Review: Chaotic Good

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Chaotic Good by: Whitney Gardner

My Rating: 3 Stars

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Cyber bullying

I heard about Chaotic Good through GR. It hasn’t really been that well advertised or talked about. The synopsis reminded me off Moxie which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Cameron (Cam for short) and her family has just recently moved to Eugene. Cameron is a cosplayer and really wants to get into the university of her dreams. Chaotic Good begins with Cameron shopping in a comic shop where she is harassed by Brody. At some point Cameron gets a paid cosplay request. In order to make the costume properly Cameron has to make another trip to the comic shop. Although this time Cameron will go in as a boy.

I had fun reading Chaotic Good! It’s written in first person in Cameron’s point of view. There are chapter titles and a drawing of a dice with the chapter number. Comic strips of D and D are scattered around the book. Also there are text messages and blog posts.

I really liked all the comic references! There were so many throughout the book and it really did give the book a geeky feel. Cam’s cosplay costumes were so much fun to read about! Gardner clearly did her research. From the sewing, the fabric shopping. sewing machine terminology, Cam’s thimble collection, and to the costumes themselves. It was fantastic!

The D and D role playing was tons of fun! While I have heard of the game I didn’t know anything about it. The characters were so vivid as was the setting. The d-dice was also fun. For some reason I really like that dice. 

There was diversity! Wyatt was black and gay. And Cam’s twin brother Cooper was gay as well. Lincoln was fat. I liked how Gardner did a good job intergrating these characters into the plot without making their character arc’s only about their diversity.

I really liked Cam’s character! I totally understood and empathized with her plights. I liked how well done the idea and the act of courage was done for her story arc. Cam was nice and strong willed. But also had glaring flaws that were realistic. Her character arc definitely gave Moxie vibes and I was here for that.

I liked the relationship Cam had with her family! They were all supportive off each other. And some of their lines to each other were so funny. The twin aspect was done well. Cam and Cooper had nicknames for one another. I thought they were adorable!

The couples were cute! It was nice that Cam was actually attracted to a fat guy. Cooper and Wyatt also worked well together. The author also did a splendid job exploring unhealthy relationships. Cooper’s ex Farrin (real name is Brian) plays a huge role in his story arc. I felt that it was necessary and not just useless drama.

Cyber bullying is a main theme throughout Chaotic Good. Cam get death threats and essentially bullied simply because she’s a female cosplayer. Brody’s character plays a major role in this arc. As he believes that all females are fake and only into geeky things to get attention. I liked how as a boy Cam continuously gave it to him. It is implied that Brody does improve but it’s not really shown.

I do some have dislikes. For starters I think that Cam kept up the boy disguise far too long. To a point where Wyatt’s feelings were hurt. I do understand why she donned the disguise but it went on for an unnecessarily long time. Cooper was selfish and annoying. It felt that he turned the boy disguise situation about himself. He was definitely right and he didn’t know everything that Cam went through, but could’ve said it better. 

While the couples were cute it felt rushed. Chaotic Good is a small book that took place over the whole summer. I fell that maybe had it been longer that would’ve made a difference. Chaotic Good is supposed to be empowering for women. But I didn’t get that vibe. When it comes out that Cam is a girl and that Lincoln and Cooper knew, the only person truly blamed was Cam. Wyatt was upset for a short time at Lincoln but that’s it. This really grated on my nerves because I felt that it defeated the whole purpose of Chaotic Good.  

I really didn’t like how Wyatt and Cooper got together. Cooper glues himself to Wyatt after it comes out that Cam is a girl. He did this to cheer up Wyatt by lending him his shoulder and to also start a relationship with him. This put a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have gotten together. But I would’ve preferred another way for that to happen.

While I enjoyed Cam’s character I kind of wished we got a story arc with Brina (Brody’s crush). Brina was so brave! When she came to the comic store she didn’t freeze Brody, nor did she really care what he said to her and about her. Brina would’ve been an interesting main character.

Also it is stated that Cam and Cooper are going to be in their last year of high school after summer. Now what I don’t get it why is Cam applying for university this early? I know there are early admissions but I’m pretty sure those start later on. Could someone please clarify that in the comments? Thanks! 

