Cover Reveal: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Okay, so all of you know of my love for C.J. Redwine and her “Defiance” series. I loved that series to death (still do) and it has been an agony waiting for C.J.’s newest book, “The Shadow Queen,” to come out. Sadly, it won’t be coming out for another eight months, but it does have a cover now, which makes me SO excited! Alright, here it is!

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THE COVER FOR IT IS GLORIOUS! “The Shadow Queen,” besides its stunning cover, sounds like it will be a crazy good story. It’s a dark “Snow White” retelling, much like the “Snow White and the Huntsman” movie, and I’m flipping out with how amazing it’s going to be!

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I love Balzer +Bray and C.J. Redwine SO MUCH, and I’m really looking forward to reading “The Shadow Queen” when it comes out!

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The Heir by Kiera Cass (The Selection #4)

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“The Heir” by Kiera Cass

4 out of 5 stars.

Two decades ago, America won the Selection and the heart of Maxon Schreave. Now the time has come for Maxon’s and America’s daughter, Eadlyn, to hold a Selection of her own. But there’s just one problem: Eadlyn doesn’t want to a husband.

Raised to be a capable and powerful ruler, Eadlyn has never given marriage a serious thought, but both of her parents are adamant about her having a Selection. Determined to not find a husband during her Selection, Eadlyn attempts to avoid entanglements with the 35 male contestants, but Eadlyn soon finds that a few of them have captured her attention, and maybe even her heart despite her resistance. More important than her current relationship status, though, is her precarious political position. Eadlyn is not beloved by Illéa like her mother and father are, and she doesn’t know if she has the heart like them to lead her people. With so much to learn, Eadlyn has to discover what it truly means to be a good leader and earn the trust and love of her people before Illéa erupts into chaos.

I have mixed feelings about “The Heir.” Kiera Cass is one of my favorite authors, and you all know from this blog that I ADORE “The Selection” series because it’s magical and practically perfect! I loved America Singer SO much in the first book, and Kiera did such an amazing job of helping her to grow and blossom into a strong and kind young woman. Adding Maxon and Aspen into that mix didn’t hurt, but I really did love the first three books for how much America grew and evolved while still being America. Ball gowns and charming boys aside, I loved “The Selection” series because of America and her spunky charm and beautiful heart. “The Heir” was just as well-written as Kiera’s other books in this series, but what distanced me a bit from the story was Eadlyn and her perspective.

Eadlyn was a princess with some massive ego issues, and she didn’t treat other people very well in “The Heir.” For me, Eadlyn was nearly the complete opposite of America, and so I felt like that distanced me from the story a bit because I had a hard time connecting with this character. I know that Eadlyn was not really meant to be liked at this point in the story because this book was about her growing into a strong female character; character growth is one of Kiera’s specialities, so I do not doubt that it will happen. I trust Kiera Cass completely with making her characters grow into kind and strong individuals, but it was still hard to like Eadlyn at this point in her story because she was kind of snob. She did have some growth as an individual towards the end of “The Heir,” but by the time I could enjoy her perspective, the book was over and the long wait until book five began. While reading “The Heir,” though, I could see that Kiera wanted to create a character that was the opposite from America, and she totally accomplished that in Eadlyn. One of the main differences between Eadlyn and her mother was how they did or, in Eadlyn’s case, didn’t befriend others. Eadlyn’s lack of constant friends outside of her brother, Ahren, made sense because of the way she acted around people. America, however, was an amazing friend because she was sincere towards other and fearless when it came to protecting the people she cared about, and that was why I loved her character so much in the first three books. Eadlyn, unlike her mother, treated others as if they were below her a lot of the time, and she was selfish and did not think about how her words and actions affected those around her.

All of that being said, however, I do want to note that I get where Kiera was going with Eadlyn as a character, and that I’m sure that there is a lot of growth coming for her in book five. I wish that I could have seen a bit more character growth from Eadlyn in “The Heir,” but despite that I ended up still enjoying this book. What I enjoyed the most about this book, though, was Kiera Cass’s side characters her choice in romantic interests.

