The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Book Review & Playlist

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Book Review & PlaylistThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game
Published by Balzer & Bray on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 399
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Goodreads
four-stars

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

What I thoughtMORE RUSSIAN INSPIRED FANTASY! YAY! I think that was my very first reaction when I heard about The Crown’s Game. It is no secret that I am a huge lover of the Grisha-verse and one of the main reasons I love it so much has a lot to do with the amazingly intriguing setting. So I was most definitely down for any book set in Russia! And boy, this book did not disappoint!

First things first, The Crown’s Game wasn’t what I thought it would be! Which actually didn’t turn out to be a bad thing (yay!), I just had to adjust a bit. When I read the synopsis of the book I pictured glorious battles, fighting, stuff blowing up (aka violent things) and that’s definitely not what The Crown’s Game turned out to be. It became clear pretty early on that it was all about “impressing the Tsar with epic magic skills” rather then bloody fights. This made that the story moved quite slow, and not as fast paced as I expected it to be. However, I didn’t find myself minding it as much as I thought I would’ve.

It was a fun read, because it wasn’t as stressful as a story full of fights would’ve been. Instead it all felt quite magical to me. The Crown’s Game is super atmospheric, with amazing world-building! I don’t know too much about 1825 Russia, but Evelyn Skye definitely did her homework! She intricately weaved history into her story, which made it so very beautiful to read. The setting is so incredibly detailed and written beautifully!

The plot, or rather The Crown’s Game itself, was unpredictable to me. Even though it wasn’t really fast paced, the course of the game thrilled me and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The friendship between Nikolai and Pasha was top-notch. One of my favorite things about The Crown’s Game without a doubt! I love a well-fleshed out friendship in my books, and I got just that from Nikolai and Pasha’s friendship. View Spoiler ».

I’m not too sure about the romance though. There’s a love-triangle… which I actually didn’t actually mind it that much. But there was just something a bit off about the romance. It felt a bit underdeveloped to me, as did the characters. Both the romance and the characters could’ve used a little more complexity in my opinion. I think this is what kept me from fully connecting with the characters .

Final verdict IRISJEXX!All and all I think The Crown’s Game made for a really solid debut and first instalment in a VERY promising series! Beautiful writing and aboslutely mind-numbingly awesome world-building and SO MUCH MAGIC! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story will progress and mature in the books to come!

Little something extraAs I am a part of Harper Collin’s The Crown’s Game blog tour I am including a little something extra in this review: a playlist inspired by the book! I handpicked 10 songs that reminded me of certain moments in the story, hope you enjoy!

four-stars

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 640
Format: Hardcover
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five-stars

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

First Thoughts (BLOG)

The cover looks a bit ‘plastic.’ where the cover of A Court of Thorns of Roses was badass, the one for A Court of Mist and Fury just doesn’t appeal as much to me. I do like the colors, but the woman on the cover and the dress just seem a bit fake to me.

I had a few theories after finishing the first book, mostly about what happened between Feyre and Rhys at the end of A Court of Thorns and Roses and I can’t wait to find out if I was aiming in the right direction or not.

After the first few chapters: Nope, this is not Young Adult (refers to a very  steamy *cough* and detailed *cough* scene)

Thoughts upon finishing (BLOG)

H O L Y  S H I T. This was pretty much my line of thought for an hour straight after finishing A Court of Mist and Fury. That ending was out-of-this-world, batshit crazy, a ride through crazy town, and absolute utter torture. I’m not even attempting to explain the why to you because there is NO WAY I want to spoil this book for you.This is a bo0k you need to read and make-up your own mind about.

There are so many plot twists in this book that you won’t see coming and I’m afraid of mentioning things that will give it away. Which is why I am going to review this book a bit differently. I’m going to give you a list of reasons why I think you should read (and love) A Court of Mist and Fury. I have no doubt that there are tons of awesome ‘non-spoilery’ reviews out there telling you about the characters, the world-building, the plot, and anything else worth mentioning (because, believe me, everything about this book is worth mentioning). But I don’t fully trust myself, as I’m still an emotional wreck after finishing this book (and I finished it 5 days ago…).

