Review: The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: September 27, 2011

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Page Count: 426

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

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


Possessed by the demon of Defeat, Strider cannot lose a challenge without suffering unimaginable pain. For him, nothing stands in the way of victory. Until Kaia, an enchanting Harpy, tempts him to the razor’s edge of surrender.

Known among her people as The Disappointment, Kaia must bring home the gold in the Harpy Games or die. Strider is a distraction she can’t afford because he has an agenda of his own-steal first prize, an ancient godly artifact, before the winner can be named. But as the competition heats up, only one prize will matter-the love neither had thought possible.


“He held fire in his arms and he desperately wanted to be burned.”

Gena takes the essence of paranormal romance and cranks it to a thousand. The Darkest Surrender will take you on a pulse-pounding ride and won’t let go!

Strider, the keeper of Defeat, wants nothing more than to not find his mate. But when Kaia Skyhawk, a harpy, tempts him more than any other woman, he knows he’s in trouble. Yet he reluctantly agrees to be her temporary consort for the Harpy Games, which he can’t lose, or he might never find the Paring Rod again.

Sarcasm, witty banter, stubbornness, and a tantalizing love story create such an entertaining novel that will surely hook any hardcore Gena fan. I read the eighth Lords book back in August, and it stuck with me ever since. Gena has a way to write tortured characters, but with Strider, she doesn’t go that route. Strider is a dangerous, deadly, and steamy Lord who will win at everything, if not, he suffers horrendous pain at the hand of his demon. He tempted fate when he thought he was falling for Haidee, Amun’s woman, but he doesn’t know what he’s walking into when Kaia chooses him as her consort.

So don’t expect the tormented storyline, because you won’t get it in this sequel. Strider has the biggest ego and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. And Kaia is his equal in every way. Their love story will give you relationship goals. Gena sometimes sways away from the original storyline of finding the artifacts that can save or kill the Lords. In this sequel though, while she now incorporates that arc and also focuses on the romance, she seamlessly combines the two.

In the Darkest Whisper, fans of the Lords of the Underworld were introduced to harpies, but they haven’t entered that world fully. So don’t worry. Gena doesn’t disappoint. I’ve been waiting to see how this world works, and let me tell you: don’t piss of a harpy, or you’re in a world of hurt. In this instalment, Kaia, nicknamed the Disappointment, must compete in the Harpy Games, where harpies battle each other to win a prize and bragging rights. This year, the Paring Rod, an artifact that rends a soul from a body, is said prize. But her past comes back to haunt her.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the banter and fighting between Strider and Kaia. They’re fire and oil, and somehow they work together perfectly. What surprises me the most is how Strider steps up and becomes the man Kaia needs. Some readers say that Kaia is the star of Strider’s book. But I disagree. Strider needs a woman who is his equal but isn’t afraid to put him in his place. He isn’t looking for redemption. Kaia transforms him into the man he should be. Their character developments make the book and set it apart from the other Lords books.

If you’re looking for steamy love scenes, banter that will make you laugh throughout the night, bigger egos, and a sizzling romance, don’t miss this book. I cannot get enough of this book, and I highly recommend it to any paranormal romance readers. Lords of the Underworld is getting better and better.

Advertisements

Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published by: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance

Page Count: 471

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

23308087Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 416

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

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


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.


“I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman. There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight.”

Wow. Plot twists don’t always surprise me or catch me off guard, but Flame in the Mist has taken me for a magic-filled journey that I wasn’t expecting. Renée creates a culturally rich story I don’t want to leave. And I’m not sure how to express my love I have for this book.

After surviving a botched attack, Mariko, daughter of a samuri who seeks a higher station in life, infiltrates the Black Clan, a ruthless gang hired to kill her on her way to meet her betrothed. A hidden alchemist and inventor dressing as a peasant boy, she is determined to discover why she was almost murdered and who paid the Black Clan to go forth with her death. But when her plan goes awry, the clan takes her prisoner. There she meets the leader of the clan, Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami, and realizes that secrets and lies enshroud these two and the life she has always known isn’t what she thought it was.

 

“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead. Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.”

Renée throws in touches of Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes and a dash of Robinhood. I’m not convinced of the Mulan connection though. But I easily fell in to her book and couldn’t get out. The only things keeping me from it were sleep and, well, life. I’m not always a fan of fast-paced fantasy novels. Sometimes some scenes are lacking what I crave. But she paces this book beautifully. She captures the setting in such a way that I could immediately imagine what I was reading and adds just enough magic to spark my interest. I love her writing. It isn’t grandiose. It is straightforward, but it also takes you a magical adventure. Hidden agendas, political deception, secrets, lies, plot twists, and slow burning romance will captivate readers who look for a story that stands out from the rest.

Do you know what I look for in the literary world? More women empowerment. But more importantly, I look for male characters who aren’t afraid of women who fight back and are willing to support them. In some stories, you get women tearing down others. Why? Tell me how women shaming helps us. It doesn’t. Now that we have that issue behind us, Flame in the Mist exudes women empowerment. Renée’s book had me dancing in my chair and quietly yelling, “Yes!” Bless Renée for incorporating it into her book.

