Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

32768520Mirage by Somaiya Daud

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 320

Publication date: August 28th 2018

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Note: I received a free advanced copy of Mirage from Flatiron Books through NetGalley. 


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.


My Thoughts

Mirage is a wonderfully written story of rebellion, deceit, and slow-burn romance. If you liked The Diabolic or The Wrath and the Dawn, you will definitely love Mirage!

Amani’s world has been conquered by the cruel Vathek empire, and one day Amani is forced to become the secret body double to the Princess Maram. Mirage was such a delightful book to read. I could feel the tension and stress that Amani could as she tried to be a successful body double and impersonator. I was nearly holding my breath during every interaction she had.

One aspect of Mirage that impressed me most was the world building. Mirage, a sci-fi/fantasy novel, takes place in space, across different planets and their moons. Space is a very interesting setting, and it works well with the traditional aspects of Daud’s story.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Mirage is how complex the characters are. At first glance, Maram seems like the likely villain of the story, but overtime I came to sympathize for her. Stories with complex characters, where the lines between good and bad are blurred, are my favorite. The relationships are all complex and confusing at times. I especially enjoyed how realistic the romance was. There’s nothing like a love-at-first-sight story to make me immediately lose interest in a story. Daud wrote a lovely, slow-burn romance that was realistic.

In the end I gave Mirage four stars. I look forward to reading the second book in a couple years. The first book set the stage for what is sure to be an action packed trilogy!

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Now that we are a little over halfway through 2018, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and participate in the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag for the first time ever! This is the first bookish tag I have participate in on this blog, and I hope to do more in the future. This tag is all over the bookish community, but I took my questions from Korrina’s youtube video. Without further ado, lets get onto the questions!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2018.

I think I have to give this to Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This book was so much better than I ever expected it to be. I wrote a review where I basically just talk about how amazing this book is.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018.

Without a doubt the best sequel I’ve read this year is Legendary by Stephanie Garber. I’ve already read this book twice this year, and honestly I might end up reading it a third time. Sequels to books usually end up falling slightly flat for me, but Legendary is the exact opposite. It’s just as magical as Caraval. I have a review up that you can check out for my full thoughts.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh! This book just came out, but I cannot wait to continue Mariko’s story.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

This category is tie between Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas.

5. Biggest disappointment.

Ophelia by Lisa Klein was such a huge disappointment to me. This book had so much potential and it just fell flat. Read my full thoughts here.

6. Biggest surprise.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore! I fully went into this book expecting to not like it, but I was pleasantly surprised. I ended up giving this book 3.5 stars.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Once again, I can’t just pick one! This is a three-way-tie between Meagan Spooner, Alexandra Christo, and Sarah Glenn Marsh. Before reading Unearthed, I read Hunted by Meagan Spooner and was just blown away by her writing. To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo was such a great retelling, and I also really loved Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh. Plus I was able to meet all three of these authors earlier this year, and they were both so lovely and it just made me love them even more!

8. Newest fictional crush.

Definitely Cardan from The Cruel Prince. I can’t wait to see what happens to him in The Wicked King.

9. Newest favourite character.

After reading Caraval, Scarlett was definitely my favorite sister. When I heard that Legendary was going to be from Tella’s POV, I was disappointed because I wasn’t a huge fan of her. But boy did Legendary change my mind! I love Tella just as much as Scarlett, so this category has to go to Tella.

10. Book that made you cry.

I rarely cry when reading books, but this year I reread The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas and I think you all know when the tears started welling up.

11. Book that made you happy.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas. This was such a fun novella where all my favorite characters were just enjoying life and taking a much needed break from saving the world.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

There are so many! Off the top of my head I can think of Legendary (the UK and US edition), The Cruel Prince, the UK paperback of Caraval, and the 10th anniversary edition of City of Bones.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

One book I really want to read by the end of 2018 is Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I would also like to finally read the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo and to catch up on my Rick Riordan books!

14. Favourite Book Community Member

There is no way I could pick just one person, so this goes to everyone I follow on bookstagram! This is such a fun, respectful community of book lovers and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

ACOFASA Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 229

Publisher: Bloomsbury


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.


My Thoughts

I have heard lots of bad and disappointed reviews for this book. Personally, I did not have a problem with it. ACOFAS is a short novella. Its purpose is to bridge the gap between the first trilogy and the books to come. It is meant to give readers a glimpse into the lives of our favorite characters while they are enjoying their peaceful lives after the war. For me, ACOFAS did what it set out to. It was a short, fun read. I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters relaxing and having fun instead of fighting for their lives. I’m grateful that SJM even gave this book to us. Finally, I am excited for the books to come.

