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Blog Tour: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (Author Interview)

I am super excited to be part of A Crown of Wishes Blog Tour. This is the second book of The Star-Touched Queen series which is like a companion novel to the first book, The Star-Touched Queen. Both books can be read as stand-alone, so no worries if you haven’t read the first one yet before reading A Crown of Wishes. Though I suggest pick up both, and experience Roshani Chokshi luscious writing and intricate world building.

Following the interview are some information about the author, Roshani Chokshi along with places where to find her online, A Crown of Wishes description, where to get copies of the book, and a short audio clip of an excerpt of A Crown of Wishes. So don’t forget to pre-order your copies now before the book hit shelves in few days.

Have fun reading the interview.

Interview with Roshani Choksi

1. I’m fascinated with the deep and dynamic fantasy settings of The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. What were some of the difficulties did you encounter in building such a complex world?

As with any worldbuilding, there’s always the danger of getting caught up in the mechanics and losing sight of the story. I think some of the best worldbuilding feels seamless because there’s so much heavylifting done in the sentence-level details. It also helps leave the world open for more nuances later. I think if I over-explained the TSTQ universe, Gauri’s story would’ve been a lot more difficult.

2. The witty banters between Vikram and Gauri is just adorable. Did you put a lot of thoughts into how to show their intensity, or did this unusual pair just pop straight from your head and flow along with the story?

They were intense right off the bat. In fact, it was hard to get them to stop fighting so we could actually get to the story…but I loved every second I got to spend with them.

3. And If Vikram and Gauri could both ask you one question each about why you wrote their story the way you did, what do you think would they most want to know?

a. I think Gauri would want to know why I put her through the wringer and whether or not I have a death wish.

b. I think Vikram would say “Fox prince? You couldn’t give me a cooler animal? Rude.”

4. If you will be part of the Tournament of Wishes and you can choose your partner either real or fictional character, who will you pick to join you in Alaka? And what will you wish if ever you win the game?

I would wish for no need of wishes, with the condition that I’m not killed or incapacitated. And as for partner, I would choose Agnieska from UPROOTED because she’s powerful, hilarious and would probably not mind taking frequent snack breaks…

5. You clearly do a great deal of research in order to write this Indian-inflected fantasy world of Star-Touched Queen series. I adored every detail of myth and magics with your lush and intricate world building. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve typed into search engine while you’re doing your research? Or share any memorable or interesting thing you’ve discover while writing your books.

Well…The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes have a lot of flesh-eating beings. And so at one point I had to imagine a conversation between a man-eating raksha and Gauri, and so I ended up researching what, exactly, would be considered the most edible and yummy part of a human. (spoiler: parts around the spine)

Thanks so much Roshani for answering all my questions above and for creating the Star-Touched world. I’m looking forward for more books from you in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

Find Roshani

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover, paperback, Ebook, Audio

Roshani Chokshi proved herself an author to watch with her young adult fantasy debut last spring, The Star-Touched Queen. Debuting at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list, the novel received rave reviews from fans and critics alike and appeared on the most buzzed about lists of 2016. Chokshi once again writes a beautifully crafted story of adventure, love, and magic set in the Star-Touched world with her sophomore novel A CROWN OF WISHES (St. Martin’s Griffin; 3/28/17). Building on her intricate setting based on ancient India and Greek mythology, her follow-up is a novel spun from enchantment with a strong female heroine and a swoony worthy prince who team up to win back the thrones of their kingdoms.

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of aneighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. Every which way they turn new trials will test their witand strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Early reviews have all agreed that Chokshi has improved on her exquisite writing and lush narrative in her sophomore novel. With an ending that will make even the most cynical New Yorker heart believe in true love, A CROWN OF WISHES takes Chokshi’s talent to all new heights.

Book Links:

Amazon | B&NBook Depository | Goodreads

Listen to an excerpt of A CROWN OF WISHES audiobook, read by Priya Ayyar from MacmillanAudio

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Dear Charlie by N. D. Gomes

dear-charlie

“You have no idea what I’m feeling. No one does. but everyone tries to guess.”

Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.

At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed.

Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Personal Thoughts:

Dear Charlie is a powerful contemporary novel that deals with the aftermath of school shooting that is told from a different but very important perspective.

Set in England in 1996, Sam is struggling with the death of his brother Charlie. Charlie who died in a shooting incident. When his family found out about the said incident, they thought Charlie is one of the shooter’s victim. Very quickly they realized that Charlie is in fact the one who do the shooting and had killed fourteen people before taking his own life. Sam lost his brother but people only see how his brother took lives. With Charlie dead, people blame Sam and his entire family. Media go frenzy with the news, even camping outside their house trying to get their side of the story but only depicting Charlie as the bad guy. Sam unfortunately suffers with this, he was bullied and unwanted, as if he will do what his brother did. Sam want to understand Charlie, he wants to know the reason why Charlie did it but Charlie is long way gone. Is Charlie the devil that other see him or he is just the quiet but happy and normal teenager that Sam always knew?

Reading Sam’s struggles is just heart breaking. Everything feels real to me. All his confusions, desperation, hatred, and guilt are easily believable and sometimes feels like my own. It broke my heart every time he feels lost, lonely, angry or defeated. Because he doesn’t deserve all those things. He is a good guy who unfortunately related to the guy who killed fourteen people and took a perfect escape. Sam is not his brother and he didn’t do a single thing to make that awful thing happen. He is completely innocent and yet he suffers like the other victims of the tragic event, and worst no one noticed his sufferings.

Like Sam, I wish to know why Charlie do it. And like Sam, it will remain a mystery to me and to readers what Charlie’s thoughts and feelings. No one will know his reasons or what triggered him to kill and end his own life. Because Dear Charlie isn’t about Charlie, instead it is about those people that Charlie left behind. People who unfortunately blamed by others because the one they should be blaming is already long gone.

Overall, Dear Charlie is an incredibly moving, heartfelt and thought-provoking novel. N.D. Gomez successfully shows how a family suffers, grieves and try to cope up after a traumatic event. Kudos to her for writing a sensitive and tragic topic in a perspective of someone who is directly affected but never truly considered.

*  This review is based on advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher,  HQ, an imprint of Harper Collins UK.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author-n-d-gomesN.D. Gomes was born in Scotland and graduated from the University of Stirling with a BA in Media & Journalism Studies, and went on to receive her Master’s degree in Education in the US. She currently works in a public school system to increase educational opportunities for students with special needs. Previously, N.D. Gomes wrote for the London-based online student political magazine, deAlign and stage-managed student plays at the LeeStrasberg Theatre Institute in New York City where she attended for two years. She currently divides her time between the US and Scotland, but hopes to spend more time at her cottage in Hay-on-Wye in Wales. Dear Charlie is her debut novel.

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Something In Between by Melissa Dela Cruz

something-in-between

“The Law – as it is now anyway—may prevent you from doing certain things you want to do. But don’t ever let an accident of birth keep you from what you want to do with your life.”

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz (The Isle of the Lost, Return to the Isle of the Lost) comes the launch title of Seventeen Fiction from Harlequin Teen, Something in Between. Don’t miss this timely and powerful novel that Seventeen Magazine editor-in-chief Michelle Tan says “has everything—a strong heroine, important issues and a really cute crush. I’m obsessed—and you will be too,” and Rachel Cohn, the NYT bestselling co-author of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, calls “a great read!”

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportationFor the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book DepositoryGoodreads | iBooks | Kobo | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Something in Between is not a typical ya contemporary novel. It’s a realistic story that offers a different side of life of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Unlike with other fiction novels I have read with immigrants themes, Something in Between doesn’t focus on a person’s transformations or the struggle of balancing their previous life from their country of origin to the country they are currently staying. Jasmine’s parents may have that storyline but Something in Between does not focus on that one, instead it centered to Jasmine’s American dream. And since Jasmine is more rooted in America even she isn’t actually born in America, there’s no transition that really happens, it’s more on her struggle to get accepted by the country she love. By doing this, Melissa de la Cruz successfully deliver a different look on immigrant’s life. By focusing on Jasmine’s story instead of her parents, she open a different perfective of immigrants issue and struggle to readers. Jasmine battle is not common but it is something we can all learn from whether we are an immigrant like her or not.

