Furyborn by Claire Legrand | Book Review

37979837_1880025795396645_5620130548388200448_nBook: Furyborn
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Empirium, #1
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

“We survived the end of the world, you and I, we’ll survive this too.”

You know when people compare a book to your favourite author’s work, obviously you end up having high expectations going into it. Yes, that’s my experience with Furyborn. Before picking it up, I had read multiple reviews that compared it to Sarah J. Maas books. And if you don’t already know, I love everything by Sarah so I was hyped. Not only that, but I was desperate to get my hands on an ARC copy of Furyborn when I was first introduced to it last year. Unfortunately, the hype didn’t last too long as I realized when I began this high fantasy book, with an epic synopsis I might add, that I was bored, I didn’t care about the characters, and I didn’t enjoy the writing.

Set in a world with angels, elemental magic, and prophesied queens, Furyborn follows the story of two female protagonists who live a thousand years apart. Rielle Dardenne has been forced to suppress and hide her powers ever since a tragic accident took the life of her mother and the love of her father. But when the crown prince, Audric, is in danger, she is left with a decision that would reveal her powers and change her life forever. A thousand years later, Eliana Ferracora lives to protect her family from the empire, even if that means working with that corrupt power. But when her mother mysteriously disappears, she is left with no choice but to ally with an enemy to the very people she works for.

“Dread,” he murmured, his breath caressing her cheek, “is only a feeling, easily squashed. But wolves, my dear, have teeth.”

Right away, my first problem was the prologue because, to me, it revealed too much. I had barely entered this story and already I knew how it was going to end for certain characters and I figured out the not so discreet way one of the protagonists was introduced. Let’s just say that when I hit certain points in this book, I was not shocked. It was as if this book revolved around the prologue, which took away the potential for mystery.

It was a slow-paced, dense read, I didn’t care much for the characters because the author left no room to connect with them when action took over the majority of the pages, and the banter between Eliana and Simon was painful to read.

Exhibit A:

“Decent clothes aren’t something you rebels care much about finding, I suppose?”
“If you’re finished”
“Give me my knives, and I’ll refrain from hitting you for at least five minutes.”
“Have you always been this unspeakably irritating?”
“Has your face always looked so temptingly carvable?”

Exhibit B:

“Ignore me at your peril.”
“You’re an ass.”
“I’ve never claimed not to be.”

“My, my. Never have I seen the Dread struck so speechless. You know how to make a man feel good, I must say.”
“Come to catch a peek at me naked, did you?”

To me, all this dialogue exchange is forced and unnatural. As if it wasn’t needed in the story but the author added it in weird places in order to have some form of sexual tension between two characters because readers would be expecting it.

I may have nickname Simon as “Simon the ghost” because all his character was good for was a fight scene, and that’s the only time he was really present on the page. This is another reason his exchanges with Eliana felt forced. Simon had no other purpose beyond fighting and any other aspect to his character was ignored.

Eliana as a character, well that’s a whole other thing. I had trouble accepting her lack of morality. And due to her lack of morality, it seemed she herself did not know what she wanted. Such as outing innocent refugees but becoming a “hero” after she decides to save the refugees from the demise that she caused.

Another element that took me out of the story was that, yes, there was a lot of action, but that action was not executed well. As in the way it was written was confusing. The “big” scenes, weather it be a fight scene or a make-out scene, the way it was described did not give a clear visual. It made me as a reader feel lost and stupid. One second A happens then the next C happens but there’s no B in between to show how that transition worked. It was all over the place.

I think it’s clear that I enjoyed reading Rielle’s chapters more than Eliana’s. This wasn’t the case at the beginning when I thought Eliana was going to be my preferred point of view since her story style seemed more of my taste. But alas, that switched on me.

Rielle wasn’t perfect either, but I seriously enjoyed reading some of the trials she had to endure. Such as the water trial.

