Tag: Fantasy (page 1 of 78)

BOOK REVIEW: Everless (Everless #1) by Sara Holland

BOOK REVIEW: Everless (Everless #1)  by Sara HollandEverless (Everless #1)
by Sara Holland
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself.

What. A. WONDERFUL surprise. I absolutely adored this masterpiece of a novel. When I try to think of what book I want to read next, a weekly occurrence, I immediately think back to this story time after time after time. I read this the first week it came out, yet I’ve been backlogged horribly on time with which to write a review it so rightfully deserves (I was sick, then husband, then daughter-then fast forward and daughter gets it again and BLAH just TOO MUCH)…so I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And do you know when I have finally found the time? While getting my hair done lol. 

Yep. I’m processing right now and I’m just tap tap tappin’ away on the keys. So. ANYWAY. I am so happy I can finally express my thoughts on this beauty-and the amazing characters this author brought into existence.

I think when trying to find a YA fantasy, there are few and far between that really reach into my soul and make me pine for more, wish that, even though terrible things are happening repeatedly, there was more we could read, that the story wouldn’t end. Those books are a dime a dozen…but this story was one of them.

With its lush visuals and deeply flawed, intricately layered characters, I was a goner from the moment I met every single one of them. Vivid storytelling led to endless possibilities, causing me to guess every theory in the book-until I realized I had no way to truly guess what was happening and I just needed to chill out and enjoy the ride.

A strange feeling flowers in me, like I’m standing at the edge of a cliff, looking out to the green-and-blue sea, which I’ve only ever seen drawn in books, its waves sloshing and beautiful and endless—and from this height, deadly.

Jules hates the Gerlings…chased from the castle when she was younger and still ‘in hiding’, she wants nothing to do with the royals that caused her and her father such pain and worry. She can stop time, but doesn’t know why. Blood is the price for security, its value only worth something so long as you’re not paying with your whole life. When backed into a corner with house payments, Jules finds that her father has been paying with his blood to keep them afloat-but she sees that he’s withering away with each pull, years dwindling away into oblivion.

She decides it’s time to take action, and when news gets out that Prince Roan has chosen a bride, help is required to prepare for the big day and it’s the talk of the town-those hired get a hefty amount of money, enough that it would get Jules and her father out of debt. Jules’s father begs her not to go, for that would mean facing the Gerlings once again and maybe being found out after all these years-But we all know what Jules decides to do, don’t we? The next morning she’s off before her father has risen, hoping to be chosen so she can pay off their debts and perhaps find the mystery as to why her father said to NEVER go near the Queen. What is he hiding? And why can’t she be near the Queen?

Lying feels like trying to hold an eel in my stomach: the truth wants to wriggle its way out.
I’m used to the feeling by now.

I’ll admit that I was all in for the romance. I mean, who would I be if not myself? I need a ship, and my ship was a lovely ship. My ship has/had promise. My boy was just…oh my gosh…ahhhh I need it. I just need it. And I need him. I love him. Adore him. I would do anything for him. But…unfortunately, I don’t think I should be saying any names. It’s a mystery until the end, I tell you, and it was a wonderful journey indeed.

Have I grown distracted, my head turned by Ina’s beautiful gowns, Caro’s friendly gossip, Roan’s smiles that seem just for me, and forgotten the promise I made by the lakeshore after View Spoiler »?

I’ll admit I guessed mostly who she might possibly be with or end up with or pine for or what have you (how many different ways can I say I think I know who she will end up with, in the end?), but I second guessed myself on EVERYTHING. And here I am, I find, trying to fangirl about a boy that I can’t say the name of and not able to tell anything that happens or why I like said person. I can’t really say her past or why she likes who she likes or who she stops liking or ends up liking or who she continues to like (holy hell this is confusing lol)….so I feel as though my normal review format is screwed and I’m just left a rambling mess. It sucks. I want to talk about my guy, dang it!!!!

And then all those characters. All these dark corners and twists and turns we go through. The stories and myths and childhood memories-it all builds up into this beautiful story, this seamless weaving of epicness, gripping you more and more with each passing page. I was sucked in until I was drowning, until I couldn’t breathe….and I STILL wasn’t prepared for the inevitably devastating (and STILL devastating) turn of events. I had my suspicions, but I tell ya, this author? She is the definition of epic. No holds barred, she goes all in. No tiptoeing around, she slits your throat and is in your face.

She wins. You lose. That’s all. This story is beyond your imagination. It’s new, imaginative-it seeps elegance out of every pore (eew). When I say this, I mean it-This book is the underbelly of the tainted royalty game. Who can you trust? Who SHOULD you trust? Is everything as it seems? And, almost always, the answer is no. Keep your head high and eyes forward, because you might just miss something. You might think you know where its going, but I can assure you, even if you’re partially right…you’re not even close. And if you are?? You’re a wizard, my friend, because this author is a wonderful, tricky mistress….and I adore her.

