Review: The Young Elites #1, The Young Elites by Marie Lu

23343223Blurb from Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

ebook, 368 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Penguin
edition language: English
series: The Young Elites
genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

My Thoughts

This is it! I’ve decided that Marie Lu is one of my favorite authors now. From now on, I will read all of her books in the future. No matter whether I’m rich or broke I’ll buy her books and read it, of course 🙂

So this book is the one that helped me realize that Marie Lu is indeed an awesome author. Not that I didn’t realize it with her Legend series, I just didn’t instantly “believe” her. Although I was impressed with Legend series, there were also things I didn’t quite like, especially in book 1, Legend. But now, I can’t help not to put her in my favorite author shelf.

I love every single thing in this book. There is no, not even one single moment that feel boring, annoying or out of place. It’s perfect.

It’s fast-pace. I couldn’t put it down till I finish it. The story draws me instantly. But to be honest, at first I was kinda skeptical since Marie Lu said the story is like a combination of X-Men and Game of Thrones (at least that’s her goal). For some weird reason I don’t like when a story is described and/or label with another story. It makes me compare each other and makes me think that they are similar. First part of the book, where Adelina discovers her power and her initiation with The Young Elites, I cannot help not to compare it to X-Men. To be honest, for a second I even think that this is another X-Men wannabe while my last X-Men-ish story was an epic fail for me. But I kept reading it because other elements in the story work for me.

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Worldbuilding is one of those elements. I love it. There is something magical and eerie in the way Marie Lu describes Kenettra. And it was easy for me to be there in the story. The story itself is (sort of) unpredictable with twists I really liked, though in a way it also kinda break my heart.

As a story with a bunch of people who have power, of course this book has awesome characters. Their power is different from each other, some more powerful and more handy than others. One thing for sure, I really liked them all. Enzo, Raffaele, Dante, Gemma, Lucent, Michel, Violetta, even Teran. They have their own role and play it well. And not one of them is really good or truly bad. I guess that’s why I really liked them.

But it’s Adelina that I love most. She’s badass, but she’s also unpredictable with her dark side. She’s a heroine and at the same time she’s also a villain. These sides bring the best and the worse of her. I just couldn’t tell which side of her I love most since they intertwine each other, though in some part I didn’t like her dark side while at the same time I also understand that she has it and has to embrace it. I think she’s a complex character. And that what makes her stronger and quite different from other heroines I’ve read.

I’m sure there are still so many things to tell by Adelina as this is just the beginning of her journey. I can’t wait to experience it with her till the end.

Result: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: Throne of Glass #2, Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

18846563Blurb from Goodreads

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Kindle Edition, 433 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens (first published August 15th 2013)
edition language: English
series: Throne of Glass
genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
So I didn’t quite enjoy Throne of Glass and almost put this book on hold if not because of my friend who keeps telling me that she really loves it. Now I just want to give applause to Sarah J. Maas for this awesome sequel. This is for you, Ms. Maas.
This sequel is like the opposite of its prequel. Things that quite bother me in Throne of Glass turn out differently into something that I loved.

For one thing, Celeana doesn’t think and care much about clothes and stuff as she did in Throne of Glass. Well…she’s still mention what dress she wears and all but it isn’t her main focus anymore. She certainly doesn’t talk much about it here. She knows and set her priority clear now. And for that I’m so glad because it makes me see her as a notorious assassin, (again) a stuff I couldn’t buy in book 1.

“She came through the fog, no more than a sliver of darkness. She didn’t run—she just walked with that insufferable swagger. […]Still she approached, and the sword at her back whined as she drew it. The moonlight glinted off the long blade.”

She also doesn’t crave people recognition as Adarlan’s no. 1 assassin anymore. I can see she’s as good as she claims without she keeps telling me about it. This time she talks less but does more.

Thus, it makes the story so engaging. I didn’t feel bored at all. It can make me glue to the story and couldn’t stop reading it. There are so many things happen and so much emotions I feel when I read it. It’s also quite unpredictable, though I bet you can guess some part if you really pay attention to the story.

“Believe me, Celaena,” he snarled, his eyes flashing, “I know you can look after yourself. But I worry because I care. Gods help me, I know I shouldn’t, but I do. So I will always tell you to be careful, because I will always care what happens.”
And the romance, how I love Celaena and Chaol relationship and yes, I also love her friendship with Dorian. I can’t help not to swoon over them. The feels, it’s all there. Although the romance has bigger part than book 1, it doesn’t take the main focus of what this book about. It intertwines with the whole story nicely.

