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Monday, June 13, 2016

Review: The Young Elites

The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)

Blurb:
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. 

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen. 

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.
Source: Borrowed
My Thoughts:
I really struggled with this book. The writing was great and so was the plot but I just couldn't get invested in the characters. I've had this book for ages and the only reason I went beyond 50 pages is because I knew I had to return the book to my friend. I'm very glad that I forced myself to go on because this book was surprisingly good.
It's hard to get invested because the protagonist is not likeable but this also gives the protagonist a lot of depth. This layered character development really comes together in the end of the novel. You may not like the characters but you do start feeling a lot for them towards the end.
Another thing working against this book is how we as readers are so used to superhero novels that are fast paced and heavy with action. The Young Elites is a slow build up, it's not action packed throughout but it's pacing is good. It is also very unpredictable. It's been a while since I've been so surprised by the twists and turns in a YA novel. 
In my opinion, the biggest flaw of the book is it's focus on romance in parts. I realize the importance of the romance but I just didn't feel much for the relationship. The depth of Adelina's character and it's darkness used to be sidelined in the scenes that focused on the romance and the best part of the novel is not the romance but it's dark and gritty protagonist.
I feel if I had read more chapters from Enzo's point of view or even Teren's point of view, the romantic relationship would have made more sense. The motivation that drives the male characters was incomplete without their perspectives being showcased in the novel.Teren especially his motivations definitely needed more depth in the novel.
Overall, I am immensely fond of the layered and psychological depth of this novel with especial focus on Adelina. The unpredictable nature of the story makes it definitely worth a read and the way the novel ends makes you curious about the sequels. The book has it's faults but is definitely worth a read.
My Rating:
Toss up between 3.5 and 4

3.75 stars.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Review: Paper Princess

Paper Princess (The Royals #1)

by Erin Watt 
Blurb: From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone. 

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees. 
Content Warning: Not suitable for younger readers. This is classified as New Adult.it discusses sex and prostitution. It is also a pretty steamy book by Young Adult standards.
Source: Publicist. (Thanks Nina!)
Links: Goodreads, Amazon.com (Only $4.99),Amazon.in
My Thoughts:

I had been reading some pretty great reviews of this book on Goodreads and was planning to check it out. Fortunately I saw an email from the publicist of this book right after my interest was piqued otherwise it would have taken ages for me to pick up this book (my reviewing pile is crazy and I'm trying to buy less till it's slightly under control).

Paper Princess was a surprise. It's not a path breaking story but the way it is written just manages to keep you engaged. I'm a sucker for those stories in which people go from rags to riches. I'm also a sucker for books with a lot of male leads (Especially if there is no love triangle or square or octagonal ...etc.). This book combines both to form the best popcorn- churning- blockbuster- romance- movie like goodness ever.

Paper Princess follows Ella Harper as she comes to terms with the fact that she has a new family now and that new family is not very welcoming.What I liked about Ella is how tenacious she is. She has that never-back-down attitude that I love in my heroines. I'd suggest people read this book for it's strong and independent heroine.

The male characters in this story are jerks. Especially Reed, He is super jerk. The fact that I'm willing to overlook his jerkiness just shows how much I enjoyed this novel. I liked the other brothers so much more than Reed though none of them are your golden boys.

I liked the complex adult relationships this novel explored. The adults are very much a part of this story. Callum and Brooke are not minor characters. They are very much present and important to the story.They are also complex and well built. Much more complex than at times the male protagonists. 

I really enjoyed the novel. I know it has a lot of faults and it's not a new story but it just clicked with me. Looking at some of the Goodreads reviews, I see it clicked with a lot of others. I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel (Cliffhanger ending alert!).

Overall, Fans of The Selection and people who expected more from Introductions by C.L. Stone should definitely check out this novel. Others, I begged to read a portion of the sequel, I'm that invested in the story. Do check it out if you love angsty romances.

My Rating:

4/5


Sequel where art thou?


Saturday, May 21, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

Orangeboy

 Sixteen-year-old Marlon has promised his widowed mum that he'll be good, and nothing like his gang-leader brother Andre. It's easy when you keep yourself to yourself, listening to your dead dad's Earth, Wind and Fire albums and watching sci-fi. But everything changes when Marlon's first date with the beautiful Sonya ends in tragedy; he becomes a hunted man and he has no idea why. With his dad dead and his brother helpless, Marlon has little choice but to enter Andre's old world of guns, knives and drug runs in order to uncover the truth and protect those close to him. It's time to fight to be the last man standing.




