Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly even hosted by Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

This week's book is:

The Star-Touched Queen
By Roshani Chokshi

Publication date: April 26th


Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets - thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran's magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar's plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk - it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

Inspired by Indian mythology.

Why am I anticipating this book?

I love fantasy, and a story inspired in Indian mythology sounds amazing! I'm super curious to see why she's cursed and how it'll work into the story. Plus THAT COVER IS GORGEOUS, I'm a huge cover-lover, and if it has stars and the color purple, I'm in!

What books are you anticipating?

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I had heard about the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu for quite some time now, but I hadn’t really thought of giving it a chance until the other day when I was bored and had nothing else to do.

You should know that some of my best book discoveries, (and my worst experiences let’s be honest) have happened when I was too bored and didn’t have anything else to read… I know I’m making it sound like this book sucked, it didn’t, really, but it also had a lot of the things that reminded me why I hadn’t tried a dystopia in a while.

June is a prodigy, at the age of ten she became the only one in history to get a perfect score in the Trials, the mandatory test that all people from the Republic have to take and that determine their future. Day is an outcast, because he failed his Trial the Republic tried to kill him and now he’s the most-wanted fugitive. These two complete opposite worlds collide when Day is accused of killing June’s brother, Metias, but when she goes undercover and finds Day she’ll discover that there are secrets regarding the Republic that could change everything she knows... you know, the typical dystopia with the evul government, etc.

I liked June, despite her being so borderline super-powerful by being perfect at the age of fifteen. She was capable and logical… until she fell in love with Day after knowing him for a few days… but I’ll get into that later. Her relationship with her brother was the one I liked the most though, and I was sad it was over so soon.

Day… well it’s kind of tricky really, because his voice was exactly the same as June, so much so that I sometimes had problems remembering whose chapter I was reading. And yet… I didn’t like him as a love interest for June. Maybe it was because he was too similar to her? I don’t know, but there was something about the guy that didn’t sit right with me.

The story is fast-paced and entertaining, it easily grabs you and makes you want to read until the end (I finished this book in a day). But it’s also a bit empty, we know nothing about the world except that there is the Republic, the evil government to defeat, that is at war with the Colonies… and pretty much nothing else. I was sad this was all we got to see, there was no world-building, but rather things were simply “because”.

I had problems with how young the characters were, I mean, they were fifteen-freaking-years old!
Nolan GouldAmandla Stenberg

This is how a fifteen year old looks like. Really??? This is the most wanted fugitive and most promised officer, they are babies! I couldn’t take the novel serious after learning how young they were.

Nevertheless and despite the clichés and predictabilities, Marie Lu does manage to create an entertaining story that keeps the pages turning. I don’t feel very compelled to pick up the sequel though, but I’ll try to finish the trilogy nevertheless to see how it goes.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.

Rating: 1/5 Stars

“So much life had been snuffed out while I slept without dreaming. While a stranger died beside me. So much death and destruction.

All because of me.”

This is our main character, Sonya, she’s an Auraseer which means she can feel what other people around her feel. For some reason, that makes her a bloody idiot.

 It’s winter and people are starving, but the place where Sonya and other Auraseers live is well kept thanks to the food and money granted by the King to keep his assets well maintained. So, when an angry mob of starving villagers come at the door of their house to demand food (And let’s face it, they don’t care whether that food is a girl or grain) Sonya will do the stupidest thing ever and let herself be control by the hunger of the villagers, lock up all Auraseers in a tower and open the gate so they can kill and eat all of the girls inside. Of course, Sonya doesn’t see it that way. I mean, she was being nice! And the others Auraseers were, like, such assholes! Always wanting her to train to control her emotions! And even though it is her lack of discipline that gets them all killed, they made our main character feel bad, so why shouldn’t she take pleasure in their panic?

 "Cries rang out from the other side as the girls rammed their fists against the barricade. I smiled. They deserved to panic for all the spitefulness they’d doled on me.”

 Oh, but that’s not all! Because the girls are not eaten by an angry mob! Nope! The villagers leave before she gets to the gate because they are chased out by a pack of hungry wolves. So what does Sonya do? She tries to get the wolves inside the house and eat all the girls!!!! They are hungry, after all! But… no, the wolves leave after the villagers and Sonya is devastated that she couldn’t help them.

