A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

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“It takes only a split second for life to go horribly wrong. To fix the mess, I need a thousand things to go right. The distance from one bit of luck to the next feels as great as the distance across oceans. But, I decide in this moment, I will bridge that distance, again and again, until I win. I will not fail.” -Sabaa Tahir, A Torch Against the Night

Goodreads Blurb

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: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

 

Spoiler Review

I’m not sure if I liked this book more of the first one, An Ember in the Ashes. They’re both so awesome that I rated them both 5/5 stars. I hate how we have to wait until 2018 for the third book to come out! I’ll have to reread A Torch Against the Night before then. I’m really bad about forgetting what happens in books because I read so many throughout the year. I read for pleasure and with my kiddos at school so I start getting plot lines and characters all jumbled up.

I liked the switch in dynamics with the characters in this second book. It was as if each one was out of their element and you had to watch as they tried to adapt to their new lives. Not that their lives were great in the first book because everything was horrendous. From Laia becoming more independent and growing into her power, to Elias being an outlaw on the run and becoming the new Soul Catcher, Helene adapting to her new loyalty of being the Blood Shrike, Marcus as Emperor and dealing with his brother’s death, etc.

I knew from the get-go this was going to be more sad than An Ember in the Ashes. It’s one of those books that tells you how it’s going to end and then fills you in afterward on how they got there. I hated knowing Elias was doomed. Be it death, or stuck as Soul Catcher. Both destinies are tinged with grief. He always has to sacrifice so much. They all did in this book. Laia lost Izzy and her brother was not the same, Keenan betrayed her, Elias had to choose death or a lonelier version of death, Helene lost 3 of her family members… the list goes on.

Bu I feel like the plot is building up to something way bigger than what it already was. Like a Sarah J. Maas novel. Almost every character has been turned into a dynamic character. I though Cook and Izzy and Marcus were just going to be static… but everyone has grown and changed in some major way.

I’d love to be the sort of author that could accomplish all of that on top of awesome world building. No wonder it’s taking her so long to finish the books! They’re so intricate.

I hope someone buys the rights to make this into a movie at some point. It has the potential to be fantastic if it’s done right. I could totally see Theo James playing Elias. I know he’s not as dark as Elias is supposed to be but their characters, Elias and James’ as Four in Divergent, seem similar.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa

Goodreads Blurb

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Review

I read this book in a matter of days. This is the first novel I have read by Tahir. I’ve followed her on Instagram for over a year now just because she’s hilarious but now I love her even more because of this book!

I remember there was a lot of hype when this book came out but I haven’t heard much about it since A Torch Against the Night (the second book) released. I’ve had it siting on my self for about a year now and sometimes I have my husband help me pick out my next read and this was the one he picked because he liked the cover.

I feel in love with this book about 80 pages into it. Don’t get me wrong, it was fast paced from the get-go but you don’t really understand what’s happening until the backstory has been explained. It was set up almost like a pilot to a TV show.

I quickly fell in love with Elias Veturius. I like his tough, but troubled personality. He’s like the most perfect man ever! Another thing I noticed that was unique about these characters was that not all of them were young adult age. I think the novel still is considered a YA just because Laia is 17 but Elias is 20. Usually author’s stay away from characters in their 20’s because it makes the book easy to label as a New Adult versus Young Adult and supposedly the audience isn’t as big for New Adult. It is growing but I don’t think it will ever be as popular as YA.

I ordered the second novel, A Torch Against the Night, a day before I finished the book because I knew I was going to have withdrawals if I didn’t get my hands on it quick. After doing a bit of research, it looks like this is going to be a set of 4 books but the third installment isn’t expected to be released until 2018. 2018! Why must we suffer so long without it!? I’m sure Mrs. Tahir is very busy with her kids and husband but the readers are suffering!!!!

I have yet to reach the end of the second book but I have a feeling it’s going to be sad and leave us with a cliff hanger.

I give this novel 5/5. If you haven’t picked it up yet I highly suggest that you do. The Greek/Roman style world is new and exciting compared to anything else out there and you will instantly fall in love with Elias and Laia.

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Every Hidden Thing

Goodreads Blurb

Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth-century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt, it’s the “rex,” the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.

But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. And if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.

As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. Their flourishing romance is one that will never be allowed. And with both eyeing the same prize, it’s a romance that seems destined for failure. As their attraction deepens, danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light and forcing Samuel and Rachel to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry, and with it a new life together, or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?

Review

This was a really refreshing read. it was a stand alone novel and it was different than any other novel I have read. I loved the Western setting to it. In the beginning the story starts off in the city but then Rachel and Sam end up running into each other with their father’s on a train headed West towards the Wyoming area. Worried that they may be after the same boon, remains of a t-rex they try spying on each other to see if the other is spying on them.

Along the way, what goes from friendly competition turns into friendship and eventually sparks fly. Sam is drawn to Rachel’s beautiful eyes and her general “I-don’t -give-a-crap-what- people- think” attitude. And Rachel finally gives into her emotions and falls for how carefree and open Sam is. They are polar opposites and it makes their relationship witty and cute.

At first you think this is just a happy, carefree novel but then the teams come across harsh land and wild Native American’s who are not fond of the white settlers coming in and digging up their home and artifacts. The story takes a dangerous turn.

What starts out as such a cute, adventurous story about flirtation and ambition takes a turn about 3/4 in. After Rachel and Sam get caught talking without supervision, her father threatens to send her back to her Aunt on the East Coast where she will have to be taught to be a proper lady. Rachel’s dream is to go to University and become an established paleontologist like her father so this is the complete opposite of what she wants to do. Marriage is not even on her radar.

After finding out she is to be sent home, Rachel and Sam concoct a plan to marry so that they can become their own team and hunt for the t-rex remains without their father’s bickering and taking all of the glory.

They think the hardest thing is surviving the wild West and the Natives but it turns out, marriage and sharing a destiny is even tougher. Sam becomes irritated because he may lose all the money to be had with finding the rex and also lose a way to send Rachel to University after he’s promised to help get her there.

Rachel becomes increasingly unhappy because Sam is working so hard that their relationship ends up on the back burner and she feels like she’s given up her family and all of the luxuries that come with her father’s money for Sam.

You will have to read to see how the book ends and to see if they’re relationship makes it out in the wild wild West. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything. I give this one 4/5 stars. It’s rare that I find a standalone novel that I enjoy. I find it hard to be invested inthe characters in the story line usually but this one was so different and fast paced!

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo


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Goodreads Blurb

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Review

In this second installment to The Grisha Trilogy, Mal and Alina are running away from the Darkling, only to be captured but then saved by a suave pirate by the name of Strumhond. From there the cutthroat pirate helps them capture and kill the sea serpent so that Alina now has two amplifiers. They begin to trust Sturmhond until he informs them that he has been paid to take them back to Ravka. What they later find out is that he is actually the younger Prince Lanstov and he is trying to save Ravka and eventually take the throne from his older brother Vasily.

The whole second book is a play for power. They’re on the run from the Darkling, Mal and Alina don’t know whether they can trust each other or those around them, they’re running from the Apparat and his eccentric followers, all the while looking for the third amplifier the firebird of Ravka.

I loved this book as much as the first one. There were so many twists and turns and the plot was a roller coaster of emotions. I want so badly for Mal and Alina to work it out but there’s something endearing about Prince Nickolai. The Darkling just sucks all around. I especially hate him after what he did to Bagrha and Genya.