Our Dark Duet by: Victoria Schwab

Summary:

THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

The Review:

As a fan of the previous book, This Savage Song this book was of course one of my anticipated books of 2017. I am also a new fan of Victoria Schwabs work and she is one of my new auto buy authors.

The book picks up several months after the events of the first book, with both Kate and August separated from one another after what happened at the end of the book. Kate is basically living life as a nomad going from place to place and never really settling down. You can already tell that Kate has been through a lot and she is not the same person as she was at the beginning of This Savage Song. That is one of the strength of Victoria Schwab’s writing is how she can write characters and their development. Kate spends most of her time hunting monsters.

August is also going through some changes as well. He is still reeling from the events of the previous book, and he is not the same sweet, brooding boy from the first book. He realizes that he has to take the lead when some stuff is going down. He spends most of his time using his violin to reap souls, and every time he does so, it always pains him to do it.

The main plot deals with a new monster causing humans to turn on one another and the monster feeds off of that. It first comes to Prosperity, where Kate has started a new life for herself and than moves on to Verity which forces Kate to go back. I would say that the beginning of the book is a little slow, but I wasn’t bored by it. Kate and August are great characters and I loved seeing them together in This Savage Song, and when they were reunited in Our Dark Duet, that is where the story really picks up in the best way possible.

There are also some new characters that I liked. Soro, who is a gender neutral character who acts as a sort of sidekick for August. They were such a great character, and I kinda wish they were a bit more fleshed out.

I also thought the villains were good as well. The main villain was Sloan, who had his own POV chapters, and you really get a sense of his psyche. There is also Alice, who serves as a mini-boss character.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed. A lot of things were going on at once and I wish it was a bit slowed down in order for me to process a lot of the information, because a lot of emotional stuff does happen. It was an emotional whirlwind, in the best possible way.

In the end, Our Dark Duet, was a great conclusion to an already great duology. It really felt as if it was a final book. The characters go through so much and the ending is an emotional one.

Grade: 4.7/5

 

Hype or Like Friday: A Hint of Bitter Sweet-Favorite Retellings

Hello and Happy Friday everyone,

The theme for July is A Hint of Bittersweet and the Book of the Month is

Hype or Like Friday is a meme created by JillianLarkin, and Britt to discuss about hyped books and see if they’re hyped up or not. There would be book of the month that you can read, and the post your review for it on the end of the month, then rate it whether it’s a hype it or like it.

July 7th – Just Can’t Get Enough… What are some of your favorite retellings of classics?

Wicked by Gregory Macguire 

While I am mostly obsessed with the musical, I did start reading the book, and I am enjoying it so far. The book does go more into the politics of Oz and is a lot more dense than the musical. But it is still good.

A Court of Thorns of Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it does follow the same beats of the original, while adding a few twists to keep the story fresh.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

This is a sort of origin story of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. It also kinda follows the same beats as Wicked in seeing how she ends up that way.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Yeah, if you are familiar with my blog you know this is one of my favorites. Each book is a retelling of a fairy tale and it is basically a fairy tale avengers in which they all have to work together to stop the evil queen.

Those are my favorite retelling. What are your favorite retelling? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Want by: Cindy Pon

Summary:

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

The Review:

This was one of my anticipated reads, mainly because I was of Cindy Pon’s other book Serpentine, and I always felt she was very underrated within the book community.

First of all, I love how Cindy Pon takes advantage of the setting which is in Taipei, Taiwan set in the distant future, and from what I was told this is the first Sci Fi book set within that area. It also deals with pollution and how it affects the population. The main aspect of the book is how it deals with class. The upper class gets special suits in order to protect them from diseases and the bad pollution, while the lower class has to fend for themselves. It really reminded me of Legend by Marie Lu in the aspect.

“Mei” means without and “You” means to have. That’s the terminology that Pon uses to describe the social classes.

Jason Zhou is the main protagonist,and he reminded me a lot of Day in which he was someone who wanted to change the system by any means necessary, and of course with the death of his mother he feels as if it is his duty. He goes undercover to become a you, in order to destroy the Jin Coproaration, the company who manufactures the suits from within.

