Amazing characters, a hate-to-love romance, and war // Why I love The Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski

Hello everyone! 🙂 Disappeared for a few days from the blog, aha. So I had other plans for posts, but I haven’t done a book review in SUCH a long time! I have such a tremendous pile of them now I guess I’m scared to approach them. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it is a HUGE pile! Not TBR-huge (nothing’s going to beat that, probably) but huge when I think about my books-read vs books reviewed ration and when I see everyone else’s reviewing queue consisting of, like, max, 7-10 books. ANYWAY. Moving on! The point: I’m doing a review! On a series, in fact. I read the third book in this trilogy pretty recently, but the other two books were read quite a while ago and I thought it might be easier to just do a series review. I won’t be getting too much into the specifics of each book, though, so no spoilers! Let’s get into it!

Winner's Curse Series Review

Check out the books on Goodreads: The Winner’s Curse | The Winner’s Crime | The Winner’s Kiss

What I Loved

  • KESTREL KESTREL KESTREL omg. She is one of my absolute favourite book characters–with such good reason. She’s such a strong character, and not in the traditional fighting and battling department (as we see nowadays). No, the thing I loved about her was the fact that she relied on only her brains. She was not thoroughly trained in the art of sword-fighting and etc (in fact she was not good at all) but that did not mean she was not able to protect herself, nor was she a weaker person for it. Her strength was found in her brains, and in her resilience and determination. She did not give up, did not stop fighting, and her sass thoughhhhh. All around love her, honestly.
  • Can I get an IRL Arin, please??!!
  • Seriously, though. He’s so awesome, albeit the fact that he made terrible decisions sometimes. But don’t they all?? I may absolutely adore Kestrel but Arin is no less of an important character. His love towards his people, and what he does to save them is so sweet and his love towards Kestrel!! That brings me to my next point which is:
  • THE ROMANCE. Agh. So so cute. And amazing. And sweet. And heartbreaking. Did I praise it enough yet? Basically, it was one of the best things ever. The hate-to-love trope appears in this one, and it was so well done! You can see, through each of the characters’ thoughts, how they slowly go from hatred to genuinely care and concern for each other, and the uncertainty behind what those feelings entail (primarily in the first book). My heart suffered so so much because of this, with us being left with a will-they-won’t-they situation throughout the series.
  • The feelssssssss. Ahhhh there were so many. My heart was just a puddle, basically. It melted. (Rip)
  • The excitement! There was so much at stake here and I loved the thrill of reading all that happened. There wasn’t a single book in the series that didn’t have me sitting in anticipation of what happened next. The endings of the first two books always left me on such a cliffhanger, though!!
  • Oh but I LOVED THE ENDING SO SO MUCH. It was so so perfect.
  • But to finish the characters: Can I just say how much I adored Roshar??? We meet him first in the second book, I believe, but it’s really in the third book where I fell in love with his character. His and Arin’s relationship is just such an amazing bromance and ahhhhhh I love it.
  • But also the world is so fabulous! I loved how Marie Rutkoski made us really part of the world, and the politics, the description, the set up of everything made it a really great experience.
  • Her writing is also so great and I would totally read anything else she puts out. (Speaking of, when will she do it I NEED MORE)
  • But the amount of heartbreak it took to get there oh my lord.
  • Basically this series: Betrayal! Intrigue! Strategy! On how to kill people and make the life of the emperor miserable! All the good stuff. What are you waiting for?

What I Disliked (very very briefly because the list is minimal)

  • The pacing did feel off for me in certain books. I can’t pinpoint what it was exactly, but although the books were very concise and everything and the pacing were generally very fast and fit well, there was just something… off, sometimes. But honestly not a big deal at all.
  • That is literally it.
  • There may have been more things but they’re so insignificant I can’t remember them…

Final thoughts

Basically this trilogy is one of the best of ever and you MUST read it if you haven’t already! Go. Do it. The world is amazing, the writing is so good, you will (most probably) love the characters, and the story is just so interesting. And, also, just in case you were curious for the individual ratings:

AKA I LOVED THIS SERIES. ❤ ❤


So that’s it for this (kind of short) series review! Have you read this series? Are you a fan of the hate-to-love trope or no? Let me know your thoughts! 🙂

Until the Next Meal, Analee

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Reasons why I would be the worst protagonist in a YA fantasy novel EVER!

I love books. They have wonderful characters who you want to squish and keep away from harm forever and (preferably) relatable, realistic, and flawed characters. Right?! And although there are the groups of them that make horrible decisions and get into huge messes… generally they’re either a) able to get out of the situation or b) they’re just perfect and end up suffering minor consequences or something. And many people hate on them for either their decisions or whatever foolish mistakes they make, but let’s be real here; I would totally be the worst one of them all. Why? I’m glad you asked! (That’s totally not the whole point of this post or anything.)

