Daughters of Ruin

Daughters of RuinDaughters of Ruin by K.D. Castner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series: N/A (sadly it seems to be a stand alone)

This review contains NO spoilers.

Meet rumor with quiet, treason with cunning, and vicious with vicious.

Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren have lived together since they were children. They are called sisters. They are not. They are called equals. They are not. They are princesses. And they are enemies.

A brutal war ravaged their kingdoms, and Rhea’s father was the victor. As a gesture of peace, King Declan brought the daughters of his rivals to live under his protection—and his ever-watchful eye.

For ten years they have trained together as diplomats and warriors, raised to accept their thrones and unite their kingdoms in peace. But there is no peace among sisters, and all plans shatter when the palace is attacked. As their intended future lies in ashes, Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren must decide where their loyalties lie: to their nations, or to each other.

Alliances shift and the consequences are deadly in this stunning fantasy debut from K. D. Castner.

First off, I just have to say how much better this was than I expected.

I picked it up because it sounded mildly interesting, and like something that I wouldn’t really mind reading a little bit of, not because I thought it was going to be phenomenal (lets be real, the plot sounds kind of weird), but man, did it exceed my expectations.

You never know what’s going to happen next, and you never grow bored. The POV is constantly switching between the four sisters, and there is more than one storyline that is explored as it works its way toward the main climax.

Characters

The characters are one of the strongest parts of this, because they’re all so diverse. Unlike many YA books, each character is allowed to change and grow, instead of just one central character getting all the attention. Everyone has their own motivations, and no character does what you’re expecting them to.

Rhea

I felt as though Rhea was the sister I cared about the most, and that may be because she certainly got more attention from the author (she also seemed to have it pretty rough, more than she got credit for at least) and her POV scenes were usually some of the best.

Cadis

I really liked her. I could see why people hated her (particularly during the Rhea POV scenes) and it almost made her struggles that much more relatable.

Suki

Suki’s scenes are some of the most interestingly written I’ve ever seen in a book. I won’t spoil too much, but she’s completely insane and you can tell that just from her POV. Some other reviewers described it as jarring, but to me it fit perfectly.

Iren

Iren was a character that I always knew was up to something, but in a way that it made me want to keep reading about her. She’s quite incredible, and might be my second favorite of the sisters.

Overall

The worst thing about this book, is that I don’t think theres going to be a sequel. So if cliffhanger endings with no hope of resolution aren’t for you, you may want to put this aside and move onto the next book. However, if that’s your thing, or you just like a good action – adventure book with some fantasy elements, then I highly recommend this.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre:
Publisher:
Series: Book 8 of Harry Potter

Here is the review that I promised in my post about the Harry Potter Release Party!

There will be spoilers, but they will be down at the very bottom and under a read more (if you see the photo of me on the floor and you don’t want to see spoilers, then its time to turn back)!

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

As I said before: I actually liked this more than I thought that I would. Yes I know a lot of people have been saying “it read like fanfiction” and, while they’re not wrong, it would have been hard for it not to have for a variety of reasons:

  1. There is so much fanfic of Harry Potter that basically every possible plot has been explored at least twice.
  2. It kinda was? JK Rowling wasn’t the only author, so her co-authors basically were writing fanfic and then getting it okayed by her.
  3. Its not the old Harry Potter and it never will be. Nothing will ever again capture the magic like the first 7 books.
  4. The fans have very high expectations. Very high. Like, impossible to achieve high.

 

Complaints

  • I can, without spoiling anything, tell you that Teddy Lupin and Hagrid are not in this book and that is completely unacceptable.
  • I wish it were an actual book, rather than a play (of course, it would need to be like, at least three books to cover everything).
  • It was definitely fan-service.
  • Its slow to get moving; a large portion of the first bit of the book is just Harry and Albus complaining about their lives.

Overall

When I finished this book I literally feel off the couch and laid on the floor (pics below because it did happen and I can prove it). There were just so many feelings welling up inside me that I don’t really know what to do. The first thing I want to do is read it again, and then I’ll be able to tell you a bit more about how it made me feel.

If you like Harry Potter – and you’re not one of those people who think “she should just stop writing” which I’ve covered here – then this is definitely worth reading.

img_5249

Spoilers

Continue reading “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Release Party

Did any of you go to a Potter Party? How was it?

This is not a review! So don’t worry about seeing any spoilers. I put a short blurb down at the bottom about some basic thoughts on the book, but KEEP THE SECRETS. I will have a full review up in a few days though, and it will have spoilers. If you want spoilers see this buzzfeed post.


img_5216Of course I went to a Harry Potter Release Party. What else would I do with my life? Certainly nothing productive, not when there’s Harry Potter on the line. Seriously though, I’ve been to more Harry Potter parties than I can count, and each and everyone of them was a blast.

