The Beautiful | Review // More blood required. 🧛

Greetings readers!

I cried to get my hands on this ARC. I seriously sent the most lamentable email to the Penguin publicist and begged for a copy. It was dramatic af because I literally had no hope of actually getting one. BUT the people at Penguin are too amazing for words (@SamDevotta) and they sent me a copy!

It is to my shame that the review is coming so late after it’s publication. I seriously am a terrible blogger. So without further delay…

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Oct 8 2019
Publisher: Putnam
Goodreads

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.


*Thanks to Penguin Teen CA for the ARC*

So what I really loved about this book is that we start off with a first person POV and we don’t know who it is. I love it. I love the mystery it brings up, I love that we get to guess who it could be, I love that it adds so much more danger to the story. What I didn’t love so much is that these very sporadic little snippets were the only real vampire moments I got.

Celine was a great character. On the run from her past, on a hunt for a better life, risking it all for a bit of adventure and struggling very badly with some inner demons. Her anger, wit and stubbornness were as wonderful to read about as they were frustrating!

Bastien was….he was a little too mysterious, but I liked him well enough. I liked that we got a little bit from his POV here and there just to see how things were running in his life. I loved that he was such a suave charmer but also a “Bitch, please” kind of man. Good looking? Absolutely. I just hope to see him fleshed out a little bit more in the next book.

Odette? A star. Pippa? A sweetheart. The court? It was also a little too ambiguous and mysterious. I didn’t get quite attached. Michael? Maybe I have a soft spot for him and perhaps shouldn’t.

The New Orleans was très fantastique! (That is grammatically horrible…but you get the point) I thought Adhieh did a wonderful job in creating this lush atmosphere where we get those flashes of the luxurious aristocracy, with the sterility of the convent and the shady alleyways of the city. I loved that we got insight into the strict high society life and also mixed in the magic of the secret court life. The magic was a little more tame than I was first expecting, but still very intriguing.

This book had lots of languages and as a language student this was a HELLS YES. The unfortunate thing is that I read an ARC version, so the French and Spanish phrases were plagued with grammatical errors, BUT I am pretty sure that would have been all cleaned up in the finished copy! Regardless of the fact, I thought that the use of languages was lots of fun and I love how the characters were snarky in any tongue!

Things that disappointed me:

The lack of vampires. I mean they were there but their actual action was so minimal. I felt like I was just reading a regular historical fiction book and totally forgot about the supernatural flair. It wasn’t completely absent, but I wanted MORE. I always want more!

The romance… Look. I like this ship. It is a well established ship. It is going to happen, I don’t really have any doubts about it. So why bring in a second possible love interest only to disappoint a very cute nonna! Just sayin!

The big twists…………………………………………….weren’t that impacting. I just didn’t get that WOW! A lot of it has to do with the fact that we do not get in depth with the court and all it’s secrets. I’m not saying we needed a detailed history, but I felt like we needed a lot more to get why the final actions of the characters led to this disaster. Also she used a trope…that I just don’t like. I feel like it is such a cop-out. Yikes.


Overall, the book entertained me but the hype got to me. It was most certainly a lush, historical fantasy with an amazing cast of characters. A headstrong protagonist who does what she needs to do and is un-apologetically herself will charm your hearts. However, I felt it lucked some luster and that it could have benefited from more detail.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars 

Recommend: I say yes! I still think this book has a lot to offer even if it lacks some blood…

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Did you like it? What are some of your favourite vampire books?  

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

Speak Easy, Speak Love | Review // One of the most under the radar books that needs to be on your radar NOW

Greetings readers!

I can’t promise you that the following review will make any sense. I am honestly planning on gushing my whole way down. I would like to send a special shout out to Mandy @ BookPrincessReviews who hyped me up for this book long ago.

Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

Speak Easy, Speak Love

Pub Date: Sept 19th, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Price: $21.99 CAD
Goodreads

Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon 


Okay okay breathe Rendz, breeaaattthhheee. *inhale* *exhale* OKAY LET ME TELL YOU HOW ABSOLUTELY AMAZING THIS BOOK IS AND HOW YOU NEED TO PUT THIS ON YOUR TBR IMMEDIATELY. I AM OFFICIALLY NAMING THIS REQUIRED READING MATERIAL.

