We're reading along... And I Darken by Kiersten White (Mid-Point & Giveaway)


The And I Darken Read-Along is hosted by Dena over at Batch of Books and I (Tressa at Wishful Endings). If you missed the author's fun facts, check that out here, and don't forget to enter to win a copy of the book below!

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You can check out Dena's kick-off post here and her thoughts at this mid-point here.

Now on to my thoughts half-way through the book...

Thoughts So Far

In case you missed my Goodreads/Twitter updates, here are some immediate reactions to when I was reading the first half of this book:

THOUGHTS ON CHAPTER ONE

I have to say that the first chapter is such a good foreshadowing or prediction of the entire story. It shows the bluntness of the writing (Kiersten doesn't sugar coat anything and is even crude in parts, but this fits the time period, characters, and circumstances), the way girls were viewed at the time, the less-than-favorable way that Lada comes into the world, and the prayers of this nurse, which inevitably come true (no spoilers there).

It's not my favorite first chapter, but it also doesn't falsely begin this story. You know how sometimes you read this awesome prologue or first chapter and you think this will be such a smashing romance or action-packed story and then you're totally disappointed by what follows? That definitely is not the case here. It's a good start and it only gets better.

THOUGHTS ON THE CHARACTERS

The younger characters all are treated fairly badly, but all have potential. They all want to be accepted and loved, but they find that in their world that is a rarity. They are all trying to figure out their place in the world and how they can stay true to themselves, keep some power over their choices, and basically survive. The main characters are all complex and I'm enjoying seeing them change as layers are revealed or as they develop.

Lada: She's the main girl. She was not blessed with beauty, but she was blessed with a strong survival instinct and intellect, as well as a fierceness that does well in battle. She is loyal to very few. She is such a strong heroine with her own shortcomings and faults. Her story is rather heartbreaking. She's got a ways to go and much to learn. I empathize with her and its really interesting being inside her head. You can already see who she will become.

Radu (Lada's brother who also has POV in the story): Radu, Radu... He kind of reminds me of a puppy who needs to be consistently pet, rewarded, and loved, and who follows others around. His story is also heartbreaking. He's extremely loyal. He's very weak in some ways, such as standing firm in the face of violence and using his head instead of his emotions, but he also has some good traits, such as that he's extremely observant and he's quite intelligent. There is so much potential with him and I'm curious to see what happens.

Mehmed (Sultan's son): He's an interesting character. He's so young and inexperienced, but there's the makings of a great leader here. My first impression of him was that he was curious and then a spoiled prince. Right now he's changing and developing into who he will be and there are these various strings of where he might be pulled, of possible romances, of possible betrayals... I'm not sure what his place will be.

Bogden (Lada's friend): Bogden is a side character who is Lada's constant companion for most of her childhood. He's a little flat, but I think that he was also a tool for Lada and acted like it, so that's how he comes off. There was an interesting event between him and Lada and I'm curious to see if it has any play into the future.

Huma (Mehmed's mother): She's another side character worth noting because she represents the harem. She's got an interesting take on things and place in Lada's and Radu's story. She's calculating and selfish, but also has become such to survive.

Vlad (Lada's and Radu's father): Vlad is first and foremost a tyrant. He does not hold up to promises and he isn't really a strong leader. I don't know that I really even have anything to say that's good about him, except that I really don't like him and he plays his role well.

There are other side characters that have various roles and I would say they are all interesting. There's one political leader that really gets under my skin and plays a unobtrusive villain so far. I really don't like him.

MY LEAST FAVORITE PART SO FAR

Hmm. I generally don't like the crude parts and sometimes I feel like saying "TMI!" because... ew. I also didn't enjoy the parts where there were beatings and violence (this is such a violent historical period!!). I can't say there is a specific scene I don't like, especially as I see how they all add to the story and develop these characters.

MY MOST FAVORITE PART SO FAR

I have a couple of favorite parts. One is with Lada when she feels a connection with her country. It's a beautiful moment. Another is with Bogden when they are young and innocent, but know enough to try to protect that innocence. There are moments between Radu and Lada, and sometimes with Mehmed that are sweet.

Here are a few lines that stuck out to me:




PREDICTIONS FOR THE SECOND HALF

1. Lada, Radu, and Mahmed will all grow stronger and that their relationships will change.
2. Mahmed will find out Lada's and Radu's secret and it will not go well.
3. Halil Pasha will continue to be a thorn and that things will escalate with him.
4. Lada and Radu will find themselves in more danger in one way or another.
5. A possible romance or two will develop, but also jealousy and possibly more betrayal.

Overall, I have to say this has been an interesting read so far. It's definitely dark and heavy and there is a lot going on, but I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the second half.

And I Darken
And I Darken
(The Conquerors Saga #1)
by Kiersten White
YA Fantasy, Historical
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 496 Pages
June 28th 2016 by Delacorte Press

Summary

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, who’s expected to rule a nation, 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.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

   
(Affiliate links included.)

Reading Schedule

July 22: Start Reading (four chapters per day)
July 29: Mid-Point, Chapters 1-28
July 24th: Wrap-Up, Chapters 29-55

About the Author


KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy; the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect LiesThe Chaos of Stars; and Illusions of Fate. She also coauthored In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times.

Coming June 28th is And I Darken, an epic historical based on a gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler. It's filled with love daggers, which are like love triangles only much sharper and way more likely to kill you.


Giveaway

2 Print ARCs of And I Darken by Kiersten White
Provided by the publisher
Ends August 5th

a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you're reading along, what have you thought so far? If you aren't reading along, does this sound like your kind of book or have you already read this one? 

And be sure to come back next Friday for an interview with the author along with Dena's and my final thoughts. Yay!!

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