Author: Chelsea (Peril Please) (page 1 of 87)

BOOK REVIEW: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

BOOK REVIEW: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnikThings I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik
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Synopsis:

Things Chloe knew: Her sister, Ivy, was lonely. Ethan was a perfect match. Ethan’s brother, David, was an arrogant jerk.

Things Chloe should have known: Setups are complicated. Ivy can make her own decisions. David may be the only person who really gets Chloe.

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own, so Chloe and David have to tag along. Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen-yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

 

Shockingly enough, this was a book I had passed over because of a couple minuscule details I picked up on in the synopsis. But, seeing as how I have a very particular set of books that work for me nowadays, upon further inspection, this book looked like it was right up my alley. I mean, come on: Douchey guy, arch nemesis (pretty much the whole school’s, to be fair), being pushed together in a selfless act for their siblings…I just couldn’t help but balk and give this one a try. Though, I should have stuck with my first instinct.

“No, thank you,” she says as David catches it neatly in his free hand.
“I insist,” David says, and whips it back at them. It can’t possibly hurt anyone—I mean, it’s a bag of chips-but the gesture is violent, and they both cower away from the Lay’s with little noises of distress. .

Lately I find that I’m so picky that it’s beyond obnoxious. Almost nothing fits my tastes but what I literally have no time to read. Like, say, Victoria Schwab’s latest release. COME TO ME. But, alas, I refuse to ruin something because of time restraints that I know I’d love normally if I had time to read it within a few days. But, if I were to pick up my favorite genre at this time, YA Fantasy, I’d be ruining every book I attempted to soak in. So, here I am, trying to navigate the YA realistic fiction waters with blinders on.

David has one of those bland faces that would get him off for murder because not a single eyewitness would be able to describe him. They’d all be saying stuff like, “Oh, you know . . . hair that’s kind of brown . . . not that straight, but not curly either . . . His nose? Just kind of normal, I guess . . . Dark eyes, probably brown . . . Average size . . .” Meanwhile he’d be off killing a bunch more innocents. And they’d come interview everyone at our school, and we’d all be, like, “Yeah, I’m not surprised. Guy was weird.

^^^ Okay, this is actually one of those moments I laughed out loud….

Yes, sure, this is a favorite genre as well, but when you don’t have the same dialogue with all your GR friends [you used to] and don’t get to scroll the feed for common interests or things that pique your curiosity, you’re constantly stuck looking at the ‘books similar to’ section-and let’s face it: That’s basically a big pile of ‘less than.’ Not often do I find a winner in this section. But here I am, stuck looking and surfing and perusing these dumb attempts to grab suckers who actually think these books have anything in common with a book they adore and aren’t just cherry picked by GR. I never ever did this before because I had all the friend advice possible, guiding me through all the winners each and every time I was looking for an awesome read. Now, here I am, settling in amidst the bottom feeder section….who’s the sucker now?

“Okay,” she says. “Just not bowling. I don’t like bowling.”
“It’s because you’re not very good at it.” Ethan pats her shoulder consolingly. .

But I’m not totally being fair-I guess some of those comparisons are astute and I’m being a bit of a pessimist these days because I just. Can’t. Find. The TIME. To read and review-and it makes me sad. And, ya know, this book wasn’t half as bad as I’m making it out to be. I’m just always looking for that ‘wow factor’ now, and I’m trying to accomplish this with minimal effort-it just doesn’t work that way and I know better. You have to really pay attention and research to find new favorites-they don’t just fall into your lap. (Unless you have great friends like I do/did who are always telling you what you’d love every time you finish a book)

Ethan glares at him but opens his mouth, and David shoves the rice in. Ethan chews and swallows. “It still hurts.”
“You shouldn’t have eaten the chili pepper,” Ivy says. “Everyone knows they’re hot.”
“I didn’t mean to!” Ethan roars at her, spraying chewed-up rice across the table. “It got in my mouth on accident!”
“Chilis can be sneaky,” I say.
“Tricky little beasts,” David agrees. “You can’t trust a chili.”
“Bell peppers, though—they’re trustworthy.”
“The really evil ones are those little shishito bastards,” David says. “Some of them are hot, and some aren’t. You can’t tell until you bite into one. How is that fair?”
“It’s not,” I say. “It’s not fair at all.” .

