Author: Arielle (page 1 of 3)

BOOK REVIEW: The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima

BOOK REVIEW: The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Demon King (Seven Realms #1)
by Cinda Williams Chima
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can't sell—the thick silver cuffs he's worn since birth. They're clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her...

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

“You have to take chances, Raisa. What seems safest on its face may not be in the long run.” 

It was SO GOOD going back and starting this series again. Ever since I finished all of the books the first time around, this has been a go-to series that I recommend people looking for quality YA fantasy. I’m even more excited to keep going, too, because from what I remember the books just keep getting better and better as the series progresses. Whether you’re looking for wizards, a strong beginning of world-building, clashing groups of people, interesting characters (the list goes on)—this book, and entire series for that matter, has it all.

And when you’re in the gangs, loving somebody is like putting your heart on a plate and serving it up to your enemies.

I guess the best way for me to go about this is to start with the characters themselves. We get two main POVs from Raissa, the princess heir to the Fells and Han, a “reformed” street lord who spends half of his recent time either trading mostly legal things for bits of money for his family or up on Hanalea with the clans. While neither of them is perfect in this first book, or by the end of the series, it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with them (PARTICULARLY HAN). 

“Mercy is never unbecoming, mate,” Cuffs said.

Raissa is a unique princess character in that she a mix of characteristics from all of the different stereotypes that you generally get in YA fantasy. She can appreciate the frivolous things in life like kissing multiple boys and a good party BUT because she is part clan and has spent time outside of court, she longs for more. After hearing from her old friend (now corporal) Amon that things aren’t all what they seem in the heart of her city, she wants to find out more. And not just in the sense that she feels utterly trapped and wants to go out adventuring (which I mean..she still does)…but she wants these things not just for herself but to actually get to the bottom of how her people are living in the hopes that she will be made a better ruler for it. She feels like she’s in the dark (she DEFINITELY is) and she’s constantly grasping for the light. She doesn’t want to keep the wool pulled over her eyes and that’s a pretty big deal if you ask me.

He expects nothing, she thought, because he’s never had anything. And nothing was expected of him. He was free in a way she never would be.

Han…..Han in a word is charismatic. I think that’s why so many people love him so much. It’s impossible not to! As I mentioned earlier, he was a former street lord who now tries to stay on the right side of the law (not that that’s really possible). He wants to provide a better life for his mother and younger sister and is doing the best that he can until he runs into a wizard and *maybe* ends up threatening him because he is threatened and I mean how could he have helped it really because he WAS in fact a street lord. ANYWAYS somehow he ends up with this magical amulet and things basically start to go to shit for him from there. People on the streets close to him start to die and ~things~ are revealed about the past that shake the very foundation of the past that he has always known to be true. In short, this books sets up for the next three to become very interesting.

“Perhaps you subscribe to the notion that princes actually have control over their own lives. I beg to differ. We strut the boards, improvising like mad, only to learn that the script is already written, and we’ve got it wrong.” 
“Not always,” Raisa countered. “I have to believe that sometimes we can write our own.”

The best part of all of this is that when Han and Raisa cross paths, it isn’t under the best of circumstances and Han had no idea that she was royalty at all. ESPECIALLY since they both are headed towards the same place at the end of this book. *laughs maniacally*

Magret’s eyes kindled with pride. “You’re just like she was,”she breathed.
“Like who was?” 
“Like Queen Hanalea herself.”

BOOK REVIEW – Tangled (Tangled #1) by Emma Chase

BOOK REVIEW – Tangled (Tangled #1) by Emma ChaseTangled (Tangled #1)
by Emma Chase
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Drew Evans is a winner. Handsome and arrogant, he makes multimillion dollar business deals and seduces New York’s most beautiful women with just a smile. He has loyal friends and an indulgent family. So why has he been shuttered in his apartment for seven days, miserable and depressed?

He’ll tell you he has the flu.

But we all know that’s not really true.

Katherine Brooks is brilliant, beautiful and ambitious. She refuses to let anything - or anyone - derail her path to success. When Kate is hired as the new associate at Drew’s father’s investment banking firm, every aspect of the dashing playboy’s life is thrown into a tailspin. The professional competition she brings is unnerving, his attraction to her is distracting, his failure to entice her into his bed is exasperating.

