Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

In the conclusion to Wolf by Wolf, set in an alternate 1956 where Germany won WWII, Yael must deal with the consequences of her mission to assassinate the Führer, Adolf Hitler. After racing over 20,000 miles across Europe, Africa and Asia whilst wearing a face that isn’t hers, she must return to Germania without being caught by the SS and discovered as the skinshifter they are searching for. With resistance groups starting revolutions across the continent and SS members determined to keep control of the Third Reich, Yael must fight to see her mission through to the end, at whatever cost.
Since finishing Wolf By Wolf with it’s ever so slightly evil cliffhanger, I always knew Blood For Blood would be a heartbreaker. How right I was. 
Blood For Blood kicks off immediately where Wolf By Wolf left off, with Yael attempting to flee Japan and return to Germania (the Berlin of this alternate Europe). I fould Wolf By Wolf to be a very fast paced, plot based book, and Blood For Blood is quite the opposite – the plot is much slower for the majority of the book, and focuses a lot more on character and relationship building. However, this definitely isn’t a bad thing! 
Yael has always been a mysterious character, and remained so throughout Blood For Blood – I do feel as though I got to know her a lot better than I did in Wolf By Wolf though, and learning more and more details about her backstory in the labour camp was just heartbreaking. Not only did you learn more about Yael in this book, but she matured so much and learned how to control her emotions more. I adored her rash braveness in Wolf By Wolf, but the way she behaved in this book seemed much more fitting with everything that she went through in it. Although Yael faced so many challenges in Wolf By Wolf, none of them were really her facing her true fears, and in Blood For Blood she is confronted with challenges that are so much closer to her heart. Yael opens up to people so much and slowly starts to learn how to trust and love again and hey, even though she’s fictional, I am so proud of her.
There isn’t all that much of an authentic romance in Wolf By Wolf (considering that Yael is impersonating someone else for the majority of it) but there is one in Blood For Blood, which after the events of Wolf By Wolf, does just seem to make sense. I’m so grateful that the romance was slow-burning, as well – it wasn’t forced or rushed into, and it developed at the right pace considering the events going on around the characters. 
Some new alliances are made in Yael’s quest to overthrow the Nazi’s, and new characters are introduced. I won’t say much about them so I don’t slip into spoiler territory, but I love Comrade Mnogolikiy. You’ll get to know them by other names once you read the book 😉 
As well as new characters, we’ve still got point of view chapters from characters from the previous book – Luka, everyone’s favourite badboy, and Felix, the grumpy German teddy bear. Both are fighting their own moral battles throughout and I just love how each character’s story played out and the way in which they all intertwined. 
I won’t say much about the ending apart from this – it broke me in more than just a couple of ways. This book just wouldn’t stop playing with my emotions, and I know that that ending will stick with me for a long time.
If you’ve read Wolf By Wolf, you need to go and read this sequel right this second – and if you haven’t read Wolf By Wolf yet, what are you waiting for?
What do you think of the Wolf By Wolf series? Let us know in the comments!


Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Black Witches are born in a glen,

sweet little triplets 
will never be friends.

Three Black Witches, all fair to be seen
two to devour
and one to be queen.

Three Dark Crowns tells the story of three triplet Queens, each with their own type of magic. On the festival of Beltane once the queens are sixteen, their fight to the death begins, and only one queen can survive to become the Queen Crowned of Fennbirn.
This book is told from the points of view of all three sisters, which I enjoyed as it meant you got to know each sister individually, rather than from others thoughts. This writing style, however, did mean that the book took a while to get into, as you had to wait for each sisters chapter to roll around again to learn more of them. If you can be patient with the slow beginning though, this book is definitely worth it!
Each of the triplets has been trained since they were six by families who have powers that are the same as theirs. Once the Ascension year began (starting on their sixteenth birthday) preparations for Beltane began too, including suitors visiting the queens – the book itself isn’t entirely clear on how a suitor is chosen, but presumably one will be chosen to marry whichever sister becomes the Queen Crowned.

