The Caged Queen | A Canadian Dragon Tales Buddy Read Review

Greetings readers!

It’s time again for another round of Canadian Dragon Tales, A Buddy Read Review starring me and the wonderful, Sha @ Book Princess Reviews.

Sha and I have had a fabulous time buddy reading different books together, although not all of them feature dragons! And we are so happy to bring you the review for this book today! A few months ago we read The Last Namsara by Kristen Cicarelli (an actual Canadian Dragon tale!) which we both adored and this past month we had the chance to read it’s companion novel!

So without further ado, we present…

The Caged Queen (Iskari, #2)
via Goodreads

Title: The Caged Queen (Iskari #2)
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Pages: 400

Release Date: September 25 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Paperback

Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.11 (of 1,983 ratings)

XXXXXX

Once there were two sisters born with a bond so strong that it forged them together forever. Roa and Essie called it the hum. It was a magic they cherished—until the day a terrible accident took Essie’s life and trapped her soul in this world.

Dax—the heir to Firgaard’s throne—was responsible for the accident. Roa swore to hate him forever. But eight years later he returned, begging for her help. He was determined to dethrone his cruel father, under whose oppressive reign Roa’s people had suffered.

Roa made him a deal: she’d give him the army he needed if he made her queen. Only as queen could she save her people from Firgaard’s rule.

Then a chance arises to right every wrong—an opportunity for Roa to rid herself of this enemy king and rescue her beloved sister. During the Relinquishing, when the spirits of the dead are said to return, Roa discovers she can reclaim her sister for good.

All she has to do is kill the king.

XXXXXX

The Likes

Sha: We finally got context on the deep hatred between the Scrublanders and the Firgaardians. The enmity was explained in detail, drawing on decades of unfair taxing and regulations. I appreciated this strength of Ciccarelli’s in Book 1 (focused on slavery) and I continue to love it in The Caged Queen: she weaves in these topical issues, giving an otherwise fantasy novel real-world weight. 

Rendz: Having the expanded knowledge of the world was definitely a plus in this book. Not only did we get a better understanding of who these new people were but we get more history and more tales of myth! I loved the lore of the story and even though this book is not really a Divine Intervention plot, the stories of divine figures are very important! There was also boatloads of intensity and action! I was stresssesssed!!!! Every single time I opened this book my blood pressure soared! It was a great feeling because it meant I was super into the book!

Sha: Another love I had in this book was the return of beloved characters from The Last Namsara. We got to see newly-appointed commandant, Safire. (I would have liked to see a bit more on her struggles fitting in to her job, but it was still touched on and I *know* it’s not her book). The cuteness and fire himself, Torwin, barely had a page worth of time but his lines make me want to reread The Last Namsara immediately.

Rendz: Ugh every time Torwin stepped onto the page, I got heart eyes in my eyes! I wish we had gotten to see more of him and Asha, but what we got was truly magical! As for the other characters…hmm let’s see. I enjoyed reading from Roa’s POV. She was brash, angry and vengeful but also full of heart. I got frustrated with her at times (many times) because this girl needed some major perspective!!!! However, I still enjoyed her ferocity! As for Dax. He turned out to be more questionable than I imagined. On the Rendz Love Interest hierarchy scale…he is definitely a Boy Toy.  As for Theo…….ugh. Just ugh.

Sha: I know, like, 100% am positive that Rendz will agree with me that the shining star (heh heh if you read the book you get that little pun) in this book is not the romance. Not the dragons (I know!!). It’s the absolutely beautiful and I mean BEAUTIFUL relationship between Roa and her sister. Correct me if I’m wrong, we didn’t know the entire story behind Roa’s hawk in Book 1. It was just, “Yeah, this girl likes her hawk a lot.” In The Caged Queen, that is expanded and the bond between the two is absolute heart eyes. 

