To Kill a Kingdom by: Alexandra Christo

Summary:

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

The Review:

This was very much a Little Mermaid retelling, with Sirens instead of mermaids, which I liked a lot. It does follow a bit of the same beats as the Disney movie.

It is told through two POVs, Lira and Elian. Lira is a Siren who is tasked in stealing princes’ hearts, literally from their chests. It was a lot brutal than I imagined it would be. She is also the daughter of the Sea Queen, who is ruthless and very cruel towards Lira. She is the one who tasks Lira into stealing Prince’s hearts. The Sea Queen would punish her daughter by turning her into a human, but she still has to steal a princes’ heart.

Lira deals with a lot in terms of her mother. The Sea Queen would constantly abuse her growing up and would manipulate her to do her bidding. With her constantly saying that she wasn’t good enough.

Elian is a prince from a nearby kingdom, who would rather be a pirate than a prince. He spends most of his time hunting down Sirens and killing them to rid them of their evil. I liked a lot of his story arc wanting to branch away from his prince duties in order to hang with his crew of the Saad. 

With the two POVS I got a sense of seeing sort of both sides of the conflict. With Elian, a Siren killed one of his friends and he has been basically on the hunt for them. With Lira it is what she was taught by her evil mother, The Sea Queen. I also liked that Elian spent most of the book not knowing Lira’s true identity.

The book was also paced well. It didn’t slow done one bit and even some of the more quiet moments, which lead to a lot of great character development.

The romance between Elian and Lira was also good. While it did have some cliche moments, and had some parallels with the Little Mermaid, I did spend most of my time rooting them on as a couple.

I also really liked the supporting characters, mainly the crew of the Saad. They each had their own distinct personalities and was pretty fleshed out as I wanted them to be, and they did leave me with the feeling of wanting them more.

This book is also surprisingly enough a stand alone, which is really rare in YA, and I kinda want to see where the characters would go after.

In the end, I really enjoyed To Kill a Kingdom. It had some great characters and a nice twist on the Little Mermaid with some issues about abuse and manipulation.

Grade: 4.5/5

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Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

I cannot believe it is already at the mid way point of the year, and I read so many great books. I wasn’t tagged by anyone but I decided to do this anyway.

Best Book you’ve read so far:

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This is the first book I have read by Holly Black, and I was so glad to meet her earlier this year when she came to Boston. It had morally grey characters and a lot of political intrigue. I cannot wait to read The Wicked King.

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My favorite author wrote one of my favorite superheros and it was amazing. It was a sort of origin story of Batman, when he was just Bruce Wayne, a young billionaire with dead parents.

Best Sequel You’ve Read this year

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Of course. The ending of the Illuminae series gave me all the feels. I am so glad that I read this series.

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THAT CLIFFHANGER! This took everything that was Scythe and turned it up to 11. Great characters and I need to know what happens next.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

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I loved the Illuminae series and I am excited to read his new series. I also heard good things about Furyborn, and the premise sounds good.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

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I loved Vicious, and I was surprised that a sequel was happening.

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Two authors that I really like is writing a book. I am sold. Also since its Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli I am basically going to suffer and be happy about it.

Biggest disappointment

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Let me just say that the ending really dragged this book down. While it did have a good setting, I just couldn’t connect with the characters and the plot.

Biggest surprise

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These books are sort of outside of what I usually read. Eliza and her Monsters is a contemporary YA novel, which dealt a lot with fandom. The Poet X is a book told through verse, which is something I really don’t grab for.

Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

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I loved this book. A fantasy novel set within West Africa. I cannot wait to see how the series goes on.

Book that made you cry.

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Oh Jason Reynolds. How it did it take this long to finally read you books. I also made the mistake of reading this after I finished Dear Martin. Yeah, I was almost in a whirlwind of emotion.

Book that made you happy.

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A nice cute YA romcom, that truly made me happy and rooting for the couple. \

Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year.

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Last year I read Simon vs. and then I finally saw the movie this year. While it did make some changes to the adaptation I still loved the movie. Hopefully with this and The Hate U Give it will lead to better YA adaptations.

Favorite review you’ve written this year. (Booktube version: Favourite video you have done so far in this year)

Top 5 Other SFF Media

I loved writing the list, and seeing other lists of other faves that people like with the SFF medium.

 

That is my Mid Year freak out Book tag for 2018. I really hope the rest of year will also lead to a great reading year.

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.

WWW Wednesday 6-20-18

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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I bought this back in April when I decided to use my Amazon gift card my girlfriend gave me. I am really enjoying the book so far, especially the under the sea kingdom with its setting.

What did you recently finish?

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I really enjoyed this book. It talked about a huge issue such as sexual assault and the rape culture surrounding it especially with the setting of a prestigious prep school.

