Book Review: Dark Breaks the Dawn – Sara B. Larson

3:30am in the morning lets do this

how am i ever going to go on a day without feeling sleepy, and then waking up at night like a vampire because I’m probably one

Note that I have unfortunately made this review mildly spoilerish, but its really not if you know the story of Swan Lake well, and the fact that this is a Swan Lake retelling. You’re gonna be expecting one or two elements from the story you know to appear in the book either way.


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Name: Dark Breaks the Dawn
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release May 30, 2017

Synopsis

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.


Book Cover Comments

As you all know (or if not) this is a Swan Lake retelling, and we can see THE ONE AND ONLY symbol that represents the theme we have on the book cover: a swan. Surprise!

Just kidding.

After finishing the book, I see the significance of those red vines thorns whatever they are. And ooo this book IZZZ gonna thrill you.

And the stone plays an important part in the story!


The Actual Review

First impressions:

Is this book like, a heavy Sarah J. Maas influenced book? Cus all I see is:

  • conduit stone (ACOTAR check)
  • Lorcan (TOG check)
  • inner circle (ACOTAR check)
  • one or two plot points (CHECK)
  • spider silk (TOG check)

That kind of bugged me during my first reads at the book, but at the same time, this book was so attractive and so addictive, I couldn’t stop turning the pages and eventually lost track of time. And no, despite all the references that I believe are to be from SJM books, (or not?) the entire plot to Dark Breaks The Dawn was completely unique. I really loved this story. And I have to say, it was a haunting experience to read.

I’ll explain the “haunt” when I get to the end.

Evelayn, our heroine, super strong. I totally love her. She’s a really unique girl, because of how strong she can be. She fights down her tears, she puts up her stance and her status in front of her audience, and the bravery that she has is just absolutely stunning. Sara lets all of Evelayn’s emotions flow through the text, and that vulnerability that Evelayn has despite all of the chaos in her life, leading her to put up wall after wall is just what we needed to complete her.

And with Evelayn being said, we must not ignore the R-O-M-A-N-C-E in this book. Ok slightly spoilery here but you’d be expecting it anyway, is how Evelayn just kind of clicked in with Tanvir. Their mutual attraction was so strong, and Sara’s romance game was gigantic. If a reader feels the heart flutters, then that means Joanne the book reviewer will pretty much, if not, love the book. (Yes people I love romance) The build up in their relationship, opening up to each other and then in the confession is just TOO MUCH TO TAKE HAHAHAHHAHAAHAHA (i went nuts yes i did)

This world that Evelayn is in obviously has magical powers, and I believe it would be beneficial if the book explained the term that the people with the magical ability was called, since it confused me so much. 25% into the book and I finally had a grasp on what exactly it was. I would have loved a little bit more elaboration of the powers and the magic system, cus it was a little confusing, and we come across these difficult to pronounce/read terms.

Imagine if the most important mountain in this world was named Eyjafjallajökull.

Then no one except the Icelanders would be able to pronounce it right 😂

Plot. Oh yes the plot. It was well spread, everything wasn’t rushed and was just right, the build up to the semi-climax of the book, so well passed halfway, and you might have predicted, would be something to do about war. I mean, its up there in the synopsis. Though I felt like during the war part, some parts were rushed, and I’m definitely not a big fan of like, huge big blows of power, because I feel like its like

Oh. It finally happened.

or like

Wait thats it

or like

It happened in a blink of an eye

And then the part after the battle is the part that is the most important. Because the story continues to build up to the final climax at the very end of the book. And that is why reading this part was very haunting. Because I knew there was more to come, and yet the language and events in this part of this book seemed fairly chill in order to hide it (IMO). Then the climax came along at the very end of the book.

#cliffhanger

Then the Swan Lake element hits.

Look at all dem spoilers in this review.

I always wondered where was the true Swan Lake element that we all know, and there it is. And the book ends.

Me after I read past page 301:

great.

another year of longing for the next and final book of the series to come out to learn more about everything and to resolve everything.


This was definitely a great read of July. The fact that it wasn’t a blastingly lengthy book made it simple and easy to read, and the romance in the book was extremely rich and absolutely lovely. Not to mention that oh so great cliffhanger at the end :)

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Book Review: Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh

 

This review is overdue by a week!