Kile…

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I really loved this boy. I loved that he and Eadlyn had been at odds since childhood and that there was no initial romantic connection between these two, yet that they had history, which made their relationship more believable. Out of all of the suitors, Kile was definitely my favorite because he was so charming, sweet, sincere, and he also brought out the best in Eadlyn whenever he was around. Kile challenged Eadlyn and made her think for once about the feelings of others above her own. I loved that Kile wanted more than what the castle walls offered him, and that he didn’t treat his family’s favor with Queen America as something to abuse. I also enjoyed Kile’s presence in “The Heir” because it gave me a slight reprieve from Eadlyn’s cloistering snobbery.

Another reason I liked Kile so much was because he did not belittle others, and his character  was also quite smart. I mean come on, the boy carried books around wherever he went, so how could I not love him?Once again, I’m just going to say that I loved Kile because he never acted uppity despite the privileges granted by his mother’s friendship with the Queen. That would go to most people’s heads, but if anything, it drove Kile to do more and be more than just someone who leached off of the royal family and used their favor to get ahead in life. I think that only time I was in question about Kile’s character was when he let Eadlyn use him for publicity, but then I thought about it, and honestly, it didn’t make me like him less. All that the situation did was make me dislike Eadlyn more.

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Now that I’ve babbled forever about Kile’s character, I just want to say that what I really wanted from “The Heir” was more time with Kile. I got a lot of time with Eadlyn doing her internal dialog when what I really wanted was more interactions and conversation, with the other characters in this book. I desperately wanted more Kile and the other suitors, so that I could get to know the characters better, but the majority of this book was about Eadlyn’s inward struggle. It bummed me out a bit because I felt like I got to know the characters from “The Selection” so well, whereas in this book I felt like they were more of outlines of characters I could grow to care for (with the exception of Kile, who I already love!).

Another thing that I loved about this book was that Aspen and Lucy made an appearance. All the adults (America, Maxon, Marlee) felt like different people from the ones we got to know in the first three books of “The Selection” series, but not Aspen, not Lucy. They were adults in “The Heir” but they were still the Aspen and Lucy I had grown to love, and reading the parts with them made me want to go back and reread the other three books. I seriously needed more of them in this book!! I MISSED YOU SO MUCH ASPEN!!!

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Every moment with Aspen and Lucy just hit me in the feels like no other, and I hope there’s more of them in the conclusion to this series. Another part of “The Heir” that hit me hard was the ending…gosh, I cried a little bit with it.

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I did not expect that, and I hope Kiera doesn’t end up ripping my soul out in the next book with a very sad turn of events. Things were just fine as they were, so I am hoping for a happy ending concerning that particularly heartbreaking twist. Please, Kiera, be merciful…

Overall, I enjoyed “The Heir,” I just didn’t love. I am expecting tremendous character growth for Eadlyn in the fifth book, and I know that Kiera can and will deliver, I just have to be patient!

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

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“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renée Ahdieh

5 out of 5 stars.

After her best friend was murdered by the King of Khorasan, Shahrzad is determined to make the heartless monster pay for the light that he extinguished on that terrible dawn when he killed Shiva. Shahrzad cannot bear another day of her best friend not getting the justice she deserves, and Shahrzad al-Khouzryan has figured out just how to repay Khalid for all that he stole from the world…

After being married to Khalid and becoming the Calipha of Khorasan, Shahrzad is closer than ever to obtaining her revenge. But after surviving several dawns by weaving tales of magic and adventure for her husband, Shahrzad discovers something that shouldn’t exist, something that should be impossible: Khalid, the King of Khorasan, has a heart. The more time Shahrzad spends with Khalid, the more she begins to realize that he is not the cold monster from her nightmares, the monster that stole her friend from her. And soon her traitorous heart begins to falter in its plans, and Shahrzad wonders if there is more to this boy than the monster that she had imagined?