Here’s a little about each sister:

  • Mirabella is an elemental, able to control fire, water and wind. Her power is famed across the island of Fennbirn, to the point where even the priestesses of the island are openly backing her, an act which hasn’t been done before. Although most expect Mirabella to easily kill her sisters and become the Queen Crowned, Mirabella still remembers her sisters as children and wants to protect them.
  • Katharine is a poisoner, with the ability to digest any poison and survive, and a skill mixing them too. However, Katharine grows sicker each time she is poisoned, to the point where she’s incredibly thin and frail and is always covered in scabs, bruises and scars. The Queen Crowned has been the poisoner queen for the last hundred years, and the family training Katharine are keen to keep the poisoners on the throne.
  • Arsinoe is a naturalist, and should be able to make flowers bloom and crops grow, as well as having an animal familiar. Arsinoe’s power, however, is the weakest of the sisters. She struggles to even make a flower look a bit more colourful, and has basically given up any hope of becoming Queen Crowned. She lives with Jules, a very skilled naturalist who has a large cat as a familiar.
Katharine’s chapter is first, and she immediately became my favourite triplet – I found Mirabella hard to connect with and was bored by Arsinoe’s chapters to begin with, as they seemed much more focused on her friend Jules than on Arsinoe herself. However, I grew fond of her as the book went on, and I’m not sure which queen I’d root for anymore (although I’m still not fond of Mirabella). 
I liked the writing style and the setting of this book, as well as the world it’s set in (although I would like to know more about it) and the secondary characters were strong and well rounded. I didn’t find Three Dark Crowns to be predictable at all, which it could easily have become. I did think that this book would be a lot darker than it was, but it ended up being very driven by character development rather than plot based, and I do think that this style worked very well. After that huge twist at the end, I’m expecting quite a plot based sequel, anyway!

There’s just a few things that I didn’t enjoy so much about this book:

  •  As previously mentioned, the beginning is quite slow – probably the first 50 pages at least. Although not much happens here, I would encourage you to stick it out and keep reading!
  • There is a love triangle, and in my opinion, it wasn’t the best. I can’t say much about it without including spoilers, but I’ll just say that I really don’t think that the male character involved in the love triangle has any excuse for what he does in the book, and unless he’s been lying from the start, it’s just a bit ridiculous of him.
  • I would have liked more world building – a lot of history was mentioned that hadn’t been expanded upon much. Maybe this will happen in the sequel, though! 

Overall, I really enjoyed Three Dark Crowns and would recommend it to most fantasy lovers. However, if a fast paced plot is what you’re after, this book probably isn’t for you.
Have you read Three Dark Crowns yet? What did you think of it?


Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

“The world will be saved and remade by the dreamers.”

In the highly anticipated fifth installment of the Throne of Glass series, Aelin Galathynius discovers that, despite unlocking her powers and revealing herself to the world, she still has a long way to go to claim her crown. Aelin must now forge alliances with her former enemies for Terrasen, and call in life debts from her time as Celaena Sardothien to defeat the darkness that is taking over Erilea.