I really enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn Duology by Renee Ahdieh, so I had high hopes for this book, especially for the fact that its set in Japan. How often are novels fully immersed in Japanese culture? not really.


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Name: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher(s): Putnam
Release Date: May 16, 2017

Synopsis

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.


Book Cover Comments

That phoenix is beautiful. Though are those peacock feathers?

Also the most gorgeous point of the cover is definitely the throwing star and flowers, and just the way they glow.

Magnifico!

The blade fonts!


The Review

The first part of the book was a bit slow, so it didn’t wow me. Also this book really drove of the Road of Expectations and First Impressions. I’m serious.

As some of you guys might know, this story is a Mulan retelling. Well, at least the basis of it. I had such huge conflict while trying to get my head to read the first part of this book, mainly because I’m Chinese.
And how does this affect it? The problem is, I know Japanese culture really well. Not necessarily history, but I know the culture well. The second problem? I KNOW CHINESE CULTURE REALLY WELL. Due to the beef and history between China and Japan, even those who love both places will never put the two together. These two are just two separate beings.
But when we spin Mulan into Japan, it was just really conflicting for me, because the idea just wasn’t right. More research into crossing cultures should probably be done prior hand, but I mean… books published in America of course set their audience to be anywhere but China…

But Renee Ahdieh successfully rescued this book. And I totally loved it.

In general, Mariko was a really strong character. I love the motivation set in her, and the fact that she knows how to put up an act so that she doesn’t show her weakness. Her knowledge in terms of weaponry was really cool in fact, and it slightly reminds me of the Winner’s Trilogy, where Kestrel also has a lot of brain power in her mind as well. One thing interesting that I noticed is that during the second half of the book, Mariko really grew out of her “i live in a wealthy family” shell. It happens a lot to main characters, but just seeing her have that realisation is really rewarding.

I don’t know what to say about Shinji and Ranmaru, honestly. I wouldn’t say that their character throughout the book thats the one that necessarily lit me up, but a plot point near the ending that actually had me in mental tears. The friendship that goes beyond this two is actually really great and amazing, and the lengths these two would go to protect each other and care for each other, and be by each other’s side.

A little bit about the world setting as well, I love how there are actually historical references to things mentioned in the book. Oh and I really loved the usage of the Jukai forest, because Jukai forest is known for its creepiness. It’s really fun to look up terms and find them on Wikipedia (yes wikipedia i know), and then absorbing a whole lot more knowledge on it.

Also, Renee Ahdieh never disappoints me with the love element. Oh how I died when Mariko and her lover just… Gods. *face goes up in flames*

Also did I mention I love roll credits?

“She was a flame in the mist…”

ROLL CREDITS!

Book Review: Heartless – Marissa Meyer

Geez I need to stop procrastinating and step up my book review game. ;)

Thank you my dear cousins from San Francisco for buying me this book, it was an absolute surprise, and I originally had no intention of reading this book until you guys got it for me, so I am overjoyed.


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Name: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: November 8, 2016

Synopsis

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.


Book Cover Comments

I found the vines really popping out from the black, mainly because these two colors just actually go very well together. And the vines are popped out in the actual hardback jacket, so that’s a much love as well ;) The inside of the book is a diamond-checkered surface which is shiny and really pretty as well.


The Actual Review

I did not expect that ending. At all.

I didn’t even know who Catherine would be until the near end, where her character became predictive.

At first, I just thought it would be an Alice story but in a predictable world a.k.a. Wonderland, and I really didn’t look forward to it so much. So when I started reading it, it wasn’t the most captivating due to the fact that it was mostly world building in the beginning, and the development and character introducing came first, and so not much happened.

But when Catherine and her friend went to find a certain ingredient for this bake-off competition, things started getting interesting, as there was something that can be predicted and would be revealed later on, and that’s where everything starts getting into place.

And the fact that Catherine started falling for joker also makes things much much more interesting, and whatever happens next.

Now, as you have read the synopsis above, you would know that there is a fate that is waiting for her. And it is that fate that I was most shocked by, because who Catherine was representing really didn’t show until the very end, and no one would actually really know until the very end, and that very very last line in the book was SO iconic, SO well known, any assumptions of who Catherine is would of course, BE KNOWN.

