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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Imadoki! Nowadays! Series Review

imadoki1Title: Imadoki! Nowadays!
Series: 5 volumes
Author: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Viz Media LLC
Genre: Manga – Shoujo

For Tanpopo Yamazaki, life at the elitist Meiô Academy seems way out of her league. The daughters of wealthy families snub her; other students make light of the fact that she actually tested into Meiô instead of relying on family connections, and the cute boy she saw tending a dandelion the day before wouldn’t even acknowledge her existence. Hoping to make friends and have some fun, Tanpopo starts up a gardening committee, but will this help her survive in a school where superficiality and nepotism reign supreme? IMADOKI follows the trials and tribulations of a budding horticulturist as she makes her way down the winding road to friendship. From Yû Watase, one of Japan’s most beloved shôjo artists, IMADOKI packs comedic charm and heartfelt antics into an adorable bouquet of whimsical fantasy.

As this is a series review there may be spoilers!

I’m going to start this off by saying: I’m biased when it comes to this series and several other Yuu Watase works. I read a lot of her works many years ago and they were some of my favorite series at the time, and still are. So of course upon rereading this series all the way through again, I loved it, but there were some things I didn’t remember that happened and when I read about them it was like I was reading with fresh eyes.

This series follows Tanpopo, a happy-go-lucky girl who moves from Hokkaido to Tokyo to join this elite school to make more friends and experience more in the world. When she first arrives, the day before school starts for the year, she runs into (more like crashes into) Koki, who was minding his own business taking care of a plant. From there it takes off and we learn many things about Koki, Tanpopo, and her serious desire to make friends.

Tanpopo is kind of a clueless person who just wants those around her to be happy because she knows what it’s like to be in a lot of pain and really sad. She’s cheerful even when she’s being bullied for being the new girl and trying to talk to Koki – who acts like a totally different person when he’s at school surrounded by others than when he was alone tending to plants. I think that she’s a very loveable character, and that she really shows her genuine feelings on the surface almost all the time. I think that’s why so many people change around her and become more friendly to her and to others, including themselves. She’s kind of the beacon of hope in this series and I think that she is a great person.

Koki is from one of the elite families in the school, and he hates it. He had a lot of responsibility dumped on him when his older brother, Yoji, runs out on the family with no hint as to where he was going. He finds that everyone in the school only wants to be close to him because of his status, and he hates that. He finds solace in plants and tending to flowers and that’s really where he shows his true colors. I think that he has a great sense of responsibility, but also a great load of guilt because he takes on the tasks of his brother that he didn’t want to take on.

Flippy is a hacker and kind of a crazy guy who can flip on anyone at any time without warning, but he’s also a fun character because not only does he cause mischief, but he really believes in what Tanpopo is trying to do and supports her as a great friend.

Tsukiko is first interested in joining the Plant Committee with Tanpopo just so she could destroy Tanpopo’s image in front of Koki, but then we learn that she just wants to be with Koki for his status and power – the way it’s handled, though, is very funny and I think that it brings a lot of hilarity to some more serious moments in the series. Also, I ship her and Flippy. Just saying.

Arisa is the last of the group to really join in and she was unwilling at first, but once Tanpopo really showed her that it was okay to do things for herself, Arisa decided to be friends with them. Also, she has a secret that they all quickly figure out, and I think that she deals with it in a very mature way.

And then there’s Erika who… I really don’t like. At all. I don’t feel sorry for her and I know she was just there to create drama, but dammit, whyyyyyyy. Ugh. She’s just… not a good person. I don’t like her. I don’t have much to say about her. I’m just glad Tanpopo doesn’t really give up on her, even after all of the crap that she puts Tanpopo through.

As for the plot, it’s a pretty simple high school drama (ahahahaha, simple?) with developing feelings of romance, budding friendships, real life problems, and more. I think that the plot is pretty simple in comparison, but it’s one that draws you in along with the characters because you want to know what happens next with them all. I love being able to see Japanese culture represented so much through manga and this is just one of those examples. I love seeing the blossoming romance between Koki and Tanpopo, and the humor used in moments that really needed it.

