Review: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Many thanks to Gail at Ticket to Anywhere for allowing me to borrow her Mortal Heart ARC! Her fabulous generosity in no way affected my review.

One of my very favorite periods in history is the 1300s to the 1500s, also known as the Renaissance. It was a time filled with lots of drama and intrigue (Anne Boleyn anyone?), but also an amazing time for the arts. Shakespeare, Da Vinci and Michelangelo all lived during this period and were legendary masters that had their most famous works during this time. Needless to say the Renaissance has always fascinated me and I knew from the moment I started reading Grave Mercy, that the His Fair Assassin series was going to be an instant favorite.

mortalheart

Mortal Heart, the third book in the His Fair Assassin series, is the final installment in the epic story of three assassin nuns (YAS!) whose lives are undeniably woven together. Mortal Heart is the story of Annith, a young woman who desperately wants to prove her worth to the master she serves, but finds herself being tested and treated cruelly by abbess of the convent. I really enjoyed how all three stories from the series came together seamlessly in this book. Each is so perfect on its own but put them all together and you get pure literary perfection.

Early on in this book, we learn that Annith does not know the story of how she came to the convent or even her birth, and she was raised in the convent always trying to prove herself worthy of her future and capable of the tasks set before her. Annith is not naturally blessed with any abilities or specialties so she’s constantly working hard to excel and prove herself. In spite of all of her dedication and hard work, the abbess still treats her horribly and her childhood is filled with cruelty at the hands of the abbess. It was so heart-breaking to watch Annith continually get knocked down, but it really does form the basis for what her motivations are as the story moves forward, so all of her actions were completely believable and true to her character.

The turning point for Annith is when she discovers that the abbess is grooming her for a duty she does not want, a duty that will force her into a lifetime of solitude and loneliness. She wants to be out in the world ensuring that the will of Mortain, the god of death who the nuns at the abbey serve, is being fulfilled. Feeling trapped, Annith decides to escape the convent to find the answers to her past in the hopes that they can lead her to her future. On the road she meets some unlikely travelling partners who help her to gain a better understanding of the god she serves, but in turn cause her to question what exactly her purpose in life is. There was a constant questioning by Annith, and the reader, of what exactly she is destined for, and I loved that journey of self-discovery she went through. Annith’s growth throughout this story is so transformative, and LaFevers did such an amazing job of bringing that journey full circle through her beautiful writing and ability to weave everything together perfectly.

When Annith is finally reunited with the abbess and her two sisters, Ismae and Sybella, she quickly learns that they all must come together to save the kingdom they hold so dear. This is where LaFevers really shines in her skill of combining all three books into one in order to conclude the series. I loved being able to read the continuing stories of all three women and felt totally gratified that each individual story line was given a proper resolution and treatment it deserved.

Just as things get crazy tense and messy, Annith discovers that the abbesses secrets go far deeper than she ever imagined and she is forced to confront her past and some very painful truths. Thankfully, Annith finds solace in the most unlikely of people (lots of swoon here) but realizes that even the one person she holds most dear has secrets of their own that will turn her world upside-down. The twists and turns in this story are so amazing and I loved the feeling of shock and excitement in some pivotal moments. There’s nothing better than a truly authentic “OMG!” moment when you’re reading an already fantastic book.

Mortal Heart is a fascinating journey of discovering ones self,  where we learn that everyone has their secrets, but that in the end the power of love always rules. LaFevers weaves a spell-binding tale of love, loss and redemption in the three novels of the His Fair Assassin series, and Mortal Heart is the prefect capstone to a truly remarkable story.

rating 5

TMYK

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Publication: 11/4/14 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 464 pages | Format: Paperback ARC
Purchase this book

In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever’s New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

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Waiting on….A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I mean…really? Did you expect something other than this for my WoW pick this week? Last Friday, we were blessed with the cover reveal for A Court of Thorns and Roses (affectionately known as ACOTAR going forward), and I swear I heard the simultaneous flailing as my Twitter feed exploded! I personally feel like I took a more subdued approach…

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Who am I kidding? I was more like…

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and then I was like…

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I’m sure I’ve made it quite evident that I am a Sarah J. Maas fangirl and it thrills me to no end that I get not only one, but TWO books from her in 2015! I mean…how am I supposed to contain myself when I get ACOTAR, the first book in a BRAND NEW series, annnnnd the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series. Until then I’ll spend my time trying to figure out how I can be blessed with review copies of each so I can achieve my goal of recruiting even more Maas fangirls to the growing legion!