I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a long time – since Queen of Shadows came out a year ago, really – but I do feel as though Empire of Storms was missing a few things. Don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy this book, I just think I would’ve liked to have seen a couple of things done differently.
So, what I liked. First off, the character development. Although I didn’t think that Aelin herself developed much in this book, she’s grown a lot in the previous four books. A lot of the secondary characters of this series were focused on much more in this book, and therefore were able to grow a lot – especially Elide, who has come so far from when she was first introduced. Manon was also in EoS a lot, and as always, remains one of my favourite characters of this series. 
(Whilst we’re on secondary characters, I’ll briefly mention Chaol. It’s already been commented on by many people that he isn’t in this book, and that’s true. However, he didn’t need to be. Frankly, with where he was at the end of Queen of Shadows, I didn’t even expect him to make an appearance again until the sixth book. I have no doubt that he will be back in the final book of the series, and that him being in Empire of Storms wouldn’t have enhanced the story in any way.)
Despite the lack of Chaol, many characters from the series who we haven’t seen for a while do make a reappearance! 
Many of the secrets and mysteries from the rest of the series, some even dating back to Throne of Glass, are unravelled in Empire of Storms. Learning the meaning behind some of Elena’s messages and codes was heartbreaking, and the answers to many of Aelin’s question’s weren’t what I was expecting at all. I look forward to seeing how they unfold in the final book. 
The lack of Aelin point of view chapters did irritate me at first, however as the book goes on, you begin to see that this is all to enhance what’s happening behind the scenes. It becomes clear that Aelin has been playing a very long game to get where her and her court needed to be at the end of this book, and I loved discovering how each little plot line linked together.
Now, onto the reasons that I perhaps wouldn’t rate Empire of Storms as highly as the previous books in the series. 
Although I ‘liked’ the ending (for want of a better word – what I really mean is that I was in tears throughout most of the last 70 pages or so), I do feel as though Sarah J. Maas has written similar before. I am trying to pass this off as an unfortunate coincidence, though…
Secondly, the sex scenes just weren’t for me (and yes, there are sex scenes in this one). I just thought that each one in the book felt really similar to each other, and not only that, but to scenes with Feyre and Rhys in A Court of Mist and Fury. I assume that this is just Maas’s style for such scenes, but it did put me off a bit.
Overall, I enjoyed Empire of Storms, just perhaps not as much as the other books in the series. After that ending though, I can’t wait for the final book to be released!
Have you read Empire of Storms yet? What were your thoughts?
Let us know in the comments!


Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

She brings the snow with her touch,
they think she’s gone, but we know she will come again,
she will reign in his stead,
she will bring down the world on his head,
oh come, snow, come…

When Snow was five years old, she attempted to walk through a mirror, cutting herself to shreds. Ever since, she has lived in the Whittaker Institute – a mental hospital in New York. When she is banned from seeing her closest friend in the hospital, Bale, she devises a plan to escape with the encouragement of a strange new boy who appears in her dreams, encouraging her to find him beyond the tree. Snow soon finds herself in a world unlike her own, full of witches, magic, and snow-wielding kings – and it just happens to be the world that she had been born in. Now, she must uncover the secrets of Algid to help her find Bale, whilst trying to learn how to control her new found powers and come to terms with her royal heritage.
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the ARC of this book!
First off, I just want to point something out – a lot of people seem to think that this is a Snow White retelling (and I did, too, before I started reading it). Although Snow White’s dwarves are mentioned, this is when Snow is talking about the fairytale, not reliving it. This story is, if anything, a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. Frankly though, if you’re looking for a retelling of that fairytale, I would honestly recommend sticking to watching Frozen. Really though, I think the world retelling is getting thrown around a bit too much now. This is a novel about a girl who has snow related magic and also happens to be a long lost princess, and we’ll leave it at that.
Anyway. Stealing Snow was certainly an experience. And when I say that, what I mean is I had no clue what was going on for the majority of the book.
At the beginning of the book, when Snow was still inside the institution, I was really interested. I wanted to know more about her life there, why she had been put there, about the other teens living there. Once Snow was outside and running around Algid, however, I lost interest quite fast.
Snow is taken to Algid by Jagger, wanting to find Bale, but then gets caught up with a river witch, a girl with a penchant for magic who was so insignificant that I can’t remember her name (Gaude, maybe?) and this girls sort of brother Kai, who is essentially the epitome of male YA stereotype. I have never read a character who is so unnecessarily melancholy. So, let’s review. We’re probably not even 25% into the book at this point, and we already have three love interests. When reading YA, I would expect one, if not two, love interests. But three? What? For a start, Snow has literally just met two of these boys – one of whom she believes kidnapped her first love interest, and the other who is nothing but awful to her. Second, I just don’t see the need? I didn’t think that whatever she supposedly “had” with Kai impacted the story in any way – it was completely unnecessary. 
So after Snow has had her run in with Kai and co., she meets up with Jagger again who takes her to meet a bunch of robber-girls who live in a castle, creating spells and changing their faces. You’d think everything would improve at this point, and the plot was definitely getting more interesting, but I still just didn’t care. I just can’t connect with a book if I don’t care about either the plot or the characters. 
Overall, Stealing Snow wasn’t an awful book, and I have definitely read worse. It’s real problem was that it didn’t make me feel anything. Often when I dislike a book, it’s made me really angry, but this didn’t even do that. In my opinion, there was no world building, no plot or character development, and no explanation for anything that happened in the plot (for example, how was it that Snow’s powers just happened to appear? Hadn’t she ever accidentally frozen someone as a child or something? Where did they come from?!)
This book does seem to be getting a lot of mixed reviews, so I would definitely encourage anyone who had been thinking about reading it to try it for themselves. Everyone has different opinions, after all!
Have you read Stealing Snow yet? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments!