But enough whining-this book was pretty cute, in concept. I loved the guy in this story (I already can’t remember their names, and it’s only been a couple weeks since I finished this…not a good sign), but found his character was a bit underdeveloped. Or, rather, he was unexplored. He was this mean guy at school, snarking at everyone’s opinions like he was God and knew all, but then all of a sudden he makes exceptions for our MC. Now, this might be me acting a tad selfish- I love assholes in books, and he just showed how nice he truly was too soon for my taste. I wanted a bit more asshole, a little less ‘now you see me for who I am’ so early on in the book… Not that he even said any such Disney type line, but you get it (I think). So, in a way, it was too quick a change of heart-for both characters.

I can’t decide if the world would be a better or worse place if everyone was as honest and literal as these two. Better in some ways, I guess, but maybe a little harsh? 

But what I’m not saying is that obviously we see a little more change in our MC because we are in her head (boring as it is), so it’s a bit more forgivable. With him, we are just like, WHAT? THAT’S IT? BE MEAN TO HER A LITTLE MORE! I think the feminists of the world might not like that statement…I’m sounding a bit crazy. But I am who I am, so oops. Let’s move on.

“Come on,” I say, and shove him toward the exit. “Let’s go. But admit you were wrong about that whole kissing in public thing. It’s not such a crime.”
“It is when I’m not the one kissing you.”
“Were you jealous of James? Even back then?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “Not exactly. And you guys were pretty annoying. I was sincerely disgusted by you”
“Thanks.”
“But I’ll admit that if I’d been standing where he was standing, I’d probably have had a different view of the whole thing.” 

I didn’t mind the big discovery and the exploration of different…tastes…but I just thought it was handled so oddly-I think this is perhaps just my opinion, though, so take that as you will. It seems like others really enjoyed the secondary character’s adventures, so I stand alone here.

One thing I WILL stand firm on, though, is the shortness of the chapters-I hate this. I have NEVER liked this. And I never will. I kind of thought it made for a disjointed story and mixed it up to the point I didn’t even feel like I could immerse myself into the book-one minute we’re getting somewhere, and then it’s abruptly onto the next chapter. Not a fan. And the characters, or at least our main girl, were written a bit juvenile and a touch vapid-in a ditsy, not easy to relate to way. And I found the way our main guy’s brother was handled/treated was off-handed and not handled the way it should have been…It was just thrown in there and not explored as much as I think it should have been. And his family (And her boyfriend for that matter). Give me a break. Keep your money, cuz I’m not buyin’ it. Just…so odd, if you ask me. So, I think these are by far my largest problems with this book.
Had these details been more fleshed out, I would have had a much larger respect for the story and I wouldn’t have been so nitpicky-but when you can’t help but skim and roll your eyes and continually think-THAT’S IT?! Then there is something wrong.

This review was odd, had stunted writing, and was more like a list of reasons I liked and disliked everything-but who am I trying to impress? I disliked this story and it was handled poorly. IT HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL. Sooo much wasted potential. Perhaps if a little more effort had been put into the story, I’d have written a more fleshed out review. But, as it is, I don’t give a damn. Oh well.

***Upon further review looking back at the quotes I’d chosen when I read the book [before writing the review], I did think there were a lot of cute moments and I laughed out loud a lot. The main character was actually kind of a funny smart-ass….so…..snaps to her. Also, David (ahh that’s his name, lol) was so sweet-I already said this, but he really was. And his brother was really funny. So, just a positive note to add to my surly review. What’s funny is, I was in a GREAT mood when I wrote the original review…and right now I’m in a HORRID mood….yet I’m being nicer. Curiouser and curiouser….

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BOOK REVIEW: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

BOOK REVIEW: Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

 

*New Mommy Review #2*

Maybe Walt Whitman was right. We all really do contradict ourselves and contain multitudes. How do we even figure out who we really are?

