Review | Gathering Darkness

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Title: Gathering Darkness
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #3
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Razorbill
Release Date: December 09, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 407

Blurb from Goodreads

Love, vengeance, and greed spark a deadly quest for magic in the third book of the Falling Kingdoms series.

Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred—the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic. . . .

THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia’s overpowering magic—all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

The only certainty in these dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica. . . . but the four element gods of the Kindred have other plans.

My Thoughts-01

What. Just. Happened? I decided to continue with this series but with lowered expectations because of my many issues with the first two books. I certainly wasn’t expecting shocking reveals, intense action, and so many lies peeled off to uncover the truth beneath. This book will reconstruct everything you thought you knew from the previous books—from the myth, to the characters’ motives, down to the characters’ feelings. And it was all so unexpected. I was totally blindsided.

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Review | Legendary

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Title: Legendary
Series Details: Caraval #2
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Flatiron Books
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 451

Blurb from Goodreads:

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Thoughts-01

When you enter the world of Caraval you’re signing up for magic, deception, and romance that would sweep you off your feet. I’m pleased to announce that Legendary didn’t fail to deliver all that. It took a while to build up the magic and the mystery around the whole new setting of Caraval. I, too, was bored during the first half of the book. But soon as Tella got into the thick of things, the story proceeded in a faster pace, the magic bloomed, the villains grew more and more threatening, and my curiosity won’t stop banging my brain willing it to read more.

“Every good story needs a villain.”
“But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”

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Review | Jar of Hearts

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Title: Jar of Hearts
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Minotaur Books
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Pages: 311

Blurb from Goodreads:

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

My Thoughts-01

Murder, concealment, and secrecy are the main ingredients of Jennifer Hillier’s suspense novel, Jar of Hearts. Topped with tastefully complicated relationships between characters, this book is a recipe for one great read. This is solidly entertaining, chilling, and wonderfully twisted, page-turner! But be warned—aside from the murders described in gruesome details, this book also contains other unsettling things like violence, abusive relationship, and graphic rape scenes which could be extremely uncomfortable to read.

In every story, there’s a hero and villain.
Sometimes one person can be both.

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Review | I Believe in a Thing Called Love

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Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336

Blurb from Goodreads:

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

My Thoughts-01

I’ll be honest and go straight to saying I wasn’t thoroughly shipping Desi and Luca. I wasn’t rooting for them. Nor was I convinced by the romance. But damn if this book wasn’t funny! It’s light-hearted and hilarious like most K-drama series I’ve watched. This is actually the first book I’ve read that involves K-drama and so I find this unique in that way. It reminds me of those days when I would stay awake binge-watching these Korean series while everyone else in the house is snoring. That was before I became a full-on bookworm.

Desi Lee is an over-achiever. She is quite successful in everything she puts her mind into but there’s one thing she fails terribly at—getting a boyfriend. It’s kind of cute watching Desi try to put an end to her “flailures” by making a K-Drama based guideline on how to get the boy. But I hated how she took it very seriously to the point that she became controlling and manipulative. I understand that in most Korean dramas the heroines were always put in extreme situations, does extreme measures to survive, which leads to the heroes taking notice of them. But does Desi really have to put her life and someone else’s life in harm’s way for the sake of romance? Not once but three times! If I was Desi’s love interest, the things she did would have sent me in the opposite direction and never come back. Because that was just sick.

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Review | Rebel Spring

Rebel Spring

Title: Rebel Spring
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #2
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Razorbill
Release Date: December 03, 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 401

Blurb from Goodreads:

Cleo is now a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica as the evil King Gaius lies to her people.

Magnus stands to eventually inherit the new kingdom but is still obsessed with his feelings for his adopted sister, Lucia.

Lucia is haunted by the outcome of the breathtaking display of magic that allowed her father to capture the kingdoms.

Jonas watched at the palace gates a troop of rebels behind him, waiting for him to tell them how he plans to overtake King Gaius.

After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over…

At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas’s hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia’s, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus’s, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand.

When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden Mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long-smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius’s road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences.

