Books · REVIEWS

Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack

“Confusion leads to knowledge for those brave enough to seek it.”

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Roar is the first installment of a YA fantasy Stormheart series that introduced magical storms and a princess without magic but will travel a great length to keep her kingdom and prove that she can control her own life even her future is already decided for her.

Aurora Pavan is the heir to the throne, groomed by her mother to be the perfect Queen. She came from a long line of Stormling rulers who has the power to dispels storms with the help of stones or gems called stormhearts. At the age of eighteen Aurora’s magic does not manifest yet. She has no power to control any storms even rumors tells otherwise. Without magic to protect her people, Aurora will lose her Kingdom, so her Mother try to form an alliance to other Stormling rulers by marrying Aurora to stormling Prince, Cassius. But Cassius has his own reason for agreeing with the marriage and it doesn’t have to do with alliance. When Aurora discover a black market and meet storm hunters she realized that marriage is not the only choice to claim the throne and retain her Kingdom.

“All things were unfamiliar once upon a time. If we all gave up when there were no answers to be found, there would not be hunters like us. Sometimes you must make answers when there are none.”

What I really like about this novel is the magical concepts that Cora Carmack introduced – magical storms with hearts and practically alive, souls reincarnated as storms after death, and Storm hunters who fight storms with or without magic. These things are fresh concepts for me. I haven’t read anything like these before, which makes the book interesting and intriguing at the very least.

Aurora as the main character started as insecure girl without a power to protect her Kingdom. I admit, she’s not the best heroine out there, she annoyed me sometimes with her decisions and her temper got on my nerves that sometimes I feel like my patience is draining really fast. But throughout the course of the story, I found some growth in her, not just with her physical strength and magical power but most importantly as a person. I hope to see more development on her in the next installment because I don’t think she really hit her full potential here. Not yet, but definitely still growing.

The other characters are a mixed cast of stereotypical characters. There is an antihero in Cassius, likable hero in Locke, and intriguing and loyal friends in Nova and Jinx. Though they are a bit common and predictable for me, I still find them equally intriguing just like Aurora.

And since Cora Carmack is first known for her romance novels, it is expected to have some romance thrown in the story. Aurora and Locke relationships started in an instant connection, which normally I don’t like in my readings. In here, it’s not that I don’t like it but more like I don’t mind it, which is worse. Because it means, I don’t care enough about the characters. Though I enjoy the banters between Aurora and Locke, they don’t make me swoon or root for them as a couple.

That one quibble aside, Roar is still an enjoyable fresh read. Cora Carmack introduced a unique magical concepts in this first installment of her fantasy series, Stormheart. With enough intrigue and suspense especially about the magical storms, readers will surely find themselves immerse in Aurora’s world.

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* This review is based on an advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the publisher, MacMillan International in exchange of honest opinion about the book.

 

Books · REVIEWS

Lucky in Love by Kasie West

“Sometimes regardless of what we want, reality takes over. “

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Lucky in Love is a about a girl who won a lottery jackpot and the changes that money brought to her life.

Maddie is living a normal and simple life. At school she is one of the smart kid flying under the radar. She works hard to get good grades so she can get scholarship for collage. On the night of her 18th birthday when her best-friends ditch out on her, she ended up buying a lottery ticket after a convenience-store clerk convince her to do so. She can’t believe how much the universe is paying her back when few days after she found out that she won fifty million dollars. Suddenly her life change. She’s an instant celebrity. People in school wants to be friends with her. Relatives she never knew get in touch. She’s buying sports car, pricey clothings, and hanging out with the popular kids. Almost everything and everyone around her change except for one, Seth, her co-worker at the zoo, who seems oblivious about her winning, and treated her just the same old Maddie.

Lottery winner stories in fiction or in real life has its own appeal. How someone beat the odds, and how regular people from all walks of life, find their lives suddenly transformed by vast wealth can easily provide important lessons and examples for readers. And Kasie West’s latest novel, Lucky in Love manage to furnish the same.

Through Maddie, readers of Lucky in Love will see how instant wealth easily brings changes to a person and to the people around her. The changes that happened to Maddie after winning, shows how money influenced people’s life – from the way she view the world around her, and the way other view her. After winning a huge amount of money, Maddie thought that she doesn’t have to worry anymore about collage, or her family. But turns out even with so much money, she cannot guarantee her slot to collage, or her family being happy. There are issues that money alone cannot solve.

Maddie’s as an instant millionaire is quite believable. Though I don’t agree with most of her decisions especially with how she’s spending her money, I still find those parts realistic. After all, Maddie is a teenager who knows nothing about finances and investments.

