The Rose Society by Marie Lu

But true rulers are not born. We are made.
— The Rose Society

Hello my lovely bibliophiles!! I have finished the second book in Marie Lu's 'The Young Elites' series. It's somewhat difficult to review books individually in a series because the story is broken into pieces. Where the plot may seem slow, it may shift in the next book. I don't want to judge the entire series before I've finished it. I wasn't a huge fan of 'The Young Elites' which I think is unpopular opinion, but I found 'The Rose Society' to be a much better read. I didn't love it, but I enjoyed reading the development of the main character although her teen angst annoyed me a bit, but I realized after my buddy read discussion that this is actually a huge part of her character arc so I can put her in a different perspective while reading the final book in the series, The Midnight Star. Read the synopsis for The Rose Society below to get a glimpse. 


Synopsis:

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites.


You can read my review for the first book, The Young Elites, here before you delve into this one....I'll wait for you. Welcome back!!! Now that you have been familiarized with Adelina, our main character, and how determined yet morally gray she is, Adelina is in a sense losing her mind. Her fear is completely consuming her to the point where even her sister, Violetta, is in danger of her power. Adelina almost killed her own sister in the end. I initially feared for Violetta from the first book because of all the resentment Adelina harbored towards her for being seemingly "perfect". Adelina's rage could be solely defined on her feelings of alienation, but I also think the collapsing of her mind, where she becomes even more twisted in this book, is also due to her expansion of her power. This is part of her character arc. However, the plot arc was a bit weak for me. I did however love Magiano, a malfetto thief. He way coy, quirky and always up to something. I loved his relationship with Adelina and it made me happy that she did not connect romantically with Enzo. It was apparent in the first book that Enzo's interest in Adelina was a selfish one. He was a ray of sunshine amongst an ambiguous group. I was really invested in his character. 

The Young Elites by Marie Lu PUBLISHED October 13, 2015 G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers GENRE: Young Adult, High Fantasy PAGES: 398 FORMAT: PAPERBACK SOURCE: PURCHASED PACING: {5/5}

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

PUBLISHED October 13, 2015 G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
GENRE: Young Adult, High Fantasy
PAGES: 398
FORMAT: PAPERBACK
SOURCE: PURCHASED
PACING: {5/5}


Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, so she destroyed them all.
— The Rose Society

There were a lot of aspects to the story that I found unnecessary like why she captured and held Teren instead of just killing him. This is the part of the plot that is a bit weak and more of an attempt to stretch the story into a third book. I am also interested in reading what happens to the Dagger Society considering they are losing their powers. I thought this was a part of the weakening plot as well, but I realized that it probably has a purpose that I won't be introduced to until the third book. How will Adelina and the others function without their powers? What will this mean for the Daggers as a whole?

Another character I became invested in was Queen Maeve.  Although I knew she would use her powers to resurrect the dead to bring back Enzo, I loved her fearlessness and the intense encounter with Guiletta. She made her presence felt. I always connect with characters that represent or stand up for the underdogs. She wanted someone to rule Kenettra who would treat malfetto's fairly and I am pretty sure the next ruler will be Adelina, but even with the predictability I am curious how Adelina will rule if in fact she is losing her power and how Teren will develop being a malfetto himself and dead set on destroying his own kind. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. My rating for 'The Rose Society' is higher than 'The Young Elites' so my expectations for 'The Midnight Star' are even higher. 

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ {3.5/5}

 

 

 

 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.
— The Shadow of the Wind
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón PUBLISHED January 25, 2005 Penguin Books GENRE: Adult, Mystery PAGES: 487 FORMAT: PAPERBACK SOURCE: PURCHASED PACING: {5/5}

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

PUBLISHED January 25, 2005 Penguin Books
GENRE: Adult, Mystery
PAGES: 487
FORMAT: PAPERBACK
SOURCE: PURCHASED
PACING: {5/5}

 

This translated book was so completely enthralling!! I absolutely loved it from the first page to the last because the writing is so rich and beautiful. The story takes place in Barcelona and Zafón writes the atmosphere in a way that gives me a visual of the culture and environment during the time period following the Spanish Civil War.  I buddy read this masterpiece with my very good friend Polly @pollyandbooks We both agree that the way in which the narrative is interwoven with constant mystery is what makes this novel a un-put-down-able. Daniel, the main character, embarks on quite the journey to discover the author of The Shadow of the Wind, Julian Carax. He searches for the author's other works as well as the backstory to this book which he chose in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books with his father. This is what makes this book so brilliant and unique. It is a story about a story; a book about a book, The Shadow of the Wind. When I read the synopsis for this book I knew that I wanted to read it especially sense it takes place in Barcelona, but I had know idea that I would be weaving in and out of an incredible tale. There is nothing predictable or cliché in this book. It is a perfectly realized murder mystery.


