ARC REVIEW: Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst

If this is the book that you thought might satisfy your need to read a good heist book, like I did, I am here to tell you…. this is not that book

It just felt like it tried too hard and also didn’t try at all. Honestly, it was like something I could read on Wattpad. Definitely not the work of an experienced author. 

Fire and Heist tells the story of Sky who is a wyvern, a dragon who can turn into a human, where to prove yourself you must successfully complete your first heist. But Sky also has another problem. Her mother is missing and her family is now treated like outcasts and her father refuses to tell her the truth about what really happened to her mother. But Sky is determined to find her mother and fix her family. So she decides to steal the jewel that her mother was going to before she went missing, as her first heist and find the truth.

The concept? Sounds like something I could really enjoy if executed well. Which is the problem. The execution of the story turns this from what seems like a dark story with dragons and magic and a heist, to more of a fluffy one. With dragons and and magic and a heist. 

I found the magic system to be nothing unique. I mean to turn into a Dragon all you have to do is believe in yourself. COME ON. This isn’t a Disney movie.

The characters felt flat to me, I didn’t care about them or care what happened to them. There was nothing really unique or interesting about them. They all felt the same, Sky, her brothers, her friends, everyone. Her friend Gabriella who was supposedly the smartest in the school, suddenly began to act dumb a few chapters after she was introduced. Apparently all she wanted in life was to impress Sky and get her to notice her. Ryan, the love interest here, was just so boring. I mean, I don’t know anything about “him”. No one here felt significant or had something unique about them, except for Sky, who was obviously the best of them all. 🙄

I am not going to deny that this book was engaging and fast paced. The author didn’t waste too much of time on details and moved straight to the main plot. Also, the romance wasn’t one of the main parts pf the story which I really thought was a good thing, since i really didn’t care about either of them. 

All in all this was a light, forgettable read that I think is good for a quick read, especially if your reading challenge needs a little help.

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Author Interview: Elana K. Arnold

Damsel is the perfect book for anyone willing to read a dark, feminist, gripping story. It is a such a beautiful book that takes hold of the trope that we know and love so well -the prince saving the princess, they fall in love, they live happily ever after, the end- and twists it so that the princess is the one who has to save herself, and nothing is what you believe at first.

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This week, i was fortunate enough to receive a chance to interview the incredible Elana K Arnold, author of  Damsel.

1. What inspired you to write this book? Was it the original story of Sleeping Beauty? 

This book is the result of many books I ate growing up—original Grimm fairy tales,The Princess Bride, Stephen King’s The Eyes of the Dragon, and Anne Rice’s The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, to name a few. The book was inspired by my friend Martha Brockenbrough, who asked me, one evening on a rooftop in San Francisco, a question that sent me on the journey of writing this book. I can’t tell you the question, because that might spoil the plot, but I attempt to answer it through writing DAMSEL.

2. This book isn’t a light, easy read. It’s bound to make many people uncomfortable. Why write a book that many would choose not to read? What would you say to those who aren’t sure if they should read it?

I don’t write books with readers in mind. I write to please myself, to better understand my insides and my outsides, and the world around me. I write to scratch an itch. I write to create. As I write, I remind myself that it’s none of my business who reads my book—it’s my business to write the best book I can, and then write a better one, next time. In answer to what I would say to people who are unsure whether they should read my book, I would say this: A book is a wonderful place to practice being uncomfortable, and to practice saying “No.” If, when reading a book, a reader feels dis-ease, she has the power to set the book down and walk away, and either come back to it later, or not. This is a great power.

3. The characters, especially Emory, were so different from the usual stories of princes and princesses. They were nothing like what we grew up believing. Were they inspired by particular figures in history or did you feel the need to write them differently?

I don’t know where the characters came from. They just came. Probably from real, lived experiences in my life, and from an amalgam of characters I’ve seen and read, that I’ve absorbed in any number of ways, from the cultural myths we perpetuate about the way men and women “should” be.