As expected from Kasie West’s novel, Lucky in Love does not lack in terms of romance department. Seth, Maddie’s co-worker at the zoo will surely be love by readers. But what I really like about Seth presence in the story is the diversity he adds to the plot. Being an Asian guy who lives in America, Seth shows some issues of a non-American people is experiencing.

Overall, Lucky in Love is a quick, light and enjoyable read. Maddie’s story shows how instant wealth can easily change a person and the people around her, and that money is not always the answer to problems, it can solve some but it can also create new ones.

* This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.

Books · REVIEWS

Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

“…spelling matters.”

Once upon a time, a girl skipped into the forest and became a zombie.

Wait, no, that’s not how this story is supposed to go. Let’s try again.

Once upon a time, a boy did a horrible job as a sheep-sitter and burned his tongue on stolen pie.

No, children in these stories are always good and virtuous. From the top.

Once upon a time, a king and queen tried to find a princess for their son to marry, and he wound up fleeing from a group of very hairy vampires.

Hmmm…

What about, once upon a time, a bunch of fairy tales got twisted around to be completely hilarious, a tiny bit icky, and delightfully spooky scarytales… in other words, exactly what fairy tales were meant to be. Grab some flaming torches, maybe don’t accept that bowl of pease porridge, and get ready for a wickedly fun ride with acclaimed author Kiersten White and fairy tales like you’ve never heard them before.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales is a twisted fairy tale collection for kids. It’s scary, fun, creative and delightful.

Having read the first two books of Kiersten White’s The Conqueror’s Saga, I am eager to try her other works. So when I get the chance to read this latest novel, Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales, I just couldn’t pass that chance. Add the fact that the book promise a delightful read with all the fantasy and retelling, I just have to read the book.

In Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales, Kiersten White not only turn the familiar fairy tale characters to their twisted version, but also managed to make their story surprisingly dark and fun at the same time. In here, will get Kiersten White’s fun side with her twisted sense of humor. Though I have to admit, as much as I enjoy this one, I have few reservations, especially considering the book is for kids. So fair warning, the book is bit spooky and there is one off-putting scene, especially if you have a vivid imagination like me.

The familiar characters we all love such as Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and others get a new, twisted and frightening look. Snow White is a vampire, Red Riding Hood is a zombie, Goldilocks is a thug, and Cinderella and Prince Charring are pyromaniacs. There are also twisted version of kids rhymes in each chapters, and sketches made by Karl Kwasny that adds creativity as well as balance to the creepy story.

Overall, Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales is a gorgeously looking, delightful, fun and spooky middle-grade fiction. Kiersten White not only manage to make the classic fairytales new but also bring the familiar characters into a different light. With horror, humor, fantasy, Middle-grade readers will surely enjoy this one. A perfect gift for kids during Holloween season.

* This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.

Books · REVIEWS

Now I Rise (The Conqueror’s Saga #2) by Kiersten White

“Sometimes the only way forward is to destroy everything that came before.”

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Now I Rise is a dark, rich, action-packed and trilling sequel to this historical fantasy series that re-imagines the life of Vlad the Impaler on the shoes of a young vicious girl, Lada Dracul.

Alternating between Lada and her brother Radu’s point of view, the story continues where Lada journey back to Wallachia in an attempt to reclaim her throne. While Radu stays with Mehmed trying to help the Ottoman Empire win a battle against the Byzantine Empire to retake Constantinople. Lada needs Radu’s assistance and interpersonal skills, but Radu is busy helping Mehmed with the hope that Mehmed finally see him the way he want to be seen. Unfortunately for Radu, Mehmed has his eyes on one thing only, and that is Constantinople. Mehmed will do anything to get his dream city, even if it means sacrificing those close to him.

Kiersten White manage to breathes life into this particular period of history by creating a believable characters and realistic atmosphere for them to dance around. Not only she gives readers a general outline of the political affairs at the time, but also the unsaid thoughts and issues of leaders at that time. Even if those are not the real deal, they still carry weight and feel like real. Kiersten White successfully blends her characters’ story line to the real history where they are based from.

To those who are not familiar with the Fall of Constantinople or about Vlad the Impaler and other rulers at his time, this book is an educational treat while also entertaining and thought provoking. Even if it is technically fiction, the story still follows events of actual history. Kiersten White clearly did her research well.

The topics of equality, faith and religions, politics and war are just few of the things that makes this series a must read. Through her characters, Kiersten White easily scatters great points, ideas and truths that will surely make readers think and question things and even themselves.

