The road to revenge

Hey you all! You might have wondered why it took me so long to post a review of Crooked Kingdom as I posted my review of Six of Crows a week or two ago. It wasn’t because it took me so long to finish the second book … No, I’m still emotionally unstable haha. I don’t know how Bardugo does it, but she has me hooked to her stories with my heart and soul. This review will contain spoilers of the ending of Six of Crows so don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know how that book ends!

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I made a fanart-card again and I discovered that I love this handlettering thing (even though my normal writing is a mess haha) Ps. No crows and ravens were harmed in the making of this photo, I collected these feathers through the years in parks and woods without attacking any birds, I swear 😉

So what’s this second book about:

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope.

As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world. 

In Six of Crows we saw how Kaz and his crew pulled off the impossible: breaking into the Ice Court to retrieve a high-value-prisoner and delivering him to Ketterdam. But, Kaz never anticipated that their client, the presumed honorable merchant, Jan van Eck would double cross them and kidnap Inej. In Crooked Kingdom the reader sees what Kaz will do to get Inej back and take revenge on not only Van Eck but also his greatest enemy.

kaz and inej

Let’s start with Kaz. In this book you get to know him even better. He is reluctant to admit his feelings, but he can’t deny them any longer even though he knows that he will probably never be able to touch someone without breaking down and feeling horrified. I loved the way in which Kaz tried to fight his feelings, but ultimately embraced them. The discovery of his warmer feelings, however, doesn’t mean that Kaz isn’t cold and relentless any more. If anything the betrayal by Van Eck made him even more determined to take revenge and outsmart everyone. The plans and plots he comes up with are so cool and evil! I love how Kaz’ darkside and his goodness mash together in this book ❤

Inej was so incredibly well portrayed in this book!!! Her capture by Van Eck throws her back into her own past when she was helpless and couldn’t stop the things that were done to her. But, instead of breaking apart Inej learns that even though she’s scared she will never be helpless again. She would sooner die than let people use her again. I loved her vulnerability and her inner strength in this book and her determination to get what she deserves: be it love or revenge. She’s one kick-ass girl!

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Inej and Kaz weren’t the only ones that went through hell in this book. In Six of Crows we learnt that it was Jesper’s fault that the mission at the Ice Court went incredibly wrong. He tries his best to make up for his faults, but Kaz doesn’t forgive easily, especially not now that Inej has been taken. Jesper’s struggle is so real and sad that my heart broke for him, but I loved how he tried to correct his wrongs and how he grew closer to Wylan. Best of all was the fact that his humor was still there despite everything that went wrong.

And then Wylan … I loved the fact that he had a much larger role in this book and that the reader gets to know him better. His struggle with his horrible father, Jan van Eck, was so realistic and sad. But, it was beautiful how he proved his dad wrong in the end and took revenge on him for all that he did to Wylan and his mom ❤ The feelings between Jesper and Wylan were so sweet and cute that it made me smile the whole time when they were together in the same scenes. ❤ ❤ ❤

Nina and Matthias also had some obstacles on the way. Matthias struggles with the fact that he betrayed his fellow soldiers, his commander and his country by protecting Nina and staying with Kaz and his crew. Even though he’s torn apart inside he can’t help but feel that he did the right thing even when it feels so wrong. He struggles with accepting his new world and the possibility that Grisha are not abominations and unnatural, yet, he can’t deny his feelings for Nina. I loved the fact that Matthias didn’t simply change his mind about his world, but that he had a hard time with accepting everything, which made the book and his character that much more realistic.

Last, but not least: Nina. To save the crew she had to take some of the drug Jurda Parem which is extremely addictive. Even though she wants to clean her system of the drug she can’t help but be overcome by craving it every time she tries to use her heartrender gifts. It’s as if everything that makes her her is stripped away from her. She’s weakened by the drug and has to learn how to fight the normal way. The only things keeping her sane are Matthias and her will to find and free Inej. Along the way she discovers that her old talents have transformed into something new and that love can cure you even from a drug as addictive as Jurda Parem.

This book was genius. The plot was written extremely well and I loved how some of Kaz’ plans failed, but how he nevertheless thought of ways to set things right again. The tension was really high and well dosed. And the emotions … let’s just say I was a wreck when I finished this book! It was so intense and I’m still mad and sad about that ending! because not all of the crew came back from this mission … (crying in handkerchief) This book was a rollercoaster of feelings and suspense ❤

Oh, and I absolutely loved the way in which Kaz took revenge on his enemies. I think I’m going to hire him when somebody crosses me, so you are forewarned 😉

justice

I don’t think I have to mention that this is a definite must read 😉 It’s so, so good!!! Even though your heart will be blown to smithereens, you have to read this one. You won’t regret it.

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The heist of a lifetime

Hey you all! I don’t know about you guys and girls, but I’ve got a lot of unread books in my bookcase waiting to be read. A couple of weeks ago I came across a blogpost by Melissa from http://www.melissasbookworld.com in which she talked about duologies and series she hadn’t read yet. A lot of the books in that post were just sitting around in my bookcase too. Among them were Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Since I loved the Shadow and Bone trilogy I decided to finally read Six of Crows and I can only say that I wish I read this one sooner because it’s friggin’ AWESOME!!!! (this book needs capitals and multiple exclamation marks trust me 😉 ) I’m not really one of those über fangirls although I can get really excited about books, but this book awoke the fangirl in me. I want to collect candles, throw pillows, artwork, quotecards and who knows what else to express my love for this book ❤ As usual let me try to convince you why you should pick this one up asap.