Nothing is as it seems within her husband’s palace. Webs of secrecy and mystery surround the caliph, and Shahrzad is determined to uncover the truth behind the murders of Khorasan’s daughters, and understand the reasons why Khalid has spared her for as long as he has. Shahrzad’s stories are only a part of why she still takes breath, and she is racing against the clock to uncover the truth behind the lies within the palace before her time runs out and the dawn catches up with her.

Renée Ahdieh’s writing style was truly beautiful to read. Renée had a rich vocabulary that painted elegant and three-dimensional scenes, and I was shocked by how her style of storytelling immediately pulled me into “The Wrath and the Dawn.” Normally it takes me a chapter or two before I adjust to an author’s style, but Renée had me hooked from the start, and I can honestly say that I loved her way with words. Everything she described was done so with rich detail, making me feel like I could reach out and touch it all, and I found that to be very impressive. I love reading a book and feeling like I’m being transported to another time or a different land as I turn each page, and that’s exactly what Renée did for me with her first young adult novel. The writing of “The Wrath and the Dawn” was spectacular, even decadent at times, and I was drowning in its beauty and the emotion if drew from me at the drop of a dime. But Renée’s story telling ability did not stop at just gloriously vivid descriptions, because her characters were also wonderfully dynamic.

It took me a second time of reading “The Wrath and the Dawn” in order to write this review, and the reason for that was Shahrzad. I was fine with Shazi’s character the first time I read this book, but I did not connect with her because of her initially petulant nature, and instead found myself gravitating towards Khalid and the secondary characters. Shazi was out for revenge from page one, which was completely understandably considering what had happened to her best friend, Shiva, at the hands of Khalid. I could respect her hate for him, but I had a really hard time feeling compassion towards her because of her sometimes petulant and childish behavior. After having reread “The Wrath and the Dawn,” though, I felt Shazi’s character start to grow on me bit by bit as I got to know her better, and now I can appreciate her as a protagonist, even if she is not my absolute favorite heroine. All this being said, my initially unsure feelings toward Shazi never made me waver in my love for Renée Ahdieh’s writing style and her wonderfully designed world, and I especially loved her hero, Khalid.

I found Khalid to be an extremely interesting and dynamic male character. Khalid had done a lot of bad things before “The Wrath and the Dawn” ever began, but he was far from the monster that I had expected. He had a lot of secrets that didn’t get revealed until the last fifty pages of this book, but piece-by-piece the puzzle of who he was and why he had committed those terrible crimes began to make sense. What he did was wrong, but his moral dilemma completely made sense while I read “The Wrath and the Dawn,” and my heart ached for him. Maybe something was/is wrong with me, but even before any of those secrets started to be uncovered, I grew to love Khalid; every scene he was in was my favorite, and he felt like such a rich, dynamic character to me.

Khalid proved to be less imperious than Shahrzad at times, despite how he was raised, and that made me like him even more. I also loved the moments when I could see that he understood that he was just a boy with far to many burdens to bear, and that his status as King of Khorasan did not make him untouchable or better than anyone else. Khalid may not have been arrogant, but he was hot-tempered and totally imperfect, yet somehow his weaknesses and flaws only made me love him all the more, and my heart ached for the boy who had had to grow up too fast. Khalid’s position due to his curse caused me to have compassion for him, and I found that it was Khalid who ended up moving me the most emotionally out of all of Renée’s characters in “The Wrath and the Dawn.”

