Tuesday, February 28, 2017

King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard- 4 Stars

Gosh it was slow.... Good, but also very very very slow.
Glass Sword and King's Cage could have been one book rather than two. A lot of repetition. It dragged on and on and on... 
Red Queen still my favorite book in the series. King's Cage comes close second.

And the ending... ?! soooooo angry!!!!!

Maven was an amazing character.  We learnt a lot more of him in King's Cage. Victoria Aveyard gave us a little pick into his mind. We get moments where we see his fragility, the explanation for his brokenness... He is such a wonderful beautiful character, my favorite for sure. Okay, he is evil and I will not deny that. He is not a good person. But there is a reason for it, and I can't help but love the boy and feel bad for him. Can you imagine someone stripping you of your essence? He is proof monsters are made, one is not born that way. He will never be good, he is darkness itself (not unless someone really powerful fixes years of damage done to his poor brain anyway... And as of now such person does not exist). In a way, I think he deserves more than Mare. And in turn, Mare deserves more than Cal. He is a clever King too.

So... Cal... He is extremely naive. 
I can't really tell exactly what I think of him without giving the ending away. Truly.... I wrote my opinion of him three times now and I always end up saying too much. He is Prince Tiberias the Seventh, an idiot, and I hate him! For a moment, a few chapters, I had hope for him. Obviously that did not last. Go read the book and you will know why.

Mare grows a lot on this book. Really a lot! I am rather impressed with her development. Mare goes through hell and does not let it define her or take her down. Its hard for her, she struggles, but she never gives up. The book spends a whole lot of time exploring her feelings and her development into a heroine worth our time (part of why it gets so boring and repetitive at times, worth it in the end? maybe a little). Mare fights, and she fights with all she is and all she has. She fights with her mind when she cannot fight with her body. She fights with her body when her mind cannot. She fights with her abilities when she finally gets it back. 

The secondary characters are wonderful, we just don't get enough of them. Farley is the strongest woman out there. Kilorn doesn't show up much, but when he does you can't help but feel at home. He gives us the readers the same feeling of unison that he gives the characters in the book. Evangeline is a surprise. A big surprise. Can you believe I am actually looking forward to reading more on her?

Many were heartbroken with the ending. I was just pissed. Real angry. Victoria Aveyard did a great job with that ending. It made up for all the slow motion crap from the beginning of the book. 

I cannot give more than 4 stars for two reason: one, because it was slow. But two, and more important than one, was that Maven disappeared a third into the book. I can't tell you why without giving the story away... it annoyed me though. You can't just disappear with such an important character. She didn't do that to Cal and the others when the focus was on Maven, so why do that when it is the other way around? Frustrating.  

The best lines in the book are all Maven's. Obvs.!
"Love makes you weak. And she is right. I learned that before I even knew you."
"Those who know what is like in the dark will do anythings to stay in the light"
" 'Don't act like we are the same' 'The same? No.' He shakes his head. 'But perhaps...we are even'"?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven- 5 Stars are not enough!


Oh my poor battered soul... this book had me in tears. Real cry out loud tears. 
I was warned by many of my beloved friends on Bookstagram that this was going to happen, but I did not expect it to be that sad and touching. Going in, I had no idea what the book was going to be about. I knew there would be a rather depressed teenage girl, but that was it.  I was not prepared!
The book is often compared with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and I could not think of a better comparison myself. That was another book that made me cry... gosh, when did I became such a crier? I wasn't always like that... I am getting softer as I get older 😂
Here is the synopsis (wiki):

Theodore Finch and Violet Markey are two teenagers that want to escape from their small Indiana town. Violet counts down the days until she can move away and escape the memories of her sister's death, while Theodore struggles with severe mental illness. The suffering pair find their quirky friendship transformed into a poetic and beautiful romance. The two meet by chance on their school's bell tower with suicidal intentions, and it is never clear who saves whom from falling to their death. If this isn't enough to tie the two together, Finch asks Violet to be his partner for a class project to wander Indiana and find tourist attractions throughout their state. The pair explore Indiana and beyond in the months that follow. However, as Violet's world grows, Finch's world begins to shrink.

