Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Ruin and Rising 
Author: Leigh Bardugo 
Series: The Grisha #3 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: June 17, 2014 
Rating: ★★★★ 

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege And Storm Leigh Bardugo The Grisha
Siege and Storm Leigh Bardugo cover The Grisha

Title: Siege And Storm 
Author: Leigh Bardugo 
Series: The Grisha #2 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Rating: ★★★★ 

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Review: Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow And Bone 
Author: Leigh Bardugo 
Series: The Grisha #1 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: June 5, 2012 
Rating: ★★★★ 

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Review: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember In The Ashes Sabaa Tahir
An Ember In The Ashes Sabaa Tahir cover

Title: An Ember In The Ashes 
Author: Sabaa Tahir 
Series: An Ember In The Ashes #1 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: April 28, 2015 
Rating: ★★★★★ 

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.

Review: Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat

Title: Captive Prince + Prince's Gambit + Kings Rising
Author: C.S. Pacat 
Series: Captive Prince #1, #2, #3 
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, M/M
Publication date: April 7, 2015 
Rating: ★★★★★ 

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave. Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country. For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

Note: Review after reading all three books in a row with only a four-hour sleep break in between. Yes, that's how much I needed this story in my life. I have no regrets.

I feel like my heart is going to explode. Not kidding. I honestly feel like my heart is going to explode with love. Or with the impossible ache for more. I suppose this could go either way. This series has left me breathless and at loss for words. I need at least five more books of this world and these characters. Except what I really need is an epic love like this of my own.

To get what you want, you have to know exactly how much you are willing to give up.

I’m going to be real honest with you here. I didn’t have high expectations for this series. It had been recommended to me and it seemed like a guilty pleasure in the most literal sense of the word. Vulgar court life. Hot, sexy, dirty, fast, enjoyable and probably really superficial. Truth be told, I was expecting Game Of Thrones meets Fifty Shades Of Grey. The only reason I picked it up (contrary to embarrassing shades of whatever) was because Sarah J. Maas praised it in one of her newsletters and the high ratings my goodreads friends were giving it. I was such a fool.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this is probably one of the best and most compelling romance I have ever read. And I have read many. All of it set in a medieval world on the verge of war. Courtiers carefully dancing around each other and characters never revealing their true intentions. But in between all the backstabbing and endless theatrics, an honesty and vulnerability that I almost didn’t think possible and that I could barely grasp my mind around. Overwhelming. Breathtaking. Heartwarming.

“Describe the book you are currently reading in three words?” - goodreads.

Princes defying gravity.

Because that’s what it was.

When the king of Akielos dies unexpectedly, it is his bastard son Kastor who seizes power instead of the rightful heir to the throne Damianos. Damen, war hero to his people and completely taken aback by the sudden uprising, is captured and sent off to the neighboring kingdom Vere where he is to become a slave in the household of his life-long enemy. A bed slave for the beautiful, sharp-tongued, manipulative and lethal prince Laurent. The soon-to-be-king who hates everything even remotely related to Akielos. Damen is brought there stripped of his name and title, nothing more than an attractive and strong but completely untrained and defiant slave. There is no greater humiliation for a man who was once destined to become king. Except the Veretian court can never learn who he really is. Because if they do, his life is forfeit. Damen is a devil in disguise. He is the one who killed the prince of Vere’s brother.

We’ve all read this kind of romance. And yet to me this was different than anything else I encountered before. Love between two characters who absolutely loathe each other is often a bit tricky (and trust me they really, really did). But this - it felt so authentic to me. So real. The character development was slow and honest. Nothing rushed. Everything starts with small moments. A growing of respect and a careful companionship. Aargh, I’m not doing it credit at all. I told you I had no words to describe it. It was just.. whoa.

I cared about Laurent. So much. Probably a little more than Damen even though he is the one with the pure heart. It’s been this way since the very first book - I’m not sure what that says about me. Laurent was cruel and brutal. But I strongly admired his intellect and confidence, his brilliant mind, his composure and control, the way he outwitted people and stood up against his uncle. All I was constantly hoping was that we would get to see just a flash of what he was really feeling on the inside. Because there seemed so much more to him. So much he suppressed.

And the political game at play was thrilling. How sometimes I saw through it and knew what was at stake and sometimes it completely surprised me. A decadent court life, war, battles, sword play and camaraderie between fellow soldiers. Princes rising to be king and royal intrigue. Nah, it doesn’t get much better than this.

I told you I didn’t have the words to say what I felt. I just - I loved the writing. I loved the world building. I loved the main and side characters. I loved Laurent. I loved Damen. I loved that there were no grand love declarations but that you could feel everything there was between them in the way they acted. I loved the way they talked to each other, honest and straight-forward. I loved the intrigue. I loved that this was not fifty shades at all. That it was not abusive between the two of them.(Although there was a lot of abuse in the books.) I loved that the sex scenes were more suggestive and sensual than explicit. I loved that their focus was on romance and vulnerability instead of only physicality. I loved it, I loved it, I'M IN LOVE, OKAY?

A kingdom, or this?

This. Every time.

Review: Be With Me by J. Lynn

Be With Me J. Lynn Wait For You
Be With Me J. Lynn Wait For You cover

Title: Be With Me 
Author: J. Lynn 
Series: Wait For You #2 
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, NA 
Publication date: February 4, 2014 
Rating: ★★★½ 

Teresa Hamilton is having a rough year—she’s in love with her big brother’s best friend, but he hasn’t spoken to her since they shared a truly amazing, mind-blowing, change-your-life kiss. She got out of a terrible relationship. And now an injury is threatening to end her dance career for good. It’s time for Plan B – college. And maybe a chance to convince Jase that what they have together is real. Jase Winstead has a huge secret that he’s not telling anyone. Especially not his best friend’s incredibly beautiful sister. Even though he and Teresa shared the hottest kiss of his life, he knows that his responsibilities must take priority. He certainly doesn’t have time for a relationship. But it doesn’t help that all he can think about kissing the one girl who could ruin everything for him. As they’re thrown together more and more, Jase and Tess can’t keep denying their feelings for each other. But a familiar danger looms and tragedy strikes. As the campus recovers, the star-crossed couple must decide what they’re willing to risk to be together, and what they’re willing to lose if they’re not…

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything Morgan Matson
The Unexpected Everything Morgan Matson cover

Title: The Unexpected Everything 
Author: Morgan Matson 
Series: Stand-alone 
Genre: Contemporary, YA 
Publication date: May 3, 2016 
Rating: ★★★★ 

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks). But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

Upcoming Releases: August 2016

Upcoming Releases young adult
Here are the August (YA/NA) book releases we were all waiting for. I'm especially excited for Jay Kristoff's Nevernight, It Ends With Us and A Torch Against The Night. Which ones are you anticipating most? Add what you want to read and make your ever-growing TBR even longer.

The 'This' or 'That' book tag

Book Tag
Here is another book tag.  I came across this particular one on Just By The Page, a blog run by the wonderful Kayleigh. It seemed fun, so here is my entry. Try it for yourself if you feel like it. There are 25 questions, so let's get on with it.

* * * *

Review: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, J. Tiffany & J. Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J.K. rowling cover

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 
Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany 
Series: Harry Potter #8 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: July 31, 2016 
Rating: I honestly don't know...

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
` `