Also, one important part of the novel are the political issues involve. For me, reading those laws/bills, legal issues and politics presented in this book is a learning experience. I have learn so much about legal process of United State’s for immigrants by just following Jasmine’s story. It’s not heavy political at all but something new for a non-American citizen like me.

Then we also have Royce’s story – the rich gorgeous guy who are born in privileges. His part actually offers an interesting view as opposed to Jasmine’s life. While Jasmine work hard for everything she has, Royce get everything without even trying. But still Royce’s life isn’t as simple as it seems. His inner struggle actually offers some of the most thought provoking line in this book.

“Privilege is like having blinders. It’s hard to feel unloved or unwanted because everyone wants your money, so you get the attention…when everything is handed to you, there’s no room to write your own story because a story centered on accumulating things, all these things you own, instead of the struggle to live, or the struggle to survive, or the struggle to stay in America, which is a far more interesting story than mine.”

“When you’re privileged, your life becomes a collection of things. Nothing’s real. Not people, not their feelings.”

Melissa de la Cruz successfully presents the struggles of immigrants in a light but realistic way in this book. And being a Filipino herself, it feels like there is an authenticity in her story even if she says that this book is not about her own experience at all. Jasmine’s life and struggles ring so very true to me while reading. It feels like I know Jasmine personally and I want her to win her battle.

Overall, Something in Between is not just an interesting read, but also an important and thought provoking one. It’s about immigrants, American dreams, racial politics, and much more. There’s even a romance on the side if you are the type who look for those but more than that this piece of literature is an eye opening story that delivers a hopeful message in the end.

*  This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher,  HQ, an imprint of Harper Collins UK via NetGalley.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author-melissa-de-la-cruzMelissa de la Cruz is the author of many best-selling novels, including the Blue Bloods series; the Au Pairs series; the Ashleys series; and Angels on Sunset Boulevard. She is also a frequent contributor to Glamour, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, and is hard at work on her next book.

Find Melissa

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Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Celebrating Debutantes 2016 Second Wave

Happy Monday everyone!

I’m so thrilled welcome author Molly Booth on the blog today! She is nice enough to answer few questions for me about her upcoming debut contemporary novel, Saving Hamlet. This quirky and fun time travel novel will send readers to Shakespeare’s era with an endearing lead character, Emma Allen.

To learn more about Saving Hamlet and the author, Molly Booth scroll down after the interview. And don’t forget to check the giveaway at the bottom for a chance to win an advance readers copy of the book.

Enjoy reading the interview.

Interview with Molly Booth

Can you tell us a bit about your journey with Saving Hamlet? When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?

Saving Hamlet started when I was at Marlboro College, taking a fiction workshop along with a class on Shakespeare. I’d been writing romantic, new-adult kind of fiction, and I’d realized I really wanted to try writing YA. Right around that time, my professor introduced me to the history of Shakespeare’s theatres, and suddenly, I knew what I wanted to write about: Shakespeare and time travel! Saving Hamlet was supposed to be a short story, then became a novella, and when that got too long, I had to embrace that I was writing a full length novel. I wrote Saving Hamlet’s first scene fall 2012, my agent, Alex Slater of Trident Media Group, took me on fall 2014, and we made the deal with my editor Kieran Viola and Disney Hyperion spring 2015. So I’ve been hanging out with Emma (my main character) for about four years now!

You have background in managing community theaters. Do you think your experience from that form or affected your writing?

Absolutely! I worked in community theatres in high school and college, stage managing pretty much everything — from kids theatre, to full scale musicals, to smaller black box plays. Early in high school I used to perform, but the technical side of theatre pulled me in. I wanted to help orchestrate the theatre magic. Plus, I had a loud voice and liked being in charge xD. When I went to write about a teenage theatre kid, I didn’t think twice: I wanted Emma to be a techie. I got to draw on my own experiences a lot, and revisit some hilarious theatre incidents of my past. It made me fall in love with being part of theatre all over again.

If Emma could ask you one question about why you wrote her story the way you did, what would she most want to know?