Audric loves Rielle. Despite her being a little “evil.” But I never bought why he did. Sure, you can say they grew up together so it should be obvious. And yes that’s true. But I don’t want to not read about their relationship development and just assume it happened somewhere off the page. Then what’s the point of reading and immersing in a story and in characters where everything is thrown together with no development? Even in the present we didn’t see much of their relationship, just the sex scene and the declaration of love.

The stakes were high in this book, but I didn’t feel it. My heart wasn’t racing. I didn’t really care. I didn’t grasp the epicness and I’m disappointed that I was hyped for nothing.

“Perhaps if nothing else, what’s happened has taught you that there is more to life – and even to war – than simply staying alive.”

Bookstagram | Goodreads


A Violet, Violent Spring by Devyani Saini| Book Review

35620875Book: A Violet, Violent Spring
Author: Devyani Saini
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary 
My Rating: 1/5 Stars

*A Violet, Violent Spring was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review*

“What are you Miana Mehra?” I stared, searching for some witty reply before he continued, “You’re a dream. A wonderfully normal dream.”

I don’t think I’ve ever given a book a one star rating, but here we are.

Mia meets her colourful and handsome next door neighbor on her way to her best friend’s wedding. It turns out his destination was the same. From there, Mia runs into him multiple more times, which prompts them to begin a relationship that could either work in their favour or fall apart completely.

I asked myself multiple times while reading this: “What is the point?” Nothing about it grabbed me. The story had no plot, no beginning, middle, and end. The characters were basic, boring, cringy, and problematic. I can go on.

So I have about three pages of notes and I believe the best way to organize them in this review is through a list of the good and the bad. Here we go…

The good:

-I like the different cultures in this story. And I like how the author clearly included things like “ohh british people apologize a lot.” I didn’t know that but it’s clear she wrote it from experience.
“British social customs were tedious indeed. Smiling and apologizing constantly! Even flower boy seemed roped in by them.”
Once in a blue moon warmth.
“London is a beauty in summer but bitter and spiteful in the winter.”
-The only times I actually enjoyed reading this book was during the prologue and epilogue. I don’t know what it was, but it gave off a different feel from the actual story. It was separate to me, and the writing intrigued me. Maybe it was because the epilogue was not in Mia’s perspective, but who knows.
“First of all, it’s a sweater. Second of all, we are past having to categorize pieces of cloth according to gender. We are an evolved species, thank you very much.”

The bad:

SEXUAL ASSAULT WARNING PAGE 201. (That was the page in my digital copy of the book).
-No events have really grabbed my attention. It’s basic. It’s boring.
-Did not like the build-up to the romance. Like “oh of course he was her driver, of course he showed up to her apartment when she was half naked.” It’s so set-up it hurts.
-Cringy wordings/descriptions. But I seem to expect it now from contemporaries.
-There is no flow.
-Mia labels and judges people. “I resisted the urge to say Thug and Emo Hick.” I feel like this is meant to be funny? But it’s not funny. It has quite the opposite effect on me actually.
-They have to travel to the same locations at the same time uncoincidentally. I get it if they run into each other but they live right next door from one another. Use that to prompt their relationship. This is too unrealistic and cringy. The first time was fine, but two times?
“Are you seriously going this way?” I laughed at us and at fate, though it seemed cheesy to say. It wasn’t like this was the first time something like this happened to us. He knew it as well as I did.”
-Also did I mention I feel nothing for these characters?
Banter is supposed to be fun, especially between potential romantic couples, but the banter is just not working for me here.
-This is just a series of boring events and jokes that aren’t funny.
“Smiled silently.” As opposed to what? Smiled loudly?
‘Nothing. Just that… most people wouldn’t comment on shoes.” YES THEY WOULD. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU WEAR BUNNY SLIPPERS. But apparently people comment on legs. IS THIS HOW SHE FLIRTS?
-Please stop fake gasping.
-Fine decline the bff but not the hot next door neighbor.
-What are the stakes?
-There are moments that have potential but are destroyed in the next sentence.
“I imagined his vocal cords vibrating inside his larynx. The source of such a fantastic and breathless sound was literally just air rushing against two infolding’s of mucous membrane.” “… lightly pressing his thumbs against the part of my coxal bone which jutted out from beneath my skin.” I understand that Mia is studying to be some kind of nurse or doctor, but I have no words for these descriptions.
-Now let’s begin with the problematic parts:
“It’s not nothing and you’re going to tell me. It’s the least you can do after that night you took me out.”
“For the record it’s only assault if I stick my tongue down your throat.”
“Where are you going?”
To India to visit my family. During my next break.”
“You should tell me these things.”
“Why? It doesn’t concern you.”
“You are literally living with me. And you sucked my face. So yes, to an extent it does.”
“I’ll tell you everything. But not now.”
I wanted it to be not ever, but Luhan was right when he said these kinds of things were his concern, at least to an extent.
“You can’t say you didn’t like it.” [The sex from last night]
Then the sexual assault that I don’t want to quote.
-What is with this entitlement and controlling nature they have towards each other. Because we kissed, you have to tell me. And yes Mia you are acting entitled but he isn’t any better.
-I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve made a “what the hell am I reading” face.
THIS BASICALLY SUMS UP THE BOOK: “We were just moments, at the end of it. Moments strung together by circumstance and unwound in the same way. The story thus woven is unwoven.” This book literally is just moments between them. NO PLOT.