Reasons why i could never be a fantasy character

1. I can be TERRIBLE at making decisions.

Which, no biggie, right? Sure, in real life it’s just a minor inconvenience perhaps–I mean, I’ve survived my whole life making decisions, so it’s all good? But those decisions are, say, should I be productive today or should I watch Netflix? (Netflix, of course.) Should I eat another chocolate bar? (No, I shouldn’t. But I will.) OR WHAT BOOK DO I READ NEXT?!?? As you can tell by my extreme use of capital letters, this is a very important and very #stressful decision to make.

So now, I ask you, how on earth am I suppose to choose between whether I should go fight to the death or stay in the comfort of my home and wait for others to protect me??? Or… if I had to choose between Jem or Will??! Or any two male love interests, really. It’s so easy to make fun of characters in books, but I would be so much worse in their situation, I bet LOL.

2. I am greatly allergic to anything that might cause my death.

And you know, seeing how 99% of the time in fantasy novels, the main/secondary characters are constantly at the risk of being KILLED (or they actually are killed… *sob*) I believe my allergies would flare up greatly if I were in their shoes. I’ve never had the symptoms before, but knives, arrows, weapons, all terrible for my allergies and always present in the midst of a war or something. *sigh* They have no consideration. Not all of us can be fierce assassins like Celaena or courageous wizards like the golden trio and company. Ahem. By not all of us I mean *me* because, um. Allergies, remember? Very deadly. *nods*

3. I’d probably end up dying for the stupidest reason anyway.

Seriously, knowing me, just watch me trip and end up on my face, on the ground, during the middle of a dance or something. And falling unconscious. And thereby missing whatever attack or battle or something that happened next because I’m on the ground and accidentally dying. (Is that possible? Sure.) But serious question: How are YA protagonists all so graceful on their feet??? I WANT TO KNOW. So that I’m prepared, obviously, and can train to not trip and fall unconscious in the middle of a dance floor. Because I’m also allergic to that, by the way.

4. Or I’d die of fear before the battle even begins, tbh.

I would like to think that I’m super brave and totally capable of fighting off, I don’t know, Voldemort or an army of deal people, or something, but ummmmmmmm. Actually being up there, having to fight? Even after loads of training, that wouldn’t prepare me for the shock and actual threat in battle. It is totally possible for me to faint or something. (How are YA protagonists so chill with the whole battle thing, though?? Sure, you’ve had training but how do they not collapse from fear? I mean, that would probably detract from the whole amazing-ness and suspense of the battle and all the stabbing and killing that I only like when I’m not hypothetically imagining myself in that situation, lol, but it’s a natural reaction! It’s totally acceptable during a time like that.)

Except then you remeber that fantasy novel characters often have no parents....
Except then you remember that YA characters often have parents that are MIA.

5. I lack any sort of skill that would be useful.

Do I have magical powers a la Harry Potter or Grisha? No. Am I kick-butt Shadowhunter or fighter of any sort? Nope. Am I able to pick locks or be super stealthy a la Kaz and Inej? No. What can you do, then? You ask. Well I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I lacked any sort of skill! I mean, sure I can… read? And blog? And… spend too much money like a pro, but none of those would be useful at all so basically my book would be filled with me trying to keep up with the actual helpful people and trying to feel useful and special. Ahem.

6. I hardly have any tolerance for pain.

Well, that’s a kind of lie. As any girl can relate, I’m sure, those monthly appearances are dreadful. But do I survive those silently and courageously? Of course not! I can’t withstand a papercut without groaning, like. What if I got a… sword-cut?? (That doesn’t sound right.. maybe just stab wound is better.) I would probably give up. Do you know the number of times my fictional friends have gotten hurt?? If I felt bad for them while reading, I doubt it will compare to my own self-pity if I got stabbed, to be honest. 😀 But can you blame me, really?

7. I would whine about not having food.

Not all the time, but most of the time, the protagonists hardly get food! You can take many things away from me but not my food (or my books)! How the characters go so long at a time without any food astounds me and causes me to want to run away in horror just thinking about it. I get super cranky and am in a terrible mood if I don’t get enough food and it’s just so good why would I want to go without it? To be fair, I suppose the main characters don’t have a choice really, but currently, as this is all hypothetical (thank god) I do! And basically, I’m not prepared to leave food guys. If I was a YA character and had to, I’d probably groan about how I’m so hungry 70% of the time. The other 30% would probably be for water, which would increase to 50%, and soon the whole book will be filled with inner monologues about how I’m hallucinating that my enemy has a head made of cake or something.

8. I would be way too gullible.

One of the most anxiety-filled moments (or perhaps frustration-filled for some people) when reading a book is when the main character is walking into a trap and you know it. The whole time you’re either praying you’re wrong or that they stay alive (if you like them) or cursing them for being so stupid and naive (if you do not). Either one. In any other circumstance perhaps I’d be in the first group but there’s only so many times a person can make the same mistake, right? I mean, of course, I’m familiar with all the tricks used to lure the main character into a trap, but I imagine there are probably a lot more that I’m not aware of that may be used on me–and like I said, I can be very gullible. And tempted by things like food (especially if I’m forced to not have enough of it throughout the book) Oh and books of course. I should hope there are no people aiming to hurt me reading this post because I’m revealing sensitive information here!