Liam doesn’t react for a moment. Then, to my shock, he grins, a wide, earnest smile breaking across his face like sun through storm clouds. It only lasts a moment, but smiling, he looks like Roan. No—he looks like someone all his own.

Sigh. I’ll shut up. But I just…I loved this book. I really loved it. And its been a month, so it’s so hard to write a nice review that’s worthy of such a strong book and a strong set of characters. It’s like…I don’t know. I am so frustrated because I’m reading all these amazing books that mean the world to me, but then I can’t put down my thoughts the next day like I used to…BEFORE. Lol. I love my daughter but UGHHH she puts a damper on mama’s reviewing skills. I like to think I can post a review about a book I’ve read now more than a month ago, but even I find it difficult these days. I’m reading so much faster than I can put out quality reviews and…it breaks my heart.

Oh well. I will continue to try and catch up on past reviews-even if they review is a shadow of what it could have been. I needed this on hardback after reading the ebook-so I got it (that and cruel prince). And if that’s not saying enough, I don’t know what will.

View all my reviews

RE-READ BLOG TOUR: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir

RE-READ BLOG TOUR: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir

And here we are-onto book two of the Ember Re-Read Campaign! I will begrudgingly admit that book one still owns my heart completely, but book two was just the punch to the gut I needed. After all, I do seek peril quite frequently! 😉 And Sabaa never fails to deliver! Below you will find my favorite quotes (yes, again, sorry not sorry), my favorite moments so far (though, it's so hard to put them ALL!), what I hope will happen in book three, and our bookstagram picture and link for this amazing novel! I hope you enjoy my zany takes on what I believe to be one of the best series in the world!

RE-READ BLOG TOUR: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa TahirA Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
by Sabaa Tahir
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis:

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

Favorite Moments in the series so far:

Elias and Helene friendship (1)

When Elias saved Helene in the trials-this moment of loyalty and friendship nearly undid me (1)

When Elias first sees Laia (1)

When Elias sneaks away to make sure Laia and her friend are safe (1)

When Elias shows how vulnerable he is, when Laia is in his room (1)

How Elias admits he can’t keep his eyes off Laia, even though he shouldn’t (2)

When Elias and Laia make funny faces at one another-it made my heart soar, so cute (and, admittedly, light-hearted)!

THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR YOU KNOW WHO (2, end)

What I Hope Will Happen in Book Three:

Elias will find a path that allows him easy access between…well…View Spoiler »

ELIAS AND LAIA WILL FIND SOME TIME ALONE TOGETHER COME ON NOW

Laia will grasp just how weighty Elias’s heroic act was-that it won’t be glossed over, because it’s important

Helene will find a way to follow her moral code, but also do what’s right (this is ambiguous, I realize)

Elias and Helene will get a moment (not romantically, but as friends, as comrades, perhaps)

Elias won’t have to sacrifice everything

Laia and her brother will accomplish something great

MARCUS WILL GET WHAT’S COMING TO HIM

I realize these are super generic sounding/vague, but I just want all my cinnamon rolls to be happy, OKAY?! And I don’t want my favorites to die! It’s just so simple, Sabaa, be KIND!

Purchase Links:

An Ember in the Ashes

Amazon I iTunes I Book Depository

A Torch Against the Night

Amazon I iTunes I Book Depository

A Reaper at the Gates

Amazon I iTunes I Book Depository

Bookstagram picture (Find us here):

My favorite quotes (or, at least, a small fraction of them):

“Laia. The Scholar girl. Another ember waiting to burn the world down,” she says. “Will you hurt her, too?”
“Never.”

(my heart, oh my ghad, my hearttt^^)

…“We should talk about it.”
Oh skies. “Talk about what?”
“Whatever it is that’s bothering you. I can take a guess, but it might be better if you tell me.”
“You want to talk now? After weeks of not even looking at me?”
“I look at you.” His response is swift, his voice low. “Even when I shouldn’t.”

“She told me I hurt people,” I blurt out as we huddle together. “I let them get hurt.”
“Who told you that?”
“I’m going to hurt you,” I say. “I hurt everyone.”

Right now, all I want is for that loneliness to fade-even if it’s for a moment. So I do what Darin used to when he wanted to cheer me up, and I make an absurd face.
Elias stares at me in surprise before cracking a grin that lights him up-and then he makes a ridiculous face of his own.

“What about Elias? You’re always staring at him.”
“I am not-“
“Not that I blame you,” Afya continues as if I haven’t spoken, casting an appraising eye back at Elias. “Those cheekbones-skies.” My skin prickles, and I cross my arms, frowning.
“Ah.” Afya flashes her wolfish smile. “Possessive, are we?”

“Your emotions make you human,” Elias says. “Even the unpleasant ones have a purpose. Don’t lock them away. If you ignore them, they just get louder and angrier.”