10 reasons why

  1. Did you love A Court of Thorns and Roses? If your answer is yes I’m pretty sure you’ll love A Court of Mist and Fury as well, if not MORE. View Spoiler »
  2. It’s written by Sarah J. Maas. If you’ve read any of her books before, you most definitely know what I mean with this. Anything written by Sarah J. Maas is worth reading. She’s a wizard with words; her writing is out-of-this-world awesome.
  3. Everything you think you know, you don’t. The plot is so damn rich. Twists and turns and so many emotions around every corner. You just gotta read, read, and read until you reach the end (which will leave you begging on your knees for the next book).
  4. Steamy scenes. No kidding, this is NOT young adult guys, A Court of Mist and Fury has scenes that’ll have you blushing and fanning yourself. I loved every single piece of it.
  5. Feyre’s character development. In the blurb, it is revealed that she survived Under The Mountain “at a steep cost.” She’s pretty messed up over all that has happened and Sarah J. Maas does such an amazing job at describing Feyre’s thought process. It wrecked me just how well it was described. Feyre is depressed and has a serious case of PTSD, and take it from someone who’s suffered PTSD, it was so realistically portrayed that at times I had trouble keeping the tears at bay, because I know that feeling so well.
  6. New characters! Ones that are SO worth getting to know!
  7. Friends and family. Finding a home. This plays such a big role in the book!
  8. A Court of Mist and Fury will leave you addicted. I’m not even kidding. I didn’t want it to every end, and when it did, I craved more, SO MUCH MORE. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself until May 2017.
  9. The ending. I have no words for that ending. You have to experience it yourself, just so you can understand the pain I’m in after finishing this book. Sweet, beautiful, aweful torture.
  10. You just have to read A Court of Mist and Fury because I tell you to.

 

five-stars

Ruined by Amy Tintera | ARC Review

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ruined by Amy Tintera | ARC ReviewRuined by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #1
on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 368
Source: the Publisher
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four-half-stars

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

 

What I thought

It feels like forever since I managed to read a book for myself, but once I got this beauty from Harper Collins I was pretty damn excited to sit down and read away. Even more important, I finally felt like sitting down and writing a review about it after I finished this gem of a fantasy! Ruined is a strong start to a new and what appears to be a VERY promising YA trilogy!

Em is a great main character. She doesn’t have magic, and in her kingdom this is seen as a weakness, as ‘useless’. Opposed to what her kingdom thinks, she’s a very capable and strong person. She doesn’t need magic to make her fierce, her strong will and determination do the trick for her. She puts together an elaborate plan to get revenge, but that doesn’t quite go according to plan.

Em’s plan seems to go quite smoothly, until it doesn’t anymore. This is the only somewhat predictable part of the book. It’s not hard to figure out what makes her doubt her initial plan. I mean, she has to pretend to be the wife of the prince, it doesn’t really take a genius to figure out what could go ‘wrong’ there and how shit could go seriously wrong in a matter of seconds if her secret came out. But I didn’t found myself caring about the predictability at all, simply because the romance was amazingly well-done. A slow-burner, a wonderfully well-written slow -burning romance between Em and the prince. What’s not to like?

I really liked how you get to experience the events in Ruined both from Em’s perspective and Cass’s perspective. I enjoyed being able to see both their sides of everything that happened, it makes it easier to understand their actions and their reactions.

I really hope we’ll get to know more about the backstory in the sequel. For a first book in a series Ruined had the perfect amount of info to intrigue the reader and to make the world stand out,  but I do hope there’ll be more worldbuilding in the sequel, as I’d love to know more about the Ruined, both as a people as well as their powers. They are feared by all society and I’m thinking there could be quite an interesting story behind that.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

I just love it when a book is action packed, has a budding romance, and a kickass heroine hell-bent on revenge for her parent’s murder. Those are all the right elements to make for a great read. Ruined is a very strong start to a new series and I can’t wait for its sequel! For all you fantasy lovers out there, Ruined is one book to put on the wishlist!

four-half-stars

Stacking the Shelves 27/02-2016

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It is a meme to showcase the books that we have bought, borrowed, received for review, or were given as a gift (basically to show off any book that we acquired). As well, I will tell you a bit about the what has been going on this week and what you can expect from me in the upcoming week!