9. I am not fond of killing people.

Yay, you may all rejoice in the fact that I am not, in fact, crazy, and actually, do not enjoy killing people. LOL. (Nor do I have the ability, fyi.) Problem is, one of the best parts of a fantasy novel is the conflict and the battles, which means YA characters in fantasy novels have some inborn ability to fight like a boss. (Or they trained and learned to fight, but who likes extra work?) Basically, it means most of the time, they kill their enemies quite brutally and… I probably would not be able to stomach that which also means I would be useless in battle (if my lack of skill with a weapon didn’t already prove this) and thereby useless to the whole quest-plot-adventure-thing because I DO NOT FIGHT.

10. Not interested in, you know, dying.

Most YA characters have something to lose–actually, human beings in general always have something to lose. And then they have something to fight for, something at stake. Their dedication and their strength in face of difficulties is inspiring and fun to read about because it leads to #battles but in real life? Having to do the same thing as them? Yeah…. no, thank you! I’m not as selfless as book characters. Few people are when it comes down to it. Book characters have the liberty of doing whatever, sacrificing whatever because they are fictional and will live forever even if they die. (*gasp*) Me, as a human with A) a will to live and B) no willingness to die and C) very selfish motives, I don’t need to think so honorably towards some random fantasy world for the sake of a hypothetical situation. Wow, I’m making this a lot more complicated than it has to be. I DON’T WANT TO DIE. The end.


Wow, this was a slightly depressing thread to walk upon, but, well, you asked! (Hush, this post was not my idea. I wrote this up at like 1 or 2 AM in the morning and I blame that for my utter nonsensical rambling.)
But I think that’s all the rambling I have for this post! This post puts me in such a bad light, haha. Let me know your thoughts in the comments; do you think I’d be or you’d be a good protagonist in a YA fantasy? Can you relate to any of these or do you perhaps have any additions to mention? I’d love to know! Hope you enjoy your Monday. 🙂

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Anticipated Fantasy Books For The Second Half of The Year–Why is time so slow? | Top Ten Tuesday #34

How is it Tuesday again already? I swear, time passes by SO FAST nowadays. (Except when it comes to books, apparently, since it’s taking FOREVER for my anticipated books to be released. *SIGH*)

Anyway, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is:

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year (since we did a topic about the releases we were excited about for the first half of 2016 back in the beginning of the year) Feel free to tweak it how you want to — like most anticipated fantasy for the second half of 2016 or debut authors. Whatever you want!

There are literally so many books being released in the next months that I am dying to read, so I decided to narrow it down to the top ten fantasy books I’m looking forward to–and there are STILL SO MANY I am dying. But whatever. I would die to have these books. Except not because I’d probably miss chocolate and just general good things in life too much for that. But you know what I mean.

Everyone knows lists are fabulous, so I won’t deprive you of them any longer! Let’s do this.

Top 10 Tuesday 3

1. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (July 5th 2016)

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I absolutely ADORE Victoria Schwab’s books. And I’ve heard so many amazing things about This Savage Song and I’m seriously dying to read it. GIMME. I have nothing else to say.

This Savage Song

2.  Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (August 9th 2016)

I haven’t read much (read: any) books by Jay Kristoff but SO MANY people adore his writing, especially with the release of Illuminae. Not to mention Nevernight seems so cool! Assassins, intrigue, and sounds of murder. What could be better? (I’m completely sane, I promise.)

Nevernight

3. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (August 30th 2016)

Sooo like most people I thought An Ember in the Ashes was a standalone? But nope! Can’t say I’m disappointed though. Can’t wait to see what this book’s like! ❤

A Torch Against the Night

4. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (September 26th 2016)

AHHHH if you haven’t checked out this book yet you DEFINITELY should because it sounds amazing! Just read the synopsis. *nods* I must have this. I MUST.

Three Dark Crowns

5. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (September 27th 2016)

Oh, did I ever happen to mention that I LOVED Six of Crows and Leigh Bardugo’s books? No? Well, I do. Six of Crows is absolutely LIFE for me (along with all my other favourite books of course) and I NEED CROOKED KINGDOM. NEED IT. Now. I-would-trade-chocolate-for-it need. (Big deal, you guys.)

Crooked Kingdom

6. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge (September 27th 2016)

I don’t think I’ve actually expressed how much I enjoyed Rosamund Hodge’s books! Well, technically I’ve only read Cruel Beauty from her, but I do plan on reading Crimson Bound soon enough. I hope. Either way her newest book seems so good. I will definitely be picking it up! (Just look at that cover, people. How can you resist?)

