August Wrap-Up [2017]

Hey all! It’s time for our August wrap-up. Here’s a look at what we read & what we did!

Sasha read 3 books:

-Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – 4*

-A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – 5*

-Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman – 5* (review coming soon!)

Sarena read 3 books:

-One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus – 5*

-Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh – 4.5*

-The Reader by Traci Chee – 5* (seriously one of the BEST books I have ever read)

August was a bit busy since it was the end of summer school, but otherwise we did do a few fun things! Here is a look at the month via Instagram photos:

We also went to this awesome book signing–a YA Extravaganza panel at Chapters Brampton!

Shortly after, we attended the Indigo Preview Event in Toronto! You can read all about it here.

We hope you all had a great, restful month! Until next time,

Sarena & Sasha

[ARC Review] Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Have you ever read a book so immersive, you can feel the smoke, smell the kettle corn, taste the licorice cherries? Well, that’s exactly what Amanda Foody’s Daughter of the Burning City did for me–paint a vivid landscape in a unique circus setting, with a haunting mystery at its core. Take a look at the vibrant cover and synopsis, and then we’ll dive into my gush-filled review of this book! Continue reading

A Very Late September Wrap-Up/October Releases [2016]

So, it’s already almost halfway through October… and we haven’t posted on our blog in 3 1/2 weeks. (How did that happen?!) Time definitely got away from us and we fell into a blogging slump, with #PitchWars and school and school readings and SCHOOL. But that doesn’t mean we’re not in the Halloween spirit (who isn’t?!) and ready to binge Halloweentown all day (seriously, when are those movies coming on TV?!). But without further ado, considering this is long overdue, here’s our rather small September Wrap-Up and all the books we’re excited for this spooky October season.

Sasha read three books: 

  1. Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands (4/5* — review here!)
  2. Empire of Storms (4.5/5*, will review this one soon!)
  3. Broken by Shane Driver (this is a collection of creative non-fiction short stories by a fellow student at my university who took the writing class I’m in currently!)

She also started Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Not Wanted on the Voyage, and Snow Like Ashes! 

Sarena read three books: 

  1. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (4.5* — review here!)
  2. Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley
  3. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (4/5*)

She also started Replica and The Thousandth Floor!

September was full of revisions and schoolwork, so not a whole lot of fun stuff, but we did get tons of books! Be sure to check out our Instagram (sarenasashabooks) to see our September Book Haul!

And now it’s time for all the shiny October releases, starting with one of Sarena’s most anticipated books of the year!

MAGNUS CHASE #2: Hammer of Thor

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SPELLS AND SORCERY by S. Usher Evans

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NEMESIS by Anna Banks

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GEMINA by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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THE MIDNIGHT STAR by Marie Lu

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WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore

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REPLICA by Lauren Oliver

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A DARKLY BEATING HEART by Lindsay Smith

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REMEMBER YESTERDAY by Pintip Dunn

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LAST SEEN LEAVING by Caleb Roehrig

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SPEED OF LIFE by J.M. Kelly

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SOMETHING IN BETWEEN by Melissa De la Cruz

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There are TONS of other books coming out this month, but these are a few we’re genuinely excited to read and share and talk about! Which books are you excited to read this month? Let us know in the comments below! Also, expect a review of EMPIRE OF STORMS soon, and perhaps some Halloween-esque posts! Until next time…

S&S

Top 5 Books We Want to Read this Summer!

Summer’s here in full swing, and today we want to share our top 5 books we want to read this season! So without further ado, let’s take a look at our most anticipated summer reads. (Please note: These are not necessarily books that will release/have released in summer of 2016. They’re just books we’re super excited about reading, and we want to get a head start on them!)

