Wednesday, 4 May 2016

WoW #84: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff



This week, I'm waiting on...


Nevernight


by Jay Kristoff


 Nevernight by Jay Kristoff book cover


Expected publication: August 9th 2016

Genres: Fantasy; Magic; Young Adult


Add to Goodreads


In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

Revenge.


This cover, this cover, this COVER! I love it so much. I’d be so tempted to buy it just for the cover alone, but did you read that synopsis?! Nevernight is about assassins. And vengeance. And a school for assassins! In a medieval Venice style world. Oh, and ASSASSINS! If you couldn’t already tell, I have a huge weakness for assassins. Holy freaking heck, I need this book!


What do you think of Nevernight? Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Reading!


* Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. *




Monday, 2 May 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi Blog Tour - Excerpt and Review


Welcome to my stop on The Star-Touched Queen Blog Tour! The Star-Touched Queen is Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel, and it’s a fantasy story inspired by Indian folklore, and Hades and Persephone from Greek mythology. Sounds so awesome, doesn’t it?! Today I have an excerpt from The Star-Touched Queen, and I’ll also chat about the book and share my thoughts on it. Hope you enjoy!


The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi


Excerpt


Thinking of Gauri always made me smile. But as soon as I caught sight of my tutor of the week, the smile disappeared. He stood between two pillars of the archive section marking the kingdom’s history. Beyond the sheer number of things to read in the archive room, what I loved most was its ceiling. It was empty, wide enough to crawl through and conveniently linked to my father’s inner sanctum.

The tutor, as luck would have it, stood directly below my hiding spot.

At least Father’s announcement hadn’t started. The courtiers still murmured and the footfall of tardiness fell on my ears like music. But if I was ever going to get to hear that meeting, I had to get rid of the tutor first.

“Punctuality is a prize among women,” said the tutor.

I bit back a cringe. His voice was sticky. The words drawn out like they would morph into a noose and slip around you in the dark. I stepped back, only to see his eyes sharpen into a glare.

He was heavyset and tall. Soft- rounded jowls faded into a nonchin and thick neck. Greasy black eyes dragged across my body. In the past, my tutors had all been the same— a little doughy, a little nervous. Always superstitious. This new tutor held my gaze evenly. That was unexpected. None of my other tutors had ever met my eye. Sometimes the tutors sidled against the dark of the archival chambers, hands trembling as they pushed a set of notes toward me. History lessons, they said. Why did they always start with history? Show me a dream unrealized. Don’t show me unchangeable paths.

The tutor cleared his throat. “I have no intention to teach you history or letters or speech. I intend to teach you silence. Stillness.”

This time I didn’t even try to hide my scowl. I did not like this replacement. Tutors generally left me alone. I never had to raise my voice. I never had to scowl. I didn’t even need words. What scared them most was much simpler and sweeter than that— a smile. The moment I smiled— not a real one, of course, but a slow, crocodile reveal of teeth and a practiced manic gleam— the tutor would make an excuse, edge along the wall and flee out of the archive rooms.

Who wanted to be smiled at by the girl that trailed shadows like pets, conjured snakes and waited for Death, her bridegroom, to steal her from these walls? Never mind that none of it was true. Never mind that the closest I had come to real magic was making off with an entire tray of desserts without anyone noticing. The shadow of me always loomed larger than the person who cast it. And sometimes that had its benefits.

This tutor, however, was not as easily cowed. I strained my ears, listening for the footfall of more courtiers, but it was silent. The meeting would start any minute now and here I was, stuck with some fool who wanted to teach me the virtue of silence.

I grinned at him . . .

. . . and he grinned back.



About the Author


Roshani Chokshi


ROSHANI CHOKSHI comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she's learning a new kind of storytelling. More information on the author can be found at www.roshanichokshi.com.




The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi book cover

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: Standalone
(but a companion novel is on the way!)
Format: eARC, kindly provided
by the publishers for review.
(Thank you!!)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
My rating: 4 / 5

Add to Goodreads


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.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

-- As seen on Goodreads


My Thoughts


*I received an eARC from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This didn't influence my opinion in any way.*


The Star-Touched Queen was one of my most anticipated releases of spring 2016, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Retellings are an addiction of mine, and once I heard that this one was inspired by Hades and Persephone, I knew I had to read it as soon as I could get my paws on it. Add in Indian folklore, and my expectations went through the roof!