During his undercover mission he befriends Dairu, the daughter of the CEO of Jin Corp. Jason and Daiyu relationship I thought was very well developed. Its starts with them befriending one another and than an actual relationship begins to blossom. While it does feel a bit of a cliche,it was a well developed cliche. I kinda wish that Daiyu had some POV chapters as well just to get some of her side of the story, mainly because I really did like the character. She had a lot more agency with her, she more than just a girl that the main character has to woo, she was very smart in her own right.

If I were to point out a negative is that I wish some of the secondary characters had a bit more developed, and were better fleshed out. An example was a friend of Daiyu, whose basic story arc revolved around him telling Jason to stay away from Dairu. But I did think that the characters from Jason’s crew were fleshed out, and they reminded me a bit of the crew from Firefly. Hopefully as sequel will flesh out a lot of the characters.

I also like the twists and turns that the book went through, while yes some of it was very predictable there was a few that I didn’t really see coming, but then when you think about it the twists made some sense.

In the end, Want was a very good book delivered by Cindy Pon. She created some great characters and took advantage of a great setting. She created a great world that I want to see more of in future sequels..

Grade: 4.3/5

 

Hype or Like Friday: The Crown’s Game by: Evelyn Skye

Happy Friday everyone,

and here is a Hype or Like Friday review for The Crown’s Game by: Evelyn Skye

Hype or Like Friday is a meme created by JillianLarkin, and Britt to discuss about hyped books and see if they’re hyped up or not. There would be book of the month that you can read, and the post your review for it on the end of the month, then rate it whether it’s a hype it or like it.

Summary:

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

The Review:

I was very excited that this book was picked for Hype or Like Friday, because it was on my TBR for quite some time and I was glad to have an excuse to read the book, even though I have heard some  mixed things about it.

This book reminded me a lot of an Ember in the Ashes. mainly within its fantasy setting set within a historical time period and it also mixes in a lot of Ottoman empire within the story. The world building was well done, not as good as other fantasy books which entrenched you into their world. I liked that it gave us just enough information about the world without it feeling like info dumping.

The story is told from two POVs, Vika and Nikolai; two of the combatants of The Crown’s Game, which is a tournament that tests their magical skill in order to become an Imperial Enchanter, the loser would have to killed. Both of them are really engaging characters. Vika, is someone who was raised in isolation mostly by her father. I like how snarky and independent she is, but she is also very reserved especially with the fact that she may have to kill someone.

Nikolai is someone who sees the Crown Game as a way out. He was orphaned at at young age and spends most of his time with the Prince, Pasha. I like his friendship with Pasha,you don’t see a lot of male friendships in YA books and I am glad that this one was well developed. Pasha, was a crowned prince but he didn’t act like a spoiler prince, I also liked his courtship with Vika, he actually felt that he had to get to know her. While there is a love triangle between Vika, Pasha and Nikolai it wasn’t to distracting from the actual plot.

The Crown Game is sort of like a twisted Tri-Wizard tournamnt, it tested the skills of Vika and Nikolai and what type of enchanters they will become. While the Crown Game is the back drop for the book, it takes a few turns especially dealing with Nikolai and who he really is. I thought the twist was actually really done.

One of the problems I sort of have is a lack of main antagonist. Without giving to much away, I felt that the villain felt a little tact on without any much development. I also wanted to know a bit more about the conflict. I hope the sequel will flesh out those parts of the book.

In the end, I enjoyed The Crowns Game. It had great characters that kept me engaged at every page and it took full advantage of the Ottoman empire and its setting. I hope some of back stories could be more fleshed out along with its villain

My Grade is: LIKE

Grade: 4/5

 

 

 

 

If & Then Thursday

Happy Thursday everyone, and here is another If &Then Thursday,

If&Then Thursdays is a book meme created by Alex@ Young at Heart Books. How do you participate? It’s easy! All you have to do is choose two books that are somewhat related in theme, writing style, genre, etc. Tell us how they are similar and why we would like them! All recommendations should be made in this format:

“If you like Book A, then you might enjoy Book B”

If you liked:

This is one of my favorite book trilogies, set within a dystopian world. June and Day are some of my favorite characters. It is action packed and has a lot of twist and turns. It also a someone who majored in political science, I also loved the use of politics.