This Week’s Book Haul

StS (3)

The ever so lovely Dani from Dani Reviews Things gifted me a copy of  Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, the sequel to Red Queen (a book I immensely enjoyed reading in 2015). I seems the stack of books I need to read keeps growing, but my actual reading slows down every single week. The amount of books I’ve been reading is a sad, very sad, low number.

I also got a package from Abrams and Chronicle Books which brought to me On the Edge of Gone by Coninne Duyvis and The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters. I’ve read Corinne’s debut novel Otherbound and was really impressed with it, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy On the Edge of Gone just as much, if not more! I have a mad case of insta-cover-love going on for this book, I just LOVE the colors combined and the contrasts: it’s gorgeous. The Steep and Thorny Way is a RETELLING. Boy, don’t I love retellings! And get this, it’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Now my little inner-literary-university bug did a little jig upon seeing this book when I opened this package.

I also got some mail from the awesomesauce Jamie from Books and Ladders. My friends got my back, haha. It was an envelope filled with bookmarks and other spare swag she had. I am going to try and create a swag binder, to showcase all the swag I saved up the 3 years (almost, only a week more and then I’ve been blogging for THREE YEARS already!) I’ve been blogging, and I’m hoping to be able to give this swag a nice place soon.

Last Week’s Posts

I wrote a post about my workouts, and the reason why I’m putting so much time in it. Those of you that follow my blog might’ve seen me mention running or HIIT training every now and then, and because I am more than my love for books I decided to share. I had wanted to share for a while now, and I know that it isn’t really within the whole realm of books that I normally post about, but it’s something that’s important to me. It didn’t get as much response as I would’ve liked for it to get, but in a way I also expected it because it literally has nothing to do with books, and I know not everyone is as into sports as I am.

I also posted a Top 10 Tuesday, I shared 10 books that I read (and loved) but hadn’t talked about in a while. This was FUN! It is so easy to forget some books, even though you loved them a lot, because we read SO MUCH. So it was really nice to talk about those books for a while.

What to Expect from Next Week

I’m hoping reviews! Can’t promise much, because most of the reading I do is university reading, but I did finish The Love that Split the World this week, and I’m halfway into Earth’s End. I’m currently reading Wuthering Heights for British Literature, and then have another book to read for Amercian Literature *sighs*

What it comes down to is that I’m pretty damn busy, and am trying my best to juggle everything: university, sports, reading, and blogging. However, I WILL THRIVE! And try my hardest to keep creating good content for you all!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick NessThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen on October 6th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
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four-stars

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

What I thought

The Rest of Us Just Live Here, the copy I got from my Secret Santa this year, GLOWS IN THE DARK. I had it on my desk and woke up in the middle of the night and it took me a while to figure out that it actually was my book that was glowing. It’s the first glow-in-the-dark cover of a book I own, never thought I would say that. Also… Confession: This was my first Patrick Ness book.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is different from any YA book out there

The Rest of Us Just Live Here was different from other Young Adult books. There simply is no other way to describe it. I knew it from the very first page, and as a result I was a bit confused the first few chapters. There’s talk about ‘Chosen Ones’ and ‘Indie kids’ and I literally found myself thinking ‘what am I reading’. Fortunately, that only lasted a little while, once I got used to the writing style I found myself completely absorbed into the story.