Rendz: Hehe *gets pun* I do, I do 100% agree. I had such a hard yet not-so-hard time between the relationships with the story. On one hand I absolutely adored the sister relationship! It was exactly what a sister-relationship is. It’s long lasting, it’s rocky, it’s magical! Having two sisters myself made me sympathize a lot with Roa and Essie! On the other hand the romantic tension was killing me. And on top of that there is Love Triangle nonsense—that honestly we didn’t really need to worry about, but still. I found it unnecessary! 

XXXXXX

The Questionable

Sha: This is a very unique and personal “negative” experience I’m about to share. But a few times I forgot I was reading The Caged Queen and thought I was actually reading The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. There were some character resemblances, a similar love triangle, and the journey our MC Roa goes on mimics Shazi’s. I’m NOT saying this book is a copy. Please don’t think that. The ending is completely Ciccarelli’s own. But in my head I found myself comparing the two books or flat-out mixing them together. 

Rendz: I need to reread The Wrath and the Dawn to see the similarities because I am slacking! As for me, I think my biggest pet-peeve was that the politics and romance clashed for me. I felt like the politics were so intriguing to read about, but Roa’s thoughts always went back to romance. I know Sha feels differently about this, but I feel like it was a major distraction for me. Then again it could just be my own brain distracting me. Ugh, Rendz. 

Sha: The ending was a bit rushed for my taste. We spent a lot of time building up the story (which I didn’t even realize was a build up) and when the real climax hit, I was three-quarters through the book. Does anyone else get a bit stressed seeing the “left to read” pages dwindle but the stack of problems facing our MC are only going up? That was me. 

Rendz: Yes, I agree! The ending needed more meat. I was stressed the whole way through reading. Literally I was tearing my hair out and swearing at the characters (which in this case was a very good thing–because I was always in it to win it with this story). However, the final scenes were just not enough to fully satisfy me. I was hoping for I don’t even know what. Just more. I mean, it was sweet, but I want moreeeeeeeeeee. 


Ratings:

Sha: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Rendz: 4 / 5 stars 

Overall rating: 4.25 / 5 stars

Do we recommend?: Um YES. OBVIOUSLY YOU NEED TO READ THE LAST NAMSARA FIRST BECAUSE IT IS SUPERIOR. But this one is lots of fun and intense too!



Let us know what you think! Have you read this? Are you interested in reading it? Do you have any recommendations for us to buddy read together? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

We Rule the Night | Review // What an absolute pleasant surprise!!!

Greetings readers!

Here I am with another long overdue book review. But I am happy to say that this was quite a surprising read! I didn’t know what to expect, but I wasn’t expecting this much fun. I feel so bad for taking so long to read it!!

We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett

We Rule the Night

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Price: $23.49 CAD
Goodreads

Two girls use forbidden magic to fly and fight–for their country and for themselves–in this riveting debut that’s part Shadow and Bone, part Code Name Verity.

Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They’re both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women’s military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can’t fly together, and if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them–if they don’t destroy each other first.

We Rule the Night is a powerful story about sacrifice, complicated friendships, and survival despite impossible odds


BUY IT

Chapters Indigo | Amazon CA


*I was provided an ARC by HBG Canada!*

We can all agree that this cover is absolutely stunning. Look at that phoenix, all that fire and grace…ooooooooh I love it! And I can honestly say that the insides are pretty darn amazing too!

What I Liked

These Rock-Your-World Ladies were everything

Revna and Linné were fabulous, fabulous characters! They were polar opposites, but I still loved each of them so much. Revna comes from a impoverished family with a tainted name and she has wondrous control over an illegal kind of magic which just spells all kind of trouble for her. She is a keep your head down kinda girl for the most part, but that doesn’t mean she’ll let anyone trample on her. She’s tired of people seeing her prosthetic leg as a liability and she proves all these rats wrong!!! Ahhh did I mention how much I loved her???? Because I adored her!

