Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Release Day Blitz: The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

I am so excited that THE ROSE & THE DAGGER by Renée Ahdieh releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Renée Ahdieh, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a paperback of THE WRATH & THE DAWN and a hardcover of THE ROSE & THE DAGGER and an awesome candle from The Melting Library’s Etsy Store, US Only!  So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

 Title: The Rose & the Dagger
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 432
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as "a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance."
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

Praise for The Rose and the Dagger:

“Above all there is the shattering, triumphant catharsis of love… In a story about stories, love is ‘the power to speak without words.’ Thrillingly full of feeling.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Fiery romance, a spirited heroine, shifting loyalties… With more than a few heartrending twists and turns.”—Booklist 


About the author:

Renée lives in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with her husband Victor and their dog Mushu. Her YA fantasy novel, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, will be published on May 12th, 2015. In her spare time, she likes to cook, dance salsa, and wreak havoc on the lives of her characters.

She’s also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Find Renée on:

Monday, 25 April 2016

Review: Warrior Witch by Danielle L. Jensen

Title: Warrior Witch (The Malediction Trilogy #3)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Release date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Angry Robot
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 328
Source: NetGalley

The thrilling conclusion to the breakout Malediction Trilogy by Goodreads Choice finalist Danielle L. Jensen.

Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.

Warrior Witch is the conclusion to the trilogy, and while it was definitely intriguing with surprising twists, I did have a few issues with it. I was definitely glad to see Cécile stepping up and actually doing things, although she could have done a lot more. Regardless, it was quite a thrilling book overall!

The curse on the trolls has been lifted, and they are now on their way aboveground, to Trianon. Roland, Tristan's twisted brother, needs to kill him so he can be the only heir, and since Roland is still under Angouleme's control, it's clear who the real enemy is. But to defeat Angouleme, Tristan may have to ally with the one person he's always been against - his father.

Cécile and Tristan are apart for a lot of this book as well, which disappointed me since they were apart for most of the previous book too. This time, it's because they both have important jobs to do in different areas, and Tristan can't really leave the palace for certain reasons. And even when the two are together, they're mostly arguing or debating on what the best course of action is. Where is the chemistry we saw in Hidden Huntress? It seemed to have disappeared in this book, unfortunately.

I liked the fact that Cécile began to act like a leader and make her own decisions. Yes, some of them didn't pan out well at all, but she took the initiative to do something, which is commendable. I wish she could've done more with her powers, though. She's supposed to be an incredibly powerful witch, and yet we barely see her using those powers.

It took me a while to get into this book, because the first third was really slow-paced. It was all talk, no action, and I really don't like excessive discussion about battle strategies and politics and whatnot all laid out in text for us to read. So I did end up skimming parts of it. But after a while, the plot starts to pick up and things start happening. Lots of things! The Winter Queen and Summer King in particular were characters I was really intrigued by.

I don't want to say much about the ending, but it was definitely unexpected. And quite bittersweet - more bitter than sweet, actually. I just really didn't see it coming, and I don't know if it was the right choice for the author to make. You'll see what I mean when you get to it. If you've read either of the previous books in this trilogy, I definitely encourage you to continue on and pick up this one. Warrior Witch is packed with a lot of plot info but also lots of action and suspense and little snippets of romance, too.

*Thank you to Angry Robot for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Review: The Hunt by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Hunt (The Cage #2)
Author: Megan Shepherd

Release date: May 24th 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Format: eARC
Pages: 284

Source: Edelweiss

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

I enjoyed this one a lot more than The Cage - the characters have more depth, the plot is advancing, and though the book mostly seemed like a set-up for the final book, I found myself really engrossed in it. I read it all in one sitting since the length is perfect and there's always something happening, something that makes you want to turn the page.

The Hunt picks up where the previous book left off, so Cora, Lucky and Mali are in the clutches of the Kindred again, placed in a different habitat than Nok and Rolf. Leon, in his freedom, finds a place with the Mosca. Cora's job isn't too terrible - she's a singer in a bar. Lucky takes care of the animals being hunted, and Mali is a guide in the safari. Though they have different jobs, the three of them team up to figure out how they're going to get out of there, and get the other humans out too. To do this, Cora needs to find it in herself to trust Cassian again after he betrayed her, or at least pretend to. She also has to deal with figuring out her newfound perceptive abilities, a.k.a. telekinesis and telepathy, and decide whether to take part in the Gauntlet to save humankind. Yes, that's a lot riding on her shoulders, but ultimately she's the only one who can make the decision.

I have to say I really enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book. I know we met and got to know them in The Cage, but there the place messed with their minds and twisted them until they were utterly unlikeable. In this, we get to see who they really are. And I've got to say my favourite is Lucky. I still cannot accept how he acted in the previous book but then again, they weren't really his actions. We get to see the real Lucky here, and he's a kind, brave, and compassionate guy. Good-hearted, strong, willful... someone who really shouldn't be there amongst all that twisted hate.