Radu’s point of view alone will give readers the chance to see the different sides of war. His internal struggles about alliances, equality, sacrifices, faith and religions, winning and losing will surely leave readers thoughts to ponder and questions to rise. There are intricacies in his thoughts and depth in his opinions that is not only for fiction but also applicable to real life. Clearly, Radu is one complex character.

“He would die on the wall tonight, between his brothers and his enemies, because he could no longer distinguish between the two. They had finally come to the end. Whichever side won, neither would triumph.”

As for Lada, she took a back seat in this installment compare to Radu. Though she still strong and fearsome, her character arc basically stay the same. Lada like Mehmed is a power-driven person. She and Mehmed will do anything and sacrifice everything or even anyone to get what they want. They are dangerous, vicious and even selfish. They both live for their dreams and ambitions. One is Constantinople, the other one is Wallachia. As leaders they can be great but they can also easily bring destructions.

“They love themselves and their ambition above all else. They love what feeds their ambition, and when it stops feeding that, the love will turn to hate with more passion than either could ever love with.”

With violence, murder, betrayal, and heartbreak Now I Rise is sharp-edged, intense, thought provoking, and deliciously vicious sequel to And I Darken. I am really excited to find out how Kiersten will end this series in the next and final installment.

* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Book Tours · Books · Giveaways · Interviews · REVIEWS

Blog Tour: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista (Character Interview + Review)

Welcome to my stop on Karmic Hearts Blog Tour! I have read the book few weeks ago and I had fun meeting Karmina (Mina) and Cupid, so imagine my delight when I discover that I got the chance to interview one of them. I originally wanted to interview Cupid but then I realized that that would be very spoiler-y. Good thing Mina agreed to answers my questions. So if you’d like to know more about her, be sure to check out her answers to my questions below.

Following the interview is my review for the novel, Karmic Hearts.

Also don’t forget check out the tour schedule at the end to read more reviews, Q&As, guest posts, and other fun posts.

Enjoy reading the interview!

Character Interview with Karmina Joan of Karmic Hearts

To start things off, can you please introduce yourself so everyone will know more about you?
Hello! I’m Karmina Joan. I wrote The Fall of Icarus before I got into an accident and Remembering Cupid after I woke up from the coma. And yes, Remembering Cupid was based on the dream that I had when I was in a coma.

What led you into writing? Was it a lifelong ambition, or the result of some type of turning point in your life? And why write about angels?
I’ve loved reading since I was a little kid. I used to read a lot, from novels, poems, and short stories to product brands, flyers, and advertisements. Publishing a book is one of my many lifelong ambitions. I’ve always wanted to write my own story and hold my own book, something that I’ve now achieved.
I’ve always been fascinated with angels. And when I began watching Supernatural, that fascination intensified. So I decided to write a story about them. But since my niche is romance, I incorporated romance.

Let’s say you meet Cupid today. What are the things you want to tell or ask him?
I’ll probably ask him to enumerate the reasons why he fell for me. He said so, in my dream. I don’t think I’m that special to make the angel of love himself defy the laws of heaven to be with me.

If Cupid could ask you one question about why you wrote his story the way you did, what would he want to know the most?
He’ll probably ask if the ending would be the same, the sad ending… if he didn’t insist that I change it!

What is one thing that surprised you the most about Cupid?
His naivety. He knows a lot but he still has so much more to learn. And he’s also very stubborn! I thought angels were supposed to be obedient. Apparently, he’s the exception.

If we could snoop in your room, what books would we find on your shelf besides The Fall of Icarus and Remembering Cupid?
I’m not a big fan of romance paperbacks. I like reading them online. But because I already write about romance, umay na ako sa romance. So you’ll probably find mystery/thriller and fantasy books on my bookshelf.

Are you working on any projects right now? What can we expect from you in the near future? Any other angel stories in the works?
Aside from writing articles for our company’s blogs, my boss also asked me for a personal favor. His girlfriend, who happens to be my fan, has a cousin (also my fan) who looks a lot like Cupid, but the total opposite. My boss wants me to set him up with someone, in exchange for letting me have my own page on our site. Should be easy, right? The problem is that Eros is really, really, really shy. So yeah, he’s my current project.
As for writing stories, I’m trying. But I don’t have anything solid yet. And I don’t think I’m ready to start another angel story. Need to get over Cupid first. Haha!

Personal Thoughts:

Karmic Hearts is a light-hearted, and heartwarming story about a girl who had an encounter with the Angel of Love.

Karmina Joan is a writer. She loves writing stories about love, destiny, and fate. She believes that everyone has a purpose in life, and she thought sharing her stories is her higher call. Little did she know that she has a different part to play. When the Angel of Love Cupid suddenly enters her life, she found herself playing matchmaker. She has one year to match six pairs of soulmates and fill a jar of love. Can she finished her task before the deadline?