I really like these kind of retellings when they have some of these really iconic lines, and in this case, Marissa ended the book with a grand suspense. She gave Catherine an extremely well background and past to what lead her to her current character, as well as really interesting past events and the blending of the world of Cards and Chess, a.k.a. the two sides of the Looking Glass really well, as well as including tons of the most iconic Wonderland elements.


So yea. You might go slow reading this book due to the plot build-up, but once you hit that point, things started getting interesting as everything builds up, the piece rises up to Crescendo and goes into dark silence.

Book Review: Stealing Snow – Danielle Paige

And while finishing off this book and writing this review, my hands are cold from the wind outside the car window in the country of Bhutan.


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Name: Stealing Snow
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date: September 20, 2016

 

Premise from Goodreads

First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.

Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.


Book Cover Comments

BEAUTIFUL OK?

THAT MIRROR MEANS SOMETHING AND YOU’LL KNOW WHAT IT IS IF YOU READ THIS BOOK. WHEN I WAS TOUCHING THIS BOOK IN HARDBACK, THE TEXTURE WAS SO NICE I WAS LIKE ASLKDALFJSOGIJOGISRG

AND THEN THE PERIWINKLE SHIMMER TO IT IS SOOOO PRETTY! IT’S ON THE OUTSIDE AND INSIDE OF THE JACKET, AND I ABSO-ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!

Sooooo Stealing Snow feel <3

The snowflakes on the cover are glossy and shiny, and they’re very unique and fun to TOUCHE.


The Actual Review

Stealing Snow is a book full of decisions, romance, power, truths and lies, bringing you to it’s never seen before world of magic.


This book relates back to the first two novellas so well (you can find their reviews in my review page). Each novella entwines with the main novel so much. How one story leads to another, how the characters are here and there, how the prequels prepare the foundation for the novel. So definitely read it first before you start Stealing Snow.

The first part (I define the parts) ties to the first novella with the river witch and the beginning of everything, and it was really interesting to begin the story with an asylum, something that I would have never thought of. The river witch and those around her helping Snow make her decisions as well as teaching Snow about her magic and her fate was like wow. And there are so many good quotes in this book, deep, meaningful and beautiful.

“Destiny wasn’t exciting or romantic or epic. It was annoying.”

The second part introduces Margot, who is a part of the Robbers, which ties into the second novella, and here, Snow begins to develop a relationship with the thieves, especially Jagger, as well as her task with them and their deal. At first I was like: Robbers shouldn’t be really trusted? But then, the Robbers turned out to be some of the wisest characters in this book. A lot of what they say are really true.

“Sometimes we have to steal our future.”

Then part three is where the conclusions begin to draw. You will meet a character known as the Duchess later on, and her actions and behavior, as well as who she actually is behind her mask was all mysterious and shocking, and her final motifs as well. How Snow described her when the Duchess revealed her true self was really heartbreaking and sad, not that I’m going to spoil you much about it.

The final battle had even more revelations than ever, with Snow drawing conclusions and making choices to who she would choose to follow, who she would leave behind and what her next steps are. There were really heartbreaking moments, and you seriously wouldn’t know how Snow would turn out in the end, but that’s why a sequel exists: to continue the tale of our Snow Princess.

So I have heard that this book was originally named Teenage Frozen and that it sparks from the classic fairytale of the Snow Queen, and I definitely see the inspiration sparking from the two mediums and a lot of the differences, and the tale that Danielle weaved was definitely fun to read and really interesting.

This book contains heaps of romance, with a current count of three potential lovers, with Bale, whom she met in the asylum being her first. I love the development between all three characters, and how Snow feels towards them, her thoughts. I’m dying to know who Snow will end up with in the upcoming books, so thank you Danielle for torturing the hell out of me.

“We breathe out the lies; we stutter the truth.”

Danielle has also featured prophecies for this series, which makes this series even more interesting to read. As you flip the pages, you find out who is the destined one to fit in other parts of the prophecy, and how it will turn out on the end.


A destiny as annoying as a bumpy sled ride, Stealing Snow brings you across the land of Algid to see what’s beyond the Tree, and to discover what the Snow Princess can do.