book review: the star-touched queen

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Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses || In Which I Am Disappointed By My Favorite Author

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Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Release Date: May 5th 2015

Genre: High Fantasy, NA

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

My Review

Warning: This review contains minor spoilers!

There has been a lot of hype about this book and for the most part it’s pretty on par. ACOTAR is quite amazing and is brimming with gorgeous prose and imagery. But after reading the Throne of Glass series…I was kind-of disappointed.

The book starts off with Feyre hunting in the forest near her home. She promises her mother on her deathbed that she’ll look after her family and in order to feed her ungrateful sisters, Feyre has to hunt for animals that she can skin and sell. But after the drama of Tamlin coming for her because she kills his friend, everything just kind of settles down. For the first half of the book, there was almost no plot. Nothing much happens except that chemistry (slowly..super slowly) develops between Feyre and Tamlin.

By this time I was starting to consider ditching the book for a while. Despite the fact that Feyre is swimming in starlight and experiencing all kinds of weird and wonderful things…nothing is actually happening. There’s not much in the terms of action and I was beginning to grow disinterested in this “plague.” THEN FINALLY shit hit the fan and stuff started happening. The last 30% of the book is therefore super intense and really exciting. The ending is probably the best part of the book because there is so much pain/angst/action that it’s overwhelming after all the inaction of the first 70%.

Once again the author crafts brilliant characters. I love how Feyre was a lot more relatable and human than most heroines. She was not at all perfect and she was actually illiterate but the fact that she did her best to work with what she had impressed me. Tamlin is also one of those really hot male characters and I just couldn’t get enough of him. The romance between Tamlin and Feyre is probably what makes this book NA but there aren’t that many steamy scenes (and you can always skim or skip them altogether if you don’t want to read them).

Lucien was one of my favorite characters because he played the best friend role but (surprisingly) never decided to fall in love with Feyre and propose. He was basically the loyal sidekick who occasionally dished up snarky comments. Rhysand was the character I couldn’t make up my mind about because he seemed to be evil but helped Feyre when it mattered (then again, that help came with a price).

So basically I did enjoy this book (but just not as much as I expected to). BUT I’m definitely going to read the second book!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir || A Book That Felt Cliché

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Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: April 28 2015

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 3.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

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.

My Review

Make no mistake, I was pretty damn excited about this book. But then I started reading it…

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Before you decide that you’ve had enough and leave, let me explain! I was disappointed because I felt like I’d already read so many fantasy books that are quite similar. I mean there are slaves, and soldiers, and a bunch of rebels who are planning some kind-of revolution. You really haven’t read this type of book before? REALLY? It also reminded me a lot of The Winner’s Curse (even though the male character is the slave in that book) because of the romance between Laia and Elias. I was getting such a “been there, done that” vibe but I didn’t ditch it because of all the hype surrounding this book. (But maybe it’s just me feeling like it’s not 100% original? Please tell me it’s not just me…)

To some extent, it does live up to it’s hype. After all it’s beautifully written with great world-building and an unpredictable storyline. The characters are also pretty interesting but not as complex as I had hoped. Their actions aren’t unexpected though because most of the character’s motives are clear from the start (or at-least enough hints are dropped that we can guess them).

For example, Elias is a student at Blackcliff, a Mask academy…and doesn’t want to be a Mask. Laia is a scholar slave who wants to rescue her brother and is forced to join the Scholar Rebels to do so. The book is told from their dual perspectives and somewhere along the way, they end up meeting and their lives and stories become entangled. I think the changes in POV made the story richer but Laia frustrated me because of her incompetency. The worst part was that Laia herself is obsessed with her incompetency and cowardice! And while she was brave and determined to save her brother, I also found her stupidity and naivety very annoying. Elias, on the other hand, was far more interesting and I was very curious to see how his relationship with his mother would play out.

I would have said that the romance was perfect except it wasn’t because of the double love triangles. 

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(Ok so I would never toss my Kindle out the window but..you get the idea!) The love triangles annoyed me a lot because they felt so very unnecessary. I felt like it would have been so much better if there were more platonic relationships in this book.

But when it’s all said and done, I did enjoy this book, and I’m probably going to read the sequel.