All in all, this is one of the best books I read this year. I just can’t wait for Heir of Fire now!

Note: Is there anyone who also thinks that Ms. Maas (might be) inspired by the lord of the rings (both books and movie)? There are scenes that quite remind me of LOTR while I read this book.
Result: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: Legend #3, Champion by Marie Lu

14290364Blurb from Goodreads

He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

ebook, 274 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
edition language: English
series: Legend
genre: Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult

My Thoughts

What a journey I had with this series! I know you might think that I’m way late gushing over this book now. I intentionally didn’t read Legend as soon as it released. And all the hype and glorious rating couldn’t bring me pick it up soon, not until the series completed and my trusted friends “forced” me to read it. When I finished Legend, there was a teeny tiny part of me that thought maybe this series wasn’t for me. Legend put me on minority side among most of readers. I felt like there are things that I just couldn’t buy. But I really like the idea and the flow of the story so I picked Prodigy instantly, which is way better than its prequel. After that, I couldn’t help not to read Champion back to back.

As the battle changes its target, the story is also slightly changes. There is more political talking, bargaining power and military tactic than in its prequel. And it might not have as much action scenes as Legend and Prodigy. I think there are two to three action scenes. But somehow this book is more eerie and sent goose bumps and made my heart beat faster than when I read Legend and Prodigy. There is something haunting when I read the blaring signal to seek cover scene or how frustrated the characters to figure out the cure for the virus. For me, the bioweapon war more fearful than army weapon war. Those are more frightening me more than high explosions, gun shooting and jumping around kind of scenes.

There are so many things happen in this book, just like so many things happen in the Republic and June and Day relationship. And so much emotions in it, but is not a happy one. I didn’t feel happy or joy or glad in most of the story, it mostly sad feeling and depressing. Marie Lu pushes her characters beyond their physical and emotional strength. Yet, there is also hope in June and Day story. And the way they tell their story really drained my emotion.

At the end of the story, it’s just bittersweet for me. I’m glad it’s over, the characters don’t have to struggle anymore but it isn’t easy either. Now, I can say that this is one of my favorite books. Champion IS a champion of the series.

Result: 5 out of 5

Review: The Malediction Trilogy #1, Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

17926775Blurb from Goodread

For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy…

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

ebook, 324 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Strange Chemistry
language edition: English
series: The Malediction Trilogy
genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
Although I can’t wait to read this book, there’s a part of me that doubt it will be good. As the blurb says, it’s about troll while the troll I know is the kind that turn to stone under the sun, the ugly creature who loves to boil human, the one like Tom, Bert and William from The Hobbit. So I was kind of wondering how will Danielle Jensen creates it into something good, nice, if not pretty creature without being too romanticized it. Tristan, the troll prince, says the troll I know is just human made-up, a myth that far from reality. Through his voice, along with Cécile, a human girl and the main character in this story, I believe that that is true.

It’s been a while since I read a fantasy book that feel like it takes place in and/or part of this world history. Most of fantasy books I read these days seem so far away from our time. Yeah I know that’s why it’s called fantasy but it also feels nice when I read fantasy that I feel like it’s a part of human history. A story I can relate too. Reading this book bring those feeling. The troll world with their knowledge of solar system, earthquake, and all make it close to the world I know. Hence I feel like Cecile and Tristan story is a part of our world, a history that can be read and relate to. It might sound weird, but I like that feeling.

As the main characters, Cécile and Tristan are easy to love and connect with. Tristan, the heir of Trollus has different perspective of his world from his father. It leads him into rebellion. Through Cecile’s eyes, I get that he’s perfect and swoon worthy. He is indeed perfect but it’s Cecile that makes me keep reading this book. She doesn’t have strength or magic like troll, easy to bleed and needs time to heal. She’s fragile compare to troll. She’s human. But to me she’s strong and brave. She refuses to be helpless and useless. Aside them, I also love supporting characters. Tristan friends, the twin Vincent and Victoria, I never get bored reading their antics. Marc, I love him I want him to have his own happy ending and Anais, she’s surprising me through and through. I even like reading Zoe and Elise and other half-blood.

I don’t think this book can begin and end better than what already has. The beginning makes me curious of the story. It draws me to read more, to know and understand the characters and their story while the ending makes sense, believable and left me wanting more. It also begins and ends with action. I think I can say that this book is full of action and tension, at least that’s what I feel. It’s fast-paced, though the pace is a little bit slower in the middle of the story. But it isn’t a problem for me because that’s where I learn more about Tristan world and their political intrigue. It doesn’t mean there isn’t anything happened in the middle of the story, though. I assure you, there are a lot of things happened, some predictable, some aren’t. One thing for sure there is always tension in it.

