Friday, June 21, 2019

Author Interview: A.J. Vicktoria


I love science and fiction—on their own, and together in novels. When I’m not reading, my day job broadly involves research and teaching in higher education.

In terms of life goals, I didn’t plan on authoring a novel, but I’m so glad I did. My family encouraged me to write fiction, and I finally took the plunge in the spring of 2018. Best. Decision. Ever. I’m now obsessed with world building and writing character driven fantasy novels that lock onto your heart and never let go.

When I’m not writing, reading, and researching things, you can find me outside. For about the past ten years I’ve been an avid birder. During that time, I met a handsome gentleman who likes birding too. We’ve been together ever since. He took the picture on this page when we visited White Sands National Monument, NM. We traveled there to see the southwest AND… greater roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus). If you’re wondering, I saw a roadrunner—it was amazing, and I even did a very quiet happy dance when I had my first sighting.

Other items of possible interest: I live in the Hudson Valley region of NY. I have curly hair, but sometimes wear it straight. Proud long-haired chihuahua mama. Find me on Instagram @aj.vicktoria so I can get to know you!


Goodreads   I   Instagram   I   Website    





Casey Marie: How did you create the characters of the Empyreal Saga? Did you know you wanted to write them a certain way or did you end up discovering their personalities as you continued to write?

A.J. Vicktoria: I had some character outlines when I started writing Excess Gravity. Their personalities and backstories continued to expand as I wrote. I have the major plot points and character development before I write, but how I get to those places is always changing. Sometime my characters surprise me while I’m writing. I love all of my characters, but my love for Jai surprises me the most. I didn’t really develop her backstory until I started writing Excess Gravity.



CM: When you were writing Excess Gravity did you ever experience writers block? If so, how did you move past it? 

AJ: It didn’t really happen. I keep writing if I’m stuck.



CM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

AJ: Make a daily word count goal and stick to it. Have fun. You’ll make mistakes, and this is to be expected. Learn from your mistakes and keep on writing.



CM: Have you always had a passion for science fiction and fantasy? 

AJ: I’ve been a fan of science fiction and fantasy for a while. Science fiction has a special place in my heart. I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in my early twenties. That book will forever hold a special place in my mind and on my bookshelf.



CM: What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

AJ: I’ll read fiction (fantasy, historical, sci-fi), philosophy, and history. Here’s a short list of favorites:

Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
‎Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South
Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy Series
Elise Kova, Air Awakens Series



CM: Is there an author that you would love to co-write with?

AJ: Alexa Donne. She recently wrote Brightly Burning. The book is a retelling of Jane Eyre set in space. A little over a year ago, I wanted to write a Gothic romance set in space. I searched the web to see if such a book existed. I found Brightly Burning. It’s fantastic book, and I hope to write something similar in the future.



CM: I loved the appearances of cats in Excess Gravity. Can you tease if we will be seeing Earth or more creatures from Earth in future novels?

AJ: Charles and the cats! I’m so glad you enjoyed their page time. Yes, there will be more from Earth- creatures, heartbreak and adventures galore. We’re going to Earth. That’s all I’ll say for now.



CM: I was quite amazed by the descriptions and creativity of the technology in Excess Gravity. Do you have a tech background? 

AJ: No tech background. I’ve had an ongoing interest in the relationship between humans and machines which I explored with Arra Chromos in various ways. Technology as an extension of the body, mind, and society. These relationships can and do have the power to make something greater than ourselves. Sometime we create things we’re not prepared to deal with. All sorts of crazy things can happen. I love how science fiction explores these relationships and associated anxieties. Are androids more human than their creators? Can technology poison/harm users like a biological virus? The list goes on and on!



CM: How do you think the characters of Excess Gravity would react to our technology on Earth?

AJ: I’d say they’re not too impressed. On Earth, we’ve recently started to explore our technological prowess. In contrast, the Empyreans have been around since the dawning of the universe and they’ve had to design technology to bridge their weaknesses.



