Tea & Book Chat: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Wrath and the Dawn which is the first book in the duology by Renee Ahdieh, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Rose and the Dagger is the second book and conclusion to The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh.  It was one of my most anticipated books of 2016 and I’m pleased to say that it did not disappoint! While it wasn’t perfect, The Rose and the Dagger definitely held my interest and ultimately left me with a satisfying ending.  The book picks up where The Wrath and the Dawn leaves off, with Shazi and Khalid in their separate places.  Shazi is set on breaking Khalid’s curse but since she is residing in a camp of his opposers, she must defend him to those who were closest to her prior to her time in the palace.  I wish these two would’ve had more time together in The Rose and the Dagger but I digress.

Because of the distance between our protagonists, we spend a portion of the novel delving deeper into the side characters introduced in The Wrath and the Dawn and some new additions as well.  One particular character that I was not pleased to see more of is Tariq, Shazi’s childhood love interest.  Spending time with her father also made me feel horrible for everything she’s had to deal with but I really enjoyed getting more insight into her sister and Rahim.  My favorite side character who was new to the story is Artan Temujin, who Shazi turns to for training and understanding of the magic she possesses.  I only wish he could’ve played a part in book one or that he gets some type of spin-off story.  And Despina, my favorite character from The Wrath and the Dawn has her own incredible subplot going on which really kept me on my toes!

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Much of the worldbuilding in Ahdieh’s story was explained in The Wrath and the Dawn but I still would’ve liked to have gotten more out of The Rose and the Dagger than we did.  Especially since it is in book two that more magical elements are introduced.  As always, Ahdieh’s writing is simply beautiful which led me to highlight a number of passages.  I fell in love with so many of the new quotes I discovered and I will definitely read any other books Ahdieh publishes going forward.  There were unexpected twists and turns that I did not see coming while reading The Rose and the Dagger and I can honestly say that the plot kept me 100% engaged the entire time.  My only complaint is that the resolution among all of the characters seemed to come too easily and I would’ve liked to have seen them endure more of a challenge in completing their goals.

Final Thoughts:  The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh provides a lovely conclusion to The Wrath and the Dawnduology.  Ahdieh’s writing style is beautiful as ever and the story evolves from an Arabian Nights retelling into something of its own.  The plot is action packed and will hold your interest until the very last page as you continue the tale of the primary characters and become invested in some new faces. If you read and loved The Wrath and the Dawn I would urge you to continue your reading with The Rose and the Dagger.

 Rating 5

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as “a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance.”

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Ever since I read and loved Pivot Point and Split Second, I knew I had to read all of Kasie West’s other books, past and future.  I started with The Distance Between Us because I happened to have a copy on my Kindle but I was later told that was the best thing I could have done because some of The Distance Between Us characters show up in On the Fence.  I ended up loving this one and I can honestly say I am a full blown Kasie West addict at this point.  The Distance Between Ustells the story of Caymen, a sarcastic girl who lives above a struggling doll shop with her single mother, and a boy named Xander who happens to walk into the shop one day.

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I have to start by saying that Caymen is one of the funniest main characters I’ve read about.  Her sense of humor is very dry and her sarcasm is on point.  I can totally see her enjoying British television.  Caymen is the kind of girl who uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism since she’s stuck helping her mom in a creepy doll store that she has no interest in inheriting but it’s also just her sense of humor.  She even takes half days at school so she can spend more time working and she does it all without complaining or ever asking for the chance to have a social life of her own.  Then in walks Xander and the slow burn romance commences.  Xander is tall, dark and handsome and he comes from a family with a ton of money.  Caymen and Xander don’t initially hit it off (especially from Caymen’s perspective) but the evolution of their relationship is one I really connected to.  They’re the cutest couple and I was rooting for them throughout the whole book.  Xander is being groomed to take over his father’s hotel business which is something he’s not interested in so the pair start having career days where they try to figure out a future for each other.  It couldn’t have been cuter! There’s also a whole subplot going on with Caymen’s mom and the doll store but what really hooked me is the romance.

Final Thoughts:  The Distance Between Us by Kasie West is a witty contemporary romance that’ll have you swooning.  Caymen and Xander are some of my favorite YA characters and their slow burn romance really speaks to my heart.  I loved the banter, sarcasm and each character’s journey to self discovery.  If you’re looking for a love story with a funny lead, The Distance Between Us should be on your list!

