Kalahari

 

People are like stars, but it’s stories that turn us into constellations. If we don’t tell our stories, we burn alone in the dark.

Title: Kalahari

Author: Jessica Khoury

Series: Corpus # 3 (Can be a standalone)

Publication: January 19th 2016 by Razorbill

Pages: 384

Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:

When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.
 
But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.


My Thoughts:

I finished this a few days ago, but it’s taken me until this moment to figure out what I have to say. I’m, in all honesty, still not one hundred percent sure that I love this book. I like it, I like it a lot – to be exact. It was fun, entertaining, nerve wracking, heart pounding, and thought provoking. However, despite how much I loved everything about this book, one small thing is holding me back – characterization.

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Frozen Tides

“Because if you don’t choose to fight against the wrong in the world, then you are the wrong in the world.”

Title: Frozen Tides

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Series: Falling Kingdoms # 4

Publication: December 15th 2015 by Razorbill

Pages: 413

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

Rebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne in the shocking fourth book of the Falling Kingdoms series, from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes.

CLEO: Reeling after a bloody showdown in Limeros ending with Amara’s abduction of the water crystal, and a vacancy in the Mytican throne, Princess Cleo must cast aside her feelings and look toward her kingdom with the eyes of a Queen.

MAGNUS: With the kingdom in chaos, Princess Lucia still missing and quite possibly in danger, and a shocking realization about Cleo, the steely prince is once again torn between love and duty, leaving him wondering whether he’s strong enough to rule his people.

LUCIA: The young sorcercess has had her vengeance after the cruel death of her first and only love. Heartbroken and unable to trust anyone, she allies with the awoken Fire god, who also seeks revenge.

JONAS: After escaping death by the skin of his teeth, the defeated rebel—along with a mysterious stranger–leader reunites with Princess Cleo, only to find himself a mere pawn in a dangerous hunt for the elusive Kindred.

KING GAIUS: Abandoned by Melenia and betrayed by his own children, Gaius flees Mytica and sails to Kraeshia, where he attempts to ally with the famously brutal emperor across the Silver Sea.


Another List of Thoughts:

  • I still think Magnus is a horrible human being who uses his daddy issues as an excuse to do bad things and ignore the guilt (but I still like him. Does this make me a bad person?)

  • Lucia drives me nuttier than Kyan – and that’s saying something. STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR DOING HORRIBLE THINGS DAMORA FAMILY. Gosh.
  • Cleo makes my heart do singy happy dances. Go get it girl, seriously. She’s amazing. Cleo is the only character I actually support in this mess. (But I still love Magnus.)

  • I can’t tell if I want to hug Jonas, kick him where it hurts, or give him a rabbits foot to possibly change his string of luck.

  • Too much plot, not enough time. But hot darn was it good.
  • FINALLY! FINALLY!

This book will make you question things you think you’ve figured out in the series. It will leave you experiences heartbreak, surprising laughter, and the faintest amounts of fangirling (that’s a lie, fangirling is to epic proportions). Alliances shift, some break, and new ones form. Long story short, it was fan-freaking-tastic.


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Gathering Darkness

“You don’t cry when someone pushes you down. You get up. You get up and you fight back. And pretty soon nobody’s going to shove you anymore because they’ll see it’s not worth it.”

Title: Gathering Darkness

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Series: Falling Kingdoms # 3

Publication: December 9th 2014 by Razorbill

Pages: 416

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

In GATHERING DARKNESS, book three of the New York Times bestselling Falling Kingdoms series, the stakes have never been higher as three teams push forward on a race to find the Kindred, the four elemental crystals possessing ancient all-powerful magic, first:

Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred – the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic…

THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia’s overpowering magic – all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

The only certainty in the dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica… but fate can be fickle when magic is involved.


My Thoughts:

Finally! This series was off to a meh sort of start for me, but it has finally picked up the pace. While the ever present problems I have with some of the story telling and methods are still very much alive and kicking in this third installment, there is also a light shining through the other end for once. Gathering Darkness, much like the other books in the series, is full of unnecessary deaths and awkward confrontations. However, Gathering Darkness also brings a fire the other books have been lacking. It is adventurous, heart pounding, and it takes constant unexpected turns. One thing I do enjoy about these books is that I never know what’s actually going to happen. Gathering Darkness feeds of the success of the previous books while also highlighting a new region of unexplored territory. It is a much needed addition to this series.

Like I said, my main problems are still very prevalent. One of my biggest issues is the constant death. I am not opposed to killing characters (not in the literary standpoint, at least. As a fangirl, hell yes I’m opposed). I am, however, not akin to just killing them off. There is so much death, people are dying left and right and it is completely taking away the power of their deaths. Huge main characters have died and more will keep dying; the problem is that there is no meaning in their deaths. I honestly feel like the characters are being killed off just because she can’t think of anything better to do. It doesn’t further the plot and I feel absolutely nothing but annoyance when they die. My thoughts instantly turn to – oh lookie, there goes another one. Too much of a good thing can be bad, and these books are a prime example of it.