I’m not going to lie-I’d much rather be writing about a book I’ve read closer to this moment, but if I don’t go back and write reviews for all the books I’ve read-and loved-in the past few months, it will make me CRAZY (Well, crazier than usual…). Alex, Approximately was one of those books that you read quickly-but not like your typical YA contemp-you don’t just read it and cut through it and, once finished, never look back. No, this book was one of those that you devour, inhale every word….and just, I don’t know, exhale slowly in a contented breath. It’s a book that not only makes you giddy and happy, but makes warmth radiate from the inside out. It fills your heart with something akin to true love-believable true love-and you can’t quite let it go.

“Bailey, I spend most of my days looking at you through that tiny square screen up there. I’m just grateful to be in the same room. And the fact that you’ll even let me touch you at all is the freaking miracle of the century. So whatever you want or don’t want from me, all you have to do is ask. Okay?”

Now, I’m not a moron. The chances of this book happening in real life are nill and none-I just meant that the progression of the romance not only felt natural, but light-hearted and full of something I’m not sure I feel very often anymore when I read. And, fun as this book was, it was heavy in all the right places.

But despite all that . . . look what he did. Look what he did. For me? And he’s sitting here, in pain, falling apart, and all he’s worried about is that I’m sorry I gave him my number and don’t want to go out on a date with him?

In true YA fashion, though, it wasn’t without it’s pitfalls. Let’s be honest here: Not many girls would miss the obvious signs that Porter Roth was, in fact, online Alex. It was clear as day. And I did think that if there was a problem with this book, it’d be Mink. She was a tad naive for my tastes…but I never felt full-on annoyance, which seems to be a recurring theme lately on all the books I choose to pick up. With what little time I have to read, I’m sure not as forgiving as I used to be.

A couple of yards before we hit the ground, he speaks up in a voice so quiet, I can barely hear him. “What I said the other day about you having champagne tastes?” He pauses for a moment. Mr. Reyes is smiling, waiting to unhitch our bar. “I just wanted you to know that I like the way you dress. I like your style. . . . I think it’s sexy as hell.”

And Porter-I just loved him so so much. Sweet, funny, a tad asshole-ish….but absolutely loyal to the core. He gets his heart broken. He would do anything for Mink. He even has the sweetest apology scene. And, ya know, he can be a tad alpha-male which, hey, I love me a good ‘defending my lady’ scene -*whispers* There were 3 (holds up the non-existent but ever useful three finger emoji). PLUS, he is a tad wittier than our dear main character-I’ll say that much…though, he got a little clearer sign, I’ll admit.

He kisses my forehead. “Know what I’m scared of?”
“What?”
“That I like you way too much, and I’m afraid once you get to know me, you’re going to realize that you can do lots better, and you’re going to break my heart and leave me for someone classier.”

And I seem to be LOVING this type of book right now (is it a trope? I don’t want to toss that word around unnecessarily)-the one where people meet online or in letters (Punk 57, Letters to the Lost, Eliza and Her Monsters, and others I’m forgetting like a moron) and then meet in person, hit it off, and don’t realize they are the same person. I can’t help it-I’m a hopeless romantic and these seem to be hitting all the right buttons for me this year. Note: 2017, the year of the YA Romance cyber stalkers. See: Chelsea totally buying into this melodrama-and LOVING IT.

If we’re meant to be, and he’s the person I imagine him to be, then things will all work out fine. He’ll be wonderful, and by the end of the summer, we’ll be crazy in love, watching North by Northwest at the film festival on the beach, and I’ll have my hands all over him. Which is what I spend a lot of my free time imagining myself doing to his virtual body, the lucky boy.

And, frankly, I liked Bailey’s voice. She was funny, sarcastic, and I found that I related to her quite a bit when it came to her sarcasm. She was snarky and quick-witted. Whadya guna do? 😛

…”Like a horse, you know?” He holds his hands up on either side of his eyes. “You plow ahead, and you make a lot of progress that other people wouldn’t make, but you can’t see what’s happening on either side of the road. You have blind spots. You ignore things that are right next to you. Your mom did that all the time.”