  • LABYRINTH LOST by Zoraida Córdova. We got an ARC of this one from a Raincoast books event, and we’re both pumped to read it (any fellow Moon Circle friends in the #RWFSquad?). We’ll be diving into it shortly!27969081
  • MY LADY JANE by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows. A book written by three female YA authors? YES, PLEASE. A book about changing history in England written in rotating POVs? DOUBLE YES, PLEASE. 22840421
  • MIRROR IN THE SKY by Aditi Khorana. Diverse contemp that fuses spec-fic elements (i.e., alternate Earths), and it looks too good to pass up. Plus, that cover, y’all. It’s GORGEOUS. 25802922
  • MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera. We’re surprised we haven’t gotten around to this one yet. Another contemp/sci-fi infusion with LGBTQIA+ characters. (Don’t worry, we’ll have the tissue box on standby.) 19542841
  • And finally, THE LIFEBOAT CLIQUE by Kathy Parks. This one’s pitched LIFE OF PI meets MEAN GIRLS. That’s enough for us to click “hold” on the library website. Not to mention the super-cool summery cover! 22926200

And that’s our summer must-read list! Of course, there are tons of other books we’re pumped for, but these are pretty high up on our TBRs. What are you guys looking forward to reading this summer? We hope you all read a bunch before school starts again this September!

Keep reading, book nerds! Until next time,

-S&S

[ARC Review] The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Have you ever read a novel with so much rich magic that it just sweeps you off your feet? Well, THE CROWN’S GAME did that for me. If you’re interested in learning more about Evelyn Skye’s debut novel, I’ve pasted the cover and Goodreads synopsis below:


26156203Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.


**Disclaimer: I received an ARC from HarperCollins Canada. This has in no way affected or biased my review.**

“Imagine, and it shall be. There are no limits.” — The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

THE CROWN’S GAME is an intriguing novel, to say the least. It’s not always the most action-packed, and yet I  (Sasha) always felt invested in the book.This was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2016, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I’m just going to write everything I loved about this novel in a giant list, because lists are cool.

1. The characters. Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha all had intriguing story lines. I watched an interview with Evelyn, and she said this book had 10 POVs. Ten! That may seem like insanity, but in actuality, many characters had maybe only one or two chapters from their “POV” (I say this with quotation marks because the book is in third-person). Even with all the characters, nothing ever felt confusing. I understood everything easily. In fact, I felt like the surprise narrators added to the novel. All the characters were well-developed, but let’s just say Pasha kind of stole my heart. (How can you not love a guy who loves to read?) If you want to learn more about the characters, I recommend you check out Evelyn Skye’s character page on her website!

2. The magic. The magic in this book was honestly what kept me reading. Nikolai’s magic, in my opinion, made his character more interesting. Vika’s magic was explosive from the first chapter. A well-done magic system + interesting characters = major win for me.

3. The setting. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot about 1825 Russia, but I sure did understand those Napoleon references (heeeey, French Revolution). I loved the setting–it was perfect for the world, its magic, and its (beautiful) characters.

4. The narration/choice of POV. I appreciate how Evelyn decided to use third-person rather than first-person. I’m all for first-person, (heck, The Pendant Trilogy–shameless self promo–was written in first-person POV), but lately I’ve been appreciating third-person POVs more and more. Because they. Are. Tough. It is hard to pull of a 3rd-person POV and still be able to connect with the characters, but some authors have been able to pull it off (i.e., J.K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, etc.). But not for a second did I feel like we weren’t in these characters’ heads. I thought the narration blended well with their thoughts, and overall, the POVs worked smoothly.

There wasn’t much I didn’t love about this book. It wasn’t until little before I received the ARC that I learned it takes place in our world, just with a magical twist (which I love). It really separates it from books like SHADOW & BONE (which I also love).

I also appreciated all the food/baked goods references made in the book (they pleased the foodie in me). The last 100 or so pages of the book were full of super explosive, non-stop, heart-pounding scenes. I couldn’t BELIEVE what was happening–or that last line. This book left me in a serious book hangover, if not one of my WORST book hangovers ever. 

Sure, the fact that this book can be seen as having a “love triangle” is a little annoying, but that didn’t necessarily detract my enjoyment from the novel, because there was no “1 girl with no agency + 2 guys pining after her,” but rather “1 girl with agency, and 2 guys who happen to love her.” Even Vika and Nikolai’s relationship could be seen as *slightly* insta-love-y, but I thought Skye did a good job of crafting the relationship and “love” as something more plausible in the 1800s.

Evelyn Skye has crafted a richly imagined, well-thought-out novel bursting with magic, romance, and intrigue. I absolutely loved it.

WHAT’S MY RATING? 

5/5 CROWNS (aka stars) 

The Crown’s Game goes on sale May 17th, 2016. Thank you, HarperCollins Canada, for providing me with an ARC!

-S&S