Lips Touch: Three Times || 3 Stories That Left Me Yearning For More

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Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Release Date: October 1st 2009

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers’ souls:

Goblin Fruit
In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today’s savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses
A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling
Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

My Review

This is not my first Laini Taylor book. In fact, the reason I picked it up is because I love her writing so much and holy cow you guys, I am so glad I read this book! It features three different short-stories, each of them beautiful, otherworldly and terrifying.

Goblin Fruit: This is long and drawn out – so suspenseful it had be on the edge of my seat, terrified for the main character. I honestly couldn’t guess if there would be a happy ending or not until I read the ending. Reading this story gave me this feeling of satisfaction, like sinking my teeth into chocolate cake. The fact that I could relate to Kizzy’s yearning to be beautiful, also made feel more invested in her fate.

Spicy Little Curses: This story is told from different perspectives and takes place in India. The ambassador to Hell has to bargain with a demon in order to save the souls of children. But even the widow (ambassador) can’t save every life and eventually she makes a deal that she might eventually regret. This time, I had a vague idea of what would happen and the twists at the end didn’t really surprise me. But the story was made more interesting because it was told through the eyes of more than one character.

Hatchling: This is the longest story and it’s set in both the modern world and the realm of the Druj (soulless creatures/demons). You might not want to read this at night, if you’re like me and cringe every time there is a description of anything remotely scary. Other than that, I’m not going to reveal any more because I think it’s better to go into this not knowing what to expect.

I know this book might seem outdated (I’m still catching up on new releases!) because it was published six years ago. But if you love fantasy, you must read this. (And then hopefully comment below telling me what you think!)

Book Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

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Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: June 2nd 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

My Review

This book is amazing! And here is why:

  1. The protagonist, Elyse, is incredible. She may not be able to speak but she still finds ways to stand up for the people she cares about. Her passion and resilience really inspired me. And despite all the ways she’s perfect, she’s also flawed enough to be human. Her character grows so much throughout the book and I can easily say she’s one of my favorite protagonists.
  2. Not surprisingly, the rest of the characters were just as well-developed. Christian, the love interest, did not turn out the way I expected him to. I expected him to be a cliche playboy but he was anything but cliche. He was incredibly strong and patient with Elyse, willing to wait however long it took to read her lips. He treated her the way she deserved to be treated and that is really it all it took. Christian didn’t actually fit any of the cliches I expected the author to use (since his family is wealthy). And guys, his little brother Sebastian is so cute. His dad annoyed the hell out of me because of his reactions toward Sebastian’s desire to do certain things. I honestly just wanted to jump into the book and give Christian’s father a good talking-to about how he doesn’t deserve to have such wonderful children. It’s really been a while since I was so heavily invested in a book.
  3. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids also happens to have some great themes. For most of the book, Elyse, struggles to overcome a tragedy that changes the course of her life. This book is about trying to fit in and trying to find a home in a place where you don’t feel like you belong.

To sum it all up, this book is incredible and if you haven’t read this yet, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for 🙂 

[Comment down below and let me know what you thought of this book. And since I don’t do a lot of “list-reviews,” I’m curious whether you prefer this format to other reviews I’ve done.]

Mini-Reviews: Illusions of Fate & Seraphina

Warning: There are minor spoilers revealed. 

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I kept expecting more from Illusions of Fate. I felt like it didn’t deliver on it’s promise of being a “lush romantic fantasy” and it was nothing like Cassandra Clare’s books (which I’ve read and loved). Jessamin is a very witty character but she is constantly compared to the “other women” of Albion which I found annoying. The author seems to be trying too hard to emphasize the fact that Jessamin is “different” from the people around her..And that’s great but it’s not like the character has to stand out and be “special” or “different.” Finn, the love interest, is charming but the author ruins it by revealing that he uses magic to charm people which makes him seem manipulative. The romance is a slow burn but it’s not satisfying and when they do finally get together, I felt like they lacked chemistry. I also couldn’t get over the fact that Finn uses his magic on her. She forgives him far too quickly and easily despite all her sass regarding other things.