My second issue is the relationships between all of the characters. This is a problem that has been around since book one and has yet to dissipate or fix itself. The characters all fall in love like Romeo after he gets dumped by Rosaline: BOOM. One second they can be talking and the next they are kissing and there has been no romantic tension build up whatsoever. There is only one relationship that has actual grounds and it is the least likely one to happen. Everyone loves Cleo, but Cleo likes Nic, Jonas, and Magnus? Wait, what? I am honestly so confused with everything when it comes to the characters interacting. It’s all hot and cold. “I HATE YOU” and then they’re making out or something. None of the relationships have plausible grounds. I ship nothing with nothing – and that’s a problem for me.

Anywho, problems aside, Gathering Darkness did bring a lot of things to the table. It was exciting, entertaining, and thought provoking at points. I finally could feel and hope for some of the characters. I had a purpose to reading, I had a side I had chosen. Previously, I was reading just to read and see if something got better. Now? I wan’t to see success, I want to see vengeance. I actually want to see what happens to the characters – and that is a vast improvement over my prior feelings towards the books. Gathering Darkness is the perfect third installment, it was just enough to rejuvenate my interests.


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Rebel Spring

“Sometimes, to regain sanity, one had to acknowledge and embrace the madness.”

Title: Rebel Spring

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Series: Falling Kingdoms # 2

Publication: November 27th 2013 by Razorbill

Pages: 401

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

Cleo is now a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica as the evil King Gaius lies to her people.
Magnus stands to eventually inherit the new kingdom but is still obsessed with his feelings for his adopted sister, Lucia.
Lucia is haunted by the outcome of the breathtaking display of magic that allowed her father to capture the kingdoms.
Jonas watched at the palace gates a troop of rebels behind him, waiting for him to tell them how he plans to overtake King Gaius.

After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over…

At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas’s hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia’s, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus’s, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand.

When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden Mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long-smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius’s road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences.


My Thoughts:

Despite the problems that abound with the first novel in the series, I found myself coming back for more. Those same issues are still prevalent, a long with a whole new lot of them. However, I enjoyed Rebel Spring much more than its predecessor. I won’t say I’m in love, exactly, it takes a whole lot more to impress me when I’m in the fantasy realm of the book world. I might not be head over heels with this series, but I’m still reading it – and that means something.

This was basically me the entire time I was reading the book:

The entire plot summed up in one gif:

Honestly, I do enjoy these books. There are things I don’t like, things I don’t approve of, but I still enjoy it. I don’t know why I keep coming back for more. I have yet to hit my wow factor. I don’t ship anyone with anyone, people are dying just to kill them off – which completely takes away from their death, and there seems to be no consequences for any actions on any side. I get the whole power thing and not being held accountable on that end, but my issue is that the rules of the world are constantly being broken and it diminishes the creative stage on which the play takes place. I’m excited to see what happens next and what improves within the story.


 

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A Torch Against the Night

Perhaps grief is like battle: After experiencing enough of it, your body’s instincts take over. When you see it closing in like a Martial death squad, you harden your insides. You prepare for the agony of a shredded heart. And when it hits, it hurts, but not as badly, because you have locked away your weakness, and all that’s left is anger and strength.

Title: A Torch Against the Night

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember in the Ashes # 2

Publication: August 30th 2016 by Razorbill

Pages: 452

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.


My Thoughts:

Last year, An Ember in the Ashes quickly became one of my favorite books and a new favorite series. It was brilliant, brutal, and breathtaking. Fast forward a year, an extremely painful year of anxiously waiting for the second installment, and here we are. A Torch Against the Night far exceeded my expectations. It ripped my heart out until there was nothing left. It made the events of An Ember in the Ashes look like child’s play. A Torch Against the Night throws us headfirst into the reality of war, grief, horrific politics, and most importantly of all, hope.

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Coming Soon: October 2016

The best part about October is Halloween. Not really (yes really, but still). No, the best part about October is the insane amount of long awaited books now available for the unlimited consumption of book nerds and the like. Get ready to make the first page of that Christmas wishlist!

Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett

Summary from Goodreads:

For fans of Jandy Nelson and Jenny Han comes a new novel that asks, can you possibly know the person you’re becoming if you don’t know the person you’ve been?

Addison Sullivan has been in an accident. In its aftermath, she has memory lapses and starts talking to a boy that no one else can see. It gets so bad that she’s worried she’s going crazy.

Addie takes drastic measures to fill in the blanks and visits a shadowy medical facility that promises to “help with your memory.” But at the clinic, Addie unwittingly discovers it is not her first visit. And when she presses, she finds out that she had certain memories erased. She had a boy erased.

But why? Who was that boy, and what happened that was too devastating to live with? And even if she gets the answers she’s looking for, will she ever be able to feel like a whole person again?

