Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Trilogy #1)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: March 4th 2014
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense.
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


This book was great. It set itself up quickly and smoothly and instantly draws you into the world. It took a bit longer to get me attached to the characters, but nevertheless it did in due time. I really enjoyed the idea behind the story and Arin being Kestrel's slave. It really makes for an interesting relationship, and incredible strain on both of them. It reminded me a lot of the world of Tangled Web. I imagined them to look aesthetically similar, and they also both feature romances with slaves.

"Fifty keystones for a singer who refused to sing, a friend who wasn't her friend, some one who was hers and yet would never be hers."

I really enjoyed the narration, and the way things seemed to slowly be revealed. It could be the reason why it took me time to grown attached to the characters, although I was interested in the story from the beginning. I felt like it took time for Ketrel and Arin's true natures to be revealed, even through their own POVs, and it was almost hypnotic, as I waited for the small drips of information to be released. And in the end, they both turned out to be more incredible then I had expected.

Kestrel is so intelligent. She is one of those people who you never see coming until its too late. And Arin, he is incredibly brave and selfless as he fights for the freedom of this people and at the same time never forgets the needs of Kestrel. They are both incredible tacticians, and I wonder if the future will have them fighting with each other, or against each other.

I enjoyed the first half of the book more for sure, because it was more about discovery and hope. But in the second half of the book, when everything is in the open, there is such a strong sense of betrayal and desperation. I have a hard time handling that sort of emotion, even in moderate doses. Luckily, I was able to look at the bigger picture and handle it. As long as the following two installments in the trilogy don't drag down my mood too much more.

The bigger picture that I see, is that Kestrel and Arin still love each other despite everything, and that makes it even more beautiful. It gave Kestrel the grounds to prove it by sacrificing her future for Arin's. And although Arin didn't have the opportunity to prove it on the grand scale that Kestrel did, he did prove it in small ways. And the way the story ended leaves us knowing that there is still so much more to come for Kestrel and Arin. I can imagine the scope the this will take, and the influence Kestrel and Arin will have on the future of their nations.

"The god of lies loves you."

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa (Blood of Eden #3)

Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: April 15th 2014
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense.
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Vengeance Will Be Hers

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.


I am really sad that this series did not blow my mind like The Iron Fey did and continues to do with each installment of The Call of the Forgotten. I know most people love Blood of Eden, and many love it more than The Iron Fey. But this series just makes me nervous, wondering if The Iron Fey was a one-off for me and Julie Kagawa. Will I love Talon or not?

Like book 1, this dragged. About halfway through and all they had done was walked. Allie, Kanin, and 
Jackal walking to Chicago. Sure they came across a few of Sarren's massacres, and they stopped to feed on some farmers. But half the book was just them walking to Chicago. And then they picked up Zeke and that was cool, but he was being a big baby again and then they continued walking. Actually at this point I think they picked up a vehicle, but the point is that nothing happened until they got to Eden.

The whole final scene on the island and on the barge was really cool and awesome. Zeke turned out to be a bad-ass vampire, even though no one thought he would make a very good vampire. So I am glad he proved them wrong and finally became relevant. And when Allie is needed, she really steps up. I don't think it was until the climax of this book that I really started to appreciate her. But that took way-the-hell too long! The climax of a book cannot carry the whole book. But I am glad that she proved herself to Kanin, and to herself in the end. I was happy for her, and Kanin I guess. Although I feel like Kanin was just a ghost. We never really knew him. He was just there but her never said anything.

The story of this series, overall, was great. I liked the idea of the world Julie created, and the mission Allie and her friends were on. I just wish they characters who carried out that mission were not so flat, and that it hadn't dragged so much. It probably could have been done in two installments. But book 2 was definitely the highlight of this series for me. It felt the most full and involved. There was so much going on. With the introduction of Jackal as an ally, the infected, the city and the Prince, Stick, and Sarren. A lot was going on and I never got bored. I assumed the series was picking up steam and that in book 1 it was just finding it's footing. But sadly it went down hill from there.

I feel like the way things ended was pretty incomplete. I feel like I need another book. I know that this was Allie and Zeke's story and they got everything they could want in the end, and the important part of their story is over. But I lived for Jackal while reading this series (or at least in books 2 and 3). I was always just waiting for his next scene, his next line. I didn't like the way he and Allie parted. It just doesn't feel right to me, to not know what becomes of him. I want to know if he goes to Europe, what he does there, if he ever sees Allison again, if he treats her like a Master when he does. I just want more Jackal. :(

“I am proud of you, Allison Sekemoto,” he whispered as he drew back. “Whatever you decide, whatever path you choose to take, I hope that you will remain the same girl I met that night in the rain. The one decision for which I have no regrets.”

