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Blog Tour: True Born Trilogy by L.E. Sterling (True Born Review)

About the Book

True Born by L.E. Sterling

Published on May 3rd, 2016

Published by Entangled Teen

Genre: YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

Summary:

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood. 

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Review

My rating: purple3

Hi again! Hope everyone is having a good week so far! In honour of the latest instalment of the True Born trilogy, True North, I’m here to review the first book itself! I’ve just finished reading True Born by L.E. Sterling, and even though I liked it overall, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It actually took me a while to finish it compared to most books I read, so maybe it had to do with that. However, I think my view of the characters and the way the exposition was handled had a lot to do with me liking the novel as well.

For instance, other than a handful of characters, I don’t think that anyone made a great impression on me throughout the novel. And that even includes our protagonist, Lucy. At times, I barely tolerated her, but there were a few moments where she caught my attention. Other than that, I also had a problem with her speech patterns because it was all over the place. Sometimes, Lucy would go from using prim and proper speech to talking regularly or in slang. And this isn’t just to different people, but in her thoughts as well. If she had stuck to one lane or the other, it would have been okay with me. But the mix in her dialogue and narrative was a bit jarring to read.

As for the exposition, while I know it’s needed for readers to gain context of the story’s world, at times it could be a bit too much, dumping information when readers could have been eased in. It felt odd at times, too, even random at one point. It’s probably why I was so slow reading this book in the beginning, because by the end of the novel, it was more fast-paced and easier to read.

The thing I liked about this book though was its world building. While the exposition surrounding Lucy and her sister Margot’s history wasn’t the greatest, the mythology surrounding the city of Dominion with a mix of science and magic was really cool. I liked seeing how that all fit together. That and learning about the Fox sisters’ puzzling DNA mystery was what made this book easier to read. It kept me going, wanting to know what would happen to them as well as what was happening to them. Overall, the book’s world building slightly redeemed the story, in my eyes.

Well, that’s all I have to say about True Born by L.E. Sterling. While I’ve got to admit that it wasn’t my favourites, it did hold an interesting appeal in terms of the world created between those pages. Hopefully this just sets the stage for book two! 😉 If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to share them in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading, everybody!

–  Sumaya

About the Author

I was a voracious devotee of sci-fi and fantasy novels all through my childhood, so I suppose it doesn’t come as much of a shock that I’ve returned to the genre with a vengeance.

For a while I turned my back on the genre in favour of ‘high-brow’ literary texts. Ironically, it was my doctoral degree that saw me circling back. There’s something about the way postmodern literature plays with the arcane that had me utterly fascinated, and it wasn’t long until I fell headlong back into my old ways and haven’t looked back since.

My first novel, which isn’t in the Urban Fantasy or Fantasy genres, isn’t high literature, mind you, even if it tangles with some serious statements about politics and the way our western world runs. My editor described it as something between Charles Dickens and The Catcher in the Rye: Serious Fun, in other words.

My second novel, Pluto’s Gate, is where I’ve come home to myself: it’s a contemporary retelling of the Demeter-Persephone-Pluto story from Greek mythology. Folded into the mix is a Shaman-in-training, a magical book, Underworld Gods, a world covered in ice, a three-headed dog, and one lousy ex-boyfriend.

But I’ll tell you this much: I believe in the power of words and stories to transform our inner worlds. Whether the characters be vampires or vagabonds, a good narrative sucker punches so-called reality anyhow.

Author links: Website|Goodreads|Twitter

Excerpt

Read the first 6 chapters HERE

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Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

My rating:

blue4-copy

(3.75 stars)

Hello again! I’m back with another review and this one’s on Caraval by Stephanie Garber. It focuses on Scarlett, whose trapped under her father’s tyrannical rule along with her sister Tella, and has been waiting for her upcoming nuptials to escape him. Then, one day, she receives an special invitation to attend Caraval, a spectacular performance of a game where the audience has to participate in a contest in order to get the prize . This year’s prize is a wish, but in order for the participant to win the wish, they have to find the target of the game. This target turns out to be Tella, who is spirited away as soon as they reached the site of Caraval. Now, Scarlett, with the help of a rakish sailor,  must find her sister without being swept away by the magic that is Caraval.

