Review: An Ember In The Ashes

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Author: Sabaa Tahir

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.” 

In a world inspired by Ancient Rome, breaking the rules is equivalent to death. When Laia’s brother was accused of treason, the Empire killed their grandparents and arrested Darin, Laia’s brother, for interrogation and torture. To help him, Laia sought help from a group of rebels that defy the Empire that call themselves Resistance. In exchange of saving her brother, Laia was to spy the Empire’s most ruthless person, the Commandant, inside the Blackcliff Military Academy. Inside she met Elias, the Academy’s finest but also the most unwilling student.

Set in a broken world, Laia and Elias fought for equality and justice. Though they are the exact opposites of each other, they we’re destined to meet so they can change the future.

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An Ember In The Ashes has been sitting on my virtual shelf for quite some time  now. At first I hesitate to read this because I am starting to get tired of books about oppression and resistance. But as I read it, I was instantly consumed by its rich, well written plot line and diverse characters. This book shows how its author, Sabaa Tahir, is pure talent. It is her debut novel and honestly, it is rare for a debut novel to be this good. In fact, this is one of my favorite books this 2015.

Tahir’s compelling writing skills really took my breath away. She made delicate issues like rape, torture and murder a way of living for her characters. She write it with confidence and sophistication. She’s straight forward but not careless. For me, her characteristics as a writer is what made this book so compelling and successful. An Ember In The Ashes is one of those books that made me invest my emotions into it, it drove me on the edge of me emotional capacity and I like it. Normally, I don’t like when a book does that to me but it’s different with An Ember In The Ashes. When reading it, the story will demand your full attention and the involvement of your feelings.

The world that Sabaa Tahir created is ruthless and brutal. She didn’t even took a break pedal in describing the harsh reality that is happening at Serra. It also added a point in my book that the world made by Tahir is not magical yet there are supernatural creatures that lurks in it. I like the universe that the book posses but not enough for me to want to live in it.

I also admire the idea of two characters with opposite natures, Laia lives in poverty and fear while Elias has power and privileged. Their mixed point of views also added spice to the story. The author created exceptionally diverse main characters with a villain done so well.

What I like about Laia is that I saw her grow. In the beginning she’s just your typical female that can exist in any books with any setting. She’s always frightened and doubting about her abilities but as the story line goes on, she learn to fight and to protect those she loves. Laia eventually found big girl panties and wear it. She decided that it’s the right time to stand up and to fight for what’s right no matter what the consequences are.

“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes.” 

Elias, on the other hand, is strong but is also trying to find himself. He wanted to escape his responsibilities so he can be free. From the beginning up to the end, Elias fought for what is right though he is expected to kill without any hesitation. This attitude of him is maybe because of the different raising he had from his adopted parents. He has different outlook in life that made him righteous.

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.” 

As for Helene and Keenan, I felt deprived of them. They were both cunning and and strong so I am hoping to see more of them on the upcoming books for this series.

The fact that the villain of the story is Elias’ mother is genius. She made the story more interesting and exciting. Her brutal and ruthless nature made her one of the most unexpected but effective villain.

The romance that took place between the two main characters is perfect for my taste. It is not feel obliged, only necessary. They both had their personal issues and they try to resolve it individually, the romance just slips in the right timing. Normally I hated love triangles (love quadrangle for this book), but Keenan and Helene we’re both deserving for Elias and Laia so this is an exception for the cliché that is brought by those love polygons. Romance is not the focus of the story and the author made sure that it will be not.

An Ember In The Ashes is undoubtedly, a very well written book. It is marketed as a stand alone but the ending conveys that it is not. The ending is not really an ending, it also not a cliff hanger but Tahir left so many unresolved issues like: Is Darin still alive? Who is Elias father and why does the Commandant hates him so much? What happened to Keenan? It is also unclear whether Elias and Laia is in love or just physically attracted to each other. I will be irritated if that kind of ending exist in other book but the author made the story very promising so I guess I will just wait patiently for the next book.

Rating: 5/5

Review: Crimson Bound

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Author: Rosamund Hodge

At 15, Rachelle trained to be the next woodwife after her aunt. She has a good heart but also a reckless one that made her stray from the forest path from time to time. She thinks that she can find a way to free the world on the threat of eternal darkness. One day she met a forestborn, he tricked her into removing her protection against his kind then he marked her to become a bloodbound. The transition of being a bloodbound from being a human lasts for three days, within that days, Rachelle has to kill someone or she dies.