Then, just when Drew is on the cusp of having everything he wants, his overblown confidence threatens to ruin it all. Will he be able untangle his feelings of lust and tenderness, frustration and fulfillment? Will he rise to the most important challenge of his life?

Can Drew Evans win at love?

Tangled is not your mother’s romance novel. It is an outrageous, passionate, witty narrative about a man who knows a lot about women…just not as much as he thinks he knows. As he tells his story, Drew learns the one thing he never wanted in life, is the only thing he can’t live without.

Women fall in love quicker than men. Easier and more often. But when guys fall? We go down harder. And when things go bad? When it’s not us who ends it? We don’t get to walk away.
We crawl.

This book was seriously so much fun! At this point in my life I’ve read a crap load of romances and I can easily list off what formulas do and don’t do it for me. As long as the book and characters have that little something extra to set them aside, chances are I’m going to genuinely like them. This one for instance was a classic hate-to-love story BUT the thing that this book has going for it is that it’s entirely narrated by Drew. I’ve read a lot of dual POVs before, but I honestly can’t think of any that are by the male perspective. It was a HILARIOUS idea. Throughout the book if he or his friends would say something sexist, inappropriate, etc. he would do a little aside and kind of be like, “sure, I sound like a total douche right now, but you know it’s true” or just explain himself in some way that had me kind of shaking my head like, ‘okay, yeah, he’s right, I get it’ and then laughing to myself. I basically was laughing out loud for what felt like 75% of the book and when the world around is you stressful and chaotic, that can be a very good thing. 

Then I flip Kate the finger. Immature, I know, but apparently we’re now both functioning at the preschool level, so I’m guessing it’s okay. Kate sneers at me. Then she mouths, ‘You wish’. Well—she’s got me there, now doesn’t she?”

I also was a big fan of the way it took a good 20% of the end of the book for Drew to make up to Kate. I feel like most of the time when the guy fucks up, he shows her one kind gesture to sweep her off her feet and all is well. Nope, Kate does NOT let up easy here. Drew has to work his ass off to show her that he’s serious about her and I really appreciated that. I would very much recommend this as a lighthearted read that will have you laughing almost the entire time!

Assume nothing. Even if you think you know everything. Even if you’re sure that you’re right. Get confirmation. That whole “ass” cliché about assuming? It’s right on the money. And if you’re not careful, it could end up costing you the best thing that’s ever going to happen to you.
And another thing—don’t get too comfortable. Take chances. Don’t be afraid to lay it on the line. Even if you’re happy. Even if you think life is happy. Even if you think life is freaking perfect.

BOOK REVIEW – The Raging Ones (The Raging Ones #1) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

BOOK REVIEW – The Raging Ones (The Raging Ones #1) by Krista and Becca RitchieThe Raging Ones (The Raging Ones #1)
by Krista Ritchie, Becca Ritchie
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.

We found each other in the winter wood. 
He threw his arms around me like I’d been his long-lost friend. I hugged him like I was meeting my soul again. There are some moments and some feelings that I can’t even explain. I’m a young man of medicine and science and logic, but the sentiments I wield for Mykal transcend all three.

Dang you guys this was good. I mean I don’t know why I ever was worried because I have read and loved just about every single other book by these ladies. BUT in my defense, they had never ventured into the world of YA before and that can be a much different thing than the romance that we had been used to up until this point. I can very happily say that I am here to announce their debut into the world of YA is a stunning one (and I hope you all think so too!)

“But what will I do until then?”
She smiled as bright and lovely as the smile she wore on her deathbed. “You will live Franny. You will live hard…” She cupped my face.“Fast.” She rested her forehead on mine. “And full.”

The first thing that deserves note is the genius plot. Our main characters Franny, Court, and Mykal live on a planet that is always cold (f that) and a society that is separated into three different classes called the Influentials, the Fast Trackers, and the Babes. When everyone is born, everyone receives a death day and based on how old you will be when you die, you are fitted into one of those categories. Influentials will live to an old age and are able to go to school and make a good living for themselves because they simply have the most time, Fast Trackers ususally only live to be about 29 and are therefore forced into the labor jobs that don’t take long to learn but usually live the fiercest, and Babes of course only get a few years and are love and cherished for as long as they can be.