Let him think he’s cowed me. Let him think he’s won. Soon, he’ll realize his mistake: He vowed to play fair. 
But I didn’t. -Helene

Laia is curled in a ball on the other, one hand on her armlet, fast asleep.
“You are my temple,” I murmur as I kneel beside her. “You are my priest. You are my prayer. You are my release.” Grandfather would scowl at me for sullying his beloved mantra so. But I think I prefer it this way.

 

And I could go on like that for days…

 

 

A little about our amazing, EVIL favorite author:

Sabaa Tahir is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes and its sequel, A Torch Against the Night. She grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

 

FacebookTwitter I Instragram I Goodreads

And follow the tour HERE!

 
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES
 

WEEK ONE

April 30 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture

May 1 – My Friends are Fiction – Review

May 2 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures

May 3 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

May 4 – ButterMyBooks – Review

May 5 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture

 

WEEK TWO

May 7 – PaperTrailYa – Reasons to Start Reading The Series

May 8 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram

May 9 – A Perfection Called Books – Reasons to Start Reading The Series

May 10 – ABibliophilesbkm – Creative Instagram Picture + Observations Blog Post

May 11 – The Young Folks – Reasons to start reading the series with GIFS

May 12 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture

 
A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT
 

WEEK ONE

May 14 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture

May 15 – My Friends are Fiction – Review

May 16 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures

May 17 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Favorite Moments In The Series + Hopes For Book 3

May 18 – ButterMyBooks – Helene Aesthetic

May 19 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture

 

WEEK TWO

May 21 – PaperTrailYa – Theories About Book Three

May 22 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram

May 23 – A Perfection Called Books – Helene Appreciation Post 

May 24 – ABibliophilesbkm – The character’s choices, consequences, and expectations

May 25 – The Young Folks – Favorite Moments

May 26 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture

 

WEEK THREE

May 28 – Fiction Fare – Reasons Why You Should Be Reading The Series

May 29 – Book Is Glee – Creative Instagram Post

May 30 – That’s Normal – Catch Up + Book Three Predictions + Fan Art

May 31 – Bibliophile Gathering – Favorite Moments From Book 2

June 1 – The Fandom – Author Interview  

June 2 – The Eater of Books! – 100 Thoughts I had While Reading Book Two

 

 
 
A REAPER AT THE GATES
 

WEEK ONE

June 4 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture

June 5 – My Friends are Fiction – Reasons to Read the Series

June 6 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures

June 7 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Elias Appreciation Post 

June 8 – ButterMyBooks – What to do after reading the book

June 9 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture

 

WEEK TWO

June 11 – PaperTrailYa – Theories About Book Three

June 12 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram

June 13 – A Perfection Called Books – How our lives will never be the same

June 14 – ABibliophilesbkm – Creative Instagram Post + Character’s Playlist

June 15 – The Young Folks – What to read after you’ve finished REAPER AT THE GATES

June 16 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture

 

WEEK THREE

June 18 – Fiction Fare – Books To Tide You Over While You Wait For The Next Book

June 19 – Book Is Glee – Creative Instagram Post

June 20 – That’s Normal – Review + What To Read Next

June 21 – Bibliophile Gathering –  Favorite Character Appreciation Post

June 22 – The Fandom – Top 5 Most Important Moments in the series so far

June 23 – The Eater of Books! – Top Ten Reasons to Stan Laia

BLOG TOUR+REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

BLOG TOUR+REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

The Ember Quartet is one of my absolute favorite series of all time-with strong characters (I think I was a goner the moment I met Elias), an addicting and brutal story line, and an emotional force so strong you can hardly breathe, it's no wonder that the world goes crazy when Sabaa releases each of her installments. There's a sort of frenzy that can't be replicated when the Emberlings get wind that the next release is on the horizon. I am so honored to partner with Penguin Teen during their re-read tour. I have posted my original review [in all it's fangirl glory], explained why you MUST start this series if you haven't already, really emphasized some of my favorite quotes, and did a bookstagram post with the beautiful new paperback editions Penguin Teen blessed me with. Below you can find the rest of the tour, so follow along! I hope everyone finds some enjoyment out of this obsessive Ember testament that shouts my love from a mountain (har har) with each neurotic word, picture, and quote. And, as we all now know-THE WAIT FOR REAPER BEGINS!

BLOG TOUR+REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
by Sabaa Tahir
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Duty first, unto death.

You can’t see me. I can’t see you. But let me just tell you what I’m doing. I’m silently screaming. I’m cursing myself for not reading this book sooner, because I was nervous. I’m internally fangirling even though I finished this almost 24 hours ago. And most prominently? I am on my knees. I am bowing down to this author. And I am eternally fucking grateful for this absolute masterpiece. If I could, I’d give it a gazillion stars.

Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after.