CM: What inspired the realms in the Empyreal Galaxy?

AJ: The Empyreans and their galaxy grew from one image in my mind, an imprisoned man in the stars. Their origins, chords of life, and politics all grew from this one snapshot. Then the ‘why’ and ‘what if’ questions started rolling in. Why is he in prison? If he’s in the stars, does he have powers? What if he controls gravity? Who are his enemies? It took me about two months to brainstorm the Empyrean galaxy and the first book. Etaine is the man in prison. You can find out why he’s there in the prequel novella, Gravity Rising.



CM: Which realm or planet would you want to visit the most?

AJ: I’d love to visit Rivan’s tropical beaches.



CM: What character from Excess Gravity are you the most similar to?

AJ: I’m a combination of Jai and Arra. In general, I prefer books and animals to people. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, but sometimes being social makes me tired.



CM: Can you tease anything about what you are currently working on?

AJ: I’m working on book two in the Empyreal Saga. Solar’s Reach (title reveal!) hits virtual shelves September 2019. I expect to finish the Empyreal Saga trilogy in December 2019. I have a different young adult series planned for 2020. The series follows a young girl caught between two warring magical families. I’m itching to write these new characters. In 2021 I might return to the Empyreans with a spin-off series. You can follow me on Instagram @aj.vicktoria or subscribe to my newsletter on www.ajvicktoria.com for news about upcoming books.











Friday, May 17, 2019

Excess Gravity (Empyreal Saga #1) by A.J. Vicktoria

SummaryHer radiance. His gravity. Their powers bind them and the fate of their galaxy.

On her eighteenth celestial, Arra expects the day will be like any other. She's single-handedly running the Darkstar galactic hub, fixing transport tech, and making hyperjump calculations. That’s all about to change after a chance meeting with her secret and estranged best friend, Crown Prince Etaine Darkstar. In the middle of Arra and Etaine’s reunion, the dangerous Vithians descend on the Darkstar realm. Arra and Etaine race through the palace to prepare for the Vithian arrival and take a shortcut to their destinies.

In a hidden room inside the palace, Arra’s powers manifest and take the galaxy by surprise. Arra is one of the last Solar Empyreans. Someone hid her identity, and as Arra searches for answers, her relationship with Etaine and role in the galaxy are about to get seriously complicated.


Pages: 306

Release Date: April 2nd 2019

Rating: 4.75/5 Stars

Review:

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Excess Gravity for review and I absolutely loved it. The novel follows Arra on her 18th birthday as she discovers she is one of the two last Solar Empyreans. Her newly discovered identity and powers thrust her into a world of political intrigue, drama, action, and adventure. Excess Gravity melded fantasy and science fiction together perfectly and was an incredibly fast read. It has been a while since I read anything that was not contemporary fiction or non-fiction, but I easily fell back in love with both fantasy and science fiction. Excess Gravity has me craving to read more of those genres soon.

One of my absolute favorite parts of the novel was the world. I has not anticipated a blending of fantasy and science fiction; however, the combination was perfect. The world was beautifully crafted and like no other I had ever read about. The galaxy that Excess Gravity is based in is highly technologically advanced and consists of seven realms. Each realm has its own culture, language, political hierarchy, and geography. I loved to see the diversification among each realm and how they had developed into their current societies. In addition, the technology used in Excess Gravity was fascinating and highly advanced. I had never thought or dreamed of some of the technology used; however, now I cannot stop thinking about some of them and how interesting it would be to have that type of technology in our world.

Excess Gravity had a very engaging plot. I never felt as though there was a dull part or a lag in the story. We were constantly learning more about the world and many unexpected things happened. I never knew what to expect and I loved it. While I do applaud myself when I guess plot points ahead of time, I loved being in the dark in Excess Gravity. The element of surprise made the story more engaging and I loved being on the edge of my seat. The writing was easy to read and process, allowing me to comprehend all the new information very easily. The writing allows the reader to transition to a very unique and distinct world with little confusion.