The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Imagine, and it shall be.
There are no limits.

In an alternate Imperialist Russia of 1825, the Tsar has been surrounded by threats from all sides. Facing the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs, he decides to begin the Crown’s Game – a fight to the death between Russia’s two enchanters, with the winner receiving the title of Imperial Enchanter, as well as their life.

Enchanter One, Nikolai, has grown up in Saint Petersburg and is best friends with the Tsarevich, Pasha. He has ultimate control over mechanical objects. Enchanter Two, Vika, can manipulate and control the elements around her. When both Pasha and Nikolai find themselves falling for Vika, they both have decisions to make – can Pasha go against his Father’s and his country’s expectations by courting a mysterious girl who isn’t royalty? Can Nikolai save her life, only to condemn his own?


3.5/5 stars.

Lately, all that I’ve been in the mood for is books that are set in Russia or inspired by Russian culture, so needless to say, The Crown’s Game was perfect for me in that aspect. I loved the setting – I’ve read a few novels set in Russia recently, but none from this time period. It was really interesting to see the beginnings of rebellion hinted at throughout the novel after Russia’s victory over Napoleon, and the Tsar failing to live up to his promises of equality to the common people. In the authors note, Evelyn Skye mentions that she has studied Russian culture and Slavic languages for years, and you can really tell – she pays attention to all of the little details, and I could easily picture the historical based world that she was building.
I also liked the characters – Vika’s character was really interesting and I’m hoping to learn more of her back story in The Crown’s Heir. I loved Pasha – he was so feisty and adventurous, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to him. Nikolai was definitely my least favourite of the trio, and I do think that I would have connected with him a lot more if his story had been built on and he wasn’t so melancholy when it came to Vika; he often chastised Pasha for barely knowing her yet claiming to love her, yet he had had even less interactions with her and was claiming the exact same thing. 
Since the blurb of the book makes it clear that there will be a love triangle, I was expecting it, and it definitely wasn’t the worst love triangle I’ve ever seen (hello, Twilight). However, it was more of a love-square or something – Pasha and Nikolai are both after Vika, and a servant girl is also madly in love with Nikolai. I didn’t care much for either of Nikolai’s possible relationships, and if I had to pick a ship, it would definitely be Pasha and Vika who I’d want to end up together.
Anyway, less on love, more on magic. This book truly was enchanting, and I loved watching the way that the competition played out between Vika and Nikolai. I loved how the magic was infused into what I assume to be average daily life in Saint Petersburg in 1825, and the way that the city was used in the magic. 
I was very surprised by the ending, but not in a bad way at all. I couldn’t say much about it without giving away the entire plot, but I will say, it is not typical of a YA ending, and I was so happy about that!
So, onto the reasons why I knocked a few stars off my rating. 
Firstly, this book was very slow-paced. I’d find myself reading it, wondering when it would start to pick up from the initial slowness that many novels have, and realised I was already over halfway through. The pace didn’t ruin the book for me in any way, I just wasn’t expecting it.
Secondly, the antagonist. I won’t say much about this to avoid spoilers, but I do think there was a missed opportunity here. There’s a character in the book that I thought would definitely end up being after revenge, but then they just didn’t really do anything? That might happen in the sequel, though.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Crown’s Game – it was a lovely debut, with only a couple of small things that I would have liked to have been different, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.
Have you read The Crown’s Game? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments!


