Month: September 2016 (page 1 of 9)

The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger by Renée AhdiehThe Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Goodreads

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

3.5 Stars

It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.

This book was so difficult for me to rate and review for a couple of reasons:
1. I loved The Wrath & the Dawn and it was one of my favourite books of 2015 so I was extremely pumped for The Rose & the Dagger and had really high expectations.
2. I was in a reading slump when I read this and I never know how much that impacts the way I perceive a book.
3. This book took me forever to read. More than a month if I remember correctly which is very unusual for me, especially when I didn’t have university during that time.

Having said that, I did really enjoy The Rose & the Dagger and I wouldn’t call it a disappointment but it did leave me feeling…underwhelmed. In hindsight I now wonder, if perhaps I remember TWatD as being better than it actually was or if this book was in fact not as good as the first one. I don’t know, but as it stands, I enjoyed The Rose & the Dagger and consider it a worthy follow-up, but I didn’t love it.

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Monthly Recommendations: Science Fiction

monthly-recs

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group hosted by Trina from Between Chapters and Kayla from Kayla Rayne. This month’s topic is sci-fi, so Nina and I have compiled a list of some of our favourite books in the sci-fi/dystopian genre. Hopefully it’ll help you discover some new books! Please note that a couple of these are recommended by both Nina an me. Clicking on the title will lead you to our reviews (if there is one) and the picture to the respective book’s Goodreads page.

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The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire by Brandon SandersonThe Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #1
Published by Gollancz on October 1st, 2009
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Goodreads

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson's intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

(First published by Tor Books in 2006)

5 Stars

I AM NOT OKAY.

I had initially rated The Final Empire 4 stars right after reading it. Forget about those. These beautiful characters have stuck with me ever since, and the book left an overall lasting impression. Hence, this absolute masterpiece of an epic fantasy deserves no less than 5 stars. The Final Empire was a little slow in pulling me in, but once I was caught up in this dark world of falling ashes, magic of metals, oppression, and power struggles, I was in. For any fantasy lover out there, this is a definite must-read.

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In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods by Tana FrenchIn the Woods by Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Published by Viking on May 17th 2007
Genres: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 429
Goodreads

A gripping thriller and New York Times bestseller from the acclaimed author of Broken Harbor and The Secret Place

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Richly atmospheric and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.

Look for French's new mystery, The Trespasser, for more of the Dublin Murder Squad.

4.5 Stars

What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this – two things: I crave truth. And I lie.

If I ever hear anyone say that murder mysteries are never well-written or literary I will shove this book in their face. I devoured this rather large gem within a couple days and found myself thinking about it long after I had finished.

I can see how this book will only be enjoyed by a certain type of reader. If you’re annoyed by metaphors, similes and other literary devices or don’t like wordy books, this one isn’t for you. If you’re a reader who needs everything resolved and explained in the end, this one isn’t for you either. But if you enjoy psychological thrillers with messed up characters, absolutely pick this up.

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Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study by Maria V. SnyderPoison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Published by MIRA on March 1st, 2007
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 409
Goodreads

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison...

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...

(First published in 2005 by Luna Books)

5 Stars

Published over ten years ago and widely read by young adult readers all over the world, Poison Study is an imaginative YA fantasy with a strong heroine, a gripping plot, and a slow burn romance.

“To Yelena, our newest food taster. May you last longer than your predecessor.”

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Inferno by Catherine Doyle

Inferno by Catherine DoyleInferno by Catherine Doyle
Series: Blood for Blood #2
Published by Chicken House Ltd. on January 7th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads

Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather in the second installment of Catherine Doyle's Blood for Blood series.

Sophie's life has been turned upside-down, and she's determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she's trying to forget, won't give up on their love - and it's Luca's knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace - and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie's in deeper than ever.

5 Stars

Inferno gave me ALL THE FEELS, and I have 5 half-moons in each palm to prove it. In contrast to its tame predecessor Vendetta, this sequel is darker, grittier, with a fast pace and tensions flaring high. And, of course, there’s a lot more of Luca. Jackpot. Inferno left me squealing, laughing, yelling, dreading, and in a state of utter shock.  

new girl it's possible i'm still in shock photo: ng_shock.gif

inferno (noun)
Pronunciation: /ɪnˈfəːnəʊ/
1. A large fire that is dangerously out of control
2. (usually Inferno) Hell; with reference to Dante’s Divine Comedy
3. Luca is haaawt as hell

Ok, let’s do this.

For those of you who haven’t read Vendetta, I must clarify a few things: Although I thought Vendetta was a pretty solid start to this series, I had issues with the first book (predictable plot, insta-love, lack of character depth, …). All of those issues were crushed to dust by Inferno. In short, if you’re looking for a light, entertaining read along the lines of The Godfather meets Romeo and Juliet, then read the damn book. And then, read Inferno. And then, we fangirl.

For those of you who have read Vendetta and plan to continue with the series: This review will be as spoiler-free as possible but I will share quotes, so if you’re a reader who has a strict I-do-not-want-to-know-anything-that-happens-beforehand policy, then you might want to stop reading at this point.

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Most Anticipated Releases of Autumn 2016

most-anticipated-releases

Hi everyone! Here are some of our most anticipated book releases for autumn 2016 (autumn being September, October, November where we live). We put them in order of publication date (as stated on Goodreads). Please note that many of these are anticipated by both Nina and me.

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Published by Razorbill on April 28th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 446
Goodreads

Laia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

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

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

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

3.5 Stars

There has rarely been a YA fantasy that had me as conflicted as An Ember in the Ashes. For its characters, romance, plot, and world-building I can name both positive and negative aspects. Overall, I’d say it was an entertaining and gripping read with a lot of flaws that are concealed by the drama factor. I’m still going back and forth between 3.5 and 4 stars, though have decided to lower my rating from 4 to 3.5 stars for the time being. With this one, you will have to decide at the end of this review whether you want to pick it up or not, without me giving any specific recommendations. This will be a hit-or-miss kind of book for most readers.

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

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Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

Vendetta by Catherine DoyleVendetta by Catherine Doyle
Series: Blood for Blood #1
Published by Chicken House Ltd. on February 24th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads

When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell's life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties - the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

3.5 Stars

Excuse this swoony, patriotic review, but Catherine Doyle’s debut Vendetta is a piece of hot danger and my girly hormones are all over the place. This book is a trashy YA version of Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather, and it has brought forth one of my favourite fictional crushes of all time. (In case you can’t tell after I’ll have mentioned his name 1’000’000 in this review, his name is Luca and he’s mine).


zoey deschanel new girl photo: tumblr_lu9wjmPuXa1qi9psro1_500.gif

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And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press on June 28th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, LGBTQ+
Pages: 475
Goodreads

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

5 Stars

“I cannot afford to lose you, too”

“You cannot lose something you do not own. Take me with you”

This book was everything I never knew I wanted.

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