Epic. Thrilling. Brutal. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sit still. This story was so gripping, so addicting, so mesmerizing that I was a prisoner held under it’s intoxicating spell. It hooked me with it’s razor sharp claws, bleeding me out like a stuck pig. It clawed all my sanity away until I was a raging lunatic…


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And I didn’t want to be anywhere else but nuzzled up within these extremely deep and painfully appealing pages.

“Please,” I say. “It was a mistake.”
She leans in close, her lips inches from mine, those dead eyes lit, for just a moment with terrifying fury.
“Stupid girl,” she whispers. “Haven’t you learned? I don’t abide mistakes.”


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This review won’t be long. It won’t be coherent. It will obviously be in short, abrupt sentences. Have you ever read a book that was just sooooo perfect that you felt inadequate as you tried to write your review? That’s me. I just…I can’t find the words. I’m so rarely speechless-my reviews border on crazy, because they are so long it feels as if it takes twenty minutes to read them and eternities to write them. But here, now, in this moment where I could put my crazy to good use…I’m coming up blank. And I just Do. Not. Know. What. To. Say.

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”

I am determined, though, to at least say what was so utterly compelling about this story, to me. What made it shoot to an absolute favorite and kept my stomach perpetually churning. For once, the romance wasn’t what made the story for me. I loved it, yes, but it was so much more than that. It was about family and friendship, love and loss, war and betrayal…making decisions that no one at their age should have to. It touched deeply on the subjects no one dare go, yet the author made them so alluring, so mesmerizing, that you just couldn’t look away. There was beauty in it’s depravity, almost like a gorgeously woven spider web, crafted to capture and constrict it’s prey. Even now I am breathless as I reminisce about what happened and what all our main characters had to go through.

Death supplants everything. Friendship, love, loyalty. The good memories I have of these men-of helpless laughter, of bets won and pranks hatched-they are stolen away. All I can remember are the worst things, the darkest things.

And here we are, right at the core of the story where all the addiction comes into play: The characters. You name ‘em, I likely loved ‘em. From the villains to the main leads, I adored them all-but for very different reasons. It’s no secret that I admire the main male lead and his counterpart in almost every book-sue me, I like boys-and even as I was a psycho fangirl for our beautiful Elias, I could actually, for once, see past just him.

Sometimes, I talk to those I’ve killed. In my head, I hear them whisper back-not accusations, but their hopes, their wants. I wish they would curse me instead. It’s worse, somehow, to hear all that would have been had I not killed them.

There was Helene, his best, most cherished friend. Dear God I loved her and their friendship. It struck a chord deep within me and I shipped them so hard. The tears, heartache, and struggle were real. I wouldn’t care if they ended up together-hey, it is what it is-she rocks (Even though I want him with Laia Lalalalala). There was Dex, there was Zak, there was Markus, Cook, Izzi, there were so many more that surrounded our leads and I never disliked any of them-They only added to the story, whereas normally I’m like ‘Shoo! Be gone!’ But not once did I feel this way. All of their turmoil and struggles gripped my heart like a vice, and I was captured in their snare.

Monster, murderer, devil. Dark, vile creature. I hate you. I hate you.

And I’m sorry, I just have to-Elias gave tormented and tortured a whole new name. He was the face of what it feels like to be unloved, cast aside, despised…with only his platoon and his best friend, Helene, beside him. His voice is very powerful, drawing you in immediately, curious to learn more about his story and what has driven him to such misery. I am not going to lie: There is a whole lot of fangirl being held back right now, and it’s really costing me something. But just know-He is perfect. He is loyal. He would do anything for the greater good even as he is facing the most disgusting trials known to man. He is good. He is kind. And he is stuck in a world where he feels he doesn’t belong-he is a leaf in the wind, and all he craves, what he’d sell his very life for, is freedom….freedom of body, mind, and soul. My heart aches for him even now. And I was an absolute mess as I went through each and every new phase with him….I don’t think I could breathe past chapter two when we first meet him.

I’ve never seen her before, because if I had, I’d remember. Despite the heavy silver cuffs and high, painful-looking bun that mark all of Blackcliff’s drudges, nothing about her says slave. Her black dress fits her like a glove, sliding over every curve in a way that makes more than one head turn. Her full lips and fine, straight nose would be the envy of most girls, Scholar or not. I stare at her, realize I’m staring, tell myself to stop staring, and then keep staring. My breath falters, and my body, traitor that it is, tugs me forward until there are only inches between us.


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(I realize I broke the Suicide Squad theme, but come onnnn, how perfect is this??)

And boy oh boy, Elias and Laia are the epitome of Star Crossed Lovers. Whoops…did I reference my blog in comparison to the book? Yeah, well, this is why I read, people. This story, this beautifully constructed forbidden romance…it’s what my favorite books are made of. I will touch lightly on this and then I will move on: THERE IS NO LOVE TRIANGLE, SQUARE, PENTAGON-there is nothing. There is lust. There is attraction. There is curiosity and exploration…but nothing is stronger than a life long friendship forged from cruelty. The main story is about Laia and Elias, and it never once implies otherwise. I wanted to make that clear. And, on top of all that, this story doesn’t center around the romance…but leaves you gasping for more.