What a great question! I think Emma would have a lot to say to me. After we talked about Shakespeare for a few hours, I think she’d ask me about why I chose her as the character who time travels. Then she’d probably ask me about Lulu. And after that, she might ask about her first kiss too.

If you could be a character in a Shakespeare play, who would you be and why?

I haven’t acted in ages, but if we’re delving into fantasy life… I’d love to play Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. I totally relate to her brash outside and insecure inside, and her devotion to her family. (My love of Beatrice is a huge driving force in writing my next book, Nothing Happened.) Also I want to play Hamlet. Also Viola. Also Cleopatra. Also Tybalt.

If you could jump back in time and experience one significant event (real or fictional), which one would you choose to be a part of?

One! So hard! I’d probably want to see Antony and Cleopatra at the Globe. I wrote my undergrad thesis on that play, and I’m hardcore yearning to know what that show looked like back then.

Can you share some details about your next book, Nothing Happened. What we should expect from you after the release of Saving Hamlet?

Totally! I’m so excited about my next book. Nothing Happened comes out from Disney Hyperion spring 2018. It’s a YA retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, set at summer camp. There are more twists on the original story, but I can’t share too much yet! I’m having a blast translating these Shakespeare characters into teenagers and writing back stories for them. So after Saving Hamlet, you can expect more Shakespeare!! 😀

Thank you so much Molly for taking time to answer all my questions above. I am really looking forward for the release of Saving Hamlet in November.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author-molly-booth Molly Booth is a freelance writer and debut YA author of SAVING HAMLET, coming from Disney Hyperion 11/1/16. Her second book, Nothing Happened, is coming spring 2018. She holds a BA in writing and literature from Marlboro College, and now writes books about Shakespeare and feelings. She lives in Massachusetts and has almost too many pets. Almost.

Find Molly

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ABOUT THE BOOK

saving-hamletBook Details:

Title: Saving Hamlet
Author: Molly Booth
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover

Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she’s rocking a new haircut that’s sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma’s promoted to stage manager with zero experience, her best friend Lulu stops talking to her, and Josh–the adorable soccer boy who’s cast as the lead–turns out to be a disaster. It’s up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life’s latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage’s trap door . . . landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It’s London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma’s a boy–even Will Shakespeare himself. With no clue how to get home, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant to the original production of Hamlet, learning a thing or two about the theater, and meeting an incredibly hot actor named Alex who finds Emma as intriguing as she finds him. But once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. Which boy is the one for her? In which reality does she belong? Will Lulu ever forgive her? And can she possibly save two disastrous productions of Hamlet before time runs out?

Book Links:

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | IndieBound

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • ARC of Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth

The Rules:

  • Open US/CA residents only
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends October 17th, 2016
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each second wave feature post!

CD2016 Second Wave Collage
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The Deviants by C.J. Skuse

the-deviants

“As kids, we saw the magic there. We saw magic in everything. Something about growing up kicks that out of you without realizing it’s happening. ”

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves.

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

Book Links: Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads

Personal Thoughts:

The Deviants grab me by the throat.

Just few chapters in reading C.J. Skuse’s latest novel, The Deviants I already know that I am going to like the book and that I am in for a special read. Right from the start, Ella’s story full me in with her intriguing voice. Add the atmospheric setting, and diverse cast of characters I can’t really find myself stopping even I am in need of a sleep. I almost felt bad for starting the book before bed, but then why care about sleep when I have a really good book in my hand.

In The Deviants, C.J. Skuse skillfully told a thrilling mystery which makes me wonder why I haven’t read any of her works before? If she is this good then I need to read all her previous works. Not only she produced a well plotted story in this one, but also written a beautiful and dark novel.

“…he gave me a look as if I’d given him a bunch of barbed wire to cuddle.”

At first, readers will get caught in the web of teenage drama between Ella and her boyfriend, Max. It’s a straight forward setup that can easily feel like you are reading a typical contemporary novel. But I warn you, don’t get too comfortable, because The Deviants is anything but typical. Ella and Max’s story is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s more in this book than just teenage drama or romance. I think, Skuse purposely put Ella and Max’s story in the front row, while skillfully boiling the dark parts behind the curtain. Though readers will get the feel of something is happening at the back, no one will really know what it is. Maybe you’ll guess some of it but I’m sure not all of what Skuse is planning in the end.