Rating 5

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Summer of Supernovas is Darcy Woods’s debut contemporary YA novel. It follows a girl named Wil as she tries to live her life according to the stars.  Her deceased mother was very interested in astrology which is why Wil feels such a strong connection to the zodiac and she becomes involved in a love triangle where she’s torn between her perfect astrological match and what could be her worst astrological downfall.  I have to say that I seem to be the odd woman out when it comes to this book.  There were aspects of it that I enjoyed but overall I took issue with the story and I never found myself excited to pick up and read from where I left off.

Summer of Supernovas

My first gripe is the sibling love triangle.  I’m rarely a fan of love triangles but when the triangle involves siblings (brothers Seth and Grant in this case) it’s even harder for me to get behind.  Wil is torn between the two after being “saved” from a tower by Grant and meeting Seth at a club the next night.  Grant and Seth come from money but while Seth is flashy, Grant is more down to Earth and in tune with the world around him.  Both guys seem sweet enough but it’s obvious that Wil has feelings for Grant.  She soon learns that his brother Seth should be her perfect astrological match and that dating Grant is destined to be a disaster so she decides to follow her star chart instead of her heart.  This is my second issue.  It was really challenging to get behind Wil’s decisions (despite the deceased astrology buff mother) when she had to convince herself every single time she saw either brother that she should be with Seth.  I’m not someone who puts much story in astrology so it was probably harder for me than it may be for other people.  Now for the elements I enjoyed; I loved Wil’s relationship with her Gram and her best Irina, I love Wil’s retro 1940’s style and the fact that her Gram bakes gourmet cupcakes for work, and I especially enjoyed Darcy Woods’s writing.  I wouldn’t be opposed to reading a future book of hers since I enjoyed her storytelling skills but unfortunately this book didn’t resonate with me.

Final Thoughts:  Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods is a contemporary romance about a girl named Wil who trusts the stars over her own instincts.  She finds herself in a love triangle with two brothers who compete for her attention and while she clearly has feelings for one, she sticks with the other because of her star chart.  I’m not one for sibling love triangles or astrology so I struggled with this story as I read.  I would read another book by Darcy Woods because her writing has so much potential but this story just wasn’t for me.

Rating 3

As the daughter of an expert astrologer, Wilamena Carlisle knows that the truth lies within the stars. So when she discovers a rare planetary alignment, she is forced to tackle her worst astrological fear – The Fifth House of Relationships and Love. But Wil must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her mother’s legacy, when she falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the chart.

Debut author Darcy Woods explores love in all its complexities and how to best honor the loved ones who have passed before us, in a novel packed with both humor and heart. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

**This lent to me in exchange for an honest review – thanks so much Andi for lending me your ARC!**

Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider was one of my most anticipated contemporary releases for 2016, largely because the plot synopsis reminded me of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Who can resist a complicated YA fiction book set in Hawaii?! I know I couldn’t! I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Summer of Sloane in January thanks to Andi who attended ALA and sent me her ARC to borrow (Thanks again Andi!)!  I really enjoyed reading Summer of Sloane despite the terrible situation the main character finds herself in within the first two pages of the novel.  This is one book that hooked me right away and held my interest until the very end.  I even think reading Summer of Sloane in January enhanced my experience since I was craving the beaches being described while I read on the train in my winter coat and scarf.

Sloane McIntyre is a character that it’s impossible not to feel empathy for right off the bat.  Within the first two pages of the book we find out that Sloane’s best friend is pregnant.  Then we find out that the father of her baby is Sloane’s boyfriend of a year, Tyler.  Within a moment Sloane loses the two people closest to her in her life and she’s forced to handle her feelings and the situation without having a best friend to confide in which is something I could never begin to imagine.  Lucky for Sloane, she leaving the next morning with her twin, Penn, to stay with her mother who lives in Hawaii for the summer.  Sloane gets to put off her problems a bit by decreasing her proximity to them, but as you’d imagine, she can’t completely leave them behind.  I have to say that I loved Sloane as a character.  She is a lot more mature than an average teenager would be in her situation and with all of the betrayal she’s faced, her instincts still lead her to put others before herself.  I found myself rooting for her from page one.

