Radiance Book Review

radianceTitle: Radiance
Series: Wraith Kings #1
Author: Grace Draven
Publisher: Grace Draven
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 297
Format: Kindle eBook

THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined. 

THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE 

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light. 

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

I initially didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book. I had seen the cover pop up on Amazon and I thought it was going to be another cheesy, trashy romance novel. I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis before jumping into reading a sample – and immediately being hooked to the story.

This story features two races: the Gauris, who are human, and the Kai, an ancient non-human race with gray skin, black claws, and lamplight yellow eyes. A Gauri girl – one raised in a noblewoman’s position but one of little importance – is married off to one of the Kai – the second born prince, one who is unimportant as his older brother has already secured his place for the throne and has several sons to rule after him. The two are repulsed that they have to marry the other as each race finds the other revolting in looks and customs alike, but when Ildiko and Brishen meet unsuspectingly that they were to later wed, the two have a connection of sorts that later comes into play in a great way.

Ildiko and Brishen have a very slow burn romance as they don’t expect anything from each other at first, and instead find good friends in each other at first, talking to one another, picking on each other as friends do, and I think that was so sweet to see at first. As time passed and the two faced different kinds of trials together (such as dinner with Brishen’s mother), their feelings for each other grew into more than just friends, and eventually those first opinions they had on one another’s appearance – of Ildiko think Brishen looked like an eel, and Brishen thinking Ildiko looked like a hag – changed and they saw the beauty in each other physically, yes, but mostly through their personalities and morals and I thought that was a breath of fresh air to read about. It felt natural and progressive and I highly appreciated it.

As for the rest of the story, there were politics, some action scenes, and little hints of what was to come in the next novel, and I felt that the story was fast-paced, but not so fast-paced that we missed out on anything. I do, however, wish there were more action scenes and that some scenes had been expanded, but then maybe it would have taken away from the magic of it all.

I felt that both Ildiko’s and Brishen’s characters were mature, but I kind of wished to see more of them develop and whatnot. Ildiko was proper, quick-witted, and kind. She always was above the expectations of the Kai, much to their surprise, and I liked that about her. She was stubborn enough to always try and not give up, but not so stubborn that she made poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Brishen was so unlike his parents, which was nice because his parents aren’t the greatest, and had a sense of humor, and a caring compassion for his fellow Kai and Ildiko. I found that they melded well together and that I craved to see more interactions between them.

Though this book was sort of a quick read, I found that I could really dive into the world and really feel for the characters. I’m already reading the second book and let me tell you: I’m getting the action I craved from the first.

If you haven’t picked up Radiance yet, I highly recommend you do if you’re looking for a slow-burn romance set in a fantasy world.

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars.

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The Wrath & the Dawn Short Stories Reviews

thecrownandthearrowTitle: The Arrow and the Crown
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #0.5
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Fantasy, Short Story
Pages: 9
Format: Free eBook

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.

That was it? I was expecting more, that’s for sure. It didn’t really add much to the story at all, but we got to see the very beginning from Khalid’s point of view. I mean, it was fine. You could tell he hated what he had to do, and he could see the hate burning in Shazi’s eyes, but it leaves so much that I wish could have been added. Seriously wish there was more.

3/5 stars

themothandtheflameTitle: The Moth and the Flame
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Fantasy, Short Story
Pages: 37
Format: Purchased eBook

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.

This short story had me holding my breath and my heart racing. I thought that this was such a better short story than the last, and I was not disappointed.

This story follows the handmaiden, Despina, and the Captain of the Royal Guard, Jalal. Both of these individuals have their own tasks with which they have to think about and attend, and then when they run into each other one day, it seems like it just goes from there.

Despina, though I was weary of her in The Wrath and the Dawn, turned out to be a really intelligent young woman with a strong will and a sharp tongue, and this short story definitely continued to show that. I enjoyed reading from Despina’s point of view to see what it was like serving the calipha and her interactions with Jalal. It was funny at first, playful even, and then things became more serious as time progressed.

Even Jalal was likable in this story! I don’t really remember what I felt for him when I read the main book, but in this one we got to see a couple glimpses from his point of view and we got to learn a little bit more about him and his… “reflections.” He’s funny and tries to be charming, and I love how Despina can disarm him with her own retorts.

What made me really enjoy this was the heart racing moments they had together, for sure. There was one scene in particular that I was like, “Yesyesyes!” I also enjoyed reading about Despina’s interactions with the calipha because we got to see a little bit of who this girl was before the things that happened in the main book. I wish that their relationship could have turned into somewhat of a friendship, but it didn’t happen that way.

I just wish that the last chapter could have been a little different? I’m not really sure what I was expecting… Well, I do know what I was expecting, but it didn’t happen the way I hoped, so I’m disappointed only in that aspect, haha! But otherwise I think that seeing the progression of time and feelings was useful. I only wish there could have been one more chapter in between the last two to further dive into Despina’s, and even Jalal’s, feelings of one another.