Friday, 18 April 2014

Alliance Forged by Kylie Griffin (The Light Blade #2)

Genres: Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: July 3rd 2012
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense.
Smut-O-Meter: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a blind priestess lays claim to a half-breed warrior, body and soul...
Hunted and marked for death by Na'Reish demons for their half-blood heritage, the Na'Chi are searching for a new home--something an alliance offered by the human leader could provide. With both races divided by prejudice, when Light Blade rebels brutally attack the Na'Chi, the alliance seems doomed to fail.
Varian, leader of the Na'Chi, a hybrid race of gifted warriors, is cursed with the darker impulses of his demon heritage. Controlling the part of himself that craves the high of the battle is a struggle he's afraid he'll lose--until he meets Kymora Tayn, a priestess driven to serve her deity. While he's unwilling to trust anyone outside his people, he finds himself drawn to Kymora's strength and passionate nature, and discovers she has the power to calm the darkness inside him.
When the Na'Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves and kickstart the war, the key to the survival of both races--Na'Chi and human--is an alliance. However when Kymora is kidnapped, pitting human against human, Varian realizes he must embrace his darker half, not only to save the alliance...but also the woman he loves.


I enjoyed this book as much as the first one, if not more. I love a tortured hero. I just can't resist them. And Varian is so tortured! Poor guy.

It really pisses me off how the Na'Chi are obsessed with physical perfection and socially shun Varian because of his scar, even though he is their leader. Its so not fair. But thank goodness for Kymora! And not just because she is blind. She wouldn't have cared about his scar even if she could see it. She just loved him so much. She is just one of those people who can see the best in someone and never gives up on them no matter what.

And Varian is the same. He thinks only of his people. He would do anything for them, and nothing for himself. He always thinks of them first to the point of it being damaging to his health. Only when he realizes that he might hurt them if he continues neglecting his own well-being does he do something about it. But to be fair, it is only then that he finds out there is something he can do for himself. They are really a power couple. The leader of the Na'Chi and the spiritual leader of the humans. Varian's strength and leadership and Kymora's altruism and faith. I think together they could accomplish anything. I just wish we could have seen more of what they could become.

I also love the world that this book is set in. It has interesting dynamics and I am anxious to see what will happen next. Will they be able to find peace with the rebels and the Na'Reish? The comfort they have found in Sacred Lake is so delicate and there are so many hurdles left to jump before they can completely relax and be able to live their lives.

I also actually really like their deity. She seems nice. I love the scenes when she actually speaks to Kymora, and I am so glad that Kymora decided to go for it, and follow her heart and her Lady's path. Its very brave and I am excited to find out how this series will tie up. I really look forward to reading Allegiance Sworn and what new things it will bring us. It should be a completely new and exciting experience to see things from a Na'Reishi's POV and I am really looking forward to it.

“He'd found a new home, at last. 
And love... Her name was Kymora.”

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Humour, Romance
Publication Date: May 2nd 2013
POV: Alternating - First-person, Past tense.
My Rating: 4 out of 5


When Avery Shaw’s heart is shattered by her life-long best friend, she chooses to deal with it the only way she knows how—scientifically.

The state science fair is coming up and Avery decides to use her broken heart as the topic of her experiment. She’s going to find the cure. By forcing herself to experience the seven stages of grief through a series of social tests, she believes she will be able to get over Aiden Kennedy and make herself ready to love again. But she can’t do this experiment alone, and her partner (ex partner!) is the one who broke her heart.

Avery finds the solution to her troubles in the form of Aiden’s older brother Grayson. The gorgeous womanizer is about to be kicked off the school basketball team for failing physics. He’s in need of a good tutor and some serious extra credit. But when Avery recruits the lovable Grayson to be her “objective outside observer,” she gets a whole lot more than she bargained for, because Grayson has a theory of his own: Avery doesn’t need to grieve. She needs to live. And if there’s one thing Grayson Kennedy is good at, it’s living life to the fullest.


This book was so much fun. And it reminded me so much of Cassie Mae books, if someone had told me it was written by Cassie Mae I would have believed them. It had elements that reminded me of both Switched and Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend.

Avery is just so adorable. I want to put her in my pocket. And Grayson? Oh my gosh! He's like perfection. They were amazing together since the first naked shower. ;) It was so inevitable. I cant imagine how they could have known each other all their lives and never noticed how perfect they were for each other until now. Or how she could have spent so much time with Aiden when there was Grayson to be had! He would bend over backwards to make her happy, and he was so patient with her social awkwardness. He was the perfect cure for what ailed her, from her broken heart to her anxiety. He never pushed her to do more than what she was capable of, but he also never let her become complacent with her life. He was just so unbelievably amazing!