My Thoughts-01

This series is still a long way from getting a five star rating from me. But compared to Falling Kingdoms, this is actually better. The first half of the book was pretty much uneventful. The second half is where it picked up pace. The characters—some of them at least—are starting to gain some layer, there’s more action, more deaths, and more players in the race to find the Kindred. Adding more thrill to this is the fact that none of these players are truly ahead of the others in this quest. They all possess different significant pieces that leads them to the Kindred—from simple knowledge, to family heirlooms, to strange immortal friends—and they’re all equally close to finding it. And then there’s those who believe that the Kindred is better lost than found and are ready to put on a fight to keep anyone from finding it.

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Review | Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #1
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Razorbill
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 412

Blurb from Goodreads:

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword…

My Thoughts-01

For years I’ve been excited to start this highly popular series because of its said similarities to Game of Thrones. And now finally… finally I have my copy and, oh boy, how disappointed I was! Sure, it has some bloodthirsty and power-hungry characters, a war between realms, brutal deaths, and incestuous relationship, but it pales in comparison to Game of Thrones. There was enough interesting magic, and strange prophesies, and shape-shifting Watchers to save this book from a one star rating. But the characters—which occupies a huge portion of my criteria next to enjoyability—were just so dull, and stupid, and simply forgettable.

I’m going to start ranting now. There may be spoilers ahead so if you haven’t started with this series yet, read at your own risk.

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Review | Circe

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Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher: Hatchette Book Group, Inc.
Imprint: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 400

Blurb from Goodreads:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

My Thoughts-01

Admittedly, Greek mythology wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. And that may have contributed to my less-than-four rating. But, I think, if you’re into mythology you’d be in for a treat.

When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.

The heaviest pulling factor of this book, for me, is the fact that this is a story about Circe—a lesser god on the unpopular side who hasn’t been given this much attention before. I gather that she appears in Homer’s Odyssey and a couple more books but I haven’t read those yet (I know. I can almost hear Septa Unella chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” behind me). This is the first book (that I know of) about a god named Circe which makes this more interesting.       Read More »

Review | The Fill-In Boyfriend

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Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 05, 2015
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 346

Blurb from Goodreads:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

My Thoughts-01

One thing is clear—this book’s main ingredients are pretty clichéd. I’d bet you all have read something similar to this before. I can’t say the plot was very creative. There were some holes in it. The circumstances that our characters are in aren’t really something I haven’t seen somewhere else either. Kasie West’s writing is impeccable though. And that is what hooked me in. It works its own magic, giving thousands of tiny teeth and hooks to these tropes. So when you’re reading, you don’t think much about the predictable premise, and instead, it makes you focus on how adorable and fun and sweet and cute the story is.

Behind all the clichés there’s a lot more depth that I wasn’t expecting from this book. It all came as a nice surprise to me. More than just romance, it also takes on common teenage issues, unhealthy friendships, and family relationships. It’s about knowing who you are, learning the effects of telling lies. It shows the significance of friendship and the influence of friends, and it presents a picture of how social media can impact on a person’s life. West deals with all that without sounding preachy and instead brought it in a fun and relatable way.
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Review | Children of Blood and Bone

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Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Series: Legacy of Orïsha #1
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: March 06, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 537

Blurb from Goodreads:

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

My Thoughts-01

For a debut novel, this one is spectacularly good. Children of Blood and Bone is one of those books surrounded by so much hype and I dare say that the hype is legit. This book absolutely lived up to its reputation. I was considerably impressed! There wasn’t a page I didn’t enjoy. Everything was polished—the worldbuilding, the characters, the history, the action, the mythology and the magic system. And here’s the wonderful thing—all the characters are proudly black. How cool is that?

“As long as we don’t have magic, they will never treat us with respect. They need to know we can hit them back. If they burn our homes, we burn theirs, too.”

Knowing that this is the first book of a series, I’ve readied myself for some info dump because that’s often a case with series starters. But such was not the case with this book. Tomi Adeyemi built her world with brief yet exquisite descriptions. There was just the right amount of attention to details to make a superb worldbuilding without sacrificing the smooth flaw of the plot and without loosing the thrill as our characters embarked on a journey to save magic. Read More »