“I figure I could use some of it in my story. It was the kind of thing that I could only imagine when I was younger. Some of my theories were downright ridiculous so I didn’t really believed in them. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t write about them to make someone else believe.”

Jhing Bautista adds in just right amounts of myths, theories, and fantasy to make Karmic Hearts interesting. She added few refreshing concepts like the love strings and mixed them with old onces – fate, destiny, soul-mates and more. There are some interesting thoughts too about love, life, and destiny which mostly from Cupid’s point of view.

“If everything is unfair in this world, then doesn’t that make it fair?”

Cupid as a character is so much fun to read. I like his sense of humor and insightful comments. Not only he is charming and witty but also smart. Though there are times that I don’t agree with his decisions, I still think that he stays true to his character, after all playing the Angel of Love means overly romantic to the fault.

The only mild complaint is the predictability of the plot. Though I haven’t read many stories with Cupid as one of the main characters, I still easily figure the twist and turns of the story. I’m only few chapters in when I guess the big twist in the end, and few more chapters about Karmina’s role in Cupid’s life. Maybe, having read too many fictions and fantasy stories makes this one easily predictable for me, but nevertheless an enjoyable read.

Overall, Karmic Hearts is a light read that is perfect for those who love cute romance. It is delightful, romantic and heartwarming. Something every romance lovers will surely enjoy reading.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Karmic Hearts
Author: Jhing Bautista
Publisher: Summit Books, Pop Fiction
Publication Date: May 09, 2017
Pages: 241
Format: Mass Market Paperback

Love. Magic. Fate. Best-selling romance novel author Karmina Joan writes about them all. She believes that every person has a purpose, that every soul has a destiny to fulfill. She thought hers was simply sharing her stories.

Her story unfolds with Cupid, the Angel of Love himself. He brings with him a mysterious vessel and a message from on high. It turns out Karmina has a bigger purpose after all–a mission that will make or break humanity as we know it.

As Cupid teaches her the tricks of his trade, Karmina unknowingly gives him something unexpected in return–something that angel of love will find oddly familiar. This may become the one flaw in an otherwise perfect plan that destiny has in store for them.

Does love truly conquer all or are there limits to what humanity can do in the name of love? Witness as Karmina struggles to find the answer before time runs out on true love.

Book Links: Goodreads | WattPad

Follow the rest of the tour!

Update July 1st, 2017

Just drawn the winner for the giveaway. Congrats cainwrites! You won a copy of Karmic Hearts. I will be contacting you momentarily to get your details so I can send you your prize. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will be forced to choose another winner. Thank you to everyone who has entered.

Books · REVIEWS

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

“Do you ever feel so trapped you can hardly breathe?”

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Bad Romance is a dark, unflinching, raw and realistic story about abusive relationship and the effects it leaves to the people involve.

Grace a junior high school is living a crazy life with her OCD Mom and maybe equally crazy and strict step father. Life at home for her is pretty hard. So when rock star senior, charming, talented Gavin Davis enter her life with his shining armor, she cannot help but fall in love hard and fast. Soon she found herself in a toxic relationship with a controlling and dangerous Gavin.

“You’re a maze, all high hedges and endless loops. I can’t find a way out, can’t see where I’ve been. It’s all running, lost in the dark of you. Trapped. Everywhere I turn is dead end. I keep winding up back where I’ve started.”

The story is pretty straight forward, no puzzle to solve or ending to anticipate. This is not that kind of story, instead of the ending this is all about the journey — a tough and dark journey for the characters and for readers.

Bad Romance is written in first-person narrative but instead of directing to readers the main character Grace is addressing the story to another character, her boyfriend then Gavin. It’s like a letter or diary, where Grace is explaining to Gavin through the readers how their story end the way it ended. Right from the start readers will know that Grace and Gavin’s relationship not ended well. So basically no surprises in that. We all know they don’t have a happily ever after. The only thing to discover is why and how they reached that end? And that discovery will trigger a lot of emotions to readers. Grace narration will hit the core, even if you are not in a situation like her. Reading her story feels like reading a diary of a friend, sometimes you feel helpless wanting to do something for her but can’t. That even everything happened in the past and that you can only wish that you were there for her, you still hope there is something you can do for Grace. Or wish that you were there if only to smack Grace on the head, to make her realize and see things.

Unlike with some books that I have read, Bad Romance does not romanticize abusive relationship and for that I applaud the author Heather Demetrios. This is a tough read for me, not because I can relate but because the characters feels like fully realized people and the situations are realistically painful and intense. Not only you will wish there is something you can do for Grace but also you will want to really put an end to her suffering, to finally get herself out in a cage she’s in.