Bright Smoke Cold Fire

7. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (October 4th 2016)

Ah, Rick Riordan. Always popping up with new books. I definitely don’t mind though! I read and really enjoyed The Sword of Summer last year, and I am totally looking forward to continuing with the journey.

The Hammer of THor

8. A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray (November 1st 2016)

THIS COVER GIVES ME LIFE. Omg it’s so beautiful and I want this book so so much. That is all. (GO READ THIS series if you haven’t already though!! If only because the cover is literally BEGGING to be picked up. But also because the story is great!)

A Million Worlds With You

9. Heartless by Marissa Meyer (November 8th 2016)

If you didn’t know already, I really love the Lunar Chronicles! (It’s seriously the best.) Marissa Meyer is such a gifted writer. So a book describing the Queen of Hearts pre-Wonderland? YES PLEASE.

Heartless

10. Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes (December 13th 2016)

And last but not least, Crystal Storm which is releasing in December! (*sob* Why December??!) The fourth book in the series, Frozen Tides left me totally hanging and begging for more and I’m honestly dying for this book. I suppose I’m lucky there will be so many other good books to keep me occupied before it’s released?? XD The series started off as meh, but really got better. Woo!

Crystal Storm

OH, and I just HAVE to add this one.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (July 31st 2016)

Do I even have to explain anything for this one?! Didn’t think so. Good. Because I have no words other than alagla;hndgrgnalsajflkdjf complete gibberish. Ahem. So excited!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

 

Honorable mentions (Pretty much most of the other books I’m looking forward to that I wasn’t able add to the top ten): Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (September 6th 2016), Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (September 27th 2016), Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch (September 20th 2016), The Midnight Star by Marie Lu (October 11th 2016), Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (November 22nd 2016), A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (September 20th 2016)


SO MANY BOOKS. So many books are being released in the second half of 2016 (a lot in September, I’ve noticed!) and I’m so giddy for them all to be released! Apart from these fantasy books, there are so many other books being released as well–don’t me started on all the contemporary books I also want to read! That’s a list for a different day. (I have too many books on my TBR SOMEONE STOP ME.)

So now tell me! Which of these books are you looking forward to the most? What other books are you looking forward to that aren’t on this list? Feel free to leave your TTT link below as well, I’d love to stop by (and add more books to my never-ending TBR pile)!

Happy Tuesday!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

 

Reasons why fantasy is one of the best genres ever | Top Ten Tuesday #33

Hola mi amigos! Don’t ask what that was, I have no idea. (My long-ago Dora days are kicking in.) Anyway, it’s been a LONG TIME since I’ve participated in a Top Ten Tuesday, and it’s about time, don’t you think? Making lists is one of my favourite things to do, so I’ve been quite sad that I have been depriving myself and the world of said lists. Ahem. ANYWAY. Rambling a bit there.

This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is “Ten Reasons I Love Xcould be a certain book, character, author, your indie bookstore, a fandom, a tv show, reading, a hobby, a genre. Honestly anything you want to gush about.” As you know, I went with reasons why I love the fantasy genre! Let’s do this.

Top 10 Tuesday 3

1. It lets us escape into a different world.

Some people can argue that this applies to other genres as well (pretty much anything that’s fiction when you think about it) but I feel like it applies most strongly to fantasy? It generally tends to actually create a whole new world which is what makes it so magical and intriguing to read about. Sometimes reality just doesn’t cut it, you know? Whenever an escape from reality is required, fantasy is always such a good choice. What better way to escape than into a world completely different from yours?

Hogwarts
I can’t be the only one who loves Harry Potter because of the world, right?

2. It takes us on an adventure.

It’s not even necessarily a physical adventure, though that’s what it is most of the time. It might be an emotional adventure too, where the events lead to an emotional roller coaster (that happened so many times… my feels were overwhelmed). We love to read books because of all the feelings we go through and going on an adventure alongside the characters definitely brings out all sorts of emotions, am I right? *cough* Percy Jackson *cough* Harry Potter *pretty much all my favourite fantasy books*

3. We get to use our imaginations.

One of the best parts of the fantasy genre is the amount of freedom authors have to spin their story. No boundaries of real life, nothing but their own creativity and it’s SO GREAT to read. There’s just such a thrill in being carried into a story of someone else’s imagination, in a completely new (and fictitious) world. So many new ideas, and tons of creativity. How can you not fall in love with all that?

dragon-fantasy-4
DRAGONS. (Unfortunately they don’t exist in real life, soooo.)