“I don’t know what happened to you,” I say. “I don’t know who my father was or why you hate him so much. But I know my death won’t free you. It won’t give you peace. You’re not View Spoiler » Because I’d rather die than become like you. I’d rather die than live with no mercy, no honor, no soul.”

Barbaric, depraved, devastating. Artfully crafted, deserving every bit of the hype, and almost understated in it’s severity. It made me crazy, it stole every bit of spare time I had even when I should have been doing something else, and it’s all I could think about when I wasn’t able to be reading it. I wish for more words to express my utter, undying love for this story, but they aren’t coming to me. I want to say more and I want to leave it as it is. Like I said, it’s making me crazy I can’t say more, but this is where it ends. I loved it. I devoured it. I needed it like oxygen, gulping it in deep, greedy breaths. I need book two….but now I wait. But, for once, it will be worth it. It’s totally worth the wait. Elias…..until we meet again, soldier.


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Why you should read it right now:

The Ember series only gets better and better with each new installment-Sabaa raises the stakes to spine-tingling measures, causing you so much grief you almost burst into tears…only to immediately offer your soul for the next installment (wait, is it only me who has sold her soul and many other body parts for the chance to get her hands on the next copy??) even though you swore your heart just couldn’t take it anymore. With lush, vivid story-telling we are left breathless with the intricate layering of each character’s story arc. Just when we think one character is in the clear, or another begins to look a little murky, Sabaa bursts through that barrier and shows you just how little you actually know about each and every plot twist and character. Think your (MY) boy is safe? EH. WRONG (Actually, I think she has something against my beautiful, loyal, amazing [ahemmmm, moving on], flawed hero). Think Laia is going to do the right thing? EH! Wrong again. Think you know what Helene will do when faced with duty, honor, and loyalty? Nope. No way. So, you see, even though we all would love to think we know what’s about to happen, we’re all basically wrong :P.  And I truly hope that if you haven’t given this series a chance, or even stopped reading it for some reason, that you’ll give it a chance. Words are woven so intricately and seamlessly around every heartbeat, moment, BREATH that there is no way you won’t, at the very least, find solace in this author’s amazingly talented writing. So go forth, have fun…and dive into a world that’s as brutal as it is unputdownable. That is to say-it will steal your soul. Yeah, I said it-sad, but true.

Purchase Links:

An Ember in the Ashes

Amazon I iTunes I Book Depository

A Torch Against the Night

Amazon I iTunes I Book Depository

A Reaper at the Gates

Amazon I iTunes I Book Depository

Bookstagram picture (Find us here):

Amazing quotes that I think put emphasis on Sabaa’s truly impeccable and beautiful writing (ie why I fell in love):

“That day, I thought my world was ending. In a way, I was right. Now it’s time to remake my world. Time to redo my ending. I put my hand to my armlet. This time, I will not falter.”

“Death supplants everything. Friendship, love, loyalty.”

“All the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.”

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”

“The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.”

“I’d rather die than live with no mercy, no honor, no soul.” 

“Fear can be good, Laia. It can keep you alive. But don’t let it control you. Don’t let it sow doubts within you. When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.”

“It will get better. You’ll never forget them, not even after years. But one day, you’ll go a whole minute without feeling the pain. Then an hour. A day. That’s all you can ask for, really.”

“Once, I’d have wanted that. I’d have wanted someone to tell me what to do, to fix everything. Once, I’d have wanted to be saved.” 

“The best lies come from the truth.”

“Elias is here, before me, warm and beautiful and broken. He’s a Martial. A Mask. But not here. Not tonight, in this room. Here, now, he is just Elias and I am just Laia, and we are, both of us, drowning.”

Did I mention there are so many more?? I literally have to stop  myself. Luckily I used quite a few in my review 😛

A little about our amazing, EVIL favorite author:

Sabaa Tahir is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes and its sequel, A Torch Against the Night. She grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

 

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And follow the tour HERE!

 
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES
 
WEEK ONE
April 30 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture
May 1 – My Friends are Fiction – Review
May 2 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures
May 3 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
May 4 – ButterMyBooks – Review
May 5 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture
 
WEEK TWO
May 7 – PaperTrailYa – Reasons to Start Reading The Series
May 8 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram
May 9 – A Perfection Called Books – Reasons to Start Reading The Series
May 10 – ABibliophilesbkm – Creative Instagram Picture + Observations Blog Post
May 11 – The Young Folks – Reasons to start reading the series with GIFS
May 12 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture
 
A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT
 
WEEK ONE
May 14 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture
May 15 – My Friends are Fiction – Review
May 16 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures
May 17 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Favorite Moments In The Series + Hopes For Book 3
May 18 – ButterMyBooks – Helene Aesthetic
May 19 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture
 