Goodreads | Bookstagram

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan | Book Review

34388244_1801622533236972_7326360831334023168_nBook: Archer’s Voice
Author: Mia Sheridan
Series: Standalone
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

“You brought the silence,
The most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.”

I’ve seen Archer’s Voice around for years while going on hunts to discover captivating romances to read. Yet for some reason I always breezed past it, never acknowledging that it could potentially be a story in which I would enjoy. It wasn’t until recently when a spark hit and I realized I needed this book, needed this new adult romance in my life immediately. But going into it, for the most part, blind, I wasn’t expecting it to be different, to be refreshing, to stand out from all the other romances I’ve read in the past.

Haunted by the dark event that changed her life, Bree Prescott needed to get away. A road trip and a fresh start far from home was what she believed was her cure. This is how she found herself in the small town of Pelion. A town that has ignored a tragic event and an isolated boy for too long. Then Bree arrives, she asks questions, she breaks the silence. And she falls in love. Archer is alone, feels unworthy, and is scared to break free from a life he’s always known. Bree is the first person to show him he is capable of more.

“Try to believe that maybe more light shines out of those who have the most cracks.”

To start, I thought it was funny how this romance gave me thriller vibes in the beginning. I mean a girl enters into a small town, lives in a cottage alone, the town has secrets. Not that I have ever picked up a thriller book to know what signs to look for, but I had to remind myself that I was reading a romance, not something chilling.

As I’ve already pointed out, this was a refreshing read in the new adult romance genre. Why? Because we were given an untraditional relationship. This basically means that from the romances I’ve read in the past, this one stood out because it didn’t follow a formula that I’m used to. The roles were reversed.

I appreciated Archer’s character because usually the male protagonist in romances are not like him. He’s a virgin. And I appreciated the fact that his virginity and lack of skills in that area was a plot point for him and not for Bree. Because really, how many male protagonist virgins do you read about in romances? Where the female protagonist takes the lead and shows him the ropes? Seriously, I would love to know. He’s sensitive, shy, sweet, nervous, and yes, I was definitely swooning for him. He was also highly insecure. And I was insecure about Archer’s insecurity, if that makes any sense, because I completely connected with him in that aspect.

“This is that burden I was talking about, Bree. This is what the burden of loving me looks like.”
“Loving you isn’t a burden. Loving you is an honor and a joy, Archer.”

Bree, she was an easy character to love, but I was cringing a little at how forward and eager she was to know about Archer through other people. As if she had any right to his secrets before she properly met him. It just felt a little off to me.