What I Liked

These Glorious Characters

There are a lot of them, so I have to be brief, but just know that George crafted such incredibly dynamic, complex and rich characters for her novel. This gang of guys and gals had a lot of magic–not literally XD–but they were incredibly charming and enchanting and I would love to spend more time with them.

Beatrice: My girl genius. She was literally all brains and all snark and I adored her. Her brilliance was one thing, but her awkwardness in social situations was just so relatable XD. But don’t for one second think she didn’t have guts because she had them and more.

Benedict: Oh my charming, tragic writer-in-training. I loved him too. I loved his persistence with his writing, his adoration for his newfound family and his self-sacrificing-ness, (Can’t seem to find the write word there) But he was just so great! A Book boyfriend for sure!

Maggie: Magical. Seriously. She had this charm to her and this willpower within her that I admire so much. Her life wasn’t easy and as a black girl in the 20s she had to put up with so much crap, but she didn’t let any of that hold her back. She had dreams and she worked hard to make them come true.

Hero: Was another charmer (I swear everyone in this book is a charmer). But she was definition of “life of the party.” I absolutely loved her dedication to her family and her speakeasy. Her heart was huge even though she could be a little (a lot) selfish, but if you really look at it it’s all part of her charm.

Prince: My baby. Literally a soft boi who has the biggest heart. He was a quieter more background character, but he had such a pivotal role in this book. His devotion was so admirable, liked I wanted to sob for him because he was so loyal to the end. My heart.

John: Mandy put it exactly right. He was the Kaz of this bunch. Shady but with a soft(ish) heart. He was literally a semi-leader of an Italian mafia—which was dangerous—but also really, really hot. Tell me I’m lying!?! It’s hot and I think his broodiness was perfect addition to this novel.

This Setting

It is a known fact that the Roaring 20s is probably the coolest decade to set a book in. There was a lot of political and cultural movement. Clothes changed. Music changed. Laws were obviously more strict. The whole speakeasy aspect of this novel was perfect. We spent a good amount of time in it and the plot directed a lot of drama with it which I found fascinating. You can tell George did her research (especially if you read the Author’s Note). She used actual events and people in her story albeit a little bit altered. When I found out that the Italian Mafia family that was involved in the book was actually real…well I’ll be darned that is pretty cool. Scary, but cool.

But anyways, yes. This setting was amazing. It was a perfect blend of fun and danger which is exactly what the twenties is all about.

I Know Nothing about Much Ado About Nothing But I Still Love It!

Yes it’s true, I’ve never read Shakespeare’s play, but I sure do want to know. Of course I didn’t want to go in completely blind when I went into this book so I googled a quick summary of the play and ending up watching a 6 min summary video on YouTube. And you know what! It really helped me hehehe. I found some of the connections and I do believe that the chapter titles are lines from the play which I thought was genius. So while I cannot give you the best comparison of the two, I think fans of the play will like this book! Oh and I just noticed that the names of the characters are from the play too.

The Romance

Because let’s be honest this was a love story. And I had three ships to ship. And all three were epic. And I want more more more MORE. I mean the amount of banter in this book was so so great. The TENSION it created was perfect. I wanted so badly to yell “just kiss already!!!” And boy did we have to wait for those kisses, but it was so so worth it! The chemistry was perfect. The epic emotions. The drama. The ~scandal~. It was all so great.

The Questionable

Not applicable. I enjoyed myself too much while reading this.


Overall, this book was great. Seriously. If you’re looking to pick up a historical fiction with the perfect blend of romance and risky speakeasy business and Shakespeare then this is the book for you. I am positive you will find yourself in love with each of these characters.

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars 

Recommend?: Ay! In troth, thou needest to readeth this booketh!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What Roaring 20s book did you love? Which of Shakespeare’s play would you love to see a YA retelling of? Have any recs for me?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Enchantée | Review

Greetings readers!

I am bringing this review to you a little late because I am such a mess right now. Phew. School is actually trying to reduce me to a pulp, so please wish me the best and read on for a review of one of my most anticipated reads of the month!

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

Enchantée
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Feb 5th, 2019
Publisher: Flaitron
Price: $24.99 CAD
ISBN: 978-1250295521
Goodreads

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…


BUY IT!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


**Thank you so much to Raincoast Books for the ARC**

The Likes…

This was France, I loved going to Versailles and just the gambling and gaming in general. It was lots of fun. I mean I am not a wiz at any gambling games, but I did love the suspense that they brought to the book. I would be yelling a lot at *certain* characters who just didn’t know when to stop and risked losing it all!