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This time I even made my own fanart haha

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

That description alone ❤ ❤ ❤

If the description is not enough to convince you then let me try to write a review in between my squealing 😉

Let me start with the main characters. This book has not one, but six of them. Six equally awesome characters. And I will tell you a little bit about each and every one of them, because I loved them all!

Kaz – the criminal genius: How do I describe Kaz… Let’s just say that he loves to be bad. It has been his life’s mission to become someone who is feared. His criminal name isn’t Dirtyhands for nothing: everybody knows that crossing Kaz Brekker means certain death. Even though he is only 17, he’s done quite well for himself. He’s driven by two things: 1. money, 2. the need for revenge. When someone offers him a job, an impossible heist, he knows one of those two things will never be a problem again, for if he can pull off this job he will have the money he has always wanted. Only problem: he has to break into the most secure prison of the world to rescue a hostage and deliver him safely to his client in Ketterdam. So, Kaz concocts a dangerous plan and assembles a crew that is capable of pulling off the impossible… Along the way Kaz is confronted with his own past, the traumatic experiences that made him Dirtyhands, and with some lessons about the most important things in life. And, last but not least, he learns that even the best laid plans sometimes…

kaz quote

Inej – the acrobat: Inej is such a fun character. She has been through hell to get where she is now: Kaz’s right hand. Her skills as an acrobat come in quite handy on the streets and earned her the nickname The Wraith. She has a talent for sneaking and getting to places where no one else can get. However, she’s not like Kaz. She doesn’t long for wealth. She just wants to earn her freedom and find back the family that she lost when she was taken. She has a weak spot for Kaz, but she isn’t a pushover. I loved Inej’s inner strength and goodness.

Jesper – the sharpshooter: Jesper was so funny. He’s just as complicated as the other characters and certainly has some flaws, but you’ll forgive him anything because he’s the joker of the crew. The one that gets you laughing even when everything seems dark. I have a weak spot for trickster characters and Jesper is one of those. Lighthearted, flawed, sarcastic, but awsome. I loved how Bardugo used his character flaws to stir up some extra trouble.

Wylan – the runaway: In this book Wylan had only a minor role, but I’m hoping that we will see more of him in the next books. He’s the innocent, the one that hasn’t yet learned how dark everything can get sometimes. However, that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t experienced some hard times in his own life. I loved how Jesper teased Wylan and how they worked together. They are so cute together!

six of crows quote

Nina – the witch/ Grisha: Ah Nina. If I was a lesbian I would have fallen for her haha. She’s fantastic! She’s sarcastic, witty, loves to eat, loves her curves and isn’t afraid to use them and has a heart of gold. She joins the crew to right a wrong and get the boy she betrayed, but secretly loves, out of prison, even if he hates her. Her talent as a Heartrender, someone who can snatch the air from your lungs, slow your pulse until you drop into a coma, or literally crush your heart in your chest—all without ever laying a finger on you,  comes in quite handy on a mission that might require some muscle.

Matthias – the soldier: Matthias is one of those characters you would like to slap in one scene and hug in the next. His relationship with Nina is so complex, yet beautiful that I was rooting for them the whole time. Matthias is the perfect soldier: loyal, single minded, always wants to do the right thing, and hates to disappoint his superiors. He’s the reluctant one, the one that doesn’t want to join the crew but has no choice. However, somewhere along the way he will have to decide where and with whom his loyalties lie and what is more important: his heart or his training and orders…

The way in which all these characters get together and try to outsmart everything and everyone that comes at them is so brilliantly written! I loved the way in which everything went wrong multiple times. And that cliffhanger at the end…!!! Fantastic writing ❤

This book is full of feelings (sadness, happiness, hope, defeat, admiration) and tension and will keep you turning pages deep into the night. I love Bardugo’s writing, she’s a master storyteller who can keep you on the edge of your seat with every story she writes. Six of Crows is definitely one of my new favorites ❤

Okay, if you’re not convinced now, I don’t know what else to say except that this book is fantastic, awesome, brilliant, insanely good, etc, etc. Just pick up the book! You won’t regret it, I promise 😉

Love is in the air

Hey you all! It’s time for a new review 🙂 Two weeks ago I came across a giveaway post by HarperCollins Young Adult, naturally I took a chance to try and win one of the books they were giving away as HarperCollins is one of my favorite publishers ❤ And Lady Luck was with me, because I won Een fijne neus voor liefde (The Secret of a Heart Note) by Stacey Lee. When I first came across a description of this book I put it on my wish list right away as I love romantic stories that have supernatural elements in them. I especially love stories where the main character has an ability that has to do with one of the five senses. So, the description of this book really made me curious and very excited and I wasn’t disappointed because this story was awesome! Let me first give you a description and then I will tell you why you have to read this book 😉

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Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make. 

