Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms

MAL Synopsis:

The story begins with Maquia, who is from a family where all the members stop aging in their mid teens. She has no parents and, although her days are peaceful, she feels lonely. Their peace is shattered when an army invades, seeking the secret to her people’s immortality. Leilia, the most beautiful girl in her clan, is taken away, and the boy Maquia has secret feelings for disappears. Maquia is able to escape, but she loses her friends and her home. Wandering alone in the forest, she finds Erial, a baby boy who has lost his parents. The story follows the changing relationship between the two as Erial grows up and Maquia does not.

Commentary:

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My friend recommended that I watch Maquia. She attended this year’s Anime Expo, and had the opportunity to see the movie. It came out in my local theater, and it blew me away. Maquia is set in a fantasy past, filled with immortals and dragons from mythology. Maquia belongs to a clan that never ages, and for that, a neighboring kingdom targets her village in order to establish dominance over the world.

Maquia is separated from her people, and faces the world on her own until she stumbles upon a young baby. Maquia adopts the baby, despite her having a different lifespan from humans. Essentially, the main theme of this movie revolves around motherhood. Maquia is a young girl, who is introduced as alone, and you can guess that she was an orphaned in her village. With baby Ariel, Maquia blends into the society, but she could never stay in one spot. She has no permanent home, and this is a problem especially as Ariel grows older.

This movie is emotionally driven, you know that Maquia will outlive her son, but as a movie goer, I had hope for a more positive ending. Maquia made me cry. The ending was extremely sad, but the movie was just so good. Though the tale is about Maquia and her experiences of motherhood, there is a complex political struggle happening in the background. Maquia and her people were sought to out due to their immortality. Her people were prized by a kingdom that tried to establish a hegemony over their society. Maquia is connected to the politics, due to her friendship with the queen. This movie establishes how much a mother is willing to go for her child.

Ariel was provided a happy childhood, and experience. As he grew into a teenager and adult, he has conflicting feelings for Maquia. The child version of Ariel is devoted to his mother, and willing to please her. Maquia tries to keep a normal childhood for her son, though people regard her as strange. There is a point in the movie when Ariel’s friends make fun of him for liking his mom. The teen version of Ariel suffers with conflicting feelings over Maquia. Ariel loves his mother, and is conflicted because they appear to be the same age outwardly. In his teenage years, he suffers a identity crisis because Maquia is viewed as his sister, and he has no means of protecting her.

I really wanted a relationship to be established between Maquia and Lang. There were a couple events in the movie that would have allowed for a romantic relationship for Maquia. This movie is not about romance, but a love that is pure and kind, and endless: Motherhood. Maquia loved Ariel as her son, no matter what happened to her. She devoted her life to raising her child, and that makes this story beautiful and unique, and well worth your time.

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Maquia is a beautiful story, and you will find yourself in tears by the end. It is worth it to see! The animation and music are beautiful. I had no idea that Mari Okada directed this! It was wonderful. I’ve seen her other works like Anohana.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐

ARC: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

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goodreads-synopsis

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

commentaryHey guys, it has been nearly a year since I last wrote a book review. Sounds crazy? I know. I’ve been busy with my undergrad education and I occasionally read on the side, but didn’t have enough time to read as I used to. My finals are over, and I am attempting my first book review of the year. I have been reading a lot more, and felt inspired to write once again.

My good friend had an extra copy of Furyborn by Claire Legrand that she recieved in the Fairyloot Novemeber 2017 box. I traded her a couple books for it because I was highly looking forward to reading Furyborn. For my list of 2018 books, Furyborn was high on my list. I took Furyborn to the Philippines spring break vacation, but I never managed to pick it up. Returning to the States, and readjusting to my school schedule, I manange to find time to read Furyborn.

Darn it! I was hoping that Furyborn was going to have a lot of action and kickass female protagonists, but I am highly disappointed with what I read. Actually, extremely disappointed. I wanted to drop the book so badly.

What went wrong? Despite the prologue being the best written chapter in the book, it gave so many spoilers away! Especially concerning Rielle. The book is about two prophecized queens. One queen is told to bring destruction, whereas the other queen is the opposite. The prologue lets the reader know that Rielle is the Blood Queen. I wanted some buildup to this story. It sucks that as a reader, you know that Rielle becomes the queen to bring destruction to the world. In addition, the prologue gave away the connection Rielle has with Eliana despite the two characters living in two different time periods.