Wait a minute! What’s that thing moving in the shadows? Oh, it’s a crazy man! Of course Sonya lets him inside the house! And once again she’ll let herself by controlled by emotions, try to warm up the starving man… and accidentally set him on fire.

 I kid you not, she actually sets him on fire. And in his panic to escape this bloody idiot save himself, he runs away and sets the entire house on fire, killing all the poor Auraseers Sonya had trapped inside.

 I could continue describing more scenes where Sonya stupidly puts herself, and the Kingdom in danger, but I’d like to preserve what little brain cells I have left. Besides the complete and utter idiocy of this main character, there is virtually no plot. As the last Auraseer alive, Sonya has to go and serve the brooding, ill-tempered and handsome King whom she’ll develop feelings for. But wait! There is also his brother, the handsome, ill-tempered and brooding Prince!... or was it the other way around? Meh, who cares? They are both the same and just as boring as the love triangle the book takes as its main plot.

 Before it was published, I was dying to get my hands on this book. But when reviews started to come saying it might not be all that I had expected, I decided to wait until today I finally started it. Needless to say it was a great disappointment. I recommend it to people who don’t mind dumb heroines who have no agency, and an annoying love triangle.


Friday, March 25, 2016

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

“I had been careless with my life, I knew I was, but if I died tonight, I was going to be furious.”

I went into A Study in Charlotte looking to find an interesting mystery story as well as witty and entertaining characters, and… it was fulfilled, in some ways, but it also left a lot to be desired.

I’ve read a few Sherlock Holmes books for school, and although I can’t say I’m a fan of them (for some reason I find both Sherlock and Watson too annoying in their own ways) I do love most of the adaptations, from the movies with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, to BBC’s Sherlock and the American, Elemental (although I’ve heard not many people are fans of the later?). So I thought, maybe A Study in Charlotte would be like the adaptations and I’d end up loving it. Sadly, that didn’t happen and I was left a little disappointed. The mystery was predictable, and oddly put together. I felt like the author was trying to balance the main plot, which was the characters being framed for murder, with the building romance between Watson and Holmes but without fulling committing to one or the other. Simply put, it was a mess.

 I’ll admit I had been curious to see how Holmes would fare as a girl, and I had expected it would be like in Elemental with Watson, with both of them becoming friends and partners, helping each other grow not only in knowledge but in human relationships and without romance. That was not the case here, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. Mostly because Watson shows an unnatural and frankly, a little creepy obsession with Holmes, but also because I feel like the writer made Holmes a girl so there could be romance between her and Watson and, honestly I don’t understand why he couldn’t have stayed a boy. Or both being girls! Actually the whole book would have been much better if the story was narrated by Holmes’ roommate, Lena as her Watson. Lena was, unlike Jamie, a much more interesting character in the few scenes that we see her in, and she would actually add something to Holmes’ characterization.

 As for the characters, I found Holmes too similar to the original one, with a few cute moments here and there. I wish we could have seen more of that, but the story was narrated by Watson and most of what we got from him were wonderings on whether he wanted to kiss Holmes or if he was attracted to her. Sigh.

 Now, this is something that bothered me and that I feel the need to point out but I haven’t seen it in many reviews so, perhaps it was just my problem? Anyways, I still suggest you try the story for yourselves and see, but what disturbed me was to see how rape was handled here.

 We know that both Holmes and Watson are being framed for the murder of a guy named Dobson, a boy in campus that was obsessed with Holmes and who Watson beat when he said he had slept with her. Now, the reason why most people would believe Holmes could have killed him is because Dobson raped her when she was too high on oxycodone. Because she had been sent abroad for her addiction, Holmes knew that if she confessed to the rape, the authorities would also know that it happened while she was under the use of drugs and she would be expelled, leaving her family to feel sorry for herself, so she kept quiet.

Now, rape is a very serious subject and the way it was presented here could have been very powerful. A brilliant mind with a dependence to narcotics is raped and refuses to ask for help or even take matters into her own hands and punish him, vigilante-way, because she has already been a disappointment to her family for so long, she didn’t want to add another disgrace. Do you see how wrong this all is? And yet, when we learn about it, do we see Holmes coming to terms with the school, students and her family knowing about it? Do we see the stigma she has to carry because people think it’s her fault and that she “deserves” it?