Obviously going into any new adult romance, I know to prepare myself for cringy dialogue and description. And yes, this book did not “disappoint” me with a lack of  cliché phrases. When I tell you they were everywhere, I mean it. Especially when Bree described her relationship and feelings towards Archer.

“Owned by body and soul – some kind of primal connection that must have been there before I existed, before he existed, before he or I ever breathed the same air, something written in the very stars.”

When phrases like this are constant, it begins getting a little too dramatic and over-the-top for my taste.

So much of the same cringy descriptions graced my eyes. “I smiled then grinned and laughed through my grin then smiled.” Obviously this is not a direct quote from the book. I’m just being extra. But descriptions along this line existed throughout. It played a significant role in my reading experience and the outcome of my thoughts on this book.

I hate expecting things when reading, but in the middle of this book, when things were going well, I dreaded it because it was a given that a downfall was coming. This book had a fast start, but a slow middle and end for me. I lost interest in the characters. I just stopped caring.

I wanted to end this review with one last thing this book did that I appreciated. There was no love triangle. Bree weeded out the asshole early, choose the man she wanted, and stuck to him through all the good and the bad.

“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. I wish you could read my mind so that you would know how much I want you, no one else. There could be three hundred men after me right now, and it wouldn’t matter. Because none of them are you, Archer Hale. None of them are the man I love.”


Secrets of Moldara by Brianne Earhart

34065426_1798600573539168_2125391259647344640_nToday I want to share with you Secrets of Moldara by Brianne Earhart. The lovely people at Myth Machine sent me this Secrets of Moldara package, which I am really excited about.



The woods around Lotty’s childhood home are filling up with dangerous people. Her grandmother’s death has brought the family back from Chicago and triggered a secret Lotty was never meant to face alone. Guided by a desire to finally solve her Grandpa’s disappearance, Lotty has enlisted the help of farm hands that are keeping their own deadly secrets. Together they will have to learn to trust again, relying on each other’s will to fight, if they are going to survive the truth that waits for them all in Moldara.

Interested in the book?

You can use my link HERE to purchase the eBook. Using my link will get you 10% off. You can also read the prologue when you click the link.

Happy Reading!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien | Book Review

33343107_1790792460986646_870650223779643392_nBook: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Series: Standalone/Middle-Earth Universe
Genre: High Fantasy/Middle Earth
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

The Hobbit, a well-known and beloved middle grade fantasy adventure from the 30’s, finally found itself in my possession. Not by choice of course, as this was a read I had to pick up for a class, and not with much joy either as it took me a month to read. This book was a struggle, a slow-paced struggle, as I added annotation, marginalia, and what looks like a thousand sticky note flags, all for the sake of analyzing Bilbo’s character. All I can say now is that any other prof who adds The Hobbit to their course reading list, I’m beyond ready.

This adventure story follows Bilbo Baggins, a respectable hobbit due to his lack of adventures. But that all changes when Gandalf chooses him to be the official burglar for a group of dwarves desperate to travel to the Lonely Mountain and take back the valued treasure that once belonged to them from the dragon, Smaug the Magnificent. Bilbo, left with no choice but to tag along and accept his new role, finds himself in dangerous, thrilling, and life-threatening events that have the power to change him forever.

“To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick… leaving his second breakfast half-finished.”

I want to start with the writing style first, because it took a toll on my reading experience. Obviously The Hobbit is not from my time and it was written for children, so it’s to be expected that I had some issues regarding the writing. One thing being that it breaks the fourth wall multiple times throughout the book, taking me completely off guard and out of the story every time.

“I imagine you know the answer, of course, or can guess it as easy as winking, since you are sitting comfortably at home and have not the danger of being eaten to disturb your thinking.”

We are acknowledged as human readers, inserted into the story about hobbits and dwarves. I understand this may be the case since it’s written for a younger audience, but to me it was just strange.

Then there was:

“It was not very long before he discovered: but that belongs to the next chapter and the beginning of another adventure in which the hobbit again showed his usefulness.”