I had so much to say about this book when I first finished-I had a whole review plotted out in my head, I was so anxious to let my thoughts be heard. But, as it is…TIME. TIME TIME TIME. But, and maybe this is a tad cliche, I think it truly says something when I read a book, have no time to write a review, and STILL come back a month (or more) later and attempt to post one. Obviously this book meant something to me, and obviously it was worth coming back for. Maybe that says the most of all.

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BOOK REVIEW: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

BOOK REVIEW: Just Listen by Sarah DessenJust Listen by Sarah Dessen
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

*New Mommy Review #1* (Meaning: Not great, but at least I’m getting some thoughts out there…)

In all honesty, this book started out so great. I was comparing to one of my all time favorites, Some Girls Are, almost immediately. But where SGA got more intense as it went along, JL fell apart, for me, as it continued.

I lost interest in our main character, was beyond annoyed at her childish reasoning for each situation where she simply only had to say ‘just give me a minute’, and, ultimately, I just got bored. I loved Owen, but even he wasn’t enough to save this boring and anti-climactic story. Hell, I couldn’t even put him in my unforgettable male leads shelf because he was in it so little. Sigh.

Frankly, the same thing happened with her other book I read-it was going so well and then the author just veers the story completely away from what I would have done and, frankly, it’s obviously a case of ‘this author just isn’t for me’.

Pretty writing, albeit a bit stale, and fleshed out characters you want to know more about…I just couldn’t love this story. When things finally started to get interesting she ran away. And, hey, just not enough Owen (IE not for me).

Oh well. Better luck next time…though, it probably won’t be a book by this author.

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GIVEAWAY-Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor

I am so honored to be hosting a giveaway for one of the most highly anticipated reads of 2017! Check out below to see exclusive content, videos introducing the characters and the world, and an awesome giveaway! I hope you guys enjoy the post-make sure to follow the link to enter our two week giveaway ending on 5/10. Good luck! 🙂 <3

GIVEAWAY-Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
by Laini Taylor
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis:

A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around--and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries--including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Dreams are crazy things; Most tend to be obscure, unearthly images that leave you baffled upon waking. Or, you know, you simply forget the moment you wake. The star(s) of my dreams tend to be random instances from years ago, drawing upon old relationships that have long since been terminated and I have no desire to rekindle-old friendships where it ended badly, yet you have no clue what you did wrong. I dream about old best friends so much it’s unsettling. I tend to let dead horses lie, so why do these old friends pop in my head so  much? Is that a saying? I probably phrased it wrong. My point is-dreams are odd and they come from your subconscious out of absolutely nowhere…and leave you a bit disturbed after, no matter how realistic they may seem. And then there are those dreams where you are in a totally normal-ish situation, yet in a totally unexpected, ODD, creepy place. Those are my most common dreams-these dreams? I’m more than happy to leave behind.  

But I think dreams more often refer to what you want out of your life, what you wish and pine for-what you work so hard for. And I’ll admit, I’ve had plenty of dreams-Too many to count. But, until recently, they haven’t come to fruition. 

Just last month my biggest dream (after being married to my high school sweetheart) came true-I had a little baby girl and she is literally the light of my life. My husband and I are over the moon. And it’s crazy…because this was my dream-not his. He always agreed to my dream, but he dragged his feet-but come last July, he finally agreed and we were so happy to begin trying…except, you know…we got pregnant literally the first try. 

I was shocked, elated. There are no words for the amount of happiness I felt. But I was equally terrified to tell my husband-after all, it was literally the first attempt and I couldn’t be sure how he’d take the news. Turns out? He was beyond words ecstatic-we stayed up all night talking about it. He guessed it was a girl, I guessed a boy. Wouldn’t you know it, he was right. 

So here we are, 10 months later-and it’s not nearly as terrifying as I had imagined it would be (9 months is a looooong time to fret about being a bad mother). She sleeps through the night, eats great, and is one of the strongest babies ever-she lifted her head right after being born! And she has a beautiful, full head of brown hair. Did I mention that literally all I do is brag about her? Yeah. Well, I imagine that won’t end any time soon! 