One of the critiques I have heard of ACOFAS is, “there is no plot”. I would beg to differ, and claim that the plot is simply just one of simplicity and happiness. Readers have grown so used to SJM’s extravagant plots centered around dire, life-threatening circumstances. ACOFAS is something entirely different. So no, there is no dramatic cliffhanger or plot twist, but does that mean there’s no plot? Nope.

Another criticism that really bothers me about this book that I have heard is that “the writing is lazy”. That is such a terrible judgement to make. Even if a book is not your favorite, saying the writing is ‘lazy’ is just an ineffective judgement. What do you mean by lazy? Are there lots of spelling and grammatical errors? Doubtful. Is the plot not up to your standards? I’ve already addressed this. Is the book just not what you were expecting? Were you hoping for more? If so, the book is just not living up to your expectations or it is just not your cup of tea. Does that make the writing lazy? I don’t think so.

Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions on books. But I think that ACOFAS is being labeled as a bad book simply because it is not what people were expecting. It especially bothers me when readers make judgements about an author’s writing. This is the story that SJM wanted to tell. Authors put so much work into writing their books. Calling the writing ‘lazy’ is a cheap way of expressing your frustration that the book is not what you want it to be.

 

Wrap-up: May 2018

Books I Read

  1. Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas
  2. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
  3. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
  4. Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

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Statistics

Pages read: 2,135 Longest book: 693 pages, Empire of Storms Shortest book: 229 pages, A Court of Frost and Starlight
Average rating: 4.75 stars Highest rated: All because SJM is my Queen Lowest rated: Not even a category this month

My Thoughts

In May I only read four books, but I have good reasons! My summer class started, which meant I was reading lots of articles and PDFs, etc. Plus, I started work at a new job so my days were basically wake up, do my homework and readings, go to class, work until late at night, come home and sleep, then do it all again. There wasn’t much time for fun reading, but I managed to squeeze some in!

Wrap-up: April 2018

Books I Read

  1. Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
  2. Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  4. Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat
  5. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  6. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas
  7. The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas

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Statistics

Pages read: 2,445 Longest book: 454 pages, Throne of Glass Shortest book: 148 pages, Annie John
Average rating: 4.2 stars Highest rated: 5 stars, basically every book by C.S. Pacat and Sarah J Maas Lowest rated: 2 stars, The God of Small Things

My Thoughts

April was a reread month for me (which you can tell by my average rating of 4.2). I reread the first two books in the Captive Prince Trilogy, then I started by reread of the Throne of Glass series in preparation of finally reading Tower of Dawn. This month for school I read Annie John and The God of Small Things. Annie John was enjoyable, but The God of Small Things is a book I just don’t get.

Wrap-up: March 2018

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Books I Read

  1. Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
  2. Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  3. Manga Classics: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  4. Childhood by Nathalie Sarraute
  5. Pig Tales by Marie Darrieussecq
  6. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
  7. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
  8. Dreams of Trespass by Fatima Mernissi
  9. King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes

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Statistics

Pages read: 2,480 Longest book: 416, Legendary Shortest book: 151, Pig Tales
Average rating: 3.5 stars Highest rated: 5 stars, Legendary Lowest rated: 2 stars, Childhood and Pig Tales

My Thoughts

March was a very good reading month for me! Of course I owe that to school though, because out of the nine books I read, five were for school. Plus, I really only disliked two of the books I read this month. Reign of the Fallen, Legendary, and To Kill A Kingdom were all great. I read my first Manga Classics and I really, really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read more! And thanks to school I read Dreams of Trespass, which was incredible. So enlightening and thoughtful. I also enjoyed The Woman Warrior and King Kong Theory, even though I did not agree with Despentes all the time.

Review: Sense and Sensibility (Manga Classics Edition) by Jane Austen

Manga Classics: Sense and SensibilityManga Classics: Sense and Sensibility by Stacy King, Po Tse, and Jane Austen

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 308

Publisher: Udon Entertainment

Note: I received a copy of this through NetGalley. 


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Impulsive Marianne Dashwood and cautious Elinor are as different as two sisters could be, yet both are shattered by their father’s sudden Death. Elinor’s attachment to the reserved Edward Ferrars is torn asunder by family opposition and his own dark secret, while Marianne’s brilliant romance with the dashing John Willoughby comes to a tumultuous end in a devastating public betrayal. Can the two sisters overcome these trials to find true, lasting happiness?

Jane Austen’s beloved first novel, filled with romance, redemption and social critique, is brought to life for a modern audience in this gorgeous manga-style adaptation!


My Thoughts

I was so excited when I saw this on NetGalley! I am a huge fan of manga and graphic novel adaptations of books. I think they are a great way to refresh your memory on a book you’ve already read, or a way to check out a book you’ve never read. Plus they have beautiful illustrations!