Since I knew I would be at the release party from about 8pm until well after midnight I opted for comfortable clothes rather than a full on cosplay – although I do have a Rowena Ravenclaw cosplay, but don’t worry, it makes an appearance later – and made myself a pair of Spectrospects and wore my “Quidditch Tryouts” shirt and my Diadem necklace.

img_5221The party was at my local Barnes and Noble and I arrived just as it was starting. There were a lot of people I knew there – and they were all nice people! Isn’t that good! – and I had a lot of fun waiting on midnight to roll around and goofing off. I did some art (shown right), but mostly I just looked at all the fantastic cosplays and did a lot of fangirling.

Yes I did stay all the way until midnight to get the book, although, I didn’t stay up all night reading it (I did wake up at 8am to read, however). It was totally worth it.

img_5272The next mornting – on the 31st – I met my friend, who couldn’t make it out at midnight, at the same Barnes and Noble for another Potter Party. It was supposed to be an entire day of chatting about Harry (and the play for those of us who had read it) and doing fun games and activities. What it was was a few young kids who probably hadn’t been allowed out the night before and leftover activities from the party. And I – as Rowena Ravenclaw – was the only one in costume!! I had some fun photos taken as Rowen anyway. I may even fix up that costume (I dug it out of my closet), find a brown wig, and make a better diadem and use it for Halloween. I will almost certainly wear it to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which I plan to attend at midnight.

I’m very glad I got it at midnight, because by 1pm (when I was there a second time) they had sold out. Below are some photos of my night, a short (spoiler free!) review of the book, and my social media posts.

 

The Play

I promised no spoilers, so that’s what you’ll get. What I can say is that it was better than I expected considering how mixed the reviews were. Yes there are parts of it that read “like fanfiction” but at this point there is so much fanfiction out there that you couldn’t NOT have some element of it in there. There are also a lot more cameos from classic Potter characters than you’re expecting (and the reason you’ve not seen any photos of them in costume is that it would give away a lot of the plot of the play) and yes some of them will make you cry. Even characters who didn’t have a cameo were mentioned (very dangerous drinking game: take a drink every time a member of Harry’s class at Hogwarts is mentioned or shows up).

Overall I loved it, and I’ll have a lot more up soon.

Social Media

Continue reading “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Release Party”

Dualed

Dualed (Dualed, #1)Dualed by Elsie Chapman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Dystopian, Scifi
Publisher: Random House
Series: Book one of Dualed

There are no spoilers in this review.

I was sent this by the publisher a while ago, but that has in no way impacted my opinion.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, Dystopia is not up my alley. That being said, I actually liked Dualed, enough that I may be tempted to go out and get the sequel one of these days.

Its an interesting concept, killing your ‘alt’ that certainly takes Survival of the Fittest very seriously. I’m just not sure how realistic it is, how desperate people must have been to agree that they all need to be murders, and to risk having children that will either grow up to murder or be murdered.

One of my biggest problems with it is the same as my problems with Me Before You: its predictable. Either because the title of hte second book gives something away, or because there is a second (or third) book at all gives something away.

Overall

If you like Dystopian you should definitely read this. Its a very different book, I’ve never read anything like it even within the dystopian genre.

If dystopia isn’t your favorite genre (like me!) you may still want to read this, because its so unique. I know my biggest complain with the dystopian genre is the predictability and reused storylines, and yes this is another ‘fight to the death’ storyline, but its not a typical one.

The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm (Katerina, #1)The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, YA
Series: Katerina Trilioy
Purchase: Book Depository

There are no spoilers in this book review.

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe’s royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina’s strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar’s standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina’s help to safeguard Russia, even if he’s repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

This is really an alternate history or historical fantasy. The author simply took Russian legends, myths, and fairytales and said “wait, what if all of these were real? And what if it was set during the Industrial period?” Its the time of Faberge and Tchaikowsky and Tostoy, where Russia is becoming a player on the European scene, and culture flows freely between Moscow and the west.

It was a breath of fresh air, Russian folk lore is so different than the England centric mindset that most books are written in, and it played so well into the changes that were happening. It wasn’t very much earlier that Russia was completely isolated from the outside world.

I think my one complaint is how confusing things could get. I kept forgetting who was related to whom, and what girl went with which family, and how many kinds of “creatures” there were, and who had what power. It was written by someone who seemed to know a lot about what she was writing about, but unfortunately I think sometimes she also forgot that her readers are not as knowledgeable.

There were a couple of cringe worthy moments, some things that just could not have happened that way, and a lot of dumb luck on the characters part, but overall its good. Even the love triangle wasn’t that bad, although, it was a bit predictable (aren’t they all?) and played on the “bad boys as sexy” stereotype.

Characters

Katerina: I’ve seen complaints that she was ‘boring’ and, for the most part, I disagree. She had her moments, and she’s not the strongest main character that was ever written (but she’s a whole lot better than most!)

Pyotr: I’m gonna be real, the only reason I remembered Katerina’s brother’s name was because its one letter away from the name of my favorite X-Man (Piotr Rasputin). He wasn’t very memorable, but he care deeply about his sister.