My dream came true….but there are so many more now. I think that’s how dreams work. My dreams kept being fulfilled (husband, house…now baby), yet I always want more. Now I dream of our next baby (a sister or brother) and  everything I plan to do for our current baby girl. Nothing will ever be good enough for our girl-and God help the boy(s) that tries to win her heart-Dad will have NO part of that. 

My dreams may not be in line with everyone else’s, nor would I say they are conventional for this day and age where career comes before self…but that’s me and it has always been me-I refuse to change. I have everything I’ve ever dreamed for-and more.

What are your dreams? What do you dream about? Are they odd, crazy, weird….do they make you wonder where in the world they came from? Or, have any of your real life dreams come true? Sound off below in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

 

ONCE UPON A DREAM: Keep the nightmares at bay with this dreamy prize pack! (Re-tweet and follow to enter giveaway! here )

One (1) winner receives:

  • copy of Strange the Dreamer
  • sleep-mask and aromatherapy pillow sleep mist
  • and a luna moth enamel pin to watch over your dreams!

Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Prizing and samples provided by Little, Brown & Co.

 

Visit the Official Site

Follow @TheNovl on Twitter and Instagram

Follow @LainiTaylor on Twitter

Hashtag #StrangetheDreamer

 

Check out a sneak peek here:

Read the Prologue on EW

Read Chapter 1 on Mashable

Read an Excerpt on TheNovl

Bonus Content!

Which Godspawn are you? Take the quiz!

Download a variety of quote-art here.

 

About the Author

Laini Taylor is a New York Times bestselling author and a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, andDreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.

 

 

So….is Strange the Dreamer on your MUST READ list for 2017?? Or perhaps you’ve already read it (and hopefully loved it). Share below! I know I cannot WAIT to try this one out-I’d love to hear your thoughts on Strange!

 

“I partnered with Little, Brown to share this giveaway.”

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BOOK REVIEW: A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi

BOOK REVIEW: A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani ChokshiA Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2)
by Roshani Chokshi
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

*ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review*

 
“Vicious and sweet,” said Vikram, shaking his head. “Beastly girl.”
“You like me, don’t lie,” I teased.
“I couldn’t lie if I tried,” he said quietly.

 

It just so happens that I was given this ARC by the publisher back in December….I just was way too tired and ‘out of it’ to truly enjoy the lush story-telling of this novel. So every time I would pick up this beauty to read it, I’d get distracted or start to fall asleep…on the prologue. It was clear to me I wasn’t going to be able to read this book while in the height of my pregnancy. I did, however, get to finish it two days before I went into labor! So here I am, finally writing a review for this crazy, intricate book.

 

The problem with guilt was not how it attacks the present, but how it stained the past.

 

I can’t say there weren’t moments where I was scratching my head-because I did that a lot. But it was never in a bad way. This author, from what I’ve always heard, writes in a deeply poetic way that you just need to be in the mindset for-I definitely gathered this from the moment I started. This isn’t your average YA fantasy-I feel it’s a bit deeper than that. Keep that in mind when choosing to start this novel-it completely changes the tone of both the book and how you feel whilst enjoying this story.

 

“You’re a monster,” she said.
I secured the necklace. “We all have to be something.”

 

When I think back on why I enjoyed this book so much (I read it almost a month ago) it always goes back to the characters. I had heard so many good things from my close friends that loved this book about the witty Vikram and I took that with a grain of salt-I mean, no book boy is ever really as good as people say (Okay, whatever…I lie, but still-everyone’s perception is different) and I almost always feel a tad different. Now, whether that means I loved them more or less is dependent upon the book-obviously.

 

Vikram had tried bribing them. At one point, he offered Gauri’s hand in marriage, which earned him two sharp jabs in the ribs. For equality’s sake, he offered his own hand in marriage, but that ended all bargaining negotiations on the spot.