Which storyline was better? In Furyborn, there are two storylines to follow. One is Rielle and the past events that led to the decline of magic. She undergoes trials to prove that she is the Sun Queen, but you would already know that she becomes the Blood Queen. Reading her chapters were a bit frustrating because you know the fate of Rielle. You know that she will pass the trials and betray her people. I wanted to skip her chapters. Finally, the villain was revealed in the prologue! THERE WAS NO BUILDUP TO THIS STORY.  When it comes to Rielle, she is easily manipulated by those around her. She has the ability of all 7 powers in her kingdom. When Rielle starts hearing voices, she accepts doesn’t question it! Rielle converses with the voice in her head that happens to be a guy who she doesn’t know. Instead of worrying about her mental state, she falls in love with the voice…and converses with her new voice…and seeks advice from this voice…never having met this person….ugh. The story presents a frustrating love triangle in which Rielle is stuck between loving her childhood friend Prince Audric, and the voice in her head, Corien…I hated this love triangle so badly. 

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When it comes to Eliana’s pov, she was a frustrating character as well. She is known as The Dread of Orline. Eliana is supposed to be a badass assassin, but the story presents a character with wishy washy mentality. It was hard understanding the plot of Eliana’s chapters. I can’t take Eliana seriously. At least, I was spared from reading about a tedious love triangle. But once again, this story is filled with insta-love. The guy characters are not well developed. Prince Audric was okay. He was understanding of Rielle, and never questioned her motives. As for Simon, you find out who he is in the prologue as well. I would have placed the prologue near the end of the book to have a shocking revelation, but I guess that there is more to be told about Rielle later on in the series…

What Furyborn lack was introducing the folklore of the land. Angels are the villains of the book, and they have been locked behind a gate. But you don’t know what they did? This book hardly mentions the mythology, which would have been a great addition. I would have rated this book higher if I need more details about the angels. As for the magic system, everyone gets their power from the empirium, which is not explained. I’ll assume its an omnipresent power activator or a god that existed in the world. Where was the world buidling in this book? The stakes were high, but I did not find myself attached to the charactesrs.  Furyborn was a hot mess for me, and it is such as shame. The cover is gorgeous, the synoposis sounded amazing, but the delivery was not there. As for other books in the series, I might check out the following book to see what happens. Hopefully the author improves the story, but you can only hope.

ARC: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

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goodreads-synopsis

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

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I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me an ARC of Blood Rose Rebellion. All opinions are my own.

Let’s talk about Blood Rose Rebellion. What a book. I literally don’t have any words to describe this one. My first warning sign should have been for fans of Red Queen, but I did not want to immediately judge the book. I was in the mood for historical fiction. I saw Blood Rose Rebellion on NetGalley and it had a unique synopsis. Now, I’ve never read a YA fantasy/historical fiction book set during the Hungarian Revolution. It was something new. Something exciting. Something fresh. Blood Rose Rebellion was not. Well, once again I have no words to describe how I about this book.

What I appreciate is that the author took a lot of time educating herself with Hungarian history. Kudos to her. But though her hard work was put into her book, I cannot say this book was terrific. It was very underwhelming.

Anna Arden is manipulated easily. People tell her what to do and she does it! She does not think for herself! Throughout the whole story, she was manipulated by her peers and friends. It was frustrating reading about a character who could not make up her own mind. She was foolish when to came to deciding on who was right or wrong. She did not take time to analyze the situations presented to her. I really had a difficult time warming up to Anna because she was so reckless and destructive to everyone around her.

Folks: EVERY DECISION ANNA MADE RESULTED IN HORRIBLE EVENTS TAKING PLACE!

A lot of tragedy could have been avoided if the girl had used her reason. Besides having a puppet mentality, she was driven to do certain things because of boys. Not saying that being boy crazy is a bad thing, but she put any guy she liked on a pedestal over her family. In the beginning she is head over heels for a man named Freddy. Though Freddy is a jerk and an irrelevant love interest, Anna would do anything for Freddy. She even sabotaged her sister’s magical debut. I found myself not liking the relationship Anna had with her sister. No sisterly love whatsoever. Instead, both sisters competed for a guy who did not chose either of them. As I mentioned Freddy is irrelevant compared to the other love interests.

Talk about boring love interests. By the way, one of Anna’s love interests is her second cousin. So yeah, there’s incest in this book. I was not a fan of both love interests. The love interests were not fleshed out. It seemed like all the boys were attracted to Anna, and I was shaking my head. No, no, no, no. Another case of a special snowflake that everyone loves, but I just hated. The romance was pointless because the guy characters were as bland as toast. Neither guy was great for Anna. And she was not great for them.

Many characters are introduced throughout the book. Luckily there was a glossary at the end of the book that served as a reference guide when I felt lost. The only likable characters from Blood Rose Rebellion were her cousin Noemi and her grandmother who were the voices of reason. Those two characters wanted to keep Anna in check from committing dumb decisions. Yeah, they tried in keeping her safe, but did not succeed. Unfortunately.

