First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Every Tuesday, Diane over at Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where bloggers share the first paragraph of the book they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon.

Last night I finished Red Sister by Mark Lawrence a PHENOMENAL Adult Fantasy that i’m going to need a couple days to digest before I can write a worthy review. Today, instead of allowing myself to fall into the book hangover that is lingering on the fringes of my bookworm brain..I decided to take the plunge & start Defy the Stars. I am really hoping this one is just as good cuz ya girl just realized this one is 512 pages long, YIKES! haha! wish me luck my bookish peeps, i want to love it but after Red Sister the bar is set high & I’ll settle for like…i’ll take like! *ya hear me Book Gods?!?!*

*Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray will go on sale April 4th 2017

Goodreads Blurb

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

First Chapter/First Paragraph

In three weeks, Noemi Vidal will Die–here, In This very place. Today is just practice. Noemi wants to pray like the other soldiers she hears around her. The soft ebb and swell of their whispers sounds like waves against the shore. Zero-G even makes it look as if they’re underwater- their hair fanning out from their heads, their booted feet swaying out from their launch harnesses as if caught by the tide. Only the dark star field outside the few small windows reveals how far they are from home.

Confession: I am really still NOT over Gemina & my little heart was crushed last October at Bookcon when I arrived late at the booth for a free arc of this book. So, when I received the email notification giving this arc away on a first come first serve basis…I dropped everything I was doing & hopped on the dark vortex otherwise known as Netgalley. Hoping this one is a winner but i’ll def let ya’ll know if it’s not 😉

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

30258320Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

Published by: Del Rey Books

Publication Date: February 14th 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Pages: 368 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★ (4 STARS)

*Click on cover for Goodreads

I’d like to thank Del Rey Books, Netgalley, and Vic James for providing a eGalley of Gilded Cage in exchange for an honest review.

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Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

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Gilded Cage is a dystopian Fantasy set in an alternate England where all (no matter the color of your skin or your financial status) are expected to complete 10 years of slave life at a time of their choosing. The people are governed by the Equals who have Skill, abilities they are born with that for the most part only the wielder knows it’s full potential. Skill isn’t something spoken about freely & most among the Equals consider it taboo to discuss at all. The Equals control the Skill-less by imposing  Slave Days which are typically carried out in slave towns monitored closely. Life in these slave towns proves to be very difficult due to 6 day work weeks, small food rations, and often beatings from the patrolling security guards. We are introduced to a family of five: Mom, Dad, Oldest Daughter Abi (medical student), Son Luke (middle child), and 10 year old Daisy. The parents have been convinced by their eldest daughter Abi to submit an application to carry out their slave days at the Kyneston estate belonging to one of the top most powerful family of Equals. She is absolutely certain that they each can offer up a service that would make them ideal to be accepted at the estate as opposed to the slave towns. What Abi never expected was for the application to be accepted for all except her brother Luke. The family is immediately picked up & separated from Luke who is taken to the slave towns. From this point on Abi & Luke’s paths are divided and their experiences vastly differ from one another. Told in third person narrative, each character gets a chapter and we the reader get a dose of life through Luke and Abi’s eyes as well as the Equals. Luke is recruited by a small group of characters that are determined to bring an end to slave days. through a series of “jobs” they slowly begin to tear at the seams of injustice. One thing is for certain…the revolution has just begun.

