ARC: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

miragegoodreads-synopsis

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

commentary

When I first picked up Mirage from my tbr pile at home, I had no idea what I was expecting. I can best describe this book as the female version of The Prince and The Pauper in Space with hints of forced colonialism and imperialism. The first chapter had me hooked on the story, and normally, it takes a couple chapters before I become invested in a book.

Mirage was quite different from what I have read. To begin, it seems like not much happened, that was my original thought when I first finished the book. After letting my thoughts marinate for a couple days, this book does not bring the action, but it builds up to potential conflict that the characters will encounter in the upcoming sequel.

To begin, Amani is not the chosen one, nor is she a Mary Sue character. Amani dreams of having her life with far less restrictions, she and her family live in a village. She has a passion for reading books, especially poetry. She and her brothers live in a society where the Vathek Empire has subjugated other planets into submission, and Amani’s planet is one of them. When Amani’s village is celebrating a special cultural practice, robots serving the empire take Amani by force away from her people and family. Amani is forced into a position in which she has no control over her body, nor her fate.

Amani shares a close resemblance to Princess Maram. Amani is presented as a fragile when compared to Maram’s vicious nature. Amani becomes the Empire’s puppet in order to protect the princess from any danger. Given the tough situation, Amani does get agency. Though being Maram’s body double did give Amani fright at first, she learns that she can wield her own power given her position. Amani obeys and listens to her orders, but, she also learns to manipulate her situation.

The relationship between Maram and Amani is complicated. The princess is shown to be as a morally grey character. As a reader, you question Maram’s ideals. Was she influenced by her nature, or her nurture?  At the same, you can’t help but feel sorry for the princess. She was been raised by her Vathek family, and it has served as a factor to why she behaves in a cruel, and unjust manner.

As for the love interest, I will admit, it was definitely a insta-love situation, and usually I loathe insta-love relationships. But, I found myself digging the relationship between Amani and Idris. It was a forbidden love, and both characters are forced into positions that they have to comply to. Though, I am interested to know how Idris and Maram are in a relationship, because it’s vague and left to the imagination. The ending left me craving for the next book immediately. The very last chapters has the suspense and action that it was lacking in the first portion. I came with little to no expectations when it came to Mirage, but I wholeheartedly love it. It’s science fiction, fantasy, has the drama you need, and I think I might ship Amani and Maram more than Idris and Amani!

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

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goodreads-synopsis

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

commentary

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas was possibly the book with  the slowest buildup to a plot. The story revolves around Tessa, a teen who lives with her grandmother in Florida. She is forced to return to her old hometown because her father in prison is dying. Almost a decade ago, Tessa was abandon by her mother. Left with no relatives in Pennsylvania, her grandmother takes her out of state, and away from her best friend Callie. Tessa did not have a normal childhood growing up. Her father was arrested, her sister may have possibly been involved with a murder, and her mother had abandoned her.

When Callie’s cousin Lorrie is murdered by a high profiled murderer, Tessa and Callie help incriminate Wyatt Stokes into jail. Tessa has felt the guilt over the case as she grew up. She is still effected by the case, and looks to forums to see what people are talking about it on the internet. When she returns back to Fayette, Tessa is forced to confront her past, and people she has left behind.

It was difficult to trust characters due to several red herrings! I listened to this book as an audiobook. I have to say, that the premise of the story was interesting, but I felt that the pacing took forever. It was slow, but the buildup to the story and the crazy events that unfolded was the best aspect of the book. Yes, there were many twists that I did not see coming. I was gagged!

One issue I had was connecting with the characters. It felt like Tessa had a detached personality. There was something about her personality that threw me off. She did try reconnecting with people from her past, but I didn’t get emotions from her. I am basing this on what I heard on audio form rather than reading the physical book.