As you may know, The Star-Touched Queen is a fantasy story with the world being based on Indian folklore (and Hinduism), with a sprinkling of Hades and Persephone from Greek mythology. I really loved the combination, but I will say that I didn’t get as strong Hades and Persephone vibes as I has initially expected. Reincarnation takes centre stage throughout the story, and I LOVED this! I’ve always been fascinated by the entire concept and how the soul is eternal and can’t be destroyed, and to see it influencing and shaping an entire book… I was soooo blissfully happy!


Something I really need to talk about is the writing style: if you like flowery prose and stunningly beautiful sentences then you should consider getting this book into your life within the next ten minutes! The narrative has a whimsical, almost ethereal quality to it, and at times it felt like I was reading poetry in novel form. With the writing style becoming so absorbing and adding that little something extra to the overall atmosphere, in a way The Star-Touched Queen reminds me of both Cruel Beauty and The Wrath and the Dawn, and if you liked either of those books, chances are you’ll adore this one.


Mayavati (nicknamed Maya) is our main character and narrator, and by the end of the book I really liked her character. She’s stubborn, head strong and impulsive, and while some of her decisions left me screeching in horror and rage, she’s an awesome character to read about. Considering this is a standalone fantasy, I really liked seeing the amount of development she went through over the course of the story. And I can’t forget Amar! The best way I can describe him, personality wise, would be a cross of Flynn Rider (from Tangled) and Morpheus (from the Splintered trilogy). He’s VERY charismatic, and he’s one of those characters you can’t help but end up liking. I do have one little gripe, though: I feel like we didn’t get to see the full range of his personality. He’s very enigmatic, and I completely understand that this is needed to keep our interest up as readers, but I can’t help feeling like too much of his personality was kept under wraps for a bit too long.


Overall, I really enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the fantasy genre. I loved that the book was set in an Indian-inspired fantasy world, and when you add in the stunningly beautiful prose, it was so easy to get completely lost in the world the author created. I know there is a companion novel in the works, and I can’t wait to read it!


And now, only one question remains: where can I get a demon horse of my own?!





Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Review: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly


Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly  book cover

Title: Deep Blue
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Series: Waterfire Saga, #4
Format: Hardback, bought
My rating: 4 / 5

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Serafina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromara, has been raised with the expectation - and burden - that she will someday become ruler of the oldest civilization of the merfolk. On the eve of the Dokimí ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil. But her nightmare is forgotten the next day as she diligently practices her songspell; eagerly anticipates a reunion with her best friend, Neela; and anxiously worries about Mahdi, the crown prince of Matali, and whether his feelings toward her and their future betrothal have changed. Most of all, she worries about not living up to her mother's hopes.

The Dokimí proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin's arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina's darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the mer nations. Their search will lead them to other mermaid heriones scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

-- As seen on Goodreads


My Thoughts


Don’t you love it when impulse buys pay off? I spotted Deep Blue when I was on holidays in the States last year and I just had to get it. It’s been sitting on my shelves unread since then, and on a whim, I decided to give it a try at the end of March. Beyond the characters being mermaids, I had absolutely no idea what the story was going to be about and it really paid off – I kinda loved it!


Deep Blue lies on the younger side of the Young Adult scale, dipping into an almost Middle Grade vive occasionally. I usually read, and prefer, more mature YA, but in this instance, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story. I feel like the beginning doesn’t really do it justice, though! I sort of liked the book up to the hundred page mark, but I loved it from that point on. Everything started to change and the mood of the book began to shift, and in a way the story began maturing into a full-fledged YA story focusing on friendship. Honestly, it was a bit deceiving with all the romance talk at the beginning! I absolutely LOVED that any romantic vibes that cropped up early on faded away with the friendships between the main female characters taking over.


I liked all the characters that were introduced to us, but Seraphina, Neela and Astrid were the ones that held my attention the most. The friendship between Sera and Neela was so sweet and genuine, and I really wish that female friendships similar to this were the norm in YA. It was nice to see a bit of girl-power for a change, plus, it all seemed genuine and not added just as a token gesture to fill friendship quotas. And not to forget the diversity! It was awesome to see merfolk from all over the world represented, with different abilities, disabilities, and backgrounds.