4. Childhood memories

This seems like an odd reason with no correlation whatsoever, but remember those times back when you were a child, and you believed in everything, from fairytales to unicorns to dragons to fairies? Now, grown up we no longer believe in such things, but fantasy is now allowing us to go back to those times when we thought they existed, and read about them. Maybe this isn’t such a huge reason but for me at least, whenever *I* hear of a book about fairies, I can’t help but remember those days… 😉 There’s just something that feels so… I don’t know. Child-like, when it comes to fantasy despite it being the opposite of such. (Please tell me I’m not alone here?? I feel crazy right now. o.O)

5. There is a strong emotional message/theme.

You know how people enjoy contemporary a lot of the time because they’re able to relate and sympathize to the characters and their situation? How there’s a strong emotional theme (to the good books, at least)? Well, that’s not only for the contemporary folks. In books of the fantasy genre, there are tons that despite their out-of-worldness and fantastical elements, actually have an emotional theme that we’re able to relate to. That attachment, paired alongside the intriguing idea of a different world, is what makes fantasy such a gem for me. It’s like such a great mix between relatable and unrelatable? If that makes sense.

6. It puts things into perspective.

I mean, I suppose a lot of books across a variety of genres does so (considering how the characters’ lives always seem to be so much more worse and dramatic than ours in real life..) but especially in the fantasy genre. I mean, no matter how bad your life might be, when you compare to the lives of all the suffering characters in books, I’m sure it won’t seem as bad. Am I right? Like, you try comparing your life with Celaena Sardothien in the first book… um yeah. I doubt your life’s that bad. Just saying. 😛 (You should be glad, tbh.)

7. Options are endless.

The fact is, there are an infinite amount of ideas in fantasy. The options are actually endless. As such, it actually kind of makes me disappointed when I see that some fantasy novels are so similar because there are SO MANY things that fantasy can touch on. As long as you have imagination, fantasy can never die out of lack of ideas. And there’s just something so wonderful about that. ❤ There’s just something so comforting knowing that no matter what, fantasy is there and ready for us to delve into. Does that sound crazy? Probably but humour me.

8. Gives us something to root for.

When it seems like there’s nothing left in real life that seems worth rooting for and you’re just dead and lost all motivation for anything, pick up a fantasy novel! More often than not you’ll find something you root for, whether it’s the characters, their cause, a romance, and who knows what else. Sometimes it’s just that hope and rooting for something (even if it’s fictional) that helps us feel good.

9. (Usually) crushes our emotions and kills us.

Only partially joking about the ‘kills us’ part. Usually I find that fantasy always has me so drained after reading because me emotions always go through such a roller-coaster. And is it just me, or does it seem like fantasy is the genre where cliffhangers are used most often?? And let me tell you, those are absolute deathhhh. Agh. And then I typically fall into this state of shock and hangover where I cannot do anything but just sit in awe of the book. So. I still love these books even though they turn me into such a mess? #logic

pyEOCvV
Me, pretty much? <.<

10. It’s fun!

So I may or may not be just out of steam for now and grasping at straws for the last one, but I do feel like this counts. Fantasy is fun. It’s enjoyable. One of the main reasons we read at all is for fun, and fantasy provides exactly that. Fun! And who doesn’t like that? It’s entertainment, guys. No matter what emotional havoc it caused and all the turmoil and tension we go through while reading it, it all shows just how easy it is to get hooked into a fantasy novel (well, any genre of novel really, but for the sake of this post I’m making it more specific). I’d be lying if I said that I don’t pick up fantasy novels for entertainment. 😉


Alright, so I think that’s it! I think I covered most of the important reasons why I love fantasy, for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday! I have been considering making a similar list like this for contemporary, feel free to let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in. What are your thoughts on this? Are you a fan of fantasy? Did I miss any other reasons? Or is fantasy not your thing? I’d love to know your thoughts! Feel free to leave a link to your own Top Ten Tuesday as well if you want. I’d love to stop by!

Enjoy your Tuesday, guys! Sending you lots of cake and chocolate. You’re welcome. ✌️ I know I need it! (Who doesn’t is the question.)

Analee 5

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch | Book Review

Snow Like AshesSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

4.5 Stars= Amazing

Publication Date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young-Adult
Series Status: Snow Like Ashes #1
Page Count: 416
Source & Format: Bought, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

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Ahem. Before we start can I please just stare at this book’s cover? Seriously, I love it so much. 😛

Hello everyone! Today I have for you a review on a book I recently re-read; Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. I first read this book way back at the beginning of 2015, and with the release of the second book, I decided to re-read this book—and I don’t regret it one bit.

Reading Snow Like Ashes the first time was a magical experience, one that I loved and fell in love with, and re-reading it didn’t diminish that at all, if anything, just reminded me how awesome this book is. Seriously, I haven’t talked about this book enough on my blog, and I’m here to remedy that right now by giving you a feel-filled review on it! Be warned that may be a lot of rambling and fangirling. Of course, you’re all used to that by now, right?

Let’s get on with it!

Plot

Oktuber was a maze of rickety barns and tents in maroon, azure, and sunshine orange, with the crystalline blue sky gleaming above, a sharp and beautiful contrast to the kingdom’s earth tones. But it was the Autumnians themselves who left me gaping—they were beautiful.