Overall I enjoyed this book. I definitely recommend it to everyone. Especially if you liked Moxie.      

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Review: Ace of Shades

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Ace of Shades by: Amanda Foody 

My Rating: 1 Star

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

Disclaimer: I skimmed a majority of this book. Lots of my information is based on that. If I have some wrong information/details please do mention it in the comments. 

Ace of Shades has been everywhere. Fellow book bloggers have been giving it raving reviews, it was avaliable on Netgalley for review, everyone was talking about, and there was quite a bit of advertising done on Twitter. Foody’s previous book was decent (I DNFed it), seeing as this is her second book I was hoping it would be good. Unfortunately that was not the case.

I liked was that Enne is very much a girly girl. I definitely enjoyed reading about her clothes and whatnot. I’d imagine that she’d have really great fashion sense if she were real. The idea behind their powers was cool. Levi was black and bi. Yay for diversity! The major plot twist was interesting. And that’s the end of my likes.

The writing was very frustrating. In Daughter of the Burning City I enjoyed Foody’s writing style. Ace of Shades had a very condescending tone. This reflected in the characters’ as well. None of them were likable. The plot wasn’t a lot better. I felt a weird sort of detachment toward the characters and plot. I just couldn’t bring myself to truly care about anything that happened.

The tone of New Reynes was nothing like Ketterdam. New Reynes was dark, filled with money obsessed people, and a ton of male slime-balls. It just wasn’t fleshed out enough. While I could picture myself there I didn’t exactly get a good feel of the world. It was very difficult to wrap my head around it.

The same goes for the history, politics, and magic system. Despite the info dumps scattered throughout the whole book, I felt that there wasn’t any depth to the information. The magic system probably confused me the most. Every time Orbs was mentioned I kept on imagining spheres floating.

I found most characters to be annoying. Enne’s stupidity really grated on my nerves. You would think that when Enne realizes her true potential she’d get smarter, but she doesn’t. And aside from Enne’s true potential she didn’t really have a personality. I didn’t care for her friendship with Lola. 

Levi was proud and just ugh! I really didn’t like how many times he called Enne ‘Missy’. Levi wasn’t believable as the leader of the Irons. Levi is nothing like Kaz.  Levi never felt like a black character. You could really just believe that he’s white. I felt that his friendship with Jax wasn’t developed enough. 

Enne and Levi are attracted to one another early on (chapter 3 or 4). Though there are hints of two getting together, nothing actually happens in this book. It’ll likely be the case in later books.

I really don’t understand why Ace of Shades is constantly being compared to Six of Crows. The later chapters are definitely reminiscent of Six of Crows. And that’s about it. It would make more sense to compare it to Jade City. 

The series is called The Shadow Game. The Shadow Game is actual game wherein you play with cards and certain people can die. This reminded me so much of Yu Gi Oh. Just with less interesting cards and odd rules.

Overall I didn’t like it at all. I recommend Jade City, Six of Crows, and Yu Gi Oh instead.  

Review: Finding Felicity

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Finding Felicity by: Stacey Kade

My Rating: 4 Stars

Felicity meets Fangirl in this contemporary novel about a young woman who must leave behind her fantasy life—inspired by her favorite WB show from the 1990s—and create a real one at college.

Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with.

But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy.

Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I have read Kade’s series and enjoyed them. Naturally Kade has been on my radar and I constantly keep a look out for her new releases. In 2016 Kade started writing contemporaries. Before reading Finding Felicity I was nervous, as I didn’t enjoy her previous contemporaries. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Finding Felicity!

Caroline has finally graduated high school. Her mother and her celebrate by going to their favourite restaurant. Once they reach home her mother reveals a surprise party and encourages Caroline to invite her friends. Only Caroline’s ‘friends’ don’t exist. Of course Caroline has to confess to her mother. Caroline’s mother is in shock and suggests that she see a therapist.

Dr. Wegman doesn’t give Caroline a diagnosis but instead suggestions for college. Caroline sees him for the whole summer before school. He also has her make arrangements to communicate while she’s at Ashmore University. Caroline has a semester to prove that she can thrive and make real friends. Otherwise it’s game over.