Than you might like:

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

Why: Both books deal with class issues, an illness that is killing the poor population and corrupt governments and corporations who may or not be responsible for the outbreak. Also see a lot of similarities between the characters of Day and Jason, who are trying to make their world better.

 

Wintersong by: S-Jae Jones

Summary:

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

The Review:

This was another book on my TBR and also one of debut authors I was excited to read about. What also excited me was that it was a sort of retelling of the movie Labyrinth, one of my favorite movies.

This book is very character driven. Liesl, is someone who is sort of the odd person out in her family, and usually has to play second fiddle to her younger brother and sister, who are more musically talented than she is. The book also focuses on the fact that she doesn’t fit the conventional beauty of the world., and I like the fact that she wasn’t given this huge makeover to become beautiful. Also despite everything she still loves her sister in order to free her from the Goblin King, and would do everything for her.

The Goblin King, while not exactly the Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth, he reminded me a bit of earlier seasons Rumple from Once a Upon a Time. While as the legends say he is suppose to be the monster you stay away from. I feel the story really picked up when The Goblin King was introduced. His back story was also really well done, without giving too much away you see why he takes an interest in Liesl.

While the relationship with Liesl and The Goblin King, seemed very wrong at first as the book went one in reminded me a lot of Beauty and the Beast. You find out that The Goblin King has a desire for music, which is why he chosen Liesl to begin with. I also liked the relationship was gradual over time and not completely rushed like other YA novels.

A negative I would have to point out is the pacing. I felt the pacing was way to fast in the beginning and I wish I saw more of the trials of Leisl trying to find her sister in the Underground. While the Underground scenes were very good I just wanted to see more of it, especially as a fan of Labyrinth.

I also felt that the ending was very rushed an anti-climatic. It just felt as if it was added at the last minute to add some conflict to the plot. I think there’s another book so hopefully it will add more to the story.

In the end, I enjoyed Wintersong, while it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, it was an enjoyable with a great leading protagonist, a good retelling of the story of the Goblin King. While it was very character driven, the characters added a lot to the book.

Grade: 3.9/5


 

Flame in the Mist by: Renee Ahdieh

Summary:

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

The Review:

This was another book that was one of my anticipated of 2017, mainly because I was fan of her other two books The Wrath and the Dawn, and The Rose & the Dagger.

The story is set in feudal Japan, and already Renee Ahdeih takes full advantage of the world it is set in. She makes a lot of referents to a lot of Japanese mythology and how the feudal system in Japan is presented. The Japanese setting really added a lot of weight to the story and made it a lot more interesting. She makes many references to Samurai’s, Geisha’s. family and honor.

The main story deals with Mariko, who one her way to see the man she is forced to marry, her caravan is attacked by what is seen to be The Black Clan, a group of bandits who live in the forest. In order to figure out what happens she disguises herself as a boy to infiltrate the Black Clan. This plot reminded me a lot of Mulan, just set in Japan. It really provided a lot of great character bits with Mariko trying to figure out her own gender roles.

Mariko was a great protagonist, within the story. Even after being almost assassinated she managed to handle herself rather well, especially since she lived a very sheltered life in the palace, she starts to learn how to take care of herself. I think she started to learn a lot of those too well, but it wasn’t really a problem for me. She realizes that if she goes back home she will just be another commodity and the reason why she looks into the mystery of her assassination herself is to become more independent.

I liked her relationship with Okami, the leader of the Black Clan. He basically trained her on the ways of the Black Clan. I like that it was developed over time and he learned to appreciate her as a male, before learning of Mariko’s secret. While I did feel that the romance was little forced it was well developed to have me at least care for both of them.

There is also Keshimi; Mariko’s brother who is tasked in finding Mariko. While a lot of his POV chapters were very brief, I was able to find his story arc very compelling and also looking into details about his relationship with Mariko. Also his chapters also provides a few key insights into the world from his perspective.

A problem that I had with the book is that I felt that the ending was very rushed, and I kinda wanted a little bit more, and also have the ending a bit more fleshed out. I know a sequel will be coming out so hopefully that will answer some unanswered questions.

In the end, Flame in the Mist was a very good book. It did a good job taking full advantage of it’s Japanese setting. It also had great, fleshed out characters that you want to root for.

Grade: 4/5