Review │ Sky in the Deep

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Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Wednesday Books
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 340

Blurb from Goodreads:

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

My Thoughts-01

I honestly haven’t read a novel about Vikings before. This concept is just rare specially in YA so this one is really refreshing to me. It is unique despite some tropes. It is action-packed with a shred of romance. It has fierce friendships, amazing family bond, and just the tiniest bit of drama to add some more color into it. And the best part? It is a standalone!

This book is not for the squeamish though. Its world is violent and brutal, and the author is pretty descriptive. I mean, someone’s eyeball has been forcibly taken out of its socket somewhere in the book! Almost every character is a lethal killing machine—they’re Vikings, after all. With an age-old blood feud between two clans, battles were always fought throughout the book. There’s no shortage of bloodbath and epic battle scenes. Those with weaker stomach might not like this very much.

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Review │ The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

The Language of Thorns_LB

Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Imprint
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Anthology, Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 281

Blurb from Goodreads:

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

My Thoughts-01

These are the kind of stories that made me a reader. And these kind of stories—delightfully dark, dangerous, and magical—are Leigh Bardugo’s specialty. There’s a pinch of darkness to her stories that really calls to that slightly villainous part of my heart. For this collection, Bardugo reimagined some of our well-loved fairytales, folklores, and myths, taking them into a darker path without totally losing the foundations of the original stories. It’s really awesome seeing these classic tales take a different shape. This time with less romance, more mystery, slightly creepy, always compelling, and definitely refreshing. And if you’re worried about these stories being predictable—because retellings most often are—don’t be. In fact, ready yourselves for some sick twists.

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Review │ The First Last Kiss

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Title: The First Last Kiss
Author: Ali Harris
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: January 17, 2013
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 496

Blurb from Goodreads:

How do you hold on to a love that is slowly slipping away from you?

Can you let go of the past when you know what is in the future?

And how do you cope when you know that every kiss is a countdown to goodbye?

This is the story of a love affair, of Ryan and Molly and how they fell in love and were torn apart. The first time Molly kissed Ryan, she knew they’d be together forever. Six years and thousands of kisses later she’s married to the man she loves. But today, when Ryan kisses her, Molly realises how many of them she wasted because the future holds something which neither of them could have ever predicted…

My Thoughts-01
I’ll begin by saying I haven’t cried like this since Me Before You. That said, I may have found my newest favorite romance novelist in Ali Harris.

“Life isn’t about the destination, it’s about appreciating the journey.”

The First Last Kiss will make you smile, cry, and appreciate the simple joys of life. It is a bit of a tearjerker so have a tissue ready. It’s a wonderful, inspiring story that shows love at its brightest. More than just a love story, it presents a lesson for couples and lovers to cherish each kiss and to not let the small things get in between you. Ali Harris painted a very honest picture of a relationship complete with the rainbows and butterflies as well as the bumps and the waves of challenges.

A discarded kiss is a moment of love lost forever.

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Review │ My Plain Jane

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Title: My Plain Jane
Series Details: The Lady Janies #2
Author: Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling
Pages: 464

Blurb from Goodreads:

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

My Thoughts-01

There are two kinds of books: the one that makes you want to read and ignore the chores, and the ones makes you want to do the chores instead. This one falls on the second. If you’re here looking for more dose of fun, hilarious, and witty banters like that in My Lady Jane, you’d be greatly disappointed. My Plain Jane is exactly what its title says—plain. The humor in this one felt forced unlike in the previous book wherein it flaws naturally and makes a reader laugh out loud. Although it made me laugh once or twice, because that Harry Potter reference really tickled my funny bone. But that’s it.

My Plain Jane is a retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. It contains murder and mystery although some of it felt more like an ornament than a part of the plot. There was nothing satisfying with the way it was solved. It also has a touch of romance but not the swoon-worthy kind. The main attraction here is the paranormal twist—Jane can see ghosts. But even with the ghost element, this book still fell flat. Maybe it’s because of my high expectation, or the lack of humor, or its predictability. It really is predictable. And that’s coming from someone who haven’t even read Jane Eyre or watched the movie. (Yes, shame on me.)
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Review │ Mirage

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Title: Mirage
Series Details: Mirage #1
Author: Somaiya Daud
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Flatiron Books
Release Date: April 28, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 320

Blurb from Goodreads:

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

My Thoughts-01

A novel that is a blend of sci-fi and fantasy with a touch of Moroccan history? Sign. Me. Up. Before this book came into my radar, know that my knowledge about Moroccan culture and history is next to nothing. I came across an interview with Somaiya Daud wherein she talks about how much of Mirage is influenced by her Moroccan roots—you can listen to it here. Later I found myself googling and trying to know more about the pieces of history that Daud shared in that interview. Mirage is my first Moroccan inspired read. And I have to say, with that bit of research on the background, I was able to appreciate the book even more.

Sci-fi books are often confusing to me especially those that involves time travel or intergalactic politics or whatever you call it. Mirage was not confusing at all because the author didn’t hold back with the world-building. It was a wonderfully detailed world—rich, lush, and vivid. It was totally immersive. Daud really put in some extra attention with the cultural details as she seamlessly incorporates true events into fiction. She didn’t just paint a culture, she painted one that is dying because it’s being gradually eradicated from the world. And you can see how this eradication of their language and culture affected every Andalaan—from royalty like Idris, down to simple farmers like Amani.

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Review | P.S. I Still Love You

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Title: P.S. I Still Love You
Series Details: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 337

Blurb from Goodreads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

My Thoughts-01

Swooning… Swooning… Yup, still swooning everyone.

More often than not, in my experience with trilogies, second books aren’t usually as interesting as the first. It is hard to make a sequel and keep a reader’s interest especially when the first book was really good. Thankfully, there is no case of middle book syndrome in this. P.S. I Still Love You is just as sweet, and quirky, and fun, and enjoyable, as its predecessor.