The ending is also too perfect. I’m not against happy endings but it was unrealistic how everything suddenly went so well at the end, considering how the first half of the book was so suspenseful. There is this massive plot twist at the end but the showdown I’d been expecting ends pretty quickly and isn’t that dramatic. While Illusions of Fate wasn’t quite what I expected, there was great prose.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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This book is incredible you guys.  There is brilliant world-building, politics, dragons (that are freaking awesome), and a talented musician who is struggling with a secret. There are very few “dragon” books that are unique and original and Seraphina is definitely one of them. The story is very rich and I could practically taste the words I read. There are also tons of characters but all of them are well-developed and by the end of the book, they felt so real to me – I could almost imagine having a cup of coffee with Seraphina’s uncle. To top it all off, Seraphina makes for a great female lead. She doesn’t go around making stupid decisions and she’s not only pragmatic but also thoughtful and compassionate.

At 500 pages, Seraphina is one long book but I never felt bored (I can have a short attention span when it comes to long books.) In fact, I felt compelled to pick up the next book, immediately after finishing it.

Rating: 5 stars

Book Review: The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

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Publisher: Hyperion

Release Date: January 28th 2014

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 3.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she’s struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn’t easy — not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she’s really safe.

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She’s sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she’ll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

My Review

I really enjoyed The Archived so when I started reading The Unbound, I was disappointed. While The Archived was fresh and original, The Unbound seemed to drag and lacked the plot and action that made the first book an addictive enjoyable read. Mackenzie, in the first book, is obsessed with her dead brother and she makes some bad decisions because of this nostalgia. And I had hoped that Mackenzie’s character would finally become a force to be reckoned with in this second book. But she doesn’t, instead she’s obsessed with Owen – the history that she pushes into a void at the end of The Archived. She has nightmares about him, she hallucinates about him, and she keeps rehashing everything that happened with him in the first book.

Then there’s the fact that Mackenzie barely has any “real” relationships with anyone. She becomes even more closed-off because she doesn’t want to tell anyone about what she’s going through. I understood that she didn’t want to involve anyone – especially not Wesley, but this whole “lying to protect the ones I love” thing gets old pretty fast. To be honest, at some parts of this book, I was just skim-reading through all her monologues.

So I didn’t really like Mackenzie. But I did love Wesley. I loved getting to see “prep school Wesley” and I feel like I just fell in love with him even more as we learned more about him. It was frustrating because he and Mackenzie had so much potential for an amazing boyfriend-girlfriend relationship…but at the same time Mackenzie didn’t give him the attention he deserved. She’s pretty selfish and doesn’t often take time to learn more about him – which is disappointing because I just wanted to know everything. 

Overall, the book lacked action and sometimes there isn’t much of a plot. There are some action scenes dispersed throughout the book but 80% of it is rather dull – especially because the characters aren’t all that great (well except for Wesley). I’m afraid I won’t recommend this book but I loved The Archived and you might too!

Mini-Book Review: The Corridor by A. N. Willis

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Publisher: Alloy Entertainment

Release Date: June 23rd 2015

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Infinite worlds. Endless possibilities . . .

Stel Alaster has never known life without the Corridor. It appeared suddenly seventeen years ago, the only portal to a parallel version of our world—Second Earth. Everyone on First Earth fears Mods, the genetically modified Second Earthers who built the Corridor. They are too smart, too strong, and have powers that can’t be controlled. Any Mod found on First Earth is branded, then detained in the Corridor’s research labs.

Only Stel has a dangerous secret. She has a power, too: She can open a portal to Second Earth . . . and several other parallel universes she’s discovered. If anyone ever finds out, she’ll be imprisoned, no better than a Mod or common lab rat.

But when the Corridor starts to fail, emitting erratic bursts of energy that could destroy First Earth, Stel must risk everything to save the people and world she loves. With the help of an escaped Mod and an infuriatingly arrogant boy from a third universe, Stel sets out to unravel the mysteries of the Corridor and stabilize it before it’s too late. The fate of every world lies in the balance. . . .

My Review

Disclaimer: This book was provided by Alloy Entertainment via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

The premise is great and the plot is okay…But you guys..It’s confusing. And that is my #1 issue with the book because while it’s fast-paced and interesting, it’s really hard to keep track of everything. There is even some info-dumping (and I know it’s not easy to avoid but come on). I’m not even sure I remembered the “important stuff.”Although things move along pretty quickly during the first half of the book, I found myself skimming the second half. There just wasn’t enough to hold my interest.