After three years, bloodbound and all, Rachelle found herself serving as one of the king’s bloodbounds. She did this so she can delay her transformation on being a blood thirsty and, literally, heartless forestborn. Being a bloodbound of a king, Rachelle was comanded to take care for Armand, one of the king’s bastard. She hated him for Rachelle thinks that Armand mocks her kind on pretending to be marked by a forest born and survived without having to kill anyone.

Rachelle, along with Armand, tries to find a way to save their land from the eternal darkness. With a lot of twists and turns, they uncover long-lost secrets.

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Once again, Rosamund Hodge twisted a full of wonder fairytale into a murky and magical story. Crimson Bound talks about humility, redemption and accepting oneself. She created a fast paced novel that will entice each and every senses of anyone who will get a hold of this. What made me like Rosamund Hodge is that she really, really showcase her talent on each book she write. She’s not afraid to venture each and every possibilities that her story posses. Crimson Bound has a lot of potential and she carefully manipulate each one until she made an unbelievably well thought plot.

The world building in this novel is also superb. I love the idea of an old palace full of grandeur and wonder. And of course, the Great Forest, the mystical and almost haunted place that no one in the story really understands. It has its own life and indescribable magic. Great Forest is also the home of various creatures like the forestborn, woodspawn and bloodbounds. I love of how the Forest can manipulate the characters and that it can manifest wherever it wants. The story ended yet the powers of Great Forest remain a mystery.

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I really, really like how Rosamund Hodge portrays each of her heroines. She refuse to make her characters perfect, instead, she took pride with faulty characters. Rachelle is a troubled girl with a doomed soul looking for redemption. She’s strong-willed and cunning. The only thing that I do not like about her is that she denied of how much she wanted to be saved. Rachelle denied and denied that she wanted redemption, but inside her heart, she wants nothing but to escape her fate. She’s also envious of Armand because people look up to him even though he is already marked by a forestborn while she was feared and despised for the same reason.

Honestly, I am not much of a fan of Armand. I like my male characters strong and capable, and he is not. He is physically impaired and it always gets in the way. I just wished that sometime in the story, he was able to protect Rachelle, not the other way around. A lot of times while reading Crimson Bound that I get embarrassed for him because of all the limitations that his lack of hands sets for him. And though Armand is strong spirited, he is sometimes frustrating and a little bit of a sissy. Nevertheless, I think he balanced Rachelle untamable character.

The plot twists in this book is insane. A lot of times I felt like “This is it, nothing worse can happen,” and then BAM! The author drops another bomb that surprises the readers. Hodge made sure that Crimson Bound posses no dull moments, not even one and I guess she succeeded.

Rating: 4/5

Review: Cruel Beauty

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Author: Rosamund Hodge

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As the price of a fool’s bargain made by her father, Nyx has to marry the demon that killed her mother and trapped Arcadia under a parchment sky. All her life she trained to kill her husband-to-be so she can free her land and avenge her mother, even if it may cost her life. When she turns seventeen she moved in with Ignifex, her demon husband, equipped with knowledge that can crumble his home. But as time goes on, she discovered that Ignifex is not as bad as everybody likes to think and that he’s the one who kept her land from being devoured by demons. She also learned that in some ways or two her husband is also a prisoner. Nyx eventually fall in love with Ignifex as her husband does to her. The dreadful days that Nyx despised turns into delightful ones while nights that scared Ignifex become spent sleeping beside his wife.

Torn between duties to her family and to her heart, Nyx has to choose whom to betray.

” You fought and fought to keep all the cruelty locked up in your head, and for what? None of them ever loved you, because none of them ever knew you” PicsArt_1440067229695

As a Beauty and the Beast retelling, this dark and twisted version is definitely a successful one. It offers new ideas while sticking to the original one and a whole lot more of twists and turns.

This is my first book by Rosamund Hodge and I must say that she didn’t disappoint. I have a high expectation into Cruel Beaty due to its good reviews and those standards are met. It just proved that this book is really something that deserves all the hype about it. I have read a lot of fairytale retellings and by far, Cruel Beauty is one of those in the top of my list.

Nyx character is someone so that can really exist in the real world. Her resentment and bitterness towards her family made her more relatable. She’s very different from the original “Belle” yet she became one of the elements that will make you fall in love with her story. Another thing that I like is that she’s not your typical heroine that will just sit down and wait for her destiny to unravel. Instead, she tries to control her fate.

On the other hand, Ignifex is portrayed as mysterious, and it made the story more interesting. Though a demon, he has a strange way of showing fairness and justice on his actions. He is expected to be cruel but his character shows otherwise. He also shows vulnerability and softness unexpectedly. It balances his character and deeds as a demon so readers will eventually like him.

