Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

now i rise  Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published by Delacorte Press on June 27, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy

Pages: 471 – hardcover, 480 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Previous Books in Series: And I Darken

PURCHASE LINKS

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Blurb:

She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.


Review:

Holy crap. Can this series get any better? It’s been such a long time since I read a 5-star book! Honestly, I think the last time I felt this strongly about a series was after reading the first 2 books in the ToG series. If you’ve read And I Darken and found yourself thinking, “Can this get any better?” The answer is yes, my friend. It definitely has.

This series has been coined with the popular phrase: “a teenage Game of Thrones set in the Ottoman Empire” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s brutal & dark, while still managing to remain utterly captivating. This book demands your attention with every single paragraph, making it very difficult to tear your eyes away from the page. So clear your schedules folks!

Our protagonists are Radu and Lada, presented in alternating POVs. In this book, Radu is spying in Constantinople for Mehmed whereas Lada is trying to reclaim the Wallachian throne and become Prince.

I didn’t even think it was possible to love Lada even more than in the first book, but boy was I wrong. She is such a fiercely complex character, gaining her the title of ‘antihero’. However, this does not stop her from demanding the reader’s sympathy and attention. You can’t help but root for her, despite all her cruelty. Even though she struggles with being a woman in a patriarchal and heavily male-dominated society, she sure as hell does not let that stop her. Lada plays by her own rules, and you see many characters throughout this book appreciate that about her.

Meanwhile, Radu is in Constantinople struggling with his intense feelings for Mehmed. As expected, being a spy is no easy task. Radu sees the goodness of the people in Constantinople and grapples with all the atrocities he must commit for their enemy and his friend. He is caught in between, until the lines blur and he cannot distinguish friend from foe. A new character from the last book is brought into the mix, making it even harder for Radu. I really admire Radu’s character for how smart & collected he is, as opposed to Lada’s brashness. In my opinion, Lada seems to see the world in black-or-white, whereas Radu is in the gray zone. His POV highlights all the morally ambiguous choices he has to make, further endearing him to the reader.

This book isn’t all gloom and doom, though. Nazira’s vivacity and charm are a welcome reprieve from all the darkness. She’s probably the purest character in the whole series! The Jannisary characters also bring in a much needed dose of levity. Their funny banter was such a pleasure to read, and their dynamics were top-notch.

As always, the world is so richly fleshed out and the writing so richly expressive that putting this book down was a struggle. Writing a fictional book about history is definitely not easy, so kudos to Kiersten. The history surrounding the fall of Constantinople seems so fascinating; I’m definitely invested in reading more about it.

I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy of this book, but if you’re looking for a book with a hella dramatic plot and some hella self-destructive, badass characters, then you’ve come to the right place. I really don’t think this review does this book justice, so all I have to say is — just pick it up, you won’t regret it.

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Rating: 5 fish

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Book Review: ReMade by Matthew Cody, Kiersten White, E.C. Myers… & more!

So, as you may have already gathered, this review is a bit different from any of my other ones. I was given the opportunity to review a unique YA serial called ReMade. Team-written by some of today’s most popular YA authors, ReMade is brought to you by Matthew Cody (Super), Andrea Phillips (Revision), Kiersten White (And I Darken), Gwenda Bond (Girl on a Wire), Carrie Harris (Bad Taste in Boys), and E. C. Myers (The Silence of Six). ReMade is Serial Box’s first YA serial; it’s like a TV show, with episodes being released every week building up to the season finale. Season One will unfold across 15 episodes beginning September 14th , with a new installment dropping every Wednesday until the season finale on December 21st.


Blurb:

You live. You love. You die. Now RUN. ReMade.

Every minute, 108 people die.
On October 14th, 2016, from 9:31-9:32 p.m. EDT, 23 of those deaths will be teenagers.
Now they are humanity’s last hope for survival.

Awakened in a post-apocalyptic world and hunted by mechanical horrors, these teens search for answers amidst the ruins of civilization. Fate, love, and loyalty face off in this adrenaline -pumping YA adventure.

I received ARCs of the first 3 episodes, so below, I will be giving my thoughts on each episode as I read it followed by my overall review at the end. Here we go!


remade-1 ReMade [Season 1 Episode 1]: Shadows and Dreams

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: I think the first episode of ReMade really started out with a bang. It managed to grab my attention from the beginning ’till the very end. I was so curious to find out what’s going on, so A+ for the intrigue!This sure is a great start to the rest of the season! Also, I can totally picture the characters and imagine the descriptions realllly well. The succinct writing style helped with that. I can totally picture this as an actual TV show!

 

 



remade-2ReMade [Season 1 Episode 2]: Hungry

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: Just finished another episode of ReMade and it was just as engaging as the first! We’re introduced to another POV character, May, and get to know her and her backstory better. This just made me even more excited to continue on with the series. There are soo many possible explanations and theories about what’s going on! The story’s concept is very interesting. So far, this is actually slightly reminiscent of The 100, which BTW is my fave TV show ever! Y’know, a bunch of teenagers dropping down from space with no idea why, and trying to survive in the wilderness by themselves. Also, since this is probably going to be told from the POVs of many narrators, I’m really excited to learn more about the other teenagers!


remade-3ReMade [Season 1 Episode 3]: Home, Perilous Home

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: So, this episode is from yet another author and yet another narrator, and boy do I love her! I think Nevaeh is my favorite character so far! I love the inclusion of diverse characters and how all the POV characters we got so far are extremely relatable! I’m still really curious to know what the hell happened, but unfortunately I only have ARCs for the first 3 episodes, haha.

 


Review:

Everything about this digital serial is interesting. The fact that it’s basically a TV show in book format with new “episodes” being released every week? Uh, sign me right up! Each episode takes about 30-40 minutes to read, just like an actual TV show. At first, I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to get into the story in such a short amount of pages, but by the time I started reading, all my worries were forgotten!

