Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Review

Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Cover Reveal 2017Empress Of A Thousand Skies (Empress #1)

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 314

Summary: CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Belleza delivers a character driven sci-fi space opera that discusses very timely issues + politics as a princess + a tv celebrity find themselves on the run!

Empress had so many great elements! It was very plot + character driven and had little to no romance for most of the novel.

Being told through dual POV (3rd person) and it worked extremely well for this story! Because both characters aren’t exactly together for most of the novel, we get to see the politics, culture, etc. of the unique worlds from differing perspectives.

Aly, due to his Wraetan background is seen as different by others and fears if he is to do anything to damage his reputation while on TV, it would look bad for all Wraetans. Reading that made me feel so bad for Aly (with all the pressure upon his shoulders). Reading from his POV brought up very relevant and timely issues one could mirror to our own world that is sadly still seen today, how there are those out there who aren’t as accepting when they view people from other cultures and see them only as “different.” Which is so wrong!

Through Aly’s POV we see that just because he is Wraetan, he is framed from Rhee’s assassination.

Aly really goes into depth about his war-torn home and the struggles he’s faced to get to where he is. I loved the expansion on this subject, not only because it mirrors our own and gives perspective, but it shows how wrong/harmful these ideas are and can be.

As with Rhee, she flees her home planet after she nearly escapes an assassination attempt on her own life. She finds herself charting across different planets to track down who she suspects is behind her assassination and reclaim her throne!

She was very determined and came up with plans, however usually hesitated when the moments to enact her revenge finally came. With this all suddenly upon her, it would make sense that she would have her reasons for hesitation. Regardless, while she does make mistakes, she grows and no matter what happened along the way, she stayed true to herself and her goal. She never strayed away from it!

My heart broke reading what he had faced! I loved reading from both POV’s however Aly’s was definitely my favorite! Aly lost his family, his home, faced discrimination but no matter what, he kept pushing forward and never gave up fighting to clear his name.

From what I’ve read, I’m pretty sure there is a sequel! So I’m hoping with the next one, Rhee, Aly and the other characters introduced are given even more background and development, because there was so much mystery surrounding these characters.

I loved the unique aspects that Belleza was able to weave into this story, from the memory cube technology to the unique creatures found across the planets.

Additionally, a majority of the cast of characters were people of color, which is amazing!! I’m always happy to read a book with a diverse cast!! ❤

For the plot as a whole, I was kept surprised with each and every page! I could never guess where the story was headed which I adored, because it kept me invested from start to finish!

As for the pacing it was rather slow for me, however the mysteries that unfold had me turning the page to figure out who was behind it all!

As mentioned + introduced above, Belleza continued to discuss very timely issues such as immigration, politics, views on technology & privacy + so much more!

That is an aspect I loved so much about Empress! She really makes them an integral part of the plot and overall themes of the novel that really have you thinking all through out the entire story.

Additionally, there are so many layers to the story as a whole. Essentially, from Rhee’s perspective you learn there is a treaty in place and while it made the worlds stable when Rhee’s father established it, there’s still discrimination and tension between the planets.

Now as to why it wasn’t a full 5-stars:

First off I will admit, the summary was a little misleading for me, because going into the book I assumed Rhiannon + Aly would be together for most of the novel, however that wasn’t the case which is what I was expecting.

There were some moments I wish the worlds themselves were fleshed out a little more, while a lot of social issues are brought up within each world and discussed when Aly or Rhee visit them, in terms of descriptions + atmosphere I wanted a little more!

Empress Of A Thousand Skies is a thought-provoking story which takes the time to discuss very timely issues, introduces multi-layered politics and world-building, puts characters and plot at the center, and overall delivers a refreshing and unique tale in YA Sci-Fi!

Warcross by Marie Lu Cover Reveal

Marie Lu, author of the New York Times Bestselling Legend Trilogy + The Young Elites Trilogy just had her cover reveal for Warcross, her latest novel set to hit shelves this fall!

When a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I’m such a big fan of Marie’s books and being a gamer myself, I am beyond excited to read this book! ❤

Now for the cover…

Warcross Cover Reveal

Oh gosh! I really like this cover! ❤

It really gives off a “video-game”-type of vibe & I love that!

The bright colors + rainbow element really makes it stand out and I cannot wait to see how it’ll look in hardcover!

I also love how the pattern really brings a unique delivery for the title!