I’m really happy that I enjoyed Finding Felicity! I’ve been on a roll of reading underwhelming books. Finding Felicity ended that record. As per usual the writing style was good! Finding Felicity is narrated in first person focusing on Caroline’s point of view. There were chapter numbers.

First off you don’t have to watch Felicity to read this book. Caroline explains the general plot, giving readers enough information to understand everything. I liked how there were so many tv show references! And for once I actually understood them all.

I was so happy when I heard that Finding Felicity is a YA college book! Usually book’s with college are NA. I really appreciated it. And it remained me off my college days. There was some diversity here and there! Caroline’s RA was a Pakistani muslim. And one of the counselors was half-black.

As mentioned in the synopsis Caroline took the characters from Felicity and told her mother she had ‘friends’. There is actually a specific reason Caroline chose this particular university to attend. Caroline has a crush on Liam. They went to high school together, but she couldn’t really bring herself to talk to him and Liam had a girlfriend.

Like in Felicity Caroline plans to get with Liam whom she believes is her Ben (one of the characters in Felicity). In order to accomplish this plan Caroline reinvents herself. She buys a whole new wardrobe and puts on a bubbly persona. This was obviously omitted from the synopsis because it sounds very cringey. And most people wouldn’t read it.

I’m not gonna lie when I heard about this, I was planning on canceling it. I changed my mind as I’m sure there are some girls who would carry it out Caroline’s plan in reality. Thanks to media plenty of girls believe that if they have the right wardrobe and persona, people will like them and they’ll get the guy. I liked how the author through Dr. Wegman and people in Caroline’s life address this.

Caroline doesn’t really know Liam. She’s just built up this whole image about him based on the few interactions they had in high school. And Liam was not end game. There were subtle hints throughout all their interactions that Liam wasn’t who Caroline thinks he is. I appreciated Caroline standing up for herself when it came to Liam.

In so many contemporary novels authors write their heroines with the abusive love interest. There is another romance which was very subtley hinted. I liked Del a lot better and it was cute to think of them as eventually starting a relationship. 

Caroline’s growth was so well done! She actually made some friends and was happy to be at Ashmore. She made a change in herself, without Liam. Liam was certainly a part of Caroline’s growth but not in the same magnitude as she initially thought. And minus the whole stalking Liam to college, Caroline was a pretty smart and mature girl.

I related to Caroline quite a bit. When I was growing up I didn’t have any real friends. And because of that school life sucked. I definitely had it easier because I have siblings and we’re close. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if I was an only child like Caroline. Lying about ‘friends’ certainly wasn’t smart but I understand why she did it. And honestly who doesn’t do stupid things from time to time?

I loved the relationship that Caroline had with her mother! Her mother cared so much about Caroline and blames a lot of Caroline’s problems on herself. Caroline previously lived in New York. Then her parents divorced and the two of them moved to Arizona. I enjoyed reading about her mother’s advice! Her mother was actually a huge part of the story and Caroline’s life. Which is another rarity in YA. Their make-up at the end was written beautifully!

I was actually quite surprised by Caroline’s roommate Lexi. Lexi was not exactly appealing in the beginning. But her character was a huge part of Caroline’s development. I enjoyed getting Lexi’s back story and reading their interactions. And through some of Caroline’s influence Lexi’s character also grew. They made such great friends!

Dr. Wegman played a huge role in Finding Felicity. Caroline refers to their therapy sessions throughout the book. And she started realizing how wrong she was, Dr. Wegman was mentioned. I really liked how their was a positive therapy rep throughout the book.

Overall I really enjoyed Finding Felicity! I recommend it for everyone as I’m sure you’ll all find something to relate to.        

Review: Drink, Slay, Love

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Drink, Slay, Love by: Sarah Beth Durst

My Rating: 3 Stars

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire… fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil… until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don’t exist), and they’re shocked she survived. They’re even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl’s family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King’s feast—as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl’s starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she’s definitely dead if she lets down her family. What’s a sunlight-loving vamp to do?

Beware spoilers ahead!