I loved everything about this story! Mim is one of those characters that crawls under your skin. She’s friendly, extremely loyal, quirky, funny and strong willed. In the beginning of the story the reader experiences how narrow Mim’s world is thanks to her talent and her overbearing mother. Eventhough Mim doesn’t like all the rules she has to abide she does it without much complaining or drama. She’s a good daughter who listens to her mother. Her mom rewards her for this by giving her even more tasks and responsibilities in the family business. So, when Mr. Frederics, Mim’s math teacher, comes to their house ordering a love elixir for the librarian Ms. DiCarlo it’s Mim’s job to ensure ms. DiCarlo gets the elixir. Mim does what she is told, but the cup of coffee she puts the elixir in turns out to belong to someone else than ms. DiCarlo and as a result Ms. Sawyer drinks the elixir. Mim is afraid of her mother’s reaction to her mistake and decides to keep it a secret. She has no choice to correct her mistake before Ms. Sawyer starts to get feelings for Mr. Frederics. Naturally, everything goes wrong after that. Mim has to tell someone her secret and decides to confess everything to Court, Ms. Sawyer’s son and the soccer star of Gaudalupe High. Together they go on a hunt for ingredients for a potion that will cure Ms. Sawyer of her feelings. But, some ingredients are hard to find. As a result Mim and Court spend so much time and experience so many adventures together that the unthinkable happens: Mim falls in love… The one thing she can never do according to the rules that are passed on from one aromateur to the next since the Middle Ages. However, Mim can’t help it, she can’t deny her feelings, although she tries her best to avoid skin contact with Court so she doesn’t loose her abilities. But, when Court is in danger and she’s the only one around to help him, can she turn her back on him and protect her abilities or will she risk everything to save him?

I really liked Court. He is sweet, nice, protective of the people he cares about and an all-around good guy. I loved how he saw Mim for who she really was and the way in which he kept her from harm. The love between Mim and Court moves slowly and is so sweet and cute that you can’t help but read this book with a big smile on your face.

The writer is really good at portraying emotions and the relationships between people. The bond between Mim and her mom was extremely realistic. Because of this realism you feel for Mim when her mom is hard on her and insensitive towards her feelings, but you never dislike her mother because you can see where she’s coming from. The relationship between Mim’s mom and her twinsister, Mim’s aunt, is also portrayed really well. Sisters don’t always get along and sometimes fights can result in distancing, but somehow, most of the time, these fights can be resolved and the sisterbond proves stronger than anything. That’s a powerful and beautiful message, I think ❤ The bond between Mim and her best friend Kali is written just as realistically. I loved how Kali and Mim tried to help each other, but eventually learned that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and can’t rely on someone else’s help. I also really loved the fact that at the end of the book Mim learns that love has a way to happen all on its own and that sometimes magical abilities can’t change whom someone falls for. Sometimes love is meant to be 🙂

I loved the fact that this book revolved around smell and flowers, herbs and all living, growing things. In most books hearing and seeing are the most important senses, so, it was refreshing to read a story where smelling took centerstage. As a flowerlover myself I could smell most of the mentioned plants and flowers the whole time I was reading this book. Isn’t it amazing how written words have the power to do that?

The pace and tension in this book were really well dosed and I couldn’t stop reading once I started. The blending of magic (or Mim’s special ability) with a first love and a race against the clock worked perfectly. If you’re looking for a lighthearted love story with some magic in it and lots of obstacles along the way this is most definitely the book for you! This is without a doubt a must-read 🙂

To fall in love with an angel

Hey you all! Today I’m kicking off another blogtour!!! This time it’s the blogtour for Ster van Acht (Angel Star) by Jennifer Murgia. The whole of September and part of October people will post creative blogposts about this book for Dutch Venture Publishing. My own blogpost will also feature some creative elements. When I was preparing for this blogtour I got the idea to do something with music and pictures. While I was reading the book, however, I couldn’t think of a soundtrack of songs that would fit this book. But I did see clear pictures in my head, kind of like a movie, playing out every important scene in the story. So, I decided to drop the playlist and to only use a picture list that will illustrate what the story looked like to me. As always I will first give a short description of the book, next I will show the picture list and then I will give my opinion of the book. Underneath the review I will include a link to a special giveaway (for residents of The Netherlands and Belgium only) for swag and an exclusive novella (paper version) about the antagonist ❤

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Seventeen-year-old Teagan McNeel falls for captivating Garreth Adams and soon discovers that her crush has an eight-point star etched into the palm of his right hand-the mark of an angel. But where there is light, dark follows, and she and Garreth suddenly find themselves vulnerable to a dark angel’s malicious plan that could threaten not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows. Divinely woven together, Angel Star takes readers on a reflective journey when one angel’s sacrifice collides with another angel’s vicious ambition in a way that is sure to have readers searching for their own willpower. 

The story in pictures:

 

My opinion:

For me this book had some good things and some bad things. I’m a bit ambivalent about main character Teagan. On the one hand she’s a nice character, a bit shy, friendly, introverted and lonely. Most of the time her feelings are written quite realistically and feel genuine. But, I missed a bit of a deeper connection with her because at some major scenes in the book Teagans feelings seem quite shallow. Especially when someone important to Teagan dies, it almost seems as though she doesn’t feel anything. What I did like about Teagan was her development from shy and lonely girl to a self-assured person who knows her worth and strengths.

The romance in this novel is sweet and innocent. I liked the fact that guardian angel Garreth fell for his charge Teagan and was willing to prove his love by breaking the rules and helping her. However, because the story only covers eight days the romance becomes incredibly rushed and feels a little bit too much like insta-love. I get that Garreth has been with Teagan a long time and fell for her through the years, that part doesn’t seem rushed, but the fact that Teagan falls in love with Garreth in just two or three days isn’t realistic to me. It would have helped if the story took longer than eight days.