I really have to commend Renée Ahdieh on how she commandeered my heart concerning Khalid. I usually dislike male characters like him because of their bad boy, broody attitude and “misunderstood” actions, but Renée wove such an incredible story around him that I couldn’t help but ignore reason and fall in love with him. Khalid was a truly misunderstood character because of the secrets that he was forced to keep and the things that he had done, and I liked that he was not wicked or manipulative like the generic bad boys authors tend to write. Renée Ahdieh caused me to see the humanity existing within him, to see the heart that he possessed, and to understand the boy who had been turned into something seemingly cruel and cold without his consent. Khalid was a smart, cunning, and unassuming figure who was quiet and always watchful, and I loved how present he felt in scenes, even when he wasn’t speaking. Khalid was tangible and I wanted to fully understand him, to discover who he actually was, and Renée Ahdieh accomplished all that I wanted and more concerning Khalid’s character. I was especially impressed by Renée’s phenomenal job of developing Khalid in “The Wrath and the Dawn,” despite him not having the most page time; when he was present, he made it count.

The romance between Khalid and Shazi was SO good. Shahrzad’s perspective of Khalid slowly shifts from hate to dislike to love over time, and I was entrance by their blossoming relationship. Shazi may not have been my favorite heroine, but she made Khalid happy and brought out the beautiful, passionate, and kind side of him that he had kept buried for so long. I loved seeing Khalid open up as a character over time, and the words that Renée Ahdieh wrote for his character were truly beautiful. What made them even more moving was how he was such a broken person, yet he somehow found these beautiful words within himself to share with someone he cared about.

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The building of Shazi’s and Khalid’s relationship through these scenes where such gorgeous words were either spoken or written rang more true than a lot of other romances in books that I’ve read, and I SHIPPED this couple so hard. I just loved how happy Khalid was when she was by his side, despite their difficulties along the way, and it was beautiful watching them slowly grow to love and respect one another over time.

There are a couple of other characters in this book who all took part in the story behind “The Wrath and the Dawn,” like Tariq, Rehim, and Despina, but my favorite secondary character ended up being Jalal.

Jalal was the cousin of Khalid, and I really liked him. He was a charmer and weaver of charming words, and he was the character in this book who made me smile the most; Khalid made my heart sing and caused me to swoon, but it was Jalal who almost got a few laughs from me. I loved the scenes he took part in, and I really liked how he challenged Khalid as a person, calling him out on his crap, and how he supported the relationship that Shazi and Khalid had. Jalal believed in them, even when those two characters had doubts or distrusted their own relationship. I wish that I had gotten more time getting to know this supporting character, and I hope that book two will have a lot more of Jalal in it.

Everything about this book was really well-developed and creatively plotted, and although I had my favorite characters, I enjoyed everything about “The Wrath and the Dawn.” I ended up being okay with Shazi, and I never felt like she detracted from my enjoyment of this story, despite my initial feelings for her. Khalid was amazingly dynamic, and I loved him so much, but what really impressed me while reading “The Wrath and the Dawn” was Renée’s quality of writing and her unique style. Renée Ahdieh wielded the sword of the written word so elegantly, and I found her storytelling to be truly beautiful. I loved how she wrote such vivid and rich scenes from the feel of the breeze on her characters skin, to the warmth of the sun seeping from the marble tiles at their feet. Her storytelling completely drew me into her world, and I wish that this book had been bigger by fifty to a hundred pages so that I could have stayed in its grasp for longer. Renée Ahdieh’s writing was stunning and glorious, and I know that this is the kind of book that I will be picking up to reread many times in the near future in order to experience its writing and characters again!

Oh, gosh, and the ending of “The Wrath and the Dawn” made me love it all the more. So much had been revealed in the last sixty pages and so much had happened that my emotions were all over the place already, and then to have it end like THAT!

 

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Renée’s ending involved a heartbreaking and soul shattering letter that left me in agony and near tears, and I loved that she ended it that way. It hurt beyond words, but it was a brilliant ending.

awesome2Overall, I really loved “The Wrath and the Dawn.” It was so wonderful being swept away into a land unknown to me, and I loved discovering the truth behind the mystery alongside Renée Ahdieh’s characters. “The Wrath and the Dawn” was elegant and entrancing, and I thought that it was a wonderful retelling of the “A Thousand and One Nights.” I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an adventure and does not mind it if their heart gets broken.