No, we don’t. All we see is how upset Watson is that Dobson raped her, and how, by behaving like any normal human being would and show sympathy, he is somehow labeled as a great guy, because he didn’t blame Holmes for being raped. If that’s all it takes to be labeled a hero, our standards are pretty fucking low.

What bothers me is, it would make sense for Holmes in all her rationality to try not to process an emotional response. Combine that horrible trauma with a brain prone to logic and reason, and you could see why she would try to look at it “objectively” and not react emotionally. But we never see this conflict, Holmes is never given a chance by the author to ponder on her assault, instead all we see is how she being raped affects Watson. Because when a woman is brutally attacked, it’s all about how the guy with the creepy crush feels about it?

 I didn’t like how it was handled, not one bit. I kept hoping it would come up, but in the end the sexual assault was used as a way to put conflict between Holmes and Watson and why they can’t be together.

 In the end, A Study in Charlotte showed a lot of promise, but the romance took over the mystery part, and the way rape was handled was very insulting. I recommend it for fans of the genre, but I’m not sure of how fans of this pair will react to it.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside's shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

"But he [Monty] suspected the thing most of them would share when they returned to their home territories was the story of the exploding fluffballs who used nothing but a teakettle and broom to save a Wolf from an evil human."

After a few good days of procrastinating writing this review, I’ve finally decided to sit my ass down and do it!

 The thing is… I don’t know what to say?? I know, it’s not exactly common to see a book reviewer not knowing what to say about a book, but that’s me! Sometimes I go into weird review-writing-blocks and I have absolutely no ideas or words to share my thoughts on a story. Combine that with my hardship in writing about books I really like and you’ve got yourself a very traumatized reviewer who may or may not start to panic when she sees all the posts she has to make.

Nevertheless, I figured it was about damn time I started to write this, and better to have a crappy review like my usual sort than have none at all!

 I wasn’t sure when I was going to pick up the second book. I had it, but I always like to give myself some time between reading a book and the next of a series. It just helps me set my thoughts properly, and after a few weeks or even months, I have a clearer perspective. However, I was tempted, and I told myself “oh, I just read a few sentences and see how it starts!” next thing I know, I’m on the thirty percent mark with no idea on how time flew by so fast so, kudos to the book for being so engrossing.

 Murder of Crows picks up roughly where Written in Red left us, with Meg safe though still being hunted by her Controller, and with the drugs Gone Over Wolf and Feel Good still causing hardships all through Thaisia. Now Simon Wolfgard is sure that both drugs are coming from Cassandra Sangue, and when Meg has a prophetic dream of Crows being murdered, it’s clear that someone is preparing a systematic attack on the Others.

 I liked how smoothly things carried to this second book, the characters were the same though you could still see how they have developed from the first book. Meg is still sweet and caring, but not at all helpless and lost. She carries herself with a confidence she didn’t have before and it was nice to see her interact not only with the Others in the Compound but also with her sort of “human pack”. If there is something that I love about Meg is how fiercely she cares and defends her friends but without going to the point of becoming a martyr. Her friendship with Mary Lee was more explored now, and I liked it.

 The pace was similar to the first book; not much happens but you can see it’s all building up to something that will explode at the end. I was ok with that, especially when it was clear that the author could write scenes of the Others doing normal things like watching moves or cooking and I was still glued to the pages in anticipation of what was to come. However, I couldn’t enjoy Murder of Crows as much as I could have, and I think that was because it spends a good deal talking about the drugs or Cassandra Sangue without really touching the subject, and that leaves the rest of the characters including Meg and Simon, to have shallow chapters where not much is going on. It was as if the book tried to do a lot at once and ended up a bit empty.

 Another issue I have, and that it has been bugging me since book one, is how one-dimensional the villains are. We’ve got the Controller, who puts a girl alive through a mean-grinder to produce a killing drug; you have all the owners of Cassandra Sangue using and raping girls without a hint of remorse or care. It was as if the author wanted them to be as evil as possible but without giving them depth. I didn’t like how sexual assault was used as a way to show how horrible the girls were treated, but not as something to be discussed about; we never see the subject being approached properly, it was simply “they were raped” and that was it, it was an afterthought that, apparently, wasn’t important enough to be expanded. I disagree, and I kept hoping the author would bring it up, make something good out of it, but rape was simply used as a plot device.