I did like Cora too, and sympathized with her a lot due to her situation. She doesn't deserve to have the fate of all humanity resting on her shoulders! She's tough, though, and we see that in this book. I liked her interactions with Cassian especially, because though she tries to hate him, she really can't. Cassian cares so much for her, even loves her, and Cora would have to be blind not to see that.

Speaking of Cassian, I wish we'd got to see more of him uncloaked, because that's when we see his emotions. Otherwise, he's mostly a blank mask. Okay fine, even uncloaked he's hard to read, so basically I just want to know more about him. He's done a lot of things he regrets, but I think he more than makes up for them in this book, especially towards the end.

I found myself liking Leon a lot - mostly because he finds a moral code within himself that clearly he didn't know he had. And he definitely lightens the mood of the book, which is pretty dark because of everything that's happening. There is so much danger at every turn, and so much suspense! Rolf and Nok, I'm kind of unsure about. They're better in this book, but they still really annoy me. I'm definitely curious to see how Nok's pregnancy pans out, though.

The plot is a lot darker, with some pretty messed up things happening, especially on Cora's side. The animals, the humans, everything about the Hunt. And some new characters who are particularly creepy. There are a lot of plot twists too, some I saw coming and some I didn't, so thankfully the book wasn't predictable. I don't want to say much about the ending, but, well, it was cruel! And with a huge cliffhanger, too. After an explosive concluding chapters, I was eager for the final book anyway, but the ending just makes me want it even more. For those of you who read The Cage and felt a bit iffy about it, you need to pick up this sequel - trust me. You won't regret it.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Review: The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

Title: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1)
Author: Evelyn Skye
Release date: May 17th 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 339

Source: Edelweiss

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

Aaaahhh, this book! I'm still not over how amazing it is. It was even better than what I expected, which is saying something because I already had high expectations based on the premise and synopsis. Also, this beauty is Evelyn Skye's debut novel, which blows my mind! I'm so, so impressed by this.

The Crown's Game is set in 19th century Russia. I'm quite fascinated by Russian history, and though most of my knowledge is from around and after the Bolshevik Revolution, it's clear that several aspects of this book are historically accurate. Reading this made me feel like I was right there in Imperial Russia! The writing is phenomenal, and the descriptions beautiful. I haven't read any YA books so deeply embedded in Russian history, so I really loved this one.

Vika is an enchanter-in-training, living with her father on a small island away from the city. Vika has been told by her father her whole life that she will one day become the Imperial Enchanter, and so she needs to be strong enough to protect the tsar. But her life is turned upside down when she discovers that there is, in fact, another enchanter. It is exceedingly rare to have two in the same generation, but Vika and Nikolai are both enchanters prepared to do whatever it takes to become the Imperial Enchanter. They have to take part in the Crown's Game, a series of magical battles ending with the death of one enchanter, thereby declaring a winner. But can either of the young enchanters actually find it in them to kill the other? Well, it doesn't really matter because they don't have a choice.

I have so much to say about this book. But I'll start with the characters. I adored all three of them! Vika is easy to like, and she's powerful as hell. I loved seeing her perform her magic to impress the tsar. She's wild and bold and quite terrifying at times, but she can also be kind and gentle, and she cares so much for her father and the people she's grown up around.

Nikolai was another fantastic character. The book is told in third person and we get his perspective too, thankfully. He, unlike Vika, has known that there was another enchanter, and so he's more prepared. But his power is different from Vika's, and he has to learn to use his strengths against hers. Nikolai was difficult to figure out at first - he's kind of an enigma. We get to know more about him later on, though, and I'm now fascinated by him. He begins to fall for Vika soon into the Game, and it was heartbreaking to see him torn between his feelings for her and his desire to win the Game.

I was surprised by how quickly the two of them got with the program regarding the Game - the competition as well as the trying to kill the opponent thing. Vika especially - she didn't seem like the type to do that. The two of them have five turns, and with each turn (at least in the beginning), they would attempt to get rid of the other. It was amusing, in a sense, but also kind of weird because the darkness didn't feel like part of their characters. But I loved that we got to see them use magic, and also exactly how they used it. In so many YA fantasies, the plots are focused on the journey or the romance or politics of some sort, and that bothers me because it's fantasy, can we please see some magic? Well, in this book, we see magic - lots of it! It's incredible, and I just drank it all in.

Another very important character I forgot to mention - Pasha! He's the tsarevich, the heir to the throne. And also Nikolai's best friend. The two of them hang out in the city at night (Pasha having snuck out of the palace in disguise), and they share everything. Well, almost everything. Pasha has no idea about the Game or that Nikolai is an enchanter, but they both know Vika and they both fall for her. I really loved Pasha, especially midway through the book. He's sweet and kind and adventurous, and I loved that he's nothing like his father or his sister. Also, I sympathized with him a lot, since his father and his best friend are hiding something so big from him, and even Vika is involved, but Pasha's kept in the dark. I won't say any more about him, because spoilers. I really really want to, though! Sigh.