It did take me by surprise, but I love the general theme of it and feel its an overall really fun and bright cover and as always Marie’s covers are so unique!! (´▽`ʃƪ)

Originally released from Entertainment Weekly, there was both a cover reveal and excerpt which you can check out Here!

Warcross is set to be released October 3, 2017!

So what are your thoughts on the Warcross cover? 

Lets discuss in the comments below! 🙂

Traitor To The The Throne Playlist

traitor-to-the-throne-playlistToday’s playlist is inspired by Traitor To The Throne, the sequel to Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton!

I adored this novel and felt it was a fantastic sequel, from the expansion of the world to the awesome character development!

If you’ve read Traitor To The Throne or want to read my thoughts you can check out my review Here!

Songs featured in this playlist are from:

~Derek & Brandon Fiechter~

~Final Fantasy XIII/XV ~Final Fantasy Tactics~

While reading I felt these songs went perfectly with the high stakes/intrigue of this novel + the overall world of Miraji!

Let me know your thoughts on the Reading Playlist in the comments below! 🙂

A Conjuring Of Light by V.E. Schwab Review

A Conjuring Of LightA Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (Shades Of Magic #3)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 624

Summary: The battle between four magical Londons comes to a head in this stunning finale to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Magic trilogy by rising star V. E. Schwab.

Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Shades Of Magic Series comes to an end in this spectacular + marvelous third and final book, A Conjuring Of Light!

I do not know where to start, but… I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! ❤ ❤

As always Victoria is a master at characters/character-development and this final book felt bitter-sweet, but I adored it all the same!

*I will try my best to leave out major spoilers, however I will mention minor one’s here & there! (Be aware)*

Schwab’s writing as with previous novels is rich + detailed and even in this final novel she continues to build on her fantastical parallel Londons!

She crafts scenes and character struggles with such emotion and gravity, you feel for each and everyone as you turn the page!

Another aspect which made this novel a well-rounded and overall epic conclusion was the immense development + inclusion to a number of characters we’ve seen/read about in previous installments!

Osaron has conjured up a devious plan to conquer Red London for himself however Kell & the crew, while they have their clashes, are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their world safe.

While reading this novel, I couldn’t help but realize with each + every page Schwab continued to build the world to the very end! Her world-building is a huge foundation to this series and she truly approaches it with finesse & subtlety because while not every aspect of her worlds can be explained, the mysteries and secrets make it that much more magical!

Adding to the character development, Schwab gives each of the main/prominent characters the perfect amount of space/time throughout the story to follow their internal struggles and triumphs as darkness looms close.

Schwab perfectly balances the grave dark fragments of this world, with hopeful shards of light and its done in an absolutely flawless way!

The core characters, Kell, Lila, Rhy, Holland & Alucard are like a family and this novel truly highlights those important friendships/bonds they have with each other!

Kell and Rhy’s deep bond is also tested as darkness continues to spread and they risk everything to bring peace to their world.

My only minor issue was the slow pacing/dragging of scenes in some parts!

Schwab masterfully concludes her Shades Of Magic Series with A Conjuring Of Light! A truly unforgettable journey to bring an end to an absolutely brilliant and wondrous world!

 

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin ARC Review

ronit-and-jamil-by-pamela-l-laskinRonit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 192

Summary: This beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that transports the star-crossed lovers to the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the barrier fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred. Ronit and Jamil fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can be kept secret for only so long. Soon, the teenage lovers must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.

*Received/Reviewed a physical ARC, this in no way influences my thoughts*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Ronit & Jamil is both unique and unforgettable! Told through lyrical verse, Laskin’s modern take of Romeo & Juliet centers around an Israeli girl & a Palestinian boy and the connection they share in Israel.

This book captured my heart! 

Through Laskin’s writing-style, I was immediately transported + found that it really captured and symbolized the complications and triumphs of their instantaneous love for each other.

Getting to read from both Ronit & Jamil’s points of view really allowed me to see what both of their hearts longed for, which was freedom and a place to call their own!

Even though there was a quick and fast-paced writing-style, I felt I knew Ronit & Jamil and could sympathize with them and the obstacles they encountered.

Additionally, another fascinating aspect of the writing was the similarities between both Ronit & Jamil’s POV’s. Though they have been raised with families that have differing points of view, each of their sections throughout the novel show just how similar they truly are and how these differing ideals + beliefs clash and cause difficulty for their forbidden relationship.