 The rest of the characters were alright, I loved how we could finally see more on Jean! Meg’s friend, and the Intuits were interesting too. The chapters from Vlad’s perspective showed a lot of growth too, through him you could see how much the Other’s perception of humans have changed thanks to Meg and the opportunity of getting to know them better. But, as I said before, there was a lack of depth in the main character’s chapters as well as VIRTUALLY NO SAM! Unacceptable.

 Overall, Murder of Crows was a compelling sequel to Written in Red, although it tries to reach too many subjects at once and ends up rather shallow.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Blood Princess by Rebecca Piercey

Laura struggles to find the truth behind the rebellion that threatens her family’s rule as she fights to protect her country from a war that could destroy it.

Seventeen-year-old Laura White, princess of Karkonia, has been ordered to murder her older sister, Alicia.

The job should be easy enough. Laura hates Alicia for betraying their family and joining a rebellion set on usurping their father, the Emperor. Besides, Laura’s been killing at her father’s command since she was eleven.

But before Laura gets the chance to end her sister’s life, she is dragged into the mess of the rebellion by her bodyguard, Shane Kagae. As Laura and Shane uncover secrets that her father has been keeping for years, they realize that Alicia and the rebels may have been right about the Emperor all along. When their disloyalty comes to light, Laura is forced to choose between saving Shane’s life and remaining loyal to her father. She chooses Shane, and they flee the palace, Laura’s heart breaking with every step.

Will she return to her father’s side to lead the war or give up her crown forever to help the rebellion?

Reader Advisory: This book contains some scenes of violence.

General Release Date: 22nd March 2016

Publishers Note: This title will be available to purchase and download from Finch Books from the 26th January 2016

Rating: 2/5 Stars

I was kindly provided with a copy of this book through the publisher, Finch Books, in exchange for an honest review.

Blood Princess is the story of Laura, heir to the Kingdom of Karkonia and the Emperor’s trained assassin who is tasked to kill her deserting sister for joining the rebellion against their father. But when she’s dragged next to the rebels thanks to her bodyguard, Laura will discover not everything is what it seems.

 This story had a lot of potential, you had a cold-blooded princess, her sister a traitor, a kingdom at war, conspiracies and betrayal. It sounds cool, doesn’t it? But the book needed to be developed more for it to reach its full potential.
Everything in the story seemed rushed, from the writing, to the plot and that made it look sloppy and unpolished. It was as if the author wanted to get everything out of the way so she could begin the main plot and the romance, leaving things like world, characters and such very underdeveloped.

One example would be the dialogue; rushed in spite of its importance:

 Laura, no. Please don’t hurt me. Please. I’m your sister. Please. We’re family,’ she cries.”

 Many things in the book were not thought through. What is the world like? I was confused during the entire time to understand whether it was dystopian or fantasy. On the one hand there were things like guns and television, on the other what little structure of the world and society I could see reminded me of feudal times. In the end it was both and neither, similar to Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, the world is a sort of future with televisions, radios and great technology but retaining the nobility concepts of the renaissance.

We saw little of the world, even though as the story was focused on a war for power and domination it should have been one of the main focuses of the story.

 The characters were pretty one-dimensional and forgettable. As an assassin, I was expecting something else but she was the classical “moody-yet-useless” girl who threatened people with killing them but didn’t do much about it. The problem with hr wasn’t that she was not ruthless, but that she was dumb. Laura is constantly trusting people she shouldn’t and antagonizing those who want to help her simply to throw some spunky comments that are supposed to make her look “badass”.

 The love interest was the same. Thanks to his mother he owes a depth to the rebels so he’s tasked with infiltrating the castle and become the heir Princess’ new bodyguard in order to keep his sister safe. The guy was not bright, he was a terrible liar, and yet he was supposed to be spying on one of the most ruthless and cunning people in the entire Kingdom? Plus, the guy didn’t even make an effort! He spent his time antagonizing the Princess and doing things that were the equivalent of painting the words “TRAITOR” in his forehead while jumping up and down pointing at himself. He doesn’t even know who the prince is, or what his name is even though he’s a very public figure.

 “’Eight… That’s the prince, right?’ Shane asks.”