When I say foreshadowing Tolkien, that’s not what I mean.

The writing even did a weird switch up where the point of view would leave Bilbo’s head and an outside narrator would say something that Bilbo didn’t know:

“The truth was he had been lying quiet, out of sight and out of mind, in a very dark corner for a long while.”

Besides all that there were run on sentences, time jumps, little detail, telling instead of showing (they did this, then this, then this…). I can go on, but I think my point is made.

Regarding the dwarves, I honestly thought that the majority of the adventure party was useless. There were a handful of dwarves we could acknowledge past their name, but the rest were just background characters with little to no use. If the party was cut in half nothing would have changed besides Bilbo having to rescue less dwarves.

Reading through The Hobbit I realized that the adventures were epic but I didn’t enjoy them because of the way they were executed. There were so many trials throughout the book, but they were really disconnected from each other. It was a list, like many little adventures in the big adventure. It didn’t flow and it seemed to be repeating itself. It was like finishing a book and moving on to the next book when one trial ended and the other began. And let me tell you, it was long. Just like Bilbo’s journey and how he was happy to finally go home at the end, it was like I was finally set free from my own agonizing adventure when I read the final page.

We were thrusted into action that had no action. Just playing off the fact that Bilbo is a very lucky character, it seemed to be the card he played all throughout the book, so nothing exciting happened. It was too easy for him with that blasted ring.

Don’t even get me started on the battle of the five armies. What did Bilbo do during the battle? Nothing. Was there an epic showdown between Bilbo and Smaug, you know the reason Bilbo was dragged along in the first place? Nope. Smaug became someone else’s problem.

I don’t understand the hype. I don’t understand how this is considered the be all and end all of fantasy.

But I can’t factor out the small things that I actually enjoyed.

I flagged so many quotes throughout the book where the dwarves were not being fair to Bilbo, not appreciating what he did for them. Just the never-ending complaints toward him. So when Bilbo finally stood up for himself, I was wiping tears and clapping my hands.

“Well are you alive or dead?” asked Bilbo quite crossly…“Are you still in prison, or are you free? If you want food, and if you want to go on with this silly journey – it’s yours after all and not mine – you had better slap your arms and rub your legs and try and help me get the others out while there is a chance!”

Then of course there had to be a line thrown in there that actually gave me feels. That actually made me reminisce on this long adventure I took part in.

“And turning towards the Mountain he added: Farewell Thorin Oakenshield! And Fili and Kili! May your memory never fade!”

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

31900679_1771391786260047_5221924107238506496_nBook: A Court of Frost and Starlight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

“To family old and new.
Let the Solstice festivities begin.”

I don’t even know how to start this review. This was everything I needed and more. A Court of Frost and Starlight was fluffy, it was seeing my favourite characters be domestic, it was the Inner Circle and their constant, hilarious banter, it was about family, love, lose, celebration, and heartbreak and I’m too emotional to know how to take that all in and process it. I didn’t write notes when I was reading so I have no idea what will pour out of me as I try to coherently write down my thoughts.

A Court of Frost and Starlight, which has been explained by Sarah herself as a long novella that acts like a bridge from the trilogy to the spinoff books, is a gift.

The war has ended, but everyone is still working hard to heal themselves and the world around them. There are so many things to right, to rebuild, to ensure. But with Winter Solstice approaching, it opens an opportunity for a well-deserved break. We follow the Inner Circle as they balance preparations being made for their intimate celebration with the call to right the effects of the war and potential poison brewing. And perhaps a broken soul who can barely hold herself together.

I can’t even tell you the amount of times I laughed, squealed, and put down the book to take a breath. My experience reading A Court of Frost and Starlight was truly a joy. I am counting down the days for the next book. The concept of it has me pumped.


I want to start with the fluffy stuff.

“Dangerous words, Rhysand,” Amren warned, strutting through the door, nearly swallowed up by the enormous white fur coat she wore. Only her chin-length dark hair and solid silver eyes were visible above the collar. She looked— “You look like an angry snowball,” Cassian said.”

