Review: TELL THE WIND AND FIRE by Sarah Rees Brennan

Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Retelling, Urban Fantasy
Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.

my rambles

Special thanks to Clarion Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

I put off reading this book for a looooooong time (longer than I really should have) because for some reason, most of my Goodreads friends’ reviews of this book were very low. I’m talking one-two stars. This made me really nervous, because, I would normally trust these people! So I finally worked up the nerve to read this book for three reasons: (1) The synopsis sounded really cool, and Sarah Rees Brennan is awesome, (2) I was going to be meeting Sarah like, the next day, and (3) it was a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, which I haven’t read, and therefore felt that maybe some low rating were due to retelling issues which wouldn’t affect me. Turns out, I completely and wholeheartedly disagree with those reviews. Therefore, the moral of the story is, READ THE DARN BOOK EVEN IF IT’S GETTING BAD REVIEWS. At least try, because hopefully like my case, you’ll end up loving it!

Well, let me just say that I wish I had read this book sooner, people. It turned me into an emotional, sobbing, wreck. SARAH REES BRENNAN YOU ARE VERY CRUEL. But that is all thanks to the ending. I’ll start with the beginning.

I loved how Sarah weaved magic into the storyline. Yes, some parts were a little confusing (about how the Light and Dark magicians need each other, the actual workings of the magic, etc.) but I dealt with that. But my favorite thing was the doppelgangers! The idea that they are created when a magician is trying to save someone on the brink of death was chilling. The fact that they are basically society’s rejects added so much emotion, especially when we get introduced to Carwyn (*HEART EYES ALL OVER*). There is all this stigma in both the Light and Dark cities about being a doppelganger, and them not being considered real people, or believed to not have souls, which was so interesting.

That leads me to talk characters. Lucie and Ethan were pretty “meh” characters to me. Lucie was a typical symbol of rebellion, Ethan was the “golden boy,” but I loved me some Carwyn… While Lucie and Ethan were pretty boring, Carwyn was completely the opposite. He was dark, brooding, definitely the “bad boy,” but he had lots of depth due to the fact that he was a doppelganger. He was also morally ambiguous, which makes for awesome characters. I really came to root for him to have a happy ending, even over the others, because of the things he reveals about himself, and his actions throughout.

There’s a romance between Lucie and Ethan (not a spoiler, don’t worry), which I found to be about as bland as the characters. It got a little better when we learned the history of how the two got together, but it was nothing special to me. I found Lucie and Carwyn’s almost relationship to be much more interesting. If you’ve read the book already, CHAPTER 18 AH!!! It hit me right in the feels. The complexity and the forbidden wrongness of Lucie helping a doppelganger made it much more exciting. And my oh my the sexual tension was coming off of Carwyn in droves!

The ending completely destroyed me, just as I knew it would, but was hoping it wouldn’t. Sarah wasn’t afraid to hit us very very hard in the heart. This will be one that you’ll want to emotionally prepare for.

While I was a big fan of the story, the writing was also wonderful. The dialogue she created for and between the characters *cough* especially Carwyn *cough* was really great, and of course, emotional.

All in all, Tell the Wind and Fire was a great story! But the highlight for me was Carwyn (if you couldn’t tell he’s totally my current book boyfriend), and the complexity his character brought to the story, and the world. If you’re a fan of sexy bad boys and urban fantasy, this is the book for you!

7xo

Review + Favorite Quotes: BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman Blog Tour!

Blackhearts.png

I was thrilled when I got the email that I would be a part of the Blackhearts blog tour! Everything about this book sounded right up my alley. Spoiler, IT SO WAS! If you’re into a beautiful story and romance, this book is for you too! And, can we take a quick minute to appreciate that cover?


Review

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

my rambles

Special thanks to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for hosting the blog tour and to Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. SO. MUCH. It has taken me a couple of days to compose my feelings in order to right a proper review. My mind seriously couldn’t put this book into words, and I’m still having some troubles, so bear with me here. Blackhearts is an absolutely beautiful story. Everything about it was just that: beautiful. The writing, the story, the characters, the romance, everything.

I’ll start with the writing. It was descriptive, but not too much so. The writing didn’t take away from the story, but enhanced it. A lot of historical fiction books tend to be long and drawn out, but that’s not the case with Blackhearts. It was an addicting read, but not in the “normal” page-turning sense of the word. I felt like I was taking my time experiencing the story while I was reading, when in reality I was flying through it. I think that speaks to the rich immersive quality of Nicole Castroman’s ability to write a story.

Continue reading “Review + Favorite Quotes: BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman Blog Tour!”

Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: April 28th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 456
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Retelling
Synopsis from Goodreads:

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

my rambles

Special thanks to Scholastic Press for providing me with a beautiful finished copy of the book for review!

Rook is a book, that if you give it a little bit of time, will end up being completely worth the read in the end. When I first heard about this book, I knew that it was right up my alley. A book set in post-apocalyptic France? A girl that has an alter ego that free prisoners from a corrupt government? A swoony romance? Check, check, check, yes, yes, yes.

What I really loved about Rook, apart from the amazing storyline, was the way that Sharon Cameron wrote and moved the story along. As a reader, I loved being able to check in on the story from so many different characters, as Rook had so much political intrigue happening. The moves to different characters were so seamless, and I absolutely loved how Cameron transferred the reader in such a way to the next section of the chapter.

As mentioned briefly above, Rook is a pretty slow paced book, until the end. Cameron really does an amazing job setting up the world, situations, character development, relationships, and conflicts all in the first half of the book. When I finally got to the end parts, I could not stop turning pages. There was so much action, excitement and suspense!

While Rook is a post-apocalyptic/dystopian book, it read so much like historical fiction that I couldn’t help but love it! The dialogues, wardrobes and architecture all reflected what reminded me of the French aristocracy.It was unique in that fact that it wasn’t futuristic, but instead, the world had gone back in time.

