The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden: Book Review

And when all was done and all was said, we sat silently staring at the moon’s reflection on the rippling river, soaking it all in. The differences between people, cultures and times.
The monsters. The myths.
The heroes.
The victims.
The love and loss.
Loss and love.

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.

After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.

As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless . . . you’re immortal.

Commentary: I am so surprised by the amount of five star ratings for this book, because I felt that the book was okay. ╮(•˘︿ ˘•)╭ I was really excited for this book because I really liked the synopsis, and I had high expectations for it. I had to put this book down several times because it was very slow paced. I was not a big fan of the first part of the story. The author kept describing the scenery a lot. For example, it felt like I was reading about twelve chapters of description. I didn’t like the author’s writing style as well. There was not that much action in the first part. At times, the book was a bit creepy and I found the protagonist to be a bit annoying. I really wanted to drop the book until I got to the second part. The story became stronger and it captivated me more. o(^◇^)o

I couldn’t relate to Adele, the protagonist, she was a bit too naive. At times she was very childish, but there were a few moments where she was a bit mature. Also, I was not a big fan of the romance in this book. There was a complicated love triangle in this book. There is Isaac, who has magical powers and descendant of the original coven, and Niccolo, a vampire who wanted Adele to break the curse. If I had to chose, I like Isaac more. Isaac had a love-hate relationship with Adele and they had lots of instant chemistry, but in the book, Adele focused her attention on Niccolo more than Isaac. It felt like Isaac was the second guy, even though he wasn’t. There weren’t enough Isaac moments in this book. Even though she gets with Isaac in the end, it still felt that she was still in love with Niccolo. ⸜₍⚛•⌣•⚛₎⸝

Adele’s friendship with Desiree was better than the romance. Desiree is a popular girl, who wants to have no part in witchcraft. She had to be my favorite character. She also played a part in accidentally releasing vampires in her hometown. She seemed like a mean girl at first, but she was very helpful to Adele. I really liked how Adele and her team up when they both discover that their ancestors were part of a coven. ( ◞・౪・)

Adeline’s narrative was so much better. Her diary entries are far more interesting. Adeline was really mature for her age. I really like how she felt responsible and guilty for the deaths of many people. I would have liked this book more if there were more diary entries. I loved her friendship with the triplets. I was really shocked to find out what happened to one of the triplets. It was very sad. I did like Adeline’s relationship with Gabe too. I did feel that he was starting to fall for her. I really wanted there to be more descendants from the original coven in this book!!

The last part of the book felt quickly rushed for me, but it was still good and shocking!!! I was not expecting that twist! It was so good! It all made sense in the end. I thought there was going to be a major battle scene amongst the vampire and the coven. I was wrong. Instead, Adele find the courage to take on the vampires in order to save her friends. I felt her actions were noble. Even though the vampires were stronger than her, she had to face them alone. What I really hope for the next book is for Adeline’s father to have a backstory since he is the most mysterious character in the book. Not much of him is known and the vampires have it out against him. Also, I hope the other descendants are discovered.

Finally, I’d like to thank NetGalley for getting this arc!!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

The Tsar Of Love And Techno by Anthony Marra: Book Review

“You remain the hero of your own story even when you become the villain of someone else’s.”

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena—dazzling, poignant, and lyrical interwoven stories about family, sacrifice, the legacy of war, and the redemptive power of art.
This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.

Commentary: I am not the biggest fan of short stories and I normally don’t read them. I really liked the title, it was really catchy. I also liked the synopsis, it was interesting and it got my attention. Another reason why my attention geared towards the book is that I love Russian history, I couldn’t help it! I do recommend at least knowing a bit of Russian communist history, in order to avoid any confusion. I had no idea what the Chechen war was until reading this book. There were many references to the war and censorship. I also liked how most of the characters were unique and had their own stories to tell. ヽ(。ゝω・)ノ☆;:*

What I liked was how each character was flawed, no one was perfect. If I had to chose my favorite one from this collection of stories it has to be Kolya. His story was quite sad. In the story, Granddaughters, the group of friends who looked up to Galina, his ex-fiance, despised him and he was kinda seen as a villain. But, the more Kolya was involved in the other short stories, the more I liked him. He has tragic story. After reading, I felt my heart break knowing the life he had lived. There were many tragic events in his life such as finding out his first love married another man and aborted their baby, losing both parents, and being forced to fight in a war in order to survive. But despite everything that has happened, Kolya finds peace in the end. (っ˘̩╭╮˘̩)っ

One of my favorite stories in this collection of short stories had to be The Leopard. It was about an art censor who was devoted to his country and what it stood for. He would insert images of his brother in every image he was working on. His brother was executed for his religious beliefs and was seen as a traitor. My favorite part of this story had to be when the art censor told his nephew the fairy tale about the tsar being in the background. This was the only story that made me cry. It was really sad to know what happened to the art censor and how he was forced to admit he committed a crime when in fact he was innocent. I loved how the art censor’s legacy (his works) stood the test of time. In a Temporary Exhibition, it is revealed that the art censor’s nephew, Vladimir, was the person responsible for the arrest and execution of his uncle. This story takes place in 2010s when Vladimir is already in his 60s. He is overwhelmed by how technology has advanced, and is curious about the fate of his father and uncle. His son helps locate a exhibition that has his uncle’s works, and it is there that Vladimir learns the truth about the fairy tale his uncle told him several decades ago. He learns that his father was painted in the background of every photographer his uncle worked on. The motivation for framing his uncle was because he believed that his uncle sold out his father, and he wanted revenge. He was only a child when it happened and he only wanted justice, but Vladimir never thought that his uncle was going to die.

