Review: The Stolen Kingdom by Bethany Atazadeh

An exciting, tightly-plotted adventure with powerful characters, ‘The Stolen Kingdom’ really captured me. What I loved about this retelling was everything new Bethany Atazadeh brought to the classic Aladdin story – the magic, the female empowerment and combining it with a larger fairy-tale world.

The main character, Arie, really stood out to me. She’s a princess that cares about ruling her kingdom one day, without being afraid to get her hands dirty and do things for herself. Her determination was so strong, even in the face of manipulation, capture and almost drowning(!)…it all came through in her voice.

Her love interest, Kadin, had a equally powerful presence, and the switching between their perspectives always came at just the right point! I absolutely loved how Arie’s power to read minds affected their relationship and how they saw each other. It was such a clever way to get to know Kadin immediately, and shows an attention to character as well as plot that not all fantasies manage! I was pulling for their romance the entire time, and really anticipate what’ll go down between their as the series continues (if I could find a Jin myself, I’d wish for a happily ever after, of course!)

The pacing was excellent – everything that happened perfectly building on what came before. The scenes with the crew of thieves in the palace, and Arie showing off her powers were my favourite, you honestly won’t be able to put the book down when things come to a head with Amir. And those final chapters….wow. Talk about character development!

I read the book in one sitting, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series! Imagining how this world will expand and how the characters’ journeys will continue is so exciting. Seeds have been planted for ‘The Jinni Key’ that have me wondering if it’s even possible to wait until its December release.

We’re looking at the next ‘Lunar Chronicles’, for sure!

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

(Spoiler) Review: Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Warning: This is a SPOILER review. If you have not read QFG, or the rest of the SFGAE books for that matter, you may not want to read.

The School for Good and Evil is one of my favourite series of all time. When I found out a fourth book was coming, I was beyond excited for it. Writing another series within the same world has become so common nowadays, that maybe I shouldn’t have been as surprised. So, Quests for Glory kicks off with a 100 pages ‘where are they now?’ section. If you’ve read the Handbook of Good and Evil, you already have a good idea of it. Sophie is the Dean of Evil, Agatha and Tedros are getting married but their relationship is on the rocks – when is it not, let’s be honest? – Hort is a teacher for Evil, and the Coven have been given the task of finding a new school master. Phew, we’re all up to speed!

Because Hort and the Coven are given sections, this first part is quite lengthy. It’s very expositional but familiarises the reader with the characters again, so I’ll cut it some slack. But, along with the main characters, every other student in Agatha and Sophie’s year gets name dropped, telling you what quests they’re on too…

The plot finally gets rolling when Tedros can’t pull Excalibur out of the stone and a new enemy turns up: the Snake. There’s this pretty long winded explanation about The Lion and the Snake, another fairy tale that’s going to frame the book. When we meet the Snake, there’s the suggestion that he’s Rafal from the first trilogy but one thing is for sure: he’s evil.

We also get to meet Rhian, who shares a name with Rafal’s twin, the Good school master so that can’t be a coincidence. He’s all handsome and generally a better version of Tedros that Sophie can fall for. He actually has King Arthur’s blood. It felt like wish fulfilment. Sophie didn’t get the guy in the first trilogy, so we’ll just make her a new and improved version of the guy she wanted all along. But, with the foreshadowing of the evil connection, it’s not a surprise when Rhian’s too good to be true and turns out to be the villain. We’re also heavy-handedly told that Sophie ‘isn’t good at choosing guys’, so does it come as a shock? No. It’s exactly what we saw in The Last Ever After. I would have much preferred if Sophie didn’t fall for another cute evil guy because what does it say about the most powerful witch in the world if she needs a guy to goggle at?

