Review | Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Goodreads synopsis: The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
Published by: Orion on February 10 2015
Format: ARC

RATING: ★★★✰

“In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that. The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

In a world where the colour of your blood determines your status in the world, Mare is a thief, trying to survive in a world of inequality and injustice. And, although she does not know it, a short meeting with a stranger who takes pity on her will thrust her into a world of deception, secrecy and betrayal. [...]

Review | Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

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Goodreads synopsis: When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.
 Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night? Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.Published by: Balzer + Bray on May 5 2015Format: ARC

RATING: ★★★★✰

"She had won them the sun and moon, but she had become a monster."

Rachelle made a choice years ago which has damned her soul for all eternity, and thus spends her life attempting to atone for it. Feeling that she has nothing to lose, she will risk everything to save her world from the ancient evil that threatens it.

This gruesome and imaginative combination of Red Riding Hood and the Girl with no Hands is pulled off exceptionally well. Crimson Bound was an epic tale of blurred lines between good and evil, love and hate, redemption and damnation.  [...]

Review | Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

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GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: Orphan Maia doesn't see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia's father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother's approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they'll all be struck dead by the curse. Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn't believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What's the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she'll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife. As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn't believe in love. Anax can't help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can't help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother's deadly bargain?Published by: Epic Reads Impulse on April 1 2014Format: Epub


"My mother knew that wishes are always bought with pain. She thought she could shield me from the price, but she was wrong. Maybe I could do better. Maybe I could word my bargain carefully enough that nobody I loved would pay. But somebody would. And I know one thing my mother never did. I know what it is like to live every day and every hour by the fruits of someone else’s wretched bargain. To see people suffer and know, They suffer because I am loved."

Maia lies every single day. She lies to herself, her family and all those around her because the truth is too deadly to reveal. She pretends to be happy because if she is not, the consequences are disastrous. Upon undertaking the task of helping her stepsister marry the Prince, she unintentionally becomes close to him, forming a bond which she had never wanted with anyone.

This novella was fantastic, eerie and dark. I adore Rosamund Hodge in every way; her retellings, her writing style, her plot. Just, wow. The shadow of menace and fear hung over every page like a cloud.[...]

Review | The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

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GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret. As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost themPUBLISHED BY: Farrar Straus Giroux on March 3 2015FORMAT: ARC

RATING: ★★★★★

(An ARC of this was provided by Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC in exchange for an honest review.)

Having agreed to marry the Prince and become the future Empress, Kestrel begins to learn how to play the game of politics against a backdrop of lies, secrecy and intrigue.

Darker, deadlier, full of conspiracies and secrets, Rutkoski most certainly does not disappoint. The atmosphere here is breathtaking, full of mystery and doubt, weaving a tale that holds you captivated and on the edge of your seat. [...]

Review | All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
 Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
 Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.
 When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink

PUBLISHED BY: Knopf on January 6 2015

RATING: ★★★✰✰

(An ARC of this was provided by Netgalley and Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review)

"The thing I realize is that it's not what you take, it's what you leave."

It's unclear as to who saved who the day Theo and Violet meet on the bell tower, but for a brief moment, both of them stood there, contemplating the end. Their meeting is a pivotal point in both of their lives that will change them both forever.

This book is genuine and unapologetic. Jennifer Niven isn't scared of confronting the less savory aspects of mental illnesses, but she does it so tactfully. [...]
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