Summer of Sloane

I also really loved how prominent Sloane’s relationships with her mom, dad and brother are.  I wish she would’ve spent more time with her Hawaiian best friend Mia but since the book is heavily about her romantic relationship, it’s understandable that her friendship took a backseat to her new love interest.  And speaking of love interests, Finn is such an awesome guy! He definitely has his flaws but the positives outweigh the negatives in his case.  Again, he has a great relationship with his little sister Luce and Sloane even forms a relationship with her as well.  (I feel like inserting the ohana means family quote from Lilo and Stitch here).  Summer of Sloane has classic instances of miscommunication between characters and in some cases, the deliberate lack of communication altogether.  There was a slight predictability throughout the novel, especially one half of the ending (the other half, I did NOT see coming) but I still managed to be surprised at other points.  For the most part, everything wrapped up nicely at the end so a sequel isn’t necessary although I would love an epilogue of some sort or a short story told in Tyler or Mick’s POV.

Final Thoughts: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider is a cute, beachy contemporary with it’s fair share of drama.  The main character loses the two people closest to her within the first couple of pages and she spends the remainder of the novel trying to find herself in Hawaii while visiting her mother along with her twin brother.  The Hawaiian setting had me wishing for a beach visit of my own and the characters worked their way into my heart.  If you’re a fan of Gayle Foreman but appreciate a bit more humor, I would suggest reading Summer of Sloane.

Rating 5

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Madly by Amy Alward (Potion #1)

Madly by Amy Alward is the first book in the Potion series. So far there are two books listed as part of the series on Goodreads but the author has stated that it will be a trilogy.  Madly is quick paced, extremely fun and definitely falls on the lighter side of the fantasy genre.  The story follows an alchemist named Sam who takes part in a kingdom-wide competition to find a cure for a love potion.  As it turns out, the sole heir to the kingdom, Princess Evelyn, has accidentally consumed a love potion that was meant for someone else and she ends up falling, well, madly in love with herself.  It was such a delight to read Madly and I’m really looking forward to it’s sequel, Royal Tour.

The story takes place in a world that is very similar to our own except that magic, alchemy and mythical creatures exist alongside technology.  In the quest to find the cure for the princess, there are two main sides facing off.  There’s Sam who comes from a long line of alchemists who still follow the old traditions and mix everything by hand.  Then there’s Zain who comes from the family who won the last hunt and revolutionized potion making by propelling synth labs to forefront of the industry, resulting in their synthetic potions becoming the leading source of potions in the kingdom.  There are several others competing but Sam and Zain, along with Emilia (an exiled member of the royal family) are the main focus of the story.  I loved traveling along with them as they rationalized what would be needed next for their potions and I enjoyed all of the diverse settings they procured their ingredients from.  Because they were always searching, and usually in the most dangerous of places, the plot advanced quickly and there was rarely ever a lull in the story.  My favorite parts of the story involved mermaids and unicorns<3

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As far as characters go, Sam’s was an interesting perspective to read from.  When she’s first called to the palace and learns about the hunt, she’s met with resistance from her family regarding her participation, particularly from her grandfather. He used to be recognized as the best alchemist in the field but after the synths came out triumphant in the last hunt, he has completely misplaced his trust in the royals.  Sam is a shy, family-oriented girl with a massive talent for potion making so going against her grandfather’s wishes is a hard decision for her to make.  With the exception of Kristy who pairs with Sam during the hunt, the supporting characters were a bit underdeveloped but I’m sure they’ll have their time to shine in the next two books.  I was a little underwhelmed by the romance but since I loved that overall plot and pace, it’s something I’m able to overlook.  Again, I feel like there’s room for growth as the series continues.

Final Thoughts:  Madly by Amy Alward is a cute and quick paced fantasy novel.  It tells the story of Sam, a talented alchemist, as she competes against others in her kingdom to find a cure to a love potion their future queen accidentally drank.  The princess falls madly in love with herself and as her behavior becomes increasingly destructive, the participants are met with a time crunch to find the cure.  It’s the perfect book to pick up if you have a case of wanderlust and you’re craving a mindless beach read but still looking for a bit of magic (and possibly a unicorn and some mermaids).

Rating 4

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. 

No big deal, then. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (Hundred Oaks #1)

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally is the first book in the Hundred Oaks companion series.  It follows a girl named Jordan who is the only female football player in the high school football league during her senior year of high school.  It took me a little while to warm up to Jordan because football is not my thing but midway through the book I got used to her character and the way her teammates interact and I was able to enjoy the story going forward.  It was also surprising at the beginning because the first chapter narrates a football scene with Jordan as the quarterback and they never identify her gender until the second chapter so I had originally assumed she was a male.  I was able to quickly readjust and I know that was done on purpose.  Catching Jordan is a light, fun contemporary romance and it was exactly what I was craving.