So then there is Linné who had a little Mulan escapade until she’s found out and gets her second chance in this female air force. She comes from a privileged background which gives her some perks but she definitely has different kinds of battles to face compared to the other girls. I really enjoyed her growth in this novel, even though half the time I was yelling at her for being so stubborn all the time!

Other characters…

The dudes were pretty much trash. trash. trash. Sorry buds, but I was having it with none of you. Yup.

The Action and The Magic!!!

I have only read one other book that deals with like planes and war craft, and that was a while ago. But it is such an interesting setting and I would love to see more books revolving around it. There is so much risk that comes with flying, so many skills you have to be prepared with. And what is special about this book is that the metal was alive, and it absorbed the feeling of its pilot and navigator. So if you are nervous then the plane is nervous too and I thought this was an incredibly enriching detail. It added so much more…uhh…life. XD

The magic really worked well to create this immense amount of action and suspense. There were so many risks, so many high stakes and I was quite nervous in the latter half!

It’s All about the Ladies

Remember how I mentioned the men in this book were trash trash trash? Well it’s because it’s true!!!! They did things that I just wanted to arrrrggghhhhhhh. *huffs* These ladies were living in a sexist society that was all about having the men at the front and the women at home. It was that BS. Where women on the front would be considered distractions to the men. UGH. I just…I got so mad, because that is still a reality in different places. SO I loved watching this get tackled in the book. There was I think maybe one cute interaction with the male pilots but other than that, I didn’t care for them it was all about ma girls.

There was no romance…I mean the men were trash so no prospects there anyways and I didn’t get any f/f vibes either *shrugs*

It was all about the friendship and boy did it take a while. And I was completely happy with this. Girls makes friends with each other at different paces, some quite fast and some quite slow. So I loved seeing the range of types of friendships. I know girl on girl hate is a no-no for some of y’all, but it happens and we can’t deny that. It just has to have proper foundations and preferably not be over a trash boy, which in this case it is not.

The Questionable

A little slow in the first half. It takes a while for these girls to get in the air and I felt like we were getting into a tedious cycle. I think the second half of the book makes up for the slowness of the first half.

But lets talk about this ending that was left wide-open. Literally nothing was resolved. Like I didn’t expect them to save the world…but I still wanted maybe some kind of resolution. Some kind of closure. I totally see where the author was going with the ending and I appreciate it that it shows a cycle of oppression, but I want more!! And I wouldn’t mind a sequel, but I don’t think we are getting one.


Overall, I really enjoyed this read. It was all about the experience. Flying through the sky with these girls, enduring the backlash they face with them, growing in friendship even if it is not always harmonious. This novel is rich, fun and intense!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Yeah!! You will love this feminist, fighter pilot read!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? Have you read any air force books? Would you want to fly a plane that experiences your emotions?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

read

The Beauty of the Moment | Blog Tour // Review

Greetings readers!

I have the amazing pleasure to be part of the Penguin Teen CA Blog Tour for The Beauty and the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena! This is a wonderful contemporary read and its Canadian YA, so you know I had to read it!

Be sure to check out all the tour stops for some fun interviews and more reviews!

The Beauty and the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena

The Beauty of the Moment

Pub Date: Feb 26, 2019
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Price: $21.99
Goodreads

Susan dreams of being an artist. Malcolm wants to move him and his sister out of a bad living situation. Sparks fly when the two teens meet at a fundraiser for Syrian refugees. A Canadian YA romance for fans of The Sun is Also a Star.

Susan is the new girl — she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy — he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.
Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants — until he meets her.
Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.


Buy It!

Amazon | Chapters-Indigo


I absolutely adored this book.

Me.

Someone who rarely reaches for contemporary.

I completely, whole-heartily loved it!

The characters were phenomenal!