I liked Garreth a lot. He’s a sweetheart and always puts Teagan first. His protectiveness was fun to read about and didn’t seem creepy stalker-like like in so many other YA novels about angels, vampires or other supernatural creatures that fall in love with humans.

Antagonist Hadrian is very cool too. I’ve got a feeling that he’s more complex and his feelings run deeper than this first novel leads us to believe. He’s one of those mysterious characters that you want to find out more about. I like that whole dark, tortured thing he has going on, especially because there seems to be light and good left in him. I’m really curious to find out more about him.

I also liked the worldbuilding and suspense in this book. The story world was realistic and the whole angel lore was well developed. I loved everything about the guardian angels, octograms, bloodties and willpower. Hopefully the next book will explore some of these things in more detail 🙂 The suspense is well-dosed and the pace is moderate which ensures that the tension remains high while the story doesn’t develop too fast.

If you like sweet, romantic stories about love, angels and discovering your own strength, you will surely love this book! It has nice characters and a very cool antagonist, an original take to angels and lots of tension and drama.

The tour continues tomorrow on Ivette Amesz’ blog: http://ivettemeteeni.blogspot.nl/

Giveaway (only for The Netherlands and Belgium):

‘Wil jij leuke swag winnen? Ding mee naar ons geweldige prijzenpakket van STER VAN ACHT van Jennifer Murgia door dit bericht op je tijdlijn te delen. Niet alleen kun je diverse gesigneerde kaarten, boekenleggers en hangertjes winnen, maar dit swagpakket bevat ook nog eens de gedrukte versie van Rijk der Zielen (dat nergens los te koop is, alleen als eboek). Actie loopt tot en met 9 oktober en de winnaars krijgen na 16 oktober bericht of ze gewonnen hebben.
Prijzenpakket 1: 1 black angel hanger, 1 bedelarmband, 1 angel ring, 1 gesigneerde kaart, 1 originele boekenlegger uit de VS, 1 book plate gesigneerd door Jennifer Murgia, 1 gedrukt exemplaar van Rijk der Zielen.
Prijzenpakket 2: 1 octagram-hanger, 1 gesigneerde kaart, 1 originele boekenlegger uit de VS, 1 boekenlegger van de Nederlandse editie van Ster van Acht
Prijzenpakket 3: 1 gesigneerde kaart, 1 originele boekenlegger uit de VS, 1 boekenlegger van de Nederlandse editie van Ster van Acht
Troostprijs 1: 1 gesigneerde kaart, 1 boekenlegger van de NL editie
Troostprijs 2: 1 gesigneerde kaart, 1 boekenlegger van de NL editie

giveaway swag

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/30768de734/?

 

 

The key to unlock a heart

Hey you all! I’m a bit behind in posting reviews and updating my Goodreads reading challenge but the upcoming days I will be remedying that. Today I’m going to share a review with you guys and girls about Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen. Last year I bought my first book by Sarah (Saint Anything) and I kinda fell in love with her writing style and the way she builds her characters. Let me try to convince you why you should pick up a Sarah Dessen book too 😉

lock and key

What’s the story about?

Ruby Cooper likes to expect the worst. That way, she’s never disappointed. Abandoned by her mother and forced to leave the house she calls home, Ruby is facing too many changes. Her lonely world has been transformed into a life of luxury by her long lost sister, but all Ruby wants to do is leave – she can make it on her own. Even Nate, the gorgeous boy-next-door can’t seem to change her mind. Will Ruby realize first impressions don’t always count? And that sometimes, people can surprise you, so it’s ok to let the closest ones in …

Why should you read this story?

Let me start with the main character. I absolutely loved Ruby! She’s such a realistic character. At first she has a giant wall around her heart. She lets nobody close enough to touch her heart. All her relationships are shallow and people don’t really know her. She’s so good at keeping to herself and caring for herself that it takes a couple of months before people realize that she’s living alone in the rental home where she and her mom have lived for the past year or so. Ruby doesn’t mind fending for herself, she’s been doing it almost her entire life. She’s used to people abandoning her. But as she is not yet 18 she is required to live with an adult. That’s how Ruby ends up living with her sister Cora, who she hasn’t seen in ten years and her brother-in-law, whom she’s never met before. All Ruby wants is to be left alone. Especially by the sister who left her with their alcoholic mother. However, it’s hard to keep to yourself when the people around you want to give you everything and expect very little in return. And when the cute and friendly boy next door goes out of his way to make you feel welcome and loved it’s hard to keep your heart hardened. Along the way Ruby learns to forgive, love and live, but above all that people can surprise you and can love you unconditionally.

Love interest Nate was also very realistic and swoonworthy. He’s friendly, fun, caring and adorable, yet at the same time mysterious and closed off about his own personal life. The way Ruby and he fell for each other and helped each other to get the life they both deserved was so beautiful. I loved the way Nate helped everybody out, yet was unable to ask for help himself. Ruby and Nate were really perfect for each other.