What I didn’t like about this book was how each story was not in chronological order. I did get confused at times. It would be set in the present and then it would be set in the past. The reason why my rating is a 3.5 instead of a 4 is because I couldn’t really connect with the characters, and I fell asleep reading this book multiple times. Other than that, I really loved how all the stories connected with each other. For example, all throughout the book Zakharov’s painting is constantly referenced since it helps characters connect with each other.

I’d liked to thank Blogging for Books for receiving this book to review. 

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5) ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ 

An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: Book Review

“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you.”

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: Laia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Commentary: An Ember In The Ashes had a lot of hype earlier this year. I was hesitant to read it just because it would not live up to the hype like Red Queen or A Court Of Thorns And Roses. After reading the book, it was certainly entertaining, but still did not live up to the hype for me. It’s not my favorite book of this year, but  I do love how the book is set in ancient times. The book was really boring in the beginning, I considered dropping it. Once the trials were announced, that’s when everything got exciting. All those trials were extremely harsh. If I had to pick a favorite one, it would be the one where the aspirants were fighting magical creatures. ⤴︎ ε=ε=(ง ˃̶͈̀ᗨ˂̶͈́)۶ ⤴︎

I actually enjoy the love square in this book. I really liked Elias and Laia together, but I hope their relationship develops more in the sequel. My favorite part had to be during the Moon festival, such a cute moment between those two. But, that’s not my favorite couple, I actually like Laia with Keenan more because it felt that they had more chemistry with each other. I loved the love-hate relationship they had. Though I have a feeling  my pairing might not be endgame. I also liked the Helene and Elias relationship, though it was super complex. I feel Helene balances out Elias more than Laia. I feel pity for Helene because Elias is her unrequited love, and its must be really tough for her to witness Elias falling for Laia. Helene tried to look after Elias, but Elias kept misunderstanding her actions and it was a bit frustrating. I still feel he has romantic feelings for Helene, still hoping that Elias-Helene are end game. (╥╯θ╰╥)

Helene was amazing. She was a badass with a magical singing ability that can heal people. My goodness, she was great. My favorite character from this book, I liked her more than the two protagonists. As much as I like Helene, I did feel she was too naive. She kept putting her trust in the Empire and the Augurs, instead of her own judgement. Helene’s mission during the trials was to ensure Elias wins. She was willing to be used as a pawn in order for Elias to prevent his death. As noble as Helene is, she is also too ignorant and not compassionate towards Scholars. Because of this, Elias and Helene’s friendship becomes complex than it was before. Another character that I felt was a bit similar to Helene, had to be Laia  because Laia put her trust in the Resistance movement to save her brother without any hesitation, even though Mazen was super shady. Laia took on the mission of becoming a spy in the most dangerous location in that world, Commandant’s house. Laia was used by Mazen, he was never going to free her brother, despite her mother being the Lioness, ex-leader of resistance movement. I really liked how by the end of the novel, Laia was able to become stronger. My second favorite character had to be Izzy. She was the friend that Laia needed, and I was glad that Laia was able to secure Izzy’s freedom from slavery. I hope to see more of Izzy in the sequel. Also, I wish there were more parts with Keenan. ლ(ಠ益ಠლ

I just knew that Mazen was a traitor. ༼ つ ͠° ͟ ͟ʖ ͡° ༽つ From the moment he was introduced, there was something about him that I did not trust. My intuition was right about him. Even when Laia learned that her own brother did not trust the Resistance, that confirmed my suspicions. I find the Commandant really interesting, and I want to know why she became heartless. I want to know her backstory. I really liked her as the villain. I really did not like her, and there was only one moment in the book where I did feel slight pity for her. After finishing the book, I was amazed by how much she knew. She ends up victorious because she uses the Resistance and she has an new Emperor who she can manipulate, this really makes me excited for A Torch Against The Night. ヽ( ★ω★)ノ

There are so many unanswered questions!  ( ؕؔʘ̥̥̥̥ ه ؔؕʘ̥̥̥̥ ) First of all, who is Elia’s father? Was the commandant raped by him or did he betray her? Then, there’s also the matter of Cook. Did she end up being the traitor in the resistance that sold out Laia’s parents? What did Laia’s mother do to her to make resent her so much? I have the feeling that Laia’s parents did not die, but are in hiding. Lastly, who is that female augur that was helpful to Laia? I just hope some of these questions will be answered in the next installment. I really hope there are more point of views in the sequel. Hopefully Helene has her own pov since she is now the current Blood Shrike. Would I recommend this series? Yes, even though it was boring in the beginning. Trust me, it gets better as you keep reading.

Book Trailer

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.7) ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