This book is sure full of twists and turns! Throughout it all, I kept on second guessing the intentions of everyone in the book, including Scarlett. I had so many farfetched theories about Caraval – and still do! My main problem with this book though was with the instalove between our romantic pairing. This is just my bias, but I don’t like how they fell in love after knowing each other for such a short period of time. Especially when there’s an unfair disadvantage of one person knowing more about the other. It just rubbed me the wrong way, but that’s just my opinion on it… Also, I got kind of bored of it at times, and I’d notice myself skimming near the end, until that epilogue turned it around.

Scarlett herself is an interesting character, and I say that without any sarcasm. You can tell she has the potential to be an amazing heroine but limits herself in the beginning to the standards set by her father. Granted, anyone in her situation, shouldering responsibility for herself and her sister, would probably react the same way. So it was understandable that Scarlett just wanted to play things safe, even though she had that spark of adventure in her. She tempered that away in order to protect herself and sister from her father’s cruelty. There is an immense development within the book where Scarlett starts thinking more of what she wants in life rather than just wanting protection from her father or being a protector for her sister. Tella, on the other hand, remains a bit one dimensional. Mostly because it’s not in her perspective so we get Scarlett’s limited view of her. Also, I don’t see much of Tella since she is essentially kidnapped, so I never really got to know her as well as Scarlett. And from what I do know, it’s kind of off-putting. But then that epilogue made me more intrigued in Tella, so there’s that.  Overall, I loved the idea of the story centred around two sisters, but to be honest, it was more focused on Scarlett. Maybe the next book will be Tella-centric?

Well, that’s all I have to say about Caraval by Stephanie Garber. While it was a good read, it wasn’t as great as I anticipated. Have any of you read Caraval? What did you think of it? If you have any thoughts on Caraval, please leave them in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

My rating: green4

(4.25 stars)

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, everyone! Another day, another review! I’m really excited for today’s review since it’s on A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi!  A Crown of Wishes is the companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen and focuses on Gauri, Maya’s sister. In it, she has to compete in the Tournament of Wishes with a partner in order to obtain a wish to save her kingdom. Her partner turns out to be Vikram, a prince from an enemy kingdom who wants to be an actual leader to his people rather than just a puppet king. Along the way, they learn more about themselves- and each other- in a month’s time than they did in years. I’ll admit, I was mainly excited about this book because of how much I liked The Star-Touched Queen and was interested in what Roshani Chokshi wrote next. I wasn’t heavily invested in what happened to Gauri after the events of The Star-Touched Queen until I read A Crown of Wishes, where Roshani Chokshi made me fall in love with Gauri and a number of other characters as well!

Where to begin… How about  at the beginning and the fact that I loved it! During the first quarter of the book,  I was thinking to myself,”Five stars, five stars, five stars!” The writing quality was outstanding and very realistic (which was a slight problem when it came to food 😀 ), whether it was on imagery, recaps or a character’s thoughts and feelings. I think I take the writing style of a book for granted sometimes, but I could not ignore the stunning writing in this book that made it all the more enjoyable. 😉 I also really liked the set-up and how our main characters entered The Tournament of Wishes. The story flowed from there and to all the adventures they had along the way until they reached their destination in the Otherworld. Along the way, we’re given more information about the Otherworld as our protagonists travel to Kubera’s, the Lord of Treasures, Court and to the Tournament. If you’ve read my previous reviews on fantastic novels, you’d know that I’m  interested in the world-building and myth surrounding the novel just as much as the plot. I really enjoyed A Crown of Wishes’ world-building, not only because we’re already a bit familiar with some otherworldly beings, but so are our main characters. They might not know everything about the Otherworld, but they’ve learned enough to go by without flailing around about what to do. I think that’s my favourite type of fantasy, more immersive than portal quest.