TMYK

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Publication: May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury
Pre-order this book

When 19-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it … or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Top Ten…Literary Halloween Costumes I’d Totally Rock!

Only three days left until Halloween, so I am totally loving this week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday! Thinking about all of the possibilities for these literary costumes really makes me wish I had someplace to go this Friday night, the only problem would be choosing which one to be from the ten epic choices below!

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While pulling together the images for this list it became quite apparent to me that I have a thing for cloaks and pretty dresses! Seriously…almost every character I chose has either one or the other, and some even have both!

Bats

katniss header

Most people who dress up as Katniss from the Hunger Games usually go for the traditional side braid, utility parka and Mocking Jay pin route. But if I were to choose an outfit from the series I would definitely go for one of the amazing dresses featured in the movie adaptation!

katniss

Source

Bats

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Our first appearance of a bad-ass female in a cloak! Dressing up as Scarlet from the Scarlet series would mean I’d be able to carry around daggers while looking super mysterious and crafty!

Scarlet

Sources: may12324.tumblr.com // Goodreads // Goodreads

Bats

Laura Header

When I was little I was totally obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House series, so for an amazing costume I would transform my love of all things gingham and hair braids into the most authentic, prairie-chic costume on the block!

Laura

 Sources: Whatever Happened To // Goodreads

Bats

Anise Header

Ok, so this faerie queen from Winterspell is totally evil and certifiably insane, but she gets to wear some outrageous fashion and I’d have a blast dressing up in some haute couture to live out my evil queen fantasies!

Anise

Source: Pinterest

Bats

Alina Header

I adore the story of Alina from the Grisha Trilogy and I can’t think of a better costume to rock my obsession with all things gold! Now, if this were a couples costume I’m not quite sure who I’d choose…Mal, Sturmhond or The Darkling! Decisions, decisions!

Alina

Sources: fictograph.com // florenceandmachines.tumblr.com

Bats

Cather Header

Dressing up as Cather from Fangirl would be the easiest for me to duplicate because all I would need to do is grab something from my closet and I’d be all set! Favorite worn-in cardigan? Check! Leg warmers? Check! Messy bun? Check! Seriously…I AM Cather Avery!

Cather

Source

Bats

Anne Header

Another childhood favorite of mine is Anne (with an E) Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, so this would be a pretty logical choice for me on Halloween. The only problem would be choosing WHICH Anne to go as; orphan Anne, puffed sleeves Anne or swooning for Gilbert Blythe Anne. I think we all know the answer to that one don’t we?

anne

Sources: Sullivan Movies // hellogiggles.com // allthedaysordained.tumblr.com

Bats

HFA Header

I had a tough time deciding which Assassin nun I would want to dress up as from the His Fair Assassin series, so I’ll just leave it up to you. Just as long as I can wear an amazing Renaissance gown, I’m good to go!

His Fair Assassin

Source

Bats

Manon Header

Manon Blackbeak makes her first appearance in Heir of Fire, the third book of The Throne of Glass series. This witch is no joke and dressing up as her would require me to procure my very own dragon! Score!

Manon

Sources: deviantART // aprilcarstairs.tumblr.com // deviantART

Bats

Celaena Header

Finally, what would my Top Ten list be without everyone’s favorite female Assassin, Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series. She’s taken the art of cloak wearing to a whole new level and I’d have so many dangerous weapons to choose from for my costume accessories! Sword, daggers or bow and arrow? How will a girl ever decide?

CelaenaSource

What are you dressing as this Halloween? Did you get any inspiration from your favorite literary characters? I’d love to hear all about your costume in the comments below!

Book Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

I was provided with an ARC of this title by Little Brown & NetGalley
in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to both for the opportunity!

