Month: November 2016

Nina’s November Wrap Up

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Hi everyone! This month’s wrap up is probably my most depressing yet, as I’ve only read roughly a quarter of what I was able to in October. There are two explanations for my tiny book pile in November. Firstly, I started a new internship closer to home, and while I was able to read for 2 hours on my daily commute before, I now barely have enough time to take my book out of my bag. Of course, this also means that I can sleep longer than the previous 3 months, and I’m certainly not complaining. Secondly, my parents are currently abroad for while, which means all the household chores and getting organised has fallen straight into my lap (technically, there’s two of us at home but if it were up to my brother, we’d probably be eating pizza every night). Therefore, my time and capacity for reading has been cut drastically in November, and I hope this will change in December, for I still have quite a few books I’d like to have read before 2017.

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The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasThe Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 17th, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 449
Goodreads

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.

3.5 Stars

I was warned by my friends Nastassja and Katerina that this book was going to make me fall in love with a prince – and it did. Titus VII is my small son and must be protected at all costs. As a hopeless shipper of love-hate relationships and devoted fan of girls disguising as boys, The Burning Sky was the perfect read for me, in the sense that it offered me a light read with some of my favourites plot devices. Alas, I could not ignore the flaws this urban fantasy presented me with, which include a world-building jammed with magical elements of all kind, as though the author simply couldn’t decide whether to use spells or elemental magic or mind powers.

“This is the story of a girl who fooled a thousand boys, a boy who fooled an entire country, a partnership that would change the fate of realms, and a power to challenge the greatest tyrant the world had ever known. Expect magic.”

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The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica KhouryThe Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Series: The Forbidden Wish #1
Published by Razorbill on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Goodreads

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury

3 Stars

The Forbidden Wish is a cute, romantic Aladdin retelling wherein the Jinni is a girl and she and her lamp-holder fall in love. It was entertaining and well-written but didn’t strike me as particularly intriguing or overly exciting. Still, I generally enjoyed the fresh take on an old story even if I was left a bit underwhelmed after all the raving reviews.

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-JonesWintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published by Thomas Dunne on February 7th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 448
Goodreads

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.

3 Stars

Wintersong is like a dark, haunting, yet sweet melody, inspired by Goethe’s German ballad Der Erlkönig. Though the characterisation entails common tropes and the romance is problematic for me, this debut excites with flawed and wicked characters, a gloomy atmosphere, and magnificent writing.

She turned around. My sister’s lips glistened — red, sticky, and sweet — her pout swollen as though she had just been thoroughly kissed.
In her hands was a half-eaten peach, its flesh dripping down her fingers like rivulets of blood.

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The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules by Julie KagawaThe Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Published by Harlequin Teen on March 26th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Paranormal
Pages: 443
Goodreads

To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for…again.

Enter Julie Kagawa's dark and twisted world as an unforgettable journey begins.

3 Stars

For me, a simple written paranormal book like The Immortal Rules is the epitome of a guilty pleasure read. Many aspects of this book didn’t work for me, from the yawn-worthy tropes to the inconsistencies to the lack of originality. And yet, somehow, I reached a point in the book, starting from which I couldn’t put this down anymore, unexpectingly hooked by the plot.

“Reaching back, I drew my blade, feeling it rasp free, gleaming
as it came into the light. Looking up at the approaching rabids, I smiled.”

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NgEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Published by Penguin Press on June 26th 2014
Genres: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+
Pages: 304
Goodreads

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

5 Stars

This book opens with the line: Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

Everything I Never Told You is a story about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. At the beginning of the book, the favourite daughter of the Lee family, Lydia, goes missing and turns up dead in a lake. From this synopsis it may sound like a mystery suspense or an investigative novel but that really isn’t the case. The book is not plot-driven at all but is a very slow-burning, character-driven read. It’s about loss and grief and family dynamics. About secrets and miscommunication, but also gender, race and interracial relationships.

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Chantal’s October Wrap Up

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Hi everyone! I can actually not believe it’s already November. Where has this year gone?? It feels like October blew right past me. For those of you who don’t know, I started my second year of university at the beginning of October and that definitely reflected on my reading. This year is particularly tough because next to all the classes, readings, projects and essays I have to do, I’m also applying for jobs for next year (we call them industrial placements in the UK) and it’s been difficult handling both plus trying to maintain a halfway adequate social life. Having said that, I’m still pretty happy with how much I read this month. It’s not a lot, only 4 books, but considering everything else that was going on, I’m content. So let’s get into it, in chronological order:

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Nina’s October Wrap Up

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Hi everyone! Can you guys believe October has passed already? Because I can’t. It feels like I’ve only just written my September Wrap Up, yet here I am, reflecting on this month’s reads. In October, I had a pretty constant reading cycle without slumps and was therefore able to exceed September’s reading amount of 6 books. So, I consider this quite a good reading month for me. Additionally, I made good on my vow to myself to read more diversely in October, because I mostly hang out in my fantasy corner and get incredibly lazy and far too comfortable. From the fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary genre, I read two of each. And so, I present to you my October Wrap Up in chronological order.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on September 27th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 536
Goodreads

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.

4 Stars

“Where do you think the money went?” he insisted.
“Guns?” asked Jesper.
“Ships?” queried Inej.
“Bombs?” suggested Wylan.
“Political bribes?” offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. “This is where you tell us how awful we are,” she whispered.
He shrugged. “They all seem like practical choices.”

It goes without saying that the sequel to Six of Crows was one of my most anticipated releases this year. Crooked Kingdom performed well as a sequel, being the suspenseful and action-packed book I hoped it would be, but unlike with Six of Crows, I experienced issues. Naturally, I adored being back in this world, reuinted with the Dregs, and seeing them cornered but somehow wiggling themselves out of traps. But I could not ignore certain things, which I will address in this review.

Please be aware that this review may contain massive spoilers for Six of Crows and also some minor spoilers for Crooked Kingdom.

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