In terms of characters, I expected a lot more than I got. I wanted the main character, Stel, to be better developed but we barely get to know her. In fact, I would have preferred Ana to be the lead because I think her story is way more interesting and her perspective would probably make the book a lot richer. (Ana is the modified human from second Earth.)

The romance is okay and the love triangle dissipates fairly early in the book (yes!). But it doesn’t add much to the story. I think this book had tons of potential but it turned out to be a mediocre read. It’s not good but it’s not bad either. I wouldn’t recommend this book but if you’re curious, you should try it (or at-least read an excerpt).

Book Review: Endgame by C. J. Daugherty

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Publisher: Bookouture

Release Date: June 4th 2015

Genre: YA, (Urban) Fantasy, Contemporary,

Rating: 4.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Broken. Scattered. But not defeated.

The spy is gone but the cost has been high – the rebels at Cimmeria Academy have lost their leader and Carter West is missing. Nathaniel can taste victory. But Allie and the other survivors aren’t done yet. First they have to get Carter back. Then they plan to make Nathaniel pay.

One way or another – the game must end.

Endgame is the thrilling fifth and final book in the internationally bestselling Night School series.

My Review

Disclaimer: This book was provided by Bookouture via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I read the first and/or second book in the Night School series a while ago so I felt a bit apprehensive about jumping straight into the fifth book. But I soon got sucked into the mystery and suspense I’ve come to associate with this series. It didn’t even matter that I’d forgotten quite a lot of the details because the book filled in the gaps in my knowledge.

 You’re missing out if you haven’t tried the Night School series and you love action. In fact, Endgame starts with a high speed car chase (during which I was freaking out). But there are also a lot of moments where Allie is asking herself what she wants or needs. Allie is a great female lead because she’s tough and brave but also..human. The author doesn’t let us forget that she’s just a teenage girl even though she’s handling the shock and loss so well. I even found her relatable even though I’ve never lost family members and friends to a war with another organisation.

There isn’t as much romance in this book as there in some of the other books in the series. I was only semi-disappointed because it did make sense to focus more on the fight between Nathaniel and Cimmeria. I also couldn’t make up my mind whether I wanted Allie to be with Sylvain or Carter (I was leaning more toward Sylvain) but it was nice to finally get some closure. The only thing I found frustrating was how she spent the entire series jumping between Carter and Sylvain – I know she was feeling conflicted but it seemed like she was playing both of them.

There’s this feeling you get when you drift back into a familiar series – like you’re home and that’s how I felt when I started reading Endgame. And to be honest, I’m feeling kind of speechless right now because I’m surprised the series is over. I enjoyed it so much and it was so nice to be reunited with my favorite characters for one last time (Nicole, Katie, Zoe, and Sylvain).

Book Review: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

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Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: June 10th 2014

Genre: Sci-Fi > Dystopia, Thriller, YA

Rating: 3.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

My Review

The Murder Complex is a fairly original dystopian read with a great premise. But while the premise seemed air-tight the book still turned out to have many flaws (some of which really frustrated me). Zephyr’s relationship with Meadow, for example. He is in love with her before they even meet (apparently he dreams about her?!). So he spends a majority of the book acting like a lovesick idiot who then gets his ass kicked multiple times before he finally figures out how to fight…and then he’s all like “Yay! I can protect her now!”

I felt like there is a lack of character development. We don’t get to see the characters’ imperfections and both characters even think the other character is beautiful. Beauty seems pretty irrelevant – especially considering how there are dead bodies everywhere and murderers on the loose..but beauty is emphasized – especially when we see Meadow through Zephyr’s perspective. The characters themselves are interesting but it didn’t seem like they would be that way without the other because their interactions are often the focus of the story.

BUT I think the POV switch is pulled off pretty well. I liked getting into the heads of both of the main characters, especially because it helped increase the tension. It was one of the reasons I would keep reading two more chapters. The cliffhangers made me want to know what was going to happen next.

That doesn’t mean I empathized with Meadow or Zephyr..and when the giant plot twist finally rolled around, I didn’t even sympathize with Meadow. I was more like okay, what happens next? The author failed to make me care about the characters but she did hook me and I’ll probably try the next book.