I remember how back in 2011 I saw this book circulating everywhere. That was around the time when vampires were still popular. A friend of mine had highly recommended another book by Durst, Vessel. Having read and enjoyed The Queen of Blood I decided to give Drink, Slay, Love a try. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Pearl is 16, a vampire, and simply fabulous! She is apart of the Family (a biological coven), has an extremely attractive betroth, and is soon to be an adult vampire. This all changes when a unicorn stabs her. Somehow Pearl is able to walk in the sunlight. Her parents use this to their advantage to gain some food (humans) to the upcoming King’s feast. Wherein Pearl will be an adult vampire. To accomplish their goals the parents enroll Pearl in high school.

Drink, Slay, Love was such a blast to read! Pearl was so funny! The highlight of this book was definitely Pearl observing and coming to understand high school. Pearl coming into her emotions and growing throughout the book was well done. 

Pearl was such a breath of fresh air! She was extremely confident in everything she did. She was a no-nonsense character. Pretty much everything she noted about high school was so true! It was interesting to see her in that setting.

There were quite a few female’s in this book. For the most part Pearl was basically friends with everyone. I especially loved her interactions with Bethany, Tara, and her track team. It was nice that Pearl wasn’t just friends with one girl but a majority of them.

I loved how for once the queen bee wasn’t a terrible person (or a blonde)! Tara was such a joy to read about. She was actually nice while also running the whole school. She wasn’t popular based on fear, but compassion and of course confidence.

Bethany was the opposite of Pearl and Tara. She had quite a few self-esteem issues stemming from her abusive family. For this reason alone Pearl and Bethany got along very well. Pearl’s family is also quite abusive but unlike Bethany, Pearl had excellent self-esteem and confidence in herself. Amongst all the characters Bethany was able to relate to Pearl and was such a good support. In return Pearl stood up for Bethany and gave her a confidence boost here and there. 

Let me clarify that there is no love triangle. Pearl doesn’t really care for Jadrien other than the fact that he’s good looking. Pearl instead comes to care for Evan whose Bethany’s best friend. Evan was an all around good guy. So much so that he spent most of the book trying to be Pearl’s hero. He has a large hero complex. It was annoying at first but I grew to like it.

Vampire society as a whole was very abusive. Pearl didn’t have good relationships with any of her family members. Save for her father who was barely there. There was a lot of mind games and competitions off who was the better and stronger vampire amongst her cousins.

I liked how the author poked around with all high school and vampire stereotypes. One of Pearl’s cousins wore lots of pink but was still totally terrifying. Especially that last conversation between Evan and Pearl.   

The plot twist with Bethany and Evan in cahoots was completely unexpected! Evan and his family are all were-unicorns whose main job is to hunt vampires. Bethany has Evan stab Pearl in hopes of her gaining emotions and being good. This also helped tie into Evan’s parents plan of trying to stab a majority of the vampires at the ceremony.

What was even more unexpected is that Pearl enlists the help of her classmates to stop the King’s feast. She actually told select classmates that she’s a vampire. And laid out the King’s plan to kill all the students attending prom. The classmates for the most part took it surprisingly well. And together they all (Evan’s family included) came up with a plan. Which was awesome! And so much fun to read about. 

However I did have some problems. I actually skimmed the beginning because Pearl’s family (and all vampires) had such an annoying speech pattern. It actually put me to sleep. I felt that the explanation Evan’s family gave about unicorns was rushed and could’ve been handled better. Maybe with more page time.

Overall I really enjoyed Drink, Slay, Love! I highly recommend it as it was a unique and original vampire story.   

Review: Busted

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Busted by: Gina Ciocca

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…

Beware spoilers ahead!

I’ve had Busted in my TBR for awhile. The original pitch really spoke to me. I liked the idea of the main character going after cheating boyfriends. I was generally excited for it! I did not enjoy Busted.

You can assume that based on the synopsis that Marisa has been busting boys for awhile. That is actually not what happens. The book begins with Marisa stalking her best friend’s (Charlie) boyfriend. Perched on the back of his house, Marisa takes a picture of the guy and the other girl. Of course she goes to Charlie and shows her the picture.