I really liked the mythology that was created, and I’m really curious to find out more. Also, all the Atlantis references will always get extra brownie points from me! The book did take a little while to settle into its groove. We got a lot of background information and set up for the first hundred pages or so: it was all necessary to the overall story, but the info-dumping portion wasn’t that subtle. Once we got past this, I thought the pacing was consistent, with a nice balance of world-building and plenty of action sprinkled throughout to keep you on your toes.


Overall, I really enjoyed Deep Blue and I’m so glad the gorgeous cover caught my eye. If, like me, you haven’t read a lot of books about mermaids and are curious about them, I think Deep Blue would be a really good starting point. It has a bit of a Disney-vibe, so if you liked The Little Mermaid, then definitely give this a shot!





Friday, 22 April 2016

May 2016 New Book Releases


May 2016 New Book Releases Journey Through Fiction


Most Anticipated Releases in May

Ahh, May. It’s that lovely time of year again when warmer weather is right around the corner, and an avalanche of new book releases descends upon us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not complaining about this – it’s awesome! I don’t think it’ll be too much of a surprise which book I’ve chosen as my most anticipated release this month. It’s A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, and it’s set to be released on May 3rd – less than two weeks to go! I absolutely loved the first book in the series, and I really hope the sequel will be equally awesome.


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


Other Books to Look Out For

All release dates are expected publication dates, and are subject to change. All links are to Goodreads.


May 3rd


The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude // Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano
The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Ruined by Amy Tintera The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson Traitor Angels by Anne Blackman

Ruined by Amy Tintera // The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Traitor Angels by Anne Blackman

The Outliers by Kimberley McCreight Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

The Outliers by Kimberley McCreight // Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor



May 17th


Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes // The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout



May 24th


The Last Star by Rick Yancey The Hunt by Megan Shepherd Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

The Last Star by Rick Yancey // The Hunt by Megan Shepherd
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee



May 31st


The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury Wanderlost by Jen Malone

The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury // Wanderlost by Jen Malone




Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Least Satisfying Series Endings I’ve Read


Least Satisfying Series Endings I’ve Read

I’ve noticed that I tend to shove the final books in a series into three categories: Perfect -- 50/50 -- Hated. There might be some overlapping here and there, but for the most part, my final opinions will be pretty close to one of those three categories.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about my most satisfying series conclusions that I’d read to date, and as you can probably guess from the title, today I’m sharing the endings that left me feeling either underwhelmed, disappointed or even worse, completely outraged!

I’m splitting this list into two parts. I’m going to start out with those series that would fit into the 50/50 label. You know the ones, the ‘I LIKED it… but’, or the ‘It was alright… but’ ones. Then I’ll venture into the endings where I’d happily allow the book to wallow in a lovely lava lake and encourage Hades to torture it regularly.

Just a little note: I’m not going into any specifics or spoilers, just a quick overview of my feelings. If I wrote a review for the book, I’ll leave a link if you’d like to find out what I thought about it in more detail. (My reviews are spoiler-free, unless stated!) Also, these are just my opinions and reactions to reading the books I've mentioned, and they’re not meant to offend anyone.



The 50/50 Endings


End of Days by Susan Ee


End of Days by Susan Ee

To this day Angelfall remains one of my all-time favourite books, but the last book in the trilogy? Oooh boy. I liked some stuff, but then some other stuff… ehh, not so much. There was so much potential for a really epic ending, but I did feel really let down by some of the things that happened.

My Reivew.


Winter by Marissa Meyer



Winter by Marissa Meyer

Okay, this will definitely be a controversial one! See, I LIKED what happens. I really did! It was the journey I wasn’t a fan of. Oh, and the boredom. It’s never a nice feeling when you’re wishing for a book to be over. :/

My Reivew.


Endgame by C.J. Daugherty



Endgame by C.J. Daugherty

The fourth book in this series was my favourite book of 2014, so I had HUGE expectations for the grand finale. It’s the same again, I LIKED the ending… but yeah, okay, alright, I was a bit miffed with a non-ending for a certain character! There were just too many loose ends and it stopped me from being completely satisfied with the outcome.

My Reivew.


Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer



Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

We went through all that… for THAT anti-climactic ending?! When I read it, I had lovely rose-tinted glasses on. (Ahh, the lovely Twilight bubble that got me back reading again!) If I’d read it now, I’d probably have rated it quite a bit lower than I did at the time.