WEEK TWO
May 21 – PaperTrailYa – Theories About Book Three
May 22 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram
May 23 – A Perfection Called Books – Helene Appreciation Post 
May 24 – ABibliophilesbkm – The character’s choices, consequences, and expectations
May 25 – The Young Folks – Author Interview
May 26 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture
 
WEEK THREE
May 28 – Fiction Fare – Reasons Why You Should Be Reading The Series
May 29 – Book Is Glee – Creative Instagram Post
May 30 – That’s Normal – Catch Up + Book Three Predictions + Fan Art
May 31 – Bibliophile Gathering – Favorite Moments From Book 2
June 1 – The Fandom – Fan Casting
June 2 – The Eater of Books! – 100 Thoughts I had While Reading Book Two
 
 
A REAPER AT THE GATES
 
WEEK ONE
June 4 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture
June 5 – My Friends are Fiction – Reasons to Read the Series
June 6 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures
June 7 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Elias Appreciation Post 
June 8 – ButterMyBooks – What to do after reading the book
June 9 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture
 
WEEK TWO
June 11 – PaperTrailYa – Theories About Book Three
June 12 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram
June 13 – A Perfection Called Books – How our lives will never be the same
June 14 – ABibliophilesbkm – Creative Instagram Post + Character’s Playlist
June 15 – The Young Folks – What to read after you’ve finished REAPER AT THE GATES
June 16 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture
 
WEEK THREE
June 18 – Fiction Fare – Books To Tide You Over While You Wait For The Next Book
June 19 – Book Is Glee – Creative Instagram Post
June 20 – That’s Normal – Review + What To Read Next
June 21 – Bibliophile Gathering –  Favorite Character Appreciation Post
June 22 – The Fandom – 5 Most Important Moments in the series so far
June 23 – The Eater of Books! – Top Ten Reasons to Stan Laia

BOOK REVIEW: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

BOOK REVIEW: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra ChristoTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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

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

 

Soon there’s sun in the distance, or perhaps even moonlight. Everything is muted and as Lira swoops her blade down on mine once more, I let it all fall away. My mission, my kingdom. The world. They exist somewhere other than in this moment, and now there is only this. Me, my ship, and a girl with oceans in her eyes.

The sea calls, sun shimmering on its tranquil surface. Cylinders of light bouncing over every rip and tear of the water’s veneer. Eyes clash, a heroic act bends and twists fate into a finite moment. Hearts drum to the beat of the ocean’s waves, as rapid and tremulous as any tentative alliance formed, swept away with the thought of a shared loneliness. Two aching souls. Like calls to like. And the inevitable betrayal…hardly a betrayal at all, for how can it be a betrayal when it was right in front of your face the whole time? Two monsters in their respective worlds…two monsters who share the same dream.

His hand moves from beside mine, and I feel a sudden absence. And then it’s on my cheek, cupping my face, thumb stroking my lip. It feels like the worst thing I’ve ever done and the best thing I could ever do and how strange that the two are suddenly the same.

Guys. I adored this book. And the writing-it was seriously out of this world. Savage. Unrelenting-the most vicious kind of poetry. If I could write, and, believe me, the last few books I’ve read have made me pine for it so, this is exactly how I’d want to write.

In Midas, the ocean glitters gold. At least, that’s the illusion. Really it’s as blue as any sea, but the light does things. Unexplainable things. The light can lie.

I can’t explain what makes a book tick for me (I lie, I could go on for days)-sometimes it’s a tried and true pattern. Sometimes it’s a random pick that is in a totally different style genre than I’m used to. And sometimes, sometimes they just click . And that’s what happened here.

As I stare at her, I see nothing of the wraith-like girl I pulled from the ocean. Whatever spell had threatened to transfix me when I saved her is broken now, and I can see quite clearly that she’s no helpless damsel. She’s something more, and it makes me too curious for my own good.

I picked this story up because of not only it’s content, but because of the rave reviews and incessant fangirling that came along with my friends devoted love and support. But, like with many things, I get nervous-it’s hard to fall in with the hordes of fans that hype up a new release (no matter how much you had previously wanted to read it). You feel a pressure to love it that much, to not feel broken because you didn’t connect like the rest of the world.

Staying still, in one place and one moment, will make me miserable. In my heart, I’m as wild as the ocean that raised me.

And, I’ll admit, I did feel the pressure even though I waited a month before I tried it. For one, it was just SO dark at first. I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what I read, in the beginning. Flesh and blood and death and just…evil. Pure evil. It was as intense as it was shocking, and after coming off of so many wins in the lighter faring genres (two contemporary, one lighter fantasy), this was a cold shock to my system.

I’m not a good man. I don’t think I’ve been one for a long time.