Tells the story of the characters that aren’t hero’s: normal people

What I loved most about this book is that is tells the story of the characters that aren’t hero’s, characters that could care less about immortals and zombies and the mysterious stuff that’s going on in their crazy town. They’re just normal people that want to get through senior year and graduate (before anyone blows up the high school, again). I love that Patrick Ness chose to write about normal people, because aren’t we all? Now I can’t say I see zombie deer’s running around every day, or that my school was ever blown up, but Mikey and his friends are as ‘unchosen’ as we are. Fun part was that we got to read about what the indie kids were up to as well at the beginning of every chapter, and it makes for a wonderful contrast between their and Mikey’s (and his friends’) lives.

No diversity to for the sake of diversity

Yes, FILLED with diversity! Mikey, our main character, suffers from anxiety and OCD, and (as far I can be a judge of this) I felt like it was a very realistic portrayal of OCD. The fear he has of being caught in a loop and not being able to get out made The Rest of Us Just Live Here such an emotional read. I felt so much for him, especially the way he felt like the least wanted person in his group of friends. Which left me a blubbering mess. But that’s not where the diversity ends: Mikey’s sister, Mel, recently battled anorexia, he has a best (gay) friend named Jared, and then we have Henna, the (African) girl he has a crush on. It’s not just diversity to for the sake of diversity though. They are ordinary people who have their own problems to overcome.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

While Patrick Ness’ writing took a little getting used to, but once I did I fell in love with it. It’s a beautiful book, one that packs a punch. It’s a Fantasy and a Contemporary all in one, and it’s perfectly balanced. I highly recommend this one to anyone who’ll listen!

 

four-stars

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. MaasQueen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on September 1st 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 648
Format: Hardcover
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Goodreads
five-stars

The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

What I thoughtQueen of Shadows what have you done to me?! I once again waited reading this… I’d preordered it (duh) and when it arrived I read the first chapter, which broke my heart, and didn’t pick it up until 3 months later. I know, stupid silly me. Because this book was brilliant! It was perfect. I didn’t think I could love the characters even more, but I DO. MUST HAVE THE NEXT BOOK, NOW!

Wrapping my head around certain plot changes

I’ll jump right in, there are a LOT of things happening in Queen of Shadows and I’m going to keep it vague because I don’t want to spoil anything for you. What I do think is quite obvious is that things are changing, in a big way. I had to wrap my head around this, ships were changing, but in the end I think I can say that I am on board where things are going. Obviously I can’t say too much, but what I can say is that there are (as in Heir of Fire) multiple pov’s in this book. And these characters start playing a bigger role and their paths start crossing. Take Manon’s story for example, she confused me at first (especially in HoF) but she’s become one of my favorite characters. She has SO MUCH depth, and I think it’s so interesting what is happening in Queen of Shadows and I love where it inevitably is going.

Celaena, Aelin, continues developing

Okay, Aelin was a bit cold and too harsh in the beginning. I only started understanding this after we learned what happened ‘in between’ Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows. Some things happen that cause her to act this way, but this is only touched upon a few times. Don’t get me wrong, I still admire her, she’s still every bit as badass, clever, and strong as she is in the previous books, but I felt like she should’ve fought for her friends as they have fought for her. She gave up on them and was a bit too harsh towards them at time. So BOY AM I GLAD she started to mellow a bit and changed her attitude. Her heart to heart with Chaol was a key part of the book. So important to come to terms where the plot was going as well.

Sarah J. Maas, the Queen of Writing

Sarah J. Maas put Queen of Shadows together so masterfully. As always, her writing is absolutely gorgeous, a joy to read, but she also put the story together so freaking amazingly. Slowly revealing details, peeling back layer by layer. Plot twists were killing, heartbreaking, and so freaking exciting. I am obsessed with this world, its characters, and THE WHOLE STORY.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

LOTS of things are changing in Queen of Shadows. Ships are shifting, characters are developing, and while I had to wrap around my head around these changes, Queen of Shadows was everything I hoped it would be and more. Heart-wrenching and another wild ride from beginning to end. It made me laugh, it made me cry. Great character development, complex relationships, AWESOME plot, and BEAUTIFUL writing. Any chance I can read the next book early?

five-stars