Tedros, by the way, is a complete whiny child. He’s always moaning ‘this is my sword, my kingdom, I’m the king, blah, blah,’ that he comes off as so immature and not kingly at all! Agatha is downgraded to Tedros’ assistant and never really given her own moment to shine until the end when she works out who Rhian really is. They don’t work together as a couple – they don’t even feel like a couple, although we’re tricked into thinking they genuinely care about each other with a few small kiss scenes. I just don’t see them working and I need their relationship to have more depth. Show me they’re in love, don’t just tell me.

We also get introduced to some new characters – as promised – but they’re nothing more than names on a page for me. Nicola, the new Gavaldon girl, was the most fleshed out and introduced seemingly just as a love interest for Hort. She’s smart and captains the ship for their quest, but I don’t really know why Agatha or Sophie couldn’t have done that. They’re both equally capable. There was also Willam, Bogden, Kei and…maybe someone else, but like I said, I know so little about them that they seemed irrelevant when we were just focusing on the characters we knew. Nicola seemed to vanish once she’d served her purpose. I hope they all have a stronger presence as the series go on, and we don’t have to rely so much on Agatha and the gang to draw in readers…but then again, the new characters didn’t get enough screen time to be established, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re destined to the background forever.

At least there are some deaths in Quests for Glory. Chaddick, Tedros’ best friend who I’d completely forgotten about, was the first to be killed of on his mission. It came a bit too early for me to care, especially because there was no scene between him and Tedros beforehand to really assert their brotherhood. It was really relying on you knowing Chaddick from the first trilogy. Second to die was Lancelot, who, again, was a secondary, maybe even tertiary character and the least important adult. I’ll need at least one big main character death in this series for it to have some sense of believability. (My guess is Hester so that Sophie’ll take her place in the coven, especially if we’ve established that Anadil and Dot are besties within the trio, so Hester’s more isolated.)

We’re also introduced to this HUGE bit of lore about the school that would have probably been important to know in the first trilogy, and that is that there’s a house in the school specifically for kids that are being raised by evil parents but who are actually good, or vice versa. We learn that Rhian, Kei and Aric are all from this house. To have a grey area is a really good idea, but if that’s the case, shouldn’t that have been where Sophie and Agatha went? Sophie was raised good but she was evil, and Agatha was the opposite, so to add this convenient but important nuance to the school is too little too late.

There were some scenes I really enjoyed, though. The more action-adventure scenes were the group was fighting the Snake – particularly in that trap-door room – was very cinematic and even though the ending felt a little rushed, the pacing meant I didn’t want to blink because that would mean taking my eyes off the page. It ended on a massive cliffhanger, if you think that Rhian pulling Excalibur from the stone, Tedros failing and the world being plunged into chaos was a surprise.

Overall, this book did a lot of setting the scene for the next two books in the trilogy. A World Without Princes is such a great sequel, and probably my favourite book from the first series, so my expectations are definitely high for the next book. I’ll be reading it, for sure, and just hoping that my Agatha is given some more of the limelight! Quests for Glory, as a first book, was promising and ambitious and did great things to already be establishing a threat as big (or bigger?) than Rafal. I just can’t believe I have to wait another year to read what happens next…

Review: Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

Vendetta has been on my TBR since our friend, Carys, raved about the author at last year’s YALC. Now that the event is under two week away (!!), it was finally time, after months of staring at it on my shelves wondering ‘when will this happen?’ and I read it. The only thing I knew going in to the book was that there was a slight Romeo and Juliet vibe, but with the Italian mafia thrown in. Cool. Also, I bought the other two books in the trilogy, so I definitely plan on continuing – every time I brought it up in a video, there would be at least a few comments telling me how great it is! So, let’s talk about my thoughts.

As any first book in a series is, this was full of tropes. Luckily, the tropes were all ones that I get on with. Apart from one, and we’ll get to that later. Our main character, Sophie, lives in a small town called Cedar Hill, where nothing happens. There’s an old and abandoned mansion that has recently been filled with five (yes, five) hot Italian-American boys. The combination of dull town, unsuspectingly gorgeous girl and the new hot boy influx is as cliche as it comes. (See: Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, a gender-bend Beautiful Creatures.) And Catherine Doyle does little to step outside of the cliche.