The Inner Circle has been, and I believe always will be, the best group of characters that I’ve ever read about. They are so loving and supportive of each other, but most of all, I love their banter. Yes, each one of them was responsible for making me laugh during this read. I’m always craving for more with these characters, and it was so refreshing to be able to read about them not going to war. To be able to read about their normal lives in Velaris was such a beautiful sight, and I’m so happy that Sarah gave us this opportunity to experience it.

One of the most fun parts of this to me was them gift buying and figuring out what to get everyone. I just saw my friends and I and how it’s sometimes a battle to figure out what to get each other. I just loved reading something so relatable.

Now this is the last time we will be reading from Feyre and Rhys point of view. We will of course see them again as side characters, but after reading their story for three book and a novella, this end to their chapter was bittersweet. I don’t have much to say about them that I already haven’t said in the past. But I feel so grateful towards them because they represent such a healthy relationship. It has really opened my eyes in that aspect, which is one of many reasons why Sarah’s books are so important to me. I really wish to see more healthy relationships in future books that I read.

“A memory. Of me on the kitchen table just a few feet away. Of him kneeling before me. My legs wrapped around his head. Cruel, wicked thing. I heard a door slamming somewhere in the house, followed by a distinctly male yelp. Then banging—as if someone was trying to get back inside. Mor’s eyes sparkled. “You got him kicked out, didn’t you?” My answering smile set her roaring.”

I’m sure the whole neighborhood heard me squeal when I turned to chapter three and saw that it was from Cassian’s point of view. As much as I love Feyre and Rhys, my interest has piqued immensely in regards to certain side characters and their journey, not just as background characters to someone else’s story. I think it’s no surprise that those characters, for me, are Cassian and Nesta. Of course I’m all for Nessian and they as a potential romantic couple has turned into my biggest priority, but it’s so much more than that. Them as individual characters, now there’s something complex to analyze. Especially Nesta. Especially after the glimpse we got into her new life and how her journey is about to develop in the next book.

Something that I’ve always appreciated about Sarah J. Maas and her stories is how she showcases and deals with mental illness.

Nesta broke my heart in this book. I was devastated to see her so isolated, unwanted, and hollow. Can I saw I was surprised by her coldness? No. I expected it. But I was surprised by how her loneliness, her PTSD, her depression, her addictions, were enabled, were not helped, were left alone in hopes that it would go away by itself. This was enabled by her own family. I know Nesta is not the easiest to deal with, but it won’t get better if they leave her alone. I mean A Court of Wings and Ruin is proof that it is possible to crack Nesta’s coldness. Unfortunately, the war made her retreat back into herself, perhaps even worse than before, and no one stepped up to help her. And I know first hand that this situation should not be dealt with in isolation. I honestly don’t know what they expected by leaving her alone, but,

“I want you out of Velaris,” Feyre breathed, her voice shaking. Nesta tried—tried and failed—not to feel the blow, the sting of the words. Though she didn’t know why she was surprised by it. There were no paintings of her in this house, they did not invite her to parties or dinners anymore, they certainly didn’t visit— “And where,” Nesta asked, her voice mercifully icy, “am I supposed to go?” Feyre only looked to Cassian. And for once, the Illyrian warrior wasn’t grinning as he said, “You’re coming with me to the Illyrian Mountains.”

As hard as this is, I see hope for her future. I see her gaining a purpose. And I’m beyond excited to read about it.

A concept in this that I thought was beyond beautiful and really impacted me in a way I can’t describe is the idea of creating.

“I have to create, or it was all for nothing. I have to create, or I will crumple up with despair and never leave my bed. I have to create because I have no other way of voicing this.”

It’s as if this is voicing something in the back of my mind that has never fully formed on the surface. I’m in a point in my life where I am desperate to keep busy and I’m scared if I stop. Because I don’t know what will happen, who I will be if I let nothing consume my life. I just really wanted to bring it up because I thought it was a good reminder of that.