I felt the pure, murky vileness seep from every inky page the sea queen graced, cutting off my ability to apprehend disbelief that this was going to be as light as I suppose I anticipated. The ruthlessness of Lira, our MC, was no joke either, making my eyebrows furrow and my mouth make this weird shape that I’m sure had me looking like a frowny, gapey fish (or slack-jawed mermaid, if we’re to stick with them our story’s theme, here). I didn’t know if my fragile little heart (HA) could handle the intensity with which each of our characters handled their prey. Turns out? I’m not so nice after all.

I kid…I’m never nice. When it comes to my books, the more pain, the merrier. I’m sorry, but there’s just something so appealing about a broken, hero/heroine in need of saving, amirite??? But here…I don’t know what happened. I guess going in thinking ‘la la la, little mermaid, la la’ was my largest issue-unprepared doesn’t begin to express the depth with which I felt betrayed by my inner evil self. Trust me, it won’t happen again-my guard won’t be let down so easily next time.

The Sea Queen curves downward, her tentacles brushing my hand, lips like broken glass on my ear. “Stupid girl,” she whispers, and then—as though it’s the worst thing she could utter—“ stupid human girl.”

But then, that ruins all the best surprises, doesn’t it? Which leads me here: Lira and Elian are my life. There. I said it. The slow burn that erupted like wild fire in my system was a result of wicked awesome story-telling unparalleled by many when trying to conquer a re-telling of any form. And conquer she did. I’ve never read such a vivid, beautiful, amazing retelling ever. The way she twisted and weaved the story so that it was more bloodthirsty, more dreadful, more hopeful, whimsical, daring-it blew my mind.

How strange that instead of taking his heart, I’m hoping he takes mine.

I wasn’t trying to compare because, well, come on. Disney does many things well, but slow burn and destruction and peril and general mayhem aren’t at the helm of their money boats-they are, but in a Disney way. But, you could still see some things that nodded to my darling Arielle, my beloved Ursula, my loving prince Eric, and even her two conniving eels. Now-tell me-how could you NOT be interested?

“Wants to be free,” her companion says.
“Free from the queen.”
“Free her heart.”
“Take a heart.”
“Take the queen’s.”

But they were so subtle. And it was little things here and there, but they were so wonderful. I’d be dying a little, you know, dying in the best, bookish obsessed way possible, and then I’d be like-OMG! That’s kind of like what happened there, and isn’t she just so clever and cunning? (One scene comes to mind near the end where View Spoiler »

just thinking of these vivid details makes my heart erupt in the best, most offbeat way-seriously. And, honestly, it made me love her all the more.

The whites of the clouds dotted with bronze as leftover shimmers from Midas float across my eyes. But soon the world comes bursting back, vivid and unyielding. The coral of the fish and the bluebell sky.

But onto the characters and why they made my heart stutter in impossible-and not so impossible-ways. Tell me. Tell me how you make my heart go crazy when all Elian has to do is snark at our evil princess…and her snark right back. And it makes me giggle and squee and do ridiculous, girly things? How can an author do this? Because they’re enemies-how can we find this endearing? Why does bickering and banter and, quite frankly, threatening bodily harm make our hearts beat so? (half this paragraph was in question form, ummmm…)

“What about your own language?” he asks.
“It’s better.”
“How?”
“It’s more suited to me.”
“I dread to think what that means.”

I’ll tell you why-because we’re fickle fickle girls (and guys, whoever) and we like bad bad things lol. We THRIVE on the hate to love trope. We CHERISH the moments that pile up and begin to forge a bond between our two antagonistic MC’s. We are loathe to admit we’re easy…but tell me, who doesn’t love a prince and princess who hate each other, but end up falling for one another, inevitably, anyway?

We’re like squirrels, gathering up all these little nuts (acorns?? I don’t know), gathering and bunching and storing away any little heated look, caress, shared moment, heroic act, proof of loyalty that’s slowly beginning to build-and EXPLODE when it all comes crashing down, when the worlds collide, their hearts open up…only to be crushed under the heavy boot of deception and lies. Necessary lies, mind you, but lies all the same. We’re suckers for it-and it’s the BEST feeling.

“Gods.” Kye recoils as I slash open Lira’s dress. “Is she going to live?”
“Do you care?” I snap back. It isn’t his fault, but yelling at Kye feels a little like yelling at myself, and I need to be yelled at right now. Because this is on me. If Lira dies, then it’s on me.
I can’t believe you came back for me.
But I left her first.

Elian was…he was everything I look for in my book men. A prince born to be a king, but loyal only to the water he loves-his only love. Suffocating under the weight of his duty, the need to fulfill what can’t be avoided-to become the reluctant king of Midas. He broke my heart with how adventurous he was. A true captain in every sense of the word, a pirate straight down to his bones, with a crew who would do anything to save him or sail by his side. His courageousness bonds his crew together, making them more than deckhands-they’re his friends. Oh, and did I mention….he’s the famous prince siren killer?