P.S. I NEED “The Rose and the Dagger” to be released right now!!!

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Cover Reveal: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

The beautiful and glorious cover reveal for “Their Fractured Light” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is finally here! Me and my sister have waited for what seems like FOREVER, but with how pretty it turned out to be, I’ll say that it was well worth the wait! Drum roll please!

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My reaction to seeing the cover for “Their Fractured Light” is depicted in the gifs below.

unnamed 2I accidentally stumbled upon a picture of “Their Fractured Light” on amazon.com, not realizing that the cover reveal was happening today. It was shockingly exciting to say the least.

pushing daisies3I went and grabbed my sister so we could fangirl together since this has become one of our most beloved series.

fangirlMy fangirl reaction to studying the beauty of the cover was a little bit of this,

fangirlingand this,

hook feelsand this,

fangirland this,

tangled deadand finally this. Flynn knows what it feels like to be a fangirl.

I am so excited for “Their Fractured Light,” and I cannot wait to see what Amie and Meagan have planned for their final installment in the “Starbound” trilogy.

Follow this link to the original cover reveal post to read an interview with Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2015/06/11/their-fractured-light-cover-reveal-kaufman-spooner/71065252/

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

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  “Off the Page” by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van leer

4 out of 5 stars.

Delilah is the luckiest girl in the world. After having fallen in love with a character from the fairy tale book, “Between the Lines,” Delilah is granted her wish and Prince Oliver is brought to life and into her world. Pulled straight from a fairy tale means that adjusting will be difficult, but both Delilah and Oliver are excited to start their new adventure together beyond the pages of a book.

As wonderful as the thought of a beloved character coming to life is, the truths of reality are much more difficult to accept. Adapting to his new life is challenging, and to make matters worse, the book Oliver was taken out of is trying to correct itself, which means that it wants him back. Fighting against the book, maybe even fate itself, Delilah, Oliver, and their fictional and not-so-fictional friends try to make one last go of getting their happily ever afters. But then tragedy strikes, and each of them wonders whether anyone can ever truly have a happy ending in reality, or if they must accept the bitter truth that such things can only happen in fiction?

There were three different perspectives in “Off the Page,” and I enjoyed each one of them. Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah were fairly cookie-cutter characters, and at times their voices seemed to blend together a bit. Despite that fact, however, I grew to enjoy their voices for what they were: narrators of a “fairy tale.” Most of the traditional fairy tales tended to have multiple characters who all seemed to have the same voice, and so that aspect of “Off the Page” didn’t really bother me once I had adjusted to the fact that they acted much younger than I am used to characters acting. This was not a survival story where sixteen-year-olds were fighting for their lives, this was a fairy tale with a twist about a couple of kids in high school. Once I had accepted that, I began to enjoy reading from the three different points of view.

Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah were all cute characters despite their sometimes immature actions. Delilah irritated me at times because she seemed to be the most selfish and thoughtless of these three perspectives with her expectations of how things should unfold. Delilah wanted situations to go her way, and I can’t fault her for that because we all do it at times, but I disliked that most of the time she didn’t consider other people’s feelings. Despite that, though, I ended up being okay with this character because she grew a lot as an individual in “Off the Page.” As long as a character turns their attitude around and grows as a person, then I’m fine with them starting out a little bit vain and juvenile; it’s when they don’t learn anything that I’m bothered with attitudes.

Edgar and Oliver were cute, if not a bit juvenile, but I grew to like their perspectives as the book went on and I thought that they were sweet characters. I had a difficult time at first connecting to Oliver and Edgar, but eventually I adjusted to the kind of book “Off the Page” was and could then fully enjoy these two boys. They both had their moments of selfishness and weakness, but they also had times of heroism, bravery, and hope in the face of what looked like insurmountable odds. They were darling and I liked them.