Demetrios tackles heavy issues of abuse, suicide, poverty, self-doubt, and mental health, which all in all could have made this an “issue” book, but instead become a unravelling story of someone’s finding courage – courage to let go, to fight for freedom, and most importantly to love her own self. Grace and Gavin’s story let readers see and experience the brutal and dark but sensitive, honest, and realistic story of a toxic and unhealthy relationship without being in one. I really hope no one will find themselves in a situation like Grace, or if you are one, I hope this book make you realize that you have the power and the choice, even if you are feeling trapped and caged. Life is what you make it.

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* This review is based on an advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the publisher Henry Holt and Company, an imprint of MacMillan International in exchange of honest opinion about the book.

Books · REVIEWS

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson

“Duty is an unforgiving taskmaster and often comes with a steep price, especially for those left behind.”

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Dark Breaks The Dawn is an extremely enthralling, captivating, and engrossing read. An interesting combination of fantasy and swan lake story that offers a fresh take on magic and a lot more.

Evelayn, the crown princess of Éadrolan (the Light Kingdom) is still learning to harness her power, while her mother, Queen Ilaria is in the middle of the battle with King Bain of the rival kingdom Dorjhalon (the Dark Kingdom). These two kingdoms are at war for years because King Bain wants the power of both Light and Dark and to rule both Kingdoms. As he tries to acquire both light and dark powers, Evelayn found herself ruling Éadrolan. She needs to learn fast to control and use her powers before King Bain destroys the balance of their world.

“The queen must always appear calm, unruffled. Your subjects will look to you; your actions will determine theirs.”

Sara B. Larson’s did a fantastic job at weaving all the fantasy aspects to the classic swan lake story. Giving readers a world of magic with its own rules and functions, and a thrilling story to follow. It is pretty interesting how the two warring Kingdoms has different source of power, and how their rulers with their jewels are being conduit for magic. Then there’s also the political war, the quest for peace, and Evelayn’s own struggle to learn to harness her power and be the ruler she needs to be.

Evelayn is a strong heroine. She is young yet the strength she showed after the circumstance brought upon her is just remarkable. Even during the times of grief, she still think of her people. Her struggles and pains doesn’t hindrance her to be the ruler she needs to be, instead she uses those challenges to bring out all the hidden powers she destined to control.

“Yet, grief, especially when buried, had a way of rearing its head at the worst of times, sometimes leading to terrible mistakes and decisions, as he well knew. He could only hope that she was truly as in control of herself as she seemed. For her sake—and for all of Éadrolan.”

Tanvir is an intriguing character. His thoughts easily lure readers to hints of secrecy. Like he is hiding something huge and probably not good for Evelayn and her Kingdom, even if it is clear how he cares for her. His presence and inner thoughts will makes readers guessing and questions everything that is happening. At some point, readers will formulate their own conclusions based from all the trails that Sara B. Larson leaves, only to be proven wrong. He remains a mystery through the end, with a little or no chance of untangling his motives and actions. Though the ending sealed his fate, the hopeful side of me still wish to understand him better, to know his unsaid thoughts, and peek on his nightmares and fears.

I adore how Tanvir silently praise Evelayn, how he is so proud of her every time she handle her position well or just when he proves she is capable of ruling even others thinks she can’t. Even he constantly keep me worried about his intentions, I still root for him and Evelayn. Deep inside I believe he is a good guy, even he sometimes makes me doubt his intentions with all his worries and thoughts.

As for the villains, Evelayn has an entire royal family of opponent from the dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon. There’s an evil and power-hungry King, a wicked Queen, and two strong and deadly Princes. Though there’s still hope for one of them, Evelayn and the Éadrolan is still in no lesser threat or harm. And peace is still a far away dream for everyone.

The ending though leave in a cliffhanger note promise a more darker, and gripping read for the next part of Evelayn’s story. I’m looking forward to see what will happen next to both Kingdoms of Éadrolan and Dorjhalon, and of course, to find out how Evelayn will defeat the new and probably biggest problem she find herself into.

“You always have a choice. Even if it feels like you don’t.”

With magic, war, mystery, romance, betrayal and tragedy, DARK BREAKS THE DAWN is thrilling start to Sara B. Larson’s new fantasy duology. It is spellbinding, completely engrossing, suspenseful, and heartbreaking tale that will surely keep readers guessing and anxiously waiting for the next installment, Bright Burns the Night. If only we can all have the next part immediately in our hands after reading this one, I’m sure readers will be less heartbroken.

* This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.