I was getting seriously Bella and Edward flashbacks when one of the brothers would take turns saving Sophie’s life, or fighting people on her behalf. I swear there’s a cut-and-paste moment of Sophie being like ‘But, you were there, you saved me!’ and Nic saying ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’ I was kind of trash for it, especially when two of the brothers grew more prominent.

There’s Nic, the one she sees first and so the one she falls in love with. He’s a bit of an outsider in his family and wants Sophie to be part of his life, even though it’s against family policy. I call him Stefan Salvatore.

Then there’s Luca, the one that doesn’t want Sophie at all, but is still rugged and handsome with a sexual magnetism stronger than Nic. He’s more tied to family life and doesn’t hold back in upholding the whole assassin thing. I call him Damon Salvatore.

Because this dynamic already exists, I have a sneaky suspicion that Sophie will be caught in a love triangle and chose a different brother in the end than the one she chose to begin with. The forbidden romance thread is something I hadn’t read in a while, and it brought with it all the swoon-worthy moments of romances past. 

Most of the book is the brothers getting to know Sophie and Sophie uncovering the secrets of the Falcone clan, putting herself in danger and whatnot. I found all of this okay, but it wasn’t mind blowing. I feel like I’m still waiting for something to be uniquely Blood for Blood about the book that I want to read the second book straight away. It definitely has something to prove.

So, now for the naysaying. The trope I talked about earlier that I really didn’t like is one that may count as a spoiler for the book, but it deserves to be exposed. There are five brothers. One of the brothers, Valentino, who’s Luca’s twin, is in a wheelchair. He fulfils the role of tortured artist, sensitive and housebound. When Sophie is kept hostage in a warehouse to lure her uncle out of hiding, we find out that Valentino, rather than the evil uncle stereotype, is the villain. But it just went from one bad stereotype to another!

Really? There’s a link between villainy and disability? What the actual hell? We’re past this. We’re so past this, it’s cringey. It’s horrid and really tainted the story for me that Catherine Doyle went there.

And that’s my two cents on Vendetta. Overall, it was a good, if slightly predictable, play on forbidden love and family feuds that did enough to make me want to pick up the sequel. Fingers crossed it colours a little more outside the lines than this one did.


Series To Read Before 2018!

What time is it? TBR Shame Time! Around the middle of the year, it’s always a good plan to re-evaluate what’s on your TBR and what your priorities are before 2018 rolls around, because it’s going to come sooner rather than later if January to June is anything to go by. I swear we were making our reading resolutions a week ago…

Tiny Pretty Things by Donielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

This is only a duet, so really I have no excuse for not starting it because it’s not a lifetime dedication like Cassandra Clare series. But, it’s TOP of my list because I’m desperate to read about ballerinas at a boarding school. Ever since Bee and I got hooked on Dance Academy at the beginning of the year, ballet has been my favourite topic and this will be fabulous, I know it.  Continue reading “Series To Read Before 2018!”

Review: Forever Geek by Holly Smale

32288152Forever Geek (Geek Girl #6) by Holly Smale
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 400
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★
Series: All That Glitters (#4) | Head Over Heels (#5)
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is it. We’ve been waiting for a whole year, and it’s finally time to finish our beloved Geek Girl series. To say that we were overjoyed to receive this is an understatement. Geek Girl is one of the books that we’re always recommending, and the fact that we’ve re-read the whole series (some of the books multiple times) proves its staying power as one of our favourite series of all time. Forever Geek had a lot of hype to live up to and a lot of expectations to fulfil and both things we think Holly Smale did perfectly. We dare you to find a Harriet fan who isn’t going to be satisfied by all that unfolds in this final book! So, on to the review! Continue reading “Review: Forever Geek by Holly Smale”

