Thief of Cahraman by Lucy Tempest

The Selection meets Aladdin 

ONE MONTH. FIFTY CONTESTANTS. ONE PRINCE. AN IMPOSSIBLE HEIST.

You have been summoned to Sunstone Palace to compete in our search for the future Queen of Cahraman.

After years on the run, Adelaide thinks her lonely and dangerous life as a thief is finally over. But her world is upended when a witch steals her away to a faraway kingdom, to perform an impossible heist. If Adelaide fails, her newfound family would be sacrificed to a beast.

To complete her mission, she’s forced to assume the role of a noblewoman and enter a royal competition. The prize is the hand of the elusive Crown Prince. Elimination means certain death.

As the witch’s literal deadline approaches, Adelaide has one last gamble to save the day, and to escape to a new life with Cyrus, the handsome and mysterious fellow thief who stole her heart.

But everything falls apart when the prince finally reveals himself…

Fairytales of Folkshore is a series of interconnected fairytale retellings that starts with the Cahraman Trilogy. Ada’s story continues in PRINCE OF CAHRAMAN. “

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 5/10 Stars

I took a few days to think over this book, and what I thought of it, as different parts of this book spoke to me more than others. All in all, I’d say it had a pretty weak start, and didn’t play up the plot points I thought it would, but I still found myself sucked into the story by the end of it.

I’m just gonna start off by saying that the synopsis gives away the entire main twist of the book (I had guessed it before I had even started reading), and even when I started reading, the foreshadowing was a smidge too obvious. Since that twist ended up being the climax of the plot as well, it led to a subpar finale overall. It also made the book feel as if it didn’t truly have an ending, as both the knowledge of the twist and reveal of the twist made it feel like more was needed to tie everything together.

Additionally, the beginning was fairly weak too. We spend a few chapters learning a small bit of the world, and of the main characters in Adelaide’s life, as well as the mundane worries in her day to day life, including of wanting to be liked by a boy. It wasn’t an intriguing start at all, and the only thing that kept me reading was the whispers of something grander and more magical later on. Additionally, the beginning was so heavy with obvious fairy tale references that it became tacky, especially in regards to the Cinderella character. I assume this is to either introduce the author’s other future works in the world, but it felt out of place here, since she never came again, not even in the narrator’s thoughts.

While Adelaide was interesting in her unique motivations, wanting to settle rather than travel and explore, it didn’t make for as interesting a narrator. Adelaide wasn’t interested in learning about the rest of the world + her/her mother’s past, even as more and more clues were laid before her, which made the reader less interested in it all as well. Adelaide also has the tendency to steal, and is seen as a successful thief, due to her rough childhood after her mother’s death. However, I had two main issues with this. Firstly, she doesn’t seem to be all that successful at all. The book starts with her in the middle of a robbery, and she explains how long it took to plan, but she still makes a mistake (just to introduce the Cinderella character). Then, throughout the rest of the book, she almost never is able to be successful alone, in terms of stealing and sneaking, and always requires being led by other characters. Secondly, Adelaide seems to randomly steal things, even though she doesn’t need to in the competition, as she’s surrounded by gowns and jewelry that were given to her as well as entirely taken care of. Since her stealing habit was born out of need, it feels weird to see it continued as strongly throughout the book, though I get it is a habit. Additionally, it seems to be an active trait as well, in the sense that the author needs to continuously remind us that she does this, with the moments sometimes breaking the flow of the story.

In terms of plot, it felt like there was both too much in focus and not enough actually happening. We seem to have two main plots, the competition and the heist, but instead of blending together well, they fought with each other instead. And still, even with two main plots battling for the domination of a scene, there were many dull moments, of simply characters hanging around or just to show time is passing. Also, even though the pacing didn’t feel weird, in hindsight it all moved rather fast. There was more than a week between stages of the competition, but we almost never saw any of it, making it seem like people were getting eliminated every other chapter.

However, despite all the issues I had with it, I still ended up getting hooked into the story around 50% of the way in. Something about the writing kept interested in the story (once the competition started/Adelaide left Ericuria), and it all seemed to move by really fast, perhaps due to how the story was paced. Most of the individual parts were fairly well planned and written, I just wasn’t a fan of how it all came together to form the overall novel. I’m curious about where the story will continue to go, but I’m not sure if I’ll be picking the next books up yet.