This beautiful Young Adult Contemporary novel is about two teenagers that are somewhat damaged. They feel isolated and trapped within themselves. 
Violet lost her sister in a car accident and blames herself for it. She is depressed and refuses to deal with it. Classic PTSD.
Finch has serious mental issues and refuses to acknowledge it. The worse part however, is that so does his family. It angered me to no end that his family was not trying to figure out what was wrong with him. But, that is the reality of many teens and adults out there with his kind of illness. We all know someone that thinks bipolar disorder is not real. We all know someone who thinks depression is just an excuse. So although the way his parents/family is portrayed angers me, it does not anger me because Jenifer Niven's writing is not accurate, but because it is. And I, for one, wish people understood those illnesses better. Or at the very least, were more acceptable of it. 
I read a review (not gonna say where to avoid clashing with anyone) that criticized the book heavily on the premises that Finch's relationship with his parents was not realistic. That they would have known something was wrong with him. I thought that review to be ridiculous. They did know something was 'off'' with him. Towards the end they are flat out told something is wrong with him. They chose not to believe it. And liking it or not many do that exact same thing in real life.

So, now that I have ranted about that enough...
The book is about mental illnesses, sure. But it is also more.
It is about being alone, and it is about having a best friend. Or in Finch's case, wanting to have one. One of the most touching parts of the book for me was Finch saying he wished he had a best friend. Someone who knew his soul just as Violet sister's once knew hers. Gosh...I am a wimp... just by writing about it I am getting teary again....

The writing is pure perfection. It alternates between being narrated by Violet and being narrated by Finch. We get a full look into both their minds and are able to connect with both too. They are VERY different characters. Violet is quiet and wrapped up in her own mind. She is trying to discover herself without her sister and struggling to see a point in life without her. Finch has super high energy levels, his mind never stops. But he also has massive lows and finds himself completely crippled by depression.

The relationship between the two is beautiful. Finch saves Violet from herself, brings her back to life... But I am afraid that telling you all more than that would be telling you the whole book. So I will stop here...

If you did love The Fault in Our Stars, go read All The Bright Places
. It is a completely different story but it will touch you just as much. 

Go Read!






Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber- 3 stars

Aren't those covers just stunning?
I am in love with all of them. And the book was good. Not fall out of my chair good, but good!

GoodReads synopsis:
Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world...
Welcome, welcome to caraval -Stephanie Garber's sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett's father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett's long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only. as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval's mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season's Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

The pros:
- the book is action packed. Every new chapter brings on a new adventure, setting or character.
- the book relies heavily on dreamy like descriptions, prose, and a heavy dosage of romance. So if you like that... 😉
- the story flows. It is interesting and it is captivating. The game is not so much a game, it is more like a quest. There are clues to be found along the quest and every clue has a cost. There are also secrets, many many secrets that unfold as the story grows.
The cons:
- the character building is poor. Scarlet's character is built well. You truly get to know her. But the same cannot be said about the other characters. Julian was a main character, we read about him just as much as Scarlett and yet, towards the end, we still know nothing about him.
- ya fantasy is my ultimate favorite genre, and that is what caraval is advertised as. But in all honesty it is much more a somewhat twisted romance book than anything else.
- it reminded me of the Night Circus, and if you read my review on that book you know I am not impressed with authors that do focus more on world imagery than character and story building. That being said, Caraval did a much better job on building its story than The night circus did.

I really don't know what else to say. I haven't struggled to write a review in a long time. The book was entertaining enough, I enjoyed the pace and I enjoyed the story. But when I was done I put the book aside and was immediately ready for another. It is forgetful. It did not live an impression.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Red Queen and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard: 5 and 3 stars respectively







I was not planning on writing a review on Red Queen until after I read Kings Cage (currently stuck on UPS making its way to me). But... the contrast between the first and second book gave me pause and perhaps it is best they all receive separate reviews (well, sort of... I will add a few lines on the catastrophic Glass Sword towards the end of this post).



Before getting to the review, have a look at the book synopsis by GoodReads:






"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."




