The Boneless Mercies (ARC) by April Genevieve Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke is set to be released on October 2, 2018, and promises a story full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory. Early reviews promise that this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling – and who gets to be the storyteller. Basically, The Boneless Mercies  sounds perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies – girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

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MINI MONDAY: Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh is the highly anticipated sequel to New York Times bestselling Flame in the Mist. Released in North America on June 5, 2018, Smoke in the Sun is an addictive, sumptuous finale that will leave readers breathless.

After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice–to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead. With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and the very safety of the empire.

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Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

In the daring new read, acclaimed author Mindee Arnett thrusts readers into a beautiful, dangerous, and magical world in this stunningly epic and romantic fantasy for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Raasch. Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett was released in North America on May 15, 2018, and while I was hesitantly optimistic about this one, I am so glad that it was included in the May 2018 FairyLoot, because I absolutely loved this book!

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime. Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death. With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.

(Cover Photo Credits: Paws & Paperbacks)

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Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over eighteen novels set in the fantasy realm of Tortall. She first captured the imagination of readers with her debut novel, Alanna: The First Adventure (of the Lioness Quartet). Since then, her bestselling and award-winning titles have pushed the boundaries of fantasy and young adult novels to introduce readers to a rich world populated by strong, believable heroines.

Released on February 8, 2018, Tempests and Slaughter is the first book in Tamora Pierce’s new series, The Numair Chronicles. This highly anticipated new Tortall Legend from Tamora Pierce is a must-read for any fantasy lover. The Numair Chronicles will provide ardent fans of the world with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall, while newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for danger. Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day – soon – he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie. 

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Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Released in Canada on March 28th, 2017, The Blood Rose Rebllion by Rosalyn Eves is a stunning debut novel from a new author. It is the thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy that promises big things – rebellion, intrigue and romance. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary. Her life might well be over. In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells. As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

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MINI MONDAY: Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Assassin’s Heart is Sarah Ahiers debut novel, released in Canada on February 2nd, 2016. With shades of Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a tale of love, lies, and vengeance. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson will devour the flawlessly crafted action and inventive world building.

Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero who lawfully take lives for a price. As a member of the highest-ranking clan, loyalty to Family is valued above all, but that doesn’t stop Lea from getting into a secret relationship with Val Da Via, a boy from a rival clan. Despite her better judgment, Lea has fallen in love with him; but she’s confident she can anticipate any threat a mile away. Then she awakens one night to a house full of smoke. Although she narrowly escapes, she isn’t able to save her Family as their home is consumed by flames. With horror, she realizes that Val and his Family are the only ones who could be responsible. Devastated over his betrayal and the loss of her clan, there’s just one thing on her mind: making the Da Vias pay. The heart of this assassin craves revenge.

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SERIES REVIEW: The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski is a stunning, fast-paced trilogy loaded with action, political intrigue and romance. Taking place in the conquered territory of the Empire, The Winner’s Trilogy follows the stories of Kestrel, the daughter of the General who conquered the Herrani people, and Arin, a Herrani slave who seeks to reinstate his once proud people as the rulers of their own lands.

The Winner's Trilogy

The Winner’s Curse

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love… They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other. Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

The Winner’s Curse immediately caught my attention with it’s dark, complex society of slaves and rulers; especially since Kestrel immediately appeared opposed to the practice of keeping and buying slaves, despite her father’s position and her otherwise deference to the social order. She ends up buying Arin not because she needs a slave, but because of her love for music, because the slaver, Cheat, says that Arin can sing. Kestrel is a study in opposites – small defiances hidden by general submission. Kindness hidden by a cold, hard demeanor. Rebellion hidden by a stoic facade. Arin, for his part, is a dashing and dark slave with a bucket-load of secrets, the least of which is his association with the Herrani rebels. However, he and Kestrel quickly become fast friends, and are evidently leaning towards being something more when Arin becomes party to the ultimate betrayal – a rebellion that seeks to destroy Kestrel’s way of life. As Kestrel struggles to stay alive, and Arin struggles to regain her trust and prove his feelings for her, the two find themselves at impossible odds, with impossible decisions to make.

As individuals, I really enjoyed both Kestrel and Arin’s characters. However, what was even more satisfying was the fact that they didn’t simply fall in love and run away – they stayed beholden to their responsibilities, and Rutkoski made it quite clear that their was no easy way out of their predicament – forcing Kestrel to leave Arin behind, despite her own personal interests, and breaking Arin’s heart.

I also enjoyed Kestrel and Jess’ friendship – strong, female relationships are so rare in Ya Fantasy! However, I was quickly disappointed when Kestrel pushed Jess away (in favour of Arin). Rutkoski somewhat redeemed the friendship through Kestrel’s determination to save her friend, but the damage was done, and I no longer felt any real attachment to their friendship, since it is evidently as flimsy as the wind.