One of the many things that caught my attention while reading this riveting and thrilling book are the questions at the end of each chapters. It makes me wonder who is asking the questions? Because clearly Ella is talking to someone. She is telling her story not only to the readers but also to a specific person/character in the story. I have few guesses but in the end when it was revealed I am not only surprise but also at awe. It’s not totally unexpected but I think readers won’t guess it easily. It’s a brilliant surprise from the author.

Those questions at the end of each chapters also add tensions to the plot. Each of them prompt Ella not only to narrate more of her story but also makes me to read more. They are like my own questions for Ella and I am eagerly waiting for her answers which makes the book hard to put down.

Overall, The Deviants is a wonderful mystery novel that will keep readers on edge. It is brilliantly written story with a well-structured plot, atmospheric settings, diverse characters, and thrilling momentum of mystery. Readers will surely constantly asking or figuring what really is going on. And after everything is reveal and the last page is tucked close, the story will surely linger.

* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HQ, an imprint of Harper Collins UK.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author-cj-skuseC.J. Skuse was born in 1980 in Westonsuper- Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels, works as a freelance children’s fiction consultant and lectures in Writing for Children at Bath Spa University. C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and murder sites. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir


images.jpg“You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: fond the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N | Goodreads | Local Book Store

Personal Thoughts:

A Torch Against the Night explore an expanded universe of An Ember in the Ashes. Right after Elias and Laia’s escaped Blackliff, the two are on the run for their lives and to a mission of rescuing Laia’s brother Darin from Kauf, the most secured Prison of Serra. While Helene now a new Blood Shrike has a task of finding and killing Elias.

Sabaa Tahir did a wonderful job in this second installment. It is better than the first book, which really says something. In this installment, readers will be treated with lots of actions, constant dangers, tricky alliances, and bunch of characters that are all well-developed.

Let start with Elias. Elias truly rise in this installment. Sabaa Tahir did a great job of breaking and remaking Elias character. It’s a hell of a journey but surely worth every ounce of aches. The way he makes Elias vulnerable is well done. By removing Elias’ strength she add a huge tension and danger to the plot. Making this sequel edgy and a thrilling read.

Elias is still self-sacrificing and loving but without his mask, and with his condition, and with the additional presence of his adoptive family, Elias shered some emotions and feelings that will surely affect readers. Hearts will race, ache, and warm for Elias in this installment.

Helene Aquila is another character that undergo a huge development in this book. Just like Elias Helene was broken and remade in this installment. The thing she went through in the end just to fulfill some prophecy of sort is really heartbreaking. I can’t imagine myself in her shoes. I don’t thing I can find any strength after all the things she went through. She’s a true warrior who will do anything for the sake of the Empire.

As for Laia, her quest to free her brother, Darin bring some experience and realization, as well as open hidden power of her. As she tries her best to save the only family she has, Laia become a symbol of hope to other scholar like her.

The villains – The Commander, Marcus, and The Warden are all menacing in their own ways. They are ruthless, cunning and manipulative. They will do anything to gain power or simply get what they want.

Besides with the characters, Sabaa Tahir also managed to gradually develop the world of this series. As Laia and Elias leave Blackcliff to get to Kauf and free Darin, readers will get the chance to meet other scholars and tribes, and see their relationship to the Empire. All the politics, scheming, and plans of different sides are laid out one by one as the story progresses. From the internal power struggle of the Empire with Marcus as the Emperor, Helene as the Blood Shrike, The Commandant, all the gents and scholars. It’s a mess of alliances. No one knows who to trust, everyone’s has their own motivations, loyalties are questionable.

The fantasy aspects of the story also didn’t disappoint. It offers some twist and turns I didn’t see coming. Too bad I can’t discuss them here without touching spoilers.

With non-stop dangers, enough twist and turns, and brilliant characters developments, A Torch Againts the Night is a solid sequel. Sabaa Tahir perfectly crafted a very engaging, dark, and riveting fantasy in this new installment of An Ember in the Ashes series. Will definitely go back to this fantasy world both in the next installments and through rereading.

* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Penguin Random House International.


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