Complete strangers at first, they encounter each other when Ronit’s father delivers medicine to Jamil’s father at a clinic where he works.

Though they live on opposite sides of the border and their families don’t see eye-to-eye, they can’t help but fall in love with each other!

Ronit gives Jamil her number and the two soon start texting and meeting up in secret. They find solace in each other and long for what is beyond their reach. The wall and conflict on their sides keeps them separated, but they know deep down it wont fracture the love they have for each other.

Family plays a huge role in this novel! The parents want what is best for their children and though they have the best intentions to keep them safe, Ronit & Jamil begin to question the division of their land.

There are multiple sections with both parents points of view and it adds so much depth to the story and lets the reader understand the difficulties and sacrifices both sides have encountered.

However, conflict arises in the war-torn regions and both are left to ponder if there is someone to blame, is it the opposing side? Yet even through those difficulties they push the disagreements aside and decide that what they truly long for is to be together and escape the conflict in their lives.

I did take off 1/2 a star b/c there were moments that I was unsure of who was speaking + there were some moments I felt were a little rushed.

I loved that the novel had additional notes throughout the story which helped with words or phrases I was unfamiliar with. I also loved reading the acknowledgements where Laskin explained the research and inspiration that went into her story! It was clear that this was a story she was truly passionate about telling!

Laskin’s novel delivers a captivating tale of star-crossed love that transcends and delivers messages of hope and understanding even when times may be difficult.

Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton Review

traitor-to-the-throne-by-alwyn-hamiltonTraitor To The Throne (Rebel Of The Sands #2)

Publisher: Faber&Faber

Release Date: February 2, 2017

Pages: 512

Summary: Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Hamilton delivers a character-driven sequel with a bigger focus on politics and intrigue as the rebellion continues!

It felt like forever waiting for this book! 😭😭 I fell in love with the magical world of Miraji and the fascinating characters Hamilton created in Rebel Of The Sands!

I’ll admit getting into this sequel was difficult in the beginning with mentions of new characters or events that happened off page in between Rebel and Traitor, but Hamilton really built and developed those events + characters into the narrative as it progressed!

Months have passed since Rebel and Amani has forged a place for herself in the expanding rebellion and as the Blue-Eyed Bandit.

At the start, she finds herself on a rescue mission to have others rally the cause for the rebellion and its clear to see she has grown both with her powers and as a character since Rebel!

Jin is off doing his own mission, however Amani can’t help but feel like he abandoned her. While the whole reason behind this is originally something that happened off-page between Rebel & Traitor, Hamilton not only shows how it impacts Amani and the relationship she forged with him but reminded me how much I truly missed their fun/witty banter and how the rebellion really puts a strain on not only Jin/Amani but on Amani’s other relationships too!

She soon finds herself in the Sultan’s Palace trapped and with no means of escape, but determined to find out as much as she can to help prince Ahmed.

Hamilton delivers a different writing style than in Rebel, introducing myths and stories about other characters throughout a few chapters, which honestly made me feel so much more connected to this world/characters, because it added more background and history!

It also added small breaks in between the story which was nice too!

I really wouldn’t mind reading a full book on Miraji’s myths/legends!(Publishers can we make that happen??) Hamilton merged them into Traitor perfectly! 

Over the course of the story, Amani comes to terms with events that happened in book 1! She knew she left people behind and in this novel she really puts others before herself and considers how her actions could potentially harm or affect the people around her.

As for world-building, politics and intrigue definitely have a much bigger role this time around! Armies & palace intrigue are given center stage as Amani + crew continue their plans for rebellion.

Getting both sides from the rebellion to the Sultan’s rule, forged a much bigger scope of Miraji’s political world from the palace + other lands like Xichia, the Gallan, etc., was so fascinating and really gives you more background on the Miraji you thought you knew!!

As stated above, I applaud Hamilton with the introduction of new characters, because regardless of how much page time they have, they truly came to life and were so memorable! (Sam was definitely my favorite❤️❤️ )

Additionally I applaud the diversity added into Traitor!  Something that I didn’t consider in Rebel which Hamilton mentioned more in Traitor was how being a shape-shifter, Imin was gender-fluid because she felt comfortable being both male/female which was also made clear by Imin’s relationship in Traitor.(LBGT+Gender-fluid)

Hamilton does a spectacular job with character interactions + plot twists, etc! I won’t give much away, but she definitely doesn’t leave any loose ends in this novel and really ties together elements from Rebel + Traitor perfectly!