Synopsis:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.


Daniel's father was a bookseller at the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He instills in Daniel, a very fragile 10 year boy dealing with the loss of his mother, that the books within this complex library wait to be chosen by its reader and that once chosen the story is given new life through the one reading it. Daniel was such a well developed character. From childhood, through young adulthood, Daniel was obsessed with finding more novels written by Julian Carax. What I also liked about Daniel was the way in which Zafón wrote his relationship with women and how each relationship defined a different time in Daniel's life and ultimately added even more depth to the story in which he finds himself. 

Daniel begins to discover the truth behind Carax's "whereabouts" and why no copies of any of his work can be found anywhere through a web of people somehow connected to Carax.  Enter Nuria Monfort, a caretaker, whom Daniel encounters that provides him with her own account of Carax but fails to admit that she was actually Carax's lover.

In the latter part of the story a lover letter written by Nuria details another one of Carax's affairs with a young woman named Penelope. Penelope's father took Carax under his wing because he thought of Carax like his own son. However, while living with him, Carax and Penelope fall in love with plans to runaway to Paris. Once Penelope's father catches wind of this, Carax flees to Paris alone and unknowingly leaves a pregnant Penelope behind. Her father tortures her, locks her in a room and leaves her to perish while giving birth. The twist is that Julian and Penelope actually turn out to be half sister and brother because Penelope's dad, plagued with psychological instability, once had an affair with Carax's mom. This is one of the many crazy twists in this story.

People tend to complicate their own lives, as if living weren’t already complicated enough

 

This story is like a Matryoshka doll where there are layers within layers; stories within stories. Zafón effortlessly writes Daniel's journey to the truth as his own life begins to mirror Carax's in love and enemies. Daniel's relationship with Bea, the sister of his enemy turned friend, is very much a reflection of the way Carax's relationship was with Penelope and in both cases it's because of this  constant strain; the ever present tale of 'shadows'. In certain parts of this story the cloud of doom that hangs over these characters seems almost ghost like. They are strange figures, but I think Zafón wrote the shadows metaphorically to highlight the mystery of such deplorable behavior from these characters; their secrecy.


Daniel's sidekick, Fermín, was another character I was quite fond of because he helped Daniel on this mysterious journey of discovery.  He was smart and smitten with a maidservant. Although he was reduced to a beggar I loved his wisdom, honesty and relationship with Daniel. He was trustworthy. The tone of this story was incredibly tangible; Daniel's growth, his relationships, the mystery of Carax. The Shadow of the Wind is a brilliant literary work and has now taken its place as one of my faves.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ {5/5}

 

 

 

The Keys by DJ Khaled

Prioritizing yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
— DJ Khaled

When I received an email to receive The Keys by DJ Khaled I didn't think twice. Khaled has not only established himself as a world renowned DJ, but a media and music mogul. His social media presence is undeniable across platforms, particularly Snapchat where he unleashes daily quips about success and being confident in yourself. Admittedly, I listen to different genres of music opposite of his musical portfolio, mostly non mainstream, but aside from the that what I love about him is his purposeful effort to be positive and a light to his die hard fans. Whether you are a fan of his music or not you cannot deny that he is and has been a presence among all of us millennials. Khaled is like the new self help guru. 