Another thing to look forward in reading Cruel Beauty is its romance. Nyx and Ignifex’s may be a little instant but still it is something beautiful and pure that blossom between two beastly hearts. And the fact that at first, they do not know whether to kiss or slit each other’s throat really made me eager to read more. It made me so much more engrossed. The love team that Rosamund Hodge made is perfect, they do not only saw each other’s good qualities but also their flaws and beastly cores, and still, they choose to fall in love.

“I had been waiting, all my life, for someone undeceived to love me.” 

The setting in this book is another thing that exceed my expectation. The parchment sky idea is genius and added a lot more weight on the character’s responsibility. And the labyrinth of a palace, I truly love. It’s like exploring the palace with Nyx and none of us has any idea on what surprises each door will offer.

In conclusion, i really, really, really love this book. Cruel Beauty is really something to read over and over again. Honestly, I really can’t get over its characters and its plot. This will go straight to my reread list immediately.

Rating: 5/5

3 Quotes, 3 Days Challenge [Part Three]

The Rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Post a quote for 3 consecutive days ( 1 quote for each day)
3. Nominate 3 new bloggers each day.

Thank you bookishlibrary for nominating me to do this challenge. This is my first nomination since I joined WordPress so I am very excited.

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This quote is from Lolita, I haven’t read it yet but as soon as I saw this quote I knew that I should include it in this challenge. For me this describes the world as a whole and I love it.

And I nominate:

How to Read Books

Jess @ Princessica of Books

Radiant Reads

Review: Golden Son

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Author: Pierce Brown

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Golden Son is the second installation of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. This is the continuation of a story about a Red named Darrow who pretends to be a Gold so he can make his wife’s wish come true. Personally, this book gives the vibe of anti-racism not because of the colors but because of rising against slavery despite of when the society tells you otherwise. The first book ended when Darrow accepted his nemesis, Nero au Augustus, offer to join his house.

Augustus is Eo, Darrow’s wife, executioner. Originally, he sought to kill him but as the story unfolds he decided that there’s more urgent matter to attend to. With his comrades, Darrow fight for the seat of Sovereignty against the people of the moon and the Bellonas. But when he thought that he won, his deepest secret unravels that made one of his lieutenants to turn his back against him while those who remained loyal died.

“You a son of Red. I a son of Gold.

That world when we’re brothers is lost.”

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Golden Son is full of false loyalties, deception and war. In this book, the war only is not versus the house of Augustus and the Sovereign, but also between Darrow’s heart and mind. This story posses whatever the readers asked for a dystopian novel. Golden Son along with Red Rising  is the embodiment of fighting tyranny and the struggle by doing so.

On the other hand, I love of how Brown portrays Darrow in this book. He’s full of insecurities and issues yet he managed to lead a powerful army and go to war. Despite of his questions about himself, people look up to him and pledge their loyalty to him. Darrow is someone who lost so much yet he didn’t make that a reason to give up because he knows that what he’s doing is for the greater good.

Darrow’s only flaw for me is that he is too full of Eo’s dream that he forgot to dream on his own. For me, having a visualization of the future is essential in every character.  Darrow seems like someone who held on too tightly in the past that he can’t let go of it anymore.

This story taught me a lot. It taught me that wherever you came from doesn’t define the success that you may achieve, that sometimes your friends is not really your friends. Golden Son affects me on the most personal level, especially losing Quinn. Though she only plays a small part in the story, I can imagine the grief of Roque and the mask that Sevro wears to pretend that he is not affected. Even if it is not really elaborated, their love triangle made this book suddenly worth reading for me.

I can’t wait for the conclusion of this trilogy.

Rating: 4.5/5

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Credits to The Bookshelf Intruder for this awesome logo and thank you for supkid19 for nominating me. This is my first award and I am all giddy up inside to do this.

Rules:

Thank the blogger who nominated you, and leave a link to their page

Put the award logo on your blog

Answer the 10 questions sent to you

Ask your nominees 10 questions

Nominate 10 blogs

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 The questions I was asked:

What type of music do you listen to?

Well it depends on what I am doing. When I am travelling,  I like rock Indie music,  when I am taking a bath I like Maroon 5 songs and when it’s raining I like listening to sad songs. Also, when I was pregnant just last year, I developed an intense liking to classical music especially those of Claude Debussy.

Who inspires you? (This can be someone you know, or a singer, actor, etc. that you look up to)

I think I am too prideful to admit that someone has something to do on what I have become today, but for the sake of this award I will.

