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Review, Young Adult / October 4, 2016
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Date: 09/2016
546 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

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 badly weakened, 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 the Grisha world.

“They don’t know who we are. Not really. They don’t know what we’ve done, what we’ve managed together.” Kaz rapped his cane on the ground. “So let’s go show them they picked the wrong damn fight.”

Six of Crows was one of my favorite books of 2015 and I was a little nervous going into Crooked Kingdom. I needn’t have worried about the quality of the story, the plot was fast paced with frequently shifting sources of tension and danger. Kaz and company feel a little less ahead of the game than last time. Fighting for more personal reasons than money, and doing so against adversaries who know they are coming, plenty of ugly surprises are in store. This wasn’t like taking the Ice Court by surprise; coming up against a very-prepared Van Eck and Pekka Rollins, the gang frequently struggled and had to re-plot in their quest for revenge and redemption. I kept turning the pages wondering how Kaz and team would manage to achieve everything this story has been set up for. From beginning to end the plot flows masterfully with only small breathers before the next big disaster hits.

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By: Diane
Review, Young Adult / August 20, 2016
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonThe Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Date: July 2014
489 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

The Kiss of Deception took me 10 months to read. Yep, that’s right. I began reading it in September 2015 but only just finished it July 2016. This wasn’t because it was a bad book at all, slow but not bad. The reason why it took me so long is because I have been in a big reading slump since September 2015. I’d read a book and then be in a slumpy mood again and it has been the worst but I think I’m really beginning to come out of it now!

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By: Vicky
Young Adult / July 18, 2016
Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay CummingsZenith
Author: Lindsay Cummings, sasha alsberg
Series: Androma Saga #1
Publisher: Self-published
Date: 21/06/2016
62 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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There is darkness sweeping across the stars.

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness: a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her fearsome glass starship the Maurader, she’s just Andi, their captain and protector.

When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal.

Meanwhile, on the far side of the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The final pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship—or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only thing certain is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

There are a few things I’d like to state before getting into this review. First of all, I am still hovering between 2.5 and 3 stars with this book. Secondly, it is only the beginning of this story – it is serialised, however it hasn’t been announced when the second instalment will be out.

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By: Vicky
Review, Young Adult / July 12, 2016
The Rose and the Dagger by Renee AhdiehThe Rose & the Dagger
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Publisher: Penguin
Date: April 2016
416 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

This review will have spoilers for the first book in the series, The Wrath & the Dawn, so if you haven’t read it yet then stop here!

The Wrath and the Dawn was one of my favorite books of 2015 and so I had been eagerly awaiting its conclusion for a year. Things started out really good, characterizations were consistent and the language and descriptions as beautiful as ever. I enjoyed both Shahrzad’s story at the camp as well as Khalid’s experiences at the palace, especially his relationship with Jalal. Unfortunately once the story started moving the plot felt glossed over and resolutions came too conveniently.

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By: Diane
Review, Young Adult / June 27, 2016
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer DonnellyThese Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Date: 2015
496 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery
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Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

I don’t read historical fiction very much, which may seem funny as I study history at University, but I tend to stick to fantasy and contemporary. I picked up These Shallow Graves after mulling it over for several weeks after spotting it in my local Waterstones. There was just something about the cover, synopsis and the fact that it was set in early 1900s New York that I could not shake. I ended up buying it finally and I do not regret it one bit. The book was written well, the plot was well thought out, the characters were very interesting to read about.

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By: Vicky