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!

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!)

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!

Book Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

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Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books

Release Date: June 4th 2015

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, YA

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

My Review

Disclaimer: This book was provided by Hachette Children’s Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

After requesting this book on netgalley, I couldn’t resist doing a little “research” and I noticed a lot of negative reviews from my fellow bloggers. But, nonetheless, I’m glad I requested this book because I did enjoy it.

moriarty___surprise_face___gif_by_talichibi-d4rwq08For one thing, the book is both historical fiction and fantasy! The main character is a witch hunter, so of-course it makes sense to set it in a earlier time period. But since I haven’t fallen in love with that many Historical YA books so far so I was pleased to see that this book had elements of that genre.

The main character, Elizabeth, demonstrates character growth but is kind-of dull. Her obsession with Caleb, child-hood friend and fellow witch hunter, was annoying to say the least. Even when she’s dying of jail fever, she still thinks he’ll come and rescue her even though it’s clear he won’t. Caleb, himself, proved to be a bit of a disappointment. Considering how he’s her first crush and all, I expected a little more from him but he turned out to be self-centred and ambitious. 

The rest of the minor characters, are totally unlike him and bursting with personality. Fifer, especially, is rather fiesty and the love interest, John, is really sweet (he blushes okay?). Elizabeth’s interactions with these characters is what made her interesting at all. And I wanted to see more of that and the romance between her and John. The development of her relationship with John is slow but realistic and I suppose the book didn’t have to focus more on it..but it is my favorite part of the story (so you know, a girl can hope).

The plot isn’t as engaging as it could have been and a bit too predictable at times. Some of the “shocking revelations” weren’t really all that shocking. Everything was set up to go in a certain direction and I would have given this book a higher rating if it deviated from the road well traveled a bit more. Also, there isn’t as much action as I expected. It’s limited to a couple of scenes even though the synopsis makes it seem like there’s a lot going on.

Despite it’s flaws, The Witch Hunter was an addictive read that didn’t disappoint me too much. I’m looking forward to reading the next book and I definitely recommend trying this if you’re into books about witches (hunters) and magic.

ARC Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)

Release Date: July 2 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

My Review

Disclaimer: This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

It was refreshing to read something featuring characters with voices that made them feel so real to me. Each chapter of the book was a letter from either Ollie or Moritz. They would describe their past and present and often banter with each other. I loved it. I absolutely loved it.

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Both of the characters are struggling with a kind-of disability that prevents them from “fitting in” with “normal” people. Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz has a pacemaker. They’re the opposite of each other in almost every way. Ollie is loud and cheerful and extroverted in his letters while Moritz is a bit more hesitant and eloquent. But the fact that by society’s standards they aren’t normal, is what brings them together.

I don’t think I could have picked a favorite! I loved Ollie because he chose to live in the best ways he knew. Despite having seizures when he came in contact with electricity, he still did the craziest things like running at a powerline. Moritz was equally fascinating because he didn’t have eyes but could see the world around him using echolocation. I felt for him more than Ollie because while Moritz had the opportunity to go to school and experience things Ollie might never get to, Moritz also had to deal with bullies and classmates who avoided him because of how he looked.

So while this book initially seemed to be a contemporary, it did contain some sci-fi elements (like the narrators’ strange conditions). I was okay with that. In fact it intrigued me and I felt like it made the premise even more unique and different. But what I do feel the need to point out is that this book isn’t a 100% realistic contemporary. 

The best part about this book would probably be the characters. They took this book to the next level and if you like me, are all about the characters then read this. Fyi, I think the plot is great but not amazing so if you’re looking for something with more action in it, then this isn’t the book for you.

Book Review: The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey

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Publisher: Random House Children’s

Release Date: April 28 2015

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

My Review

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

Warning: This review contains some spoilers!

Two different worlds are layered on the mortal world and they coexist because of the magic that hides the truth from mortals. But Echo, an honorable pickpocket, know of the Avicen’s and the Drakharin’s existence. The Avicen have feathers instead of hair and the ability to use/command magic. The Drakharin are kind-of a cross between human and dragons. Their fierce and brutal and at war with the Avicen. When the Ala, Echo’s Avicen guardian, discovers proof of the existence of a mythical creature named the Firebird – Echo is thrust deeper into the world of the Avicen and Drakharin. With so many lives at stake, Echo agrees to find the Firebird which will end the war between the Drakharin and Avicen. But soon Echo is forced to confront the all-to-real possibility that the only way to survive is to make allies with people she doesn’t even know if she can trust.

Echo is officially one of my favorite main characters. She is playful, laidback, and a honorable thief but her unwavering loyalty and bravery in the face of danger are some of her most commendable qualities. She is everything that I didn’t expect and I was so impressed by her ability to adapt to any circumstance she’s placed in.

Rowan, Echo’s original love interest proved to be disappointing. I felt like he was a very two-dimensional character in that there didn’t seem to be a lot to him. His only purpose for existing seemed to be to incite some angst. I also didn’t really understand why he helped Echo but then decided to come after. In the end, he was never really that loyal to her.

Ivy, Echo’s friend isn’t that interesting either. She seemed to be more of a plot device than anything else. She didn’t really have much of a role and I didn’t understand why it was truly necessary for her to be there. I suppose like Rowan, she was part of the cast of friends.

Caius is another of my favorite characters. Although he initially seems like an unfeeling brute, other sides of him are revealed as the story progresses. The romance between him and Echo unfurled painfully slowly and at times it was driving me crazy because I just wanted them to get together already! However, the love triangle between him, Rowan and Echo is never the main focus which is great considering how everyone is at war.

The romance between Dorian and Jasper is truly beautiful too so kudos to the author for pulling it off so well. For one thing, it initially seems like the most unlikely thing that could happen but through the course of the book they end up falling for each other. The author doesn’t just force an insta-love between them and it takes them time to overcome the prejudices surrounding their races (Dorian is Drakharin but Jasper is Avicen). Jasper is also one of those cocky, funny characters that I love seeing in books so the dialogue exchanged between him and Dorian is hilarious and flirtatious.

Overall I loved this book so much and I’m so glad it’s part of a series!