Friday, 30 March 2018

Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Summary: The queen you were meant to be
The land you were meant to save
The throne you were meant to claim

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed Ash Princess. 

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't ignore her feelings and memories any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. 

Forced to make impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become Queen.

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Publication date: 24/06/18 (UK)

Ash Princess was an addictive page-turner that held my attention from start to finish. Whenever I had to put it down I was always eager to return. I even took to reading it on the Kindle app on my phone when I was out, which is something I never do, because I can't stand reading on anything but my Kindle. 

A warning to readers who are not a fan of books featuring violence and dark subject matters, Ash Princess doesn't shy away from either. The plot sounds like a typical YA fantasy what with the conquered land, a princess out for revenge, and the "love triangle" with her rebel ally and enemy Prinz. However, despite the tropes I found the world Sebastian has created interesting and not at all cliche. Theo's inner struggle and character development was really well done. She was forced to make some hard decisions, and I was fully rooting for her throughout.

In regards to the "love triangle" (and I say love triangle loosely) I honestly didn't mind it. I can't believe I'm saying that, but it's true. It's quite possibly the only love triangle I've read that hasn't made me mad and want to DNF the book. I think it's largely due to the fact that it's not your typical love triangle. Theo isn't constantly mooning over the two love interests. She has fleeting thoughts here and there, but it doesn't overtake her main concern: overthrowing the enemy and reclaiming her land. Also, to me at least, it's obvious where her heart truly lies. 

Overall, a very compelling read. I can't wait for the sequel!  

Rating:

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Review: The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

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The Queen's Rising was on my list of most anticipated 2018 releases, but it didn't turn out to be quite what I was expecting. A large part of the story is based in Magnalia House, the place where Brienna attempts to learn how to master her passion. The pacing of this part of the book was very slow, and I found the time spent at the house to be over-drawn and boring. When Brienna does finally leave the house there is some action, however, by this point I didn't care anymore. Personally, I need to be hooked from the beginning to be able to get fully immersed into a story.

An aspect of the book I did like was the female friendships. The relationship between Brienna and the other girls in the house was sweet and lacked the usual mean girls pitied against one another vibe. It was up lifting and refreshing.

I can't say I really disliked any of the characters, it was more that I felt disconnected from them. They were all very bland, Brienna included. Which leads me to the romance - although it was a slow burn I found it lacking. I didn't care enough for the characters to be able to ship them, and there was none of the usual tension and swoon that goes along with a good slow burn. 

The Queen's Rising wasn't my cup of tea, unfortunately.

Rating:

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Review: Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her murdered family.

When Tamsyn, the powerful and dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. She is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof.

Kyra escapes through one of the strange Transport Hubs that are the remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past and finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of a desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a disillusioned Marksman whose skill with a blade is unmatched. He understands the desperation of Kyra’s quest to prove Tamsyn’s guilt, and as the two grow closer, training daily on the windswept dunes of Khur, both begin to question their commitment to their Orders. But what they don’t yet realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is thin . . . as thin as the blade of a knife.

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Markswoman is the first book in a planned duology and I absolutely loved it. It takes place in Asiana many centuries after the Great War. There are several orders which protect the land from crime and outlaws, and Kyra is part of the Order of Kali.

The book is mostly told from Kyra's point of view, but it does occasionally flip to Rustan -the love interest's- point of view. I liked this as I always find it interesting getting a glimpse inside the love interest's head. Kyra is 19 and Rustan is 21, I think, which is quite unusual for YA. It does, however, give it a cross-over appeal.  The world building in Markswoman was well done, there was enough of it to get a general picture of what the world is like like, but it also leaves you with a desire to learn more - especially about the past, which I'm hoping will be explored in the sequel. 

Kyra and Rustan were both complex and likable characters, and I found myself easily rooting for them. I liked that Kyra didn't excel at everything, and that she struggled as it made her more relatable. I also enjoyed Kyra's friendship with Ninthe and Elena, and after a certain scene involving one of them am intrigued to see what role they will play in the sequel. 

Something I found refreshing was the role of women and men. In this world women are in power - all the Orders except one, the Order of Khur, is made up of women.

"Mere men, sitting here as if they are our equals."

"Men wielding kataris, it's a disgrace." 