The story starts out with a very intriguing premise. A bunch of teenagers wake up in an abandoned post-apocalyptic civilization, with no idea how they got there. What they all have in common? They’re all pretty sure they died in their “past life”. Hunted by metal spider creature thingies, they must figure out a way to survive in this world and find out what the hell is going on.

Now, this may sound like a typical YA post-apocalyptic/dystopian story, but it didn’t feel like it to me. It was refreshing, and not once did it feel like a cliché. Each episode introduces us to a new character, while at the same time furthering the plot and world-building. I genuinely enjoyed reading this! Since each book is so short, there’s a lot of pressure to make it engaging and interesting, and it definitely did not fail in that. My attention was captured in the pilot from the very beginning!

The pacing of the story is also great; it matches the story’s theme and tone. From what I’ve read so far, there’s a lot of mystery in the tone, which really pulls you in to keep reading in order to find out what’s going on. The writing’s vivid, but succinct, enabling you to easily picture what’s happening.

In short, I think the episodic nature of this serial definitely works for me. The premise is compelling, and the plot so far sets a high bar for the remaining episodes. The writing quality is superb, which makes the story even easier to get into. Each POV character we are introduced to has a distinct voice, making them very relatable. I would buy a subscription to the series, for sure!

Jump into this digital serial, available in both text and audio, and find out what the future of fiction holds.

You can purchase a subscription to the series, and have each episode downloaded automatically, or buy each episode individually. Episodes are available on the Serial Box App, at www.serialbox.com/remade, or wherever ebooks are sold.

Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

 

 

Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

and i darken And I Darken by Kiersten White

Published by Delacorte Press on June 28, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction

Pages: 496 – hardcover, 498 – paperback, 400 – ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.


Review:

Alright, so, I’ve been wanting to write this review ever since I finished the book at 5:30 a.m., but unfortunately, I had to go to sleep. Ugh, life necessities. I don’t know if I can properly articulate what I feel about this book, but I sure as hell will try my hardest!

Now this is a book that is unlike any that I have ever read. From the get-go, we are introduced to the book’s dark and gritty atmosphere. The synopsis compares it to Game of Thrones, but I’ve only watched 5 episodes of that so I can’t really judge. What I can tell you, however, is that this book is going to sink its claws into you from the beginning until the very end. There’s this suspense and darkness about it that keeps you flipping page after page after page. Trust me when I say, you will devour this book.

This story has elements of fantasy incorporated into an alternate historical universe set during the pinnacle of the Ottoman Empire’s success. Although not very historically accurate, the book does an excellent job of depicting various religions and politics in an objective way, which I loved. The story itself is also very unconventional, for sure — with its unconventional setting and unconventional heroine and unconventional atmosphere. This all makes it so unique and original.

However, the main driving force of the story is the complex, dimensional characters. Our protagonist is the fierce Lada, short for Ladislav, and she is basically the alternate female version of Vlad the Impaler. Lada is the epitome of fierce anti-princess. Her wickedness & sinisterness are very palpable things in the book. I might even dare call her psychotic. However, her POV makes us sympathize with and feel empathy for her, framing her in a slightly humane manner. Lada defies everything a woman should be in the 1400s. She despises being a woman and does everything in her power in order to not be seen as one. Later on, she learns that women themselves are weapons, binding their time and then striking. I really admire Lada’s character – she’s wild and shrewd and cruel and calculating. A force to be reckoned with!

In contrast, we have Lada’s brother Radu. He is pretty and delicate and sensitive, pretty much the polar opposite of Lada. He’s usually the one that needs protecting, in the physical sense. However, later on, we learn that Radu is better at defending himself in other ways: through charming smiles and insincere speech and praise-filled assurances. ‘Kill ’em with kindness’ is probably his motto. What Radu lacked in substance, he more than made up for in charm & kindness.

Lada and Radu’s sibling dynamic is an intriguing one for sure. They are practically the embodiment of yin and yang. Their relationship is tainted with frustration, misunderstanding, and jealousy, yet they both manage to put each other first. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve seen in YA. In this book, their relationship is merely a thread in the web of other complicated relationships in this book.

Contrary to what you might believe, there’s no love triangle in this book, although it may seem like one. Mehmed and Lada’s slow development of their relationship was nice, but I don’t think Mehmed is a good match for Lada. I feel like he holds her back from her true potential, as it is so often subtly hinted at in the book by others. *cough* Mara, Bogdan, Nicolae. *cough* In the first half of the book, Lada is as wild as ever, but in the middle of the second half, she kind of stops fighting. She’s content with what she has, which was all given to her by Mehmed. I remember thinking,“I thought you didn’t want to be tied to what a man gave you? I thought you were going to take what is yours and not have it given to you?!”

Moreover, let’s talk about the compelling, captivating plot, shall we? It literally made my head explode! (In a good way) The plot is so fast-paced from the very start, and there’s never a dull moment in this book. Hold your horses. I don’t mean fast-paced as in sword-fighting, arrow-shooting, knife-stabbing action, although there is plenty of that to go around. I meant the political intrigue that’s so abundant in this book. There are so many mind-blowing machinations and jaw-dropping twists & turns! The complexity of all that, in addition to the author’s eloquent writing style, makes for an unputdownable read.

To briefly sum it up, And I Darken has complex dynamics that are all tangled in a dark web of betrayal and frustration. That’s not all, though. The attention to detail, the intricately woven setting & plot, the meticulous characterization, and the portrayal of history & its religions… These all make for a truly phenomenal page-turner of a book. A perfect read if you’re looking for something dark, unconventional, and unputdownable!

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way impacted my views & opinions above.

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Rating: 5 fish

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