All three characters experienced forms of personal growth, and I liked how each of them learned to be more selfless and sacrifice what meant the most to themselves to help someone else. Hope, selflessness, and creativity were the underling themes of “Off the Page,” and I thought that Jodi and Samantha did a very good job of making their characters, and in turn, their readers think about how far those three items go in the real world. With them, we as individuals could do SO much in the world to improve it. In the end, I liked Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah and how they grew in their awareness of others besides themselves.

I think the hardest part about this book for me was getting through the first hundred and fifty pages. I went in with the understanding that it was going to be a super sweet and completely unrealistic story, but I was prepared. Somehow despite my preparation, I still found myself growing a little nauseous and/or irritated at times because of  the characters’ actions, and that initially made it hard for me to connect or get attached to the different people in “Off the Page.” Maybe it was because I hadn’t read the companion to this book, “Between the Lines,” but I had a hard time getting into this story and characters in the beginning. I was a little worried for the first third of this book, wondering off and on whether I had wasted my money on a pretty cover with a lackluster story, and I just was not invested in the story or characters.

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I kept reading despite this because I honestly did want to love “Off the Page,” and around page one-fifty, I got my wish! Once it got to that point things started to get interesting, the plot and character relationships from the first book started making sense, and I began to enjoy all of the characters perspectives. I was happy how either I or the book shifted a bit, and once I got to that point I started to really like “Off the Page” beyond its stunning map and gorgeous cover design.

Surprising to me in this book were the parts that made me choke up; I didn’t expect to almost cry in this book, but I teared up multiple times before I finished it. There are two very emotional parts that made my heart break for the characters involved in them, and I thought it was interesting how Jodie Picoult and Samantha van Leer decided to approach the topic of death in this book since it was so overly sweet. Bravo on their part for almost making me cry while reading what I had expected to be an excessively happy story.

There’s a plot in the previous book, “Between the Lines,” that involved Edgar’s mother Jessamyn rewriting her fairy tale book so that Oliver could get out and become a real person, and it instantly made me think the show “Once Upon a Time.” Now, let’s remember that “Between the Lines” came out two or three years ago, way before the Author in “Once Upon a Time” was ever mentioned. I’ll be honest, the way “Between the Lines” and “Off the Page” went down, I wondered if the TV show might have jacked that idea without people knowing it. It was just so darn similar in that someone (an author) rewrote a fairy tale to influence reality, and it felt like the show had taken that plot line or been inspired by “Between the Lines.” This was probably me going off of the theorizing deep end, but I just thought that the similarities between the plots of the book and show were kind of interesting!

I know that I am giving “Off the Page” the same number of stars as Sarah J. Maas’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” even though Sarah’s was epic and it blew my mind; there were a couple of things that I didn’t love in it that kept me from giving it a five star rating. With “Off the Page,” however, I graded it on a different scale. This book was on the cute chick lit scale whereas Sarah J. Mass’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” was graded on the epic fantasy scale. “Off the Page” accomplished what it was attempting to do for readers, it had an inventive and sweet premise, and it ended up being a well-written and cute story. Personally, that equals a really good, sweet chick lit book to me, and it was a fairy tale story on top of it. One blogger who liked this book said that it was “puke inducing cute,” and that’s exactly what this book was born to do. It was meant to be overly sweet and unrealistic with a few moments that made you cry, and I feel that “Off the Page” deserves a four star grade because it accomplished its goal. Not a lot of authors or book can say that for themselves, so I commend the authors on creating such an adorable fairy tale and picture perfect story.

Overall, “Off the Page” was a really sweet story that was endearing for its humorous moments and its tearful truths. It had moments of true and sincere depth, and I loved those pieces of this book. I think that young readers as well as older ones will fall in love with this book. If you love fairy tales and happily ever afters, then “Off the Page” is the book for you!