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Warcross by Marie Lu

“For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review.

“They think that you won’t hit back – that you’ll just lower your eyes and hide. And sometimes, to protect yourself, to make it go away, you do. But sometimes, you find yourself standing in exactly the right position, wielding exactly the right weapon to hit back.”

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I ended up really liking Emika!

Spoiler Free: I picked this up on a whim after finished War Storm, as I had just come off of a wave of YA Fantasy and really needed a genre cleanse. This ended up being the perfect choice! Like most of Marie Lu’s books, the simple writing in combination with exciting plot/world ideas often leads to quite a quick, but extremely enjoyable, read, and Warcross was no exception!

Firstly, the plot was exciting and action-packed enough that putting the book down was always difficult, as I knew some intriguing or shocking revelation would probably come from the next few chapters. This, combined with the fairly short chapters, created a book that I never wanted to put down, and flew like a breeze. While the plot was fairly twisty, only the cliffhanger at the end actually managed to surprise me, as I was too suspicious to be all that surprised by the others (even if I didn’t exactly guess what was going to happen). Additionally, an action-packed plot also has its downsides, as it means the book almost moves too fast during some moments, and some moments don’t necessarily have enough build up.

Secondly, the world itself was quite thrilling, though many things felt unexplained, or nonsensical, but I feel that did not necessarily detract from the plot. I was entranced by the two sides of the world, real and alternative, and even by the two sides to the alternative world. The descriptions were enough to make me wish the Neurolink was a thing in our age, even if some certain scenes got repetitive (specifically the night sky imagery/usage).

Lastly, the characters themselves were also quite interesting, even if Emika was hard to connect with at first. Hideo was an interesting character as well, especially with the mystery surrounding his past and interest in Emika. I also became quite attached to the characters on Emika’s Warcross team, even if they didn’t really see the spotlight in this book! While none of them are the best developed nor interesting characters ever, they all complimented the world and plot really nicely, and made a nice balance within the book.

I’m quite excited to see what happens with the next book, Wildcard, and where the story continues from here! (Though I am sad it won’t contain the Warcross games, as I am always a sucker for books with a competition!)

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading “Warcross by Marie Lu”

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Victory comes at a price.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review!

“I am different from what my world demands I be. And I am not worse for it.”

Stars (Out of 10): 7.5/10 Stars

Spoiler Free: Surprising myself and everyone I know, I actually really enjoyed this book? Which is surprising considering I wasn’t a fan of book 2 at all, and book 3 ended up frustrating me a lot. However, that did mean I went into this book with either low expectations (in terms of characters/relationships/etc.) or no expectations (in terms of plot, as I never actually spent any time theorizing what would happen), and this could be the reason why I enjoyed it so much.

Firstly, I loved the plot itself. Due to aforementioned lack of theorizing, not only did I not have any idea what to expect going in, I also wasn’t stuck on certain hopes or wishes for how it would all go down. Additionally, this installment, compared to book 2 and 3, was much more action-packed, and didn’t have any of the lulls I had issues with the other sequels. The battles were really fun to read, as not only did all the Silver powers get showcased, but they got played off Ardent/Newblood powers in interesting ways. To continue, these battles also had twists within them as well, keeping my eyes glued to the page to see if these characters would make it out of these tense situations alive and well. I’m also quite happy with how it “tied up”, even though the ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered/open for developments.

Secondly, I both loved and hated the characters. To preface, the hate mainly comes from prior feelings in books 2 and 3, as everyone was at least bearable in this novel, whether it be bearable as a villain or as a hero (as I have different standards for each). I also loved how snarky everyone was towards each other, especially in the beginning. The constant tension and competition between the Silver/Newblood/Red Alliance was constantly offset with these sarcastic/snarky comments towards figures of authority/parents/each other, and it really helped with easing me back into the storyline. The romance was also an interesting one, and while I was extremely frustrated with it in the first few books, as I was trying to read it and cheer for it as a normal YA romance, I did not feel that same frustration in this book. While that may just come from me detaching from it/realizing it is a much more complex and complicated romance than most YA fantasy, I think I was also just happy with how it tied up/was used within the novel. Lastly, I also felt that most of the characters held to their ideals/developed in logical ways all throughout the book, meaning that this feeling also extended to their actions/how the book ended because of them.