I want to end this review with a highlight. The line that had be roaring with laughter. The line that forced me to put down the book and take a breath.

“Cassian had named about two dozen poses for Nesta at this point. Ranging from “I will eat your eyes for breakfast” to “I don’t want Cassian to know I’m reading smut.”

This was everything and more. Nesta reads smut and she tries to hide that from Cassian. This is the stuff I live for. Maybe Cassian and Nesta can have a romance book club in the Illyrian Mountains. I need the next book already.

And I Darken by Kiersten White | Book Review

31437282_1765251450207414_8085592250471415808_nBook: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror’s Saga #1
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

“The last time she was up here, she had been… staring up at the sky and dreaming of stars. Now, she looked down and plotted flames.”

Much of what I was expecting going into this book did not come to pass. This read was surprising, brutal, and heartbreaking. I’m excited for more.

And I Darken is the origin story of a gender bend Vlad the Impaler; Lada Dragwlya. A historical fiction where Lada and Radu, her younger and completely opposite brother, are neglected by their father and sacrificed to the Ottoman Empire. This is where they meet Mehmed, third in line to be Sultan, who quickly accepts them as friends. Together they experience the cruel world, together they cleverly learn to survive. But because of this they grow up too fast. Lada and Radu, in their own ways, are met with challenges to protect Mehmed at all costs, challenges that are capable of tearing down what they have built, challenges that are fated to destroy their relationships forever.

I guess I can explain here what I expected; the first chapter with little Lada, the second chapter and onwards, sixteen year old Lada ready to kill and destroy. But no, we got about two hundred pages of Lada growing up, alongside Radu, who also had his own chapters. At this point, while I was reading, it was like I was trudging through strong currents as I flipped the pages. Younger protagonists are not my thing. I rarely pick up middle grade because this age range for characters doesn’t appeal to me. But this was different. Sure, Radu acted like his age, but Lada was something else. She was a brutal twelve year old who said things like this:

“On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”

I mean… Yeah I forgot she was twelve.

At the same time, the story picked up for me after two hundred pages, when the characters significantly aged to late teens.

The pacing of this book very much relied on time jumps to move the plot forward and get to the point. Time jumps that could range from a week to years. They were constant. Though as much as I appreciate not going on and on about plot points that don’t play a significant role in the story the author wants to tell, I felt as if certain points were a cop-out? “Oh it’s no problem that Lada was severely injured, let’s skip ahead a week to when Lada is way better. We don’t want to see her recovery, or anything crazy like that, we want to see her be her brutal self again.” Let us see her struggle, she doesn’t have to be strong all the time.

Not to mention, a lot of smaller issues throughout the story were being resolved fast. Lada walking into the Harem to “kill” Mehmed. No action. Lada proving she can lead seemed too easy. Lada and Nicolae wanting to run away because Mehmed was sick but he was actually there. They started off as “oh this is going to be good,” moments, but ended with nothing happening.

Both Lada and Radu idealized Mehmed, in their own ways, and ultimately romance was involved. I honestly don’t understand what they saw in Mehmed. Maybe he was the first person that ever made them feel secure, the only person who secured them a home. Though Lada was stubborn in that aspect. He is not someone who is easy to love, in the sense that being Sultan demands so much of a person, has expectations to have relationships with multiple people. They were setting themselves up for heartbreak.

It’s always difficult reading a book with dual perspectives because if you don’t enjoy one character’s chapters, in this case Radu, then there really isn’t a proper way to avoid it without skipping half the book. Yes I loved Lada’s chapters, I loved Nicolae’s character more than I was expecting, and yes I love his friendship with Lada.

“Do you want to kiss me?”
“Please take this in the kindest way possible, but I would sooner try to romance my horse. And I suspect my horse would enjoy it more than you.”
“Your horse deserves better.”

They are definitely the two characters I’m excited to read about in the sequel.