Susan! Oh Susan! We are literally carbon-copies of one another other than that we come from different types of brown cultures and family experiences. I have never related to a character so much in a contemporary novel like I did with Susan. Her shyness was so wonderfully depicted, but she most definitely had some fire. Her loyalty was admirable, but the trials she faces are so tough because of it. Her compassion and her charisma are lovely, but she most definitely has a meaner nature. Not to mention her love for art and her secret–or maybe not so secret–resentment of science and math. She is literally me and I am literally her. Except she got a boyfriend and I do not. O-O

Still…I JUST FREAKING LOVED HER. Her journey, her growth, her setbacks, her heartbreak and her stunning resilience and courage through it all. I wish I had as much guts as she did.

Malcolm. ANOTHER WONDERFUL CHARACTER THAT ABSOLUTELY BLEW ME AWAY! I mean it’s a typical bad boy story with a tragic–very tragic–past and I ate it all up!! Charming, dangerous, and a class-skipper! To be very fair though, Malcolm went through a lot and his decision making was not always that great. There was a lot of growing on this journey. Growth in self-respect, in learning to let go and in learning to move forward. It was really hard for him, and while I have never been in his situation, I can only imagine how hard it must be to even consider forgiving. And he messes up…a lot. But that’s okay. It’s all about the journey, it’s all about the learning. 

Other characters…I loved Malcolm’s best buds! They added in the perfect comedic moments and were such goofs. I would have loved to have Susan’s friendships to be further developed, but I understand that the whole point was to show how hard it can be for someone, especially an introvert, to get the guts to talk to people and keep talking to them.

The Family Dynamics

I don’t want to give anything away, but this was some tough stuff. Both characters had to go through a lot in their familial life. Parents can honestly suck sometimes. (I love you Ma and Pa 🙂 ) But they totally can. We’re all human, we all make mistakes but sometimes the mistakes that parents make can have bigger repercussions. Overall, I thought it was a great representation of what it’s like to be in a real, dynamic family.

And spiraling off the family talk comes the discussion on Academic Pressure

THE BEST REP THAT I HAVE READ SO FAR. Susan was born to Indian parents and was raised in Saudi Arabia, where life from ages 4 and up basically revolved around school. Susan was under the impression her whole life that in order to have her parents be proud of her, in order for her to be someone, she had to do well in school. Scratch that. Not “well” she had to be near or at the top of every class! 

And I saw myself in that. I truly did. I may not be Indian or Saudi, but I come from a Latinx household where doing amazing in school was an undisclosed demand. There was no room for a B+ on the report card, not once you head into middle school. But Susan (like me!) has a love for art and that is what truly makes her happy! The problem? No brown parent that I can think would ever encourage their child to pursue an arts degree. They may not discourage its practice, but it will forever be a “hobby.”

I just related to Susan so much. Every time she decided to not join a club so she could study, I have done that. Every time she doodled in her school notebook, I have done–and still do–that. Every time she took a Friday night or a weekend to get ahead on homework, I HAVE DONE THAT!!! Every time she complained and felt ashamed about getting a B on an assignment/test/quiz, I FELT THAT. Every time she tried to talk about pursuing art and the shrivelling of her spirit that came with thinking about how her parents would react. THAT. WAS. ME.

It got real personal for me, which I won’t divulge into anymore because this is just a review, but wow. It hit me.

Moving on…

CANADA.

It’s set in a city, outside of Toronto, Mississauga. (Which is part of the Greater Toronto Area…but not Toronto) Anyways, enough geography. NOW THIS IS A HIGH SCHOOL I CAN ACTUALLY RELATE TO. Four periods per day. One lunch hour. Crowded buses. Toronto Maple Leaf references. Malls I have actually been to. Like I was living my best life. I don’t travel to Mississauga often, but it’s not too different from where I grew up!

Still. Just the references and overall layout of the city structures were something I actually recognized.

And of course we get to see some ugly Canada. This story takes place during the heat of the Syrian crisis (which is still ongoing) and has a lot of discussion on immigration and the reception of immigrants in Canada, which is not the bestest. Trust me. We have bigots here too. So while it can be bitter to read about the ugly ideologies in Canada, it is truth that needs to be told.