I liked Camille enough. I thought she was very brave and passionate, especially to be living in a very manly-mans world and having to care for her younger sister. I just didn’t get her logic with secret keeping. I’m sorry, hun, but this just frustrated me soooo much. Other than that she was good.

Lazare was cool too. He was biracial, so there was a lot of discussion around identity and of course racism. He was an interesting character and quite elusive, so I liked getting into his background. Would I qualify him as a Book Boyfriend….mmmm…no. Maybe like boy toy?

Sophie would have been better if she hadn’t been treated like she was a baby. Like I ain’t saying that a fifteen year-old has the wisdom of a 100 year old, but they ain’t that naive. I could be totally wrong…but I felt like Sophie had a spark in her that was constantly being stamped out and overpowered by Camille. And it frustrated me because Sophie made such dumb choices because of this.

The shining star was Chandon. Who was charming and sneaky and tragic. And just great overall. I would have loved to read a little bit more about him and his soldier boyfriend…whose name escapes me.

I liked the discussion surrounding the Revolution.

Viva la France! **That’s the expression right** The books digs a little into the political history of France at the time. It is not actually set during the actual revolution (at least I don’ think), but it does showcase some of the rumblings and grumblings of the citizens of France before the war breaks out. The impoverished people who were not happy with the wealthy nobles. We get to see from perspectives of both parties through Camille and it is actually quite, quite interesting.

The magic, although minimal, was interesting for the time setting it was in. It was reminiscent of the glamour in TLC! I think maybe the origins of the magic were a little bit rushed through, but there was a lot of background on the dangers of being a magician in this time and I especially like how the author tied it to the flamboyance of the royal court.

The Questionable…

The plot was interesting, but very slow moving and nothing truly exciting happened until the very end. This is why I had really hard time with it. Look. I like short chapters. But something has to actually happen in those chapters. This book was full of short chapters and many of them I felt were really unnecessary.

I wanted more balloon story. The hot air balloon aspect of this story really intrigued me, but we got to see so little of it!

The writing was good. Nothing particular stood out to me and the French that was involved mixed well with the English. It wasn’t all that random, *unlike certain other books ~coughGrimLoveliescough~*. It kept me well-engaged for the most part if anything.

It was too long though. On top of the slowness, it got repetitive. Really fast. Camille is either gambling or thinking about gambling or with her balloon friends. The action was at the end and it was good, but the previous 70% was the same thing over and over again. It was tough to push through sometimes.


ENCHANTÉE by @gitatrelease  My endless thanks go out to @raincoastbooks for sending me this book a couple of weeks ago! I am so excited for this release (coming Feb 2019). All I needed to hear was 18th century France + magic + Court scandal + all the high stakes AND I WAS HOOKED. Bring on the historical fantasy. I. Am. Here. For. It.  And have any of you noticed the surge of French settings in YA books recently? Or is it just me? What book are you looking forward to this winter? #Enchantée #GitaTrelease #yabooks #bookstagram #reader #books #yafantasy #fiercereads #historicalfantasy

Overall, I enjoyed the book for the most part. I think my high expectations may have cursed me because I didn’t know what to expect, but by the end I was a little less than wowed. If that makes any sense. It was a good book, with good characters, a good plot and a great ending. I just felt like the goodness of it all was what kept me from thinking it was great.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: I think this is perfect for Historical fic readers who want just a hint of the fantastical!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? What is one time period you would love to have a historical fiction book set in?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Kingdom of Ash and Soot | Review

Greetings readers!

I have been feeling a little under the weather as of late, but when I get sick I get bored and thus I blog! So here I am coming to you today with another review that is long overdue!

Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C. S. Johnson

Kingdom of Ash and Soot (The Order of the Crystal Daggers, #1)

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books
Pub Date: July 3rd, 2018
Price: $6.29 CAD
ISBN: 9781939665706

PRAGUE, 1870.

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup. As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to mete out the perpetrators. Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?

With a fun blend of historical fiction, true love, castle intrigue, and family dysfunction, The Order of the Crystal Daggers is the latest adventure series from C. S. Johnson.


Buy It!