I also loved seeing Grayson try to win Avery over. I really enjoy when things are changed up and it is the guy who is pining for the girl. It doesn't happen that way as often and I just love seeing that side of a guy. But Grayson was patient as ever and just so good natured and fun and kept making Avery laugh no matter what. He was so hilarious and sweet! I also loved the added side story of Avery's friend Libby, and Grayson's friend Owen. Oh my! What an odd pair! Hahaha, love the photo booth scene. I wish we could see more of them.

The prologue to this book was the absolute best. It was perfect! I wish I could just quote the whole thing. I cant pick a favourite line from the prologue. Grayson just doesnt know how to quit being amazing! I will definitely be checking out more of this author's work.

“Somewhere between the shower and the Red Bull I fell in love with you, Aves. I’m talking epically. There is no coming back from a fall like mine.”

Dray by Tess Oliver (Custom Culture #3)

Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Smut-O-Meter: 6 out of 10
My Rating: 3 out of 5


When Cassie, the woman he loves, leaves him for a job in New York, Dray Warner finds his life falling apart. With nothing else to lose he takes up his friend, Barrett Mason’s, offer to head down to Mexico for some surfing and good times. But Dray’s conscience, hot temper and extreme fighting skills hurl him into a world of danger . . . a danger that could cost him his life.

Cassie Carlton was sure she was making the right decision accepting her dream job in New York. She and Dray had parted ways and while she remains heartbroken by the break up, she needs to move on with her life. But when Cassie learns that Dray is in trouble, she realizes she will sacrifice anything to save him.

I was never really interested in having a Dray book, since he and Cassie had been together for awhile and I didn't like Dray that much. I was hoping that this book would surprise me, but unfortunately I still don't really care for him. He is my least favourite of the group, including Barrett whose own book hasn't even come out yet.

Near the beginning of this book, Dray said to himself that he never let anyone see behind his walls, including Cassie, and I was hoping that would mean that he would let her in in this book. I was hoping that the story would be about Cassie seeing the real him and falling in love with him all over again, making their relationship deeper. But unfortunately it wasn't. For most of the book Cassie was in NYC and missing Dray. They only had a few scenes together and most of the time they just really missed each other and were thinking about how much they couldn't live without the other. I didn't really see anything new develop between them.

I also never really got them as a couple. They are such an odd combination. I am all for odd parings, but usually in life situation, not in personality. They just don't seem to blend well. I also would have expected Cassie to be with a "quiet artsy-type" life her friends in NYC always said. I have no idea what they saw in each other, besides Dray being hot. Although I could never be attracted to him because I cant get past his temper. And I have no idea what Dray saw in Cassie. She is a nice person, but I just can't imagine what someone like Dray would see in her.

But I still enjoy the characters enough to want to see Dray and Barrett get out of Mexico safely, and I enjoyed seeing Nix, Scottie, Clutch, and Taylor some more. They are great pairings that I can totally get behind, and I hope Barrett's will be great too. He is such a sweetheart I cant wait to read his book!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Siren Depths by Martha Wells (The Books of the Raksura #3)

Genres: High Fantasy, Adventure
My Rating: 4 out of 5


All his life, Moon roamed the Three Worlds, a solitary wanderer forced to hide his true nature--until he was reunited with his own kind, the Raksura, and found a new life as consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court.

But now a rival court has laid claim to Moon, and Jade may or may not be willing to fight for him. Beset by doubts, Moon must travel in the company of strangers to a distant realm where he will finally face the forgotten secrets of his past, even as an old enemy returns with a vengeance.

The Fell, a vicious race of shapeshifting predators, menaces groundlings and Raksura alike. Determined to crossbreed with the Raksura for arcane purposes, they are driven by an ancient voice that cries out from... The Siren Depths.


This was a great way to end this series, and a drastic improvement from book 2, The Serpent Sea. I loved the story in this one because it manged to incorporate a lot of new Raksuran courts and culture, but was also very focused on the Raksuran enemy, the Fell. The sinister villains and the fascinating culture of the Raksuran are two of this series strongest qualities. I loved seeing both the Opal Night and Veridian Sea courts, and how they treated Moon. The interactions are fascinating because they are not human, and even the subtlest body language means something different than it would to us. Its all new and I loved it.

One of the things I found most fascinating was the difference in gender roles. Moon is consort to the Queen and the way he behaves towards her is a way that I would never see a human man behaving towards a woman under any circumstance. On more than one occasion Moon was hurt or weak and Jade carried him. And it just seemed so natural. And the way the men act towards each other as well. They are so affectionate. After Shade faced the Fell progenitor he cried himself to sleep in Moon's arms. When Moon was sick Stone cradled him in his lap. When Dare was dying Moon held him close to his chest as he took his last breaths. I just thought it was beautiful to see these males unafraid to show each other how much they care.