The characters and their relationships were also a great part of the story. I loved the character development throughout the novel and I cannot wait to see the continuation of their development as the series progresses. My two favorite characters were Max and Jai. Although seemingly polar opposites, they were both incredibly funny and loyal in their own ways. I also enjoyed Arra, but I had some trouble liking Etaine's character. I did not like his anger or personality, at times; however, I did like that he began to work on it and that Arra also saw his flaws. Although they did not always talk about their feelings together, they saw each other's flaws and knew that they had to work on their own problems before they could become a couple. I also liked that their relationship was not forced. They knew they had other priorities and would work on their relationship when those other issues were solved. I loved the focus was more of them becoming friends again and not automatically a couple. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Excess Gravity. It was a quick and engaging read that I would highly recommend for fantasy and science fiction lovers and haters alike. The story is easy to read and easy to become engrossed into. I loved the world that A.J. Vicktoria created and I am excited to see where the story and the characters go next. I will definitely be reading the upcoming additions to the Empyreal SagaGravity Rising, a novella based before Excess Gravity, was published on May 1st and I am excited to start it sometime soon.





Monday, April 15, 2019

Rue Ordener, Rue Labat by Sarah Kofman

Summary: Rue Ordener, Rue Labat is a moving memoir by the distinguished French philosopher Sarah Kofman. It opens with the horrifying moment in July 1942 when the author’s father, the rabbi of a small synagogue, was dragged by police from the family home on Rue Ordener in Paris, then transported to Auschwitz—“the place,” writes Kofman, “where no eternal rest would or could ever be granted.” It ends in the mid-1950s, when Kofman enrolled at the Sorbonne. 

The book is as eloquent as it is forthright. Kofman recalls her father and family in the years before the war, then turns to the terrors and confusions of her own childhood in Paris during the German occupation. Not long after her father’s disappearance, Kofman and her mother took refuge in the apartment of a Christian woman on Rue Labat, where they remained until the Liberation. This bold woman, whom Kofman called Mémé, undoubtedly saved the young girl and her mother from the death camps. But Kofman’s close attachment to Mémé also resulted in a rupture between mother and child that was never to be fully healed.

This slender volume is distinguished by the author’s clear prose, the carefully recounted horrors of her childhood, and the uncommon poise that came to her only with the passage of many years (Via Goodreads.com).


Pages: 85

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review:

I was amazed by how precise and detailed Rue Ordener, Rue Labat was even though it was less than 100 pages long. It was a quick and engaging read. I found it amazing, yet terrifying at the same time. I do not know how to describe all of my emotions in regards to Rue Ordener, Rue Labat. The book is a memoir of Sarah Kofman's childhood during the Holocaust which includes her father's arrest and deportation. It also discusses the rescue of her and her mother by a woman on the Rue Labat. In addition, it explores how damaged her relationship was with her mother following the war because of the bond she developed with her "adopted" mother, Mémé.

I read Rue Ordener, Rue Labat for my French and Jewish Studies class on France and the Holocaust this semester. In class, we have read and watched films about Jewish children in France who experienced the Holocaust, whether they were hidden and protected, survived and/or escaped the camps, or were murdered. It was fascinating to see how damaging the life of a hidden child could be. I never considered how attached they could grow to their "adoptive" parent(s) and how it might be difficult for them to return to their "normal" life following the war's end. 

Individuals, such as Mémé, who hid Jewish children and families during the Holocaust should be acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts to save Jews; however, their aid to these families might have also been damaging. Not only did the Jewish communities within Europe have to regroup following the Holocaust, but some also had to reintroduce family members and children to their families and the Jewish community. The Holocaust damaged Jewish families and communities in an unknown number of ways. Mémé was also very anti-Semitic and separated Kofman from Judaism. 