Red Queen is a well thought and well written medieval YA fantasy (I say medieval...but it has trains...!!hehe)
The plot twists and betrayals throw you off balance and make you more and more mesmerized by the book.
Mare, the main character, is a brave -and reckless- heroin. She wants the best for her people, the reds, but her recklessness and all the betrayals that take place in the book set things on the wrong path more often than not. 
Without giving away much, my new favorite YA character is Maven! He reminds me so much of my other 'book boyfriend': The Darkling! I Love Love Love him and cannot wait to read Kings Cage, were apparently there is a lot more of him!
Maven and Cal are brothers, princes. Both fall in love with Mare and have a somewhat complicated relationship with her in Red Queen as well as Glass Sword. 
Cal is the one to inherit the throne. He is made for battle. Knows the ins and outs of war better than anyone and cares little for the Reds.
Maven is the second in line, he is the Queen and Kings son. Cal's mother was the previous queen, now dead. He is an interesting character. I much prefer him to both Cal and Mare. There is a lot on that head of his that you don't find out until the end of the book. Some more that you don't find out until Glass Sword, and I preview even more on Kings Cage. He is a character with depth, and I rather like that.
Cal is just your average soldier, that also happens to be prince. He is arrogant and although he has a good heart his tendency to please his father lands him at odds with the reality of the world. His character is what I would call an 'open book'. What you see is what you get.

There is a bunch of interesting secondary characters. All with different alliances and motives for doing the things they do. 

The book can be best summarized in one single quote: "anyone can betray anyone"

As for Glass Sword... it was not at bad book necessarily, there was plenty of greatness in it! But it was rather boring and slow. The book could have been half its size. It would quite possibly have been a lot better had it been shorter. 
I felt like I read the exact same things about 10 times over. 


Frost Blood by Elly Blake- 4.75 stars


I got this wonderful book last month as part of my monthly subscription to UpperCase.
The story is not overly complicated, it is rather simple and straight forward. But in a 'heart warming' kind of way. I did not jump out of my sofa with excitement, but I did grow to love the characters nonetheless.
I really really liked it!

Here is a quick description of the book by GoodReads:
"Seventten-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help tp overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating -yet irresistible- Marcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action.."(I believe that the rest of the description gives away too much of the book. You know where to find it if you want to read it all!)

Here are the reasons I loved the book so you will be, hopefully, enticed to read it too! Trust me, you want to 😄
- It has humor! I love a little sass from both male and female characters, and there is a healthy amount of it in Frostblood. It made the reading a little fun (refer to the excerpt in the end of this post for a little preview).
- It is a fast paced book. If you have been following me for a while on instagram (or here) you know that I like that about books. There is always something happening. Its packed with action!
- Magic! I am a fantasy lover, the supernatural magical elements made me very happy.There is an explanation behind every power used by the characters. Elly Blake made sure to give the reader a story that is well explained and well understood. Nothing happens 'just because'. The magic has purpose and the main story has a strong and well written background.
- Real issues: the book deals a good amount with how we perceive others. How we assume someone to be a certain way before actually knowing them. I really enjoyed that and found that rather relevant to the world we live in today.
- Strong heroin as well as a strong male character: Have you notice how almost all fantasy books lately have strong heroins and males that are broody but not necessarily special on their own? As in, if they were never mentioned in the book, there would be no romance but the remainder of the story wouldn't have to change at all? I love Throne of Glass, one of my favorites, but even there...if Rowan didn't exist there would be no romance, but Aelin would still be a bad ass heroin. He is an amazing character, but the story does not rely on him.
I like that in Frostblood the male character, Arcus, is an important character. One that the book cannot be without. You may guess why half way through the book, but you wont know for sure until closer to the end. Her victory is not possible without him, without his help. Not even her powerful magic is possible to control without him, she would be lost without Arcus! He is a hero just as much as she is a heroin in this story.

Comparison: if you are looking for a comparison think Red Queen (not its second book please, only the first. In my humble opinion Glass Sword was rather disappointing).

There is only one reason for it not to be a 5 stars book for me: I LOVED the direction the ending was taking. And then.... she is branded (for the true meaning of that you will have to read the book to find out). My point is, the book could have ended. It was a perfect stand alone. Had it ended it would have been one of those imperfect endings that are perfect for that very reason. The main characters would still be hurting, still finding their feet... and that would be ok for that is how real life is. To be perfectly honest, even with the ending as it is I think it is somewhat ok.
Also, Fireblood synopsis hints at a love triangle, I am dreading it... Arcus and Ruby are not perfect, but they are perfect for each other. No need to introduce another male dear author! hehe
Rant over.


Go Read!