This book was such an emotional read. I loved how Ruby and her sister Cora resolved the issues from their past and how their bond became strong again when all the misunderstanding and hard feelings got resolved. Cora’s husband Jamie was also a really great character and all around good guy. I loved the relationship between the two and how cute they were together. I also really liked the way Jamie went out of his way to give Ruby a better life and to stay positive and understanding towards her eventhough Ruby sometimes made this quite hard. Nate’s problems were also written really well and the way he tried to keep his personal life hidden for everybody was also very realistic, yet extremely sad and frustrating at times haha. All these different relationships and troubles made the book a rollercoaster of feelings. I think this is the best book by Sarah Dessen I’ve read so far ❤

If you’re looking for a romantic story with realistic characters and realistic problems you definitely need to pick this one up! It’s beautiful, sad, hopeful, and has a happy ending that will leave a smile on your face when you turn the last page. Lock & Key is a definite must-read!

In the fight for freedom no one can stand alone

Hey you guys and girls! Today I’m going to be doing something new. A little while ago I was asked if I wanted to participate in a blogtour. I had no clue what that was, but it is really fun! A couple of bloggers are asked to read the same book, then one by one, on a set date, the bloggers post reviews about that book on their personal blogs and as a result people can read lots of different opinions on one and the same book while at the same time taking a tour through many different blogs. I’m going to kick off this blogtour which revolves around N.22, a Dutch YA dystopia, written by Joyce Roele. Let me first give you a description (translated to English) and then I will tell you why you should read this book (because it was awesome!)

Kate has a healing ability and because of it she has been held captive by the government for two years and counting. Before she was taken away from home her mother gave her four basic rules which would keep her alive in the laboratories. However, now, after two years, these rules are the reason why her body is shutting down. Kate has given up all hope of freedom, especially now that she has been sent to laboratory Mentha. A chance encounter changes her monotonous life forever.

Alexander and Lena are searching for their best friend Kate. Alexander is convinced it is his fault that Kate’s gift got discovered and he will do anything to free her and fix his mistake. The search is full of danger and choices they never thought they would have to make.

Will Mentha be Kate’s end of the road? Or can she escape this nightmare with the help of her friends?N22_1

Well, if that description didn’t trigger you let me help you by making the choice to read this book much simpler 😉

Kate is a wonderful heroine. She’s lonely, almost completely broken and balances on the brink of death and yet she still hasn’t given up and still hasn’t lost her compassion. Whenever she sees someone who needs help she will rush in to make that person better, even if it will cost her the little reserve of energy she has left after two years of constant torture and famine. The two years she spent in researchfacilities she has kept to herself, never showing emotions, never talking, fading into the background, all in an effort to stay as much out of sight of the labtechs as possible. But when she meets young Zoë she can’t keep her distance. This sweet little girl can’t be left to fend for herself, so, Kate decides to break one of her mothers rules and befriends Zoë. This one decision turns her life upside down and sets into motion inevitable events that will lead to Kate’s freedom or her death.

Alexander was a bit more elusive as a character. He struggles with survivors guilt because Kate used her gift to help him and as a result she got captured. He has put his life on hold so he can track Kate down and help her, but the search is slow and hard as there are multiple laboratories where the gifted are observed and ‘disected’ and all of them are guarded. Luckily, Alex has a gift of his own that enables him to create illusions. Except for his guilt and will to find Kate, Alexander is not really a rounded character. The reader gets only glimpses of his inner world and to me he wasn’t all that remarkable or likable. At times I found him a bit immature. Needless to say that Alexander wasn’t one of my favorite characters.

Branden, however, stole my heart. He’s annoying, loves to tease both Kate and Zoë, yet at the same time is really sweet and tender and cares more for others than he lets on. He’s a bit of a mystery and wildcard and therefore I loved him. Whenever Kate’s in pain or trouble he is by her side, while at the same time he keeps her on edge and in the present by teasing and antagonizing her. I’m really hoping Branden and Kate will end up together. So, keeping my fingers crossed for the next books!

I loved the pace in this book. It was gradual and yet really suspenseful. As reader you follow Kate in her horrible life that consists of cruel tests, eating and sleeping. Her only moments of solace are the ones she spends with Zoë and Branden and her daydreams about the beach and ocean. Because the pace is not too fast you get to know Kate really well and will hope that the future has something better in store for her. However, even though the pace is gradual the tension remains high. From the very first page I wondered how this story would end and I kept turning pages to find out what would happen next in Kate’s life and if Alexander and Lena would find their friend in time.

Another thing I loved was the writing style. Joyce has a fresh and easy writing style that reads very pleasant. At the same time her writing is poetic and there is more than one beautiful sentence in this book that will make a perfect quote!

The worldbuilding in this first book in the series was a bit rudimentary, but that is to be expected as most of the book takes place in the same setting. However there are a few hints as to the world outside the research facilities. It seems like people are born into their circumstances and can’t get out of them (so if you are born in a industrial town you will probably end up working in the factory for the government). Children are educated to perform certain professions, so this also seems to point to a society that is strictly ordered and where people have little or no choice in what they want to do. There is also mention of the world being torn apart by natural disasters and rebuild to its former grandeur, but this isn’t explained in detail. The government is, at this stage, a shadow in the background as the only thing you know as reader is that they imprison special people. I’m looking forward to the next books and to discovering more about this world.

The only thing I liked less was the fact that some parts of the book and the writing style reminded me very much of Tahereh Mafi’s Touching Juliette trilogy. I got the feeling that the writer was very much inspired by this serie and based at least part of her book on it. However, because there were enough differences with Tahereh’s trilogy and because N.22 is written so well it didn’t bother me that much. Hopefully the next books will be completely different than any other stories because this series has everything in it to become a bestseller and deserves to be an original!