As I stated, I’m really not interested in sports and I’ve never hung out with people who care about sports so the way Jordan and her teammates and friends interact was largely outside my comfort zone.  It took me some time to get used to their lingo and their priorities but I ended up enjoying Catching Jordan overall.  I like that all of the guys on Jordan’s team are so accepting and respectful of her but that Jordan’s relationship with her father is complicated because of her love of football.  It’s interesting to see the struggles she faces as a woman in a male dominated industry and her spirit and passion is to be admired.  Jordan undergoes some very important character development in regard to her relationship with other women which is one of things that won me over the most.  I think female friendships are really important and while I enjoyed the dynamic between her and the guys, it was nice to see her open up to some women without being so judgmental.  And of course, I love the romance in this story.  I saw it coming from the very beginning and while it didn’t play out perfectly, I thought it was adorable and the characters ended up where I wanted them so no complaints here!

Catching Jordan

Final Thoughts:  Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally is the first book in the Hundred Oaks series which follows Jordan, the female quarterback of her high school football team.  It’s a light and fluffy contemporary romance and it’s very sports heavy so if you’re like me, you may need some time to adjust to the characters.  I would recommend Catching Jordan for fans of Friday Night Lights who are looking for a cute beach read this summer!

Rating 3

ONE OF THE BOYS

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line? (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood is the first book I have read by this author and upon finishing, I quickly added her Cahill sisters trilogy to my TBR.  I devoured Wild Swans within a day of starting it and I wish there were more to the story because I fell in love with the characters.  Wild Swans tells the story of Ivy, a young girl who isn’t really sure of her place in the world or what she wants to do.  Her mother left her when she was a child so she was instead raised by her grandfather and housekeeper and she’s spent her life trying to live up to the legacy of the Milbourn women.  Wild Swans is a contemporary that tackles some serious issues and handles them very well.

Wild Swans

Each character in Wild Swans is well developed and complex which is not an easy feat in such a short novel.  I immediately took a liking to the main character Ivy who is always trying to please everyone.  She’s had a tough life and despite the situations her family puts her in she is still always thinking about their feelings and acting rationally when it would be really easy to do otherwise.  She seems like the kind of person I would be great friends with.  I don’t want to reveal much about some of the other characters in Wild Swans because I don’t want to spoil anything but trust me when I say that the relationships are messy and complicated and handled so so well.  Wild Swans also tackles some major social issues relating to gender and sexuality and I just want to hug Ivy’s friend Claire because she is the awesomest.  The romance in the story is cute and sweet but it isn’t my favorite and I found myself much more interested in Ivy’s family dynamics.  If I had one complaint about Wild Swans it would be that I want to know more about what happens after the resolution.  I feel invested in these characters and I just have so many questions. I hope Jessica Spotswood will write a sequel or a short story epilogue or something!

Final Thoughts:  Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood is a complicated and messy contemporary about a girl named Ivy who comes from a long line of passionate and talented women.  It’s a story of self discovery and finding out how you fit into the world during those crucial teen years.  It tackles heavy hitting subjects like gender, sexuality and feminism but the characters are truly what drives this story.  Wild Swans has a lot of heart and I wish I could read more about what’s going on in Ivy’s life. I definitely recommend this one and I’m glad I already preordered a copy!

Rating 5

The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past…. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds #1)

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is the first book in a dystoipian trilogy in which, all of the children in the country are infected with a deadly disease called IAAN. Those who survive IAAN contract supernatural powers which are classified by the government by sectioning them off into different colored categories.  Each color is unique to the type of ability and the kids are all placed in camps where they are oppressed by the adults who fear them.  The Darkest Minds was the March book of the month for the TBR Pile Reading Challenge Book Club and I’m going to be reviewing it in a different format than usual.  A list of discussion questions were posted in regard to the book and I’m going to be answering them here.  Before I start, my general feelings about The Darkest Minds were not what I had been hoping for.  It may be that I’ve lost interest in dystopian novels but it took me nearly 3 weeks to read this book (which is a really long time for me).  There were elements that I enjoyed, such as Bracken’s writing but because it took me so long I was unable to form any type of real attachment to the characters.  I did not feel as invested in the story as I might have several years ago which makes me sad.  I can’t decide if I’ll be continuing with the series at this point but if I do, it will be sometime unforeseeable future.

*THIS DISCUSSION CONTAINS SPOILERS*

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1) If you contracted IAAN, which category would you want to be in? (Red, Fire;  Orange, Mind Control; Yellow, Electricity;  Blue, Telekinesis; Green, Intelligence)

I really feel as though I would fall into the Green category as I’m often commended on my memory sans a newly contracted ability.  Plus, I’m a Ravenclaw so Green would have to be the best fit.