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Luke may have entered the slave town a teenager but he is quickly gaining wisdom and perspective that provide him with a purpose. The friends he makes are characters who just like him, have been cherry picked for their knowledge and skill-less abilities. I enjoyed seeing the character development with Luke since I didn’t think he had it in him to survive in the slave town. I also enjoyed Reenie, the first friend Luke makes and also his recruiter into this rag tag team of misfits. Reenie is described as a POC not much older than 13 years of age who appears to have been in the slave town’s for way longer than laws permit. There’s still a lot to learn about this character, I got the feeling we’ll get her background later on in the series. On Abi’s end we get the sense that she has regret over ever applying to have their days carried out at the estate. She blames herself for Luke’s predicament & sets out on a mission to gather information to get him brought to the estate. Abi has potential to grow into a strong character & her development was nice to see as well. I definitely like the Abi we see in the end better than the one we meet in the beginning.  On the other side of the spectrum we have the Equals who we get to follow & get to know individually in each of their chapters. The Jardine’s: Lord Whittam Jardine, Gavar Jardine, Jenner Jardine, and Silyen Jardine are owners of the Kyneston estate and also one of the most powerful families of Equals. Lord Whittam is a power hungry man who doesn’t deem any of his sons fit to inherit his estate. Gavar Jardine is said to have uncontrollable skill, a great amount difficult to harness. This is made all the more difficult by his temper, he is not the nicest of the bunch lol. Jenner is my favorite, he also happens to be skill-less. I enjoyed this character the most because of all the Jardines, he was sympathetic to Abi & her family making sure they stayed out of harms way. Last but not least we have Silyen, he is an oddball and I haven’t decided whether to like him or not. He also has immense power behind his skill but what his intentions are, it’s too soon to tell. Silyen plays his cards close to his chest and I can’t wait to discover more of what he’s up to. There are also some power players in the story like Gavar’s soon wife-to-be Bhouda. This character has every intention of one day sitting in a position of power & can talk politics with the best of them. She’s also colder than ice and someone to keep an eye on at all times. With many pieces on the board, I  commend Vic James for giving each of these characters their own distinct voice in each chapter. I was never confused and found their stories easy to follow which is alway good in a fantasy series with many players. Also, in case some readers are wondering some of the Equals in power were described as people of color. In this world, you were either born with skill or not. The color of your skin did not determine your fate.

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The world building in Gilded Cage was impressive on the slave town side of the story. I did however, wish to have seen a bit more on the skill of each of the Equals we were introduced to. I’m not sure if the author purposely chose to leave that obscure til the next book or not but there were hints of this throughout the book. In the next book I hope to gain some clarity on the Jardine brothers Skill. This being book 1 in a series, I felt that it set down a solid foundation. The writing itself was enjoyable and never boring, I always found myself wanting to pick this book back up. With a plethora of characters, I enjoyed the short chapters and felt that it carried the story along at steady pace. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the Dark Gifts series & returning to these characters lives.

Are any of my bookish peeps planning on reading Gilded Cage? For those who already have, link that review down below & I’ll swing by 😉

GIVEAWAY: JANUARY OWLCRATE

These past 48 hours have been very nerve wracking for many U.S. citizens. My anxiety has been through the roof, so when I received book mail Friday…it helped in distracting me for just a bit. I knew I wanted to host my 1st giveaway this year, I just didn’t think it would be this soon lol. The spirit of giving hit me though, and so I shall go with it. I hope this box finds its way to a wonderful bookworm who might also need a bit of a distraction. I meant to  post this box earlier in the day but btwn my 2 tiny humans & being absorbed watching the Women’s March I have truly lost track of time. Running this giveaway is giving me a little happy back & for that I am grateful. The rules for this giveaway will be listed at the bottom of this post. This giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookworms as well, inspired by the outpouring support I’ve seen this morning from women all over the world. I have also been actively seeking out Diverse Books and this will play a part in this giveaway 😉

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Click on photo if you’d like to follow my journey with books on IG ❤

goodreads-synopsis-2In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

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🥀Roseblood by A.G. Howard (hardcover)

🥀1 mint tea packet by @firsteditiontea 🥀1 Secret Garden inspired book-shaped soap (smells SO good!)

🥀1 Slaughterhouse Five inspired watercolor #bookmark

🥀1 children’s classics inspired calendar by @obviousstate

🥀1 Phantom Of The Opera fridge magnet

🥀 1 Owlcrate Theatre pin

🥀1 Wires and Nerve by Marisa Meyer mini poster

 

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🥀 This giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookish peeps as well, you just have to have a valid mailing & email address that you are willing to share with me

🥀 Follow my blog of course  (i’ll be checking loves)

🥀 Must be 18 years or older

🥀 Comment on this post with your most anticipated book for 2017, if this book happens to be a Diverse Book, you will get 1 extra entry 😉

🥀 This giveaway will run starting today 1/21/17 til next Sunday 1/28/2017

Good luck to all those who decide to throw their hat in the ring. I have my lucky mason jar ready and can’t wait to see all of your recommendations. My excited face is on at the moment hehe 🙂

Spoilery Review: Crooked Kingdom (Six Of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

crooked-kingdomCrooked Kingdom (Six Of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo 

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

Publication Date: September 27th 2016

Format: Hardcover

Genre: YA Fantasy

Page Count: 536 pgs

Rating: ★★★★ (3.75) 

Goodreads:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.