All in all, I love this book. Everything in it is perfect. And should I say that it’s well written with beautiful-magical worldbuilding and doesn’t have an insta-love or I-feel-like-I-know-you-forever-and-can’t-live-without-you kind of line? For me, it couldn’t be more perfect.

Result: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

18052957Blurb from Goodreads

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

ebook, 352 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
language edition: English
series: Cruel Beauty Universe
genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
My Thoughts
So this book has a very pretty cover, one of the most beautiful cover in YA books I’ve ever read. Seriously, I feel like I can’t stop staring at it. It also has intriguing title and blurb that scream to me to read it. Add it with Beauty and the Beast retelling and from what I read on other reviews, it also has Greek mythology. I so love Greek mythology but most of YA books with Greek mythology didn’t work well for me or only has a little bit of it. With all of those good things, it seems too good to be true for me. That’s why at first I was kind of hesitated to read this book.First couple of chapters were quite surprising me, in a not-so-good way. I was confused with many things in this book. The worldbuilding and setting, it was hard for me to imagine it. It was quite complicated world I have to read carefully to understand and then picture it in my mind. Add it with the words choice that the author used. I found that there were unfamiliar vocabularies (at least for me) here and since English is not my first language, in a way I have limited vocabulary, I have to keep looking at the dictionary to know what it means. I also didn’t know and never heard of Hermetic which is one of the important thing in this book. So I have to rely on Google to know what it is. Long short story, I was confused!

On the other hand, the characters captivated me since they were introduced. I felt sorry for Nyx, the main character in this book, mad to her father, her aunt and her twin sister Astraia, and couldn’t believe how come her father has a heart to sacrifice her to the demon lord to pay his bargain. And I was so curious of the demon lord himself, Ignifex.The more I read, more curious I become. Hence, it was easier for me to read it once I got the main picture. And then my confusion turned into curiosity that kept me reading it. Since it’s a retelling I can guess where the story will go. But I also keep wondering and questioning whether my guesses were right and all the while the what, why and how keep swirling in my head. And I just love that feeling when I keep questioning and wondering the story I read. In some part it made me forget that it is a retelling. I felt this is a refreshing story, an unoriginal yet feel original story, if you know what I mean. And there is also one thing that I love from this book, Greek mythology as subplot.

So here I got Beauty and the Beast retelling blended perfectly with Greek mythology, though I have to say it also has so much more. In first part of the story, it was quite slow since Nyx needs to describe her world and its complexity but it’s written beautifully I can’t help to not love it. I’m glad I give this book a try because in the end I love love love it. After 23 books, I finally found my first five-stars worthy reading for this year!
Favorite quotes:
“Love—the kind that was holy to Aphrodite—was not something I had ever allowed myself to think about much. If you desired someone, if he comforted you, if you thought he might leech the poison out of your heart, was that love? Or only desperation?”
“Where you go, I shall go; where you die, I shall die, and there will I be buried.”
“They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense.
But now I knew that every mad word was true.”
“Knowing the truth is not always a kindness.”
Result: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: Thompson Sisters #3, The Last Hour by Charles Sheehan-Miles

17156406Blurb from Goodreads

Twenty-seven year old Carrie Thompson-Sherman has the life she always wanted: her PhD, a prestigious fellowship, and an amazing husband.

Her life begins to unravel as a jealous colleague puts her fellowship in jeopardy and a haunting secret Ray Sherman carried home from Afghanistan comes to light.

Hounded by a federal investigation and the ensuing media feeding frenzy, Carrie and Ray desperately lean on each other, until a disastrous accident puts both Ray and her sister’s lives at risk.

In the last hour, Carrie and Ray will each find themselves faced with a choice.

A choice that will change everything.