The amazing people at Hachette UK have been awesome enough to let me host a giveaway for TWO copies of this book.

UK ONLY

The giveaway ends very close to when the book hits bookstores so do enter UK people. 

Thanks for visiting!



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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Review: The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

The Great Hunt (Eurona Duology #1)

Blurb: 
“Aerity…” Her father paused as if the words he was forming pained him. “I must ask you to sacrifice the promise of love for the sake of our kingdom.”

She could only stare back, frozen.


When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.
Source: Edelweiss (Thanks for the review copy HarperTeen!)

My Thoughts:

This is the second book I have read by Wendy Higgins. The first one I read was 'Sweet Evil'. I really enjoyed 'Sweet Evil' and was expecting some great writing from Higgins, sadly I was disappointed.

Negatives:

Not as good as the original
After reading the book I decided to read the short story that it was based on. It was a very short story and I was able to finish reading it in ten minutes but it was still much better than this book. I think Wendy stretched the original concept too long. The story was simple yet had a lot of depth. Higgins instead chooses to drag it out and in the process over complicates it. Read the original here: http://genius.com/The-brothers-grimm-the-singing-bone-annotated

Lack of relateable characters

I think Higgins decided to over-complicate the story but forgot to add depth to the characterization of the protagonists. All can easily fall under stereotypical fairy tale tropes. The hunter , the princess, the sister of the princess and the brother of the hunter. I'm not saying that Higgins does not TRY to add depth but you can't connect to any of the characters and that is why I think they lack something. 

Where is the suspense?
I had not read the original before reading this book but still I could predict almost everything that would happen. Almost every *shocking* plot twist was not shocking at all. There was no doubt regarding who would fall in love with whom, there was no doubt regarding why the place was being attacked. Even the revealation regarding someone (avoiding spoilers) was not very surprising. The only surprising part was the ending.I can't believe that the story is going to be stretched even more. Instead of trying to forcefully trying to instill a sense of danger, making the story shorter and crisper would have made it more enjoyable.

The Romance
Of course the woman likes the mean bad boy who ignores her. God forbid she like the nice guy who treats her well?  Also, it is love at first sight and there is an undeniable attraction (KILL ME NOW!) not only between one couple but TWO. 

There was one scene in which the younger brother is of course infatuated with Aerity but once he realizes his older brother is interested he shifts his focus to the younger sister because princesses are replaceable sexual objects (Feminist rant being held in with a lot of difficulty!)

I think if I cared about the characters I would be able to forget about the romance but I don't which is why the romance was even more cringe-worthy.

Villains? WHAT Villains?
The antagonists are these shady characters always on the fringes but never properly introduced. The Beast takes center stage. But, the beast is an animal, he cannot make up for a complex human antagonist. I think the main antagonists will be focused on in the sequel which is a pity. I really liked what I read about them but what I read was too little. 

Positives

Aerity

Apart from her poor romantic choices. She was well etched out and one of the main reasons why I did not abandon this book.

The unexpected ending

The highlight of the book. The sad part is that the most interesting plot points are introduced towards the end. I know that the sequel will most probably have a better storyline but by the end of the narrative I have just lost interest in these characters. 

The entire set up

I think the reason I am so disappointed with this book is because it has all the makings of a best seller. A great writer, aristocracy, a hunt in which the prize is a princess and magic. The way it is implemented is the only thing that is lacking. I loved reading about the world that Higgins has set up. The entire political scene and the discrimination between magic and non-magic users really hooked me in. Instead on capitalizing on these brilliant themes and the world building, Higgins focuses too much of her energy on the romantic angle. This is the reason why this story did not work for me. There is no spice in it. No betrayals, no shocking ends. It focuses on the surface despite having so much potential for exploring deeper themes. 

Overall, I am very disappointed with this book.


My Rating:

2/5




Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)

Blurb: 
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Source: Free audiobook from SYNCYA and Borrowed book from library.

My Thoughts:

Note: I listened to more than half of this on audiobook and read the rest. The audiobook was really good. Almost didn't enjoy the book as much after I switched.

The Raven Boys is a beautiful book. The prose is beautifully spoken in the audiobook .This is one of the few audiobooks I would highly recommend as the tone of the narrator matches the setting beautifully. 