I also love Yuu Watase’s drawing style. It’s honestly one of my favorites of all time, so again, I’m biased in that way. But she just makes all of her characters so pretty and memorable. ;-;

If you’re looking for a fun shoujo manga with drama, romance, friendship, and fun times, then check out this series.

Overall series rating: 4.5 stars

Click on the individual covers below to be brought to their Goodreads page!

imadoki2 imadoki3 imadoki4 imadoki5

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Hate-to-Love Romances

Hey peeps and welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by the lovely people over at The Broke & the Bookish. Is this seriously the first TTT I’ve done this year? I think so. Wow. Strange.

Anywayyyy, with it being Valentine’s Day today this TTT is all about our favorite romance tropes/types. Now, we all know that I love love and reading about romance (cute and smutty kind), but what’s the number one thing that I LOVE the most?

HATE-TO-LOVE ROMANCES.

There’s seriously just something about them that makes my heart all aflutter and makes the angst go through the roof and I NEED IT MORE IN MY LIFE. AHH.

Okay, with that being said, here’s my list!

1. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West – I loved this book and the romance in it and I just about melted from the angst and feelings and ahhhhhhhh!

2. Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews – Ooh, this adult urban fantasy is just FULL of hate-to-love and super angsty the first few books. And then it gets steamy and dayyyyum. Just. Yes.

3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – I mean, having a boy that you’re not interested in be your pretend boyfriend constitutes the same thing, right? Especially when those feelings become real on both ends.

4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater – WE KNEW THE FATE SINCE THE FIRST CHAPTER. And yet it still broke me and Blue is the most stubborn girl of ever and I love themmmmmm.

5. The Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner – Each one of these books in the trilogy has a main couple who goes from hate-to-love and that’s probably why this is one of my favorite trilogies of all time. And the characters are amazing together and just… *squee*

6. Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor – Not only is there beautiful writing and a beautiful story, but two characters who have a past that don’t know it and they hate each other at first until one realizes they had a past and… THE EMOTIONS. ALL 76 OF THEM. *sobs eternally*

7. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi – I’m Warnette trash when it comes to this trilogy. Oh my Go, I didn’t think I’d root for them at all, but they’re perfect together. Perfect.

8. A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy by Sarah J. Maas – I mean there was romance in the first book, but that hate-to-love relationship with Rhys was just one that set the world on fire. Or damn near close to it.

9. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – THE ANGST. OH MY GOD. Renee can write such amazing love stories without it being overpowering and with us really understanding the characters, even when they originally set out to kill the other. So good.

morrighan

10. Morrighan by Mary E. Pearson – This novella had me feeling ALL THE FEELS and I’m SO SAD it’s only a novella because I could read about these two ALL DAY.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What are some of your favorite romance tropes? Do you like the hate-to-love romances? What gets your heart all aflutter and wanting more when it comes to romance? Tell me all the things!

Water’s Wrath Book Review

waterswrathTitle: Water’s Wrath
Series: Air Awakens #4
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 350
Format: Purchased eBook

Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.

The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.

As this is a sequel, there will most likely be spoilers.

Okay, I’m not going to lie: I can’t remember the beginning of the book. In my defense, I started reading this back in April and I just finished now in December, so… Yeah. I mean, I remember bits and pieces, but not everything.

Anyway, from what I do remember, I was very impressed with Vhalla’s character without Aldrick always by her side. We got to see how strong she was without him and how far she’s come since she was the shy library apprentice a year ago. She definitely showed that she is strong in mind and magic without him, but despite that there was still that aching longing for Aldrik that never went away (for either of them for the other). She showed that she had a lot of knowledge and she didn’t have to rely on her magic all the time, or Aldrik all the time, to make decisions and get things done. I think that’s one of the things I enjoyed most about her in this book.

Aldrik was a very distant character in this book in the beginning, but as the book continued and more went down (so many feels, omg), he became much more open and more raw with Vhalla than we’ve seen him, which was unusual for him. I did, however, think that that vulnerability was healthy to see. Although I do think that his emotions often clouded his judgement in some instances, he was still the Fire Lord we’ve come to know.