The only thing I disliked about Markswoman was how rushed the romance was. As I mentioned I adored both Kyra and Rustan, and I was fully ready to start shipping them. The problem was, however, that there was no build up or tension between them. They meet 40% into the book and after a month they're suddenly in love having had only one real conversation (at about 63%) that wasn't about training. It just wasn't believable. 

Overall, a great read and I can't wait for the conclusion! 

Rating:

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Favourite books of 2017

It's that time of year again, here's a look at the books that made it into my faves list. ๐Ÿ™Œ Not as many as previous years, but here's hoping there will be more next year!

Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray
This book reminds me of Dan Wells' Partials trilogy in that it features a complex female mc and a male robot with the ability to feel. I loved the world, characters, and spark of romance.
“Please stop sniffing the robot boy, Noemi tells herself, jerking out of the trance.”

Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard
This book gave me all the Aeduan/Iseult shippy feels. I can't wait for the next book, Bloodwitch, because it's Aeduan's book. ๐Ÿ˜
  “Mhe varujta. Trust me as if my soul were yours.”


Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
I know a lot people find Fanny to be a frustrating mc, but I actually adored her. It was Edmund who I wanted to shake some sense into.
“I was quiet, but I was not blind.” 


Last Breath and Cold Blood (Detective Erika Foster #4 & #5) by Robert Bryndza
This series is so addictive and good! Highly recommend it if you're in the mood for an adult mystery.


This is going to be my last post of 2017, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say Happy Holidays & Happy New Year! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Saturday, 2 December 2017

2018 book releases I'm looking forward to (Part 2)

Hey, guys! Here's part two of my list of 2018 books I'm looking forward to, you can find part one here.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand | Publication date: 22/05/18
When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.   
 Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway | Publication date: 08/05/18
Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.   
 The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross | 06/02/18
 When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.


Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?
Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff | Publication date: 29/05/18
On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.  
 Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian | Publication date: 24/04/18
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed “Ash Princess.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she's not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but one: Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe.

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't keep her feelings and memories pushed down any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Or for her rebel allies to challenge her friendship with the one person who's been kind to her throughout the last hopeless decade: her heart's sister, Cress.

Cornered into impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become queen.
 Are you looking forward to any of these? ๐Ÿ˜Š

Monday, 6 November 2017

Review: Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jesicca Leake

Summary: The ancient land of ร‰irinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when ร‰irinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.

The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just ร‰irinn, but the entire world.

Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world.

With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.

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Publication date: 10/04/18

Beyond a Darkened Shore completely took me by surprise, I wasn't expecting to like a story about giants as much as I did. Eirinn is a land made up of kingdoms who are constantly having to protect their home from pillaging Northmen. Ciara, the mc, lives in Mide and because of her supernatural abilities she has been able to keep her people safe. That all changes, however, when she starts seeing a ominous crow who shows her dark visions. Then when Northmen arrive on Mide's shore, she discovers that their leader, Leif, could be the key to helping her save Eirinn from the evil that threatens to destroy those she loves dearly.

I liked both Ciara and Leif, they were interesting and well rounded characters who I found myself easily rooting for. I could relate to the strong bond they had with their siblings, and their sense of loyalty was admirable. Although from different backgrounds the slow build up of trust, friendship, and then something more was well executed. Plus, the romance featured one of my favourite tropes: enemies to lovers!

Warning for those not into gory violence, personally I'm not a fan, but I enjoyed the characters and their story so much I didn't really care. Overall, it was a great stand-alone!

Rating:

Friday, 29 September 2017

Mini review: Everless by Sara Holland

Summary: In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself.

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Publication date: 02/01/18 

Everless, to put it simply, was an enjoyable read.

For me, 2017, has been a slow reading year. I've DNF'd quite a few books, which sucks. Everless piqued my interest when I read the summary, but after all the DNFing I've been doing I kept my expectations low. 

Everless is exactly what I needed, it wasn't amazing, but it was fun and held my attention throughout. The world build was interesting and although the mc was a little naive, frustratingly so at times, she was nevertheless likable. Her kindness and determination was admirable. 

The twists and turns kept me turning the pages, I wanted to see where the story would go and puzzle out the mc's past along with her.

Overall, it was a good read and I'm very intrigued to see where the story goes in the sequel.  

Rating:
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