Hades, My Dear, I Have Some Sacrifices For You


Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder


Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

I know there’s a new continuation trilogy following Yelena and Valek, (and yes, I’ve read the first book in that trilogy, but DNF’d it,) so I’m classing Fire Study as the last book just for simplicity sake. Simply put, Fire Study felt completely pointless. The first two books were awesome, but absolutely nothing happened in Fire Study. It was too drawn out, and I remember it took almost two months to get through.


Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout



Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Okay, so it pains me to include this book here. The Lux series used to be one of my favourite series… and then this book came along. I was completely crushed with how half-hearted and cliché the ending turned out to be. It felt like we were just going through the expected motions just to conclude the series. :/

My Reivew.


Out of Breath by Rebecca Donovan




Out of Breath by Rebecca Donovan

The first two books in this trilogy were amazing… but the last one, oh boy. Everything changed, and it was like I’d picked up the third book in a completely new series. The characters were completely unrecognisable!


Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris



Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

I will confess that this book takes the grand prize for being my most hated series conclusion, ever. Honestly, it was a complete disaster. The horrible thing was I could see it coming, but I was holding out hope that things would turn around. But, alas, they didn’t. What makes it harder to take: it’s a 13 book long series! Actually, I think this makes it hurt twice as much… *sobs*



Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Reading!




Friday, 15 April 2016

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh


The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh book cover

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, #1
Format: Hardback, bought
My rating: 3 / 5

Add to Goodreads


A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

-- As seen on Goodreads


My Thoughts


How in the world can a book be both awesome and underwhelming at the same time?! I have so many conflicting feelings about The Wrath and the Dawn, and I’m not really sure where to begin this review. How about with the positives?


The story itself was actually really gripping and held my attention pretty consistently throughout. It’s a One Thousand and One Nights retelling, and if you’ve visited my blog before, you know how obsessed I can be about retellings! It’s written in the third person with multiple POV’s used, and I absolutely LOVED the writing style. The pacing flowed so beautifully, and the descriptions, wow! It really felt like I had been transported to the Middle East and was walking through the halls of beautiful buildings and towns. And the food, oh so yum! The only possible down side to vividly described food is being constantly hungry while you’re reading.


Technically – for writing style, imagery, atmosphere, pacing etc., – I want to give all the stars under the sun to The Wrath and the Dawn. But, something is holding me back, and it’s a pretty big something. I knew going into this book that it would be romance-heavy, and I was completely okay with that. But, you see, here’s where my problem lies. The romance left me feeling ice cold. I didn’t feel any emotion or passion between Shahrzad and Khalid – all the words are there, but the emotions and feelings that should have been evoked didn’t translate over to me. I love romances where I’m practically climbing through the pages of the book to mush the characters faces together. That tension and the not knowing if they’re going to give into their feelings is half the fun! I was hoping for something along those lines here, but the romance developed a LOT sooner than I had expected.


Shahrzad – or Shazi – is a character I wanted to love, but unfortunately I struggled to care what happened to her. She certainly makes lots of threats, but in actuality she did next to nothing to back up her words. I was also very surprised at how quickly Shazi developed feelings for Khalid. Last time I checked, rage, resentment, hatred and a desire for vengeance are all pretty strong emotions. Add them together and I really doubt they’ll disappear within two days. Also, I don’t understand why Shazi is the one to have 'changed’ things for Khalid… and how is she not dead?! Just because of a few half-heartedly told stories? If I was Khalid with a penchant for killing his wives the morning after he marries them, Shazi would have been dead long ago. I don’t see what’s so special about her, nor do I see what all the other characters keep harping on about. So, she’s a good archer… well, so is the vast majority other YA fantasy heroines these days. We’re continually being told that Shazi is an amazing girl – fearsome, headstrong, opinionated, cunning, intelligent etc. – yet, I didn’t see any of this in practice at any stage. If anything, what we were shown completely contradicted all of these claims!


I wish I could talk to you about my feelings toward Khalid, but I felt absolutely nothing toward him. Logically, I guess I’m supposed to feel repulsion toward him at first, and that slowly transforms into sympathy… but, sorry, I got nothing.


Here’s the thing, I pretty much loved everything about The Wrath and the Dawn, bar the main characters and the romance. Yes, it’s unfortunate that both of these things take up the vast majority of the book, but despite all of this, I’m still really curious to see where the story goes next! As far as I know this is a duology, and I’ll definitely consider picking up The Rose and the Dagger when it’s released, and I really hope my opinions will change when I read it.





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