What I loved most about this book though was that it was really consistent. The overarching theme was how dangerous desire was and you could see that in almost every section of the book. That makes the story even more awesome because the supposed goal is that they obtain a wish from Kubera’s tournament. What they learn while competing in the Tournament has the ability to change their whole perspective from what it once was. Then there was an emphasis all throughout the book about the importance of stories, how immortal and fluid they are, ever changing after multiple tellings. As a reader, I fully support the importance of stories and was glad to see that in here. 🙂

While there were some parts of the book where I got bored or didn’t fully grasp, especially at the end, I enjoyed reading A Crown of Wishes and thought that it was on the same level as The Star-Touched Queen, maybe even better since it got me interested from the getgo whereas The Star-Touched Queen was a bit slow in the beginning. Well, that’s all I have to say about A Crown of Wishes. If you liked The Star-Touched Queen, then you should go ahead and add this book to your TBR pile! 😉 If you have any thoughts or questions on A Crown of Wishes or The Star-Touched Queen, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. A Crown of Wishes comes out on March 28th, 2017 for those who are interested! Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

My rating: black4.png

Hey, everyone! Just finished Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake and I cannot wait to share my thoughts on it. It surrounds the magical island of Fennbirn and the triplet girls who are born to a queen every generation. Instead of a typical succession of age, once the triplets girls reach sixteen, these girls have to fight to the death in order to prove themselves worthy of the crown. At first, I was reading it more as part of the Book of the Month for a Goodreads group, even though I had it on my Fall TBR. I just thought that it would encourage me to read it even if I tire from it. But I’m glad that that wasn’t the case because I really enjoyed reading this novel!

While the plot itself did move pretty slowly, to the point where it was sometimes almost standstill, I think that it kind of makes sense. Since this is a trilogy having to do with the battle between these three sisters, the only way this would happen is that the plot was stretched out for as long as possible. I think that the author did the best she could in that case, by having lots of perspectives- not just of the sisters, but anyone connected to the sisters, for their own stories. And while the main story might have been slow, the book shows how the crowning affects everyone in the book. And it was really rewarding to read on only to find my theories about characters to be correct! 😉

The characters were incredibly interesting as well! I loved all three sisters and just wanted the best for them, maybe in the form of breaking whatever binds them to the island. I particularly enjoyed reading Arsinoe’s perspective but liked Mirabella’s and Katharine’s, too. Although, sometimes Katharine’s perspective doesn’t seem believable to me. Especially when she talks to Pietyr… Also, the additional characters like Jules, Joseph, and Billy only add to the story! It got me thinking about the people who are connected to the queen not merely as side characters, but characters of their own merit!

That’s all I have to say about Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake for now. If you enjoy reading books that are more character driven than plot, then I certainly recommend this book! Any comments or questions are welcome in the Comments section below. Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

My rating: green4

Hey, everybody! I just finished The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima and I’m kind of sad to say that… I should have read this book a long time ago! It was really good! The Demon King follows the perspective of Princess Raisa and Han Alister, a reformed thief. Both these characters battle the limited amount of choices their positions put them in and from them, readers get to see different perspectives of Fellsmarch (the capital) in order  to get the whole picture of what is going on in the queendom of the Fells.

At first, I felt like I couldn’t get into it. I was immensely bored and almost wouldn’t have continued reading the book. But after struggling for a few chapters, I finally got in the zone and started speed reading like nobody’s business! 😉 I really liked how Cinda Williams Chima chose to reveal certain pieces of information and even use the perspectives of our main characters by complimenting them in order to advance the story. Even though their stories do not seem as interconnected at first, it’s nice to see how the perpectives slide from one character to the other without ruining the story. In fact, in some cases, it’s such a smooth transition between their stories that it works out great! It’s just that as I got to the ending, I was more interested in what was happening and may have been guilty of skimming a couple of pages in order to find out… 😀

I was really impressed by Raisa, and not just by her character: stubborn, caring and a warrior at heart. What I was really impressed by was the fact that Raisa admits she has flaws. After reading The Great Hunt where the princess was pretty bland and proper in everything, it was nice to read someone who was more critical of herself and her surroundings. It’s also a plus that her time away from court helped her learn different skills other than the ones forced upon her by her mother, Queen Marianna as well as society. I just wish she listened to her instincts more!

