.

Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.

How can I gush over these characters more? I can’t. Well, I can, but doing so might be borderline obsessive, if you ask me. Leigh merges each POV perfectly. I don’t like many POVs, but she creates six authentic voices. At the centre of this chaos is Kaz.

“You love trickery.”
“I love puzzles. Trickery is just my native tongue.”

Kaz, the monstrous Bastard of the Barrel, transforms into the backbone of this band of misfits. The ghost of his brother, Jordie, haunts, taunts, and fuels him to ruthlessly seek out their revenge. I can’t help but adore him. Similar to Kaz, I cannot stand when strangers touch me. His hatred of human touch is more extreme than mine, but I completely connect with him. His past seeps in and controls his present and future. And God, he’s the most conflicting character I’ve ever read, but I love him so much.

“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”

And this demon needs his Wraith. Inej, a Suli acrobat, wants nothing more than to find her family. Her religion grounds her while she maneuvers through Katterdam and tries to forget her time in a brothel. Her past shames and also haunts her. The tension and the relationship between her and Kaz are precious.

“Oh, I see. I’m the wicked Grisha seductress. I have beguiled you with my Grisha wiles!”

Leigh blesses our neglected world with Nina, a Heartrender who has a debt to pay. Her past mistake feeds her. And she’s determined to break Matthias out of Hellgate. She is still a Grisha soldier though, even though her duty conflicts with her feelings for him.

“I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.”

Matthias is a former Drüskelle who seeks retribution. His loyalty to Fjerda sometimes infuriates me, but Leigh shows you how divided this universe is. Drüskelles hunt Grishas, who they believe shouldn’t exist. Grishas, who possess supernatural abilities, crave revenge. And being betrayed by a certain someone still doesn’t sit well with him.

Jesper, a sharpshooter who can’t escape his gambling ways, is an iffy character. I didn’t see a lot of development with him. However, his loyalty to Kaz jumps off the page and intrigues me. Wylan, a mercher’s son with a gift for blowing things up and a past to hide, sticks out from this ragtag team. He doesn’t fit in with thieves, murderers, and soldiers. Yet somehow he’s a perfect fit for them though.

The ships in this book will put me in my grave. But God just let them all sail.

Leigh incorporates current issues from our world. Slavery and human trafficking not only exist but also thrive. They’ve turned into Katterdam’s dirty secret and currency. She has built a convincing and sinful world. And while it is fictional, I feel as if I can walk down the Barrel and see this wicked city for what it is. But she also brings a human touch to the story. Both Kaz, who loses his brother, and Inej, who was sold as a sex worker, battle PTSD. She masterfully presents this mental illness and champions it. She doesn’t shy away from it. She makes it shine.

Six of Crows is a deviously delicious novel. It immerses you into a world that may just scare you, yet she skillfully hooks you from the first time you walk down the Barrel and will surprise you until the betrayal and ultimate sacrifice. So don’t be surprised if you’re asking for more.

What do you think of this series? Do you prefer it over the Grisha series? Or has it convinced you to read Leigh’s first one?

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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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