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Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)
by Marie Rutkoski
Hardcover, 484 pages
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buy a Copy: 
      Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Goodreads Summary: Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Cindy's Review: 
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski is the final novel in the Winner’s Trilogy. Often, final books are often difficult to satisfy readers’ high expectations, but Rutkoski concludes this series perfectly filled with exhilarating battles.

At the start, readers immediately dive into a conflict filled with high tension. Protagonist Kestrel is the daughter of General Trajan, who serves the ruler of the Valorian Empire. She chooses to marry the Crown Prince in the previous novel so she can help Arin, a Herrani slave, save his territory. However, when Kestrel is discovered spying for the Herrani, her own father sends her to frozen prison camps in the North, where slave laborers are forced to work under the influence of drugs.

Meanwhile, Arin takes Kestrel’s cold attitude towards him as Kestrel’s selfish desire for power. Little did he know, Kestrel is The Moth, a spy within the Valorian Empire who secretly delivers information to Arin’s spymaster.
The Valorian Empire captured the Herran peninsula years earlier and enslaved the Herranis. After the Herranis’ successful rebellion against the Valorian Empire, Arin is now the leader of the people. The emperor of Valoria agrees to allow Arin to govern Herran under the condition that he reports back to Valoria. Unknown to Arin, the emperor’s generosity is fabricated by Kestrel.

Despite the agreement between Valoria and Herran, suspicion continues to grow and war continues to brew. Arin creates an alliance with the eastern empires while the crafty Valorian emperor poisons the Herranis’ water supply. As the tension between the eastern and western empires increase, Kestrel tries to stay sane despite her drugged food while Arin slowly discovers the true identity of his enemy.

Though the Winner’s trilogy starts off rather romantic and tame, it builds the setting for its sequels. If you are looking for a cleverly crafted high fantasy novel, take a plunge into Rutkoski’s action-packed series filled with revenge, deceits, and betrayal.
The Rating: (1-10): 10~

Happy Reading~ 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Book Review: Banished (Forbidden #2) by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Banished (Forbidden, #2)Banished (Forbidden #2) 
by  Kimberley Griffiths Little 
eBook, 416 pages
Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Harpercollins
Genre: YA Fantasy, Romance
Buy a Copy: 
       Amazon | B&N 

Goodreads Summary: She thought she’d lost everything…

After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.

But the trek to Sariba comes with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her…secrets that will change everything.

This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden is fraught with love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.

Cindy's Review:
Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little is the second book of the Forbidden series. Picking up right after the first novel, Jayden of the Nephish tribe crosses the harsh Mesopotamian desert alone to find her lover Kadesh.

The violent and unpredictable King of Nephish, Horeb, attempted to kill Kadesh and is now hunting Jayden across the desert. Horeb is originally Jayden’s betrothed, but she did not want to rule alongside a psycho who killed his own father and brother for the throne.Now an outcast for attempting to elope with Kadesh to the kingdom of Sariba, Jayden must quickly find Kadesh and reach the safety of Sariba without being mauled by Horeb’s growing army.

Receiving help from the Edomites tribe, Jayden and Kadesh race against time to reach Sariba before getting caught by Horeb’s army. Unfortunately, Horeb seems to be crossing the desert with a lot more ease than anticipated. For someone who is not familiar with the harsh environment of the current day Saudi Arabian desert, Horeb must have been receiving help from a spy within Jayden’s group.

To make matters worse, Kadesh is holding back information from Jayden about his homeland, Sariba. It seems that Sariba is dealing with interior complications as well. As Jayden and Kadesh rush southwards along the Red Sea, readers experience the dry desert under the relentless sun and whooshing winds alongside the protagonists.

Compared with Forbidden, Banished is the action and the battles while Forbidden is like the introduction and the background information. Ms. Kimberley continues to take readers along with the protagonists' adventure through the desert. Sariba felt like a faraway safe haven. I am imagining a secret island full of cherry blossoms (the frankincense trees) and a pond, hidden behind the mountains, protected by nature. 

Though the ending marked the actual beginning of battles, I was still oddly satisfied of being able to see Kadesh's homeland and learning its secret. I absolutely cannot wait for the final book in the trilogy to see what is in store for Jayden's future.

I recommend this novel to readers who like historical fiction full of suspense and mystery. 

**Huge thanks to Dena from Batch of Books for giving me the opportunity to review Banished**

The Rating: (1-10): 8.5~

Happy Reading ~ 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blog Tour: Adorkable by Cookie O'Gorman

Welcome to my stop on the Adorkable Blog Tour
hosted by YA Bound Book Tours

by Cookie O'Gorman
Release Date: March 31st, 2016

Adorkable (ah-dor-kuh-bul): Descriptive term meaning to be equal parts dorky and adorable. For reference, see Sally Spitz.