A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Thanks to HarperVoyager for the ARC of this book! This review will be spoiler-free.
If you survive, you shall be a force to be reckoned with in this world. But first you will be unmade. First, you will be broken.
A Torch Against the Night kicks off right where An Ember in the Ashes left off – with Elias and Laia fleeing for their lives, on their way to rescue Laia’s brother from Kauf Prison. In order to reach Kauf in time, they must avoid detection from the Martials and the Commandant – but can they really trust those who they think are on their side?
The Empire has taken an even darker turn under Emperor Marcus, and Helene Aquilla must face his atrocities firsthand with her new role as Blood Shrike. When her loyalty to Marcus is questioned, she is forced to take on a mission in order to keep those she loves most safe – even if this mission destroys her.

I think it’s quite easy for the second book in a trilogy to never quite live up to the thrill of the first book, however, A Torch Against the Night is definitely an exception to this. This book was just as amazing as, if not better than, An Ember in the Ashes. Once again, it was action packed from the start and there wasn’t a slow moment. I was worried that it would have a lot of filler material, and although a lot of the plot was definitely building up to something bigger coming which I assume will appear in the third book, everything was still relevant to this book’s storyline, and I definitely didn’t expect one of the big twists at the end.
As with the first book, Torch was written from one point of view; however, I feel as though where Ember was very much Laia’s story, Torch focuses a lot more on the stories of Helene and Elias. I have always loved Helene, but after this book, she’s definitely my favourite character from this series. All of the characters grew so much in this book, but I think Helene did most of all – and she certainly made me cry more than once.

I’d probably say that the one disappointing thing about this book was that the Commandant didn’t appear much. In the first book, I found her to be such a strong presence, and she’s definitely one of my favourite antagonists. I mean, when she did appear in Torch, she lived up to her reputation and was crueler than ever, but I think she definitely could have been around more. I’m hoping she’ll be a bigger character in the final book of the series!

Despite this, I’d still give A Torch Against the Night a strong five stars. Bring on book three!

A Torch Against the Night is released in the UK on the 8th September 2016 and in the US on the 30th August 2016. Are you excited to find out what happens after An Ember in the Ashes? Let us know in the comments!


And I Darken by Kiersten White

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the ARC!

And I Darken was all I wanted it to be and more. It’s a deep, dark and unique alternate history novel, set in the Ottoman Empire of the 1400’s, just before the fall of Constantinople. Kiersten White takes Vlad the Impaler and replaces him with Lada, Princess of Wallachia. 
Previously, I didn’t know much at all about this era in history, especially from an Eastern European perspective, so the setting of this book was so refreshing. It took facts from history and brought them to life with complex characters, political intrigue, wars, and intricate relationships. 
I absolutely loved Lada as a heroine, and the way that Kiersten White slotted her into the history of Wallachia and the Ottoman empire was flawless. The secondary characters – especially Lada’s brother, Radu, and Mehmed, the sultan’s son, also added so much to the story and I think the third person narrative worked so well in this book, as it meant that these characters thoughts and feelings weren’t overlooked. The plot constantly kept me on the edge of my seat with its twists and sudden revelations, as well as the culturally relevant issues that it presents throughout, such as the way that Lada is constantly overlooked by everyone just because she is a woman. 
And I Darken is definitely one of my favourite books of this year so far – I loved it so much that, despite having the ARC on my kindle, I had to order the hardback today – and the only negative thing I can say about it is that I almost wish I hadn’t read it so fast, as now I have to wait even longer for the sequel!

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Never flinch. Never fear. Never forget.
A big thank you to the publishers, HarperVoyager, for sending us both ARC’s of Nevernight! 