The Romance

This was a love story in part and I think I just about melted of cuteness. It took a while for these two to get together, and when they did finally come to, they were just ahhh so cute. The fluff moments were a total overload! And hooweee do we get some great drama! I don’t want to spoil, but I adore how Bhathena handled the drama and the ending that she gave them. I really did. 


Overall, I adored this book. I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish reading the last 150 pages because I was so engrossed! There were never truly any dull moments. There is always something going on whether it be about Susan and Malcolm’s personal growth, their family lives, or their relationship. It is a story about family, love, loss, trust and courage to face the everyday. It is 100% one of my favourite contemporary books yet!

Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Recommend: ABSOLUTELY!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you thinking about picking this up? Would you date a bad boy/girl? *winks* What kind of student were you in high school?

Be sure to check out the other tour stops for reviews, interviews and more! And don’t forget to grab yourself a copy of The Beauty of the Moment, on shelves now!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

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

read

Circle of Shadows | Review // This was just…it was just…not it…

Greetings readers!

Have you ever pushed through an entire book you know you should have DNF’d after like the first hundred pages?

Well, I’m feeling that now. I decided to give this book the benefit of the doubt, maybe it would turn around, alter itself, but no. I should have gone with my gut. But being the hopeful fool that I am, I continued reading and honestly I have thoughts.

Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Circle of Shadows (Circle of Shadows, #1)

Publisher: Baltzer & Bray
Pub Date: Jan 22, 2019
Price: $21.99
ISBN: 9780062643728
Goodreads

A thrilling new fantasy series full of magic and betrayal—from Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of the Crown’s Game series.

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

*Many thanks to HCC Frenzy for sending me an ARC*

This book was just all over the place, in my very honest, humble opinion. And frankly it did not live up to my love for Skye’s debut, The Crown’s Game. After about 50ish pages or so I started noticing that this book wasn’t really going anywhere with me, but I felt the need to push through and as aforementioned, it wasn’t worth it.

It Was A Mess

Okay…umm how do I begin. The very first chapter was…meh. It introduced the MCs Sora and Daemon and well they were honestly just okay from the first chapter. I have a feeling that I was supposed to think Sora’s out-goingness and wit was like amazing and the Daemon’s modesty and determination made him a cinnamon roll, but they both really bothered me! *hides* It’s just that I felt their personalities were trying to be so amazingly-awesome and *wow*heart-eyes*everywhere* but I just felt like they were flat and boring. *shrugs*

And since this book is 3rd person omniscient, a range of characters perspectives were shown and just no one interested me in the least bit. Not the heroes, not the villains, no one. And let’s be honest, if you are gonna use a cliché twist to keep a character in a narrative there has to be something spectacular or even more deceptive to make up for their predictable presence. *I had to be vague because of spoilers*

The magic didn’t even intrigue me enough. I felt like the whole *ninja* idea was downplayed  by the fact that the enemy army had such a more superior magical skill. *Which [the enemy magic] was cool* But like actual fighting, technique and skill was not really showcased as much as I thought it would be. *And just being sneaky makes it boring*

Now the actual plot of the book is a bit…hmmm…everywhere and nowhere. It wasn’t a prophecy plot, but more of a Chasing Legends plot. It was frankly not that interesting to me. I’m not saying that human sacrifice is something that I deem irrelevant, but that was really the only thing that kept it dangerous. I also just…thought it was boring. The story had one of my favourite tropes *Divine Intervention* (i.e. when the gods come out to play and mess up everyone’s life) BUT EVEN THAT DIDN’T GARNER ANY INTEREST. Most of the book is just the Sora and Daemon on the run, or in captivity. I mean…if you are gonna have characters on the run, there has to be something that keeps the reader interested in reading their very tedious journey and I just couldn’t find it.