I was very reluctant to pick up this book. Maggie's Shiver series was slow, dull and had a lackluster plot. The only reason I picked up this book is because of the beautiful way she wrote in that series and because of the  positive reviews this book received.

The Raven Boys does not have a singular narrator. The perspective keeps shifting from one character to another but the shift is not jarring, it's a thing of beauty.It's hard to believe that the writer is female as the male's voices are authentic and  beautifully spun.

To cut a long story short: Read it for the writing.

The pace of the story is slow and if you don't enjoy the writing, you will not enjoy the book.  The world building is also brilliant.In my opinion the weakest point of this book is it's story and pacing. The characterization is great and you get invested in all the characters but the climax is unmemorable. There is a great build up but the way it is wrapped up is slightly disappointing.

I want to read more about Gansey and Ronan and Adam and Blue. I fell in love with all of them. I would read a story in which they all went on a picnic if Maggie wrote it. The world of mysticism and spirituality that she introduces in this novel is incredible. But, I do realize the weakness of the overall story and the fact that this book is not for everyone.

I would recommend that you read or better yet, listen to some sample chapters (especially if you're fond of audiobooks). See if you enjoy the world building and writing style and then buy or borrow the book.Personally, I really enjoyed it.

My Rating:

4/5

Loved the writing style, though not for everyone.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen #1)

Blurb:
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart ...

Source: Edelweiss (Thank you HarperTeen for the review copy!)


My Thoughts:

Setting and Tone: Red Queen follows Mare Barrow as she progresses from being the lowest of the low to becoming one of people that belongs to the higher echelons of society. The setting is very dystopic but the story is classified as fantasy.

Mare is a red blood having silver abilities which is why like President Snow in 'The Hunger Games' ,the king decides that as he cannot kill her (because of reasons) he will keep her close to him and disguise her as a silver blood. Following the age old philosophy of  'keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.'

Why is the king so worried about a red blood superpower? Because, the red bloods are mistreated by the supernaturally gifted silver bloods and they might decide to revolt against such discrimination. Sounds like a dystopic novel, doesn't it? But, because of the presence of the supernatural it fits more into the category of fantasy. I thought the tone of the novel was similar to that found in YA dystopia which is why I am stressing on this point.

Mixed feelings: The story focuses on revolution, class discrimination, aristocratic politics, political subterfuge and romance. I have mixed feelings regarding how this keeps shifting from one to the other and due to this the story lacks the depth found in 'The Hunger Games'. 

Negatives: The romance. Oh god the romance! It was not even a triangle , it was a love square. Mare is just so irresistible that every guy around her just goes gaga!

The relationship that is built up between Cal and Mare borders on insta-love.It's not quite insta-love but it feels like it. This is one thing I thought hindered Cal's character development.

Another negative was how boring some of the narratives were. This is directly related to the romance. The scenes that focused on the royal palace were incredibly interesting. The Red Army scenes were incredibly interesting in the beginning but started dragging towards the end. But, every time there was a romantic scene I was not interested.I think I just did not buy the lurve because how many people could she be lurve with? Three is too many,in my opinion.

My favorite part: The fantastical elements and the relationship between Mare and Maven (younger prince).

I know a lot of people are going to go gaga over Mare and Cal's relationship but I love the relationship that is built up between Mare and Maven .

I loved the non-romantic relationships that are spread out throughout the novel. The relationship between Mare and her family is gold. As well as the relationship between the Queen and her sons and that between Cal and his father

The best part of this book is the twist. Generally I can predict the twists but not in this one.It's unpredictable and I loved it. Before the twist this book was a solid 3 stars but due to the twist I am definitely intrigued about what happens next!

Overall, I'll be reading the sequel and the story was very interesting. I think if it had focused more on the fantastical elements it would have been an excellent read instead of a good one. I'm giving it a higher rating than I was planning to because of the unexpected twist. If you can't hang in till the end then this book won't be worth it for you.


My Rating:
4/5

Only because of the twist! 






Thursday, January 28, 2016

Writer and Tales Monthly Giveaway 2016

So I've decided to giveaway books monthly on my website. So as all the books I will be giving away will not be YA, I decided to host these giveaways on my website Writer And Tales. Of course I haven't forgotten the readers who have stayed with me for THREE long years. So followers and readers of this blog will get extra entries in all the monthly giveaways because I love you guys!

Special thanks to Sarika and Janhvi for the lovely idea and plan!

I'm giving away and ecopy of The Score by Elle Kennedy. For details check out the original post




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