The Walled City is an exhilarating tale of three lives that are brought together in the harshest of circumstances, as they are forced to rely on each other to break free of the confines of the walls they live in, both physical and emotional. One sister risking it all to find the other sister who’s fighting a losing battle, and a mysterious street boy fighting his own demons for salvation. Each character is separate and unique from the other yet their three stories blend together seamlessly.

 Images from Ryan Graudin’s The Walled City Pinterest board — Click image for more.

At first, the stories of our main characters, Jin, Mei Yee and Dai, seem so removed from one another but we soon find that they are also undeniably tied together. I’m normally not a fan of multiple POVs, but Graudin made sure to give each narrator its own distinct voice and I appreciated seeing this story from its different perspectives. It added to the depth and emotion of the struggles each character was facing, while also filling in the gaps and giving the reader a deeper understanding. As the novel progresses all three narrators find themselves more involved in each others destinies and by the end it really feels as though these once individual people were never separate at all. I loved how Graudin slowly developed the relationship between one set of characters, but then super charged another. It came off as authentic and true to the story of people being faced with unforgiving circumstances and the need to do whatever it takes to escape.

I think one of my favorite parts of this book was discovering that the Walled City, which is essentially its own character, is actually based on a real location. Kowloon’s Walled City, a shanty town in Hong Kong that was overrun with crime, prostitution and drugs, acted as the inspiration for this novel. Graudin took this inspiration and ran with it, because once you start reading you’ll get drawn right into the dark and gritty realism of a life lived behind the walls.

Graudin’s writing is exquisite and powerful, adding even more intensity to the emotion of the story. She paints a vivid picture of life within the walled city, which allowed me as a reader to really connect with each character and understand why they made the decisions they did. Jin, Mei Yee and Dai live in an extremely dangerous world and Graudin’s talent for allowing her writing to still be beautiful and haunting while describing these horrific circumstances is pretty impressive!

This book is perfect for readers who enjoy Dystopian novels because, even though it doesn’t take place in a dystopian world, it still has those elements of survival, danger and desperation. I also think people who enjoy character driven novels with really appreciate this book since the development of all three main characters is so well though out and robust. Whatever type of book you prefer, I strongly recommend The Walled City for its emotion, gorgeous writing and non-stop action.

Love It

TMYK

18196040The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Publication: 11/4/14 by Little, Brown
Pages: 432 | Format: eGalley
Pre-order this book

730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

I was obsessed with the Nutcracker ballet when I was a little girl…like listened to the music year-round and danced with my Nutcracker doll every night obsessed! I actually started ballet lessons because of my love for it, and eventually was able to perform in my dance school’s yearly production. To this day, the Nutcracker ballet holds a very special place in my heart and will always bring back amazing childhood memories. I can’t really remember when I first heard of Claire Legrand’s adaptation of this classic, but I can tell you I was immediately intrigued. The Nutcracker always had a mysterious and darker quality to me, and I was so pleased to hear that someone was writing a book that drew on that inspiration and played on its themes.

Winterspell

Images from Claire Legrand’s Winterspell Pinterest board. Click for more.

After reading Winterspell, I can say it is unlike any book I have ever read before and it not only met, but far exceeded my expectations.

Winterspell is dark, sinister, mysterious…even creepy at times. It was such an interesting comparison to see how Legrand’s New York City so closely mirrors her fae world of Cane. The worlds that Legrand built-in this story are corrupt, dangerous and ultimately, shells of their former selves.  On the other hand, both worlds are ruled in very different ways; one by a power-hungry faery Queen willing to do whatever it takes to completely beat down her people, and the other by a weary mayor who can’t control the corruption in his town. The world-building as a whole is on a completely other level. I felt transported into the lands of this book and applaud Legrand for crafting worlds that are so detailed and filled with history and legend. The alternate world of Cane is mystical and filled with beauty, but also frightening and dangerous.

The characters of Winterspell are as fully formed and compelling as the worlds in which they travel. To watch Clara’s transformation and character arc is so satisfying, and I found myself cheering out (and crying out) for her several times during my reading. She has spent her life wondering how her life ended up the way it has and the spectre of her mother’s death always hangs over her. When she begins uncovering the truth about her mother’s death and is faced with the abduction of her father, she does whatever it takes to find the answers. Even if it means forcing herself to break out of the prison of self-doubt that holds her back.