I found Rue Ordener, Rue Labat extremely interesting. I easily finished it in one sitting and I highly recommend reading it. I found it fascinating to learn about Sarah Kofman's childhood and some of the lasting impacts the Holocaust had on her and her family. It was a very blunt book, which I enjoyed, but it was also difficult to read parts of it because she was so nonchalant about certain aspects and experiences from her childhood. Rue Ordener, Rue Labat was a fascinating book that I would highly recommend. I am interested to read more memoirs and stories about Jewish individuals from France during the Holocaust. It is a country I knew very little about in regards to the Holocaust and it was engrossing to learn more about the subject. 




Thursday, April 11, 2019

Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano

Summary: Patrick Modiano opens Dora Bruder by telling how in 1988 he stumbled across an ad in the personal columns of the New Year's Eve 1941 edition of Paris Soir. Placed by the parents of a 15-year-old Jewish girl, Dora Bruder, who had run away from her Catholic boarding school, the ad sets Modiano off on a quest to find out everything he can about Dora and why, at the height of German reprisals, she ran away on a bitterly cold day from the people hiding her. He finds only one other official mention of her name on a list of Jews deported from Paris to Auschwitz in September 1942.

With no knowledge of Dora Bruder aside from these two records, Modiano continues to dig for fragments from Dora's past. What little he discovers in official records and through remaining family members, becomes a meditation on the immense losses of the period—lost people, lost stories, and lost history. Modiano delivers a moving account of the ten-year investigation that took him back to the sights and sounds of Paris under the Nazi Occupation and the paranoia of the Pétain regime as he tries to find connections to Dora. In his efforts to exhume her from the past, Modiano realizes that he must come to terms with the specters of his own troubled adolescence. The result, a montage of creative and historical material, is Modiano's personal rumination on loss, both memoir and memorial (Via Goodreads.com).


Pages:

Release Date: April 2nd, 1997

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review:

I read Dora Bruder for a French and Jewish Studies class this semester that focused on France and the Holocaust. We spent the semester focusing on the experience of Jews in France as well as the lasting impact the Holocaust had on Jewish children in France. Dora Bruder focused on both of those aspects. Dora Bruder follows a narrator who was born around the time of liberation and explains how his childhood was impacted by his family's experience of the Holocaust. As an adult, he found an article about the disappearance of Dora Bruder, a Jewish teen in France, during the Holocaust and he goes on an exploration to discover what happened to her.

It was empowering to see how dedicated he was to finding out what happened to Dora. In class, some of my peers discussed that his motivations might not have been pure and he seemed almost obsessed with her, but I think that was beneficial. Without someone that cares so much about the lives of Holocaust victims, their stories and identities may never be known. The stories of Holocaust victims and survivors deserve to be known by the world. I did, however, think that he should have separated the narrated sections and Dora's story in alternating chapters. While he did bring Dora's story to life, I do agree that the narrator was using her story to tell his. I am glad that Dora's story inspired the narrator to write about his, but I think their stories should have been separated. I felt as though he took away from some of her story by telling his. The two stories needed to be told, but they should not have been intertwined because they were not in real life. He never knew Dora or knew of anyone in his family that knew her. I think he was trying to make connections to Dora that did not exist.

I liked the fact that he told Dora's story even though he knew he could never discover everything about her. Dora might have been murdered in the Holocaust and was never able to tell her story, but not having her story fully told is not necessarily a bad thing. She was able to take something away that her persecutors and executioners could not. They tried to take away her dignity and humanity, but she was able to take something with her to the grave that they could never take away from her.

I enjoyed Dora Bruder. It was an interesting and thoughtful book that I would highly recommend. I loved learning about her story as well as the narrator's. So many stories exist from the Holocaust, but many may never be fully known or known about. I hope other individuals will take this initiative and explore the stories of individuals that did not live to tell their own story. They deserve to have their story told as much as any one else does.




Thursday, March 28, 2019

Not the Girls You're Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

SummaryLulu Saad doesn't need your advice, thank you very much. She's got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It's all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can't find her way out of this mess soon, she'll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She'll have to go looking for herself (Via Goodreads.com).