Nevernight tells the story of Mia, a young girl from a noble family who is seeking revenge for the death of her parents, who were seen as traitors to the state. Mia’s ambitions lead her to the Red Church, a secret guild of assassins, to train. However, Mia has an edge – not only can she fight, sneak, steal, manipulate and kill, but she is Darkin – she can control the shadows around her and bend them to her will. Her shadow-cat companion, Mister Kindly, ensures that she will never feel her fear. 
Well, where can I start with this book? Nevernight absolutely blew me away. This is the badass high fantasy that I’ve been craving for so long. So, with high fantasy books, I have a list of necessities that all need to be included to make the story work for me: 
First off, I sometimes find with books of this genre that the political intrigue and action can be balanced incorrectly – in my opinion, you need both to make this sort of story work. Too much action will mean you won’t care about the characters and the world so much, but too much politics will become boring. Nevernight has the absolute perfect balance between these two aspects, and that’s one of the things that made me love it. 
Second, the characters. High fantasies are deep books, so we need deep characters to match that. Mia fits the bill perfectly here – she has secrets, she has a backstory, and she is mysterious. Even after finishing the book I still don’t feel like I know her – she’s still hiding things from me, and frankly, I need to know what they are, so despite Nevernight not even being released til August, I already need its sequel (this, I have discovered, is the one problem with ARCs). 
As well as Mia being perfect, the secondary characters are all top notch. Tric, Naev, Ashlinn, Mercurio, Jessamine… and I loved Mister Kindly, Mia’s shadow passenger. One of my first bookish cross stitches was a quote from Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Quest – “the word of a cat is not to be relied upon”, and I’m telling you now, I don’t trust this cat as far as I can throw him (and since he’s made of shadows, I doubt I can throw him at all). 
The third ingredient in the perfect recipe for a high fantasy book is the fantasy world and the world-building. I would live in the world that Nevernight is set in if I could – Itreya is completely inspired by everything Venetian, and the government is reminiscent of the ancient Roman Republic (actually, I wouldn’t be keen on living under that rule, but if I could just live in the world without it’s government, that’d be perfect). Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a complete history geek, and anything to do with ancient Rome/Italy is just about my favourite topic. This world was everything that the world of The Young Elites tried to be, but didn’t live up to. 
Finally, and probably most importantly, the plot. I suppose this kind of brings my other points together, but Nevernight has a beautifully flowing plot, with just the right amount of action, political intrigue, character development and world building all together. The flashbacks throughout were absolutely perfect, and helped me to begin to unravel the mystery that is Mia as more and more of her past was revealed. Everything about this book was just so unique, and I already want to re-read it – I genuinely have never read anything like it before. 
My one tiny criticism is that the footnotes just weren’t for me. I thought the beginning of the book especially was quite footnote heavy, and I think this is definitely just a personal preference, but stopping every now and then to read a footnote really distracted me from keeping myself absorbed in the plot. Like I say though, that’s just my opinion, and a lot of them were very helpful when a place or event was mentioned that hadn’t been explained in the book so far. 
One last comment on this book – I’ve seen a lot of people on Goodreads marking it as young adult. This book is not young adult. The majority of it is suitable for a YA audience, but there are certain more adult scenes in it that might not be appropriate for younger teens, or YA readers who aren’t comfortable with reading very detailed adult scenes. This obviously wasn’t a problem for me at all, but after seeing the issues when some younger kids thought that they’d love reading A Court of Mist and Fury as it was viewed as a YA book, I thought it was worth pointing out!

Nevernight is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year so far, and I’d thoroughly recommend that any fantasy lover reads it. It’s released on the 11th August in the UK and the 9th August in the US!

The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Chokshi

“I know your soul. Everything else is just an ornament.”
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. 

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet, who can she trust?