That grand revelation about Daemon: Saw it coming. And it was meh. And I don’t think it quite matched the story…

Action: Low.
Suspense: Meh.
Frustration levels: HIGH. (Mostly at the fact that it was so meh-boring)

So what on Earth kept me reading this book? I think sheer will to just finish.

The chapters were pretty short which I loved, but some were so irrelevant.

OKAY OKAY BUT ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEXT BIT.  *Might be spoilery*

The story spends the first 400 pages of the book explaining this forbidden romance of unrequited love.

Page 405 rolls around and BAM! New love interest is introduced, Character A thinks about moving on.

Page 412: Turns out the Character A’s old love interest actually reciprocates the feelings of Character A and now they have to hide their feelings so that the new romance can blossom, but there is major jealousy.

Setting up a Love Triangle (of sorts).

Page 456: The end.

unimpressed viola davis GIF


Overall, this book was just not what I had hoped it would be. I wanted super epic fantasy, with characters you could really connect to and a plot that twisted and turned this way and that deceiving the readers left and right. But no. Instead I got a really basic, flat fantasy. The potential was there, but the execution was poor. SORRY.

Rating: 2 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Personally, no. Not worth it.

Let me know what you think! Have you read this book? What did you think? If you enjoyed it, what do you theorize might happen in book 2? (Garner my interest, mayhaps I will read it). Have you ever been severely disappointed by a book?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

read

Wildcard | Review

Greetings readers!

You know that feeling you get when you finish a series and you’re in total denial that the series is actually over. Yeah. Here I am. In that exact state. I have things to say and I’m going to say them down below, so keep scrolling!

Wildcard by Marie Lu

Wildcard (Warcross, #2)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: Sept 18th, 2018
Price: $24.99 CAD
ISBN: 9780399548017

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?


BUY IT!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


*Let me take a moment to praise the beautiful people at Penguin Teen Canada who sent me a finished copy! Thank you! I don’t know what I did to deserve this much love, but I think I did something good.*

It’s no secret that I harbour a great love for Marie. She was one of the first YA authors that I actually read out of my own violation and not because everyone was reading her (Yeah, I’m talking about Suzanne Collins and THG) Since the beginning of my teen years, I knew how much Marie liked to rip her readers hearts out at the end. So heading into Wildcard, I braced myself for the worst and well Marie did things.

What I Liked:

Characters:

Emika: WHAT A GODDESS. I don’t even know where to begin. After the events of Warcross Emi–and the readers for that matter–are left in a major moral dilemma. We kind of question how the heck we move on from here? Emika is still reeling from Hideo’s betrayal and is having a tough time balancing her calls from Zero too. Basically she is in a mess, is herself quite a mess and I love her ever so dearly. LIKE SHE IS A MESS. But I love her! *shrugs* Her courage to face each day, to keep reciting her father’s mantra (“Every locked door has a key.”) even when she felt that it was wrong. Her growth from Warcross is incredibly well done and she has such an inspiring monologue to go along with it, so I won’t leave any spoils here. Emi is flawed main character, no doubt, but one who is willing to go that extra mile even when it shouldn’t concern her. She is truly spectacular.

Zero: How very interesting. I won’t spoil anything about who he is, but all I can say is I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. Okay. I held out hope, however futile it may have been.

Hideo: Flawed, most definitely. Hideo also goes through some change in this book. It is his evolution into seeing how far his grief has taken him and how incredibly wrong his actions were despite his intentions being good. He is a man of warring emotions and goals, while he wants to do good his reasons behind it are selfish and his actions are corrupt. And he is swoony. So he is definitely a mix of good and bad, but which in the end will prevail?

Other characters…secondary characters from book one, like Hammie, Asher, Roshan and Tremaine all make a great come back! We delve deeper into some of their backgrounds and they are really essential to helping Emi in her quests and just being great friends in general. Then there are new people!! And boy oh boy do they take us for quite a spin!