A little funny and sweet excerpt for you all:

"How did you find me?"

He unclenched his jaw to answer. " When Wheatgerm returned to the stables, I followed her tracks until they disappeared. And then I heard someone bellowing nonsense, and I knew it must be you."

"Who the blazes is Wheatgerm?"

"The horse you stole from the abbey," he said as if talking to a simpleton.

"You mean Butter. And I didn't steal her. I borrowed her. I take it she's safe?"

"Cold and tired, but safe in the stables eating like she's half starved. Which she probably is, thanks to you. And her name isn't Butter."

"It is now."

"She's not yours to name."

"She's mine in spirit now that we've had an adventure together. And her name suits her. She's soft and yellow, like butter."

He made a disgusted sound. "If we all had names to suit us, you'd be called Thorn in My Backside. Or Plague of the Gods."

I prickled at his scathing tone. "And you'd be Miserable Blockhead."

"Is that the best you could do?"

"Give me time. I'm half frozen."
 






Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Vampire Girl Series by Karpov Kinrade - 5 Stars

Moonlight Prince- Book 4 in The Vampire Girl Series
I discovered this series not long after the first book came out and I have been hooked by it ever since. Not just by this series, but by everything these two amazing writers release, I have read almost everything they have written. The talent they have is immeasurable.

This series is about a girl called Arianna Spero. Well, it is about her to start with anyway, it becomes much more than that as the series progresses. So much so that by the end of the second book I was more interested in the princes of hell than on her.
Back to the point though: Arianna... her mother made a deal with the devil when Arianna was younger and when she turned 18 one of the princes of hell comes to collect payment. There is however a way to save her mother, there is something the princes of hell want more: HER.
She signs a blood oath. From that moment onward she has to spend one month with each of the princes and at the end choose one to marry. Become a vampire like them, and give them an heir. In other words, become a princess of hell herself. The princes of hell are a reminder of the seven deadly sins. You have the prince of lust, prince of  envy... you get the idea!

Silver Flame- Book 3 in The Vampire Girl Series
The story is unpredictable. There are so many twists and turns and you will fail to ever see whats going to happen next. I love that in a book!

Arianna is a strong heroin and grows immensely through out the series. She shows strength at every obstacle, even when in fear. She is feisty and  at times temperamental, but also nurturing and caring. And most important of all, she never loses hope!

The first prince we meet is Asher, the Prince of Pride. He is arrogant and full of himself, as you would expect from a prince of pride I suppose. But he grows on you, and a Lot. For great part of the series I wanted her to choose him, then I wanted her to choose Dean, the Prince of Lust. He stole my heart and is my favorite of all princes...then  there is Fen, the Prince of War. Arianna and him go through a lot together through out the books and neither of them is exactly what and who they appear to be. Secrets come out about Fen all the way till the very last pages of the last book and they are all things you did not expect. It is fascinating.
Moonlight Star- Book 2 in the Vampire Girl Series
All princes, even the really bad ones are lovable. Ace...oh... my heart broke for him. I cannot blame him for his choices... There is also one in particular you will want to hate, and you will, specially on book 3. But on the last book you will learn why he is the way he is. He is still an ass, but I dare you to still hate him.
You would think being taken to hell and being forced to marry a vampire would make it for a miserable life. But Arianna finds out pretty quickly that the princes are 1- hot as hell 😊, 2- are not all villains, 3- have secrets about themselves and about her.
You see, she is not just a human! I won't tell you more than that, I don't want to spoil the book for you. Just trust me when I say there is more magic and adventure in this series than you would expect. There is nothing cliche or predictable about it!

Oh, lets not forget the magical creatures! Fierce and adorable! I need a Yami and a Baron in my life!

And the ending... what a perfect ending!! I am so impressed! Karpov Kinrade did an amazing job with it.
Vampire Girl- Book 1
I cried with Dean of-course. Him being my favorite and all. It was so sweet.
But my favorite thing about the ending is how the authors brought back characters that were important at one point or other during the series and then not seen again afterwards. It was such a clever and thoughtful idea. Truly perfect!

Go Read!







Guest Reviewer: Maria from @parisian_bookshelf with Our Dark Duet by V Schwab

Screenshot of one of our lovely guest's Instagram pics Hello Sunnies 😎 It is Sunday! So it is time to introduce you all to anot...