 Overall, a great concept with a lackluster execution.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

“There would be a spike in the number of girls who went out for a walk in the woods and were never heard from again. There always were when stories came out portraying the terra indigene as furry humans who just wanted to be loved.

Most of the terra indigene didn't want to love humans; they wanted to eat them. Why did humans have such a hard time understanding that?”

Buddy read with the super awesome Rebeca!!!!

First, I would like to have a moment of silence for the last couple of days that I spent without reading, Goodreading, Tumblring, etc because I had to spend sleepless nights preparing for finals. Now I’m finally ready to regain my normal life of reading, because those horrid days are in HELL WHERE THEY BELONG. DIE! DIEEEE!!
Ehem… on to the review.

Written in Red was a book I had been looking forward to reading for a while, it had an interesting premise and raving reviews. But it was in fact Simona’s recommendation that sold me into reading it. However, as it is usual, I was afraid I would be my typical black sheep-self and end up disliking it. I was terrified, all of my friends who had read it loved it, and when it comes to books like that I always have to be the party blower and be bored (gosh, I’m such a fun person am I not??). Thank God for Rebeca, who wanted to read this book as well, and put up with all of my shortcomings when I tried to combine reading, writing messages and preparing for finals (an explosive combination) her opinions and ideas made this book for me!

First, something I was surprised about and feel the need to talk about, was realizing that Written in Red is NOT a Young Adult book, but rather a NA. As Rebeca pointed out, it was probably because so many Young Adult reviewers had read it that I hadn’t thought twice about it, and thank Goodness for that because I have my own problematic history with those books, and I might not have read it had I known it belonged to that genre.

Written in Red starts with a runaway and a very cold night; Meg is a Cassandra Sangue, a girl who has prophecies when her skin is cut, and she is running from the people who kept her captive and used her skin for lucrative business. Caught up in the middle of a storm, Meg finds a bookshop ran by Others, shape-shifters who control humans, and get a job there that will keep her safe from the people who are after her… at least that’s the idea.

I love the world this author has created, especially the Others. When it comes to NA, whenever you have supernatural creatures who transform into wolves (like in Simon’s case, Meg’s employer) or other animals, they tend to be reclusive and distant, but more human than anything else, wanting to “be loved” and all that crap (sorry, I can only read one too many books like that). But that’s not the case here at all, the Others have a very animalistic mentality, they run on their most basic instincts, which is why taking a human skin and interacting with them is something they are not entirely fond of.
It was fun to see how they all, even in human form, took characteristics from the animals they shifted into; from the crows who loved shinny and colorful things, to the wolves who liked to play rope and chasing toys.

This book is not, however, extent from typical NA clichés. We’ve got the naïve girl everybody loves, the “controlling” love interest, the mean hot girl… but that’s where the similarities end, and all of those aspects are dealt with in a quite original way that I can’t really complain about them.

Meg is our main character. Because she lived in a compound with other Cassandra Sangue being used for her skin, her controllers only taught her basic things; things she would need to interpret her visions but not enough for her to be able to survive on her own outside of the compound. As such, when she escapes it’s the first time she experiences cold, the first time she sees snow, and as she tries to live in the Other’s community, it’s clear that her knowledge is pretty basic.

Because of this, the beginning of the story can be slow; Meg has to adjust to life on the outside, trying to hide from the people who want to take her back and punish her for escaping, and trying to balance her visions and need to cut. Another reason why Cassandra Sangue are kept so isolated is because they cutting produces an euphoria similar to sexual pleasure. By being kept secluded and without experiencing emotions, the girls crave the cut and that makes them more docile, more desperate to cooperate because that’s the only time they feel something. When Meg leaves she’s not sure whether she can live without cutting, because she has always been taught she needs to be in that place with experts to remain alive, so it was an interesting experience to see her trying to cope with being outside and having new friends.

Perhaps a thing that did bother me was how much people liked her. Others are supposed to be mean and not care about humans, but the second Meg shows everybody goes crazy “HEY GIRL WANNA BE FRIENDS??! DON’T CRY, I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING SHINNY AND YOU’LL BE ALRIGHT.” Like, that’s alright and good but where are the prejudices? Only very few treat Meg like they would do any other regular human, but they soon learned they were wrong and start to respect her. It just seemed too easy.