 

So, when thinking of this story, did I love Vikram as much as others? Absolutely. Did I obsess over him as much as my friends? Perhaps not-but he became an instant BBF all the same. Ha, just goes to show I’ll never change. I had thought he was supposed to be tortured and somewhat sullen, almost an enemies to lovers type deal, but turns out that wasn’t the case. She hated him, but he was just cautious of her-you know, because she is from a different kingdom and all. No, he was a sarcastic prince that made me smile from ear to ear, laugh at the most random moments….did I mention I have a prince fetish? Oops.

 

“I prefer the poisoned food.”
“You may be rewarded yet,” he said. He popped a handful of pomegranate seeds in his mouth. He froze, some of the juice spilling from his lips. “Oh no,” he breathed, clutching his chest.
“Vikram!” I screamed.
He held up his hand. “I meant to start with mangos.”

 

So it’s extremely obvious that this book wasn’t so much about the plot, for me, but the characters. It was a bit obscure, in my opinion, so I took solace in the characters’ hilarious banter and romantic interactions. Vikram and Gauri had the best banter I’ve read in a while, holding up to some of my favorite bantering couples-it made this long book seem like it was over in a minute.

 

“My apologies. Is it your bellicose-let-me-drain-your-blood face? Could you not master an expression that looked less like an outraged cat? ”
“Better than steepling my hands and looking like an overgrown spider.”
“An overgrown spider who is rarely wrong.”
“My bellicose-let-me-drain-your-blood face has saved your life.”
“And this overgrown-spider pose is about to save yours.”

 

But Gauri is probably the base of why this book was so alluring-Vikram opposed her and was sly as can be…but I think he was much more tolerable in the beginning of their uneasy alliance (and nicer sooner) whereas Gauri made it harder. She was constantly on alert, always threatening him and, in her mind, thinking of ways to be rid of him (ohhh but he was too cunning). This added an extra layer of animosity between the two, adding tension and a romantic build up that pays off greatly in the end.

 

“I thought you were going to stay away from me,” she said.
He looked at her, this princess who seemed so dangerously sharp that he might cut himself just brushing against her shadow. “I don’t know how.”

 

And while the characters were the main draw to the story, for me, the story wasn’t without its addictive elements, as well-obviously. My biggest problem stems from the games. I do agree with my friend, Brittney, that this almost has a Caraval type feel. And while that’s fine, I don’t know that I was in the mood for games that aren’t in fact…games.

 

She laughed. And Vikram, who had never wanted for his life to slow down but only to move faster and faster to the next thing, found himself craving to live in this second.

 

Whatever. Call me a square, but I love structured, clear cut games and tournaments in books. I don’t like when the games aren’t clear and when they don’t have clear cut rules, winners, prizes etc. etc. Or, I don’t know, I love the life and death games (Sorry. I’ll just always be a HG type girl…). In this story, I felt the games, and the plot, for that matter, were a bit obscure. And, frankly, I don’t always love obscure.

As was the case with Caraval, though, I did enjoy it here-I just don’t know that I expected it-Which, hey, isn’t this book’s fault, now is it??

One final thing-I’m not a fan of one person being a certain pov and the other being in a totally different pov. I don’t know why it bothers me, but every time it switched I thought about it, and I just don’t like this minuscule distraction-I’m not sure what the point is, but for some reason it happens a lot in stories. I’m one of the few who can’t see past it. I still loved the story, it just served as a distraction I didn’t love.

 

“Surviving isn’t just about cutting out your heart and burning every feeling into ash,” he said. “Sometimes it means taking whatever is thrown at you, beautiful or grotesque, poisonous or blissful, and carving out your life with the pieces you’re given.”

 

A wonderful story full of twists and turns, games that leave your mind reeling, banter and a slow burn romance that is totally worth the wait, and writing that immediately enthralls you, this story is a winner. It’s hard to say whether this book will be for everyone, but its promising enough I would suggest everyone give it a try. The characters are worth every page you choose to read, and, frankly, Vikram is worth more than that. I hate that it took me so long to read this ARC, but I’m just glad I’m fulfilling my duty. This book was worth the wait, and I’m glad I can voice just how fun it was-this is not one I’ll soon forget.

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