Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PUBLICATION DATE: 10th April 2018
RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Continue reading “Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody”

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Of Fire & Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2018
RATING: ☆ ☆ .5
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Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.

But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other. 

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Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 8th February 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆
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Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

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Circe by Madeline Miller

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

Even The Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Publisher: Harper Collins/Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
Rating:  ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

Continue reading “Even The Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett”

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Publisher: Little, Brown Books / Hot Key Books
Publication Date: January 2nd 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

This book gave me two very different feelings; indifference and complete investment.

I was thankfully gifted The Cruel Prince as an ebook from Hot Key Books, and wasn’t surprised at how much attention it got when I ran a poll with what books I should read while making the long journey to visit extended family over Christmas. It won by a landslide, and while Holly Black books are usually a hit or miss for me, I got excited at the thought of being whisked away to a faerie land where fairy is spelled like ‘faerie’ and the creatures of the land are not cute with magic wands and wings.

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Unfortunately, that’s not what I got in the first 67% of the book.

The Cruel Prince, to me, could not decide what kind of book it wanted to be. At first, it seemed like a self-aware novel; a faerie land living alongside the human realm, where the protagonist felt apart of both. She would shop with her sister at Target, say stuff like ‘lighten up, jerk!’ when in conflict with magical creatures, but then she would also ride a giant toad with a saddle around it and wear dresses made of leaves and feathers. Her step-father has green skin and her baby step-brother can glamour her into slapping herself until she’s red in the face. I kind of liked it; Holly Black’s novels always have the mundane and the strange walking side by side. It was the same with The Darkest Part of the Forest (which I adored) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (which was a bit meh) – like I said, Holly Black’s books are a hit or miss.

This concept of Jude feeling out of place in both worlds went on for quite a long time, and didn’t in fact stop. This, thrown in with being severely bullied by Carden (the cruel prince in question) and his awful friends also goes on for so long that I started to feel really uncomfortable. It got to the point where I felt like a bystander just letting it happen. I’ve never been bullied this severely, but I think I have a responsibility to say that if you’re affected by seriously and severe bullying in entertainment you consume, and you’re going to read this book, now you know.

This goes on for most of the book, and I found myself wanting to DNF it a few times. When I’m reading a book and I can feel myself wanting to put it down, I know it’s not going well. I don’t like to waste my time, and it felt like I was doing exactly that. But THEN, as it read 67% on my Kindle, when my mother was calling me in because the Sunday roast was ready, I couldn’t stop reading!

The story completely turned around and the drama started, the political intrigue, the distrusting of characters all reared their beautiful heads. And it was like, where the hell were you all when the grip of my kindle was getting weaker and weaker? It’s not a plot twist or anything, I’m not spoiling it when I say it got interesting, but it’s a bit weird that I have to say that. The whole book should be interesting!

After tweeting about it a few times, I saw that I wasn’t alone. Many felt like it was worth sticking to until the end where it leaves you wanting the next book as much as how you just wanted any other book when you began reading The Cruel Prince. So, if you’re just starting out or even a third into it, keep going, there is something about this book that’s meant for it to blow up in popularity come the second one.

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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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