Simon Wofgard is the leader of the place and one of my favorite characters. It’s weird, at first I wasn’t very much fond of him, he looked impulsive, cold and indifferent but then I started to like his attitude. He was a leader after all, and he was also pretty much the only one who acted like the Others were supposed to, with not a lot of interest in humans.
His relationship with Meg was both interesting and cute, especially because there was no lust or romance (ok, maybe the beginning of it but nothing too heavy). In a typical NA book, the guy would have had like seventeen boners by the middle of the story, that wasn’t the case here. In fact, as I thought back on it, it was amazing how there was no lust or obsessive attraction. When Meg thinks about Simon she first does it as a boss, and then as a friend, she never thinks that he is super-hot and get all awkward and blushing around him. It was cute when she saw him in his Wolf form and thought “SO FLUFFY AND ADORABLE!!!!! But.. umm, also Simon.”

And Simon starts to appreciate her for who she is, he enjoys her company and what she does for his nephew Sam. It was a relationship based on thrust and respect, and I loved that.

As I said before, the pace was a bit strange; it was slow a first and then sped up a lot at the end… but I was weirdly hooked during the entire read! Seriously, even when it was Meg sorting through mails I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it, I just had to keep reading!

To sum up, Written in Red is a wonderful New Adult book who takes the clichés of the genre and spins them around into something refreshing. Ideal for people who like slow-burn romances, compelling relationships and characters as well as a fantastic plot.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—andwhat she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Rating: 5/5 Stars

“We can’t expect the world to be better than we make it.”

I always seem to find it incredibly hard to talk about books I like. Stories that bored me, enraged me, or did something in between those lines are a lot easier for me to find things to discuss. But what can I say when I did liked it? Or loved it? For some reason I can never find the right words because I know that what I liked was personal, saying it out loud somehow feels as if I were trying to convince people to love it the same way I do (Yes Yes Yes I know I’m not right in the head).

It’s silly really, I’m a reviewer I should tell people when I like a book, right? And yet… when I don’t like them I enjoy writing long rants that are mostly a way for me to just let everything out of my system and not really believing people will read my review or take it seriously. But if I were to say why I did love a story… well that’s another thing altogether, because I know that what I see in it it’s not the same that other people do, and that not everybody is going to love it as I did. I guess I fear people won’t see the exact same as I do and be disappointed?

I honestly don’t know, if I did I probably would have fixed it by now or… learned how to fake it, or something. I’m rambling. What matters is, I loved Days of Blood and Starlight but can’t tell you whether you’ll love it too, or hate it, or something in between.

For me, the essence of this book is the quote above; in a world plague by war and desolation, do you follow the same path as before or worse, or dare to dream of a better world and make it so? It’s about choices and the lack of them. How can you forgive the enemy when it has taken everything from you? How can you be forgiven when you take in kind?

The end of this book gives a little hope and takes some too. It’ll be up to the third to decide how it ends, but regardless I’m pretty sure it’ll be fantastic and heartbreaking as fuck.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Mass

She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king's assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Timesbestselling Crown of Midnight.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

So, you guys remember when I said I would drink every time someone said how amazing Celaena was?...


Yeah… that didn’t work out as I hoped it would.

Although, when you think about it, a near alcoholic coma is totally worth it when it saves you from reading another passage of OCC madness and angst. Who says I lost?!

Alright just so we are clear, this review is going to be full of spoilers for all three books as well as some swearing… and not to mention it’ll be a ranting mess. Proceed at your own risk. I mean I’m not drunk, but who knows?

You idiotic fool, you should have learned by now:

In the last book, Crown of Midnight, the story ended with Celaena being shipped off to another country and away from the love triangle of hell that for some inexplicable reason, the author had decided it should be the main focus. I can’t understand that process of thinking like:

Voice 1: “I can see the story now, Epic fantasy, assassins, demons, fighting for survival in a brutal competition…”

Voice 2: “Nah, white girl, has magic!! is pretty!!, prince likes her for no reason!!! But… his best friend too????! And she’s an untrained selfish asshole, so baddassssss!!!!”

Voice 1:  *Punches Voice 2 in the face*

Whoever let Voice 2 get away with his was an asshole. Granted, the first two books had left a lot to be desired but I thought that once removed the triangle from the equation things would pick up.