“You keep saying that you make my life dismal and bleak. But my world never felt as bright, as worthwhile and full, until I met you.” 

What I thought was the most interesting was that compared to other books/movies based on people who have a countdown to their death, these people enjoyed knowing. They each had their specific roles in life and found comfort in knowing when exactly they were going to die. I mean on one hand I get it because you would never have to worry about the unknown—you would never get sick enough or injured enough to die before that specific date. You could plan to live life to its very fullest in the allotted time you were given. 

His smile stretches his cheeks like they’re my cheeks. I can’t stop feeling. Can’t stop starting. Gods bless that’s beautiful.

In the case of Court, Franny, and Mykal though, they dodged their death day and are somehow irrevocably bonded (literally) because of it. They can feel each other’s emotions, pain, tastes, etc. THIS is where I knew that the story would be solid right from the beginning. If those of you who have read this, haven’t read their other Calloway Sisters andAddicted series, you will have missed out on the AMAZING interactions they are able to portray between couples/friends/families in their books. You can never not feel the love, hate, hurt—any emotion on the spectrum. I don’t know what it is but their characters and their relationships are my favorite parts of their writing. I was worried about the possibility of a love triangle but it was for nothing. Court and Mykal do have a stronger and deeper emotional and physical connection (no secret, we see this right away) but the one they share with Franny becomes just as important. I really wonder how it all will play out, especially with ~certain~ revelations that come out at the very end of this first book.

I feel them. For the first time I realize they’ve been my strength, my hope, and they can be my peace. I just have to let them help me. And to do that, I need to grow the courage to speak.

The only part that people *might* not like is that these ladies don’t give us all of the information right away..on anything really. At first I didn’t have a concrete vision of the planet, what the different social structures were all about, or why these three dodged their death days and became connected when no one else has. You do gain this knowledge though as you go along and once I started to, I kind of like that we were kept in the dark at first. I mean, Franny was thrown for such a loop when she dodged her death day and I felt like we were there with her, learning about how Court and Mykal have lived like that for years and how she now had a possibility to begin a new life and maybe even see the stars in the process.

“You’ve stolen my heart, you little crook.”
His smile only stretches further and brighter. “My most valuable theft.”

I hope that everyone gives this a try and that they love it, I really do. I think this is going to be one kick ass series and I am already so in love with each character and so intrigued with what could possibly happen in the next book. That’s the only hard part about getting ARCs….not only do I have to wait for this to actually come out for everyone else, but it makes the wait for book two that much longer. SIGHHH. Oh well, it was more than worth it!

ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. THANK YOU NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the chance to read this early.

BOOK REVIEW – The Girl With the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers #1) by Katherine Locke

BOOK REVIEW – The Girl With the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers #1) by Katherine LockeThe Girl With the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers #1)
by Katherine Locke
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

If you gave a girl a magic balloon, she’ll become something else.

OKAY. Can I just say that if this isn’t the best book I’ve read all  last year (I don’t think I can take that position away from ACOL) then it’s the one that’s left the biggest impact on me. And it still takes the cake as second best book. I requested this after having read ONE great review but still wasn’t fully prepared for what I was getting myself into. This book is a prime example of historical fiction and time travel done right—EVERYTHING about this book is done right. And as a person who love time travel that should really mean something.

Ellie is a modern day student who is in Germany on a study abroad trip. Her grandfather, who was actually a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, used to tell her these stories about magic red balloons and how one actually saved his life while he was being transferred from a Polish ghetto to an internment camp. Oh a whim, she goes to grab it and ends up in East Germany in 1988.

The city hummed with a frenetic sort of energy, the kind that came when people say the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it wasn’t the oncoming train. It was hope. The world was changing. We were along for the ride.

