Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

PUBLISHER: Corgi/Delacorte Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 5th July (UK) 10th July (US) 2018
RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
GOODREADS

This is the third and final novel in The Conquerors’ Saga, also known as And I Darken, Now I Rise, and Bright We Burn. Instead of spoiling you with the synopsis of this book, I’ll give you the blurb for And I Darken:

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

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I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 3rd May 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

Gosh I love the feeling after reading a book by Alice Oseman.

Continue reading “I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman”

Circe by Madeline Miller

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 10th April 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Continue reading “Circe by Madeline Miller”

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

PUBLISHER: Orchard Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th June 2018
RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆  .5
GOODREADS

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

This book was intense.

I’ve mentioned before in blog posts about reading habits and tastes, that I really struggle with stories about abuse. Whether it’s depicted in tv, film, or books, I’m not one to watch/read it if I know it has scenes in it that’ll make me feel uncomfortable. But a part of me thinks I might be missing out on a lot of stories because I don’t like leaving my comfort zone. I am not a victim of child abuse, but I think it’s especially important to talk about content that some people may find triggering, even if it’s something you haven’t experienced. So, if depictions of violent, physical abuse does trigger you in any way, I would read more about this book before just going straight in (like I did). I wouldn’t tell you not to read a book, that is your decision to make, but at least you know this now and can make a more informed decision.

I had some idea about it just from the blurb, but I like going in blind to a book if I can; I seem to enjoy content more that way without having so many expectations of what it should be. I think for the most part, I did really enjoy this book’s depiction of the internal conflict of striving to be the best while feeling like the worst. Beck is considered by many (outside of his own family) as one of the best young piano players out there. He has a legacy to uphold since his mother was a world renowned classical piano player and his uncle a famous composer. However he’s constantly beaten and bruised by his mother’s desperation for him to be the best, despite thinking he’s terrible. Beck, because of this, also thinks he’s terrible, and I like how we don’t truly know whether he’s good or not.

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I’m gonna assume he is though. When you work hard on something, you get at least a little better at it, even if you’re not ‘born with the talent’.

The book on the whole is so sad as we peer into Beck’s inner lack of self-worth. I really felt for him, and was shouting when he made bad decisions. When you’re looking from the outside in at a bad situation, it’s very easy to say ‘do this! say that! just leave!’, but A Thousand Perfect Notes makes you really think about what you would do, and whether or not that would make the situation any better.

The writing was a bit strange in some places. There were a lot of similes and metaphors that were always taken to the extreme that seemed a little out of place. I can’t really explain without giving some examples:

“She whirls and Beck half expects wings made of frost and longing to sprout from her back and fly her home.”

Most of these strange sentences are either descriptions of August or speech from August. And I get why; she’s a bit of a stereotypical manic pixie dream girl. She’s kind of considered kooky because she doesn’t wear shoes often and has dreadlocks and is vegan. The story overall is a fairly stereotypical story but with more depth. Rather than Beck just being a mopey, alternative guy who needs a bit of colour in his life à la 500 Days of Summer, it’s all a bit more sinister. And rather than rolling my eyes at a lot of the cliches, I was more invested in Beck’s life. Unfortunately though, August still came across as a bit two dimensional.

This is a great debut from someone who has read far and wide about what makes a good book. Seriously, Cait’s reviews are on EVERY SINGLE BOOK PAGE ON GOODREADS. So congratulations Cait and can’t wait to read all your future books!

 

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The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Publisher: Harper Voyager (Harper Collins)
Publication Date: 8th March 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ .5
Goodreads

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. 

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. 

I have a lot to say about this book, but it’s really hard to not just pack it all in with a ‘fantastic!’ and then move on.

I’ve been reading this book for a long time, or at least picking it up and putting it down again. If you haven’t heard the story which I go on about constantly about how I got my hands on an early copy of The City of Brass, then I talk about it in detail in on my post about 2017’s YALC which you can read here (don’t forget to come back to this review!) but I’ll just say this. While I didn’t technically get handed this or sent this by someone from Harper Collins, I want to thank them no less for this glorious advanced copy that I will be telling everyone to read when it comes out!

The City of Brass was a hard one to rate just because it’s largest pitfall was the characters. Our main characters, Alizayd and Nahri, I absolutely adore. They’re sweet, smart, passionate, and they both go through so much development from their humble beginnings as a religious soldier and a conwoman and hustler, respectively. What I can’t wrap my head around are the rest of the characters.