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I was reading this for my book club and all I could say is wow. It was an extremely powerful book detailing a special power that only women has and how they use their new found powers.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Yeah, you know this was coming. I loved the previous two books very much and the fact that I had to wait almost two years for this one was intense. I can’t wait to see what is in stores for the characters.

That is my WWW Wednesday. What books are you currently reading? What have you recently finished and what will you be reading next? Let me know in the comments below!

Tradition by Brendan Kiely (CW: Sexual Assualt)

Summary:

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

The Review:

This book, I sort of picked up on a whim. I knew of Brendan Keily as the co-author of All American Boys that we wrote with Jason Reynolds, and I even talked to him while getting his autograph at Bookcon, and he told me about this book.

The book is mainly told within three parts, a sort of before, during and after, and the book starts pretty much at an event and then goes to how the events lead to that incident. It has two POVs, James and Jules.

James is a transfer student, or a fifth year senior starting at the school and getting a fresh start after what happened at his old school. He has been recruited to play Hockey for them and quickly makes friends with the jock characters. I like that he was already unconformable with a lot of jock characters, who are all basically misogynist.

Jules, is someone who has attended the Fullbrook Academy and is on her senior year, who is basically counting the days until graduation so she could leave that school. She is practially an outsider, with a few friends.

I like that with the two POVs, you got see their own perspectives about each other. I also like how both Jules and James have start of with more of a friendship between each other. and seeing them bond over common interests.

I like the setting of the prestigious prep school, that fosters itself around tradition and order. As someone who has attended an all boys prep school, I can almost vouch for how those boys act, especially towards the young girls.

With the assault itself, it comes right at the middle of the book, and I like that it happened, towards the middle. It really gave me a chance to really recover with the character herself. It actually covers a lot of the beats that deals with sexual assault recovery, and wondering if it was her fault and also the backlash she received from former friends.

With the character of James, his arc revolves around trying to do the right thing with what happened with Jules and to stand up to his misogynist Hockey teammates. I also liked that he was able to be an effective ally without  verging into “not all men” territory.

In regards to the topic of sexual assault, I think more of the book could have dived deeper into the issue. But it did give us, a glimpse into what happens in regards to rape culture especially one that happened at a prestigious prep school, where the school is more likely to protect its reputation than protect the victim. It touches upon how harmful rape culture could be. I also felt that the ending was a bit rushed and could have been a bit more fleshed out.

In the end, I really enjoyed Tradition. It does a good job at tackling a subject such as rape culture, especially at a prep school, through the eyes of two great characters. I think it is a very important read, especially in regards to the #metoo movement

Grade: 4/5

WWW Wednesday-6/6/2018

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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I am really enjoying this book so far. I do love the Viking setting, and it also gave me a sort of Horizon Zero Dawn vibe to the story.

What did you recently finish?

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This book was AMAZING. An Asian style fantasy novel which is was inspired by the Sino-Japanese War. One of my most recent 5 star reviews.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I heard so many good things about this book, and also the author. I also love the premise.

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This was one  my bought books I got from Amazon, thanks to a gift card my girlfriend gave me and I also always wanted to read a Siren story.

That is my WWW Wednesday. What books are you currently reading? What have you recently finished and what will you be reading next? Let me know in the comments below!

The Poppy War by: R.F. Kuang

Summary:

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

The Review:

This book took me by surprise, and after reading it, I just wanted to say wow.

This story is an Asian inspired fantasy novel, which almost mirrors the Nanking Massacre. It deals with Rin, who is an orphan girl who managed to become one of the top students who got tested for the Keju, a very hard test in order to get into the military academy. With her doing so well, people tended to underestimate her because of her background as an orphan and even accused her of cheating.

The book is split into three parts. The first part deals a lot with Rin at the military academy, learning a lot of the background of the Poppy War, and the details of what lead up to those events. The fact it was mostly told through Rin’s class lessons made it so that the world building didn’t feel like info dumping and told more organically. The first part also did a good job at setting up a lot of the supporting characters and their back stories which made them more fleshed out.

It also basically deals a lot with Rin’s training and her mentor Jiang, who I could almost describe was a more bad ass version of Li Shang, who really wants to get down to business. The training chapters really makes this book work as it really dives deep into Rin’s character and you really see what she went through.

Parts 2 and 3, is there the book gets turned up to 11, in which you see the actual 3rd Poppy War, and everything went dark so quickly. From there the story is very fast paced with a lot of things happening at once, but with its great writing it was very easy to follow what’s going on.  It also explored a lot of the mythology surrounding the events and giving the story its own lore and how some of the gods plays a role in it.

I also like the themes that the book presents  in terms of genocide, and drug use, especially with the use of opiates and how that translated into the story. It also deals with the horrors of war and it really doesn’t hold back and dealing with a lot of Rin’s internal struggle.

In the end, The Poppy War was a fantastic book from start to finish. Every page got me hooked and engrossed with its story. I am very looking forward to how this series goes.

Grade: 5/5