Additionally, this book saw the introduction of a lot of new viewpoints, but I think Victoria also did this fairly well. She didn’t worry about balancing them at all, and only utilized them when it was actually necessary. For example, Cal and Maven only really had POV chapters near the ending, and it ended up adding to the story rather than making it seem more confusing. We also got quite a variety of viewpoints, and everyone sounded quite distinct within their own chapters. It gave us a larger view of the story and conflict as a whole, and how it would affect each individual party. I also enjoyed the addition of Iris as a POV, even if I don’t like her as a person/agree with her, as it added another level of depth to the new players on the battlefield that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get, especially considering the Lakelands didn’t play as active roles in the other books.

Lastly, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the world building. There was a lot introduced, and a lot that was skipped out on. Since this war contains almost all of the kingdoms/countries within the geographical area, we had a lot of culture and people to catch up on. While we did get some of this before, a lot of the countries hadn’t played all that big of a role yet, leading to readers needing to learn a lot. Not all of our questions were answered either, specifically about how the Silver and Red distinction even arose, and why Newbloods are suddenly appearing. This was such a hot topic for foreshadowing, especially by Julian Jacos, so I’m hoping we get a novella or something in the future that finally explains this, even though it was unfortunate that it didn’t make its way into the mainline story.

Overall, I’m really glad that this series ended on a good note (for me, it seems a lot of people are polarized by this book like the rest of the series), and that I’m able to say all that waiting and frustration was worth it in the end!

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading “War Storm by Victoria Aveyard”

Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allen Poe

“‘The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe’ is a brilliant collection of some of his best-known stories:

‘The Tell Tale Heart’ (a murder s haunting guilt)
‘The Cask of Amontillado’ (a story of brilliant revenge)
‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (an ancient house full of very dark secrets).

Also included in this collection are:

‘The Mask of the Red Death’ (horrors of ‘the Plague’ and the most famous of all his poems ‘The Raven’ (a lover s decline into madness).

“Best read in a dimly-lit room with the curtains drawn, Poe s brilliant works come to life in darkly thrilling ways in this Manga Classic adaptation.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! While this is not the normal genre I review/discuss on this blog, I did receive an ARC of this, and therefore took a step out of my comfort zone to try and write a review of a manga/comic! I also received Manga Classics: Jane Eyre, so look forward to that in the near future as well!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

The Tell-Tale Heart: Something about the added illustrations adds so much more horror to the story itself. The text itself seemed to be directly taken from Poe’s tale, but the depth and intensity of the illustrations, especially the narrator’s facial expressions, added a whole other layer to the tales.

The Cask of Amontillado: While I still enjoyed the illustrations, they didn’t add as much to the story as with The Tell-Tale Heart. This may be due to how well the original tale already was at inspiring horror, and the illustrations could not top that.

The Raven – While I liked the artistic style of this story, and the illustrations in general, I’m not sure if they were the best match for the story. The narrator/main character almost seems too young, and the lighting of most of the panels seems oddly white/bright for a spooky story. This led to the story being less scary, even though the sorrow and other emotions still came through.

The Masque of the Red Death – I had actually completely forgotten I had read this story until I recognized the opening scene. Once again, I quite liked the chosen illustrations for everything, and especially liked how well they brought to life the descriptions of the revels! However, with such bright color and joy pictured clearly, it obscured the gloom creeping up in the story, which may be both good and bad.

The Fall of the House of Usher: This seems to be the only tale I didn’t have prior experience with. I feel as if this made me focus too much on the text, and working to understand the story, rather than on the illustrations and how well they worked together. The main issue I did notice here was that the story itself is already extremely description heavy, so the illustrations sometimes felt unnecessary. However, the extreme caricatures of Usher definitely worked in the story’s favor, as it allowed me to much more easily picture and understand how affected he was.

Overall, I felt this was a quite solid “Manga Classic,” and I loved what it did for Poe’s legendary tales. Not only did the illustrations add (for the most part) to the dark and gloomy descriptions and settings of Poe’s tales, they also worked to pace the reader, and make us take time with each line, each image, truly letting the emotion and depth of the tale sink in before moving on to the next page.