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Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

published on March 24th 2015 by Nancy Paulsen Books
young adult | contemporary | romance

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This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

REVIEW

Five Reasons Why You Must Read Written in the Stars

1.) This book has a cast of authentic characters. Take our main character for example. Naila wants to be strong, but sometimes she doesn’t really have a choice, especially where her parents are concerned. A lot of us are this way in real life, yeah?

2.) The romance in this book is absolutely amazing. Holy mother of feels, you guys! The romance was just so heartwarming and so fierce–I was rooting from Naila and Saif from the beginning to the end.

3.) You will learn a lot about other cultures in this book. Arranged marriages, living arrangements, terms of endearment… I didn’t know anything about the Pakistani way of living before reading this book. I’d like to say I’m a bit more knowledgeable now.

4.) You will learn so many important life lessons. Like: a) hearts take fucking long to heal, b) parent’s don’t always know whats best, and c) you have to fight for the things you love.

5.) This book will give you all the feels, and then some. You’re going to laugh, swoon, cry, rage, explode, and then cry some more. Trust me on this one.

5 stars

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Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet, book #2
published on February 11th 2014 by Walker Childrens
young adult | historical | fantasy | romance

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Goodreads

Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

REVIEW

Just like in Scarlet, A.C. Gaughen once again brings forth a novel with an epic heroine, a lovable hero and an action-packed storyline!

Scarlet is just such a brilliant character with her kick-ass fighting skills, and her extreme love and loyalty for her friends. She’s one of those people who puts others before herself, and I respect her a lot for that.

We also have an amazing plot with believable antagonists and fleshed-out secondary characters. You’ll grow attached to every single one of them. There’s also a swoony romantic love interest–bonus points!

Despite all those, I found myself having trouble connecting to Scarlet this time around. It’s definitely not the old school writing (which I adore), but I can’t really pinpoint the exact reason for not loving this book.

3 stars

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Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

published on May 5th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
young adult | fantasy | retellings | romance

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Goodreads

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

*I received a digital review copy for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

REVIEW

I need to have a shirt made, with ROSAMUND HODGE IS FUCKING BRILLIANT printed on it. Crimson Bound has one of the most unique imaginative worlds I’ve ever come across. It’s dark, it’s vicious, and it’s so me. It’s going to be so you, too, I swear.

Other than the world-building, I would also give two thumbs up for Rosamund’s elegant writing. And it’s not the boring kind of elegant, either–it’s the mesmerizing kind that’ll just suck you into the story.

Rachelle was such a different heroine from what I’m used to. There were times when she wallowed up in self-pity, and there were times when she came out strong and fierce. I liked that she wasn’t just a one-dimensional character and had a lot more to her than you’d think at first.

The romance was fine and took a backseat in this one. I was hoping for a little more development and a lot less love-triangle, but I wasn’t bothered too much by this aspect because the story’s main focus was on the action and adventure, which I adored.

I would definitely recommend this one to anyone looking for a dark, mysterious, and unique retelling.

4 stars

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Have you read any of these? Do you want to read them?

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About Aimee
Aimee loves being a little bookworm (okay–she doesn’t like being little). She also loves chocolates and sweets but is freaked out by the thought of possibly getting diabetes.

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50 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Written in the Stars, Lady Thief and Crimson Bound

  1. 1. You definitely convinced me in reading WRITTEN IN THE STARS. I think this is the first middle-eastern YA contemporary I’ve encountered? Most of them are fantasy and it’s getting a bit crowded soooo yeah, hooray for this book!
    2. AGH. I NEED TO READ THIS SERIES ASAP.
    3. Hodge really is a literary genius. And I agree with you on the romance aspect — it wasn’t my favourite part of the novel because I’m too busy fawning over the world-building porn hehe.

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    1. Yes! This is my first time encountering a middle-Eastern book as well, and I’m so glad I gave this book a shot. :)
      YES YOU DO.
      The world-building was just spot-on! So glad you liked that about it too. :)

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  2. Written in the Stars looks like a winner! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it and it seems that they were all true :) I liked Cruel Beauty, but didn’t loved it, I think I will still read Crimson Bound though.