The Keys by DJ Khaled PUBLISHING DATE: November 22, 2016 GENRE:  PAGES: 192 FORMAT: HARDCOVER SOURCE: Crown Archetype PACING: {5/5}

The Keys by DJ Khaled

PUBLISHING DATE: November 22, 2016
GENRE: 
PAGES: 192
FORMAT: HARDCOVER
SOURCE: Crown Archetype
PACING: {5/5}

If you are looking for a very serious self help book then this is not the book for you LOL. DJ Khaled is very funny and honest in his approach. I went into this knowing I would be reading it in his voice. There are no $100 words or psychoanalysis of who you are. It is uncut and filled with feel food bromides, but it is definitely a pick me up and a great read for slumps. In his simplicity of expression, lies some truth. There was no way for me to rate this book so below I've included ten of DJ Khaled's funny and inspirational quotes from his book and Snapchat. 

i. "Sometimes you want to give up. I just don't."

ii. "The Key to more success is cocoa butter."

iii. "Raise the bar. Keep moving the goals and keep hitting them. Then surpass them."

iv. "There's no such thing as there's nothing to do."

v. I can deal with everything. I got the answer to anything."

vi. "The key is to keep growing. That's what I mean by the answer is always more success. We have to give thanks everyday because everyday is a step on the pathway of more success. When it comes to progress, every step counts."

vii. "They will try to close the door on you. Just open it."

viii. "The Ladies calm down when they look in my eyes."

ix. "Be thankful every minute of everyday for what you have: don't complain. Keep your energy and vibe clean so that other good people want to be around you."

x. "Those that weather the storm are the great ones."

Thank you so much Crown Publishing for sending this my way!

Lucky You by Erika Carter + BookOfTheMonth

Hello, this will be a bit of along post because I have great news plus a review. I am sooooooo excited to share this news with you!! Before Christmas of 2016 I was contacted by a lovely lady by the name of @siobhanvivian who asked me to be a Book Ambassador for bookofthemonth.com !!! I screamed because I was hoping one day I would be asked. Speak the things you want into existence. How cool is that!! I had been really thinking about my reading plans for the new year and how I want to read more adult novels so this surprise invitation was right on time! Let me share with you a little bit more about this fabulous bookclub.

 
 

Book of the Month members choose the books they would like to receive. BotM works especially hard to curate the very best book selections to help you have the very best reading life. Here's a little infographic to better explain!

I was sent

five choices and

here are the three

I chose for January.


I finished my first book from my first box; 'Lucky You' by Erika Carter. This book is an early copy and won't be released until March 14, but I finished it.  

Lucky You by Erika Carter PUBLISHING DATE: MARCH 14, 2017 GENRE: Adult PAGES: 375 FORMAT: Hardcover SOURCE: BookoftheMonth Club/Ambassador Box PACING: {3/5}

Lucky You by Erika Carter

PUBLISHING DATE: MARCH 14, 2017
GENRE: Adult
PAGES: 375
FORMAT: Hardcover
SOURCE: BookoftheMonth Club/Ambassador Box
PACING: {3/5}

I pondered on the proper way to review this book. Although, I found Carter's writing fair, I still enjoyed her style of writing. However, I did not enjoy this story so much. Fair warning, there are an INCREDIBLE amount of triggers in this book including a discussion about rape, drug use etc. and although triggers in books do not stop me from liking them, considering these topics and the way human beings deal with them is a part of real life, these characters lacked development. I in no way mean a work up to a happy ending, but rather simple development. The characters in this book are not teens, but mature millennials ironically lacking maturity. There were no strong feminists in this book. All the female characters were broken and seemingly defined themselves according to their relationships with men. They were also extremely petty and at times catty with one another which made each character incredibly annoying. I think it is interesting when people make the decision to live off the grid, so when I read the synopsis for this book I was excited to dive into this story. I think that as these characters decided to live minimally, with only the presence of one another, I knew the visual aspect of this story would be very folk and hippie. Although I loved that I could feel the woodsy environment; the essence of living in nature. Carter wrote this VERY well, but in all honesty reading their minimalistic lifestyle was a bit boring and moreso accompanied with their "I'm so folk" banter. 


Synopsis:

Three women, early twenties, find themselves aimlessly adrift in Erika Carter’s fierce and darkly funny debut novel, Lucky You. Ellie, Chloe and Rachel are friends (sort of); waitresses at the same tired bar in the Arkansas college town they’ve stuck around in too long. Each is becoming unmoored in her own way: Ellie obliterates all feeling with alcohol and self-destructive acts of sexual promiscuity; Chloe pulls out patches of her hair and struggles to keep incipient mental illness at bay; changeable Rachel has fallen under the sway of a messianic boyfriend with whom she’s agreed to live off-grid for a year in order to return to “health” and asks Ellie and Chloe to join them in “The Project”. In a remote, rural house in the Ozarks, nearly undone by boredom and the brewing tension between them, each tries to solve the conundrum of being alive.
 