By the way, this book starts off really slowly. Nothing was happening and then everything became extremely dark near the end. The book had great concepts such as introducing demonic monsters and incorporating true historical events into the story. The mythology was cool as well just because it was new to me. But even though all those story elements were great, it did not work with Blood Rose Rebellion. Too much information and explanations that dragged on and on. Oh my goodness, I had to put this book down several times. I felt that I was mostly skimming through some of the chapters.

The most entertaining sections were the overly dark chapters that were added too late into the game. After reading Blood Rose Rebellion, I am not picking up the other books in the series. I can see potential of more books, but after reading this book with no plot and flat characters, and a pointless romance, I would just stop and move on with my life. I did not like it, but maybe anyone else will.

Final Rating:⭐️⭐️

Aisuru by Anma Natsu

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goodreads-synopsis

“You told me before that you’d never regret meeting me. Do you still feel that way now?”

Eighteen-year-old Sakura has spent her high school years living in self-imposed isolation. She’s carefully perfected her role as a cold, stuck up snob at school to keep her classmates, her teacher, the world at a distance so they will never learn the truth: about the night her father’s mental illness tore her world apart, leaving her an orphan and living on borrowed time.

To help her get through the pain, the kind man who adopted her would spin fantastical stories about his childhood friend Kazuki, a magical yokai from another world. Harmless fairy tales to take her mind off things, or so she always thought…

Until the night she finds Kazuki lying wounded in her garden. With the handsome yokai now sharing her house, a jealous young tengu living in her cherry tree, and new friends pushing their way past her walls, Sakura’s stoic acceptance of her fate is slipping.

But is she only opening herself up to further heartache and regret or is she opening the door to a happiness she never imagined possible?

 

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I received Aisuru  on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of Aisuru. I haven’t seen many reviews on the internet, but I decided to go ahead and read it. What got me to read the book was the synopsis since it sounded like a blend of contemporary and fantasy. I was intrigued by the characters, especially Sakura. Aisuru reminded me a bit of Inuyasha and Kamisama Hajimemashita, just the whole human-yokai romantic relationship, but that’s just it.

What I was expecting was an action-paced book filled with a lot of magical scenarios and political drama. Now what I got was different than what I expected. It was good, but it wasn’t bad. I was a tad disappointed that most of the book focused on Hakodate, Japan rather than the magical kingdom of Throklana.

Alright, basic plot of the book is that Sakura is dying and has less than a year of life left. Sakura tries to be an ice queen to those around her. Most of her classmates have invented rumors about her due to her cold personality. Though Sakura puts on an act, she is actually sweet and caring. She has hidden her illness from everyone; she wants to be treated like a normal girl. She wants to do many things in her life, but knows she can’t achieve those goals. When I was reading Sakura’s pov, I did tear up. Sakura was very accepting of her fate in the beginning of the story. As chapters progressed, it became harder for her to accept her death. Though Sakura has little character growth in the book, she at least tried to live as a normal girl. She got to accomplish some of her goals on her bucket list. One of my favorite moments of the book was the introduction of Sakura’s classmates that eventually became her friends. I have to say that this book did really great when it came to friendship.

I was actually surprised that this book was a bit dark at some times. Sakura’s past was extremely sad, especially what happened to her parents. Though she was adopted into a loving home after the traumatizing events of her childhood, she grew up mostly independent. That’s one thing that I really liked about Sakura, she always did her best no matter her limitations.

Moving on to Kazuki, I felt okay about him. Kazuki is the yokai prince who is supposed to take over the kingdom while his father is on his pilgrimage. Kazuki never wanted to be king. He is the oldest sibling, but he knows that his younger brother is far more capable of being the next crown king. The author didn’t really give a great description of his features besides his long claws and white hair. So I imagined him like this that whole time:

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Though Tomoe is a far more better character than Kazuki, just saying.

Kazuki was a good guy, but a horrible leader. Here’s the thing: his kingdom is in turmoil and his brother turned against him. What does Kazuki do? Reside in the human realm and leaves his kingdom in hands of his advisors. He abandoned the throne, and though his duty is to the kingdom, he never really does anything to contribute anything. I can see why he is fascinated with the human world, but it annoyed me that it wasn’t till 75% of the book that he decided to take action. As I’ve mentioned, he was a good guy…he did have some cute moments especially with Karasu. Now Karasu was one of my favorite characters in the story. He is a yokai as well and very devoted to his master. He initially hates Sakura and doesn’t trust her whatsoever. I found Karasu to be an adorable jealous little brother. He had a sad backstory that I wish got expanded more!