October 4th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

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The Glittering Court

“Do you think my being someone else’s wife will change anything? Don’t you know that I’d lie with you in the groves, under the light of the moon? That I’d defy the laws of gods and men for you?”

Title: The Glittering Court

Author: Richelle Mead

Series: The Glittering Court # 1, but also a standalone

Publication: April 5th 2016 by Razorbill

Pages: 416

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

My Thoughts:

Can Richelle Mead do no wrong? I can tell you that it is safe to assume this is true. I have been in love with Richelle Mead’s writing ever since the Vampire Academy series caught my eye back in grade school. I have followed her through The Dark Swan series, Succubus Blues, Gameboard of the Gods, Soundless, and everything else. The Glittering Court is not Mead’s first bought of fantasy, but it is by far my favorite. It is a sweeping tale of romance that intertwines the old and the new. It is full of historical influences, serious swoon-worthy moments, and so, so much more. It is a tale of friendship, of discovery, and of freedom and what it takes to survive. It is fascinating, all encompassing, adorable, complex, and sheer perfection.

Elizabeth Witmore, Countess, servant, diamond, pioneer. She has quite a lot of different titles, that Elizabeth – who, for the majority of the novel, goes by the name of Adelaide (WHICH I LOVE). Elizabeth is fleeing. Her family is in ruins despite it’s great name and she is about to be forced into marriage with her cousin to attempt to save herself. When all hope is lost, a man appears at the door – a man offering a chance at something greater. A chance at an adventure girls never would have dreamed of yet that makes all their dreams come true. This man is offering an invitation to The Glittering Court, a place where common girls receive a high-born education, a new wardrobe, and a new chance at life in the New World of Adoria. She jumps at the chance. Elizabeth assumes the role of her servant, Adelaide, and starts the biggest adventure of her life.

Adelaide was an interesting character, to say the least. Richelle Mead has this ability to create characters who echo others of her creation all the while being completely original – completely themselves. Adelaide is Rose Hathaway and Sydney Sage merged, as well as being herself. She is headstrong from her noble birth and upbringing, and self righteous for that same reason. She is smart, cunning, and well suited to a cutthroat life. She is also kind, willing to help others at cost to herself, and brave. I have to admit, I didn’t like her – not at first. But, throughout the course of the novel, she kind of grew on me. Her loyalty to the people she cares about is admirable, even though she is far from perfect and had her moments where I wanted to rip her hair out. She is willing to do anything to protect her friends, even throw the tests in The Glittering Court so that her friend can have the top spot. Some of my favorite parts in the book, well, actually – all of my favorite parts in the book were when she was at finishing school and she had to learn how to do everyday, mundane things. It was hilarious, but also – again – admirable. She never gave up.

The other characters, as usual in a Mead novel, were just as engaging. I have to admit, Cedric was my favorite. While I enjoyed Tamisin and Mira, I was more interested in their friendship with Adelaide than anything else. Cedric was a hoot, to be honest. He made me laugh, he made me cry. I think, by the end of the book, I was just as in love with him as Adelaide was. He was kind, humorous, and unafraid. Tamsin was a cutthroat bitch, which is also a trait I admire. Like I said, I enjoyed her friendship with Adelaide – but I also disliked her as a person. She was far too focused on herself without thinking of others, which annoyed me to no end. I did like her character arc, though, and I can’t wait to see more from her in the subsequent novels. Mira, I loved Mira. She is so, so strong. She is independent, kind-hearted, wise, and gentle (until the end, of course. You go girl!).

Overall, the plot was interesting. Now, something cool about this series is the fact that each book is a standalone. So, technically, you only have to read the one. If I understand all of this correctly, each book will be the same timeline from a different point of view – a version of Cubism, if you will. So, Adelaide’s story is over – now it’s the other girl’s turn. But, back to the point at hand, the plot of The Glittering Court is sort of a conglomerate of all sorts of things. The beginning is like The Selection only in the aspect of a pageant to compete for marriage – but then it changes. Things happen, bridges burn, chaos ensues sort of thing, and then the story turns into some sort of Oregon trail/gold rush adventure. It wasn’t my favorite part of the book, I much preferred the fantastical elegance of the society rather than the historical aspect. BUT! (notice, that is a big but) I did like it. It was very entertaining and it completely caught me off guard. So, applause for doing something I didn’t see coming in any way, shape, or form.

The Glittering Court was an amazing read. It was not only something unexpected, but it was also very, very enjoyable. If you’re a fan of The Selection, Matched, Pride and Prejudice, or any other book dealing with high society, marriage, and the other frivilous aspects of our ridiculous lives – I highly recommend it. If you like adventure, forbidden romance, witty and intelligent women, or just like a good story -simple as that – this is the book for you. The Glittering Court might not be as much of a fantasy novel as I had hoped, but it was sure as hell worth reading.

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