I know that as a woman in their 20s you deal with figuring yourself out; what direction you want to go in life, but Ellie, Chloe and Rachel were just incredibly destructive and none of them came to any kind of realization in the end. In hindsight, I would love to see this book adapted into a film because I love character studies, but I can't say I would highly recommend this book. Make sure you follow @bookofthemonth on Instagram and look out for my interview with Siobhan coming soon!! 

My rating: ⭐{2/5}

The Young Elites by Marie Lu *A few spoliers*

 
Artist Unknown; please email for credit

Artist Unknown; please email for credit

 

I have another review for you bookies. This will be my second blog post for the new year with more to come. I have been on a reading high!

My bestie Mhay @bookishventures  basically told me I HAD to read this series so I ended up buddy reading it with two of my bookstagram friends Belinda @bookstorm and Jess @jessafshar. It took about three days to complete it and although it was an entertaining read and the pacing of the story was good, I can't say I loved it! Read the synopsis below. 

The Young Elites by Marie Lu Published October 7, 2014 GENRE: YA, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Fiction PAGES: 355 FORMAT: PAPERBACK SOURCE: PURCHASED PACING: {4/5}

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Published October 7, 2014
GENRE: YA, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Fiction
PAGES: 355
FORMAT: PAPERBACK
SOURCE: PURCHASED
PACING: {4/5}

Synopsis:

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. 

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen. 

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.
 


There weren't any moments where I felt I wanted to shelf it and for me that's good thing. I was very much intrigued by this story and its deeper meaning.

Adelina, the main character,  and others like her are considered outcasts and abominations in her nation. She is a survivor of a plague that left her with markings and VERY powerful gifts. Not only is she outcast by society but also by a cruel father who is embarrassed of her and willing to sell his own daughter to rid his family of the shame. He also treats her "seemingly" pristine sister, Violetta, with higher regard because she is without flaws in his eyes. Adelina and others like her are considered 'malfettos'. The interesting thing about this particular aspect of the story is that it speaks to how we deal with people we view as "different"; how we ostracize those we fear or don't understand. In Adelina's case alienation from her father and the opinions of others creates distrust and fear of people which fuels the "darkness" inside of her; a darkness that throughout the story has its consequences. She runs away when her father tries to bargain her to which he gives chase and very violently tries to get her to come home. Subsequently, their encounter leads to Adelina murdering him by "accident". She, in turn, is sought by the Inquisition, caught by Teren, the former leader of the Inquisition Axis, who works for the king and wants all Young Elites/malfettos abolished. She is rescued by Enzo from being burned at the stake. Enzo is the leader of the Dagger Society and Prince of Kenettra. He recruits other Young Elites like them. Upon integrating Adelina, Enzo and the other Dagger Society members discover she has powers that surpass any of the powers they have.

I am tired of being used, hurt and tossed aside. It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.
— Adelina, The Young Elites

What I really like about this book was the era in which it took place; the Renaissance era. There was something very entrancing about the atmosphere of the story. I also loved the relationship between Adelina and Violetta. It is discovered in the latter part of the story that Violetta is unmarked but a malfetto as well and has the ability to supress energy. Adelina becomes angry with Violetta for never defending her, for keeping a secret and resented her for being their father's favorite, but she began to understand that Violetta needed to keep her secret safe in order to protect her sister. Their bond was endearing especially the memories they shared. I was not a fan of all of Adelina's teenage angst. She fed her fears so her powers operated on that. She was constantly apologizing for all the people she killed. If Adelina was as "dark" on the inside as implied, some unapologetic behavior may have been more fitting, but I suppose at 17 years old she was peeling back the layers of her frazzled existence and the thoughts that she wasn't loved. Raffaele, the messenger and consort for the Dagger Society, saw Adelina's potential in the beginning. I was hoping at some point he would express to her what he saw in her to help build her confidence so that she may begin to abandoned her fears and control her powers in a more beneficial way, but he did not. I was not clear as to why he didn't. I also was not a fan of the incessant "heated" moments between Adelina and Enzo. 