Anyways, I thought that Aisuru was going have a lot of action, but I got more of a contemporary vibe. Most of the book was spent on Kazuki and Sakura doing normal errands such as cleaning, or cooking. It seemed that this was going to be a book filled with insta-love, but I am glad that the author tried to build up the romance. There wasn’t much tension between the two characters and the kiss happened out of nowhere.

As for the whole plot, I thought it could have been great if there was no conflict in the yokai realm. Since most of the book took place in the human realm, it felt a bit too much to have two conflicts because Sakura was the main focus throughout the book. The conflict in Kazuki’s realm was ignored till the end!! But, despite Aisuru’s flaws, I did find myself enjoying the book. The book did have a villain! Surprise, surprise it wasn’t the brother. I assumed it was another character…since the villain didn’t get introduced till 50% of the book. I won’t give much away, but just wow.

What I liked:

  • Sakura’s pov
  • Karasu
  • The ending was cute

I feel that Aisuru could have made a good graphic novel since the author is inspired by Japanese culture. I was mostly thinking of anime when reading this book!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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goodreads-synopsis

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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I received Three Dark Crowns in my October Owlcrate box. I didn’t have an opportunity to read it back then, but I finally got around to reading it and well, it was an interesting story…Most people loved it, but I felt it was okay.

Alright, so Three Dark Crown is about three identical sisters who have been separated for years and each one has an equal claim to the throne. The catch is that only one can be queen, and the other two sisters have to be eliminated. Each sister has a unique magical gift, so the readers are led to believe. Mirabella is the strongest rival for the throne. She controls the elements, and she has a strong following of priestesses. Though she seems most likely to become queen, she cannot bring herself to depose of her sisters because she is the only one to have childhood memories of her two sisters. Then there is Katharine who is a poisoner. She can handle any poison…or so readers are led to believe. She’s the most fragile compared to the other two sisters. The poisoners group wasn’t well explained…but what I got is that before they (the poisoners) were healers. It makes sense. For example, removing poison from patients. Maybe I’m reading too into the book. Anyways, moving on. Lastly, there is Arsinoe who does not have a gift at all. She’s supposed to be a naturalist. A naturalist is someone who controls both plants and animals. She constantly admits to other characters that she won’t make it when it comes to the tournament.

The world building was weak. I had many thoughts when reading this book since the author didn’t explain much. There were references to the mainland, though the story takes place in the island of Fennbirn. All that I know is that the people of the mainland don’t have magical gifts. Other than that, I want to know if the islanders of Fennbirn were exiled into the island, and what type of mythology they have to explain the gifts. There were some references to a goddess, but the author didn’t elaborate on it. Yeah, I know I’m going a bit off topic, but I honestly want to know what type of world the characters are living in.

Moving on to the three queens. I was initially drawn to Katharine because she’s the most physically weak, but she’s sweet. I really liked how she started becoming more confident throughout the book. As I kept reading, I ended up liking Arsinoe much more than Katharine and Mirabella. Here are the reasons why Arsinoe is the best from the three sisters.

  1. She is very supportive of her best friend, Jules.
  2. She is hardworking
  3. She is tough and brave

Other than that, I wasn’t a big fan of Mirabella. Now, one of the most interesting characters is Jules. She’s the strongest naturalist on the island. I really love how Arsinoe respects her friend, and doesn’t have jealously at all. There is something special about Arsinoe, but I’ll just wait and see for the next book.

As much as I liked the book, it did have its faults.

  • Information overload during the beginning: Since there are multiple povs in this book, it took me a while to get used to all the characters. So many characters were introduced.
  • Weak world building
  • THE WORST LOVE TRIANGLE: I’m just going to leave this gif here…

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  • It was boring: I understand that this is the first book in the series, but there were several dull moments. A lot of flirting happened during most of the book. I felt the book focused a bit too much on the romance. I assumed the sisters were going to be far more scheming…but the minor characters took care of that. The book finally got exciting near the end with an awesome cliffhanger.

Three Dark Crowns had moments of creepiness, which I highly enjoyed. If you are in the mood for a spooky book, I’d say go with this one. Have patience for Three Dark Crowns…a lot of patience till you get to the second half. That cliffhanger was really good!!! After finishing the book, I’m not sure who will become the next queen. I’m not sure how many books will be in this series, but I am looking forward to the next installment.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Withering Rose by Kaitlyn Davis

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Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Genre: Romance, Retellings, Fantasy, YA

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: What if Beauty was cursed, and the Beast was the only one who could save her? Don’t miss WITHERING ROSE, a dystopian romance from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis that reimagines the classic fairy tale of Beauty & The Beast.

“As the heat finally disappeared, I felt the bloom blossom in the very core of my soul, a rose just like my name–a ticking clock hidden behind a façade of beauty. From that moment on, my life would become a countdown, and all I could do was wait and watch as the petals of time slowly started to fall.”