We got more of Fritz and Jax in this novel and oh man, Jax just makes me smile. He’s so full of himself and so charming that it’s funny, and I love how Fritz reacts when they’re around his sisters and Jax keeps flirting with them. Too good. I liked that there was humor sprinkled in because there was a lot of sadness and hard times going on that it was nice to have that bit of humor. I also think that the friendship between Fritz and Vhalla really shone in this book and I was really thankful that Vhalla had such a close friend.

So there were several major plot points that happened in this book that CRUSHED ME. I won’t mention either because of major spoilers, but just know that I am 1) heartbroken that both happened, and 2) and I’m being hopeful that things will happen in the last book that will remedy at least one of them. P.S. One of said major plot points did actually have me shedding actual tears and Ican’tevenwhydidithappen.

Also, I knew that Victor couldn’t be trusted but DAMN. I wasn’t expecting him to go to such an extreme and to learn more about his past a little with Aldrik and just… wow. So much happened toward the end that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.

This book hasn’t been my favorite of the series and I think it’s because of the feeling I get when Vhalla didn’t really… react to the major plot points. I mean, she did with one really well, but the other? Not so much. And then there were just a few things I found very convenient and just… I don’t know, I’m having a hard time placing my finger on it. But I did enjoy the book, don’t get me wrong. I just think the focus was kind of all over the place and not super centralized.

Overall, I did enjoy the book (what I remember of it, haha…ha…), and I’m anticipating the last book. I can’t wait to see how it’s all wrapped up and how the conclusion unfurls in this beautiful fantasy series.

I rated this book 4/5 stars.

P.S. I Like You Book Review

psilikeyouTitle: P.S. I Like You
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: Received in August Uppercase Box

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

This book was adorable and it was nothing short of what I was looking for in a contemporary novel. I found the characters to be funny and real, the plot to be fun, realistic, and fast-paced.

The story started out with Lily being distracted in Chemistry class writing down lyrics in her notebook and her teacher telling her to pay more attention and turn in notes at the end of every class. When she starts to daydream and write lyrics on the table, the next day she sees those lyrics completed and she starts writing notes back and forth from there. For a large portion of the book the mystery of who was writing the notes was well hidden and she didn’t figure it out until about half way through who it was when she saw him while she was running errands for someone.

I thought that Lily was a great character. She was awkward and funny and kind, and she loves her family unconditionally, as well as her best friend Isabel. I love that she had some quirks that allowed her to be seen in a more realistic light, like how she has a nervous habit of chatting up a storm when she’s really nervous or put in an awkward situation, or how she’ll resort to humor – even if no one gets her humor sometimes. I loved that about her. (Probably because I do the same thing.)

Having her large family have such a big presence in the book was something I wasn’t expecting, and I thought that that was such a great part of the book. Of course she thought her family was difficult and everything to live with, but as an outsider I thought that her family was fun and very entertaining. With an older sister and two younger brothers, plus both parents, her house wasn’t short on fun. I also loved the way she talked to her siblings: like she cared and was patient with them. Of course there were moments of frustration, but she still really just showed how much she cared, and that they cared back, and I loved it.

Cade was interesting because when I thought he was being an arrogant dude, trying to make jokes and be humorous, it was his way of trying to make situations better for others. He has just as much of a big heart for people as Lily does, which makes my own heart warm. Not only that, but even during their fights I could tell that he wasn’t totally in it, and that there was something he wanted to say – especially as time went on. He was kind and funny just like Lily, a very great match for her.

Of course that’s not to say neither has their faults. Even when they fought and when their anger was explained, I still was kind of confused as to why they fought to begin with. Maybe it wasn’t explained, or it was and I missed it, but I thought that the hate-to-love romance that happened was gradual, realistic, and the cutest thing ever. *insert fangirl squeal*

I also appreciated the friendship between Lily and Isabel in here because I don’t often see YA friendships between characters stem out more than just a side role. But Isabel played a big role in Lily’s life and Lily often said that Isabel was much more important than some of the things that were going on, which was awesome.

And there was of course mini dramas here and there with the letters, another girl, and even with Isabel, but I like how things resolved themselves and how each character worked to fight for the important relationships to stay intact. It was mature of them all, and I was glad to see that.

I thought that this book was very adorable and that you should definitely check it out if you’re looking for a cute contemporary to read anytime soon.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it!