Overall, The Winner’s Curse was a solid start to the trilogy, introducing strong characters, significant conflicts, and drawing the battle lines quite clearly. I was quite interested to see where Rutkoski would take Kestrel and Arin, and could barely wait to  pick up The Winner’s Crime! (4/5)

 

The Winner's Curse

The Winner’s Crime

Following your heart can be a crime… A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. 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: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret. This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Following the events at the end of The Winner’s Curse, Kestrel finds herself tied up in the Empire’s twisted court without a friend in sight, while Arin struggles to support his people against the growing oppression of the Empire. Kestrel is unfamiliar with the games at court, but she refuses to concede defeat – even if it means sacrificing her own freedom and happiness to do so. Arin, for his part, isn’t ready to give up on Kestrel, believing that there is more to her decisions than he understands. Both quickly find themselves drowning in a game they don’t understand, up against impossible odds and daunting dangers. Then, Kestrel discovers a shocking secret that changes everything – even her own allegiance.

While I didn’t love The Winner’s Crime as much as a loved The Winner’s Curse, it was certainly a well-written book, riddled with the same political intrigue, romance and adventure as its predecessor. Unfortunately, as I had suspected, Kestrel and Jess’ friendship all but vanished in this book, with Rutkoski completing dropping the narrative of a female friendship. But Kestrel’s loss of Jess’ friendship was more than that – it symbolizes her fall from grace, her choice to turn her back on her people, who she now understands to be wrong. Kestrel and Arin’s romance/relationship was also complicated in this one – it was pretty much non-existent, pining for one another and Arin’s outbursts not included. Kestrel’s choice, and her subsequent fate at the end of this book lead me to believe there’s more to come for the two star-crossed lovers though. Finally, I just wanted to add that I was glad that Rutkoski avoided the love triangle trope here- she had the opportunity to throw it in, what with Kestrel’s imminent marriage, but instead chose to have everyone remain faithful to their existing relationships.

Overall, The Winner’s Curse was a good book; Rutkoski avoided some cliche YA tropes, while creating an engaging plot filled to the brim with intrigue and danger (3.5/5).

The Winner's Crime

The Winner’s Kiss

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people-and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks. But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win? The Winner’s Kiss brings a stunning conclusion to the irresistible romance between Kestrel and Arin and the crippling war that has torn about their world in the Winner’s trilogy, by Marie Rutkoski.

Kestrel is trapped, and slowly losing herself to despair, and a drug designed to destroy her. Arin is aimless, fighting a war without any real cause, oblivious to the fact that Kestrel is slowly slipping away – soon, the rumours of her death won’t be exaggerated. After what seems like an eternity of willful ignorance, Arin realizes the truth and races to save Kestrel, only to find her mind seemingly destroyed and her memories gone. As Kestrel tries to piece together her life, and fill in the holes in her life, Arin loses himself, piece by piece, as he gives himself to the war, and to the girl who barely remembers him. It’s breathtakingly sad, even heartbreaking, to see the two finally together, but with a seemingly impossible void between them.

However, as Kestrel heals, she slowly finds her way back to Arin, who would do anything to help the girl he loves regain herself, even if it means losing her. But there are secrets – forgotten by Kestrel – that even Arin doesn’t know. Soon, the two find themselves in the heart of the war, plotting the downfall of the Empire, while all the while, Kestrel’s memory slips back into place, and she must make some difficult decisions.

I loved how sweet Kestrel and Arin’s relationship was in The Winner’s Kiss. Right from the moment he rescues her, Arin is willing to do anything Kestrel needs, even if it means giving her up. He’s primarily concerned with her well-being, pushing his feelings for her aside in order to make sure her needs are met. Then, as Kestrel’s memories start to return and the two drift together, Arin is hesitant, and sweet, but still willing to give Kestrel the time she needs to find her own way, rather than forcing his feelings upon her.

Overall, The Winner’s Kiss was, at its core, a story about love and finding oneself – the war was more of a side story in comparison. However, like its predecessors, The Winner’s Kiss did have lots of political intrigue and action, only this time, they weren’t the guiding motivations behind the plot. I enjoyed seeing these two selfless characters finally be selfish, and make decisions for themselves, rather than for the ideals of their people (5/5).

The Winner's Kiss

Overall, The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski is certainly worth the read. It’s got everything you could want – political intrigue, romance and action – all balanced quite wonderfully, and woven into a complex, but not confusing plot that will leave readers wanting to know how it all ends. So if you haven’t read it yet, it’s time to pick up The Winner’s Curse and give it a try!

To Be Read: April 2017

Last month, I made it my goal to cut my To Be Read List down to 5 books (it had gotten more than a little bit out of control). This meant a book buying ban (with 3 exceptions – oops) and some intense reading binges! However, I am proud to say that I achieved this goal – I currently only have 5 books on my bookshelf/on my Kindle that I have not read yet!

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That being said, as a result of some new releases, an ARC, and my general lack of control when it comes to books, my April TBR is a bit longer than 5 books!

  1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  2. The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
  3. Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
  4. Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers
  5. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
  6. Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
  7. Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima
  8. Wicked Like Wildfire (ARC) by Lana Popovic

I’m also planning on re-reading A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas, in preparation for the release of A Court of Wings in Ruin on May 2nd!

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Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton, released in North America on March 14th, 2017, is the highly anticipated sequel to Rebel of the SandsTraitor to the Throne is a sizzling, un-put-downable sequel that immediately grabs the reader’s attention, and refuses to let go. Hamilton once again demonstrates her prowess for story-telling, creating a beautifully written tale, lined with action, betrayal and romance.

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. Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

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