Omorose Bouchene has a secret–magic. There’s only one problem. At the age of seven, an earthquake struck, catapulting her into a new world. A land made of skyscrapers and cell phones. Fast cars and fluorescent lights. A land where magic isn’t supposed to exist and anyone who wields it is the enemy.

But after ten years of hiding, she’s desperate to find a place where she can be free. Because all magic comes with a curse, and her curse is time–every ounce of power she uses strips days off of her life. The clock is winding down, and the only option left is to escape to the realm of the Beast. But the king of monsters isn’t what he seems. And the more Omorose opens her heart, the more she comes to realize that the only person she may need to fear is herself.

*This is the second book in Once Upon A Curse, a series of interconnected stand-alone novels all set in the same fantasy universe.

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I don’t know how to quite describe Withering Rose. Let me first start off by saying that it’s the second book in the series, but you don’t have to read the first book since the stories are standalone, but interconnected. 

Alright, so when I saw that Withering Rose was available on Netgalley, I wanted to read it so, so badly. The synopsis is what won me over. I’ve read a couple of Beauty and The Beast retellings and I was in the mood to read another one. I was hoping that Withering Rose was going to be the “one”. Oh, I was wrong.

I hated it. I’ve been going through a reading slump, and this book did not help whatsoever. I can’t believe I actually managed to finish reading it, because it felt like I was reading this book for months. So, the story begins with a huge earthquake as Omorose and her father are traveling to another kingdom. They find themselves transported to another world because of the earthquake, in a world without magic. Omorose is forced to keep her powers hidden because the people of her new world exterminate magical beings. Modern earth hates anything magical. In a way, present day earth can be viewed as a dystopian society in the eyes of Omorose and her father.

Her father has to work for the government in order for his and Omorose’s survival. As years go by, Omorose feels caged because she cannot use her powers. Her father forbids her from using her magic because he wants to protect her. He doesn’t want his daughter to be slaughter, but Omorose feels that by hiding her magic, she is hiding herself. Her classmates see her as the weird girl, and she hates living a second life of pretending to be someone she is not. She decides it is best to leave her father and pursue the beast. (It’s not like her father has been protecting her for years from their enemies.) The beast is a magical being that lives deep in the forest. The government has been trying to capture the beast and end magic, but his whereabouts are unknown.

The world building sucked. Completely sucked. There is no explanation on how two worlds ended up merging. It happens in the span of one chapter, the very first chapter may I add. There is no world building for Omorose’s home world. As the reader, you are left wondering what kind of world did she come from. I thought of a medieval setting, but that’s just me. I feel that if her world was based on the past, let’s say the 5th century, and somehow it merged to modern day earth, it would have been a better explanation. Anyways, the kingdoms of Omorose’s home world get transported onto modern day earth, and merge with cities. The government has been fighting off the magical users. There is no reason why there is discrimination. As you reader, you are left to assume that the present day earth is very advanced when it comes to the technology.

As for the characters, I didn’t love them. I had no attachments to the protagonist, love interest, nor secondary characters. Omorose was conflicting for me because she describes herself as strong, but honestly, she was weak for me. Her magical ability is cool. She is able to grow flowers, and every time she uses her magic, it takes a toll on her body. You would think that Omorose would be thankful for being able to survive on earth. Honestly, he father was protecting her life by forbidding her magic, but no. Unnecessary angst. Now moving on to the beast, he’s a shape-shifter and is a prince. He is angry and brooding, and isn’t loveable. Omorose and her relationship with the Beast happened instantly. At first, Omorose is completely terrified of the Beast, and he does nothing to prove her otherwise. And then, they instantly fall in love. I wasn’t a huge fan of their romance. 

After finishing Withering Rose, I won’t pick up the other books in the series. I liked the concept, but the execution wasn’t the best. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this book. A frustrating Beauty and the Beast retelling is not what I needed. I can recommend picking up A Court of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas or Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Link: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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Hey guys, it’s been a while since I last reviewed a book. I finished A Court of Mist and Fury last month. Let’s be honest here, I wasn’t a big fan of the first book in the series. I was debating on actually reading A Court Of Mist and Fury. I’m proud that I read it. There will be minor spoilers for the first book since I’m reviewing the second book. So if you’re reading this review, stop reading! You have been warned!