Alix: There’s a plot twist with her that I won’t spoil, but I’m not suer what I think about it. She didn’t show up as a character after we heard about the twist, so I can’t wait to see where its taken in book two.

Prince Danilo: My opinion of him is that he reminds me of a beetle and not in a good way. I would certainly not describe him as “dashing,” perhaps “slimy” would be more apt.

George Alexandrovich: I have a bit of a love hate relationship with this character. He’s stubborn (in his defense, he cares about his country) and rude to Katerina at times, but then again, he does help her (and then do a complete personality flop and fall madly in love with her).

Overall

Its a good book, and I really did love it. As soon as I finished it, at about 1am mind, I put the next book in the series on hold at the library (thankfully there’s no waiting list).

If you like historical fiction or fantasy – or the animated Anastasia film – I think you’ll really love The Gathering Storm.

Expiration Day

Expiration DayExpiration Day by William Campbell Powell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Dystopian, Scifi
Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: None

There are no spoilers in this review. 

This was sent to me (a long time ago, mind you) by the publisher. This has not impacted my review.

What happens when you turn eighteen and there are no more tomorrows?
It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction….

Tania Deeley has always been told that she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.

Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania’s life are not real?

Driven by the need to understand what sets teknoids apart from their human counterparts, Tania begins to seek answers. But time is running out. For everyone knows that on their eighteenth “birthdays,” teknoids must be returned to Oxted—never to be heard from again.

I will confess that when I first saw this book I thought, “Ugh, another dystopian novel” and kept putting it off. I finally picked it up, got oh-so hooked, and finished it in a day. The writing style from the beginning is funny and witty and I found myself invested in the main character, Tania.

Parts of the book were a bit creepy, what with not knowing which of the kids were real and which were fake, and just the idea of robot kids is a bit distressing to me. But at the same time its a great look into

Characters

Tania: The narrator and main character, who narrates the book to her diary as if she’s writing for an alien in the future. She’s pretty sure that she’s one of the last real children on Earth, because people have mysteriously become infertile. Couples who want children but can’t have them get creepily realistic robot children known as Tekniods. Tekniods are so real that people don’t always realize they’re fake – until they have to return to the factory around their 18th birthday. Understandably, this world has a high divorce rate right around the time people’s children reach 18 and tragically ‘die.’

Ginger Mop aka John: is another kid that Tania is pretty sure is real. He’s a hacker, fighting back against the government who’s hiding things from the people. He helps Tania learn to do that as well, and helps her find herself.

Siân: Tania’s best friend, is a little obnoxious, but that may be because she’s a suspected fake robot child. She has a heart though, and doesn’t abandon Tania even after a major metaphorical bombshell is dropped. She had me happy crying before page fifty.

Overall

This is one of the best dystopian books I’ve ever read, and thats coming from someone who doesn’t even like that genre. Any fan of Dystopia/Sci-Fi should definitely pick this up.

A warning though, if you don’t appreciate good Shakespearian and Mythology references this may not be the book for you. Prior knowledge is not essential, and Tania would make a good teacher.

Just Ella

Just Ella (The Palace Chronicles, #1)Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Series: Book one of The Palace Chronicles
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Purchase: Book Depository

This review contains no spoilers.

This was published as a part of my Alphabet Books Goal.

You’ve heard the fairy tale: a glass slipper, Prince Charming, happily ever after…Welcome to reality: royal genealogy lessons, needlepoint, acting like “a proper lady,” and—worst of all—a prince who is not the least bit interesting, and certainly not charming.

As soon-to-be princess Ella deals with her new-found status, she comes to realize she is not “your majesty” material. But breaking off a royal engagement is no easy feat, especially when you’re crushing on another boy in the palace… For Ella to escape, it will take intelligence, determination, and spunk—and no ladylike behavior allowed.

This is interesting because it doesn’t take place when most Cinderella stories do. Most cover the death of Cinderella’s parents, the awful step family, the fairy godmother, the ball, and then they live happily ever after. However, the majority of this book doesn’t start until the ‘happily ever after’ does, and it shows that maybe its not so happy after all. The rest, including the ball and how she didn’t really have a fairy godmother, just a lot of skill and determination, is shown through flashbacks.

Ella – not cinder-ella, mind you – is forced to learn to be a princess, which above all means learning to let others take of her, an odd turn for a former servant. She’s uncomfortable with the cushy life that was provided for her just because of her looks, after all, the prince doesn’t know her enough to be ‘in love’ with her. At the same time she starts to see the loopholes in the governing system: the court drama, the public opinion, and the idea that leaders are born not made or chosen.

Overall

Cinderella is a book about the fallacy of ‘true love’ and ‘love at first sight’ years before Frozen and Maleficent made it cool. Its a story about a girl who fought hard for what she wanted, only to realize that maybe what she wanted was a whole lot simpler than she imagined.

Any lover of adventure and fairytale retellings should pick up this book, no matter what their age.