Amazon


*Thank you Prodigy Gold Books for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for a review!*

What I Liked:

Eleanora was a lovely character to follow. She lived in a sort of Cinderella story with a wicked step mother and two wicked step siblings that enslaved her in her own household after the death of her father. Unlike Cindy, however, Eleanora has a brother, Ben to keep her company. I liked Eleanora well enough, she had a resilient personality. Always had a quick comeback in her mouth. She was fiercely devoted to her family and the memory of what they once were. Once she was thrust into this secretive society, full of intrigue and danger, I could definitely tell that her life became much more colourful. That is to say I did find her character lacking just a little. I would have liked to see a little more growth in perspective of the world and her willingness to go along with her new society’s ways.

Every other character was a little flat. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very colourful characters to be had and some of them I quite enjoyed. Especially Ferdy who was all suave and charming. Still I would have liked to have seen more complexity in the characters that surrounded Eleanora. They had their secrets, but they didn’t really bring any moments of personal change. You know what I mean?

I loved the setting. It’s Victorian and of course every Victorian book I read has some sort of political strife that is the cause of all these secret clubs that are building up! This book touches upon many of the political antics during 1870 Prague, such as England’s empire of colonies, the ghettoization of the Jews and much more. Quite a problematic time in history, but then again what isn’t.

I enjoyed the direction of the story. It was a mystery and while I knew things were not the way they seemed, I couldn’t help but fall into some of Johnson’s traps! Johnson’s writing is easy to follow and quite appropriate for the setting. She even knows how to add in those bits of humour that I love reading! Some of it was a little predictable, but I was not expecting the ending that we were going to get! And while I felt it ended in an awkward position, I am very much intrigued to find out what happens next!

What I Disliked

The romance was okay. Very much insta-love and while the characters admit to it–therefore Johnson admits to it–they still go ahead and proclaim their love on their second or third time meeting. While I shipped the ship, I’m really hoping that the next book fleshes out these feelings and that it brings it to better light with a better basis for chemistry.

Also, I feel like the whole idea of the secret society needs more fleshing, I need more information on how it works and why we need it. I know that it is top top secret and we are supposed to be naive like Eleanora, but I still need to know more about it and how it functions and why it is needed.

Also, the crystal dagger??? It was mentioned for two seconds. More information please.


Overall, I enjoyed the story. It was a quick read and it had some great scenes of action, political intrigue and quite a few balls! I still think that the characters need more oomph to have really made this pop, but they were still quite nice and I wish them the best after that ending!

Rating: 3.75 / 5 Stars (Like a good 4)

Recommend: Yes! Historical fiction and secret societies, you gotta love ’em!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What are some of your favourite historical fiction books? Have you noticed the trend of secret societies in HistFic? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Game of Secrets | Review

Greetings readers!

Historical fiction is always an intriguing genre. Unlike fantasy, the world which the characters wander through is–or rather was–real. Sometimes real historical figures are taken into account and we get a little educational at the same time as being fictional! Victorian settings are often popular in  HistFic, so when I saw this Canadian YA Historical Fantasy, I knew I wanted to pick it up right away!

Game of Secrets by Kim Foster

Game of Secrets

Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Pub Date: July 3rd, 2018
Price: $25.99
ISBN: 9781510716445

Felicity Cole sells flowers in the streets of Victorian London to feed herself and her young brother. But she has a close-guarded secret–her brother is a Tainted, born with special abilities that society fears and a shadowy organization called the Hunstsman scours the country to eliminate. When Felicity becomes the target of one of these individuals, she discovers something horrible: she’s Tainted, too.

Rescued by a mysterious gentleman on the eve of execution, she’s whisked away to a school funded by Queen Victoria, established to train selected Tainted into assassins in service of the crown.

Struggling to harness her incredible strength, speed, and agility, and despised by her classmates, all she wants is to use her new position to find a cure so she can be normal and reunited with her brother.

But with the Golden Jubilee fast approaching and the discovery that there’s a traitor in their midst, she has no choice but to embrace the one thing she’s been fighting all along.


BUY IT!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


*My gratitude goes out to Thomas Allen & Son for providing me with a copy for review!*

What I Liked:

I liked Felicity. She was headstrong and yet afraid of the new world she was thrust into. She comes from a lowly background which is much unappreciated by her new peers. She is one who looks for loopholes to get out of the world until she finally becomes a willing part of it.