Seventeen-year-old Sally Spitz is done with dating. Or at least, she's done with the horrible blind dates/hookups/sneak attacks her matchmaking bestie, Hooker, sets her up on. There's only so much one geek girl and Gryffindor supporter can take.

Her solution: she needs a fake boyfriend. And fast.

Enter Becks, soccer phenom, all-around-hottie, and Sally's best friend practically since birth. When Sally asks Becks to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He'd do anything for Sal--even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she's "more than pretty," and expertly kissing her at parties.

The problem: Sally's been in love with Becks all her life--and he's completely clueless.

This book features two best friends, one special edition Yoda snuggie, countless beneath-the-ear kisses and begs the question:

Who wants a real boyfriend when faking it is so much more fun?

Cindy's Review: 
Adorkable was a breezy, light read following Sally Spitz and her quest to stay away from her matchmaking best friend, Hooker (what a name!). Using her childhood playmate as a shield, Becks become her fake boyfriend and the romance begins. 

The plotline of this story is similar to many I've read before. The girl falling in love with her best friend. Often times, they fake date, but then they realize they love each other. The difference in Adorkable, though, is that Sally already knew she was in love with Becks before the fake dating. And that makes things even better. I would never get tired of this storyline (unless I just read these bubbly chick lits over and over again).

There was a lot of allusions in this book with Harry Potter and Star Wars and other things I'm not really sure of. Is "Sal.... my gal" something I should know? It was fun to read. Their relationship as totally adorkable. 

Those PDA lessons in his room. Love. And of course, the families totally support them. :) 

However, there is a pattern that I am getting tired of in literature. The popular guy is in love with a geeky, studious girl, who happens to be his best friend. Honestly, that just does not happen a lot in reality. Those popular boys always stay with the girls in their league/friend group. Though I feel like eye-rolling every time I read something like this, I do feel really giddy when the popular boy acknowledges the main character. Just because. The guy is always perfect. 

If you are looking for a short, fun weekend read, try Adorkable. Ride along with Sally's dorkiness and watch Becks and Sally's romance play out. :) 

The Rating: (1-10): 7~

Author Bio: 
Cookie O'Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE will be released in 2016.

Author Website:
Author Goodreads 

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden WishThe Forbidden Wish
by Jessica Khoury
Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: YA Fantasy, Retelling
Buy a Copy:
       Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Goodreads Summary: She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

Cindy's Review: ** I won The Forbidden Wish from a Goodreads giveaway, which did not influence my opinion of this novel. **

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, focusing on a prohibited relationship between Aladdin and his jinni (genie), Zahra. Taking the place of Aladdin’s well-known, blue and mischievous Genie, Zahra has a backstory of her own. Zahra narrates the tale as if she is talking to her beloved Queen Roshana. The Wise Queen once ruled the omnipotent city of Neruby — a vast land that was destroyed 500 years ago by a devastating war. The war is rumoured to be single-handedly started by Zahra who had used Roshana’s trust to bring down Neruby. After the conflict, the descendants of Roshana banned the jinnis and created wards to prevent their entrance. 

 The novel begins when Zahra meets Aladdin. A magic ring that Aladdin stole leads him into the ruins of Neruby, where he finds and rescues Zahra from her 500 year imprisonment in the lamp. Zahra is glad that she is finally free from her dungeon of darkness, but decides not to become attached to Aladdin due to her past experiences with Queen Roshana. Zahra was forced by the King of Jinnis — a Shaitan, one of the most powerful of the Jinn — to kill Roshana because of their forbidden human-jinni relationship. She does not want the same fate for Aladdin. Zahra’s hope for Aladdin to quickly choose his wishes soon changes when the Shaitan appears once more and assigns Zahra to save his son, Zhian, who was captured and trapped in a bottle inside the castle. In return for saving the Shaitan’s son, she is promised freedom.

Zahra’s only hope to release Zhian before the month ends is to manipulate Aladdin and use his wishes for her benefit. In an attempt to enter the castle, she urges Aladdin to wish to become a Prince so he can get revenge on Darian, whose father murdered his parents. Aladdin has the chance to make Princess Caspida fall in love with him so he may inherit the throne with her in place of Darian, the betrothed of Caspida.

As this plan is put into action, Zahra learns how to understand Aladdin and helps him fall into the character of his disguise. Facing many threats from inside and out of the castle, Zahra is racing against time to achieve her freedom, without betraying Aladdin. Aladdin and Zahra’s adventure leads readers through a magical and enchanting adventure filled with finger-curling danger and unexpected surprises. 

I highly recommend The Forbidden Wish to readers who would enjoy a desert fantasy with an extraordinary twist.

Rating (1-10): 9~

Happy Reading~