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If you didn’t love the first book, you’ll end up falling in love with the second book, I can guarantee that. Now, this book takes place months after Feyre has saved Prythian. She is a completely different person from the first and she has a complete personality change in this book. She is a faerie, but has a hard time adjusting to her new surroundings. She is broken. She suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. Who can blame the girl? She died in the first book. She is no longer the human huntress, but is now a fae with several magical abilities. She was saved all thanks to the High Lord of the Night Court. Even though she comes back to life, she suffers from constant nightmares and she is not getting the help she requires. Tamlin is utterly useless, there I said it, useless when it comes to helping Feyre cope with her trauma. It’s mentioned that he too is affected by what happened under the mountain. Tamlin causes Feyre more harm than anything else, and it doesn’t help that he keeps pushing her away. Their relationship physical, there is no emotional connection between the two.

Alright, A Court of Mist and Fury is going to change the way you see the male characters. Especially Tamlin. I haven’t read Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, but I know what she did to a certain character in her last book. (Unavoidable spoilers on Tumblr). I really liked Tamlin, I really did. I had to look over my ACOTAR review just to see my thoughts on him. As I’ve mentioned in my previous review, I didn’t see Tamlin as the beast…and I was right. Though I am not a huge fan of seeing Tamlin the Tool as a villain, I wished the author could have gone for another route such as Feyre falling out of love with Tamlin. The Tamlin from the first and the second book are completely different. Tamlin is such a tool…forget Tamlin and Feyre as endgame. Don’t get me started on Lucien…Lucien was my favorite character. I was looking forward to a lot more of Lucien, but I was so heartbroken. I was disappointed with the lack of Lucien and I can’t completely “hate” Lucien for his actions. I do feel that his friendship with Tamlin is borderline abusive. You may be asking why I can’t hate Lucien, well it’s because he tried to help out Feyre even though his actions failed. Lucien is pressured to be in a position that is of high status, and he can’t go against his Lord (even though Tamlin’s actions are very questionable indeed). I hope that Lucien plays a bigger role in the last book, I want him to be a spy as well.

As for Rhysand, I loved him.  Rhysand is one of the most interesting characters in ACOTAR series. He got my attention the first time around, and I adore him. I love his backstory. Rhysand truly is the “beast” while Tamlin is Gaston since it was based on Disney’s Beauty & The Beast. Now going back to Rhysand, everything had a purpose. His actions are explained, there was a reason why he acted that way towards Feyre in the first book. Rhysand has a persona to play, he’s supposed to be “wicked”, but he’s not. I really respect Rhysand as a character because he is a feminist. But as much as I love Rhysand, I did find him to be a little too perfect…that’s one of my minor issues with this book. Rhysand’s inner circle is really loveable. His inner court is fantastic, and they were such a great addition to this series. My favorite had to be Amren. Why? She has no fear whatsoever and she’s fiercely loyal to her group of friends. One of my favorite scenes with Amren had to be when she used her bounty as a paperweight. Hopefully her backstory gets told in the last book. The ladies of the Night Court are badasses. The guys are just as great, especially Cassian.

I felt that ACOMAF focused a lot more on Feyre finding her own freedom and overcoming her obstacles. Feyre is in a abusive relationship. Tamlin doesn’t do anything to comfort Feyre. There is hardly any communication between the two. Tamlin believes that material items will bring joy to Feyre. Instead of trying to resolve Feyre’s brokenness, he rather lock her up. Feyre is miserable, and it’s especially telling when Feyre constantly throws up. I really despise how he forced Feyre to adjust to her faerie life. Also, Ianthe was the worst…I did not trust her and my intuition was completely right about her. She also made Feyre suffer, for example Feyre tells Ianthe that she doesn’t want any red for the wedding and what does Ianthe do? She includes red in Feyre’s wedding. I have a couple theories on what might happen in the last book, but I’ll save that for another time. As I’ve mentioned, Feyre isn’t given any freedom in the Spring Court. When Feyre lives in the Night Court, everything is drastically different. Rhysand lets Ferye do what she wants. He doesn’t force Feyre into situations like Tamlin. Feyre doesn’t realize that was in an abusive relationship until much later in the book! I am impressed with the character development of Tamlin, Feyre, and Rhysand.

I did feel that the book did drag on a bit. It was enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but I felt that some chapters could have been cut shorter in length. I felt that the plot was stronger in ACOMAF than ACOTAR. Also, I really didn’t expect those plot twists. ACOMAF left me wanting more. I did buy my edition from Target since that edition came with a bonus story. Another minor issue I had with the book is that there were several love relationships being established. You had the main ship: Feyre and Rhysand, and others. But, I did end up liking the romantic pairs. One of my favorite secondary pairing is Cassian and Nesta, I like those two a lot. I love how Cassian,who is mostly interested in himself, finds himself captivated by a fiercely loyal human. I hope to reading more about that pairing. I’m hoping that Lucien and Elain get more scenes together in the last book since they are mates. I still don’t understand why ACOTAR & ACOMAF are labeled as YA. It’s not YA! Not with those sex scenes. Overall, ACOMAF was such a great read and there’s one book left! I can’t wait to see what happens. Especially excited since the last book is going to be a Snow White retelling, and now that I got to read!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5)

The Rose & The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

the rose and the dagger

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, Romance, Young Adult

Links: Goodreads | Amazon 

Goodreads Synopsis: The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

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The Rose & The Dagger has been very hyped up since last year, and I was one of the fans that was highly anticipating the conclusion to The Wrath & The Dawn. The hype did not kill my reading experience at all, in fact I was really excited when I was reading it. The Wrath & The Dawn duology is absolutely perfect. There were hardly any flaws in both books, and I am so glad that it was just two books.