Pages: 336

Release Date: June 19th, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Review:

Not the Girls You're Looking For was one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2018. It follows, Lulu, a bi-racial teen who struggles with her identity and her friendships as she navigates high school. I had heard nothing but great things regarding the novel prior to its release; however, I was quite disappointed by it. While the novel did somewhat redeem itself towards the end, I found Lulu and her friends extremely annoying and two-dimensional and her love interest left much to be desired.

Obviously teens can be annoying. As one, I would know. Lulu, however, was extremely frustrating and irritating. She made it seem as though the world revolved around her and its no wonder that she drove her friends away. She could be extremely rude and self-centered. She made everything about her and treated her parents and friends like crap. I can understand lashing out when you had a rough day, but Lulu always seemed to have an attitude. She needed to take a couple deep breaths and process everything that was going on. Instead, she took no time to handle her frustrations and caused even bigger messes by allowing her anger to multiply. 


I also do not understand why her friends were so "great." They were all rather underdeveloped and two-dimensional. None of them were anything particularly notable or special. They all seemed to be like a clique of girls in a cheesy television show or movie based in high school. I read the novel a few months ago and honestly cannot tell you any of their names. They lacked luster and were not memorable. I am all about a girl-power novel, but this book definitely was not it. They were not that supportive of one another and they all seemed more like ships passing in the night than a tight-knit group of girls that would kill anyone if they broke their friend's heart. Not all female relationships necessarily need to go to that extent, but they all acted like they were each other's everything, but they did not seem to know each other that well.


The romance in the novel was fine, but it was rather cheesy and unnecessary. There were several male characters introduced at the beginning that seemed similar and I had a hard time determining which one was which for several chapters. I liked that Lulu was not necessarily ashamed of her sexuality, but the guys could have been further developed. I essentially pictured them all the same. None of the characters were particularly distinct, they felt like carbon copies of characters from cheesy teen movies.


Not the Girls You're Looking For was rather disappointing. I expected much more from the novel; however, it was rather lackluster. The characters were not notable and the story did not seem to be going anywhere. The problems could have easily been solved if Lulu took a step back and took a minute to process everything. I definitely would not recommend it, but if you do still want to read it then I recommend borrowing it from a local library.





Monday, March 11, 2019

ARC Review: Bloodwitch (Witchlands #3) by Susan Dennard

Summary: Fans of Susan Dennard's New York Times bestselling Witchlands series have fallen in love with the Bloodwitch Aeduan. And now, finally, comes his story.

High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.

The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past (Via Goodreads.com).


Pages: 462

Release Date: February 12th, 2019

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Review:

Bloodwitch was my most anticipated release of this year. I fell in love with the Witchlands series after reading the first novel, Truthwitch, in 2016. I was a part of the original Street Team and it made the experience of the series even better. The series follows two best friends, Safi and Iseult, in a world that features a population of witches who control various elements. In Truthwitch, they attempt a daring heist that goes extremely wrong and complications ensue. 

One of the best parts of the series is the large cast of characters. In Truthwitch, we meet Safi, Iseult, Merik, and Aeduan, the four main characters. Other various side characters are introduced and slowly become more ingrained in the series. All of the books have chapters that alternate in various character's perspectives. Bloodwitch had about six different narrators, with some characters taking more stage time than others. Although each character has a strong presence and distinct voice, in previous novels of the series I found the changing of narrations annoying at times because I cared about certain characters more than others. I would frequently skip ahead and read the next chapter of the character I wanted to read about because of the suspense from the previous chapter. I, however, did not do that at all in Bloodwitch. The plots and characterizations Susan has been working on in the two main novels and the novella, Sightwitch, combined beautifully and engaged me in all the characters. While I still had my favorites *cough* Iseult and Aeduan *cough*, I enjoyed the story lines of all the characters.

I cannot emphasize how amazing the characters of the Witchlands are. They are all so precious and I want to be their best friend. I loved them all prior to Bloodwitch, however, they truly shined in Bloodwitch. Their continuation of their character arcs were fantastic and it is amazing to see how much they have grown since the first novel. I can only imagine the remainder of the story arcs.