Crooked Kingdom is the 2nd installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Six Of Crows Duology, the conclusion we’ve all been waiting for following the huge success of Six Of Crows. This time around I participated in a buddy read with some awesome bloggers you all have probably seen around. If not allow me to introduce to you the Bookish Dregs starting with Jill @Rantandraveaboutbooks who came up with the name for our little group, Melissa @Booknerdmomo and Megan @BookSlayerReads. Now, we all went into Crooked Kingdom with high expectations since Six Of Crows absolutely delivered on Plot, Characters, Writing, and last but not least Pacing. I think it’s safe to say by now lol, that the ladies (including myself) struggled with the pacing and plot this time around. I’m the type of reader who loves character driven stories so this actually worked in my favor & I finished Crooked Kingdom sometime last week. The Bookish Dregs have not given up on this book but they are taking some time off from it.


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Unlike many other readers, my wait for Crooked Kingdom was a very brief one…1 hour to be exact lol. I finished Six Of Crows on a train ride to the Leigh Bardugo book signing for Crooked Kingdom & was legit riding a high off the book when I finally met her in person. I was looking forward to bringing home this beautiful book with red deckled edges and having it sit next to its counterpart Six Of Crows with its black deckled edges. The story picks up after Inej’s kidnapping with the crew planning her rescue. Without Inej, Kaz is much more darker than usual & much more harsh to those around him. I must confess, I wasn’t a fan of this side of Kaz and was really hoping that Inej was rescued sooner rather than later cuz DAMN! the man can brood. We get to see the crew doing what they do best, carrying out the crazy schemes Kaz comes up with. We also get to see Inej in captivity where Van Eck is attempting to break her down mentally. If you’ve read Six Of Crows (hope you have if you’re reading this review lol), you know that Kaz & Inej have unspoken feelings for each other. This weighed heavy on Inej’s mind who knows Kaz Brekker a bit better than anyone. She questions whether he will chuck her off as a loss since he is driven by money & power OR whether he and the team will come to her rescue. Here is where character development comes into play, we get to learn about Inej’s time as an indentured sex slave and its after effects. As a matter of fact, this is a multiple POV story each chapter told by one of the 6 Dregs and they all seem to be reaching into their pasts to tell you their stories and how they came to cross paths with Kaz Brekker. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each of these characters but agree that it made up the majority of this book which took a toll on the pacing & most importantly the plot.


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Leigh Bardugo once again made these characters come to life & gave them so much depth & complexities that I honestly think i’ll have a hard time coming across another cast of characters I’ll love as much as them. That being said, I felt that she wanted to gives us the readers/fanbase, as much of them as possible since this is the 2nd book in a duology. In doing so, the pacing of the book is dramatically slowed down because we are spending quite a bit of time in each characters mind. The plot itself didn’t really kick into high gear until past the halfway point. If i’m being completely honest (My Dark Queen YOU know I LOVE you So LOL!) this book could’ve easily been split into two seeing as there were technically 2 jobs/heists. We have the plot & rescue of IneJ and then we have the take down of Van Eck. If you’ve read Crooked Kingdom, you know that taking Van Eck down was really a two attempt job since the unthinkable happened to our fave bad boy Kaz. Splitting  this book up some time after the 1st failed attempt would’ve ended in a cliff hanger BUT the 3rd & final installment would have us all wondering what state of mind they are all in & what if anything do they do now that they’ve met their match & have been outsmarted. Nonetheless, I am satisfied with the journey, characters, and world Leigh gifted us and I will miss the crew more than I can express. I do wish Matthias Helvar had made it to the very end, I really loved that Fjerdan lol. I did find that the way he was taken out was super ironic considering his change of heart towards Grisha & how the world views them. There’s something magical that happens to a reader when they connect with a character, but to come across a crew of 6 that you’ve come to know & love dearly is as rare as finding all 7 Horcruxes 😉