I have never read Sense and Sensibility, but I’ve always wanted to. I really enjoyed this manga version, so now I am feeling more motivated to read the actual book. Because I’ve never read the original version, I’m not sure how good a job the manga version did with capturing the plot and the essence of the story. However, I felt like the manga version in itself did a good job or getting me to like or dislike the characters, and I think it probably hit a lot of the major plot points.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful, so props to Po Tse! I especially loved the illustrations the Colonel and Mr. Willoughby. They were so handsome!

This was such a fun read. I will definitely be ordering copies of these manga classics to add to my collection, and I can’t wait to read more!

 

Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

33645809Legendary by Stephanie Garber

My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (5 stars)

Pages: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Note: I received an arc of Legendary from the publisher through NetGalley. 


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.


My Thoughts

I am going to do my best to review this without specific spoilers, but if you really, really don’t want any hints at all even to the general plot, then don’t read this review. This review is also going to be much longer than usual because I have so many thoughts on this book!

After finishing Legendary I had to keep repeating to myself: this isn’t real, it’s just a book, this isn’t real, it’s just a book, this isn’t real, it’s just a book. I felt like Scarlett and Tella trying to remind themselves that Caraval is only a game.

Before I started reading I was worried that Legendary would suffer from second-book-syndrome and be a let-down. I was also worried that I wouldn’t enjoy Legendary as much because it’s told from Tella’s POV, and it’s always scary to read from a new character’s POV. But literally five pages in I knew this book would be just as good as the first, and I loved Tella just as much as Scarlett. So I’m sure many of you are worried about the same things I was, but don’t be! Seriously, you will love this book.

Stephanie Garber’s writing in Legendary is just as beautiful as it is in Caraval. Her descriptions are so magical. She transports you into her novels and makes it so easy to imagine what’s happening. I read this on my Kindle and I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted so many favorite quotes as I did in Legendary.

The one thing I really want to talk about is the plot, but it’s hard without giving away major spoilers, but I will try! One part of Legendary that I really enjoyed was the history and background Garber gave on the world and its myths and folklore. It was such an interesting part of the story, and I loved seeing how it all played out. The point of this game of Caraval was for Tella to discover Legend’s true name. Let me just say that the journey to (possibly) getting there was insane and so stressful.

I have read so many wonderful books this year, but Legendary is by far my favorite. I give it a million stars, and I’m already planning on rereading the duology once Legendary is officially out. Also, I will end this review by saying what my final thought was when I finished the book: This can’t be last book can it? Let’s just say Stephanie Garber loves a cliffhanger…

Review: The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

29982722The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Pages: 576

Publisher: Tor

Note: I received a 193 page sample from the publisher through NetGalley.


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.

The king’s three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.


My Thoughts

The Queens of Innis Lear is a wonderful, beautifully written novel.

What most impressed me about this novel was the writing. Gratton’s writing is descriptive, mesmerizing, and magical. I felt like I was reading an old fairy tale.

When I saw how many different POV chapters there were in this book, I got worried that I wouldn’t like it. I tend to like one character’s chapter more than the others and that decreases my enjoyment of the book because I’m just rushing to get back to the POV I like. However, in The Queens of Innis Lear I enjoyed all the POVs. I empathize with and like all three of the sisters, Elia, Regan, and Gaela.

I also really enjoyed the mystery surrounding the world and the king. I felt so much anticipation while I was reading.

It’s hard to write a review based on only 193 pages, so once this book comes out I will definitely be purchasing a complete copy and writing a more in-depth review!

Review: Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Getting Ready for the NoVa Teen Book FestivalReign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 375

Publisher: Razorbill


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.


My Thoughts

First off, can we talk about how gorgeous this book cover is! I think it’s the prettiest book cover I’ve seen this year. I can’t wait to see what the next cover will be. I was only a few pages into this book when I knew I would like it. The writing was fun, and I like the way the characters were developed. I cared about them and became invested in the story very quickly.

One of the things I think is most fascinating about this book is the world. In Reign of the Fallen, the same king has been ruling for years because he keeps coming back from the dead in order to do so. He believes that all change is bad, so everything stays the same. Even though someone developed a cure to a black fever that kills people each year, the king wouldn’t allow it to be used because it would be a change. Pretty much everyone supports this changeless world. This made for a very interesting dynamic because I wasn’t really sure who to dislike. The villain wasn’t black and white, and I honestly I kind of supported him because I don’t really support a world without change if that change could help people.

I thought one of the weakest parts of the book was the plot. I don’t know if weak is the right word, but while reading I was able to predict pretty much everything that would happen. Spoilers ahead… I thought that Evander would die and I also guessed that Hadrian would be the bad guy pretty early on. So I guess it was predictable, but overall I still really enjoyed this book. I can’t wait to meet Sarah Glenn March and get my book signed at the NoVa Teen Book Festival!

 

“Those finished with life crave it less over time.”