ARC REVIEW: Now I Rise – by Kiersten White @kierstenwhite @DelacortePress

Title: Now I Rise
(The Conqueror’s Saga #2)
Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 27th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 13th 2017
Pages: 496

“The world will destroy her in the end. Too much spark leads to explosions. But your sister will destroy as much as she can before she goes out. She will go down in flames and blood.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to this series, but I was hooked as soon as I finished the first chapter of And I Darken. I had the privilege of receiving an ARC copy of the sequel early (trust me, I still can’t believe my request was actually approved!), and after finishing the first book I wanted to continue with the sequel right away. Now I Rise by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. This second book of The Conqueror’s Saga starts out strong and stays that way until the very end. The focus is slightly different than in the first book, mostly because it has two completely different storylines this time and the story switches between those POVs. I personally liked this change and it didn’t distract from the main plot at all, especially since there is still an obvious connection between the two storylines both through the characters and the plot itself. I also liked the glbt elements in the series in general, although I do have to say the love triangle bits did started to bother me as well as some of the decisions of the characters. This is probably the only negative thing I could find about this series though! Because there is no doubt I’m truly enjoying this Vlad The Impaler based series so far. Another thing that stood out for me is that there is more action and more fighting in Now I Rise, although it is balanced with further excellent character development and detailed descriptions of the worldbuilding and historical references that will make it feel as if you were back in the 15th century yourself. Because there is no doubt that Kiersten White‘s writing style is wonderful and will have you under its spell… Well written, beautiful, rich, engaging and highly addictive: Now I Rise will have you in its claws and won’t let you go until you reach the last page, leaving you wanting for more. Thankfully the sequel doesn’t end with that big of a cliffhanger, making the wait for book three a little more tolerable… Although it’s still going to be a long one.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Lada Dracul decided to start fighting to fulfill her own dreams, but that will be more difficult than it seems. Because she has no allies and no throne: just herself and a handful of loyal men. She wasn’t able to secure the Wallachian throne as easily as was promised, but is determined to punish anyone who dares to stand in her way and prevent her from succeeding. On the other hand, Radu is still at Mehmed’s side with a completely different goal in mind. One that will ask even more from Radu than he has already given… What will happen to them and will they be able to succeed in their goals?

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After already enjoying And I Darken I had high hopes for the sequel, and Now I Rise definitely didn’t disappoint. There is a slightly different focus in the sequel, but I personally liked these changes and two different storylines each with a lot of action, intrigue and its own web of secrets and lies. The historical worldbuilding is very well done and sets the right atmosphere for what is already an excellent story. I wasn’t a fan of some of the romance and I didn’t agree with every decision made, but those are only minor complaints compared to my love for the writing style. I can’t wait to try more of Kiersten White‘s books in the future! And The Conqueror’s Saga book three is going straight to my list of most anticipated 2018 releases. Is it June 2018 yet?


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WWW Wednesdays #141 – June 14th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading The Book Of Whispers by Kimberley Starr, which I admit was mostly a cover-title obsession. I didn’t realize before that it had such a low Goodreads rating OR the fact that demons play such a big role in the story, and I don’t think this one is for me… Besides the demon overload, I’m not really connecting to the writing style or characters either. I’m about to start Can’t Buy Forever by Susan Laffoon as well; an ARC that I’ve had pending for way too long now.

I’ve also made quite some progress with the classic Little Women by Louisa May Alcott since last week…. And I have a question for Little Women fans out there. I got a kindle version on Amazon and I’m confused: is Little Women actually originally divided in two parts or is part two a sequel? It’s just that the ending of part one sounded so much like a real ending and part two skipped years… (Part two starts with a wedding)

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. And I Darken by Kiersten White (4/5 stars) REVIEW 
It took me a long time to finally pick up my copy of And I Darken, but I’m definitely glad I’ve done so. I’ve fallen in love with Kiersten White‘s writing style and her ability to create an extensive worldbuilding filled with excellent descriptions and an intriguing plot. And while it wasn’t the 5 star read I thought it would be after reading the first few chapters, there is no doubt a very much enjoyed reading Lada, Radu and Mehmed’s story and I can’t wait to find out what the future has in store.

2. Guilty by Laura Elliot (3/5 stars) REVIEW
Guilty has without doubt a lot of potential and the plot itself is both complex and intriguing. The pace was a bit slow though and I had a hard time connecting to the main characters. They are not exactly likeable and this made connecting to the story a lot more difficult. The development of the characters over time is interesting, although I’m not sure up to what point some actions are actually credible. In short I ended up having mixed thoughts, but I can definitely understand why the right person would love this psychological thriller. And a last random note: the plinks just sound lovely!

3. Now I Rise by Kiersten White REVIEW 15/06
Ok I’m still recovering from this one so I need some time to get my thoughts together! No rating until then, but let’s just say it was GOOD.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I really need to make a dent into my pile of ARCs so all four of these are just that… The first is The Weight Of Lies by Emily Carpenter, which I just HAD to pick up after all those glowing reviews. I also still need to read The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien… And both Each Little Lie by Tom Bale and Slip by David Estes are high on my list as well.


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BOOK REVIEW: And I Darken – by Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken
(The Conqueror’s Saga #1)
Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 28th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 8th 2017
Pages: 498

“There is power in stillness. There is power in watching, waiting, saying the right thing at the right time to the right person. There is power in being a woman – oh yes, power in these bodies you gaze upon with derision.”

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I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it last year, and not just because of the beautiful cover… Because the combination of medieval setting, potentially strong main character and intriguing plot just sounded to good to be true. Why didn’t I pick up And I Darken earlier, would you say? Part of the reason is most likely the enormous hype around this story, because hyped books and me don’t really go along in general. I’ve seen quite a few mixed reviews out there, making me feel a bit hesitant to pick it up… But I just couldn’t resist the historical setting and reference to Vlad the Impaler in the end. And while I had a few minor complaints that made me remove a star from what I initially thought would be a perfect rating, I ended up enjoying And I Darken so much better than I thought I would. It’s my first experience with Kiersten White‘s writing style (if you don’t count her short story in My True Love Gave To Me, which I LOVED), and it has been a very positive one. Her writing style is beautiful, rich and very engaging and made this story so much more enjoyable.  Both the worldbuilding and descriptions are extensive and well executed; it really felt as if I was transported back in time and fully merged into the world along with the main characters. The plot is very intriguing and full of twists, secrets and surprises. I could have done without the love triangle/ forbidden love parts, but I guess that is just me not liking romance in the first place. As for the characters: some of them are not exactly likeable, but I ended up being able to connect to most of them anyway. I found myself to be fully absorbed into this story and rooting for those characters I favored more… I didn’t approve of every decision they made, but the character development in general is without doubt excellent. In short I had a great time raeding And I Darken in general, and I can’t wait to continue with Now I Rise! If you like reading YA fantasy and find historical twists and retellings just as intriguing as I do, definitely give this series a go.

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Lada Dragwlya might have been born a girl, but she is by no means the weak and docile princess her father suspected her to be. There is a fire in her, something that seems to be missing in her gentle younger brother, Radu… But that didn’t stop him from abandoning them both to be raised in the Ottoman courts as a form for the sultan to control their father. Lada and Radu are now pawns in a vicious game and their lineage makes them both special and targets at the same time. Lada only really want to find a way back home to Wallachia and claim her birthright, but Radu only wants to find a place where he feels safe. Both seem impossible, but everything changes as they meet Mehmed, the son of the sultan… Things are never as they seem and feelings can change, but what will happen to them in the end?

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It took me a long time to finally pick up my copy of And I Darken, but I’m definitely glad I’ve done so. I’ve fallen in love with Kiersten White‘s writing style and her ability to create an extensive worldbuilding filled with excellent descriptions and an intriguing plot. And while it wasn’t the 5 star read I thought it would be after reading the first few chapters, there is no doubt a very much enjoyed reading Lada, Radu and Mehmed’s story and I can’t wait to find out what the future has in store.


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WWW Wednesdays #140 – June 7th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m FINALLY reading And I Darken by Kiersten White, a series I’ve been looking forward to for ages and somehow never actually picked up until now. I have an ARC of the sequel waiting as well, so if I like the first book I will probably binge-read both before continuing with the next Bookouture thriller. Guilty by Laura Elliot sounds like a great read though from what I could see from the first pages, so we’ll see what happens… I’ve also made progress with the classic Little Women by Louisa May Alcott since last week; I’m liking it so far, although I don’t LOVE it like most people seem to do. It kind of makes me feel bad.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil by Tim Symonds (4/5 stars) REVIEW 
I can always enjoy a good Sherlock Holmes retelling when well executed and that is without doubt the case with Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil. Both the setting and the descriptions are very well done and made me feel as if I were in the room along with the main characters. The outcoming might not have been all that surprising, but the plot twists are still well executed and feel very much like ‘Holmes’. All in all without doubt a very satisfying read.

2. Molly Bell And The Wishing Well by Bridget Geraghty (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
Molly Bell And The Wishing Well is without doubt a quick read with a writing style that flows and will appear to the age group. I had some doubts about certain actions of the main characters and its credibility, but in general I really liked how this story portrayed how to deal with loss, grief and moving on after a traumatic event. The wishing well is used as part of this journey and the descriptions of the daily life on the farm will appeal to the younger readers as well.

3. The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro (2,5/5 stars)  REVIEW
I really wanted to enjoy this story and I still think the plot itself is both rich, provoking and fascinating, but unfortunately The Gypsy Moth Summer ended up being one of those titles that just isn’t for me. Literary fiction can go either way with me in general, so that might just have been the problem here; if you enjoy the genre I would suggest still giving this story a go. That said, I couldn’t ignore the chaotic feel of the storytelling, my lack of connection to the characters, certain elements that bothered me or the fact I couldn’t warm up to the writing style.

4. The Mayfly by James Hazel (4/5 stars) REVIEW TODAY!!
There is no doubt that The Mayfly is a fascinating story that will definitely appeal to psychological thriller fans. The flashbacks and connections to the Second World War added a whole different level to what was already an intriguing plot and definitely made me appreciate this story even more. I had a few minor doubts, but those are just that: minor. The writing style and pace turned The Mayfly into a superfast read and I will be looking forward to see more of Charlie Priest in the future!

5. Love, & You by Gretchen Gomez (5/5 stars) REVIEW 08/06
It’s been days since I devoured Love, & You in record time, and I still haven’t recovered from the emotion overload. Because to say it crudely: damn, that girl can write powerful poetry! Wonderful, emotional, raw, beautiful, powerful, strong, exceptional… Trust me, I can keep the adjectives going for a long time if you let me. This poetry bundle is all about her experience with a toxic relationship and her slow recovery from it. The poems are highly personal and it really feels you get to know her a lot better through her poems.

6. Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/06
I always have a weak spot for a good psychological thriller and this one without doubt delivered. It’s not just another well written suspense story with an engaging writing style, but it also has a whole different level added. One of the main characters has an eating disorder and it was really interesting to see how she deals with this on a daily basis while also being exposed to very stressful situations. Lots and lots of plot twists in this one and you will definitely not see the ending coming! I’m not sure the characters are actually likeable, but I enjoyed Two Sisters anyway.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As I said, depending on how I will enjoy And I Darken I will start reading the sequel Now I Rise straight away… Especially since the publish date is coming closer. I also want to read the ARCs The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien and Can’t Buy Forever by Susan Laffoon; both sound like interesting reads. And I WILL pick up my very first Sharon Bolton book this month as well… I’ve decided to go with the first book of her Lacey Flint series: Now You See Me.


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WWW Wednesdays #139 – May 31st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently almost done with the Reading Alley ARC Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil by Tim Symonds, a Sherlock Holmes retelling set in China which is proving to be an interesting read and just the romance-free story I needed right now. I’ve also started with the ARC The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro, but the beginning felt a bit chaotic and I wasn’t in the mood for it… Hopefully I will like it better after having had a short break from it, especially since it’s due soon. I’ve also made progress with the classic Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; I actually think I would have finished it already by now but I had to read a few pending ARCs first.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
The Last Valentine isn’t just another historical romance novel. The 1930s setting in Puerto Rico is without doubt well executed and helped set the right atmosphere, but it is the whole mystery around the Labyrinth of Love Letters and other secrets and conspiracies that will keep you intrigued until the very end. The dose of (sappy) romance cliches was a bit too high for me, but I did appreciate the many quotable references to romance in general. Romance fans will most likely love this story!

2. Feel Me Fall by James Morris (4/5 stars) REVIEW
Feel Me Fall is without doubt a superfast and entertaining read. I really liked the mix of Amazon survival/adventure chapters with contemporary high school flashbacks and those set in the hospital after Emily is rescued. It’s just the right balance and makes this story that much more interesting to read. I could have done without the cliches and love triangles, but overall this is definitely a great read. The writing style is very engaging!

3. Heartborn by Terry Maggert (2,5/5 stars)  REVIEW
I can’t deny there is a lot of potential in this story, and it’s a shame the fantasy world has been described only so briefly. An extra 100 pages or so would have helped develop their world better and that would probably help enjoying this story a lot better. I also had problems with the credibility of it all, mostly due to Livvy’s reactions to so many (for her) shocking details. The final part of the story also felt a bit rushed and the ending abrupt. All in all a lot of potential, but in the end it just didn’t work for me.

4. The Serial Killer’s Daughter by Lesley Welsh (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW UP TODAY!!
Although the title The Serial Killer’s Daughter is actually sort of a spoiler of what is to come, there is no doubt that this story is a well written character-driven psychological thriller with a sublime character development. The pace is a bit slow and there might not be as much action as you would suspect there to be in a serial killer thriller, but the story is full of twists and the characters more than make up for it. You will be able to meet one for the most twisted and creepy serial killers I’ve encountered with to this date and get to know him (almost too) intimately; definitely the stuff nightmares are made from.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I was actually going to pick up Love, & You, a poetry bundle written by fellow book blogger (ChicNerdReadsGretchen Gomez, last weekend but I had to read some ARCs first and didn’t want to rush it. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it and I can’t wait to finally read it myself! I want to read And I Darken by Kiersten White soon since I have the ARC sequel coming up… And the historical fiction ARC The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien is also on my list, as well as the ARC The Breakdown by B.A. Paris which I have been neglecting for way too long.


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WWW Wednesdays #137 – May 17th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading another psychological thriller ARC and Bookouture read: Be My Killer by Richard Parker. And as things are going, I’ll probably be finishing it later today because I’m flying through this story! I’m also just about to pick up my copy of One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus; another ARC I requested after a recommendation and a title I’m really looking forward to.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

(Doing this part slightly different this week since I already had written short ramblings/reviews of four of these titles for my Bout Of Books wrap up anyway… I like the look of it though; should I keep it this way in my next WWW???)

1. Roses Of May by Dot Hutchison (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
While not as strong or twisted as the first book, I still very much enjoyed Roses Of May. Especially the final part had a very fast pace and the writing style is very enjoyable to read. The serial killer and plot itself are both intriguing and the chapters with the killer’s thoughts added another level of suspense. I also might or might not have squealed when I saw my name mentioned in the story (doesn’t happen often, trust me!). The plot twists are interesting as well, although I did find out the killer’s identity early on. Without doubt still recommended though!

2. Liar by K.L. Slater (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
Liar turned out to be another excellent psychological thriller read full of surprises. I found myself literally flying through the pages as I kept wondering about the chapter the story started with… Because Liar both started and ended with a bang. This is unreliable narrating at its best, and I loved every single minute of the ride. More than recommended for fans of the genre!

3. Aurabel by Laura Dockrill (1,5/5 stars)  REVIEW
I really wanted to enjoy this one and I still love the cover, but unfortunately I just couldn’t. I felt like it was as if I were reading in a foreign language I could only barely understand for most of the ride and I had a REALLY hard time finishing this one. In fact, I would probably have DNFed it if it wouldn’t have been an ARC. A little note: after some investigation, I found out this is actually a sequel and it becomes clear as you are reading Aurabel that a lot of both background AND essential information is missing if you don’t read the first book. That said, I don’t think this story has convinced me enough to actually try and read the first book. Unfortunately it ended up being a quite painful experience reading Aurabel.

4. Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel (4/5 stars)
I have been wanting to pick up this collection of short stories about different characters dealing with the consequences of manipulators for a long time now, especially since I’ve seen various glowing reviews in the past. And I’m definitely glad I finally picked it up, because I really enjoyed reading them. Every story deals with a different angle and the stories are truly fascinating. My favorite story would be between the second and the third story; my least favorite probably either number four or five, but this doesn’t mean they were still good. If psychology fascinated you or you enjoy realistic fiction in general, Manipulated Lives is definitely a great read.

5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (3,5/5 stars)
It’s basically a miracle I could even see the cover of this one with all the dust it has collected for years… I’m glad I finally picked it up! Stardust is one of those exceptions where I have actually seen the movie first, something I prefer not happening because it alters the reading experience. It’s probably what happened here as well, because I kept thinking of the movie as I were reading Stardust… And I think this is one of the rare cases where I actually enjoyed the movie better than the book. It’s an entertaining and well written fantasy read, but it reads a bit slow and not as good as my Neil Gaiman favorites.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

After my recent Bookouture thriller request binge (five in one week and I’m not even sorry!), I urgently need to read more NG ARCs to keep my ratio above 80% (yes, somehow I never actually dived below that mark; don’t ask me how that miracle happened xD)… First up is another thriller and sequel I’ve been looking forward to: Secrets Of The Dead by Carol Wyer. I also need to read Feel Me Fall by James Morris; I’ve read two of his previous stories in the past and enjoyed both, so I’m looking forward to it. The fantasy ARC Heartborn by Terry Maggert is also on my list… And I want to read And I Darken by Kiersten White ASAP so I can dive into my sequel ARC with time to spare. I can’t wait to finally read this series!


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Friday Finds #74 – February 19th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at A Daily Rhythm and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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