From here on out Marisa has gained a reputation for catching cheating boyfriends. The plot furthers when she meets her old friend Kendall. Kendall goes to the same school as Charlie and overheard the situation with said cheating boyfriend. Kendall then enlists Marisa’s help with her ‘cheating’ boyfriend TJ.

Let me start off with saying what I liked. TJ’s character was nice to read about. Yay for nice guys! I adored Marisa’s family and her relationship with them. I was actually liked that Charlie starts to date Marisa’s brother. Charlie and Marisa’s friendship was supportive and well written! We seriously need more positive female friendships in all genres. And that would be it.

Pretty much all of my dislikes are going to have a lot of spoilers. Like the whole plot. I was honestly surprised that Marisa starts her reputation in the beginning of the book. The synopsis seemed to imply the opposite. Then I heard someone say that the initial pitch compared Busted to Veronica Mars. Marisa was no sleuth, she was just really lucky with a dose of stupid.

Marisa and TJ were in the (I think) newspaper together. So that definitely made it easier to get close to him. In the paperback synopsis it is implied that there is more than one specific type of cheating. I don’t know why this isn’t mentioned in the GR synopsis. This definitely would’ve saved a lot of readers. Including myself.

TJ was in fact not cheating on Kendall. He had broken up with her months prior to the book. Despite this he still cared for her and stayed friends. Kendall seemed to be in some sort of denial about the whole situation. Kendall and a few other classmates were actually running an underground cheating ring (tests). Fearing that TJ would find out Kendall asked for Marisa’s help. 

I do not like a ton of drama in my contemporaries. I like them comedic, relatable, and important. Busted was none of that. As someone whose been through high school I can tell you it is not this dramatic. I was actually reminded of Gossip Girl while reading this. I personally felt that there was a lot of unnecessary drama between the characters.

Onto some other issues that bothered me. Seriously I don’t understand why Marisa and TJ repeatedly forgave Kendall (in the beginning). Kendall obviously had some pride issues, held grudges for a very long time, and man does she like getting back at people. A lot of the things she did were horrible and while there were signs in the beginning, TJ and Marisa still held on.

Also unless you were Kendall and her posey you got away with everything and didn’t have any consequences. Charlie knew the girls that were bullying Kendall. And rather than do anything about it she remained silent. I know that a lot of people do this due to fear and whatnot. But Charlie had a way to stop this without anyone knowing. Her mother is a teacher at the school. All she had to do was tell her and a lot of the plot could’ve been avoided.

For the most part Charlie does get away with this as both girls decide to shift full blame on Kendall. Despite Marisa’s ex cheating on her, she certainly didn’t have many qualms of participating in cheating. Keep in mind that for a majority of Marisa and TJ’s interactions, she thinks that he’s dating Kendall. They do kiss early on as well.

Then came the website drama. Kendall set-up a website for Marisa’s services. And of course when things got bad she ruined (Kendall had the password) Marisa on said website. Thus began the prank phone calls and the trolls. Marisa’s ex was actually plot important and man was it annoying! Like was any of that drama necessary?! It took up so much of the plot. Wasted page time.

The ending is a typical dance. With apologies and everything seemingly back on track with the main characters. Marisa forgive’s her ex and starts a real relationship with TJ. Charlie is dating Marisa’s brother. Kendall and co have been exposed and are awaiting punishment. All’s well that ends well.

Overall I didn’t enjoy this book. I do not recommend.   

Review: Traitor to the Throne

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Traitor to the Throne by: Alwyn Hamilton

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince’s message has spread across the desert – and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl’s instinct for survival. For the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper’s nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive… But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani’s past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I buddy read this with my dear GR friend Tova! Click on her name to check out her profile. When she post’s her review I’ll link it. 

Traitor to the Throne opens with a prologue in Jin’s point of view. The Sultan is planning a peace treaty between all the nations. Jin knowing his father all too well, starts fearing that this supposed ‘Peace Treaty’ will end badly for everyone. Jin leaves his undercover mission to go back to the rebellion and report all this to Ahmed. 

On Amani’s end the rebellion has just taken back a city that once belonged to the Sultan. Unfortunately a few lives where lost in the process. Much to Amani’s surprisement one of the women the rebellion saves, calls Amani by her mothers name. The rebellion then proceed to make their way back to camp.