(Spoiler) Review: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

25518205Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 264
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★★

And so, we’ve reached the end of the line with Harper, the epitome of silk hiding steel. How did the conclusion to the series measure up to the rest? Let’s see…

As the title of this review suggests, there will be spoilers. If you have not read Rebel Belle, or Miss Mayhem then this review will spoil some of the content of those books.  Continue reading “(Spoiler) Review: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins”

Review: The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

ChemicalGardenTrilogy_zps9084f5c1(Warning: As this is a series review, only my comments of Wither will be non-spoiler. When commenting on the sequels, Fever and Sever I may spoil the contents of the previous books.)

I’ve had the first book Wither on my shelf for about two years, and only managed to read the first fifty pages before I put it down for some unknown reason. I thought it was about time to give the series another shot, so here’s what I thought of what was promised to be a dystopian, and ended up being like The Selection gone wrong.

W  I  T  H  E  R

For a first book in the series, I could forgive a lot of things. It was Lauren DeStefano’s debut novel, and dystopian is always going to be a hard genre to write because so much thought has to go into the world, it’s purpose and what went wrong. Because of this, I think the writing style was a bit clumsy. The USP of Wither is that women die at 20 and men at 25. We’re told this fact on three consecutive pages. More trust needed to be put into the reader understanding the basics of the world, especially if it’s described on the blurb!

Along with the immediate death thing, girls are sold off to men at the highest bidder. Rhine, the protagonist, is sold to Linden Ashby, along with two other girls, Jenna and Cecily. Bigamy is apparently OK in this world. It was a very strange concept to read, especially the jealously that seethed between all the girls, despite two of them saying they didn’t really love Linden. I was quite uncomfortable with the whole set up.

Rhine was an OK character. We were told that she was special, because she had two different colour eyes, but for me she didn’t seem very special at all. There was nothing about her that was better than the other girls she was compared to. Jenna was probably my favourite of the girls, and I got to know the least about her. Cecily was downright annoying. Linden had absolutely no spine and no clue. Vaughan felt like a stock villain. He was doing evil things, but it’s not given a real explanation to why he’s so evil. If he’s not trying to find an antidote to the killing virus, what is he doing?

As for the romance, golly was it forced. Rhine and Gabriel didn’t get to see each other a lot, and it was like kindness was mistaken for love. I don’t doubt they do love each other, it’s just that I would have liked a bit more interaction between the two before they decided to try and escape together.

When reading Wither, I felt as trapped as Rhine in the Governor’s mansion. The pacing was erratic, days would pass and the only awareness would be sentences like “it was a cold December” and then it would click how long it had been. If I were to boil the book down to its essence, not a lot would have happened. Two people would have fallen in love, been thwarted and tried to run away. But, I had a lot of hope for Fever.

F  E  V  E  R

Second book syndrome to the max. Rhine and Gabriel managed to escape, otherwise this wouldn’t be a series, BUT, did they really escape only to be captured by a different villainous character? If I thought the first book was repetitive, Fever took it to a whole new level.

Gabriel and Rhine both get sick at different times in the book, hence the title. Reading so many scenes of delirium and falling asleep got so boring, I thought I was going to drop off myself! The whole book put me in this very weird, lethargic mood.

The new characters were interesting, I guess, but generally the same as the girls and villains we’d been introduced to in Wither. Not enough time was spent with any of them to truly gain an understanding of their character. Maddie holds the most potential for Sever, but not by much.

And, after another 340 pages, we’re still no closer to Rhine’s true goal: to find her brother, Rowan. That’s what this whole book was supposed to be about, the driving force behind her wanting to escape Linden’s mansion in the first place. I was annoyed with how this book didn’t propel the plot forward, but seemed to hinder it, instead.

S   E   V   E   R

I left at least a month between reading Sever and Fever, so I was a little out of the loop, but generally, I was surprised by how much I loved the ending. It gave a nice conclusion to all of the remaining characters’ lives, and finally addressed where the heck Gideon ended up after Fever. 

