Thursday, 21 July 2016

And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point. (Goodreads)

This book is so original. 
It's plot and characters are unique and the setting is underused in YA. 

And I Darken showed that women can be tough and fight and men can use words and looks to get into peoples trusted circle. Women don't have to enjoy wearing dresses to be women. Men don't have to like/be good at fighting to be men. 
Lada is badass. She's fierce and ferocious and fights to be treated as equally as any man. I really loved watching Lada grow and understand that women can be fighters in many different ways. I hope Lada can settle into her own in the next book and stop telling herself she can't do this or that because of what others will think because she needs to be seen as cold and hard. 
Radu is caring and emotional. This first book was definitely the story of him finding himself, what he is good at and his place in the world, something that Lada hasn't really found yet. 
And I Darken (Conqueror's Saga, #1)
I loved having both Lada and Radu's PoV's so we could read their opinions, reactions and motivations separately. Seeing what they thought of each other and being able to compare it to what they thought the other thought of them was interesting.  Their sibling relationship is a mix of love and respect but also hate and jealousy. 

There isn't a love triangle in this book, which is great, instead there's a very complex web of interactions and feelings between characters. The dynamic between Lada, Mehmed and Radu was impossible to stop reading. I just want the three of them to be able to somehow all live happily and contently together but whether or not that could ever happen is yet to be seen. 

I can't wait to see what happens next.
4 Stars! 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Five Reasons to Read 'The Dark Days Club' by Alison Goodman

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

1) Regency!
Image result for dark days club    The novel is set in 1812, during the Regency era. Goodman has obviously done her research and it gives the story a great authentic feel.  It's super interesting to learn about social customs of the time. If that sounds boring, its totally not! Don't worry, it's not like a school textbook on the Regency era, with lists and info dumps, you just read and afterwards think 'wow- I learned something cool there!'

2) Romance!
    One thing that always niggles me in historical novels is when authors try hard to have their characters act like real people of that time would do. BUT, the romance will feel rushed so that it can lead up to an inevitable kiss by the end. I don't mind not having a kiss in the first book, I prefer for it to feel real and develop naturally. Goodman manages to brilliantly create tension between her two characters mostly through their conversations and body language. She adapts to rules such as women not being allowed to go out with a man (not from her family) alone and does it expertly.

3) Demons!
    You might think 'oh, so basically the mortal instruments, set in 1812 - its just another infernal devices!' But you'd be wrong. The demons in this novel aren't anything like the ones in the Shadowhunter Chronicles, instead of ugly and grotesque creatures, these demons look human. And they feed on something very peculiar...

4) Friendship!
    The novel features a wonderful female friendship between Helen and her lady's maid Darby. They both look out for each other and confide in one another. I'm excited to see if how their friendship grows in the next book.

5) Fate!
    Often in fantasy novels, there's a 'chosen one' who finds out they're destined to do/be something and they're shocked but shoulder the responsibility and go on to be heroes. Harry Potter. Clary Fray. Frodo. They don't ever say 'yeah, thanks but no thanks. I just want to go on living my normal life.' Sometimes they might falter and struggle and wonder why they ever chose this path, but they don't really entertain the possibility that they don't have to accept the responsibility that is being thrust upon them, that could possibly kill them and will complicate their lives a whole lot. The Dark Days Club however...