None of the other characters really stood out to me. The love interest was really–in my opinion–bland. He had some substance but it was more like water. You can hold it for a while, but then it slowly slips away leaving just a wet feeling that lasts only until it dries. And yet I need him in the story to add in some interest. (How poetic, Rendz)

The magic was very cool and I liked how well it fit into the Victorian setting. All these Victorian books I have been reading always include a secret society of some kind and I honestly love it. It leaves room for mystery and adventure in an otherwise pristine and aristocratic era.

The plot was fine. It was not utterly astounding, not too complicated in terms of following and keeping up with all the secrets, but it lacked that bit of oomph. It had some great action scenes, but not nearly enough. If this is a secret society of training assassins, how come there is so little action????

It is an evenly paced book. The writing is very smooth and I sped through it rather fast. I will say that the chapters were very short, sometimes where they paused was a little awkward. I felt like some could have been combined, just to keep up a better flow.

What I Disliked:

Most of my dislikes comes from the fact that this book is tropey. You have the special snowflake MC. With powers that are better and more magnificent than all others. I would have been fine with this if  there was a solid reason as to why she was so crazy amazing. And don’t spring up this “one in a million chance” thing on me. That’s not a solid origin. There was also some girl-on-girl hate. Not as terrible as other books I’ve read, but it would have been nice to see the girls not be competitors and instead allies in this mans world.

The book was not boring per se. I just thought that it could have used more excitement, more risk and more twists to make this something that really grabbed at my attention. It held it while I read, but I could close it to easily. There was never a need to read it. That’s what I found quite disappointing.


Overall, the book was okay. It was neither utterly amazing, nor terribly awful. It holds your attention, the MC is quite fun at times, there is some drama and the few action scenes are ones to look forward to. And the author does bring up quite a mini twist at the end, which I found wrapped this historical fantasy quite good.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Like Historical fiction but want a fantastical twist? Then sure.

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What are some of your favourite Historical Fiction books? What historical setting would you love to read about?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Lost Crow Conspiracy | Review

Greetings readers!

Last year I was lucky enough to review an ARC of Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves, a historical fantasy which I found very interesting. I really enjoyed the Hungarian folklore and the ending was very cliff-hangery so when Penguin Random House Canada sent me the ARC of book 2, I was overjoyed to dive in!

Lost Crow Conspiracy by Rosalyn Eves

Lost Crow Conspiracy (Blood Rose Rebellion #2)
via Goodreads

Sixteen-year old Anna Arden was once just the magically barren girl from an elite Luminate family. Now she has broken the Binding—and Praetheria, the creatures held captive by the spell, wreak havoc across Europe. Lower-class citizens have access to magic for the first time, while other Luminates lose theirs forever. Austria and Hungary are at odds once more.

Anna Arden did not know breaking the Binding would break the world.

Anna thought the Praetheria were on her side, content and grateful to be free from the Binding. She thought her cousin Matyas’s blood sacrifice to the disarm the spell would bring peace, equality, justice. She thought her future looked like a society that would let her love a Romani boy, Gabor.

But with the Monarchy breathing down her neck and the Praetheria intimidating her at every turn, it seems the conspiracies have only just begun.

As threat of war sweeps the region, Anna quickly discovers she can’t solve everything on her own. Now there’s only one other person who might be able to save the country before war breaks out. The one person Anna was sure she’d never see again. A bandit. A fellow outlaw. A man known as the King of Crows. Matyas.


Buy It

Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

*Book releases March 27th, 2018*


*I received an advanced copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review*

I remember really enjoying the first book. The thing is, I read it so long ago that I forgot quite a few events and people. What I didn’t forget was the ending, which is what really intrigued me to read the sequel. Suffice to say, I enjoyed how the events of the ending from book one unfurled in book two and the new problems these characters got into!

What I liked:

Characters:

Anna: From what I recall, I think Anna really changed in this novel. In the first book, I think she was still a little too in-the-box, a little brat-like, but in this book she came in guns blazing with her skirts bunched in her fists. Anna was really focused on finding her voice. She wanted to defend he defenseless and bring a halt unfair policies, the problem was that her being a woman stopped her from having that voice. I loved that she strove to find it anyways and that she avoided marrying a man in order to “gain a voice.” All in all, I really enjoyed her growth as a character, she still makes some foolish decisions, but no one is perfect right?

