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 | 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 | The Midnight Star

The Midnight Star
Title: The Midnight Star
Series: The Young Elites #3
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 314

Blurb from Goodreads:

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

My Thoughts-01

I’ll be honest. After all the emotions that The Young Elites and The Rose Society made me feel—the heartbreaks, the surprising twists, and heart-pounding action—this conclusion seems a little less intense. And it stalled a bit—the first hundred pages were painfully uneventful. We still have the dark and the gritty atmosphere but somehow this one gives a different feel from the first two books in the series. It’s totally not the conclusion that I imagined would happen but I think Marie Lu did well in this. She tied everything neatly, leaving no loose ends behind, giving the series a proper closure. The Midnight Star may not be as awesome as the first two books but it’s still awesome.Read More »

Review | The Handmaid’s Tale

atwood

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Release Date: October 07, 2010
First Published: 1985
Type: Standalone
Genre: Adult, Classic
Pages: 324

Blurb from Goodreads:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America explores a world in which oppression of women, and repression of the truth, have become justified.

My Thoughts-01

The future is a harrowing nightmare in Margaret Atwood’s chilling yet compelling masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale. In this book, Atwood painted a future that you surely wouldn’t wish to be in. A future wherein women are only valued for their ability to give birth. So as a woman, and a mother, this has totally been a hard one to read. And disturbing. And scary. Just imagine being stripped off of everything you have—from your possessions, your freedom, your rights, down to your name! Imagine being put entirely in the “care” of men that you aren’t even allowed to walk the streets without their permission. It’s infuriating and frightening, this book. But what’s most terrifying about this extraordinary work of fiction is the possibility of it happening in reality.

A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.

Here we see a country, Gilead, under a totalitarian government run by despotic rulers and religious extremists. Obviously, nothing good came out of that combination. And we witness the injustices and the atrocities of this regime through the eyes of our main character, Offred. Read More »

Review | The Rose Society

The Rose Society
Title: The Rose Society
Series: The Young Elites #2
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 398

Blurb from Goodreads:

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites.

My Thoughts-01

Hands down! Hands. Down. I did anticipate a darker sequel after how things ended in The Young Elites. But I haven’t expected it to be this dark and this intense. The first book effectively built and arranged a good foundation for Adelina’s dark transformation in this installment—creating darkness so thick and heavy around her story. It’s also very interesting to see old characters play a bigger role in this book as well as new additions who has all sorts of intriguing things to put in the table. And yes, motives too!

Someday, when I am nothing but dust and wind, what tale will they tell about me?

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Fueled by her avenging spirit and with betrayals, hate, and unpleasant memories in the mix, Adelina continues to fall deeper into the dark side leaving death and destruction in her wake. She finally comes to full power in this book. And while it’s intriguing to see what she would do to her wrongdoers now that she isn’t so powerless, it’s also achingly sad seeing her heart harden like that, turning her into someone so ruthless. It is extremely heartbreaking knowing that such thing wouldn’t have happened if only the world had been a little kinder to Adelina and to all the malfettos. Even with all her power, Adelina still has fears and I really felt it in her narratives.Read More »

Review | The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites
Title: The Young Elites
Series: The Young Elites #1
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 07, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 355

Blurb from Goodreads:

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

My Thoughts-01

Here’s a confession. I don’t have a big shelf. So when a book doesn’t live up to my expectations I get rid of them by selling them off at half their original price. Why keep a book that I don’t intend to reread when I could pass it to others who might actually love it? But this book? This book has earned it’s place in my shelf and it’s definitely not leaving any time soon.

Everyone has darkness inside them, however hidden.

The Young Elites is one of the darkest book I’ve ever come across. There is a sense of honesty in the pain, the struggles, and the hate that emanates from the characters. It felt real and palpable. The plot held my attention all the way through. It’s very original and it rolled out in such a striking way—from the blood fever that killed thousands, to the idea of malfettos who are disowned by their families and hated by society because of the strange, inexplicable, powers they acquired after coming out of the blood-fever alive. Malfettos are seen as abomination and are unjustly executed because of it. But a few of them choose to fight back and they call themselves the Young Elites. Read More »

Review | One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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Title: One of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Type: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery & Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 361

Blurb from Goodreads:

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts-01

What good is a mystery/thriller if you’re not suspecting your favorite character and pretty much everyone mentioned in the book? Brace yourselves YA and mystery fans because One of Us Is Lying is a book set to mess with your brain a little bit and have you guessing all the way to the very end. It’s a very well put together book with a well-constructed storyline and cleverly plotted mystery. I bet many readers won’t guess this right. I’ve had over a dozen speculations about whodunit and who’s the exceptionally skilled liar among the characters. Still, I wasn’t able to hit the bull’s eye in the end.

The mystery was quite intriguing. Four outstanding students quickly turned murder suspects after a fellow student, Simon Kelleher, died in front of them during detention. Simon was widely hated though—being the administrator of a gossip app that has already managed to ruin lives by sharing people’s deepest secrets to the public. Simon’s killer could be anyone from school. And despite being good students it turns out that Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, and Nate had secrets to keep and each had a potential motive for killing Simon. Well, I think the lesson from this story is—if you’re smart enough to develop an app, make it something helpful instead of something meant to bring people down so you don’t end up being so alone and hated by everyone to the point that they would wish you were dead.Read More »

Review | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

cover-for-everything-everythingTitle: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Delacorte Press for Young Readers
Release Date: September 01, 2015
Type: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 310

Blurb from Goodreads:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

My Thoughts-01

I have high expectations from Everything, Everything. First, those high ratings and awesome reviews. Then there’s that eye candy cover. Followed by a unique and catchy premise! This book wasn’t bad but I wasn’t over the moon with it either. I think the idea was great and having a protagonist with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency)—an illness that I didn’t know anything about—makes it an even more intriguing read for me. The ending felt like a cop-out though, and I wasn’t very satisfied with it.

“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”

Yoon’s writing was lovable as ever. It has the same charm and smooth flow that I saw and loved in The Sun Is Also A Star. Hers is the kind of writing style that will make you fly through the pages without even noticing that you did. The short chapters really worked for me. It felt like the book is giving us a story using only a few words but without losing the weight of the message that it’s trying to convey—that love is a wonderful thing that could ignite hope, but at the same time, it could also drive a person to do stupid things. Read More »