At camp it is revealed that the woman is actually Amani’s long lost aunt. However they do not have the time to catch up as the camp is attacked by the Sultan’s men. The rebellion split up into groups and run to a safe location. Much to Amani’s surprise, she is betrayed by her aunt and sold to the Sultan as a Demdjii. For there onwards Amani has to try and escape the Harem as well as hide that she is the Blue-eyed bandit.

Traitor to the Throne was fantastic! I thoroughly enjoyed it! We are given a character list and the mythology list. Rebel of the Sands is written in first person all in Amani’s point of view. Whereas in Traitor to the Throne there are a few chapters narrated in third person from various character’s. Those chapters also have a chapter title along with the chapter number.

Shira, Tamid, and Amani’s aunt (as stated above) make an appearance. For drama’s sake and for Amani’s growth, I wasn’t that surprised that Tamid would come in. Shira on the other hand shocked me. I really didn’t like her in Rebel of the Sands. Color me surprised when Shira not only became a main character but was the Sultima. The equivalent of a queen in the harem. Amani’s aunt Sayyida coming in actually made me happy. Until she sold her to the Sultan. Despite her short appearance Sayyida’s betrayal stays with Amani throughout the whole book.

Traitor to the Throne was filled with more politics and the setting of the harem made it particularly interesting. The politics were well done and actually interesting. The harem setting made for an interesting undercover operation, as Amani spends her duration trying to hide who she really is. The harem setting also reminds the readers how brutal this world is and to what extent people will do to survive.

Despite there not being many fighting scenes I felt that Traitor to the Throne was more action packed then Rebel of the Sands. The stakes were much higher. Especially with the Sultan watching Amani’s every move and having the power to control her.

There are a slew of new characters that come in. The most important one’s being Sam, Leyla, and Rahim. These three characters play a central part in the plot. Lots of new information was revealed. You get to learn more about the Dijinn’s, the history, and what they are capable off. Some Dijinn’s actually come in this book including Amani and Noorsham’s father.

As mentioned above, Jin left the rebellion to do some undercover work for Ahmed. When Jin returned Ahmed wasn’t too pleased with his brother. There was a strain in their relationship leaving Shazad and Delila to deal with the fallout. This strain lasted till the end of Traitor to the Throne. 

Once face-to-face with Shira and Tamid, Amani has to accept her mistakes. Amani and Shira were able to create a relationship of sorts. I and Amani slowly began to understand and like Shira as a character. Her interaction’s with Tamid were strained but they eventually come to a truce.

Despite Amani being separated from the rebellion, her relationship with Shazad was still strong. I really like the friendship that they have! Amani come’s to accept that she is a Demdjii much more than she did in Rebel of the Sands. This allowed her to actually have a good interaction with Hala.

While Jin and Amani were separated for most of Traitor to the Throne their interactions were still fantastic! The two of them make-up and all is well in the romance department. There will likely be more romance in the last book with the other characters. Imin and a new rebellion member Navid actually get married. The wedding was really sweet to read about!

The Sultan played a huge role in Traitor to the Throne. Amani has quite a few interactions with him. Readers and Amani are given some more insight into the ruthless man and some of his history. Amani spent a good ordeal of their interactions wondering whether Ahmed actually has what it take’s to be a Sultan. Hamilton did an excellent job with the Sultan! He wasn’t an annoying character or a stupid villain. The Sultan is very intelligent with terrifying plans for those opposing him.

My only complaint is that it took me awhile to get into Traitor to the Throne. I was honestly wondering whether or not I even enjoyed the series anymore. The more read the more I was proven wrong. That’s the only reason I haven’t given a 5 star rating. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Traitor to the Throne! I am looking forward to reading Hero at the Fall. I recommend this series for people who wanted more from The Wrath and the Dawn.   

Review: Always and Forever Lara Jean

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Always and Forever Lara Jean by: Jenny Han

My Rating: 5 stars

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Lara Jean and her boyfriend Peter are in their last year in high school. Lara Jean is hoping that she’ll get into UVA. As she’ll be with Peter but also remain with her family while she’s at college. Her father’s relationship with Ms. Rothschild is going well. In fact Ms. Rothschild has become apart of the family.