This book did get dark, and I liked the many characters that seemed unreliable. I liked that the mystery behind the murders did not get resolved till the very end. It was enjoyable, but I wished that I were able to really get into this book, especially concerning Tessa. The friendship between Callie and Tessa was possibly the best part of this book. It was presented as a fragile, and broken. Callie and Tessa were completely different individuals, but most of all, Tessa failed to realize how much Callie was broken. Solving the murders of the Ohio River Monster brought the girls together. It was good. If you are looking for romance in this book, there is none.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3 1/2)

The Graces by Laure Eve

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Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

Commentary

I finally decided to pick up The Graces by Laure Eve. I had the book on my reading list for almost a year. I was in the mood to read a story with a creepy atmosphere, and I am such a big fan of stories that have witches. I saw the rating on Goodreads…it was lower than I had anticipated, but I decided to read it. I tried not letting the ratings bother my reading, and everyone has different experiences when reading. When it came to finishing the book, now I understand why The Graces has low ratings.

I’ve read some terrible books this year, but River is possibly the worst snowflake offender for 2018. River mentioned so many times that she was not like other girls…Okay, River is the definition of a “pick me” character:

Urban Dictionary:

  1. A person who begs for the attention, acceptance and approval of a certain group in different things they say. In most case, it’s to attain the attention, acceptance and approval of the opposite sex.

River is the living embodiment of a “pick me” character. River is introduced as the new girl who can’t make friends, and a bit of a loner. Though she has a hard time adjusting to her school, she is entranced by The Graces. The Graces happen to be popular siblings attending her high school, both rich and mysterious. It is rumored that the Graces are witches. River is madly in love with Fenrin, the only male sibling. River tries to be a cool girl with a non-conformist attitude, but she desperately wants to fit in with the siblings. Most importantly she wants to be like the siblings. Her life revolves on pleasing the siblings and pretending to be something she is not.

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River’s home life is not great. Her father mysteriously disappeared, and her mother ignores her daughter’s life. River is given independence, and most of her life revolves around the Graces. She cannot live without them. River gets accepted into the group, because she becomes the best friend of Summer. River tries to be different from all the other friends of the Graces. River tries to be so cool that she makes it known that she is not interested in Fenrin, though as a reader, you know that she loves him. The love is pretty much one-sided. Because all the girls love Fenrin, the Grace siblings do not have permanent friends.

River is the only person that gets accepted into the inner circle, and rises to popularity. Although River is dear to the siblings, she is not fully accepted.

“The Graces had friends, but then they didn’t. Once in a while, they would descend on someone they’d never hung out with before, making them theirs for a time, but a time was usually all it was. They changed friends like some people changed hairstyles, as if perpetually waiting for someone better to come along.”

Summer is the goth, Fenrin is the hot dreamboat, and Thalia is the manic pixie girl. All the siblings are best friends with each other. Each character had dark secrets, and the friends were not as united as I had assumed. The siblings aren’t aware of the privilege and status they have. The Graces manipulate people and cause damage to the people that get involved.

The magic of the book is never really explained. Though the Graces are considered witches, the magic system is based on the intention of words. It reminded me sort of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. The Graces never really indicate whether they are witches. Each sibling has a different belief. Summer believes in magic, Fenrin doesn’t care, and Thalia is frightened by the supposed curse on the family.

This book is messy with drama. River is accepted into the lives of the Graces. She gets involved with drinking and partying. All the characters are messy. There are ridiculous events that happen in the book. Even though I don’t like the characters, I found them to be entertaining, and the book was laughable. Like I mentioned, the romance is one-sided. Fenrin is a tease and a flirt. River sees signs of Fenrin being interested in her, but he never acts on it. Fenrin doesn’t have permanent relationships with women. I felt that Summer might have had romantic feelings for River. I would have liked to see a romance between the best friends rather than Fenrin and River. There was one character that I did not like because he was there, and his name is Wolf. I did not care for him, but he plays a crucial part in the story, which I never saw coming.

“It was easy to romanticize tragedy, like you suddenly transformed into some sort of Byronic hero, sitting in darkened rooms with crystal glasses of whisky, hair tousled and artfully lank from all those sleepless nights starting at the walls and cursing the gods.”