Ahhhh the plot! Where do I even start? Well, the basics of course; I really loved the plot. I’m deducting half a star because the story did have a couple iffy not-so-stellar parts, and had several bouts of info-dumping which kind of left me confused for a while, but overall it was so well-written, I hardly could stop reading—and I already knew what was going to happen!

I also have to mention the plot twists were spot-on, I remember the first time I read this book I was able to guess at a few, but there were some that completely blew me away. I was so invested in the story! Sara Raasch has a beautiful mix of romance, action and the whole theme of self-discovery thing going on, and it made for a wonderful adventure.

As a side note, may I just say that the world-building was on point? Snow Like Ashes is set in a world centered around the four seasons. Already I’m like, how cool is that? It’s not often I see something like this, and Sara Raasch handled it with style. Although sometimes I was a bit lost with the various bouts of info-dumping at the start as I mentioned above, I caught on pretty quickly as the story went on and I fell in love with this world! Magic, kingdoms, seasons; what more could you ask for?

Characters

This is where the fangirling really comes in, guys. Not only can the main character, Meira, completely kick-butt, there were so many other characters who interested me and brought out all the emotions.

“I wanted a life of my own, a life where I could feel myself being a part of Winter. And that, to me, came though fighting for it.”

You go, girl! Meira, as I said, can completely kick-butt. Not only that, she is simply so awesome. I empathized so much with her heartbreaking tale of wanting to be herself and have a place in Winter’s kingdom, to make an impact. I understood her struggle of fighting to get Sir’s approval, needing it yet not wanting to need it. I admired her perseverance in the face of challenges and the weight of others. She reminded me so much of Celaena from Throne of Glass… yet not. They’re both really similar but still both different. Of course, I love them both!

“No matter what happens, no matter who turns on me, no matter what pompous swine thinks he has power over me, I am still me. I will always be me.”

Although there is also romance in the novel, Meira’s goals came first. Her fight to stay true to herself is was what took dominance, and that was wonderfully portrayed. Fear not, of course, there is definitely romance, but I loved how it didn’t take up the whole thing.

Moving on to Mather, another one of our characters and one of Meira’s love interests. Yes, one of. There is a love triangle in this book, one that I will happily say I didn’t mind. Mather was a really interesting character, and I really liked Mather’s and Meira’s relationship. Kind of a forbidden love thing theme going on, except the love is not openly acknowledged. However, there is a certain someone I’m kind of leaning towards as well…

Theron is the name of our second love interest! It’s not insta-love, and it’s not even full-out love between him and Meira, but there are definitely sparks and I really love his character!! *Swoon* He understands Meira so well (not that Mather doesn’t, but you know what I mean) and his ambitions and dreams really made him into someone I love. Currently I’m loving both him and Mather so much; I just can’t wait to see more of them in the next book.

Last, but not least, a little insight on the other characters; Sara Raasch sure knows how to have your emotions in a twist! My thoughts on Sir must’ve changed a thousand times, from angry, to confused, to frustrated to understanding, and that’s without counting the other characters! There was a variety of people we meet throughout the course of this book, who make reading this book a thrilling experience.

Writing Style

“One flake falls, twisting down through the empty sky. One frozen speck of snow. Then another, and another, and before I know it the roads will be covered in dozens of distinct flakes. All these little pieces combining to create one giant, volatile snowstorm, something beautiful and dangerous and epic.”

The writing was simply fantabulous! It allowed the readers to create vivid and clear images in our heads of this world we’re in, and I simply fell in love. Reading it for the second time only re-introduced me to this beautiful writing! Even through the info-dumping I mentioned above, the writing made it so it wasn’t too confusing, even if a few things flew over my head. Also, there was no cliffhanger in this book, which in itself is pretty rare these days. (Not that I begrudge authors using cliffhangers—you have to admit, they’re pretty handy!) The ending was written perfectly, wrapped up enough to have me satisfied, but not too much so that I’m no longer interested in continuing the story. (And let’s be real here, given how much I loved this book, even if the ending was terrible, I would definitely not abandon this series!)

Overall…

Go read this. Now. Especially if you like fantasy! Or Sarah J. Maas‘s books! Or anything magical and amazing! I can almost 100% assure you that you will love this book. There are themes of being true to yourself and persevering in times of difficulty. There is a world full of magic and beautiful descriptions. There are characters you will fall in love with. All in all, a must-read! I can’t stress enough how much you should go pick this up. 🙂

A little wrap-up of everything I’ve said:

  • the story is addicting
  • the world-building is amazing
  • Meira is a wonderful character with spunk and personality
  • Mather and Theron are both great love interests and characters
  • the writing was engaging and full of beautiful descriptions

So, the final question. Do I recommend this? That’s a big YES from me!!


Discussion time! What do you think of this novel? Have you read it? Do you want to read it? What expectations do you have for it? Let me know in the comments below!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: June 12th 2015

Synopsis:

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?