The final battle sequence was just epic and heart-pounding, and everything comes together in the end for Moon and Jade and the Indigo Cloud court. I find I am even happy for Pearl. I will miss the Raksura.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess (Death Sworn #1)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
My Rating: 4 out of 5


When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.


This book was intense and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time! It is high fantasy, but it isn't what you probably expect when you hear those words. It was pure intrigue. The entire novel is set in the caves and tunnels inhabited by assassins. Ileni is sent by the Renegai Sorcerers to tutor the assassins in magic. But while she is there she uncovers conspiracies and faces life-threatening challenges at every turn. And she discovers that she has a bigger part in it all than she could have ever imagined.

This book really kept me guessing and never let me get comfortable. You never know who to trust. I loved Ileni. She was a strong heroine. Despite her fading powers, she kept investigating and throwing herself into danger, heedless of the threats to her life. She was smart too, never letting the assassins intimidate her into giving up. She knew she had the mental capacity to unravel what was happening around her.

And she never even fully trusted Sorin. I enjoyed the complexities of their relationship. Sorin was loyal to the Master, and Ileni knew it. She may have loved him, but she never made herself fully vulnerable to him. She never let her guard down. Its not the kind of romance you usually find in YA novels. The all-encompassing passion, and the willingness to give up everything for the person you love. Not Ileni and Sorin.

It may be possible to win Ileni over by the cause of the assassins. But its the Master that the assassins put their faith in 100%, not their cause. Ileni would sacrifice herself for what she believes in, but she would never blindly put her life in someone else's hands. She will fight and die on her own terms. And that might be what happens in the next book, as Ileni leaves the caves and goes to discover for herself if the cause is worth dying for. 

I would love it if in book 2 Ileni proves to the assassins, or at least Sorin, that she could be an even better leader than the Master. I don't think I would even mind if this series doesn't have an HEA. Its so dark and uncomfortable that its a valid possibility. But I hope for at least some unity of action between Ileni and Sorin. And I would love to see Sorin sacrifice something for Ileni. Even something small. It doesn't have to be his beliefs or his life. Just anything, to show that she has changed him. That she had an impact on his previously ordered life.

“It's not hard to kill," Ileni said softly, as if discovering it all over again. "Not if you hate someone. It's so very easy."

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (Newsoul #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: January 31st 2012
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
My Rating: 2 out of 5


New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?


Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?


I just have to start off by saying this book is so boring! Ana is the first person to be born in Range with a new soul. She is not a reincarnation. She is shunned and mistreated her whole life. When she turns 18 she leaves home and goes to the city of Heart, hoping to learn more about why she was born. She meets and falls in love with Sam. A musician who she has admired from afar her whole life. Since no one else wants her, Sam agrees to be her guardian and takes her in. And the two of them spend a lot of time together in the library and playing piano. That about sums up the whole book. Just lots of pointless walking and talking. And the romance started off so slow that I didn't even see it at first. I wasn't really sure what was going on because nothing was happening and I was confused by the lack of development.

Also, the concept of being reincarnated with your memories completely intact and keeping the same name would cause so many problems. They live as if its one long life, rather than separate lives. Its more like the Doctor and his regenerations than the traditional idea of reincarnation. Its just a horrible concept and I cant imagine how a society could survive like that. Your worse enemy could end up later being your mother. A lover could end up being your sibling. Jealousy carry over. Grudges lasting for generations. It would be chaos. Not to mention the fact that they are not always born as the same gender. They would all have to be gender neutral. Because if I were reborn as a man I would be so disappointed! Women are awesome.

There are just so many things about this book that I didn't like. I didn't even really like Ana that much. She was so bitter and always assumed the worst of people. Sam was amazing though. He treated her like an equal from the very beginning. I didn't like the setting. The fact that it was so ambiguous bugged me like an itch I couldn't scratch. It wasn't earth, but was it a futuristic planet or a fantasy world? There were centaurs and sylphs and dragons. But there were also phones and cars and laser guns. What?

There are exactly one million souls in Range that have been recycled over and over again for thousands of years, so they all feel like they know each other so well. And when people meet Ana for the first time, they know immediately that she is the Newsoul, because they have never met her before. But that is ridiculous! You cant remember one million people by name! I don't care how old you are! And it was never explained why Li hated Ana so much. Like beyond regular dislike. She seriously had it out for her and it didn't make sense. But the book left a lot hanging. It just ended and it felt like it didn't bring us anywhere or accomplish anything in the end. It didn't give us enough answers.

A lot of the issues I can admit are just my personal tastes, but not all. And maybe some of these things will be explained later on in the series, but I won't find out. I won't be continuing this series.

“He held on to me like I was a rock, the only thing keeping him from drifting out with the tide of dark memories. 
It was the first time I realized he needed me too.”

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