Matyas: I was really excited that the book contained his perspective!! Considering the events of book one, I had no doubt that he would be getting a more significant role in this book. He was a really fun character to follow. A little bit of sass and a whole lot of self-depreciation which was hilarious. He also made some very not smart decisions, but I think that is what his personality is all about; learning to make the right gamble.

The Creatures & Magic:

I loved all the new creepies and creatures that are in this book! This time I expected the glossary of terms in the back of the book, so I could keep track of all the Praetheria that played a significant role in the story. The creatures had their own experience of oppression and revolution which I enjoyed reading about. I liked that the larger plot expanded to include their oppression with all the other crazy battles that European nations were preparing to fight.

Political Intrigue:

As mentioned, literally every nation in this book was tip-toeing across each other, scheming and sneaking around, waiting for the right moment to strike. It was really political especially with Anna trying to voice herself in a very anti-woman era. I loved seeing all the nations bicker and try to prove their resolutions as the best, only to find out about their conniving ulterior motives.

The very climax of the book:

And I am literally talking about the half way point, right in the middle of the book. There is this one chapter where Anna makes a pretty not-so-thought-out decision and everything goes to hell for her. I don’t know exactly why, but I felt the shock that Anna felt herself. We both thought her decision could lead to a good change, but I was tricked! It all went down hill from there. Wow.

The last 50% of the book:

After the climax, the book just got better and better to me. Perhaps it was because I had spent enough time with the characters to know their goals and aspirations, but I was just 100% more involved in the last half of the book. The events that unfolded were much more suspenseful and action packed. I was torn between wanting to read more from Anna or Matyas. I was just flipping and flipping.

What I Disliked:

The Beginning (i.e. first 50%):

It was a struggle. A mix of me trying to remember the characters and the events of the last book while trying to keep up with new characters. Plus, I like the politics, but too much gets boring fast. Nothing was really moving quick enough, it was a snails pace. It’s not the best start to a read I suppose, but the last 50% was definitely worth the wait!


Overall, I enjoyed this sequel! I even think it’s better than the first! Although the first half might have been a little grueling to get through, the second half was so much more fun and adventurous. Anna and Matyas’ stories swept me off my feet and by the end I was feeling quite thrilled. The ending itself could have used a little more suspense, but I am looking forward to the final installment!

Rating: 4 / 5 (Really it’s more of a 3.85ish, but for the sake of clarity, I’ll round)

Recommend: Like Historical Fiction? Want to try a little fantasy? This series is a great start!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this book? What about Blood Rose Rebellion? What are some of your favourite genre-crossing books (i.e. books that mix genres)?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Blood and Sand | Review

Greetings readers!

I have felt something I have not felt in a rather long time. I have felt the RUSH. You know that a book is great when you experience the RUSH. It’s not a simple thought, nor feeling. It is a full body sensation.

It’s a tingling in the toes and fingers. It’s a buzz in the brain. It’s slightly blurred vision. It’s a shake in the shoulders. A shiver down one’s spine.

And then comes the jerk.

Your whole body just quivers, your jaw has been on the ground for the past ten minutes, your eyes are bulging out of your head in disbelief and weird screeching sounds are coming out of your mouth.

The RUSH.

Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

Blood and Sand
via Goodreads

FORGED IN BATTLE…
FROM THE DUST OF THE ARENA…
A LEGEND WILL RISE

The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic―and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus…

For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus…

The story continues in Fire and Ash, coming in 2019 from Tor Teen.

Buy It!

Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Thank you so much Torteen for providing me with a digital copy via Netgalley. All opinions are my own!*

So everything stated above about the RUSH is true. I experienced all those emotions at 1:30 in the morning when I finished this book. So my screeching noises were actually more like whispers. I enjoyed this book immensely. I cannot recall a moment during my read where I was waning and teetering on the edge of boredom. That didn’t exist for me. It had me engaged from page one and by the end I was rendered breathless.

What I Liked:

Setting:

When I think about the Roman Empire, I think sand, Colosseum, those leaf crown thingys and togas!! But really there is so much more into that grand empire that this book explores wonderfully. I loved how the author let us into the history of Rome without bombarding us with facts. She just slides in the details, like the kingdoms and peoples the Romans massacred, the structure and layouts of the markets and palaces. The politics was one of the more trickier things to follow, but the author presents it to the reader in a simple way.