If you’re looking for a suspenseful, emotional dystopia with a great heroine, fun side characters and a beautiful writingstyle, look no further because N.22 has got it all!

The light that has to shine through the darkness always shines brighter – part two.

Hey you guys and girls, a couple of days ago I promised to post reviews of book two and three of the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, but my laptop decided it didn’t feel like working haha. So my posts are a bit delayed, but today I will be discussing Siege and Storm  the second book in the trilogy! Let me start with a description and then I will tell you why you have to read this one. If you don’t like spoilers, don’t read this post!

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

storm and siege

In the first book we saw how Alina became the Sun Summoner and how she was betrayed by both the Darkling and Genya. The Darkling almost enslaved Alina by using Morozova’s first amplifier against her, but at the last minute Alina managed to break free from his hold and use her powers to rescue Mal and herself by sacrificing everyone on the Darkling’s skiff to the darkness and the Volcra in the Fold. Now, Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling’s men, taking them across the True Sea to Novyi Zem.

It doesn’t take long before Mal and Alina are found and captured. The Darkling not only survived the Shadow Fold, somehow he has gained new powers enabling him to create and summon the nichevo’ya, creatures of darkness and shadow. Mal and Alina are brought on board of the Volkvolny, the ship of a privateer called Sturmhond. The ship will take them back across the True Sea towards the Bone Road where the legendary Sea Whip called Rusalye, a sea serpent and Morozova’s second amplifier, is rumored to live. The Darkling forces Mal to track the serpent by threatening to torture Alina, and plans to use the second amplifier just like the first by binding Alina’s powers to him. However, the Darkling’s plans are thwarted by the enigmatic captain who turns out to be not just a privateer, but also the youngest son of the king of Ravka.

I LOVE sturmhond aka Nikolai Lantsov. This character has got to be one of my alltime favorites! Nikolai is witty, sarcastic, adventurous, charming, a little bit crazy and all around awesome. He has the best one-liners and adds so much humor and light-heartedness to the books. Moreover, Nikolai is not just a funny and pretty guy, he creates his own ships (both flying and sea faring) and weapons and stands up for what’s right and just. To give you a little sneak peek: here are some of his best lines 😉

 

In this book Mal and Alina’s love is put to the test as Mal is just a simple tracker, while Alina is the powerful Sun Summoner, Ravka’s only hope in the battle for their country, freedom and lives. Mal chooses to let Alina go in order to help her be all that she can be, but their love is not so easily extinguishable.

There’s a new love triangle in this second book between Alina and Nikolai, but it is pretty clear that Alina still has feelings for Mal and that Nikolai and her are more best friends than lovers, so I didn’t really mind this new triangle. Besides, Nikolai is just too fun a character to get annoyed haha.

The suspense in this book is turned up a notch as the Darkling not only plans to expand the Fold, but also wants to take over leadership of Ravka and the rest of the continent. Together with Nikolai and some of his crew members Alina and Mal form a plan to stop the Darkling and save the kingdom, but will their plan work… And more importantly will everybody survive this battle?

This book is full of action, love, friendship, adventure and magic! A must-read for all YA-fantasy fans.

 

The light that has to shine through the darkness always shines brighter.

It’s been a while since my last post, not because I didn’t read any books, but because there were a few books I read that I didn’t finish because I really didn’t like them. But I won’t write a post about these books, because I rather write about books that I loved ;). Luckily, after a few misses I hit the jackpot! There’s only one word that describes my feelings for the trilogy that blew me away. Wow! Just wow. I just finished reading the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and I’m in awe. These books were so, so good! They’ve got everything I love: strong and well-developed characters, suspense, love, magic, great worldbuilding, and an antagonist who’s got so many dimensions that he will keep surprising you (sometimes in the worst ways). Today I will be reviewing the first book in the series called Shadow and Bone and tomorrow and the day after that I will review the other books. Let me first give you a description and then I will convince you why you absolutely have to read this trilogy (if you haven’t already!)

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

 

Lets start with main character Alina. She’s such a great heroine. All her life she has felt invisible. The only joy in her life has been her best friend Mal who has been with her since they were little kids in the orphanage. But now Mal has loads of friends and girls chasing after him, leaving Alina feeling lonely and neglected. For years she’s been hiding the fact that she has a major crush on Mal, but lately it’s been extremely hard to keep those feelings secret. Especially when girls that are far more pretty than her are vying for his attention.

Life for Alina changes in one fateful moment. Alina, Mal and the rest of their regiment are tasked with a mission to protect a skiff that is about to set out over the Fold, a barren wasteland filled with darkness and human eating monsters that was created by a magical experiment gone wrong. The only way to cross the Fold is by illuminating the way as the monsters can’t stand the light. The mission soon goes terribly wrong as the skiff is plunged in darkness. When Alina sees Mal getting grabbed by one of the Volcra something inside her breaks free and a blinding light emerges from her body. The Volcra retreat and the skiff returns to port, where Alina is taken to the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha (humans with magical abilities). Because of her extraordinary talent she is whisked away by the Darkling to the Little Palace, the place where all Grisha are trained. Once there she discovers that she’s stronger than she ever thought.

At the Little Palace Alina not only learns how to use her abilities as Sun Summoner, but she also learns to fight, to depend on herself and her own strengths. In short she discovers her selfworth and the person she is without Mal. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t need him in her life or that she doesn’t miss him, but all this time she has looked up to Mal and let him take the lead and now she has to deal with all the things that life throws at her without him.