The Intensity and Action:

Gosh it was only the third chapter and everything was already going wrong!!! Marie Lu really kept a fast-paced sequel. Poor Emika hardly ever got a breather. From beginning to end, this book is a race. Who will get what information first? Who will learn who’s plan in hopes of getting an advantage? Who is in the lead and who is desperately far behind? It’s a roller coaster of events and emotions. There is betrayal left, right and center. There are twists coming at you from all angles. It was an incredible RUSH.

The Plot & Writing:

I think Marie did a really good job in crafting the continuation of Emika’s journey. After all the turmoil that she put her characters through in Warcross, she followed it up by adding more information, more revelations that really helped piece together this intricate story line. It was not exactly what I expected, which I liked. As for her writing, I am always a fan. It was not too showy or too slangy, but a nice blend. It was clear and descriptive and so easy to follow, which is perfect when your trying to connect so many dots together!

The Romance:

Swoon. We really get more than one romance. Roshan and Tremaine get to be all adorable in the midst of all the action. Seriously, though: *heart eyes everywhere*

Then there is Hideo, Emika and a yacht and I screamed.

Swoon again.

What I Disliked:

Yeah I have a bone to pick. Ummm the ending…….was just not enough for me. I mean I liked how it ended…but it just lacked the drama I hoped for. I don’t want to say too much in case of spoilers…but I will warn you the following is SPOILER-Y-ISH-NOT-REALLY-BUT-STILL.

Read at your own discretion. Potential mild spoiler ahead. 

No tragedy…where is the tragedy!?!?!?!:

Here I am, the fool complaining that there was no tragedy in the book. Well..can you blame me? Marie is known to give sad and heart-wrenching finales. I expected as much from this book, but the final scenes were super light. Which I’m not complaining about, what I am complaining about is that there was no intense moment where I just wanted to break down out of rage/shock/sadness….it went as follows: action, action, action, intensity, intensity, intensity, mellow mellow, light end. Apparently, I was hoping for tragedy. (Even through plenty of sad things happen before hand!!!!)


Overall, I am in denial that this series is over. This book was such a rush. With the perfect action, the much needed suspense, the swoon worthy romance and a final snippet that warmed my heart. I am not ready to let go of Emi, she has so much ahead of her and I couldn’t be more proud. I feel like a proud mom, oh wow.

Rating:  4 / 5 stars

Recommend: MARIE LU IS MY IDOL, I RECOMMEND ALL OF HER WORK!

Let me know what you think! How excited are you for Wildcard? If you have read it, what were your thoughts? Are you a general fan of Marie Lu?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

read

Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery ~ Blog Tour | Review, A Funny Clip & Giveaway!!

Greetings readers!

Welcome to my stop of the OPEN MIC NIGHT AT WESTMINSTER CEMETERY Blog Tour!! I would like to thank the lovely people at Thomas Allen & Son for inviting me to be a part of the tour. This was a book I really enjoyed, and I am glad I get to share it with the rest of you!

Be sure to keep scrolling after my review for a chance to win a copy of the book!

OPEN MIC NIGHT AT WESTMINSTER CEMETERY
by Mary Amato

Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab (CAN: Thomas Allen & Son)
Pub Date: Sept 1st, 2018
Price: $24.99
ISBN: 9781512465310
Goodreads Link

When Lacy wakes up dead in Westminster Cemetery, final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe, she’s confused. It’s the job of Sam, a young soldier who died in 1865, to teach her the rules of the afterlife and to warn her about Suppression—a punishment worse than death. Lacy desperately wants to leave the cemetery and find out how she died, but every soul is obligated to perform a job. Given the task of providing entertainment, Lacy proposes an open mic, which becomes a chance for the cemetery’s residents to express themselves. But Lacy is in for another shock when surprising and long-buried truths begin to emerge.


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com


REVIEW

This book was a pleasant surprise for me. I have never read anything like it. Everything about it was engrossing, from the characters to the plot to the poetry. And what makes it even better is that it’s perfect for the oncoming Halloween season!