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My Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5/5 (Amazing)

Book Information

Genre(s): Young-adult, fantasy, fairytale retelling

Page Count: 452

Format: e-book


Note: I received a free digital copy of this book thanks to Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Hello everyone! Today I have for you a review on The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling, an awesome Cinderella fairytale retelling. It is honestly one of the best and one of the most unique retellings I have ever read, and I loved it. After all those fairytale retellings out there, you’d think that there aren’t many new ideas out there, but this book definitely throws those notions out of the water.

Quick Summary

Kat is your resident bookworm who loves to read (obviously). One day, while cleaning her attic, she accidentally rips an old Cinderella fairytale book and is transported inside the story, where she is told that she is required to complete the story in order to get back home. Thing is, Kat isn’t Cinderella. Nope, she’s the ugly stepsister, named Katriona Bradshaw. She must get the prince to fall in love with Cinderella… but problems arise when she starts to fall in love with the prince herself.

Plot

Ahh this plot was simply wonderful! It was full of twists and turns that I loved and couldn’t get enough of. The pacing was fast, and I loved how everything fit together so nicely. There was the main plot (Kat trying to get the prince and Cinderella together so she could go home to where she belongs) and then there were various subplots, other things that happened along the way that made the storyline even stronger. The plot of the novel is just so unique in itself, it was double the fun in reading the book and trying to guess at what might happen.

The only thing I have to say is that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending. I totally understood why the author had to make it that way, but I couldn’t—still can’t—fully accept it. That being said, it’s a pretty bitter-sweet kind of ending and not exactly what I was hoping for, but the rest of the story still makes it worth reading. The journey more than the destination, you know? And it isn’t terrible ending, it’s quite subjective really. Overall, the plot was totally unique and an awesome adventure!

Characters

“Books open new worlds to me.”

Let’s move on to the characters. Kat, the protagonist, was amazing. Not only was she a totally awesome bookworm, she seemed realistic and it was just lots of fun seeing her attempt to adjust in a new world, and so easy to relate to her as she struggled to do so. I could also totally see a lot of my bookworm tendencies in her and that was a wonderful touch.

“Okay Kat. This is Story World, for heaven’s sake, so get a grip on yourself. You’ve no business drooling over storybook characters.”

Replace Kat with Analee and that’s basically what I have to tell myself whenever I’m transported into a wonderful story and fall in love with the characters. (AKA, all the time!) 😉

Apart from Kat’s general relatability and bookishness, I loved her development. From a shy but likeable and kind of awkward bibliophile, she becomes a strong, independant and confident female character who I not only liked, but admired. She becomes more outspoken, and more sure of herself, and I loved seeing that in her.

I also really liked the love interest, the prince, Edward. But, I won’t lie, not as much as I did Kat. But that didn’t make him a bad character. He liked to read and owned a huge library which he allowed Kat to use (which reminded me a lot of Dorian from Throne of Glass, lol.) He’s a really good person, but at first, I really had trouble getting the image of the Edward from Twilight out of my head. I mean, come on, I’m sure all of you reading this right now was thinking about it. I don’t hate Edward by any means, but I really didn’t want to associate this character with him, for which reason I’m glad that I was able to identify him as his own person later on in the book.

And although there are some similarities between the two (mainly the temper) I really liked seeing how the story wasn’t affected that much by it. He was caring and a really sweet guy, who I think I kind of fell for by the end of the book. 🙂 The romance between him and Kat was quite cute and well balanced; just enough of it to keep readers satisfied and wanting more at the same time. So, basically, I’m trying to say although there are similarities between this Edward and Twilight’s Edward, they’re not too many and overall I really liked him.

There are several secondary characters in this, but there isn’t much to say about them since we don’t get too much of them in-depth since the story is told mostly from Kat’s 1st person POV, which didn’t leave much space for other characters to be as developed as her and Edward. I did really like Henry and Elle (Cinderella) though, who both play important roles in the book and are quite nice.

Writing Style

The writing style is perfect for this story! The writing really reflected both Kat’s humor and personality, which was lots of fun to read. It was fast paced to reflect the pace of the story, but it wasn’t too rushed and was simple but still very significant and beautiful.

Overall…

This is a book you definitely can’t miss if you like fairytale retellings—and unique ones at that! I haven’t read all the Cinderella fairytale retellings out there, but this one is definitely unlike most of them out there, in a good way. I mean, how many times have you read a retelling told from the POV of the ugly stepsister? And although this book didn’t follow the original fairytale that much, it was totally able to pull off a fresh concept wonderfully. Though the ending is quite subjective, the plot itself is full of twists and turns and a great story with a cute romance. The main character Kat is relatable and a wonderful person who goes through a lot of development—which is great. Edward, the love interest, is quite sweet and likeable, and not a replica of Edward from Twilight, fortunately. (Although if you have a major hate thing going on with Edward, I suggest you proceed with caution.) The writing style is also spot-on for this story and I loved it! All in all, this book was fantastic and I really liked it. I imagine you would too if you like retellings and romance—but we’d never know if you don’t try! I definitely recommend you give this book a shot.