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  3. WHY HAVEN’T I READ CRIMSON BOUND AND WRITTEN IN THE STARS YET AIMEE?!!! I’m missing out. I knew I was missing out on Crimson Bound because I loved Cruel Beauty something fierce, but I’m hoping to get to it soon. SO EXCITED. And Written in the Stars wasn’t really on my radar but it absolutely is now. I can’t wait for the romance!

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  4. I LOVE the cover for Written in the Stars and from the looks of your review here, I’ll LOVE the inside of it too ♥ I still need to read my copy of Scarlet but I’m sad that you didn’t like the sequel quite as much. Lovely reviews all around Aimee^^ xx

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    1. I love it too! :) I really hope you love the story as much. :D You should definitely still continue Scarlet–book three was fantastic, and I’ll be having my review up soon!

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  5. I love how cultural Written in the Stars was for you. I’ve heard a lot about it, but I’m just not sure I can deal (with some of the things people have hinted at happening to the main characters) without flying into a rage and damaging walls. Maybe when I’m less of a wimp :P I went ahead and purchased a copy of Crimson Bound before heading on vacation, but have yet to find time to read it. I’m looking forward to reading it, though. So many people be raving!

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    1. I was definitely angry, but I didn’t rage because I already knew that such things happen in some cultures, even in my own. It’s not a big problem for some (like Aisha, who had an arranged marriage but fell for her husband immediately). You should definitely still read it though. :) Crimson Bound was GORGEOUS.

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  6. Nice reviews! Written in the Stars is high on my to do list, and I have a feeling I’d really love the Scarlet series. I’m glad you enjoyed Crimson Bound. I actually vastly preferred Cruel Beauty. I wish I could have connected with Crimson Bound more, but we just didn’t click.

    C.J.
    Sarcasm & Lemons

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    1. Yay for Written in the Stars! The Scarlet trilogy’s a very enjoyable one. :) Personally I was a bigger fan of Crimson Bound, maybe because the world was bigger and more complex. :)

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  7. Written in the Stars. Ughhhhhhh. I can’t wait to read it. I will definitely keep a box of tissues handy! The other two are ones I haven’t read. I just got Cruel Beauty recently, so we’ll see how I feel about that one first, haha.

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  8. I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of Written in the Stars before this, but oh my gosh, it sounds absolutely amazing, and you gave it five stars!!! If I’m not mistaken, this is probably the first five-star review I’ve seen from you, heh. :B Naila sounds so relatable, at least in terms of having sort-of controlling parents. Even though she comes from a different country and goes through much different problems, I have a feeling that I won’t have any difficulties connecting to her at all. Also, I think I’ve only read one other book about an arranged marriage, so it’ll be interesting to see how Naila’s story enfolds — especially since the romance was so good and so shippable! Plus, it’s set in a foreign country with a whole new culture. This book just can’t get any better; thanks so much for putting it on my radar. :D

    Eeeeep, I’ve heard all about how Crimson Bound is better than Cruel Beauty, and since I enjoyed the latter, I’ll probably love this one! And then there’s the whole “one of the most unique imaginative worlds I’ve ever come across” which only makes me even more excited. You know me, I like my books dark and violent with minimal romance, so this sounds perfect for me. The only other Red Riding Hood retelling I’ve read is Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, and that one was awesomely unique as well, so I’m looking forward to reading another version of the story that is just as original. :)

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    1. I give a lot of 4/4.5 stars, but 5 star reads are definitely rare for me. ;) And I was pleasantly surprised by how much I connected with Naila. She’ll forever have a special place in my heart–with Saif. *swoons* I hope you love this one, girl! :D
      I enjoyed Cruel Beauty, but I LOVED Crimson Bound. :) This one was so dark and creepy and just yeeees. <3 Scarlet was brilliant–this one similarly so, but darker. ^_^

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  9. 1. Seen so many fabulous things about this book. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    2. I really enjoyed Lady Thief – I thought it was utterly brutal! Entirely action packed and pretty breathtaking, IMO.