Overall, the last book felt very back-and-forth, like any progress that was made in the first two was completely eradicated. Rhine ended up back at the evil wife mansion. What gave this book purpose was the introduction of Rowan, Rhine’s twin brother, who she’d been searching for since Wither. He was an OK character, I guess, but didn’t really understand how traumatised Rhine had been by Vaughan. Nothing he said could convince me that Vaughan was a good guy. He was evil through and through.

I was very aware when I began the series that it was going to end in a genetic experiment, because how else were they going to solve the deaths of their young people? Being aware of the cliche before the ending helped to accept that this was one of the only incidences it would have made sense, unlike any other kind of dystopian society, explained any by genetic experimentation.

As I said, all the characters got…an ending. It might not have been happy, but at least all the little loose ends were tied. We found out the secret Jenna was hiding, and the backstory of Rose, and what made Madame so relevant. Cecily became much less annoying and Rhine, only a little bit worse for wear, got what she wanted: freedom.

I really would recommend this series to those that liked The Selection by Keira Cass, and are fond of the dystopian genre. It’s a little more tame than other dystopians, gentle and simple. In the end, I’m giving the series 3.5 stars, and in order of my favourites: Wither, Sever and then Fever. 

Review: Wings Series by Aprilynne Pike

These beautiful, glittery pink books have been on Bee’s shelves for as long as I can remember. They were some of the first YA books she read, and mark the genesis of her love for faery fiction. This year, I made it my mission to read more of Bee’s books, and the Wings series is possibly my favourite thing so far.

Continue reading “Review: Wings Series by Aprilynne Pike”

Reviews by Series

Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angelini
Starcrossed | Dreamless | Goddess

Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Obsidian | Onyx | Opal | Origin | Opposition

Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone |  Siege and Storm | Ruin and Rising

The Rain Duology by Virginia Bergin
The Rain | The Storm

Magisterium by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
The Iron Trial | The Copper Gauntlet

The Selection Series by Keira Cass
The Selection | The Elite | The One | The Heir

A School For Good and Evil Trilogy by Soman Chainani
A School For Good and Evil A World Without Princes | The Last Ever After

Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie
Matched | Crossed | Reached

Vivian Versus Duology by Katie Coyle
Vivian Versus the Apocalypse | Vivian Versus America

The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner
The Maze Runner | The Scorch Trials | The Death Cure

Waterfire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly
Deep Blue | Rogue Wave

Fearsome Dreamer Duology by Laure Eve
Fearsome Dreamer | The Illusionists

Top 8 Trilogy by Katie Finn
Top 8 | What’s Your Status? | Unfriended

If I Stay Duology by Gayle Forman
If I Stay | Where She Went

Precious Gems Trilogy by Kerstin Gier
Ruby Red | Sapphire Blue | Emerald Green

Half Bad Trilogy by Sally Green
Half Bad | Half Lies | Half Wild

Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Burn For Burn | Fire With Fire | Ashes To Ashes

Rebel Belle Trilogy by Rachel Hawkins
Rebel Belle | Miss Mayhem | Lady Renegades

Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer | The Evolution of Mara Dyer | The Retribution of Mara Dyer

Call of the Forgotten Trilogy by Julie Kagawa
The Lost Prince | The Iron Traitor | The Iron Warrior

Talon Series by Julie Kagawa
Talon | Rogue

Teardrop Duology by Lauren Kate
Teardrop | Waterfall

His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers
Grave Mercy | Dark Triumph | Mortal Heart

Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu
Legend | Prodigy | Champion

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass | Crown of Midnight | Heir of Fire | Queen of Shadows

Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead
Bloodlines |  The Golden Lily | The Indigo Spell | The Fiery Heart | Silver Shadows | The Ruby Circle

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
Vampire Academy | Frostbite