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The story, for the majority of the time, takes place in the city of Daevabad, once a beacon of industry, diversity and development, has had it’s history of tribes and people overthrown to what it is now; a mixture of different people who live separate from each other and can’t stand one another. For a lot of the book, I was confused as to who was who and ultimately, who are the ‘good’ guys and the ‘bad’ guys. I assumed this is supposed to be the case and to show that no ‘tribe’ (the term they use for each community of people) is better than the other in our eyes. The city is mainly divided into three quarters (I think?), the Djinn, the Daeva, and the Shafit. The Daeva and the Djinn are pretty much the same people, except that many years ago a group of Daeva began calling themselves Djinn because the Daeva were too religious, puritanical, and hated humans. Djinn began calling themselves Djinn because it’s what humans called them, and they actually like humans, often ‘interfering’ with their lives and reproducing with them, creating a new form of Djinn, called the Shafit who are hated by everyone and have no rights.

This is how I see it: Daeva – Upper middle class, Djinn – Lower middle to working class, Shafit – The underclass. However, the ruling class (the monarchy), are a mixture of Daeva and Djinn, and the family that wear the crowns are Djinn but from a different country. They hold their history and prejudice against the Daeva, yet still accomodate them to the point where they neglect their own people and ruin the lives of Shafit…all for the Daeva. However, the Djinn are also horrible to Daeva, who are often outnumbered by the Djinn and Shafit who make their lives Hell. It’s…a lot to take in.

So when I say that different characters belong to different tribes, I found it difficult to find who I should root for and who I should want to see fall. This was especially the case with Dara, a Daeva Ashfin (soldier) who I consider a main character despite not having a POV. He is with Nahri for the whole book, being the only lifeline she has most of the time, and yet his views on the Shafit and the Djinn are so horrible I would reel my head back from looking at the book and just wish he would fuck off. And it was made worse when our hero, Nahri, one of two characters I actually liked, liked him and believed the things that he said. But, as the story progressed, I began to see that Nahri felt the way I felt, and it made me realise that Chakraborty purposefully wrote these characters this way to show that humans (or in this case, Djinn and Daeva) are morally grey, and yet that gret morality can affect others in devastating ways (the Shafit).

While this dominated my reading time and was a true mind-fuck (brought upon by myself), I genuinely loved this book. Any historical fantasy set in the middle east is going to catch my eye anyway, but The City of Brass is the cream of the crop. It’s political (as you can see from my word vomit above), beautiful in it’s setting and description of the culture, the food, fashion, and grand temples you can see from the horizon. At times it made feel warm and cozy, and other times I felt cold and my skin was riddled with goosebumps. A book that can make your body react like that is powerful. And that’s exactly what this book is.

The City of Brass comes out in the UK 8th March 2018, but is already out in the U.S. It doesn’t have enough buzz in my mind, and so I will be thoroughly raving about it this March.

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 6th August 2016
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Plot: Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

I received an eARC by Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve never read a Jay Kristoff book before. nevernight2

Yeah, I’ll probably get my head chopped off for saying that. But when I saw Nevernight on Netgalley I just went for it.

And oh my GOD IS IT FANTASTIC.

I hadn’t really known what to expect, I glanced at the plot, didn’t read any other reviews, and went ahead and stuck it on my kindle and had around 12 hours of travelling time to just read the shit out of it.

You’re immediately swept in, this very Italian inspired world full of dark magic and intrigue. It’s absolutely beautiful, from the descriptions of cities to the colourful language of the characters (which I’ll go on to in a minute), to the hilarious footnotes written by our comedic narrator.

Mia Corvere, despite only being a teenager, swears, a lot. I find it rather peculiar sometimes when a teenage character doesn’t swear at all, because it can’t be further from the truth. Despite being in a fantasy setting, Mia’s dialogue is funny and real and truthful. She’s furious, and why shouldn’t she be? Her family, her life, has been taken away from her. What better way than to just soak and boil in revenge and vengeance and be ready to slit the throat of anyone who crosses you? She’s so well rounded, so developed, and strong, in so many ways other than throwing daggers about.

This book was just a cacophony of awesomeness with so many elements drawn in to just make it a fabulous new release. It has action, violence, female friendship, and a whole lot of sex. I’ve always found sex in YA to be a bit timid and awkward, and that’s because it is when you’re a teenager. And while I agree that you can’t give a thumbs up to graphic violence in YA but turn your nose up at graphic sex, I think it’s best to just mention that while the scenes are definitely rather adult and sexy, you still might be a bit surprised that you’re reading a YA fantasy novel and not something from the passion section during these points.

Still, oh so imaginative and now I want to read everything Jay Kristoff has done. GET IT. READ IT. LOVE IT.


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