Lara Jean is preparing for her classes trip to New York City, college, and the inevitable good-byes to her teachers and classmates. Unfortunately not everything goes according to Lara Jean’s plan. Throughout this book Lara Jean has to decide what she wants in life and how will she and Peter navigate their relationship.

When I heard that this book would be released I was overjoyed! This is my favourite contemporary series! I am glad to say that it was wonderful! Just like the previous books it is written in first person all in Lara Jean’s point of view. And there are chapter numbers. There are text messages, admission emails, and a letter of sorts at the end of this book.

I loved everything about this book! From the trip to New York City, the wedding, as well as Lara Jean and Chris’s spontaneous road trip to North Carolina. I especially love that in every book Lara Jean develops. There’s no reset button just growth.

Like the previous books there is such a large emphasis on family. Margot, Kitty, their father, and Lara Jean are a very close knit family. Ms. Rothschild and Peter are additions to their family. Partway in the book their father proposes to Ms. Rothschild with Lara Jean, Kitty, and Peter’s help.

Margot doesn’t quite like that Ms. Rothschild has such a huge role in their family. As she was in university for most of this book, Margot gets the shock when she sees how close her father is to Ms. Rothschild. For the majority of the book Margot has a very strained relationship with Ms. Rothschild. Margot doesn’t have a problem with Ms. Rothschild as a person, just that she didn’t expect her father to ever get married. Despite this Margot remains supportive of her father and his decisions. The two do make-up and it was beautiful!

Applying for college was a huge part of this book. All of Peter and Lara Jean’s friends are going their separate ways. The seniors all plan to have one last get-together before that happens. They have the trip to New York City, seniors week, and some plans after graduation. It was so much fun to read about, but also had a bittersweet feel to it. Kind of reminds me of my high school days. 

As foreshadowed in the synopsis Lara Jean doesn’t get accepted in UVA. This obviously puts a strain on her relationship with Peter. The two come up with another plan instead. They plan to spend their first year apart but in their second year Lara Jean will transfer to UVA.

Peter’s family is actually a huge part of this book. His father actually make’s an appearance and it attempting to get back into Peter’s life and good graces. Due to his insecurities with his father Peter felt that Lara Jean would dump him  Further proven to him when Lara Jean made a scrapbook so that he could take it to him in UVA. Peter thought that this was Lara Jean’s way of saying good-bye. The two make-up (of course) and decide to face any obstacles that come in the future together.

I was actually happy that Peter’s family life came in. And that this time it was his insecurities that drove them apart rather than his relationship with Genevieve. It has been heavily implied that Peter has many insecurities. And I have always assumed that his parent’s divorce had more of an effect on him than he implied. I felt that it was done well.

Lara Jean is really upset that she didn’t make it into UVA. She won’t get to be with her family nor will she be in school with Peter. Once Peter lays out the new plan to Lara Jean she has a purpose. Though she is very depressed and instead of meeting with her future peers (one of the those college freshmen get-together’s) Lara Jean puts all her energy into planning the wedding. Surprisingly Lara Jean gets accepted into UNC. When Lara Jean tells Chris, she (Chris) tells Lara Jean that they should go a on spontaneous road trip to North Carolina.

The road trip was a blast to read about! Chris and Lara Jean saw UNC (which was beautifully described), they meet new people, ate new food, and just had fun. Of course when the two arrive home they get into trouble. Lara Jean’s family is overjoyed that she got into UNC. Her family urge her to choose what she wants and that they’ll always support her.

Now I know that there were some people that weren’t happy when this book was announced. But I personally felt that this book was necessary. Unlike P. S. I Still Love You, Always and Forever Lara Jean felt like a conclusion book. Lara Jean has a last hora with Chris (I like to imagine that they’ll still keep up in the future), has last conversations with Lucas, John, Genevieve, and Stormy (who sadly passed away in this book), and her father gets remarried (the wedding planning and the wedding itself was awesome)Even the drama was realistic and well done. 

Overall Always and Forever Lara Jean was a beautiful conclusion to the series. I recommend this series to everyone.