And then there was Han! He was a real treat to read and I couldn’t help but get excited every time I’d get to his POV. He just has a certain charm about him, you know?  It’s not just Raisa that gets to be more complex than the average princess stereotype, but Han as well. Han is in between so many things during the book. He doesn’t want to cause trouble, but trouble seems to follow him no matter what. He wishes to be able and stay with his friends in the clan camp, but he also has a duty to his mother and sister as well. He’s more than what he seems and I can’t wait to see his development in the future!

That’s all I have to say about The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. As much as would like to marathon this series (since I have The Exiled Queen ready at hand), I also really want to read another book! How about you? What are you reading this Friday? Hope it’s a great book! If you have any thoughts or questions about The Demon King feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Have a great weekend!

–  Sumaya

Review: The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

My rating: green3

(2.5 stars)

Hello, everyone! It’s review time again! Today’s review is on The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins, author of The Sweet Trilogy, which I loved btw! This book is actually a retelling of a Grimm brothers fairytale and is about a beast who terrorizes the land of Lochlanach. In order to motivate the men to kill it, the king gives away his daughter as a reward, as well as inheritance to the entire kingdom. Along comes a guy named Paxton, who wants nothing to do with royalty, thinking them as merciless and haughty,  merely wanting the beast gone. However, he is thoroughly surprised when he meets Princess Aerity, and a spark of interest ignites between them. When I heard that Wendy Higgins was writing a new book, I immediately added it to my TBR pile, just waiting to read it! But then all the other books on my TBR caught up to me, and so it took me a while to get to this book. Upon reading it, however, I felt differently towards this book.

There were some things I liked about it, though. What I liked about The Great Hunt was that it had an interesting mythology around the story. I was really invested in reading about the history rather than the present with the boring and predictable characters. When the Lashed Ones were mentioned, I always wanted to know more about them. It might have been one of the reason why I wasn’t interested in reading about Aerity’s royal life. That and the fact that I didn’t feel like she was doing anything worthwhile.

I mean, yeah, she was selfless enough to sacrifice her future for Eurona’s (the continent in which Lochlanach is located), but I don’t know if it’s the same as the hunters and people of Eurona who are sacrificing their own lives to hunt the beast. Everyone and their grandmother likes to mention Aerity’s sacrifice for the kingdom and how brave she is, but they rarely say anything about the hunters’ sacrifice. It just kind of irked me. Other than going on and on about her sadness or how she somehow liked somehow who held her in contempt, Aerity didn’t have much going on as a main character. Not that Paxton was much better as a love interest. Once the mystery surrounding him was revealed, I immediately grew disinterested in him, finding him way too prejudiced for my liking. Overall, I didn’t really like Aerity and Paxton’s story, but the other stories surrounding them.

That’s all I have to say about The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins. I don’t think I’d recommend reading this unless you are thoroughly interesting in reading a fairytale retelling of the Grimms brothers. If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

Shout Out to Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy!

So if you’ve read Cassandra Clare’s books, then you must have heard of her new series on our favourite geek, Simon Lewis. Writing alongside her are Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman, who are amazing authors as well. Simon’s story follows after City of Heavenly Fire and is about his time at Shadowhunter Academy, a place designed for Shadowhunters to learn. It’s also meant to prep mundanes like Simon for Ascension. So far six of the novellas have come out and they have been SUPERB! Every instalment leaves you wanting more.

How many of you who have read The Mortal Instrument series wondered, “What’s going to happen to Simon?” Is he going to pass Ascension? Does this mean he’ll be with Isabelle? What about his relationship with, well, everybody? From the series, we get some more info on Simon’s whereabouts, but we also get some stories from the past, including characters from The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments that Simon isn’t even aware of and is exclusively for us readers.