Mal is also a great character. At the start you feel as though he is a bit of an arrogant jerk. As if looks and girls are all he cares about and that he takes Alina for granted. However, later on the reader gets to know the real Mal. A boy who excells at tracking, who cares deeply for his best friend and who will stop at nothing to keep Alina safe.

Mal and Alina are by no means the only two great characters in this book. The Darkling is an awesome character balancing between good and evil and who will keep you guessing the entire trilogy if he can be redeemed. He’s got so many dimensions that I’m still trying to figure out what I think of him. On the one hand he’s kind, lonely and intuitive. On the other hand he is terrible, cruel and willing to kill for what he wants. Another cool character is Genya. A Grisha girl who is treated as an outcast among her peers because of her talent to alter peoples looks and the way the king uses her as nothing more than a whore. Alina and Genya soon become best friends because they are both different than the other Grisha. But, is their friendship real or does Genya have an ulterior motive for befriending Alina?

The worldbuilding in this trilogy is awesome! The author has used parts of Russian history (especially that of the tsar period) to create a unique fantasy world where multiple countries are at war with each other. Ravka is the country where Alina lives and where the Grisha are part of the armed forces. Added to this well-developed worldbuilding is a very cool system of magic and magic users that’s explained in this picture 🙂

grisha orders

How cool is that? This system of magic is so well thought out and logical, making it utterly believable.

I absolutely loved the romance in this book. This was one of the only books where I didn’t mind the love triangle. The feelings between Alina and Mal were not evenly balanced at the start of the story making the fact that Alina was hurt and looking for someone to love her realistic and logical. The feelings between Alina and the Darkling seemed real and sincere in the beginning but soon you start to wonder if the Darkling has other reasons to seduce her. Therefore, when Mal returns and saves Alina and confesses that he does love her and that he didn’t notice this until she disappeared, it doesn’t come across as a cheap trick to create tension like in so many other YA books. The funny thing was that I loved both guys just as much, and didn’t have a preference for one or the other (at least not in this first book haha).

Everybody who loves fantasy, well-developed characters, an antagonist who balances between good and evil, awesome worldbuilding and a unique use of magic based in science should definitely read this one!

 

Friends can be found in the most unlikely places if one just remembers to look with different eyes

One of my resolutions was to post reviews more often and I think I’m succeeding in that resolution haha. I can’t promise I will post a review every day, but I will post something when I’ve read a book that was special to me in any kind of way. Yesterday I finished reading Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi and I’m completely in love with this book! It’s so, so good!!! First, let me give you a description and then I will try to convince you why you should buy and read this book.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

I think by now probably everybody knows I love retellings. So when I heard Tahereh Mafi had written an Alice in Wonderland retelling I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. And now that I’ve read it I’m never going to forget it anymore! Do you ever feel like cuddling a book because it just was that good and that inspiring? Well, I want to cuddle this book, stroke it and kiss it for good measure too. Why? I will tell you why!

Alice is one of those main characters who crawls under your skin and won’t budge once settled. She’s sweet, extremely lonely and sad, but at the same time incredibly resilient. Because of the color (or lack thereof) of her skin she has always been an outsider. People in Ferenwood believe she has no magic and in a world where magic and color are tremendously important someone who lacks both is just not that interesting. The only one who ever cared for Alice (or so she believes) is her father, but it’s been three years since she last saw him. Now, she has nobody. Her mother seems to hate her, she can’t go to school because she was expelled after she attacked her bully and now she doesn’t have any friends. Even her little brothers don’t really seem to care if she’s there or not. The only thing that keeps her from giving up is the promise of a better life once she has partaken in the Surrender. The Surrender is the day when all children who have turned twelve present their town with the magic they carry inside. Once they have surrendered their gift they will be given a task to complete that will determine which job and higher education they will get. However, Alice hates her real magical talent and refuses to acknowledge she possesses it. Instead, she focuses all her energy on her love to dance and her ability to hear the music of the world. But this is not a magical talent and when she presents this ability at the Surrender she receives a 0, a score Alice didn’t believe was possible. All her hopes and dreams are crushed. That’s where her old bully Oliver comes in.

Oliver is one of those characters that keep surprising you. He lies, he teases, he manipulates and he is arrogant. Yet, at the same time he can be really kind and sweet. He’s got layers and layers of personality, like an onion that has to be peeled to get to the mushy core. Oliver is thirteen and a year ago he received the task to rescue Alice’s father from the dangerous world of Furthermore, where magic runs rampant and visitors are tricked, tortured and eaten. Really a lovely place to be ;). Even though Oliver tried with all his might to rescue Alice’s father he needs help. Help from the girl he teased and who possesses a special kind of magic that would come in quite handy in Furthermore. When Oliver witnessess Alice’s failure at her Surrender he comforts her and persuades her to come with him. And that is where a grand adventure starts.

I absolutely loved the worldbuilding in this book. Allthough it’s full of silliness and humor, the storyworld works according to a set of rules established early on in the book. Never does the author digress from these established rules. So, even though the most fantastical things happen, everything makes sense within the set rules. There are towns where people aren’t allowed to sleep, there are towns that are two-dimensional, towns where speaking or moving is a capital offence and towns that love visitors especially because visitors can be eaten. But most importantly in Furthermore there is one commodity that is regulated very strictly. What commodity could be that important in a world where magic runs rampant? Well, Time of course, because people need time to make sound decisions and in Furthermore people don’t like thinking because than visitors would be able to circumvent traps and dangers. So, at the start of every journey through Furthermore people receive a ruler filled with time and inscribed with a Tibbin (a sort of emergency solution in times of extreme danger that can only be used once). Every visitor has to complete his journey within the time he or she has been given otherwise they are arrested for stealing time.