Kindle Edition, 482 pages
Published April 19th 2013 by Cincinnatus Press (first published April 17th 2013)
edition language: English
series: Thompson Sisters
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
To be honest I don’t know whether I should hate Mr. Sheehan-Miles or love him for his writing in this book. It has a great opening story. One of the best opening stories I’ve ever read in NA contemporary romance book. I didn’t read reviews of this book to avoid the spoiler. I hate spoiler so I don’t know what Carrie and Ray story will be. I picked this book because of my love of The Thompson Sisters series. The opening story was surprised me because I tend to avoid this kind of story. I can say that it’s so close to me. In some way I’ve been in Carrie’s shoes. That’s why I have to put this book down for a while, a day or two, I think. Not because I didn’t like it but because I have to prepare myself to the feeling I had. And for that, it made this book more personal to me that I thought before. I think it’s such an incredible gift for a writer who can touch her/his readers with her/his story.
I love every.single.thing. in this book. I love how strong Carrie and Ray relationship was; love how they love, trust and hold each other; love their crazy family. I think it showed that nothing is perfect even when you feel perfect. Carry and Ray story wasn’t all rainbow and sunshine but it was still perfect in an imperfect way. But the most important was I love that this book has so much more stories, more than just about a love and relationship of two people who were falling in love.
As much as I love a happy ending, I’m glad Mr. Sheehan-Miles did what he wrote because I feel it was more reasonable and believable that way. It was sad but I think it was a bittersweet ending. I couldn’t ask for more that that.
Favorite quotes:
“And when you lie, you hurt this part of you. Cause then you’ve got secrets, and those will weigh you down until this part of you can’t even live any more. And what’s the point of walking around without this part of you? It’d be like walking around without a heart.”
“I know life is a struggle. I know…we don’t always get what we want. And in some ways I had everything I could ask for. A career I love. The best sisters in the world. And then I met you…and everything was…perfect. I thought I had my happy ending.”
Result: 5 of 5 stars

Review: Queen of the Realm of Faerie #3, The Dragon Carnivale by Heidi Garrett

17570539Blurb from Goodreads

Energies in the Enchanted World are shifting and new alliances are forming; the Battle of Dark and Light has begun. The half-faerie Melia is desperate to make things right with Ryder, the young priest from Idonne, but first she must warn the halfbloods in the Mortal World that Umbra is coming for them, and face the powerful Dragonwitch and her spectacular Dragon Carnivale.

The Queen of the Realm of Faerie is a five-book series inspired by the 14th century French fairy tale, Melusine. The final books Half-Mortal (#4) and War & Grace (#5) will be released in 2014.

ebook,
Published June 18th 2013 by Half-Faerie Publishing
edition language: English
series: Queen of the Realm of Faerie
genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Thoughts
An engaging story. Checked.
This is the continuation of Melia’s journey she takes it directly from book 2, Flower of Isbelline. She and Tatou travel back to Illialei to find Uncle Raffles. But few chapters in the beginning of the story kind of annoyed me. I feel like the author betrayed me because I do hope Melia meet him without incident. Her journey never easy, I just wish that even if only once, she gets what she wants easily. So, when she *SPOILER* couldn’t meet Uncle Raffles and instead trapped in Princess Lilliane’s black magic *END of SPOILER* I feel her journey to Illialei is useless. But then I realize in one way, her journey is supposed to be never easy, she has a huge responsibility to the Enchanted World and it’s kind of prepare her. I also realize those few chapters are the way the author introduced Princess Lilliane who, apparently, has an important role in the story. As the story goes, there are many different things happen at the same time. Some of it needs more attention from me to understand it, other part are what I wish will happen to the characters. But, I can never guess where the story goes. It’s like when I prepare myself to read one thing, another different thing happens. Including what happen with Ryder. He’s so foolish I want to scream at him and ask him why he lets it happen, not after the similar thing happened in Flower of Isbelline. I think I need time to forgive him even if he has good reason to do what he did and Melia and other understand his action. With all of things happen in Melia’s journey, one thing for sure I can’t stop reading until I finished it and the surprises make the story better. I love the feeling when I can’t guess it even when it kind of irritated me and I want to scream to the characters 😀
Lovable characters. Checked.

Melia, Flora, Tatou, Ryder, Uncle Raffles, Sinjiin even Umbra, Sevondi, Princess Lilliane and other characters are have different perspective seeing the same thing. All of them are have their own virtue and vice. They have their own flaws and reasons. Therefore, I see them equal, thing that I didn’t see in Nandana’s Mark and Flower of Isbelline. Umbra can be the bad guy in The Enchanted World from some of characters eyes but for another he is the vassel to rebalance The Enchanted World, as strange as it is, I can understand it. That’s why I love them all but my favorite of course Melia and Flora. Love Flora for her witty-wisdom-sarcastic spring faerie attitude and Melia because she has so much on her shoulder but finally accepts it and willing to take the risk. Her training with Flora, Uncle Raffles, Sinjiin and Tatou is a great way for her acceptance but I think she began her training from the beginning of the story, when she met the siren, Calista and Bertille. I especially love this scene because I can relate it.

Beautifully written. Checked.

I already fall in love with the world building from book one but here, with many different things happen at the same time, I more realize the complexity of The Enchanted World. Each place well describe and it’s beautifully written.

Result: 5 of 5 stars