Now, I was born in 1991 and I’m going to tell you straight up that it was unbelievable for me to read about this place, one continent over, that had people living in that much fear only three years before I was born. I know that people in different places around the world are STILL living in that kind of fear but…this book in particular made me feel so sheltered. In all of my twenty six, almost twenty seven years I have NEVER known that kind of fear. And it just kills to know that I have it so easy when so many others don’t. I think that this book is a good reminder of that. What’s out there even still today.

But I digress. Let’s get to the other parts of this book that had me laughing, SOBBING, and everything in between. Well let’s see. First of all, ALL of the characters were amazing. Ellie, the main character is probably one of my favorite female protagonists of ALL TIME. Other than the small breakdown she has after being transported back in time (and I mean who WOULDN’T freak out about leaving YOUR time and friends and family) she is calm, cool, collected, sassy. UGH I  LOVE her. Kai and Mitzy are just as amazing. Oh—and by the way, this book is DIVERSE. Ellie is Jewish, Kai is Romani, and Mitzy is gay. And that’s just who they are and we get to see how being those people in that time period affects their lives in a place that is so unforgiving.

For those of you who love romance, the stuff we get in here is SO BELIEVABLE AND WILL GIVE YOU BUTTERFLIES AND SO MUCH MOREEEEEE. I just want to cry thinking about it. I don’t want to say any more honestly, you’ll just have to read it and find out yourself. Not sure what direction book two will go in or who will be in it but I am already dying to get my hands on it.

If you give a girl a red balloon, she’ll believe in magic and memory. If you give a girl a red balloon, she’ll never want to let go.

Overall, this book just goes to show that one person, magic or no, has the ability to change the course of history with even just one decision—exactly the kind of book that we want to be reading in this day and age.

BOOK REVIEW – Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW – Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie GarberLegendary (Caraval #2)
by Stephanie Garber
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.

“What have I always told you about the future?”
“Every person has the power to write her own.”
 Tella said.

Please God. Let there be a third book. There has to be a third book. Right? RIGHT?! THIS WAS SO GOOD. I spent a good four hours this morning finishing this book, completely ignoring everything else around me an I can’t say that I regret it. I mean seriously, the only part of this book that I didn’t like was when it ended…

Dante looked up and gave her a fallen star’s smile.
“You should always wear flowers.”

Would it be bad if I said I hoped the next book (IF there is one) was also centered around Tella? I liked the first book BUT this one was just so much better in my opinion. I thought Garber’s writing had seriously improved, the plot was even more twisty than in book one AND Tella was just so damn likeable! 

Tella might have been many things, but she was far from silly or worthless or whatever labels people liked to affix because a person was young and female.

I only read Caraval once as an ARC so it’s been quite awhile but from what I can remember, Tella is so much fiercer than Scarlett. I loved her sass and how even in the moments where she knew she should be scared of the people and things happening around her, she put on a brave face. She always had a retort ready for Dante and Jacks or anyone else trying to stand in her way. I couldn’t get enough!

But Tella didn’t believe in impossible choices. In her experience one path was always clearly worse than another.

I was a huge fan of the plot centering around the Fates, too. I’ve always thought that the concept of fate was an extremely interesting thing so the fact that Tella had to worry about them AND a new game of Caraval made the stakes even higher this time. It was all so incredibly twisty and complicated and of course you never can tell what’s real or fake—who’s working for Legend and who’s genuinely trying to help Tella. I LOVE IT.

But Tella didn’t want to look at the stars. She wanted to see him.

There also might be a love interest in here that I am completely obsessed with. Extremely broody and obviously I will not be saying more, just know that I am all for this ship. 100%. That’s basically why I need another book if we’re being honest with one another, lol. 

Tella claimed she didn’t want love—she liked to say loved trapped and controlled and ripped hearts apart. But the truth was she also knew love healed and help people together, and deep down she wanted it more than anything.

Overall I was THOROUGHLY impressed, you guys. While the first one was good, this one was GREAT. All the stars!

“Don’t be like me and settle for the ease of an almost-ending, when you could have the true ending.”
“I’m not sure I understand what that even means,”
 Tella said.
“It means most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most.”

ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. THANK YOU NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the chance to read this early. ♥

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