2) What were you initial impressions? Do you like the writing style? Did the prologue pique your interest?

As I stated in my intro, while I did enjoy the writing style, I wasn’t ever fully invested in the story.  The prologue definitely did pique my interest as it began with an action scene and left me wanting to know what the sound was and why Ruby was effected.  I think The Darkest Minds had a very strong start but it wasn’t until the near end that I got that same sense of wonder.

3) Thoughts on Ruby wiping Liam’s mind? Is it for the best?

I’m really torn on this one! Part of me feels like it was a betrayal of trust but the other part can understand why she did what she did.

4) What do you think about the government’s way of “dealing” with the kids with special powers? Why did they send them to work camps where they were mistreated and abused, instead of trying to understand/study their abilities, or even training the kids and use their powers?

I think the government’s way of dealing the special powers is completely unacceptable.  It’s obvious that the adults are terrified of the unknown and they came up with what they believed would be the safest way for them to preserve the society they’re familiar with instead of trying to learn about the abilities and work together to create a safe future for everyone as opposed to a limited group.  I don’t think it’s right to separate children from their parents and haul them off into a prison-like atmosphere when they are just beginning to learn about themselves.

5) Ruby is very scared, naive and distrustful (which is completely understandable after what she’s been through). Do you find her to be a believable character? What did you think about her character development? 

I never felt any real connection to Ruby which could partially be due to the wall she’s built around herself.  I saw definite redeeming qualities within her and I can understand how she would be appealing to other readers, she just didn’t totally resonate with me. As for how believable her character is, if anything, I’m surprised she wasn’t even more distrusting and unwilling to set out with Chubs, Liam and Zu.

6) How did you feel about the relationship between Ruby and Liam? Did you think it was rushed?

I didn’t totally understand how their relationship formed so quickly.  I didn’t feel any chemistry between them at all and I was surprised at how much Ruby liked him by the end of the book.

7) Do you think the story line is bullet-proof or did you have any issues with the plot-line and the logic behind the world-building? 

I did have some issues with the story and the world-building but with most YA I go into it suspending most disbelief because stories are just that- stories.  While they’re engaging and it’s fun to fall into a different world, I find that there’s rarely anything that’s perfect.  Not even our own world!

8) Do you think Chubs is okay? Do you have any predictions for how things will turn out for him? 

I have to say that I am quite worried about Chubs.  He is the character I came closest to developing concern for, especially in the latter half of the book.  He seems like such a nice introvert and I hated how he was being treated by his original squad.

9) How do you think things will turn out for Zu? Why do you think Clancy approved her group to leave in the first place? 

I think Clancy approved for Zu’s group to leave solely to get her out of the camp.  I think he wanted to tear down as many of Ruby’s allies as possible because she’s the only real threat to him when it comes down to it.

10) What are your opinions of Clancy? Is he redeemable? Do you think he really would have run?

In my eyes, Clancy is not redeemable.  I thought he was shady the moment he appeared on the page and I never trusted him at all.  Things were too controlled and too perfect for him to have been a good person.

11) How do you imagine things panning out for Ruby and Liam? Will he ever get his memories back? Do you think he’ll hold it against Ruby when (or if?) he finds out? 

If I had to guess, I would hypothesize that Ruby will learn how to restore Liam’s memories and while he’ll initially feel betrayed by her, he will ultimately end up forgiving her (probably sometime in book 3) and they’ll end up together.

12) How did you react to the end? Did you cry? (Jess BAWLED. For a considerable amount of time. Like, at least half an hour.) Do you plan to read the next book–and if you do, will you jump in soon, or are you going to give some time in between because the end to this one was so traumatizing? 

I definitely didn’t shed a tear.  Again, as I stated in my intro, I’m definitely taking a break from this series because I’m just burnt out on dystopian fiction and I don’t have any strong desire to find out what’s going to happen to the characters.  I’m not going to look up the ending online in case I decide to go back to it at some point, but right now, it’s just not something I see myself reaching for anytime soon.
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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Clockwork Angel which is the first book in The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is the second book in The Infernal Devices trilogy and it’s set at the Shadowhunter Academy in London many years prior to the events of The Mortal Instruments series.  Clockwork Prince picks up whereClockwork Angel leaves off and I have to say that I loved this second book even more than the first, despite all of the toying it did with my emotions.  Like, serious heart wrenching stuff. Also, to all those Will Herondale fangirls: I get it now.