Another thing I loved was the friendship between Alice and Oliver. At the start they are enemies. Alice hates Oliver because he teased her in school and called her ugly because of her lack off color. Oliver doesn’t know how to deal with Alice, the only one who doesn’t seem to be affected by his powers of Persuasion and that’s the reason why he teases and torments her. Along the way they will discover that they are not that different at all. Their friendship develops realistically and they meet a lot of bumps and obstacles on the road to becoming friends because Oliver is so used to lying and manipulating and Alice has a hard time trusting people and showing what she feels.

The personal journey of discovery that Alice makes was also really beautiful. At the start of the book she longs to be like everybody else and hates that she is so different. But at the end she learns that the things that set her apart are the things that make her her. She learns that she can’t change the way people look at her, but she can change the way she reacts to that and how she looks at herself. In this book there are a lot of life lessons (about love, about friendship, about the way we perceive things) interwoven with all the magic and silliness, which makes for not only a really fun read but also a very satisfying and maybe for some even an eye-opening one.

Everybody who loves retellings, magical and wonderfilled stories, tales of friendship and love, and a story with great characters should pick this one up! You won’t be sorry, I promise you 🙂

Catch a falling star – part three

It’s time to share my final review with you guys and girls about Nora Roberts’ Guardians trilogy. The third book is called Island of Glass (Het glazen eiland in Dutch). As always I will start with a description and then I will share my opinion with you all.

glazen-eiland

As the hunt for the Star of Ice leads the six guardians to Ireland, Doyle, the immortal, must face his tragic past. Three centuries ago, he closed off his heart, yet his warrior spirit is still drawn to the wild. And there’s no one more familiar with the wild than Riley—and the wolf within her…

An archaeologist, Riley is no stranger to the coast of Clare, but now she finds herself on unsure footing, targeted by the dark goddess who wants more than the stars, more than the blood of the guardians. While searching through Irish history for clues that will lead them to the final star and the mysterious Island of Glass, Riley must fight her practical nature and admit her sudden attraction to Doyle is more than just a fling. For it is his strength that will sustain her and give her the power to run towards love—and save them all…

In this third book the guardians have traveled to county Clare in Ireland, to the home of Bran and the birthplace of Doyle. The last two guardians, Riley and Doyle, are the main characters. Throughout the trilogy you will come to know much about Riley. She’s an archaeologist with a large network of acquantainces who can hook her up with anything and everything she requires. She’s the brain of the operation, where Sasha is the heart and Annika the soul. Riley is logical, extremely loyal, fierce and tough-ass. A great heroine. The fact that she’s a werewolf only adds to the fun. Her character intrigued from the start of the trilogy and I really liked to read from her point of view.

Main character Doyle is a bit more elusive. In the previous books he didn’t seem to play a major role and he is really private and reserved. As a result I didn’t really feel about this character. As always Nora Roberts masterfully develops her characters and slowly reveals what Doyle is struggling with thanks to his curse of immortality. I did come to like him as a result and really hoped he would get his happily ever after.

If you read a lot of Nora Roberts books you know she writes romance books, so naturally in this book Doyle and Riley fall for each other. However, this love felt too much like instant love for me. In the previous books these two characters didn’t really seem to care much about each other, certainly not more than new friends do. That they would end up together was not obvious from the development of the previous books and as such didn’t feel realistic to me. In my first review about Stars of Fortune I talked a bit about the plot Nora Roberts uses in all of her paranormal series, and in this plot structure we find an explanation for the reason why Doyle and Riley would end up together. It seems as if these two characters were only put together because they were simply the last two guardians and the last two unattached people. This doesn’t make for great romance. Only at the end of the book did I start to feel something towards the romance between these two. A bit of foreshadowing in the previous books would have gone a long way in making this romance feel less insta-love and more like a proper romance.

Another thing I didn’t much like about this book was the fact that the search for the Star of Ice was again really similar to the search for the other stars. Some research is done, Riley calls in a few favors and the team goes diving in underwater caves. And when they are not diving they are doing excercises and physical training. Because this is the same m.o. as in the previous two books it gets really tiring to read. Luckily Nora mixes things up a little by hiding the Star of Ice on land in a place that means a lot to Doyle. As a result the tension that is lacking in the first part of the book gets turned up in the rest of the book. Fortunately the rest of the book is suspenseful and the battle between the guardians and Malmon and Nerezza is also written well.

What I did like about this book was the character development of both main characters. Both Riley and Doyle are written realistically and have to overcome some personal issues before they are ready to defeat the antagonist and before they can really start a relationship.

I also liked the fact that it wasn’t Riley who had to find the star, but Doyle. In the previous books the women were pivotal in the quest, but here it is the man.

If you’re looking for a romantic trilogy with a suspenseful ending, fantastic elements, and well-developed characters then you should definitely read this one! The romance in this last book fell a bit short for me, but luckily that was made up for in the end. Overall I really did like this trilogy, despite its flaws :).