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review 2017-10-02 16:27
And I Darken / Kierstan White
And I Darken - Kiersten White

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


Another “young adult” book which hooked me from its first pages and left me wanting more at the end. And, handily enough, there is another book! So I will get another hit of this historical fantasy set in the Ottoman Empire and Wallachia. It’s a time and place that I know little about, so its interesting just to absorb the historical details.

But, Lada! Oh Lada! A strong girl, a fighter, ruthless and tough. What a heroine! Determined to chart her own course and not to belong to any man. Her handsome brother Radu, who probably should have been a girl, but who eventually finds his own way to be a powerful man. And Mehmet, the sultan’s son, who befriends both Wallachian children and eventually assumes the throne, changing their lives forever.

Having read this novel in close proximity to The Darkest Part of the Forest, I was struck by the parallels in the brother/sister relationships in both books. The girl being the tough fighter and the boy being hesitant about grasping his talents. Both being in love with the same person. Is this a common trope in young adult literature?

In any case, I will look forward to reading Now I Rise. I am pleasantly surprised, as I read the author’s Paranormalcy back in April and did not find it anywhere near as compelling.

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review 2017-10-01 00:00
In the Shadows
In the Shadows - Kiersten White,Jim Di Bartolo Fascinating storytelling format. Usually I'm not a fan of authors doing graphic novels, as I've always just ended up being sad it wasn't as enjoyable as their previous full novels. However, this format made the most of both image and text-only content. Without getting into spoilers, the book basically alternates a few pages of zero text images - either full spread or "comic" style linear boxes that tell a snippet of a story - with a chapter of a novel about a bunch of teens in the late 1800s. There's supernatural goings-on and a central mystery that maintains its tension right up to the end, and it may be that I suck at visual observation, but I didn't figure out what the connection was between the image story and timeline and the text story and timeline, which are pretty obviously divergent and not at all related riiiiiight up until the end. Adds in an appealing way to the sense of mystery, intrigue and tense/dark/creepy/confusing-ness. Being less visual in general, I'd have been just as happy with a novelization of the whole thing sans graphics, and I'd argue you could still get the sense of things coming together in a major way with a significant emotional payoff if you'd kept the two timelines in only text format, but it was pretty cool to see it and experience the penny drop in the last tenth of the narrative. Full points for innovation and execution.
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review 2017-09-30 00:00
Illusions of Fate
Illusions of Fate - Kiersten White Another triumph of a book, exploring yet another genre! Alternate history fantasy this time; set in what seems to be a version of Victorian England, the MC is a half-British colonist (maybe Polynesian? Some type of islander but if there were cues as to real world equivalent I missed them) who is working her way through school as an alternative to getting married off back home. I appreciated both the way this book explored a nuanced variety of perspective and positions around race, gender, class and power, as well as the trope-bending twisty plot. Feels very fresh, grounded yet surprising. Major twist at the end I did not see coming at all. High stakes, slow burn romance, and a MC who is literally disempowered - only nobility carry the bloodline for magic in this world - yet uses her intelligence, tenacity and willingness to break out of convention to fight on her own terms. At the same time, women fighting within the system are recognized for their contribution, as are privileged men who look past their comfort to champion others and make a difference. Balanced, insightful and inspiring - and just a super fun, fast read.
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review 2017-09-30 00:00
The Chaos of Stars
The Chaos of Stars - Kiersten White This was excellent. Snarky interior designer-wannabe/mortal teen daughter of ancient Egyptian pantheon escapes home/(the crypt) to move to L.A. and tries to get over her parents not loving her enough to make her immortal/divine too. Brilliant, subversive and fun. Some beautiful recursive, literary device stuff going on, and I loved the MC unapologetically mouthing off about not giving a crap about babies and relationships (even if that didn't carry through 100%). Plus the book production is gorgeous!
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review 2017-09-28 00:00
Perfect Lies
Perfect Lies - Kiersten White Excellent series. This two book girls-with-powers thriller is a fast, twisty ride that sneaks some literary excellence into an emotional story of sisterhood, acceptance and friendship (with only a touch of kissing). Love the use of repetition in both.
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