Overall, I think this short story added to the main one because we got to get more from two of the important side characters. I loved this a lot and highly recommend it if you’ve read The Wrath and the Dawn.

I rate this short story 4.5/5 stars.

The Future Collection Short Stories Review

thefuturecollectionTitle: The Future Collection
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Scripturient Books
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Short Stories, Sci-Fi
Pages: 105
Format: Won eBook for nook

This collection of sci fi stories from NY Times Bestselling author Beth Revis features worlds and technology from the future. Featuring three brand new, original tales and three reprints, each story explores a different set of characters in a different world and facing different problems in the future world.

“Doctor-Patient Confidentiality”: A girl wakes up in a cryomed unit and must recall why she’s there and what’s she’s lost.

“The Most Precious Memory”: In a world where memories are sold and consumed like drugs, one deal has a weird twist.

“The Girl & the Machine”: A time traveller meets someone who claims she’s met his future self and that they’ll change the world together.

“Lag”: A reporter has found the story of a lifetime–but a malfunctioning teleportation has made her forget it…

“The Turing Test”: A college student must determine which test subject is human and which is an android with A.I.

“As They Slip Away”: A novella set in the world of Across the Universe, exploring the fate of a side character.

So I really love the science fiction genre, and Beth Revis really showed me just why I love it so.

Not only are these short stories a unique spin into the world of sci-fi, but they’re also just imaginative, heartfelt, creepy, and held the hint of possibility in them. Though, as you’ll see, I have a hard time talking about these stories without giving too much away, so I’m sorry for being kind of vague.

The first short story, Doctor-Patient Confidentiality, told the story from the perspective of a young woman who had just woken from hyper sleep to discover that she had died – or come close to it. She has an internal struggle as to losing her friends, losing time, unsure of whether or not it was her husband’s fault, etc. This story had me questioning just why she continually blamed the husband when, really, it was her fault that she had gotten sick.

And then you find out who the doctor is and it hits you in the feels. Oy.

The second short story, The Most Precious Memory, tells the story from a perspective of a young man who doesn’t remember anything – he’s sold his memories, or drank them, to the point in which he doesn’t know his name. One day when someone offers to sell him the most precious memory, he can’t pass up the opportunity.

And when he does he really starts to try to want to hold onto those memories.

This one hit me right in the feels. It had so much heart because of just who the memory that he was buying belonged to and it really just made me want to cry.

The third short story, The Girl & the Machine, is about a teen who can time travel, but he can only time travel within his own direct timeline. He can’t go into the future, and he can’t go too far into the past. But he does change some things and does things to become the young man he is today, and that’s when he meets the girl.

The girl knows him from his future self and how she was told that together, they could change the world. So the boy, being naturally curious, follows her to a lab where they learn a little more about each other.

And that’s when my emotional attachment and curiosity for the boy halt and I want to slap him. The subject of rape does come up, so tread lightly if this is a trigger warning for you, but it’s not so detailed that it’ll make you cringe. It did make me angry, though.

And then the girl told him who she was and just what she was planning to do, and though I was horrified just from everything that was going on, I was kind of impressed with how she handled it.

The fourth story, Lag, is about teleportation and how one woman is teleported and forgets everything over the last two weeks. She has no recollection whatsoever, and the last time she updated her memories at the Memory Bank, it was two weeks ago. So what had happened?

Being a reporter, she has a natural knack for getting information, and she quickly discovers just what that information will cost her – and has cost her. This story was engaging and very descriptive of some gruesome details, but the reasons why she couldn’t remember anything for two weeks will shock you. I was shocked, anyway, though I kind of got it a little bit before reading about why.

The fifth story, The Turing Test, is probably my second favorite. This one is about a girl who is majoring in artificial intelligence and she is asked to be put to the test to determine if two computers she’s talking to are AI’s or humans – or neither or one or the other. As she asks them questions, she quickly picks who is who because of the discussions being held, but then things turn on their head and new mysteries and revelations are discovered.

This one has a lot of possibility of happening in the future, so it’s creepy in that aspect, but it was extremely fascinating to read about. I’d definitely want a continuation on this short story.

The sixth and final story, As They Slip Away, was the longest story, but it was also told in about four parts, all from the same perspective of a girl who lives at the Hospital aboard the ship, Godspeed. She, along with others, are called “loons” and they are all the crazy people on board, but one of the other girls has a theory that the pills they take aren’t because they’re crazy, but it keeps them continuing to see realty.

As the story progresses, it focuses on six individuals who are adept at the arts, and who each have talents and assignments to complete in a month. But there is one guy who is just kind of too creepy, though he finds the main protagonist beautiful.