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Cinder | Scarlet | Cress | Winter

The 100 Trilogy by Kass Morgan
The 100 | Day 21 | Homecoming

Miss Peregrine’s Trilogy by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children | Hollow City

Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan
The Lost Hero | The Son of Neptune | The Mark of Athena | The House of Hades | The Blood of Olympus

Under The Never Sky Trilogy by Veronica Rossi
Under the Never Sky Through the Ever Night | Into the Still Blue

Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s Curse | The Winner’s Crime

The Perfectionists Duology by Sara Shepard
The Perfectionists | The Good Girls

Study Series by Maria V Snyder
Poison Study | Magic Study | Fire Study

Glass Series by Maria V Snyder
Storm Glass | Sea GlassSpy Glass

The Raven Cycle Quartet by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Boys | The Dream Theives | Blue Lily, Lily Blue | The Raven King

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Days of Blood and Starlight | Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Slated Trilogy by Teri Terry
Slated | Fractured | Shattered

Rebel Duology by Amy Tintera
Rebel | Reboot

Pivot Point Duology by Kasie West
Pivot Point | Split Second

Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies | Pretties | Specials | Extras

 Mind Games Duology by Kiersten White
Mind Games | Perfect Lies

Dust Lands Trilogy by Moira Young
Blood Red Road | Raging Star | Rebel Heart

Finishing (LOTS OF) Series

Recently, I’ve been on a series finishing binge.

Coincidently, it seems, in all the trilogies I’ve have on the go, I’ve read the first two books and have the final book to complete. This is the perfect scenario, because not only do you get the satisfaction of finishing a book, but that epic-ness of finishing a whole series, even if it might have been ages since you read the previous books.

So, series I’ve managed to complete:

  1. Thphoto 1e Kane Chronicles – this has been on my TBR for literal YEARS. I read the first book as soon as it came out, managed to get half way through the second one, and then gave up, even though the third book was in my possession, and hardback (a complete rarity on my shelves.) Finishing this series felt like the b
    iggest achievement of the year, because it was so long awaited. Finally, I can cross the books off thousands of to-read-lists I’ve made throughout the months!
  2. The Grisha Trilogy – I read Shadow and Bone, and Siege and Storm back to back. They are some of Bee’s favo
    rite books, so I was really pleased to be cracking on with such important books on her shelves. BUT, she refused to buy the third book because it was ONE CENTIMETRE taller and wider than the other two, and she wanted her trilogy to match. I don’t know how long we had to wait for Ruin and Rising to be released in normal book size, but it was worth the wait. Although I might have almost forgotten some of the plot, this was such an amazing end to the trilogy and really drew everything together, in a neat little bow.
  3. Ever After High – This was a cute and fun read where I could completely shut off my brain and soak up the adorableness of the fairy tale world. I’m familiar with the characters and the setting, so it was super sweet to see them in writing, not just on screen. This trilogy was basically ice cream to me.

Series I’m so almost done with:

  1. photo 2The School For Good And Evil – I LOVE THIS SERIES SO MUCH. *throws glitter* I re-read the first two books to prepare for ‘The Last Ever After’. It’s a beast, at just over 650 pages. All the pages are going to be magical, I told myself, don’t be scared by the length….
    …I got scared by the length. I’ve been putting off just finishing this series because I seriously don’t want it to be over. Agatha and Sophie’s story needs to remain open forever. I’m only doing what the Storian would have wanted.
  2. Lux Series – Only ‘Opposition’ to go. Unlike the other series, this one has five books, which means finishing the series has been in the making for a while. I read the first four in quite a rapid succession, and slowly and gradually they’ve been getting better, by half a star each book. I’m hoping that the final book will blow me out of the water or make up for the bad star ratings of the first couple of books. Maybe that’s why I’m not jumping to finish this series?

Phew! That’s quite a lot! Now, I’ll take a breather before diving in to any more series!