There's always room for a little romance, but I felt these moments were a bit to frequent and more time could have been spent developing Adelina's adjusting to her power which was the power of Illusion. I thought that was an ingenius power to have; the ability to make people feel see or think things that aren't there or happening. I liked this book and enjoyed it enough to continue on in the series. I cannot have a full sound opinion about this story until I finish The Rose Society and Midnight Star but these are just my notions for the first book. I would definitely give it a read!!

My rating: ⭐⭐{3/5}

 

 

 

The Stranger by Albert Camus

I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.
— The Stranger

FIRST POST OF THE YEAR!!  Happy 2017!! New year means NEW reading goals. I am so excited to explore new genres of books and authors. I'm looking forward to more New Adult novels, Historical Fiction, Crime Stories, Classic Literature, Contemporaries and most importantly diverse reads, both story AND author! I have finished my first book of 2017, 'The Stranger' by Albert Camus. This book is translated from French. I've only ever read one other translated book which you can read my review here. As I expressed in my other blog post, English sentiments, sayings, colloquialisms etc. cannot be expected to mean the same thing in a different language or within a different culture. However the overall tragedy of this story, I believe, cannot be misinterpreted. It's quite short, 123 pages, and I read it in like a half hour having finished half of it in flight to Los Angeles back in September. It's intriguing and I couldn't put it down.


Synopsis:

Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd." First published in English in 1946; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.

The Stranger by Albert Camus Original Title: L'E'tranger in PUBLISHED March 28, 1989 GENRE:  PAGES: 123 FORMAT : PAPERBACK SOURCE: Purchased PACING: {4/5}

The Stranger by Albert Camus
Original Title: L'E'tranger in PUBLISHED March 28, 1989
GENRE: 
PAGES: 123
FORMAT : PAPERBACK
SOURCE: Purchased
PACING: {4/5}

I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.
— The Stranger

Meursault's character is reminiscent of Theo Decker from Donna Tartt's 'The Goldfinch' . Both character's relationships with their mothers played a crucial role in who they turned out to be as adults. I wonder if Donna Tartt ever read this book and took inspiration from it for Theo's character. I have a weird relationship in my head with DT LOL. Both characters are narcissistic and indifferent to consequences, it seems, primarily after the loss of their mothers. They were left empty, so proper judgement of questionable situations was abandoned and both characters were unredeemable in the end. Other similarities between Theo and Meursault were their broken relationships with women. Meursault noted that he would only Marie, his offbeat companion, if SHE asked HIM. He couldn't love her or any woman that wasn't Maman, his mother.

I found it interesting that Meursault referred to his mother as Maman; almost like a child. His need to maneuver in life as such, without a care in the world, is what ultimately lead him to prison. He encounters a vile and deplorable gentleman in his apartment building, Salamano. Salamano is a ticking time bomb, abusive to women and controlling. Of course, Meursault in all of his stoic glory befriends him and ignores clear warning signs. Salamano gets into an altercation with an 'Arab', {the victim is referred as such in the book} involves Meursault and Meursault kills him. He goes to court, is found guilty and sentenced to death.

This story is told in two parts. The first part is Meursault's life before the killing and the second part is after. Part Two of this book is where Camus reveals the emotional and  psychological state of the main character.  Even being stripped of his liberty and freedom did not lead him to any sort of revelation about his life. He lacked remorse and empathy not because he was immoral necessarily, but because he was empty. He had given up on himself. The one person that was his safety net, Maman, was gone. He was alone; a stranger in the world and to it; rid of hope. And in this despair he found "happiness" only in memories of Maman. He'd crawled all the way through every emotion to the side of nothingness. An altercation with the prison chaplain reveals Meursault's unwillingness to face his demons. He didn't want to be forgiven or redeemed. He wanted to be left to his own dark devices and in the end he said in order to feel less alone, spectator's should arrive on the day of his execution and "greet him with cries of hate."

This book was completely tragic and disheartening in every sense of the word. What is it to be so lonely in extreme despondency that even jeers from others becomes 'something'? Meursault only desired for those spectator's to confirm that which he already felt deep with himself; self hatred. I highly recommend this book, but be prepared to be very bothered.

My Rating: {4/5}