There are so many twists and turns and shocks in this book! I almost couldn't keep up. I had no idea when any of them would pop up, so this really was a roller coaster of a book. The Game was intense, and there are things happening outside the game as well that are huge. And then there's the constant conflicting feelings between Vika and Nikolai. Romance isn't a big part of the plot - in fact, it's barely existent. But there's definitely romantic tension, and don't worry - no love triangle. Not in my eyes, anyway. Vika and Nikolai are clearly drawn to one another, and not just because of their magic. It's interesting to see how that worked out considering they're pitted against each other from the moment they officially met.

Okay I'll stop now, but let me tell you this - if you miss out on reading this book, you will regret it. I promise you that. The Crown's Game is one of my favourite YA books not just this year, but ever. And though that cruel, cruel cliffhanger of an ending just about killed me, I still urge everyone to read it. Evelyn Skye has done a fantastic job with this book, and I'm already desperate to get the sequel in my hands.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Cover Reveal: Unknown by Wendy Higgins

Wendy Higgins, one of my favourite YA authors, is delving into NA apocalyptic fiction with Unknown! I'm so so excited about this book already, just from the beautiful cover and the description.

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technological communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have. 

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

Release date: 16th August 2016

Wendy has uploaded a few unedited preview chapters of Unknown on Wattpad, you can check them out here!

About the author:

Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology The Great Hunt, and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue. 
Wendy earned a bachelor's in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University. 

Find Wendy on:

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Title: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)
Author: Susan Dennard
Release date: January 14th 2016
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: ARC
Pages: 412

Source: Pansing

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Truthwitch is such a refreshing change from the trend of reused plots that have taken over a lot of YA fiction these days. It follows two witches, Safiya and Iseult, who have different strengths and powers, and use them as they see fit. I loved the fast-paced plot after the beginning few chapters, and I really grew to like the main characters we meet.

There are several different kinds of witches in this book, Safiya being a Truthwitch and Iseult a Threadwitch. Safiya can discern when people are lying, and Iseult can gauge people's emotions. The two are Threadsisters, connected by a bond that I can't really describe, but the closest thing to it would be parabatai from The Mortal Instruments series. The two are on the run after getting into trouble with a Guildmaster, and they find themselves in Venaza City, trying to escape the Bloodwitch after them. Which is where they meet Merik, and Safiya is made to become the noblewoman that she is.

Safiya and Iseult are from very different backgrounds, so it was interesting to see how well they connected with each other despite their differences. Safi is the Domna of Cartorra, while Iseult is from the Nomasti tribe, looked down upon by everyone around her. The two are separated for quite a bit of this book, and I think that helped a lot for them to figure out who they are.

I adored Safiya! She's smart and resourceful and badass, and I loved that she never gave up on anything. Her constant verbal and physical confrontations with Merik were a source of great amusement in this book. I cannot wait to read more about her in the next! Iseult on the other hand is more difficult to figure out. I preferred Safiya's POV, so I guess that's why I focused less on Iseult. But I do hope we find out more about her in the next.

There are four different POVs in the book - Safiya, Iseult, Merik and Aeduan. Merik is the prince of Nobrevna and also the captain of a ship, and Aeduan is the Bloodwitch who's after the Threadsisters. I loved both the male POVs, they were so starkly different, and really interesting. Merik is an awesome character, and though he did things I didn't condone, I understood them. He cares about his crew and his people more than anything else in the world, and he'll do anything to make sure they stay safe. Aeduan is kind of a mystery, and I was so intrigued by him throughout. I need to know his story! I hope we get to find that out soon.

There isn't much romance in this book, not really. Trust me when I say Safiya and Merik did not get along at all for most of the novel. Safiya was a burden on Merik since he had to transport her safely to a port in order to participate in a trade contract with Cartorra. And he really needs that contract, for his people. The two of them practically hated each other for a while! And I didn't like the way Merik treated her in some parts. But it was amazing to see Safiya slowly beginning to understand him, to empathize with him. And seeing them fall for each other was so incredibly sweet. I can't say whether their romance will be a big deal later on either, because regardless of his feelings, Merik would still put his crew and people first.

I realize I haven't said much at all about the plot, and I don't want to. There's a lot that happens, and I don't want to give anything away. There is so much suspense, though. And action, and intrigue, and I really couldn't put this book down. I read it all in one sitting, which is saying something since it's pretty long! There really was never a dull moment in it.

I was satisfied with the climax and the ending, and there were things I didn't see coming. I'm eager to see how Dennard explores some of the big revelations she made here in the next book. Truthwitch was a great beginning to this series, and I urge all you fantasy/paranormal lovers to pick it up!

*Thank you to Sasha from Pansing for sending me an ARC for review*

Rating: 4/5