4. Some of the scenes in this book are so graphic, especially towards the end. Was it difficult to write them? 

There are definitely scenes in this book that were difficult to write, and that may be difficult to read. As a writer, I tell myself when I get to these passages, “Blinders on.” That means, I pay very close attention to exactly the next sentence that I must write, one after the other, without allowing myself to step further back. I immerse myself in the flesh of the story, and then, when it’s done, I walk away and do something deeply, physically pleasurable, like cuddling with one of my animals or taking a walk outside.

5. Are there any other YA books that you would recommend as a must read? 

There are many. I will make you a short list of some:
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                                                Erica Lorraine Scheidt’s Uses For Boys
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                                                        Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X
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                                                       Ibi Zoboi’s American Street
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                                                        Brandy Colbert’s Little & Lion
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                               Martha Brockenbrough’s The Game of Love and Death
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                                            Sarah McCarry’s All Our Pretty Songs
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                                           Maurene Goo’s The Way You Make Me Feel
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                                     Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez
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                                                    Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels
There are more! Some of the most shocking, exciting work currently being produced is in the YA sphere.
Thank you so much to Elana for agreeing to do this. Damsel should definitely be one of your top reads for this year. It releases October 2nd.
If you are planning on picking this up or currently reading it, let me know!

ARC REVIEW: THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

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I’ve been played. 

How could Holly Black do this to my weak mortal heart? How can she live with herself after this? I feel like my heart has been ripped out my chest and will only be returned at the end of the series. So basically my life depends on The Queen of Nothing. That’s great. 

THE PLOT: 

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto.”

Jude now has control of Cardan but it’s slowly slipping away. She needs to make sure that the throne is ready for Oak when he is of age, but to do that she must take power from where she can and must figure out who has betrayed her before it’s too late. 

THE CHARACTERS: 

Wow. If you thought they were complex in the first book, then you should be happy to find out that they become even more so in this one. Everyone is unpredictable. Everyone has a secret. Everyone needs power and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. 

I loved Jude even more in this book just because there was a bit more of vulnerability and maturity. She is so determined to get what she wants and will let nothing stand in her way, let it be the whole of Faerie. She is not your typical protagonist and is doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is stubborn and brave and cunning and makes you feel for her. 

“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”

Cardan obviously remains my favorite. He is just everything i need from the “villain “ of the story. I honestly feel things for him that I haven’t felt for anyone in real life so far. He is just so vulnerable and needs to be told that he is loved and needed. My heart broke at multiple points in this book and won’t recover until he gets the happy ending he deserves. 

Our eyes meet, and something dangerous sparks.
He hates you, I remind myself.
“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”

Also the sexual tension between Cardan and Jude, had me squealing the whole time. I just wanted them to confess their feelings for each other once and for all. I needed them to. I usually can’t handle romance in a fantasy because i find it too cheesy. This was nothing like that. They were both aware that it was a toxic relationship. They hated one another as much as they desired  each other.

I think that this is Holly Black’s best book yet and I can’t wait for you guys to read it and go through the same torture that I am facing right now. (Yes, the book is rubbing off on me). There really are no words to describe my love for this book and how good it is. It makes you think that you’ve got the plot all figured out and you’re a genius. Well guess what? You didn’t guess it, not even close. Holly Black is the only one here with a storytelling IQ of 200. This book is a masterpiece and that is the only way to describe it. Go ahead and pre order it. It’s going to be the best book of 2019.

ARC Review: For a Muse of Fire

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“Never show, Never tell.”
Okay, before i start the official review, i wanted to know: didn’t that line remind you of Frozen? Just me? That’s fine.

I have a feeling a lot of you are going to like this book, and that’s good. Personally I am really not sure about my feelings regarding this book. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I read every page, i wanted to. But I didn’t devour it. There were some things that I didn’t predict, but unfortunately I predicted most of them. Also if you want to know, it isn’t like Frozen.