No, I cannot say I am an expert on Japanese mythology, culture, or traditions. I feel that Renée has honoured them though, and she certainly brings them to the forefront of her writing. You see the attention to detail she weaves in, and I enjoy how this culture stands on its own. She also puts in Japan-inspired creatures that kept my fangirl screaming. The jubokko, a vampire tree, may just be my favourite. A VAMPIRE TREE, people. Have some respect for an author who writes that in.

But what shines above all else are her characters. I rarely say that I enjoy all characters. I usually find a flaw I can’t stand or a character development that doesn’t make sense, but I love hers. No characters were needlessly added for a filler. Each one adds to the story. Mariko’s quiet demeanour and resolve allow her talents to be through life. But don’t let them fool you. Behind them, Mariko‘s a force no one should go up against. Her family members underestimate this alchemist, and in doing so, they set her on a track to prove her worth. I adore her. The odd calls to odd, I say. She refuses to let the world bend her and to change her to what she family wants her to be.

Okami, the Wolf of the Black Clan, creeps up on you. Authors will always grab my attention when they write a tortured, silent, yet argumentative man who likes nothing more than to test the main character. Lord help me if I find this kind of man. I’ll be done for. He moves the story along and adds intrigue to it as well. You get glimpses of Takeda Ranmaru. But what you see interests me. Both men—hell, all these men live by a code—are connected by their father’s past. They have untold stories, and I hope Renée explores them further in the sequel.

Flame in the Mist may be my first story I’ve read from Renée’s repertoire, but I hope to read her previous work and truly hope to read more from her. She has developed a beautiful craft that will take her far. I cannot wait to see what she will do for the sequel!

Review: The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter

Published by: Harlequin

Publication Date: May 3, 2008

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy

Page Count: 379

Rating: 4/5

Source: Gift from Friend

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


All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she’ll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member — a man trapped in a hell of his own.

Neither can resist the instant hunger than calms their torments… and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction — and a soul-shattering test of love…
Though they carry an eternal curse, the Lords of the Underworld are irresistibly seductive — and unimaginably powerful.


“I’ve traveled all over the world for the Institute, but I never dreamed I’d meet someone like you.”

Like my bestie always says, “Sweet Jesus!” If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, Greek mythology, and steamy male characters, this book—hell, this series—is a treat for you.

Ashlyn Darrow struggles with her ability that allows her to hear people’s thoughts, past conversations, and the like. While working for a parapsychology institution that studies supernatural beings, she decides to travel to Budapest so she can seek help from men who not only possess powers of their own but also can help her with hers. They are more than just supernaturals though. These immortal warriors are cursed for their actions they committed long ago. But now someone has decided to take over the gods who damned them.

I haven’t read many Harlequin books. I prefer fantasy over romance. Sure, I’m a fan of fantasy books with some romance elements. So while walking into this series with no great understanding of the romance genre, I wasn’t expecting I’d like it this much. Yes, I admit I like romance. Well, paranormal romance, but you get the gist. My friend Beth recommended the series and bought me the first book of the Lords of the Underworld. She hadn’t known I love Greek mythology. Give me Hades, battles of gods and goddesses, and prophecies any day. And now I’m tempted to just spend all my money to buy the entire series. Thank you Beth and Gena for this addiction, like I haven’t needed another one to add to the ever-growing list.

Yes, this series is almost hitting its tenth anniversary, but I can’t miss up a chance to start reviewing it. Hands down to Gena and her talent to spin a sensual story that hooks you from the beginning. Some writing and repetition could have been tightened up or taken out. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. The characters have strong voices, and the storyline is compelling and intriguing. And their backstory will entice any mythology fanatic. These Lords received a curse since they defied orders by opening Pandora’s box. Each warrior possesses a different demon: Maddox is bonded with Violence, Reyes with Pain, Lucien with Death, Torin with Disease, Paris with Promiscuity, and Aeron with Wrath. Gena weaves together Greek lore and her own story to create a seamless, imaginative, and character-driven plot.

 

“You are mine, woman, and I am yours. Until you, my life was desolate. I existed, but I didn’t truly live. Now I live, even in my death.”

The MC, Ashlyn, instantly connects with Maddox. And clearly you understand why. They act as if they’re mated. Their relationship is steamy and keeps you turning pages. Gena puts in strong character development throughout the story, and I enjoyed this progression. Readers can say their relationship is too exaggerated, but what do you expect from a romance novel? Perhaps it is, but it works because Gena makes it real.

 

“Pin his fucking legs.”
“Can’t. Got his arms.”
“Knock him out, Paris.”
“Sure. Want me to spew diamonds from my ass while I’m at it?”

Besides Maddox, four other characters who stick out are Paris, Reyes, Torin, and Lucien. The banter among the warriors captures my attention, and many times during the night I held back laughs so I wouldn’t wake anyone up. Gena writes their bond and brotherhood so fluidly that I can’t tell The Darkest Night is the first book.

Sometimes a genre you’ve never thought would interest just sneaks up and surprises you. I can’t wait for the next story.

What do you think of paranormal romances? Do they interest you? Let me know in the comments!

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.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon | Book Depository

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!

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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!

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

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!

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


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?

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