I was absolutely amazed by some of the plot twists that were revealed in Bloodwitch. While I began to expect a few of them, they were fantastically crafted and I loved every turn the novel took. I am interested to see where the series will continue to go, there are a lot of different paths to be taken and I am interested to see where Susan takes the series. I am relatively okay with where the characters were left, but I am extremely excited to see where their journey continues in the next novel, which will be following Iseult. 

While I love the entire series, Bloodwitch is my favorite of the series so far. I loved the development of the characters and the journey they all took within Bloodwitch. The series is absolutely amazing, I highly recommend checking it out whether you are a fantasy lover or not. The series is truly one of my favorites. If you do start the series, however, please read the novella, Sightwitch, between Windwitch and Bloodwitch. It is important for some of the reveals of Bloodwitch and fits best in the series there. The characters, plot, writing, and world-building of the entire series is fantastic, Susan Dennard is a world-class writer. I am extremely excited for the series to continue and I cannot wait to see what happens next.










Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bright We Burn (The Conqueror's Saga #3) by Kiersten White

SummaryHaunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it? 

Lada's rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won't rest until everyone knows that her country's borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed's peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister's indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before--including her relationships--can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world (Via Goodreads.com).


Pages: 378

Release Date: July 10th, 2018

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review:

Bright We Burn is the third and final novel in Kiersten White's The Conqueror's Saga. The trilogy is a gender bender retelling of the story of Vlad Dracula. The inspiration behind Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, is reimagined as Lada Dracul. Lada, a political hostage along with her brother, Radu, from their father, the king of Wallachia, are sent to the capital of the Ottoman Empire as children to be under the watch of the Sultan. They quickly befriend the son, Mehmed, of the current Sultan, but Radu and Lada's loyalties become split as they grow older and Radu continues to support to Ottomans while Lada wants to obtain independence for Wallachia.

This trilogy has been one of my absolute favorites since the release of the first novel, And I Darken, in 2016. When I read And I Darken, I immediately became immersed into the story and absolutely fell in love with the characters. I had tried to read other Kiersten White novels in the past, but I could never get invested. And I Darken, however, was a complete game changer. I was able to read advanced copies of both And I Darken and Now I Rise and I read each one in a sitting. They are extremely addictive and immersive stories.

The novels are told in alternating chapters between Radu and Lada. The siblings are two of my absolute favorite characters. They are the complete opposite of one another. Radu is the sweet, yet cunning one while Lada is pure passion and extremely direct. The one thing they both have in common is their desire to protect those they love; however, they show their love and protection in different ways. It is refreshing to have two very different characters. The chapters do not always directly list who is the narrator, but it is always easy to tell, they have such distinct voices and characterizations. 

I am sad for the trilogy to be over. Generally speaking, I am okay with how the trilogy ended. I never thought it would have the traditional "happy" ending, but I also hoped for my own love of these characters that they would be truly happy. I believe they were all "happy" in their own way; however, I am extremely saddened by the characters we lost along the way. I actually felt betrayed by some of the deaths that occurred. I knew there would be loss, but the amount of loss broke my heart. No matter the loss, my heart was somewhat mended by the last scene. It was nice to have the core three characters reunited one last time.

The Conqueror's Saga is one of my absolute favorite trilogies. I highly recommend the trilogy if you enjoy action, adventure, and historical fiction. The Ottoman Empire is my second favorite empire, I first being the Mongols. I loved reading a novel heavily featuring the Ottoman Empire. It is difficult for me to choose my favorite novel in the trilogy. I loved the characters meeting in And I Darken, the shifting of loyalties in Now I Rise, and the full out war of Bright We Burn. The characters grow more mature as the books progress and their stories slowly escalate. If I had to choose though, I would probably pick Now I Rise, I loved the changing of loyalties and the fall of Constantinople was absolutely amazing. I love this trilogy dearly and I hope that Vlad would be impressed by how Kiersten White retold his story.