    3. Crimson Bound was also epic – richly wove, descriptive writing, dark fantastic elements – I’m looking forward to whatever Rosmund Hodge puts out next!

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    1. Hooray! I hope you’ve been convinced to read it. :)
      It was pretty glorious! Have you read Lion Heart yet? It’s my favorite of the trilogy. :)
      IT WAS epic! I can’t wait for more as well. :)

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  10. Okay, your review of Written In The Stars has made me add the book to my TBR, I will probably read it over the weekend :) I love reading about different cultures, and this one is about my Pakistani culture. Arrange marriages happen in my family as well, would you believe that every single girl in my family including cousins has only done an arrange marriage? I have a huge family with about 50 cousins. We’re not allowed to do a love marriage because we’re “girls.” The guys are allowed to. I know, double standards. It’s not even about religion but culture. I’m so glad you could enjoy Crimson Bound as well, there’s nothing Rosamund would write that I won’t like xD Fantastic mini reviews!

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    1. Hooray for extreme book pushing! I seriously hope you end up loving it, Benish. I personally don’t know anyone in an arranged marriage, but it does happen in our country as well–mostly to children, which sucks. I read that Aisha’s married to a man her parents chose, but she ended up falling in love with him which is so fantastic.:)
      Exactly! I can’t wait for more of her books. :)

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  11. I seriously need to start listening to Cruel Beauty so I can read Crimson Bound too! I’m just not in a listening mood lately and that’s the only copy I have :-/ I actually just discovered that there are still arranged marriages for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka because of my Sri Lankan friend who grew up here in Canada. It’s a bit different now compared to before, from what I understand but since we don’t have such a thing in Phils., it was really fascinating for me! Lovely reviews!

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    1. You can read them in any order–they’re not related. :) I loved Crimson Bound a lot more, so it’d make sense to save it for last, haha.
      I think it still happens in the Phil as well, except more of in Mindanao. I watched a documentary once where children less than 10 years old were in arranged marriages. :(

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  12. I keep hearing suuuuuuuuch spectacular things about Written in the Stars. I did try reading the Scarlet book, but eh, wasn’t really my thing, so I don’t think I’d read any more of that series. And I’ve had Cruel Beauty sitting on my shelves for MONTHS but still haven’t read it. >.> I do like the sound of Crimson Bound though. ^_^

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    1. Yes yes yes. Written in the Stars = perfection!
      You should try continuing Scarlet though. The trilogy finale was fantastic! :)
      I enjoyed Crimson Bound a lot more than Cruel Beauty, if that helps. ;)

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  13. The only one i have read was Crimson Bound – and I marked it DNF, sadly! This was the first time I’ve seen Written in the Stars so I will be checking it out! :)

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  14. I want to read all three of these! But especially Written in the Stars. I love that it introduces us to the Pakistani ways of life because if I can’t visit, I can at least learn from books :D Crimson Bound! I can’t believe I haven’t gotten to it. I loved Cruel Beauty so much… I need to fix this mistake. Great reviews, Aimee! :)

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    1. Written in the Stars is SO good. <3 And yes–that's why I love reading books set in different places. :) Crimson Bound was even better than Cruel Beauty, Marianne!!

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  15. YAY I am really wanting to read (and buy, I need to buy it first!) Written in the Stars! It sounds so amazing, and now that you’ve confirmed it… well, I have to be going to now, I am off to Amazon ;) I still need to read the first books in the other two series!

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    1. I read it as an eBook and I so want to get myself a hardcover now! Hooray for book pushing! :D I hope you love it, Shannon! Crimson Bound can be read alone–it’s not related to Cruel Beauty. :)

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  16. Written in the Stars definitely sounds like my kind of book. I am crazy about culture and love everything to do with it. So I think I would enjoy reading a book which includes it so much. As well as that, Crimson Bound is another one that appeals to me. I mean… a retelling, yes please <3

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