Before conceiving a child, I take everything my mother does for granted, but when my son came I saw the reality of being a mom. As I guide my little boy so he can grow up a good person, I also started dreaming that I will be like my mother. Other kids on our neighborhood also notice her humility and kind heart that you can hear on their conversation that they want to trade their mom to mine.

What is your favorite snack to eat while reading?

I eat anything and everything especially fruits.

What are your favorite genres to read?

When I was on my teenage years, I developed a liking on Nora Robert’s book. (I have boxes of her novels.) And as I grow older and more involved in social media, I started reading SciFi and Fantasy genre which I developed a love-hate relationship. I’m also more inclined in reading hyped books for some unknown reasons.

What are (is) your favorite TV show?

I like reality shows such as America’s Next Top Model, I also like Teen Wolf and PLL.

What are the best and worst book-to-film adaptations you’ve seen?

The worst book-to-film adaptation I have watched by far is Rick Riordan’s Sea of Monsters. I like his books so much so when I saw that movie it felt like my favorite series was murdered.

The best book-to-film adaptation for me is Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern. I have watched that film numerous times and I think that I will be watching it again soon.

Do you speak any foreign languages?

I am a Filipina so yes I am bilingual. I speak English, Filipino and a little bit Japanese. (I worked on a Japanese  company before that provides translations of Japanese articles to English language)

How long have you been blogging? Why did you start?

More or less a month. I started this blog because I dream to be a writer but I don’t think that it is my calling so I resort on just reviewing the books I have read. Now I like to think that I am a little bit qualified to be an editor. (Yeah I’m not much of a modest person.)

What (other than books), are you passionate about?

After reading I love travelling and hiking. I have climbed a lot of mountains near my area and I took pleasure on packing a bag and going out-of-town. Spending time on a new place exhilarate me, I love exploring outside my comfort zone.

Why should people follow your blog? (Take this opportunity to shamelessly self-promote!!)

Just one sentence: I pour my heart and mind on this blog so I think my blog is worth following.

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My questions:

  1. My most favorite person in the whole wide world is
  2. I read because
  3. Nighttime or Daytime? Why?
  4. The best villain ever is
  5. The worst protagonist ever is
  6. My favorite author(s) is/are
  7. Reveal one of your secrets. (it can be anything)
  8. Why blogging?
  9. Side character/s that you want to have their own story
  10. Tell something about yourself.

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And I nominate:
Dirty SciFi Buddha
cwreads
Josie the Bookworm
Brittany
Analee @ Book Snacks
away in neverland
Tasha
annelise
Dimple
The Book Jar Blog

Review: Red Rising

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Author: Pierce Brown

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Red Rising tells the story of a sixteen year old helldiver named Darrow. He, along with his fellow Reds mine a substance called helium-3 that is believed to make the planets in the solar system to be habitable for the human race. But Eo, Darrow’s wife learned that the Reds we’re being fooled and enslaved. She discovered that they were being used by the society to supply helium-3 while the other colors we’re already living in Mars. Because of this, Darrow was whipped while Eo was hanged by the gallows. Eventually, a rebel group called Sons of Ares recruited Darrow to be their new member. His body was carved so he’ll look like a Gold. After all the pains and sufferings he emerged as a Gold and penetrated the Institute so he can finally avenge the death of his Eo.

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Red Rising is the dystopia burn out pill I have been looking for quite some time. This is, hands down, one of the best dystopia novel I have read and I have read plenty. What I like about this book is that the author explore every possible angle that Red Rising provides. Pierce Brown talks about oppression, war and survival, but it doesn’t end there. The story didn’t only offer bloodbaths but also showed how important to use your knowledge in winning a war. It is about trust and loyalty, and knowing where to put them.

Another thing that I noticed is the poetic prose that Red Rising possess. Though written in minimalist style, the heavy theme that the book has was still showcased. I love how this book was so intelligently written and I can’t get enough of it. The pages we’re oozing with wisdom with its carefully crafted plot line.

It is evident in the story that the characters, especially Darrow, we’re very carefully thought about. Pierce Brown know exactly how he wanted his characters and he made the right approach in introducing them to the readers. The depth of the characterization made Darrow unforgettable. He is every bit of a Gary Stu, he is the best helldiver, the top-notcher on the Institutes examination and it looks like he can gain followers so effortlessly. And I think the story calls for it. When you were put in a new and dangerous environment, it is essential to have the talent to survive and be resourceful. Darrow is simply exceptional on everything he does. On the other hand, I noticed that female characters we’re only secondary next to Darrow. They only had supporting roles that helps Darrow’s character develop.

All in all, I super love this book and I recommend it to everyone especially to those YA SciFi Fanatics.

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Rating: 5/5

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