I couldn’t take the book seriously. It reminds me a lot of Twilight, but with witches instead of vampires. Fenrin and Edward are similar, but Fenrin is not a stalker like Edward. Neither is Wolf like Jacob. River is an unreliable narrator, and a try hard. There were a couple of twists that did make the last half of the book more enjoyable. I initially rated this book 2-stars, but I did like it more than I imagined. I do look forward to reading the sequel for this series. The second book will be in Summer’s perspective from the synopsis on Goodreads. I am looking forward to reading about this problematic siblings and their angst.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.25)

 

ARC: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

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Goodreads Synopis:

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

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Commentary

“Darkwood might be progressive, but your society on the whole has a long history of classifying people by their race or religion or sexual orientation or gender and using those classifications to subjugate particular groups. It is surprising that a bunch of small-minded government leaders think cloning is the first step onto a slippery slope of Armageddon and the demise of the human race as we know it?”

Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for The Similars for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This contains a lot of spoilers!

The main protagonist of The Similars is Emma Chance, who has a difficult time adjusting to her best friend’s suicide. Her school life changes when six clones are enrolled in her school. Though Emma does not have prejudice against the clones, there is one clone that stands out of the six. Levi is the clone of her best friend Ollie, and it shakes Emma’s world. It is clear that Emma is still processing the death of her friend, and having Levi at her school, does not allow her to heal mentally. She is reminded of Ollie, even though he is not alive. Though the physical similarities of Levi and Ollie are the same, their personalities are different. Emma goes through a wild school year with the Similars and the dark secrets in her school.

This world is an alternate future where clones barely have rights in the United States, and the rest of the world. This book reminds me of immigration due to the prejudice and discrimination that the Similars encounter. The subject of the book was the most unique aspect that I really liked, but as for the rest of the book, I didn’t like the execution.

I thought Emma Chance was an okay character. Emma is vulnerable, especially the scenes involving her getting emotional over Ollie.

“If I’ve learned anything these past few months since Oliver died, it’s that pills don’t take away your grief and pain on their own. They mask it, briefly. But it’s all worse when you emerge from the pharma haze and realize your best friend is still gone.”

Emma tries adjusting in her school year, and depends on medicine to get her by because the pain is raw. She loved Ollie, and as for Levi, she gives him a hard time. Levi’s presence makes it hard for Emma to move on because he is a reminder of what she lost. I have to admit, that Emma is lucky person given that she eavesdrops and uncovers so many secrets without getting caught. There were no high stakes in the book because Emma was able to get away without getting hurt. Emma’s curiosity leads her to ask many questions about the clones and her surroundings, but no one wants to reveal the truth.

As for Levi, he is a bookworm and treats Emma with some disdain. Emma mistreats and criticizes him, and he does not allow himself to be a pushover. It would have been great to know Ollie’s personality to compare the two. The romance of Emma and Levi was a slow burn, love hate relationship. Though I do want to categorize it into a insta-love relationship since Emma is drawn to Levi because of his similar appearance to Ollie. But, I was not amazed. I would have preferred no romance to be honest.

I felt that most of the clones had dull personalities. I hoped that the author does expand their personalities in the next book because it seemed like all of the similar were the same…just different names. Levi was the only one to have a personality, and I didn’t care for the other similars.

A lot of events of the book were highly predictable for me, and these are some of the reasons:

  • Mean girls and cliques…
  • Love triangle between Ollie, Emma, and Levi…
  • Petty drama and 20-year grudge…
  • The school using the clones for medical research…
  • Surprise…not really Ollie is alive
  • The clones were created to get revenge for this 20-year grudge…
  • It was obvious who the villain was at the halfway mark…
  • Emma is not she is…she in fact is a similar

This book tried being a lot of things…and left me unsatisfied. The twists and turn were too predictable. It was hard for me to read the book because I made a lot of guesses that came out being true. It was a bit frustrating to read, the world building could have been better, and I don’t want to pick up the next book.

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Publishing Date: January 1st 2019

Final Rating:  

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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.

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: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.

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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: ⭐️⭐️⭐️