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There are SO many amazing characters in Winterspell and I could easily devote a paragraph talking about each, but that would make this review crazy long! I will say that each and every one of her relationships is complicated, intense and riveting. From her godfather Drosselmeyer who knows so much more than he lets on, Nicholas who bursts into Clara’s life to help her unlock the clues to the fate of her parents, and the faery Queen Anise, one of the creepiest and most confusing villains I have ever encountered. Throughout the novel Clara never quite knows who to trust and Legrand does a fantastic job of portraying that confusion and distrust to the reader. I constantly found myself changing my mind as to who was really there to help Clara. Which I absolutely loved as a reader because it kept me on my toes for all 454 pages.

Like I said, I could seriously go on and on about Winterspell. I mean, I could stop right here and then start all over with a second review. But I’ll leave it up to you discover all of the magic and intricacies of Clara’s life-changing journey. If you like complicated and dark tales that weave the stories of heroes and villains together into one, then you’ll truly enjoy Winterspell.

TMYK

winterspellWinterspell by Claire Legrand
Published: 9/30/14 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 454 | Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Purchase this book

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Waiting on….A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I’ve noticed that most of my “Waiting on Wednesday” picks recently have been books that won’t be released for like six or eight months, and it’s been torturous to know I have to wait soooo long for some of my most anticipated releases. So this week I decided to focus on a book that releases in less than two weeks!

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I first heard of a Thousand Pieces of you during the most recent Tea Time ARC Party and as the cover was revealed and then the summary of the book explained, I went through a whole range of emotions! Here’s T.Swift re-enacting that moment of discovery!

Wait…what? This cover is really, really, really ridiculously good-looking!

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Ummm…did you say a parallel universe? I’d love to hear more!

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SQUEEEE..this book sounds AMAZING! I can has now? 

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Pssst….go here to learn more about the amazing pre-order swag you can get if you’re one of the first ten people to get your order in at the locations listed. I’m pretty excited because I was pre-order #2 at the location I contacted! The swag includes a signed cover art poster, a signed book-plate as well as buttons and stickers!! The cover of this book is sooooo gorgeous and I just know the swag is going to be epic!

TMYK

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Publication: 11/4/14 by Harper Teen
Pre-order this book

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Top Ten…New Series I Really Need to Read

I had a really hard time coming up with just ten series that I’m anxious to read, so you’ll see I’ve highlighted ten below but then I took the liberty of adding on an Honorable Mentions section and an Upcoming Releases section, becasuse…well, cause I can!

Source: The Broke and The Bookish

Source: The Broke and The Bookish

The top ten new (and new-ish) series I want to start are…

selection

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

defiance

The Defiance Series by C.J. Redwine

wait for you

The Wait for You Series by J. Lynn

raven

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

fifthwave

The 5th Wave Series by Rick Yancey

nantucket

The Nantucket Series by Leila Howland

bhinian

The Bhinian Empire Series by Miriam Forster

rusk

The Rusk University Series by Cora Carmack

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The Young Elites Series by Marie Lu

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Snow Like Ashes Series by Sara Raasch
Honorable MentionsBecause I can’t make up my damn mind…

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Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellision / The Styclar Saga by Nikki Kelly /
The Summer Series by Jenny Han / The Fire and Flood Series by Victoria Scott
Wolves of Mercy Falls Series by Maggie Stiefvater / The Falconer Series by Elizabeth May
The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson / The 2B Trilogy by Ann Aguirre

 

Not yet releasedBecause there are books that aren’t even published yet but I HAVE TO HAVE THEM ALL!

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas / The Dregs Series by Leigh Bardugo
The Red Queen Trilogy by Victoria Aveyard / The Goldscryer Saga by Rae Carson
The Orphan Queen Series by Jodi Meadows / The Firebird Series by Claudia Gray

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Approximately how long do you think it will take me to read through all of these series? Do you have any you think I should add to the list? Cause why not right? The more the merrier!