What I Liked:

Characters:

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. They were so many personalities that made this novel/play so much more fun to read. The MC, Lacy, was quite the character! As a newly dead person to be buried in none other than Edgar Allen Poe’s cemetery, she has to come to turns with her death and her new “life” as a wandering soul. Of course her welcoming committee are not that prepared for her bold persona and modern ways since they all died before the 21st century. Lacy’s bravado and her love of poetry brought out the best and worst in the other souls. I liked her a lot. She was not flawless and had this bite to her that I loved!

Her secondary characters were quite lovely too. From Sam to Mrs. Steele to the famous poet himself who makes an appearance, they all tie quite nicely together and make for some good drama and fun! They all may be old and have more conservative views of the world but I loved that *most* of them embraced Lacy and her new, modern ways!

The Atmosphere:

It was perfect. It was cold, dusky and dark setting. The author paints it perfectly with the stage directions that she gives. The cemetery, like the book, although very dark was  full of life and yet so eerie. It always went along with the mood, when characters were distraught or even happy! I just loved the cemetery setting so much!

The Writing:

I have never read a novel play. I mean of course I have read plays, but never like this. It was a mix of the two. Where I would still get those descriptive paragraphs but the stage directions and dialogue were all formatted as how a play would be. The writing was smooth and very comical. The narrator, who we don’t actually know, sometimes interrupts the story which I enjoyed. It served to give a quick backstory, which was sometimes much needed.

The Plot:

The direction of the story was great. It’s not only Lacy’s journey to accepting her death, but the journey of each soul in the cemetery. The subplots were intertwined with the main story very well, I especially loved how they all finally came tied together through the open mic towards the end of the story. The story is easy to follow, fast to get through and quite entertaining. It not only discusses coming to terms with death, but it revolves heavily around forgiveness and learning to accept past mistakes. It held many beautiful messages which I loved.

I’m not the biggest expert on Edgar Allen Poe so I cannot say how much influence or how many references there were to his work! But his character was great!

There was some romance, which I was not too focused on, but it was cute. It definitely serves for the suspense element and our dear narrator likes to remind us of it often. The ship was still very much, very cute and I loved them.

The ending was beautiful.

What I Disliked:

I’m not exactly sure why this is not a five star read. I mean it did have its boring moments, and there was this part where I found it to be a little repetitive. I think I would have to knock off a star for that. I also feel like it could have been perhaps a little more twisty, some things were very predictable and I would have liked a bigger air of mystery.

And maybe I would have liked to see more from Mr. Poe himself. He didn’t need to outshine Lacy, he just needed a little more oomph to his character.


Overall, I enjoyed this book. It has an excellent cast of characters, poetry that makes you nod your head, confessions that make give you all the feels and a stunning ending. It is a tale of heartbreak and forgiveness, but it still has its moments of comedy. I thought it was lovely!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars!

Recommend: To all my poetry lovers and then some! Yes!

ABOUT MARY AMATO

Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s and YA book author, songwriter, and poet who lives in Maryland. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, and produced onstage.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Goodreads

MY FAVOURITE COMEDIC SKETCH

As part of the tour each blogger will post a clip of their favourite stand up or sketch to pay tribute to the dramatic arts element to the book. I love stand up and sketches! (Although not all are always appropriate for book blogs, if you know what I mean) But sometimes there are those gems that you have to share!

This sketch is a little old, but still  very relevant and not to mention HILARIOUS.

*cackling* I just can’t *wipes eyes from laughter*

GIVEAWAY!

Now it’s your chance to WIN the book!

One winner will receive 1 copy of Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery (HC) by Mary Amato.

Giveaway Details:

– Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)

Giveaway ends on Thursday Oct. 4 th at 11:59 pm EST

– Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize

ENTER HERE!!!



Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Do you enjoy reading plays and/or poetry? Which are your favourite? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz