Review: And I Darken

NER REVIEWS (andidarken)

Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: June 28th, 2016
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Pages: 484 (Paperback)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Historical | Romance
Idiom: English
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Read: from July 16 to 25, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9780552573740
(Paperback)
Cups:
4 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It took me a while to come to terms with myself when it comes to this book. And I Darken was a book I couldn’t rate straight after finishing it because I was conflicted. I mean, I liked it, a lot, but there was something I couldn’t put my finger on that just didn’t allow me to rate it. I had to distance myself from it in order to organise my ideas. And, now, after almost a month, I can say that this book was amazing!

Before advancing into the review, I need to say that I felt a little bit bipolar while I was reading this. If you follow me on Goodreads and have been up to date with my reading status there, you might have noticed that while I was reading And I Darken, I kept switching from “not entirely sure about this” to “ok, this is getting super interesting” in a matter of pages. I think it just took me a while to get into the writing style, to follow the voice of the narrator and the story itself. In the end, I couldn’t actually see this book written in any other way.

This book is pretty much the beginning of Vlad the Impaler’s story but with a twist – it’s a gender swap story and it’s Lada the hero. Set in the Ottoman Empire in the fifteen-century, Lada and Radu are pretty much abandoned by their father in this huge and intimidating Empire, leaving their home, Wallachia, behind. As they grow up, Lada begins to plan her revenge and a way for her to reclaim her home back. Until she meets the Sultan’s son, Mehmed, and Radu and Lada are torn between their home and their friendship.

Lada was a character that I found hard to understand at first. I mean, she’s a kick-ass character indeed, managing to be more than a woman in such a close-minded empire where women pretty much don’t have any right. She loves her brother Radu and would rather hurt him to protect and save him than let him enter her heart and see him in pain (she prefers to be the one hurting). When she meets Mehmed, she becomes more of a determined young woman than a scared child. And when she falls for Mehmed, she reveals another side of her that spent most of her life locked. But for me, the best aspect of Lada was her want to be a warrior, her determination to be more than a concubine in a men’s world – she wanted to be someone worth following. Her insecurities are part of her will to protect both her brother and Mehmed. Under her mask of bad-ass hero, she’s a human being trying to save those she loves.

Radu was, in my opinion, the most developed character in the story. He is the opposite of Lada. He’s frightened, pretty much her shadow while growing up. Until he meets Mehmed and his determination is to save, protect and love him. He grows into this young man that is no longer afraid. And though his relationship with Lada has its ups and downs, there’s always this bond between that is unbreakable no matter what.

Actually, Radu’s story ended up hooking far more than Lada though I enjoyed both of them. Why? Radu has a secret that in such a medieval period and part of the world is pretty much tabu – Radu falls in love with Mehmed! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a twist I admit I did not see coming. And somehow it was a twist that made the story and the relationship between siblings so more interesting and intense. Was it a weird love-triangle involving siblings? Yes, but the fact that both of them love the same person in different ways was very interesting and gave Radu such depth I couldn’t help but feel for him.

Mehmed was the character that helps the siblings as they are thrown into this new world where they’re nothing more than leverage. He helps Lada and Radu have a place, a meaning and even though he wasn’t my favourite character, he played a big part in their lives. Without Mehmed, Lada and Radu wouldn’t develop the way they did and wouldn’t grow up to become such powerful players in this big empire. I think his character has a lot more to offer in future books and I’m waiting for him to understand Radu a little bit more.

The writing at first sounded strange to me. The narrators voice sounded off, distance. Only when Lada and Radu finally meet Mehmed and their friendship blooms, I began to feel the narrator’s voice. I guess that was one of the main reasons I was, at first, reluctant in continuing reading this book.

But when I finally got into the narrator’s flow and found its voice, I began to enjoy the book so much I was pretty much hooked. 

The historical aspects of And I Darken were somewhat knew to me since this is part of history we barely know that much and getting into this new world was slightly strange. The Ottoman Empire really gives the story such a complex background to the book that it makes it even more interesting.

Overall, And I Darken is a great book filled with action, political intrigue, religion diversity, secrets, betrayal and history. I dare say this is an intense book that will make you curious about history, determined as Lada and cunning as Radu. I became attached to the siblings and will be waiting for the continuation of their story. I cannot wait to see Lada as the Impaler.
Ner

Monthly Wrap-Up | July

Wrap-Up

August is here!! How on freaking hell is it August already? Though I felt that July was the slowest month to pass, I still cannot believe it’s August! And I still need to go to the beach!

And I’m sorry this post is super late. I had a quite busy last week of July and first week of August but now I’m back!!

Anyway, this last month I had a pretty quite interesting month when it comes to books! I’ve read four out of the six books I had planned to read and added a special one in the mix because… well, you’ll see! But I’m quite pleased with how July was a reading month and I have high expectations for August. In the meantime, take a look at the books I read last month:

Wrap-Up | July

  • Zenith [The Androma Saga #1] – Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings (3,5/5 cups) GR | Amazon
    • I quite enjoyed this one but I thought it was indeed too short! I think that if Sasha and Lindsay had waited a little bit longer and had released this book with a story that had a beginning, middle and end, it would have been amazing. But, still, I quite liked it and will be waiting for more parts to be released;-);
  • Tower of Thorns (A Torre de Espinhos -PT Edition) [Blckthorn and Grimm #1] – Juliet Marillier (4/5 cups – no review) GR | TBD
    • Even though I LOVE Juliet, this isn’t my favourite series of hers. Still, I enjoyed this one much more than the first book and I’ve also realised that I can’t write a proper review for her books. Why? Because my love for Juliet normally blinds me to the negative aspects of her stories – yes, she also has flaws; she’s human – and I always end up writing a review that mainly says ALL the good things about her books. And I think that’s not fair!;
  • And I Darken [The Conquerors Saga #1] – Kiersten White (4/5 cups) GR | TBD
    • I still don’t know what I feel about this book. I really liked it but there is something I can’t put my finger on! I mean, it’s an amazing book but I can’t still give it a proper rating! I’m giving it 3,5 cups but I can’t write my review for now… gonna wait a while before trying to review it!;
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child [Harry Potter #8] – J.K. Rowling & Jack Thorne & John Tiffany (4/5 cups – no review) – GR | TBD
    • OMG!! THE FEELS!!!!! I can’t control my emotions guys, you have no idea!! I read this book in one day – ONE WHOLE DAY!!I bought it and then read it in one sitting and that never happened before. And even though the book has its flaws and it was a weird HP reading experience – because it is the script of the play and not a novel – I enjoyed the book and the plot. Many people didn’t like the whole twist and turn and everything but I did. I liked how we managed to not only see our favourite trio as adults but also meet Scorpius and Albus and still be connected to the whole Voldemort plot – though I do admit some things felt slightly far-fetched even for Harry Potter. But, overall, having the opportunity to read this, to have one more story set in the HP universe was so well worth it. Even if it felt like a weird fan-fic, it was worth it and I’m sure as a play, it’ll be amazing!! Now I can only  waiting for a live DVD of the play or a movie because I know I won’t be able to actually see the play! 
  • Clockwork Angel [The Infernal Devices #1] – Cassandra Clare (4/5 cups – review to come) – GRTBD
    • Now I get why everyone loves TID! I admit it… it’s prety awesome! I loved meeting all these new characters and being able to connect it back to TMI and I adore Charlotte and Henry!! As for the main trio – I’m super curious about Will’s past because there’s a lot more going on, Jem is super sweet and I love him, and as for Tessa, I was hoping to be blown away by her character but so far she was only okay. I mean, I liked her but I’m hoping for much more from her in the upcoming books. Also, I loved that Magnus appears in this book because I freaking love him (and that bit about his favourite combination being black hair and blue eyes – MALEC ALERT!!! *swoon*);

And that’s a wrap!!!

Ner

TBR | July

TBR

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY MY FELLOW AMERICANS FRIENDS!!!

Alright, another month is beginning (or is already underway hehe xD) and with it a brand new TBR!!

So far I’ve been quite good at keeping up with my list, never once straying from it. I’m really excited to show you all the awesome books I’m planning to read during this month of hot weather (depending on which side of the hemisphere you live) and vacations.

Check out the books I’m planning on reading this month:

TBR | July:

What about you? What are your reading plans for this month? 

Ner

Book Haul | June

Book Haul

Hello beautiful people!!

So, June is over! And with it I bring you a brand new Book Haul filled with awesome books! I’m quite happy because this month we had the Lisbon BookFair where I bought a few books and a brand new book by my favourite author came out… so, yes, I’m quite excited!

If you have been following me on Snapchat (nerthewitch), Twitter (@LeonorNer) and/or on Instagram (@nerthewitch), you probably know everything I got this month but still… I want to share it you!

On the BookFair I bought a total of three books for myself (plus two more for my mother!). I went there first with my aunt and the books I got were pretty much a bargain! And then I went there with Carla and before I left, I managed to buy one more book. Since it was the last day, all books were with 20% discount so the one I chose was cheaper than when I went there the first time. 

So, let’s jump straight into the books I got on the Lisbon BookFair:

-Physical-

20160615_162302

  • Evernight [Evernight #1] – Claudia Gray (This is a second hand copy I got at the BookFair at a really cheap price. And since I’ve never read any Claudia Gray’s books and apparently this is “Twilight” done right” – according to author Maria V. Snyder – I thought, why the heck not?! I just didn’t know there were five books in this series… If I happen to enjoy this one, it’s going to take a while to get the whole series :S); 
  • Sapphire Blue [Ruby Red/ Edelstein Trilogy/ Precious Stone Trilogy #2] – Kerstin Gier (This was so cheap and such a bargained, I couldn’t really resist buying this book! It was only 3,50€ and since this is a sequel to a book I’ve read back in January/February, I couldn’t leave it behind, right?!);
  • Heir of Fire [Throne of Glass #3] – Sarah J. Maas (OMG!! I freaking finally have this! I bought this one when I went there on my second trip and I was lucky because all the books on that day – it was the last day – were 20% off so I bought this one at a cheaper price than when I went there the first time. My initial idea on my first trip was to buy Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows – probably Heir of Fire and A Court of Thorns and Roses if available (which wasn’t by the way) but I found the prices – even the bookfair prices – ridiculously high! I mean, I could buy them online and they would be cheaper! But on my second trip it was 50/50 – meaning, it would be the same buying it online or buying it on the fair. So I made my choice! Unfortunately I couldn’t buy Queen of Shadows but that one will definitely be my next online buy :D);

I also got that bookmark with my name on it. It has the meaning of Leonor and on the back it has famous women with the same name. They were all Queens of Portugal 🙂 With the bookmark there was also the pencil with the same design and my name plus the meaning. I basically use it to pin my hair ;P I wanted to buy my mum one as well but they were quite limited when it came to names. My name and my twin’s were the only ones available though :S

20160615_203124

  • A Torre the Espinhos/ Tower of Thorns [Blackthorn and Grim #3] – Juliet Marillier (You all know that Juliet is my favourite author… I mean, she’s my Master!! And I’ve been waiting for the sequel to Blackthorn and Grim for AGES now! And it finally came out, the second book but still… it’s better than nothing! I LOVE this cover so much… it’s so freaking beautiful and I’m super happy that Planeta – the PT publisher – decided to stick with the original ones!);

-ebook-

keep-calm-book-cover-to-come

  • Zenith [The Androma Saga #1] – Sasha Alsberg & Lidnsay Cummings (For those of you who don’t know, Sasha is one of my favourite BookTubers – check out her channel abookutopia – so when I found out that she was releasing a book with Lidnsay Cummings, I told myself I would support her as much as I could. And I admit I’m super pumped to read this! I will be reading it in July and I will always support both Sasha and Lindsay. I hope their book will be picked up by a publisher – they are currently self-publishing this book themselves (hence it being out only as an ebook) – and that we all will have it as a physical book sometime in the future.);

-NetGalley/Edelweiss-

  • Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet – Charlie N. Holmberg (I was auto-approved for this title and when I saw the cover, I had to get it. And then I read the synopsis and I was immediately sold! Let’s hope this book will amaze me as well as the cover :D);
  • And I Darken [The Conquerors Saga #1] – Kierstin White (You guys have no idea how excited I am for this book! I mean, a book. When I first cam across this book, read the description – back then it was something like “Vlad the Impaler for YA” – I knew I had to get my hands on this book! And I was not expecting to actually be approved for this title but I was!! I will definitely be reading this one in July! So freaking excited! I even had this one as one of my Wednesday Wishlist so… I’m so pumped indeed :P);
  • The Beginning Woods – Malcolm McNeill (This book was basically approved today – June 30th – and I really wanted to share it because, not only the cover looks super intriguing, but because the plot also sounds super interesting! Let’s see what this book will bring :D);
  • Split the Sun [Inherit the Stars #2] – Tessa Elwood (I haven’t read the first one yet but when I saw the sequel/conclusion – me thinks it’s also the last one – I thought it would be quite cool to have both books and marathon them. And since I’m auto-approved for these titles, even better! Let’s hope this series is good – I’ve read a few negative reviews though – because I quite like the sound of the plot!);

Ner

Wishlist Wednesday (#128)

Wishing on Wednesday is a weekly book blog hop hosted by Dani @Pen to Paper where we’ll post about one book that has been on our wishlist for some time – or recently added – and which we can’t wait to get our hands on.

 alt=

And I Darken [The Conquerors Saga #1]
Kiersten White
Publication Date: July 7th, 2016

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

Goodreads Page | Author’s Goodreads Page | Author’s Website