Simon is fun to read. Witty, an underdog and willing to stand up for what he believes in. He’s a lot like Clary (which is no surprise, seeing as they’re best friends), but a have few differences, like humour It’s nice to be reading it in a school setting as well, sort of like a Hogwarts for Shadowhunters. I like this series even better than The Bane Chronicles and hope that you all enjoy it, too! It’s the perfect remedy for a book hangover induced by The Mortal Instruments! If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest that you start reading it now. 😉

Shadowhunter Academy awaits you
Shadowhunter Academy awaits you

-Sumaya

My Thoughts on Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: pink3

Welcome back!

It’s been awhile since I read this (like this Wednesday). It took me a few days to process and think about what I liked and didn’t like. You know those books where you can rant for hours and hours, whether it was really good or bad? This one was neither, at least until I took the time to think about it. That’s when the ranting began.

First off, I just want to say that I was really excited to read this book. I won it on Freado and thought that it would be a great chance to finish the series. So when I started reading it, the book didn’t really disappoint. It continued right from the end of the second book and there was a lot of stuff happening in that chunk. It was only when a significant thing  concerning Layla and the boys happened that I didn’t enjoy the book as much anymore. After that, the book could have been done five seconds later and it wouldn’t have made a difference. And I hate those kinds of plots; it’s Into the Still Blue all over again! t wasn’t like they were looking for an answer or way to kill the Lilin. It could have died earlier on in the book, and everyone knew that. Even one of the secondary characters in the book indirectly points it out, by saying that Layla isn’t really doing anything at the moment to save the world, which I got to say is true. So that’s one reason I didn’t like the book.

Another main reason that this book wasn’t my favourite is how the author characterizes Layla. For instance, a lot of the time, Layla is described as dumb (by herself or others). I know that everyone has their dumb moments in novels (and IRL), but why would I want to read about a character who can’t think every five seconds? It really pissed me off at the end, where she could have used simple logic to figure out what someone was saying, but instead just stands there confused. I wanted to throttle the book (which wasn’t possible) and throw it across my room! Do we really have to read about characters that show no signs of intelligence (school smarts or street smarts) and be okay with that? I think not! It made me wonder, “Was Layla always like this?” Even the choice she made about the boys wasn’t instigated by her, but rather someone else.

The only plus side to reading Every Last Breath was the romance. She “chose” quickly in the book, which I liked because there was none of that tension that would have continued if she hadn’t done so. And they did look so cute together! Even though the romance could also be seen as a way to fill in for the plot, it was still sweet seeing all the milestones between Layla and her guy.

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What did you all think of Every Last Breath? Loved it? Hated it? Whatever you thought, I’d like to hear from you in the comments below. Keep reading, everyone!

-Sumaya

Which Cover Wednesday 2

Hello! It’s that time of week again: Which Cover Wednesday! Pick your favourite cover out of the two choices based on whether you like the art, how it compliments the book, etc.

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

7896527 or 16034235

To be honest, I find the first cover more fitting, even though the model for the second cover is now the acceptable art for the rest of the series (at least in English). The model of the first cover actually looks like Calaena, who has golden blonde hair and turquoise eyes (with gold rings in them), rather than the one in the second.

2. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

10756656 or 11594257

Again, it’s first cover for me. Even though the second cover has both protagonists on the main cover (which I like), the background has barely anything going on. And the models look kind of odd. Why are they floating?

3. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

1499517 or 10345824

First cover again! The second cover seems to be targeted towards children, with the cartoonish drawings (that are cute, btw). Also, the first one also looks like a diary, which suits it more.

4. The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J Smith

395922 or 6573775

Obviously, the second one gets my vote! I mean, seriously; look at those models! But I’ll admit, when I first read it, I was quite confused and thought that Stefan was Damon and vice versa. And to be fair, it’s these actors going against 90s cover art, which isn’t that much of a contest.  

5. Emerald Green by Kristen Gier

17343391 or 14759651

Yes to the second one! While I admit that the first one looks pretty with its intricate design, I find that the second one is more appealing to me, as it reveals the whole picture that isn’t shown on the first cover.

Have any thoughts on these covers? I would love to hear them in the comments below!

-Sumaya

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