There was a romance, and while I did enjoy it, I can honestly say that I didn’t fall completely head over heels in love with either René or Spear! Originally I liked both men for different reasons (René for being cocky and clever, Spear for being the “boy next door” type and being protective), but as the story progressed, my fondness for both diminished. I felt like the relationship between Sophie and René (while nothing really happened until toward the end, Sophie decided she loved René pretty quickly, I thought) was rushed. And I thought that Spear lost his charming protectiveness when he started to develop an obsession with Sophie not being with René.

As I said before, the ending was the best part of the book. There were some huge revelations, sad deaths, and I felt the story was wrapped up really well. Rook is definitely a great read, and I’d highly recommend it for both fans of historical fiction and post-apocalyptic/dystopia!

xo

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, #1
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via First to Read
Genre(s): Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

my rambles

Special thanks to Penguin Random House First to Read for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review!

From the moment I read that synopsis I knew this was going to be a book that I would love. And I was right. The Wrath and the Dawn was beautiful, consuming, and rich with its story, writing, world, characters, and romance. I think the best way for me to write this review is to break it down into those five categories mentioned above, as to not completely just write and incoherent fangirly review (although that would be quite entertaining and much easier on my part). This is also most likely going to be quite long because I want to highlight everything amazing about this book — and there are a LOT. Short version: I adored this book and you should rush out and read it ASAP, because it will surpass your highest expectations.

The story is a retelling of the A Thousand and One Nights. I hadn’t any previous knowledge of the story before reading this book other than knowing that it’s a middle-eastern tale. Therefore, I can’t really comment on how the author reimagined the original into The Wrath and the Dawn, other than telling you that THIS story is incredible!! There is a very rich feeling to the book, as I mentioned before, but somehow the story remained fast paced and kept me turning pages. I spent one day on my couch, committed to finishing the book because it was THAT good.

Renée Ahdieh’s writing is absolutely beautiful, and I think it really helped to create the vibe for the entire book. The descriptions were amazing, but without being too drawn-out. The word “sumptuous” was used in the description, and I think it fits this book perfectly, along with luxurious and lavish.

With great writing comes great world-building. I found the world in The Wrath and the Dawn to be extremely interesting, and I loved how as the book switched to different characters for some chapters, we got to explore. Throughout the book there are bits of fantasy and magic exposed, and I am really eager to learn more about those powers.

This book is definitely a character-driven one. The relationships between them were very much so that of political intrigue. We get to meet those at the Caliph’s palace, those from other lands, and those from Shazi, the main character’s past. One of my favorite characters was Jalal. He was flirty and fun, and definitely made me smile with his banter between him and pretty much every other character! There was only one character that I found had a presence that was annoying — Tariq. He’s Shazi’s lover from back home, and I just didn’t find his obsession to be appealing. As for Shazi herself, I loved her. She’s such an awesome main character who was fierce, fearless, and oh so smart. Khalid has been added to my ever-growing list of book boyfriends, because, well read the book for yourself and you’ll see the swoony appeal! Okay I’ll tease — he opens up to Shazi and we learn the kind of man he really is and you can’t help but fall in love with him. Plus he is hot.

Speaking of hot, can I talk about the romance between Shazi and Khalid? It is STEAMY. There’s angst. And more angst. And I love angst, so I was totally eating this up. I am a sucker for enemies to lovers storylines, and this is about as good as it gets! I fell in love with Khalid and Shazi’s romance…

Have I rambled on about The Wrath and the Dawn long enough to make you want to read it? Well, you totally should if fantasy, romance, and politics is your thing. While I was reading I kept finding parallels to the writing, characters and style of The Winner’s Curse/The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (which I ADORE). If you’re a fan of those, definitely give this one a go! I also want to note that I loved the Middle Eastern setting and characters — yay for diversity! I haven’t read many books in that region of the world, but I really want to now.

So overall, I LOVED LOVED LOVED The Wrath and the Dawn, and I can’t wait for the next book. Could it magically appear on my shelf now?

xo

Novella Review: Cursed Beauty by Dorian Tsukioka

Publisher: Dorian Tsukioka (self)
Release Date: November 15th, 2014
Series: N/A
Pages: 73
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Genre(s): Fairy Tale, Retelling
Synopsis from Goodreads:

A pair of glass slippers that can change her life? When something is too good to be true, it usually is…

Adelaide has lived her entire life cursed with a birthmark that makes people shy away. When an invitation to the Elder Prince’s ball falls in her lap, she knows attending would only cause people to shun her more.

A fairy godmother feels her pain and offers her a pair of glass slippers that not only transform her ragged dress to an elegant gown, but also removes the mark that covers her face. However, Adelaide soon learns that the beautiful slippers can steal away more than just her birthmark, leaving her cursed in a far worse way.

This retelling of the classic Cinderella story will resound with readers of young adult fiction who love paranormal fantasy, fairy tales, and a splash of romance.

my rambles

Special thanks to Dorian Tsukioka for providing me with a copy of the book for review!

For a novella that is freestanding, I was very impressed with both the story and the writing of Cursed Beauty. I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings, Cinderella being one of my favorites, and I really enjoyed how the author reimagined the story in such a short story but with lots of detail and left me feeling satisfied.

The bulk of Cursed Beauty remains similar to that of the Disney fairy tale that we’ve grown up with and loved, but the little changes to the magical aspects of the story and the characters made it unique and memorable.

After all, this is a fairy tale at heart, so there were some cliche moments. But the story was sweet and the main character, Adelaide, is one that is very likeable.

Overall, Cursed Beauty was a cute and fun retelling of the Cinderella story that we all know and love!

xo