 Jenny Han’s materials from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before weren’t very fresh and original, to be honest. But she managed to make a great story out of it. She was able to mold something fun and relatable from it—something that is sure to claim a space in your heart for a long time. And she’d done that again in this book. Everything screams “cliché”—the love triangle, the jealousy, the drama—but it was highly entertaining nonetheless. Han continues to give us a very realistic picture of a teenage life. She perfectly captured not just the sweet moments of being young and in love, but also the moments of stupidity and bad decisions that comes with being young.

“One day soon you’ll be in the world and you’ll have so many options, you won’t know what to do with them. Everyone will fall in love with you, because you’re so beautiful and so charming, and you’ll look back on high school as such a tiny blip.”

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Review | Immortal Reign

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Title: Immortal Reign
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #6
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Razorbill
Release Date: February 06, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 391

Blurb from Goodreads:

As two lethal elemental gods set out to destroy Mytica, sworn enemies must become allies in the final fight to save the kingdoms.

Jonas continues to willfully defy his destiny, but the consequences of plotting his own course are drastic. As the fight for Mytica rages on, he must decide just how much more he’s willing to sacrifice.

Lucia knows there’s something special about her daughter and she’ll do anything to protect her, even if that means facing Kyan alone.

Amara is called back home to Kraeshia. Grandma Cortas has her own plans for Mytica’s future. She promises Amara power, revenge, and dominance if she agrees to be part of her scheme.

Magnus and Cleo’s love will be put to the ultimate test. Dark magic is causing widespread destruction throughout the kingdom. Enemies across the sea are advancing. And unrest is stirring throughout the land. Is their love strong enough to withstand the outside forces tearing them apart?

My Thoughts-01

This book in one word—lackluster. I thought Falling Kingdoms was the weakest book in this series until Immortal Reign proved me wrong. Everyone’s facing a possibly bright future in the end, which was what I hoped for. Despite that, nothing felt satisfying. If anything, this felt like an underwhelming conclusion. Although I can’t say I haven’t expected that, given the consistent rise and fall of excitement throughout the whole series—one installment would have you totally engaged only to let you down in the next. Sadly, Immortal Reign is one of those that lets you down, in the slowest, stalest way possible.

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Review | Aerie

Aerie_MDH

Title: Aerie
Series Details: Magonia #2
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: Harper
Release Date: October 04, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 307

Blurb from Goodreads:

Where is home when you were born in the stars?

Aza Ray is back on earth. Her boyfriend Jason is overjoyed. Her family is healed. She’s living a normal life, or as normal as it can be if you’ve spent the past year dying, waking up on a sky ship, and discovering that your song can change the world.

As in, not normal. Part of Aza still yearns for the clouds, no matter how much she loves the people on the ground.

When Jason’s paranoia over Aza’s safety causes him to make a terrible mistake, Aza finds herself a fugitive in Magonia, tasked with opposing her radical, bloodthirsty, recently-escaped mother, Zal Quel, and her singing partner, Dai. She must travel to the edge of the world in search of a legendary weapon, the Flock, in a journey through fire and identity that will transform her forever.

My Thoughts-01

Magonia was a weird, bizarre, and slightly confusing read, but I enjoyed it. Its world was unique, whimsical, and magical. The romance was cute, and charming, and fun to read. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Aerie. This sequel is completely unnecessary. It would’ve been fine—more enjoyable even—if Magonia was a standalone. Aerie has got a gorgeous cover that I could stare for hours but that’s about all. The content is sadly disappointing. It only spoiled my interesting and peculiar experience with Magonia because everything I liked from the first book had gone straight-out flat in this one.

I go into this without rereading the first book. I was just relying on the bits and pieces that I remembered from reading my review on Magonia . But the author really made a good job in reminding her readers of all the important parts of the last book. It’s quite easy to go back into Magonian world with Headley smoothly guiding us back to it.

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Review | Crystal Storm

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Title: Crystal Storm
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #5
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Razorbill
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 379

Blurb from Goodreads:

The ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.

In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.

Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.

The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.

My Thoughts-01

This book is a party and we have the dead, the dying, the possessed, and the resurrected, in attendance. This is, by far, the best book in the Falling Kingdoms series. It was sweet and exciting, at the same time, dangerous and ruthless. It still uses greed, vengeance, blood magic, and deception, as key ingredients just like the previous installments, but Crystal Storm captured and held my attention far longer than the other books in this series did. It’s a short book—less pages but more thrill and action, more evil beings ready to cause destruction, and there was no shortage in deaths if that’s what you’re here for.

To be honest, the writing style wasn’t very impressive, but Morgan Rhodes sure knows how to keep her readers reading. She knows how to make you want the next book. Badly. Aside from the endings, the Prologue is my favorite part of every book in this series. Either we met new characters worthy of our time and attention in there, or we see flashbacks of our villains so we get to understand where all the greed and thirst for power came from. In this particular release, the writing is noticeably better compared to the previous books. Even the world-building has improved a little in this. It’s like there’s a new weight to the writing that promises some bad stuff is coming and it’s going to be good. And skies above! Morgan Rhodes sure knows how to deliver such promises. Even now—weeks after finishing this book—I’m still not okay with that ending. It was wicked!

As usual in this series, the book is told in multiple POVs. Our characters are scattered all across Mytica and its neighboring empire, Kraeshia. Although I never really felt that they’re that far away from each other. Mytica was rather small. This series’ entire world was rather small. All of the characters seem to have only grown a little, which I think is a result of having this many POVs in a short book. But plotwise, this book has taken huge interesting steps forward.

“Love is pain. Love is death. And love strips one of their power.”

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