It’s Rome in all it’s sandy, bloody, brutal glory.

commodus GIF
via giphy.com

Characters:

Attia: Princess. Warrior. Thracian. All add up to make one hot-headed gal. She was fiercely stubborn, angry and she would literally cut (you down) if you got in her way. She had every right to be all those things. I mean, I think we would all be pissed if anyone rose up, massacred our people, enslaved the survivors and sold you as a nighttime companion. Yup. I loved Attia. I loved that she was unconditionally and un-apologetically herself and still admitted that she was no where near perfect. She was courageous, loyal, and intelligent. She acted impulsively perhaps too much for her own good and that got her  into many, many sticky situations, but she was no doubt an amazing character to journey with.

Xanthus: Gladiator. Champion. Survivor. Add up to make one broody, and oh so sweet hero. He has all the things to check off as a broody warrior book boyfriend. Tragic past? ✔️ Killer body? ✔️ Sweet and sensitive? ✔️ Loyal? ✔️ Protective (even if our girl is perfectly capable of taking care of herself)? ✔️ Swoon Factor? ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

The list goes on. Xanthus was a character that didn’t expect forgiveness for his sins, but asked for it anyways. He knew he was slave being controlled by a master puppeteer, but he didn’t let his humanity go. He kept a great deal of good, after suffering a great deal of bad. He sacrificed himself for others and he would rather lift others up, than be the glorified Champion of Rome.

russell crowe no GIF
via giphy.com

There was a great cast of supporting characters. There were so many it’s a tad difficult to name them all. I loved Xanthus and his brothers. A loyal pack that supported and saved each other. Attia found friendship in Sabina, Lucretia and little Rory. They gave her strength, support and guided her in her weaker moments. The side characters brought to life the moments of cruelty so many experienced under the Romans. It was heart breaking and inspirational because you root for each of them to exact the revenge they deserve.

Action and Intensity:

Now this book was bloody. The history of the Roman Empire itself is surely drenched in red and this book exemplifies that perfectly. Considering this book deals with gladiators, a warrior princess, and the oppressive Roman Empire there was never a long period of time before someone died. Tragic, but true. The action of this book keeps you on your toes, no characters were invincible and the stakes were very high.

Everything was on the line.

are you not entertained russell crowe GIF
via giphy.com

Historic Elements & Events:

Actual recognizable events happen in this book despite it being top-notch fiction. There was of course the Colosseum and the bloody games that went on in there. Readers get to be in the ring, facing off against an enemy who had just as much to lose. Maybe readers even get catch a glimpse of the mysterious Spartacus…….? It’s thrilling and nerve-wracking. I won’t give anything else away because it might be a little spoiler-y, but people, Rome had it rough! Especially towards the end there.

Romance:

It’s not exactly enemies to lovers…rather it is an “I don’t like you, I don’t trust you” to “You’re okay, I guess” to “You belong with me–eee–eee.” Also known as my favourite kind of romance. It’s a tender slow burn. Where our two love-birds have to get over themselves and their fears (and all the other angst) before they finally see clearly. That is when the magic happens. That is when the squeals come out. I really liked the ship. I especially loved how they tried to protect each other when they were both spectacularly capable of watching their own backs! But it’s just so precious and my hearttttttttttt………

The Ending:

It killed me.

But there is a sequel….so maybe (I pray) that those last events weren’t exactly 100% accurate.

What I Disliked:

Just one tiny thing. There were so many side characters and they each had their own past that I would have loved to read more about. However, that would have made this book ten times longer and despite the want to know more, I know it would have been too much. Plus, keeping track of all of them was pretty hard too. Don’t ask me to name names, there were a lot.


Overall, I am delighted. The RUSH came and still lingers. This book was true to its title. Bloody to the last page and sandy because it’s stuck in every corner of my mind. The author takes you on a ride in this brutal history on the backs of two people seeking revenge and their realization of just how hard that fight is. It’s suspenseful, it’s heart-breaking and I am begging for the sequel!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars!

Recommend: Absolutely! Grab a sword and feel the RUSH!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Would you like to go back in time to visit the Roman Empire? What are some of your favourite physically fierce characters? Any Historical Fic recommendations? 

This book debuts today, January 16th! So be sure to check it out!!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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