I’ve noticed that most readers complained that the beginning of the story started off slowly, but that was not the case for me. The story was good from beginning to end. This book had several things going for it. The curse, and the upcoming war played a huge part in this book. I was stressed when I was reading the book. More than usual. And the stress wasn’t unnecessarily bad, it just made the reading experience much more fun. I was emotionally invested, and I love being transported into the world.

Now, moving on to the characters. I love Shahrzad, she is terrific and just as feisty in this book. Her character was consistent throughout the book, and she did get some character development. Shahrzad may not be physically strong, but when you mess with her, she fights like a lioness. I found her interactions with Khalid to be hilarious, especially concerning her temper. As for Khalid, he was wonderful. I really can’t imagine anyone else for Shahrzad, besides him. Also, how can you not like him?

“Two stubborn lovers, protecting each other from the very same threat.”

As for the supporting characters, I grew to love Irsa (Shahrzad’s younger sister). I loved the sister dynamic. Shahrzad is fighter and loud, while Irsa is docile and meek. I love the way how Irsa would compare herself as a meek mouse. I can completely relate with Irsa. I was glad that she got a lot of screen time in the book, and I especially love the growth she goes through. She even stands up to Khalid, even though she is completely terrified of talking back to royalty. Irsa’s story had me in tears. (That was probably the only time that I cried during reading TRATD)

I was a bit disappointed that Despina and Jalal were not as involved with the story. I really wanted more moments between Despina and Jalal. I have to say that Despina’s family history is revealed, and I was not expecting it, and what a twist. That’s one of my minor complaints from the book since I loved them in the first book. Lastly, I loved how much girl power this book had. I don’t really want to spoil this book, because it is one of my top books for this year.

Renée Ahdieh has a beautiful writing style, and she’s been one of my favorite authors since last year. If you find yourself having a reading slump, then I would highly suggest reading this series. Honestly, the first book was the one to save me from my reading slump and it has a special place in my heart.

Quotes: 

“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”

“I’ve missed the silence of you listening to me.” Shahrzad attempted a weak smile. “No one listens to me as you do.” His expression turned quizzical. “You don’t wait to speak,” she clarified. “You truly listen.” “Only to you,” Khalid replied gently.”

“For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you. Khalid”

Final Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

the star touched queen

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale Retellings, Young Adult

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

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I’ve been dying to read Star-Touched Queen since last year. It was on my never-ending tbr pile. Also, it was one of the debut novels that I was most excited to read. Alright, many bloggers either love it or hate it. Where do I fall in this category? I felt this was an okay book, I couldn’t completely love it nor hate it.

The Star-Touched Queen had a lot of potential. First, it is loosely based on Indian mythology. It’s one of the first YA books I’ve encountered that has Indian mythology. Also, it incorporates Greek mythology like the story of Hades and Persephone. Secondly, this story involves a curse. Who doesn’t like a good story about curses? Maya’s horoscope happens to be the most deadly. She has one of the worst horoscopes possible, and it doesn’t help that her family ostracizes her. And lastly, the synopsis makes this book sound amazing.

What went wrong? One of my biggest issues was the romance. I said it. Very insta-love. I would have preferred a slow built romance, or even better executed love-hate relationship. There are no love triangles if you’re wondering. Thank God. Maya is instantly drawn to Amar. Amar rescues Maya from her home. He’s introduced as the mysterious stranger coming from an unknown kingdom. Maya doesn’t really question his motives and marries Amar. She leaves behind her old home, and lives in a mysterious kingdom. Maya constantly gets frustrated because Amar can’t reveal everything to her. Even after finding out the backstory, I was still not a fan of their romance. Sure, they had many scenes together, but I didn’t feel their chemistry. If the romance were more developed, I could have rated the book higher.