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought! And even if you haven’t, I’d love to know what you think of this book; want to read or not interested? Have you read any retellings told from the POV of the stepsister? (‘Cause I honestly would love to know! :P)

A tasty meal for sure! Gobble it up. 

Analee 10

 

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley | Book Review

(Magonia #1)

Published: April 28th 2015

Synopsis:

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?


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My Rating: 3.5 stars 3.5/5 (Liked it)

Book Information

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre(s): Fantasy, Young-adult

Page Count: 320

Format I Own: Hardcover & ebook


Hello! Today I have a review on Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley. I finally read this book, as part of a Goodreads read-along (hosted by The Book Club of Opinionated Hufflepuffs). I finished this book pretty quickly, considering it was 320 pages, which I translate to: addictive! After reading it, I will admit that I was quite conflicted, but I’ve finally sorted out my thoughts to say that I liked it. In the end I would say this book deserves a solid 3.5 stars. And I’m so happy about that! This book seemed like such a book, and although it wasn’t quite what I expected, it was still enjoyable and I’m interested in seeing what the second book will be like.

Quick Summary

Aza was always going to die. She’s literally choking on thin air, and the doctors all predicted she would die. When Aza sees a ship in the sky, calling out to her, everyone thinks it’s simply a hallucination, except her best friend Jason. But then one day Aza wakes up, stronger than ever to find that she’s crucial to the survival of a whole new world—Magonia. Will Aza be able to let go of the people she loves on Earth to do what she need to do?Read More »

The Guardian, a Sword & Stilettos by Kristin D. Van Risseghem | Book Blitz & Giveaway

theguardianblitz


The Guardian_bookcoverBook Details:

Title: The Guardian, a Sword & Stilettos

Author: Kristin D. Van Risseghem

Series: The Enlighten Series #1

Publisher: Kasian Publishing

Publication Date: May 20th 2015

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy


Synopsis:

Zoe Jabril could be just another 17-year-old girl attending parties with her friends and checking out cute guys—except her best friend is a Guardian Angel, and the boy she crushes on is a Nephilim, half-angel, both sent to Earth to protect her. A high school classmate happens to be a trendsetting shopaholic fairy. And now there’s a new werewolf in town.

Zoe has to deal with her feelings toward Shay, who spreads a strange electrical current through her body every time he touches her. Now Zoe is under constant attack from demons, trying to kill and stop her from fulfilling the Prophecy: a girl will be born who will unite the Enlightens to battle evil. Then on top of that, between boring homework and drama with girls at school, she has to control new found talents if she’s to prevent the devil from escaping Hell.

In order to do so, Zoe must devise a kick-ass plan ASAP or watch everyone die, because she’s running out of time. She turns eighteen in two months—the date Armageddon kicks off.


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Angelfall by Susan Ee | Book Review

(Penryn & the End of Days #1)

Published: May 23rd 2013 (originally January 1st 2011)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back…


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My Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5/5 (Amazing)

Book Information

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Genre(s): Young-adult fiction, post-apocalyptic fantasy, paranormal

Page Count: 326

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 144477851X


This was used for the Popsugar challenge: A trilogy (book 1)

I was planning on doing a mini-reviews for this trilogy on one post, but in the end (with the help of Casey‘s opinion) I decided against it. Now I have the chance to ramble and fangirl for a longer period of time! 😉

Quick Summary

When angels capture her crippled younger sister, Penryn Young will do whatever it takes to get her back, and that includes teaming up with one of the enemy: the wounded angel Raffe. The angel agrees to take Penryn to the aerie where her sister was taken as he’s headed there to get his wings back and in search of revenge. But will Penryn be able to survive the oncoming war and save her sister at the same time?Read More »

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter | Book Review

(The Goddess Test #1)

Published: April 19th 2011

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Every girl who had taken the test has died.

Now it’s Kate’s turn.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom – and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld – and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy – until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride and a goddess.

If she fails…


The Goddess Test_bookcover
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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Genre(s): Young-adult fiction, fantasy (mythology)

Page Count: 293

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 0373210264


As I have finished and will be reviewing The Goddess Legacy, book #2.5 in the Goddess Test series (for the Popsugar challenge), I of course have to start off with a review on the first book! So let’s get to it.

The Goddess Test is a re-telling of Persephone’s Greek myth (you know, with the whole Hades-kidnaps-Persephone-and-she-eats-pomegranate-seeds-which-force-her-to-have-to-stay-in-the-Underworld-and-be-Hades’s queen thing). I would say Cassandra Clare described it quite accurately: “A fresh take on the Greek myths adds sparkle to this romantic fable.”Read More »