Becky’s rating: 3.5 stars

The Star-Touched Queen wasn’t in any way what I expected it to be. It reminded me, in many ways, of an amalgamation of some books that I love; there were touches of The Wrath and the Dawn in there, and it seemed very similar in some ways to both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Deathless – these two are very much on my list of favourite books. I also saw bits of A Court of Thorns and Roses and Fallen throughout. However, as a whole, it just didn’t quite click. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed it. Three and a half stars still means that I finished it and liked it a fair bit! I just found that it was one of those books that had sections which I really liked, and other sections that I just wasn’t keen on. 
For example, I enjoyed the relationship between Maya and her sister Gauri. I thought that the majority of Maya’s character development was seen in their interactions, or even just her thoughts and memories of her once she left the harem. The more mystical aspects of the book were perfect, and I wasn’t anticipating the plot twists at the end of the first half of the book.
The writing style was absolutely beautiful, and the descriptions were magical, but some could have gone into a bit more detail, especially when setting the scene.
I’ve seen a few people comment on the instalove in this book, and honestly I just didn’t see it as the biggest issue here. Maya quite clearly does not trust Amar, even after she is given a reason to trust him more – and to be honest, the revelation at the end of part one is a pretty good reason. It’s also one I have seen happen in other books, and in some cases, it worked incredibly well.
Now, to the parts that made me knock down the rating a bit. I understand that, since this was inspired by Indian mythology and culture, the lack of gender equality was probably necessary, but I just didn’t like when Maya’s father commented that she would have been a great leader if she’d been born a boy, and she didn’t say anything. She didn’t even have any indignant thoughts towards him or his statement. Also, I can’t excuse Maya’s comment of “I’d rather spread ideas than legs” to one of the women in her Father’s harem. Yes, there was obviously animosity between the two of them that had already been shown earlier in the book, but I just think the slut shaming was very unnecessary.
As I mentioned before, the world building could have been, well, more built upon. I’m a very visual person so I struggle with books when they try to set the scene but don’t quite go far enough, and you can’t picture what the author is trying to describe. Some of the places in The Star-Touched Queen sounded like they’d be amazing, had they been described more thoroughly. I would also have liked to have found out more about Nritti – she seemed like a really interesting character but just wasn’t developed as much as she could have been, in my opinion!
I do think that, had a few parts been taken out of this book, and had it been a bit longer so that the descriptions could be more thorough, it could have had the potential to be five stars. I’m definitely excited to read what Roshani Chokshi writes next, as I have no doubt that it’ll be beautiful.

The Rose and the Dagger – Renée Ahdieh

“No. He was not here to wreak revenge. For revenge was trifling and hollow.
No. He was not here to retrieve his wife. For his wife was not a thing to be retrieved.
No. He was not here to negotiate a truce. For a truce suggested he wished to compromise.
He was here to burn something to the ground.”

*this review may contain spoilers from The Wrath and the Dawn, but not from The Rose and the Dagger*
The Rose and the Dagger, the highly anticipated sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn and final book in the series, opens with Kohrasan on the brink of war, and Shahrzad separated from Khalid and taken to the desert. Now, Shahrzad must uncover her powers, protect her family, save her country from its imminent war and find her way back to Khalid despite being held amongst people who want him dead – all whilst trying to discover a way to destroy his curse. 

The Rose and the Dagger was the most perfect ending to this duology! Although it maybe wasn’t as fast paced as The Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh wrapped up the story perfectly with this instalment in the series, and it ended on just the right note.
As with the previous book, the writing style was exquisite – the descriptions are beautiful and winding, and I could really picture each scene and setting that was being described. 
I think my favourite thing about this book was the development of characters and relationships that is seen throughout it. In The Wrath and the Dawn, we already saw Shazi as an amazingly strong and sassy protagonist, and I’m so glad that her character hadn’t changed in this book – if anything, she just gets even better. I also loved the insight into her relationship with her sister, Irsa, and the development of understanding between her and her father (I can almost guarantee that this part will make you cry, just a warning). 
Although this story is obviously primarily a love story, The Rose and the Dagger didn’t have to rely on forced or cheesy love scenes. Once again, Shazi and Khalid’s romance is perfect and natural and I genuinely can’t get enough of those two. There is also more magic in this book, which I was hoping we’d see more of! 
The last part of the book was just packed full of beautifully heartbreaking plot twists, and at some points I was quite literally on the edge of my seat/in tears/about to scream/cursing Renée Ahdieh for destroying my soul with her literature. I won’t say too much about the ending except that it was absolutely perfect. 

I have loved this duology so much, it literally doesn’t have a weak moment in my opinion and would definitely recommend it to anyone. I can’t wait to see what Renée Ahdieh comes out with next!