Following the events of Clockwork Prince, Charlotte is threatened by her fellow Shadowhunters and she is given an ultimatum by the Clave to either find The Magister or uncover compelling information about his whereabouts within two weeks time or she’ll lose the institute to the Lightwoods.  So as I’m sure you can imagine, the stakes and stress levels are at an all time high for our characters.  I loved learning more about The Magister and his colored past in Clockwork Prince.  While I obviously hate him, he is my favorite type of villain to hate.  He’s calculated and patient which is an admirable combo when used for good but in him, I’m incredibly nervous.  Clockwork Prince also gives much more depth to its side characters, even those who may have seemed minor turn into much bigger players as the story plays out.  I can barely put into words how excited I felt while reading  Clockwork Prince and again, I’m just blown away by how Cassandra Clare got me so incredibly attached to these characters.

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Okay, so it would be remiss to write this review without talking about the romance.  In Clockwork Angel I felt that my place on Team Jem was solidified by the story’s end but everything I thought I knew was basically tossed upside down in this second installment.  My ship has changed BUT I am still irrecoverably heartbroken over my feelings so I cannot even begin to place myself in Tessa’s headspace because if my insides are this torn, forget about Tessa’s.  The whole time she described her feelings I was nodding and being like “I know Tessa, I know.”  I need Clockwork Princess immediately because I NEED to know how this will be resolved.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to leave it at that.

Final Thoughts:  Clockwork Prince is the near-perfect follow up to Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.  This second piece of the story is a quick paced adventure that’ll have your heart racing and your emotions running rampid.  I will give you fair warning that upon finishing you will be unable to function until you can begin reading Clockwork Princess.  I honestly just want to talk about this book with everyone because I was blown away by the story, the character development and the Shadowhunter lore.  I honestly feel like this is a must read series.

Rating 6

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Grave Mercy which is the first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is the second book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy but as it is a companion series, it follows a different set of characters than those in Grave Mercy.  The main story continues from book one with the Duchess fighting against those backstabbing her and plotting to take her reign of Brittany away from her.  This time around, we see the story progress through Sybella’s point of view with Beast as a major character as well.  Sybella is a character you may remember from Grave Mercy as she is one of Ismae’s half sisters, or daughters of Mortain, who was trained at the same convent, while Beast is one of the two men Duval placed his trust in.  I have to say that while I did love Dark Triumph, I did not quite enjoy it as much as I did Grave Mercy.

Dark Triumph is a darker tale than Grave Mercy.  We’re clued into some of Sybella’s supposed madness as we see it through Ismae’s eyes in Grave Mercy but in Dark Triumph we are able to delve deeper and find out firsthand why Sybella suffers the way she does.  I really enjoyed the progression of Sybella’s character and the growth she undergoes during her tumultuous time in the D’Albret household.  Sybella is chosen to go undercover in his household as she has the best cover of any of the other assassins, D’Albret believes her to be his daughter.  I bet you can gather where some of her psychological issues are stemming from.  Sybella is extremely hard on herself and it’s not until she opens herself up in the latter half of the book that she finally begins to accept her past and live more in the present.

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The love story between Sybella and Beast is absolutely adorable.  Their characters are such great compliments for one another and there’s a darkness that dwells in each of them which explains why they’re so drawn to each other. I also appreciate that there attraction is largely non-physical.  Sybella looks past Beast’s physical appearance and she loves him for who he is and Beast wholly accepts Sybella and all of her past.  Their relationship develops and they establish a bond built on mutual respect.  If I have one complaint about Dark Triumph, it’s that while I enjoyed the Sybella and Beast story and there were definite things happening to move the overarching plot along, I felt like their story often distracted from the elements I loved in Grave Mercy which left me wishing for more information about the politics and further information about the occurrences in Ismae and Duval’s household.  Also, I would’ve just liked to see more Duval in general.

Final Thoughts:  Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is the follow up to Grave Mercy but it takes us to D’Albret’s house while he continues to plot against the Duchess.  The story focuses on Sybella and Beast, two strong characters with dark pasts who are coming to terms with their place in the world while forging a slow burn romantic relationship.  As the name suggests, Dark Triumph is a much darker story than Grave Mercy and it’s much more psychological and character driven at its heart.  I’m looking forward to reading Mortal Heart and learning more about Annith before this historical fantasy comes to a close.

Rating 5

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convnt were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for… (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

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