People know me as the siren hunter, and those at court utter those words with amusement and fondness: Oh, Prince Elian, trying to save us all. If they understood what it took, the awful and sickening screams sirens made. If they saw the corpses of the women on my deck before they dissolved to sea foam, then my people wouldn’t look upon me so fondly. I would no longer be a prince to them, and as much as I might desire such things, I know better.

And Lira-the princess of the sirens in her kingdom. Second only to the Sea Queen, Lira takes the heart of a prince every year on her birthday and-do you see where this is going here? Do I really need to go further?

Love is a word we scarcely hear in the ocean. It exists only in my song and on the lips of the princes I’ve killed. And I have never heard it from my mother’s mouth. I’m not even sure what it really means. To me, it has always been just a word that humans treasure for reasons I can’t comprehend.

When she and Elian meet, sparks fly-but where he’s flint, she’s tinder, and she wants to see him dead and heartless beneath her. But that’s hard to do when-well, I’ll not say. I didn’t know this happened and I loved everything unraveling before my eyes as a surprise. The less you know, the better.

These two together-amazing. He doesn’t trust her and she wants to be a part of his crew for the mission that is a conflict of interest for them both. Their banter, while sharp-tongued at first, becomes an easy rapport, a tentative bond that helps them further their mission. His alertness disguised as aloofness made me a loyal fan -I loved his personality and the devotion he put forth to save his kingdom and all princes alike. He is burdened by duty, but would do anything and sacrifice anything to save those around him. He is selfless in every sense of the word, and I adore him so much it hurts. Even Lira, who he almost doesn’t like, he defends and honors and tries to keep alive. He is a true hero, and I just have to stop or I could go on about him forever (is anyone keeping track of my book boyfriends in 2018?? The scale…it’s tipping over…).

And Lira, darling Lira-as vicious as she is beautiful. Merciless in her mission to change her kingdoms ways, to kill her mother…and to take the prince’s heart. She’s the Princes’ Bane, you see, the very creature that Elian seeks most in the world, aside from the queen herself, and she’s right under his nose. But who is the hunter…and who is the prey??

Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.

Lira, though, I could hang with this girl. She was something to behold. Her fury, her ruthlessness, her unrelenting need for vengeance (Elian, too, seeks vengeance for his friend, but, as you can see, this is just another bond they could form) making her almost as bloodthirsty as her mother-but not quite.

I loved her in ways I can’t explain, because she is such a grey area character, and while I couldn’t root her on…I sympathized with her and did want her to win-friendship. Devotion. Loyalty from her new friends crew members on the Saad. And the love she has for her cousin, and her cousin for her, it melted my heart. Two equally strong characters, lonely in ways they can’t express, because their lives almost seem full-but full doesn’t equal fulfilled.

And, PS, this song, every time I hear it…I think of these two (NOT the trust fund baby, met at a party, etc, but YOU GET IT (maybe)).

**I like that you’re broken
Broken like me
Maybe that makes me a fool
I like that you’re lonely
Lonely like me
I could be lonely with you

There’s something tragic, but almost pure
Think I could love you, but I’m not sure
There’s something wholesome, there’s something sweet
Tucked in your eyes that I’d love to meet
***

I don’t know. I just love that it reminds me of this book! (Also, upon looking at the lyrics, I heard the song wrong-it does NOT say, These ARE my people, these are my friends blah blah, but says These AREN’T (OOPS I NEVER HEAR SONGS RIGHT) but I’ll choose to still hear it my way since he adores his crew 😉 )

The rapport of the crew melted my heart in ways I haven’t seen in a long time-in fact, this story reminded me of a sea version of Six of Crows MANY TIMES OVER, even if I’m way out on a limb here. The funny banter of the crew, the jibes, the skill, the friendship-it was a warm feeling-and I’ll welcome it into my soul time and again, for this is surely a forever favorite.

“How did you get the map?” she asks.
“My charm.”
“No, really.”
“I’m really very charming,” I say. “I even roped this lot into sacrificing their lives for me.”
“Didn’t do it for you.” Madrid doesn’t look up from her deck. “Did it for the target practice.”
“I did it for the hijinks of near-death experiences,” Kye says.
“I did it for more fish suppers.” Torik stretches his arms out in a yawn. “God knows we don’t have enough fish every other day of the year.”
I turn to Lira. “See?”

A rush of adrenaline to my system, the end cemented my love further (everyone knows I’m a peril junkie) to the point of obsession, and I’m proud to say it lived up to my [not always but mostly always] haughty standards. I don’t think TKAK needs my endorsement (I mean, check out the ratings), nor does Alexandra Christo, but she has a forever fan and loyal minion here. Consider me part of your crew, Ms. (Mrs?) Christo-I’d follow you into any world (even if it’s in siren, sea queen, and mermen infested waters, but yikes, please don’t (or do, whatever-more Elian!)) and to the ends of the earth on the Saad-I’m a fool for your writing…I’m sure I’d devour it no matter the content, and that’s the most flattering endorsement I can bestow.

View all my reviews

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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