Then things just spiral downward after a shared moment with a friend.

I’m not really sure how I feel about this story. It was creepy, but entertaining, but mostly creepy and kind of sad. She gave up her humanity because of a guy. It’s tragic, really.

Overall, I loved each of these stories. I think each had their own special quirks to make them unique and that ultimately interested me and had me wanting more. But there were also a lot of typos that I spotted, so that was really the only downfall. And I wished there had been more.

I rate this collection 4/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’re looking for a quick sci-fi fix.

August 2015 Book Haul

Another month, another haul! This month has been great for this kind of thing because I had my birthday earlier in the month and so my husband spoiled me with books and bookish things. So today let me tell you all of the books I got:

Physical Books

  • The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern. I’ve been wanting to get this book for years, but as it’s an adult book, it’s more expensive than YA books, so I always put off getting it. But I couldn’t resist anymore and so I went ahead and got it. I’m really excited to see what it’s about and how I’ll like it.
  • Attachments” by Rainbow Rowell. My Rainbow collection just keeps growing! This is her first novel and it’s well loved by others, and from what I hear it’s kind of like a rom-com (romantic comedy) in book form, so I’m excited to get into it more! I did start it, but I haven’t continued yet.
  • The Kate Daniels series, books 1-7, by Ilona Andrews. My husband spoiled me and got me all of the books that are out so far, except for the eighth book, which is in hardcover and I want all of my books to match. I started this series already and did a review on the first book, and so far I’m enjoying it. I really want to see what happens next.
  • Ruin and Rising” by Leigh Bardugo. Again, my husband spoiled me and got me the third book in the Grisha trilogy in paperback. I haven’t even started the trilogy yet, but I know I’ll enjoy it. Magic, power, romance… I mean, yes please!

E-books

  • Forbidden” by Kimberley Griffiths Little. I started this book for the Bout of Books readathon but I haven’t completed it yet. I am interested to see where the story goes and how the romance blossoms and all of that, plus I love the fact that this takes place in ancient Mesopotamia.

Well, I got eleven books this month! Not too shabby, if you ask me. I’m definitely excited to continue reading everything, it’s just going to take me a while because I’m kind of in a slump still. No energy after work and all of that, you know?

Let me know if you’ve gotten any of these books and which you’d recommend to me to read sooner rather than later! I do plan on marathoning the Grisha trilogy soon, but for now let me know what you think! What books have you acquired this month?

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway for one book up to $15USD from Book Depository! Be sure to get your entry in by midnight! The winner will be announced in my wrap-up post tomorrow, as well as contacted via email!

Top Ten Tuesday: Last Ten Books that Came Into My Possession

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by the lovely people of The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is about the last ten books that have come into my possession, whether that be by purchase, library loan, audibook, whatever it might be. So, here’s my list (I’ll be listing these from most recent to least recent):

1. “The Heart of Betrayal” by Mary E. Pearson. You have no idea how excited I was to get this. I literally went during my hour lunch break and drove like a maniac to get to my local Barnes and Noble and back to my workplace just so I could get this book.

2. “Dreams of Gods & Monsters” by Laini Taylor. I also got the paperback version of this book at the same time as the book above. So excited to continue this trilogy!

3. “The Wrath & the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh. I’ve been hearing good things about this book and so I’m intrigued as to how it’s going to go. I bought it the same time I bought the book below.

4. “The Witch Hunter” by Virginia Boecker. Again, another book that piqued my interest, but I started reading it and now I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through it…

5. “A Thousand Pieces of You” by Claudia Gray. I’ve been wanting to read this book since it came out and I DON’T KNOW WHY I HAVEN’T YET. So I purchased it as an ebook for my nook when I saw that it was on sale for $1.99! Eee!

6. “Words of Radiance” by Brandon Sanderson. I’m still on the first audiobook of this series as it’s over 45 hours long, but I got the second one so I could continue on with the story (and it’s three hours longer than the first…).

7. “P.S. I Still Love You” by Jenny Han. I was excited for this sequel and it was just as cute as the first, but just a little less so. I purchased it at the very beginning of June and read and reviewed equally as fast.

8. “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas. I’ve already read and reviewed this, but I haven’t bought a lot of books or come into possession of a lot of books these past couple months, so there’s this one…

9. “The Heir” by Kiera Cass. And this one that I bought at the same time as ACOTAR and subsequently read and reviewed. Was very excited for both and was surprised by both.

10. “Magonia” by Maria Dahvana Headley. This one is kind of like “The Witch Hunter” in that I was having a hard time getting into it, so I put it down for now.

Yup, so those are the ten most recent books I’ve acquired, mostly through me buying them… Actually, through all of them being bought by me in some fashion.

What books have you gotten recently? Have you read them yet? Let me know!