I was wrong.

My God, Heir of Fire was so fricken boring! It was four-hundred pages of build up to a sort of meh finale that didn’t pay off in the slightest.
 Am I supposed to be exhilarated at the idea that Celaena has finally decided to put on her big-girl pants and stop dancing and flirting while people are being tortured, raped, enslaved and murdered? Am I supposed to worship the floor Aelin steps on because she finally decided she cares… kinda??!

Seriously, this series’ bar is really, really low.

The ecologic message, or how to read the same story three times and call it three different books:

If there is something that surprises me about this series is the lack of originality. Honestly, it’s been three books and the author keeps using the same repeated elements of her previous books (as well as those from different series). Take Rowan, for instance, I was really looking forward to meeting him because he seemed to be about everybody’s favorite character, and… I mean he wasn’t terrible per se, but he wasn’t great either. It was in fact Jaz who pointed out that Rowan was like Chaol but in fae version, like Chaol 2.0 (doesn’t have robot laser eyes, unfortunately). RowanxCelaena went pretty much through the same path that Chaolena (I’m not gonna write their long-ass names twice):
Someone royal asks to take her somewhere.
They travel through the woods.
Mentions of magical creatures lurking around.
Guy can’t stand Celaena.
They train together.
Start talking about their families and bond. Romance ensues.

Same happened with Sorscha, she was the Nehemia to Dorian’s Celaena… or whatever. Basically she was the super capable and promising POC girl who was killed to make the white people feel sad.

And then there is the monster. Why must there always be a mystery monster which’s true nature will be revealed at the very last second in a super anti-climatic way? To be fair, the demons were the most interest part of Celaena’s chapters… which goes on to show how fricken boring those chapters were.

How to open a Wyrdgate to our Universe and hire Annalise Keating:

Rowan, the semi-cousin whose blood relationship to Aelin will be forgotten for the sake of romance, was a bit of a disappointment as a character. I had read some mixed opinions on the guy, some loved him, others thought he was too mean. To be fair though, the guy was mean, but can you imagine being in his shoes?
Just put yourself in his place, you are a hundred years old warrior who has gone through some really shitty things. You lost the love of your life (only apparently in Fae form that’s like two soul-mates worth or whatever), you fought in thousands of wars, got yourself enslaved to a maniac, done horrible things to her because you have lost your free will, and suddenly she comes to you asking you to babysit your little cousin, an eighteen year old angsty teen with a sharp tongue and a coward’s heart, who instead of helping people, she lets them be killed and enslaved while she screams at you THIS IS NOT FAIR over and over again in a temper-tantrum.

Let’s be real, we could ended this plot (and Rowan’s misery) real quick if somebody had shown him HTGAWM. That way he can fake an “accident” and he can go back to Maeve all sad like “Sorry My Queen, Aelin tripped on my knife seventeen times” and sure, Maeve could force him to say the truth, but we all know the guy made her a favor.

I could really sympathize with Rowan, that was at least until he saw Celaena’s scars and began to fall for her. I just don’t get what Mass has with those scars down her back, surely her time as a slave didn’t teach Celaena anything, and Rowan himself says he seen far, far worse, but seeing those scars (who can btw be concealed by lace, just how deep are those things really? Because they seem to change sizes regarding the occasion.) make Rowan suddenly grow a conscience and he turns into this super possessive dude who makes her sleep in his bed and shit. If I was supposed to find it cute, I missed it.

A poorly written version of “Chronicle of an announced death” or why you don’t want to be a POC woman on this series.

Sorscha was a character we all felt for when she was first introduced in Heir of Fire, and that was because we all suspected, the second she and Dorian became a couple, that the poor girl was going to die. Add that to her being a POC and you knew for sure that girl was toast.

I’m serious, you DO NOT want to be a POC in this world, and especially a woman. I’m not even sure if we have met “significant” male POCs here? I’m guessing Mass doesn’t want to have Celaena or Manon date any POCs (because we all know that a character here does not exist without a romantic subplot, just look at Nehemia) and she’s not one to have more than ONE queer couple at once in her books, that… that would be too much “diversity”, so guys are off the table.

 I don’t know what it’s about this series and women, but Mass either kills them or make them be super evil and bitchy.