I didn’t particularly like Maya. Maya is shunned from the harem of women. Everyone sees her as bad luck. There is only one family member that loves Maya and that is her half-sister Gauri. I really felt sorry for Maya. She is a princess, and is treated unkindly. She has no mother, and absolutely no one to defend her. Most of the harem women want her dead. Maya has herself to rely on. Even her father doesn’t pay much attention to her. The only time he acknowledges her presence is to force her into a political marriage. Maya has no freedom in her own home. I’ve noticed that Maya is very trusting of people. She doesn’t immediately question a person’s intentions, and because of her trust, it becomes her undoing. I did like her character development towards the second half of the book. Sadly, I would have liked a bigger redemption arc for me to like Maya. As for Amar, I liked him much more than Maya, but I did find him boring. He has the best quotes in this whole book:

“I love you,” he murmured into my hair. “You are my night and stars, the fate I would fix myself to in any life.”

I also liked how much he was shrouded in mystery. I didn’t know what to expect from Amar.

The plot didn’t really move forwards till the second half of the book. The first portion of the book did drag out a bit. This is a story about reincarnation. I felt that there wasn’t enough focus on the whole reincarnation aspect. It was glossed over. It would have been cool to know about Maya’s previous lives. Especially how she and a certain someone grew up together…but that doesn’t happen.

What I liked was the writing style. Absolutely beautiful.

“Then what do you want form me?”

“I want to lie beside you and know the weight of your dreams,” he said, brushing his lips against my knuckles. “I want to share whole worlds with you and write your name in the stars.” He moved closer and a chorus of songbirds twittered silver melodies. “I want to measure eternity with your laughter.” Now, he stood inches from me; his rough hands encircled my waist. “Be my queen and I promise you a life where you will never be bored. I promise you more power than a hundred kings. And I promise you that we will always be equals.”

The world building was just as great. And my favorite characters from this book were the horse and Gauri. Even though Gauri is hardly in the book, I like her relationship with Maya. I would have liked to have read more about their relationship.

I know this is random, but Star-Touched Queen reminded me a lot of A Court Of Thorns and Roses. Is it just me? Both books didn’t pick up till the second half. A redemption arc for both female protagonists. Tamlin and Amar were boring. There’s a curse. The villain has a tragic backstory. (Minus the whole faerie courts, and Rhysand)

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Do I recommend this book? Not really. There are other books out there that are much better. I did like how unique it was. Also, there’s a companion novel to this book which is very unnecessary. Will I be reading it? Not sure. I felt the story ended on a good note.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

 

The Moth & The Flame | The Crown & The Arrow by Renée Ahdieh

the moth and the flameAuthor: Renée Ahdieh

Genre: Fantasy, Short Story Young Adult

Links: Goodreads | Amazon 

Goodreads Synopsis: It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.

the crown and the arrow

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Genre: Fantasy, Short Story Young Adult

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Seventy-one days and seventy-one nights had come and gone since Khalid began killing his brides. This dawn, Khalid would mark the loss of the seventy-second girl, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. Khalid didn’t know how many more of these dawns he could take. And there was something about this latest girl that piqued his interest. Not only had she volunteered to marry him, but at their wedding ceremony, she had seemed not the least bit afraid. In fact, what he had seen in her eyes was nothing short of pure hatred. She was about to lose her life. Why wasn’t she afraid? Why did she hate him so? He had never before gone to his wife’s chambers before her death at dawn. Tonight would be different.

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I am beyond excited for The Rose and The Dagger which is coming out this month!! Renée Ahdieh has blessed us, the readers, with two short stories.

I’ll start off with The Moth and The Flame.  I really liked Despina in The Wrath and The Dawn, and I was pleased with this novella. The story starts off with Despina’s pov and she has recently been promoted to a handmaiden. Jalal tries to hit on Despina, but she brushes him off. I loved it! When I read the The Wrath and The Dawn, I wanted to know Despina’s history with Jalal. Despina and Jalal are my second favorite pairing. One of my favorite moments is the garden scene.

And for a single moment, they forgot who they both were. The Captain of the Royal Guard. And the queen’s handmaiden. It was she who kissed him first. Without thought. Without warning. Her lips found his.

I can’t wait to read more about Despina and Jalal. Those two forbidden lovers need their happiness. I am crossing my fingers that their love can surpass all odds. Here’s another cute moment between those two:

The Captain of the Royal Guard wants to impress a lowly handmaiden?

A clumsy young man wants to impress a beautiful young woman. The question is, did it work?

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If I had to pick from which two of the short stories to read, I suggest The Moth and The Flame just because the other one is less than ten pages. That’s right, The Crown and The Arrow is less than ten pages. The Crown and The Arrow is told in Khalid’s perspective and it does not satisfy my needs! It didn’t add much to the story overall and it’s so short.

“Do not fear what the setting sun may bring. Where there is a setting sun, there is also a rising one.”

I would have liked more of a backstory for Khalid.  *Sighs*

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️