Through Amani’s 1st person POV, you really are understanding more along the way with her and with each turn of the page, this story kept on surprising me! (Even if it was ways I wasn’t expecting!)

It was fascinating learning more about the rebellion and the kingdom of Miraji as whole, while also introducing us to the Sultan! Amani gets to learn more about the Sultan & Djinni as she comes to question her loyalty to the rebellion + Ahmed’s capability of ruling if he wins this war!

While the beginning + end have significantly more action, I was on the edge of my seat when I began piecing everything together with Amani along the way, which made the last maybe ~20-30 % one of my favorite parts of Traitor!

Character development is huge! This was definitely Amani’s book! With her rebel crew in the background of this novel, she does her best to ensure her own/the Rebellion’s safety by staying loyal to the Sultan, but while not letting secrets spill out!

While Amani + the group dynamic from Rebel isn’t much of a central role in this novel, it focuses more on Amani and her development as a character! However, Hamilton definitely reminds the reader just how attached Amani has become not only to Jin, but the rebel group like Shazad, Ahmed, etc.that she has come to see as her family!

There are so many fantastic elements that while this novel is different from Rebel in ways, it truly was not a let down for me and left me surprised more than anything, even in ways I never expected! It really went above and beyond my expectations!

Traitor To The Throne is easily one of my all-time favorite books so far this year! Delivering betrayals, expansion on world/magic, wonderful character-development, an immersive plot, and  twists + secrets that deliver a truly unforgettable sequel!

I cannot wait to see how Hamilton concludes her Rebel Of The Sands Trilogy with Book 3!

+ Keep an eye on the blog for a Traitor To The Throne Playlist!

January 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

uncaged-wallflower-by-jennae-cecelia-review1.Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

Uncaged Wallflower Full Review

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: October 6, 2016

Pages: 70

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: An inspiring collection of poetry! Filled with such positivity, Uncaged Wallflower had me hopeful and inspired! It was a spectacular read to start off the new year! Highly recommend!

a-list-of-cages-by-robin-roe2.A List Of Cages by Robin Roe

A List Of Cages Full Review

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 320

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Roe’s debut is not one to miss! Adam and Julian (Adam’s foster-brother) find themselves meeting again after some time apart! A List Of Cages tells the story of the power of friendship and kindness, even when facing the most difficult situations. This novel is heart-breaking *discusses abuse & neglect* but you will feel so attached to these characters, even the minor ones through Roe’s spectacularly written dual POV.

frostblood-by-elly-blake3.Frostblood by Elly Blake (Frostblood Saga #1)

Frostblood Full ARC Review

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fantastic start to a new fantasy series! Blake delivers great character dynamics which is clearly seen between Ruby and Arcus! History and politics play a huge role in the world. The division/hierarchy between the Firebloods and Frostbloods was wonderfully done and its clear its not all black and white which was one of my favorite aspects! The plot while slow at times, definitely keeps you hooked as you learn more about Ruby and the world she’s in! 

crystal-storm-by-morgan-rhodes-review4.Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #5)

Crystal Storm Full Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: December 13, 2016

Pages: 379

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Not the strongest novel in the series in my opinion, however it is very character driven and expands even more on the world/magic Rhodes has built thus far! The slow pacing/plotting and introduction to certain characters/motives really made the tone of this novel feel rather off than previous novels! However, the ending definitely will leave you eager for Book 6!

Take The Key And Lock Her Up5.Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #3)

Take The Key And Lock Her Up Full Review

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 336

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Carter delivers such originality to her stories, there are twists and turns you don’t see coming. There are new characters introduced just in this final novel that Carter manages to create so memorably! Grace’s repetitive narrative, lack of side-characters prevalent in previous novels and overly cryptic characters made this novel rather confusing at times due to lack of info which made this a little disappointing! However, Carter ties up the story delivering a satisfying conclusion to Grace’s adventures on Embassy Row!

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silvera6.History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me Full Review

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Told in Griffin’s POV’s  (History & Today) we come to understand how his best-friend  +first boyfriend Theo, died. Through out this novel are themes of love friendship, love/loss + acceptance. Through the writing the characters truly come to life. This is a gem of a story you don’t want to miss!

Additional Posts From This Month:

2017 Book Blog Goals {Bookish Goals}

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Winter}

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera Cover Reveal

Top 5 Wednesday {#2} Underrated Books

What Books Did You Read In January?  🙂