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Photo Credit: Galvthynius

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab *Spoiler free*

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Grenwillow Books

Publication Date: July 5th 2016

Format: Hardcover (July Owlcrate)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Page Count: 464 pages

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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@Lair_Of_books

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

 

“Violence begets violence”  only in Verity, when a violent act is committed, a monster forms. A shadow that sticks with you tainting your once pure soul. In a city where violence is rampant, the monsters thrive & outnumber the humans. The city is split into North & South, ruled by two very different leaders with a very different approach to keeping humans safe. After what has come to be known as the phenomenon, there are three types of monsters roaming in the dark: Corsai, Malchai, and Sunai. Each of these monsters have different ways of killing or reaping.

“Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,

shadow and bone will eat you raw.

Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,

smile and bite and drink you dry.”

“Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,

sing you a song and steal your soul”

“Monsters, monsters, big and small,

they’re gonna come and eat you all!”

Governing the North we have Callum Harker who offers protection from the monster’s for a price. Only the more fortunate families are able to pay & he keeps tabs on those under his protection. Governing the South we have Henry Flynn who protects his side of the city with the help of a task force he’s put together to keep everyone safe. Both these men also utilize the monsters in one way or another. When Kate Harker manages to get herself expelled from 6 different schools, she finally ends up back to where she wants to be…in North City, by her dad’s side. Callum Harker however, much preferred to keep Kate a safe distance away nonetheless, he enrolls her in Harker Hall. Right where she wanted to be. Kate feels she can prove herself to be a real Harker by being close to her dad and controlling the city. Once word reaches the South side of the city, the Flynns decide to enroll their son August Flynn in Harker Hall. The idea being that if ever the truce that has kept both sides at peace were to break, they could use Kate Harker as leverage. August Flynn just like Kate would also like the chance to prove himself to his “dad” by joining the fight or doing something useful. He thought that he could watch over Kate & this would be his contribution since he wasn’t allowed to be physically involved in the fight.

I loved Kate Harker’s character, I never knew what to expect from her since she seems to walk to a dangerous beat. Kate’s suspicious nature made it impossible for August to maintain his cover & once she pieced the puzzles together, I really couldn’t tell what she would do. If I loved Kate…then I honestly ADORED August Flynn! I don’t know why I got Johnny Depp/Edward Scissorhands vibes, but I did & I LOVED THAT MOVIE! so it was easy to make him come to life. Where Kate was true grit, August was a much softer soul which is ironic given his true nature. I loved that Victoria Schwab did not include any love interests as part of the story, this to me was just what was promised, a story about good vs evil. How none of us are 100% good or evil, there is a bit of gray for most if not all. In this book you will NOT find a hero, a love story, a victory. You will however get morally ambiguous characters that you can’t help but love. This Savage Song stands apart from anything I’ve read this year & I’m adding it to my All Time Fave Reads shelf now that it has surpassed my expectations after reading my first Schwab A Darker Shade of Magic two months ago.

Favorite Side Character: August’s sister Ilsa, a Sunai with a beautifully dark song she only uses if absolutely necessary. I need more Ilsa! especially after that ending!

Soundtrack I listened to: Dark Violin Songs by Max Ablitzer (specifically the Ghost Song) even though all throughout the pages of this book, the monsters song which is sung to children as a cautionary lullaby…imprinted itself in my brain & I liked it so if that makes me a bit of a weirdo then so be it! *averts eyes*

I buddy read This Savage Song with Gretchen @Chicnerdreads & devoured it in just a few days as did she! it was so dark & sorrowful yet it lured me in every time I opened it’s pages and even when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking of it. Beautiful & haunting are just some of the words to describe this read, Ms. Schwab has now become an auto-buy author. The wait til Our Dark Duet will be loooong & hard lol.

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