The story takes place in Chakra which has been conquered by the Aquitans’, and all magic has been banned.

Jetta, is a shadow player, one of the best. She uses her ability of being able to capture dead souls to control her puppets. How? She traps the souls in her puppets and commands them. The problem lies in the fact that the use of , or having such a power could get her killed.
However Jetta has another problem, one that is just inside her: she is mentally ill. The only cure that she knows of is the water of a magical fountain and to get there would mean that she would have to secure a place on the king’s ship that would take her to Aquitan.

However Jetta and her family are soon in danger when she nearly gives them away. With the help of Leo, a gun smuggler for the rebels, she tries to make her way to Aquitan without being found out.

THE CHARACTERS:
Jetta- she is brave and willing to do anything for her family. She is also scared of herself, the power she years and what she really is.

Leo- the owner of La Perl, a bar and a stripper club and also the smuggler for the rebels,though he is not directly in league with them. Even though he was present during most of the book, I would have liked to get to know him better.

Captain Le Garde- the army general and an all round asshole.

I wish we could have had characters such as the Boy King, Theodora and Cheeky’s explored a bit more. They were important but weren’t really given the necessary attention.
The writing was engaging and kept you interested but wasn’t unique. The author uses a few french words in the beginning that may confuse you and like me you may find yourself googling “What is a fantoche?”

Themes such as mental illness, colonialism and feminism explored quite well.

All in all, the book was an engaging read that most readers will enjoy. I definitely will read the sequel.

*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an arc of this book via Edelweiss*

ARC Review: The Tiger at Midnight

 

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Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC to via Edelweiss

“Never greet a tiger at midnight,

for they are the manifestations

of your past misdeeds”

All An Ember in the ashes fans, who want to read something similar, this is the book you are looking for.

I was really excited to read this book after reading the blurb. I mean I love books with good politics, romance and mystery… and this book had all of it, but it was it wasn’t enough. 

This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good book. I did enjoy reading it and was engaged during the story.

So what is it about?

The story takes place in the lands of Jansa and Dharka, two lands bound together by magic that descends from twins Naria and Narian and requires a blood ritual from their bloodline, who are the only ones who have magical powers. Only the females are allowed to rule and it is their blood that is necessary to ensure that the bond isn’t broken. 

However, the land in Jansa has been taken over by  a man (typical), known as the Pretender King after a massacre of the rightful royals in Jansa. This results in problems such as droughts and diseases for both lands, and the only thing that can save them is if the blood ritual is performed. The only descendant believed to be alive is Princess Reha, and no one knows where she is. 

Kunal and Esha , one a soldier forced into the army as a child by his uncle,  after the death of his parents and the other is the feared Viper, the  legendary assassin, that no one knows the identity of, much less that it is a girl. 

Esha is on a mission to kill the general, who happens to be Kunal’s uncle, as a part of the plan to take down the king by the rebel group of Dharka, known as the Crescent Blades. Her path and Kunal’s cross during this, a moment that changes everything.

She finds the general murdered by someone already, who has framed her. Who else knew she was supposed to be here? 

Kunal is then sent on a mission to find the Viper which will make him Commander. He puts two and two together, and so begins the cat and mouse game. 

The romance in this was kind of insta lovey, but not overwhelming. I love that they wanted each other as they were,accepting everything. 

The characters were interesting and Kunal is my favourite. He loves to paint, but has to hide it as he is a soldier. No one is one dimensional and they are quite complex. I didn’t really like Esha that much because i felt that she was similar to a lot of other characters i have read before. She is beautiful and everyone loved her. She was total badass though, so she gets points. 

The author’s writing was engaging and the the story flowed quite smoothly. It was able to narrate the story in a way that kept the reader interested. The characters do go through development as the story goes and we learn more about their past and how Kunal regrets all his choices being made for him, whereas Esha  regrets her past actions. They were realistic and i did enjoy reading about them.

Overall it was a an enjoyable read and I can’t wait to read the sequel