We can all agree that Nehemia dying was the stupidest move this series has made. Ok? Ok.

So, one of the things I was really looking forward to find out in this book was to know, exactly, why it was that Nehemia “had to die” in the last book. You want to know what I found?

“She thought that her death would spur me into action. She thought I could somehow do more than her- that she was worth more dead. And she lied- about everything. She lied to me because I was a coward, and I hate her for it. I hate her for leaving me.”

Apparently Nehemia had to die because Celaena was too afraid to become a Queen, so the logical step to make her embrace that responsibility was to have her friend brutally murdered…

Ok, now what the fuck?! How could this be the best idea a long-ass dead Queen/Fae came up with? It doesn’t even make any sense! For one, it’s not like everybody thinks the King killed Nehemia giving Celaena an extra reason to want to stand up against him, NO. Celaena knows full well that her friend got herself killed, and that even if she had stopped it that day, Nehemia would have gotten herself killed another time.

I don’t understand why Nehemia couldn’t just go to Celaena and say:

Nehemia: “Bitch, I know you’re Aelin, take your crown and fight the King!”
Celaena: “What? No, I’m scared!”
Nehemia: “Do it or I’ll brutally murder myself.”
Celaena: “Holy shit Nehemia what the fuck?!”

Why, if they were oh so close, couldn’t the two of them have just talked it out? And what’s worse, how in the world could Nehemia’s life mean less than Celaena? Why should I believe Aelin would do more than Nehemia who literally sacrificed her life for her people? And not just that, instead of feeling sorry because Nehemia thought her life was worth less than hers, all Celaena does is think of what a terrible inconvenience this is for HER, because Nehemia forces her to defend helpless people.

Really? Your best friend kills herself and all you can think about is about how much you hate her because she made you react? This could all be explained by saying “Oh, but she’s just heartbroken! She’s hurt!” And I would agree with that… had it not been that in Crown of Midnight the only regret she showed over her friend being dead was that Nehemia couldn’t help her anymore. Not that a wonderful person had died so young, and so horrible, not about Nehemia’s family, and not because Celaena would miss her. Nope, the only that matters when it comes to her best friend’s death is how terrible this is for HER.

Personally I don’t even believe that Celaena’s life was more valuable than Nehemia’s for a number of reasons, but one is the fact that her Kingdom has been destroyed. She doesn’t have a court or an army. Even if she wanted to take back her throne, she is only a small player and doesn’t have the impact Nehemia could have had. Celaena or Aelin, is only a name long forgotten, someone who everybody believes is dead and have moved on. Nehemia built a name for herself, she was a revolutionary, a symbol of hope built through hard work and sacrifice.

Celaena has done nothing besides hiding and has little to offer to the general plot. Isn’t that sad? She’s the main character and still can’t do anything to affect her own plot.

Nehemia was important, not just because she was the heir to a Kingdom or she had magic but because she made things happen. Nehemia cared, she fought to free not only her people but wanted to help everybody who was under the rule of the King of Adarlan.

Celaena was and still is someone too selfish to act and who blames everybody for her mistakes instead of trying to fix them.

Nothing like lesbian witches and flower-loving dragons:
Before I started the book, I had seen a few mixed comments on “the witches chapters” some people liked them, others thought they were boring an unnecessary. When I began reading and was introduced to Manon and the covens of witches… I was bored. Just as with Aedion, it felt like the witches just came out nowhere, it was clear Mass had only come up with them right then, because there had been barely an introduction to witches in the repvious books. Trying to understand all of their mythology in a few chapters made for a few info-dump heavy moments, and I was utterly confused and bored.

However, as soon as Abrasox got in the picture things began to get exciting. The author really hit the jackpot when she paired Manon and Abrasox, the previous bait and the soulless witch made a wonderful team, and I loved to see the two of them developing a bond and Manon realizing that things were wrong in her coven and the way Blackbeaks rule.

When her and Petrah began to talk I had my hopes up that they would become a couple and rule. It seemed so perfect!!!!!! Apparently, after her dragon’s death she’d never recover, but a girl can dream with her lesbian witches. I’ll accept nothing less.

To sum up, Heir of Fire was a boring and inconsequential book who does little to make the reader excited for the next book, except to determine the fate of a few secondary characters.