Three Sequels You Need on Your TBR

Today I’m sharing three sequels that I’ve been dying to get my hands on! These all release in February and I loved all of the first books in these series’. You should definitely add these to your TBR or start reading the first book. What’re some sequels coming out soon that you’re just dying to read?


34448985Blood of a Thousand Stars by Rhoda Belleza (sequel to Empress of a Thousand Skies)

Razorbill | February 20, 2018

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Empress

With a revolution brewing, Rhee is faced with a choice: make a deal with her enemy, Nero, or denounce him and risk losing her crown.

Fugitive

Framed assassin Alyosha has one goal in mind: kill Nero. But to get his revenge, Aly may have to travel back to the very place he thought he’d left forever—home.

Princess

Kara knows that a single piece of technology located on the uninhabitable planet Wraeta may be the key to remembering—and erasing—the princess she once was.

Madman

Villainous media star Nero is out for blood, and he’ll go to any means necessary to control the galaxy.

Vicious politics and high-stakes action culminate in an epic showdown that will determine the fate of the universe.

I absolutely loved the first book in this series, Empress of a Thousand Skies! I’m a huge space opera fan so I’m glad it did not disappoint. Strong writing and compelling characters made Belleza’s debut a 5 star read.


30694168Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (sequel to Wintersong)

Wednesday Books | February 6, 2018

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

This is the sequel to Wintersong, the debut novel that introduced us to a beautiful but deadly world of music and goblins. I can’t wait to finish this series!


33123849Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (sequel series to the Seraphina duology)

Random House Books for Young Readers | February 27, 2018

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl–a subspecies of dragon–who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

So this is more like the start to a sequel series, rather than a sequel itself but I’m still including it. Tess of the Road is set in the same world as Seraphina, so I’m super excited for this! I loved Seraphina and hope to read Shadow Scale soon.

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Blog Tour: ARC Review of Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

91QrCSFmO3LSightwitch (companion novella to Truthwitch and Windwitch)

Susan Dennard

5/5 stars

Release Date: February 13, 2018

Publisher: Tor Teen

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N |  Kobo

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard, Sightwitch is an illustrated novella set in the Witchlands and told through Ryber’s journal entries and sketches.
Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch…

Before Merik returned from the dead…

Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight—and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.

Set a year before TruthwitchSightwitch is a companion novella that also serves as a set up to Bloodwitch, as well as an expansion of the Witchlands world.

I’m thrilled to be the next stop on the Sightwitch blog tour and to help promote Susan Dennard’s next book! The Witchlands series are one of my all-time favourite fantasy books. Sightwitch is the third book in the series but set before Truthwitch (book #1) and Windwitch (book #2). Check out my review below and don’t forget to pick up a copy. If you haven’t read the first two books, I talk about my recommended reading order below. This review is also spoiler-free, for those who haven’t read any of the books in the series.

review

SIGHTWITCH by Susan Dennard is a book like no other. The third book in Dennard’s fantasy series, this illustrated novella is set one year before TRUTHWITCH and is made up of journal entries, sketches, maps, letters, notes, and records as well as songs, prayers & rules pertaining to the Sightwitches. There is so much to this novella, but it is never overwhelming. Dennard’s writing skills have reached new heights. SIGHTWITCH is one of the most creative forms of the novel.

This book has two main POV’s: Ryber Fortiza, a character we met in TRUTHWITCH and WINDWITCH, and Eridysi, a Sighwitch Sister who lived a 1000 years ago. Separated by time and connected by the thread of fate. The character development Ryber experiences is incredible! At the beginning, Ryber wants so bad to be summoned and given the Sight. That desire was so strong and I wanted that for Ryber, so badly. This desire to be summoned by Sirmaya is one of the strongest I have ever felt from a character, in all the books I’ve read. Then Ryber goes on this journey and she grows so much – I loved being able to witness it all. She also meets Kullen Ikray, an Airwitch we first read about in TRUTHWITCH. I loved having him in the book because we saw a deeper, more honest side of him. He is truly a precious cinnamon roll. I don’t think I could ever read a Dennard book and be disappointed – the character development was phenomenal. The development of Eridysi, a character who lived a thousand years ago, was also great because we learn about an actual person, and not a legend or someone’s over exaggeration of Eridysi’s life. I connected so much with this character that I wouldn’t mind an entire book (or series) from her POV.

World-building is always my favourite and I especially loved the way I got to experience it here. The journal entries and sketches made up most of the book and were amazing to read. However, it was the notes and the songs and the Sighwitch rules written to the side that completed my experience. Being able to learn about the Witchlands and Dennard’s characters in this way was undoubtedly one-of-a-kind. Here’s a quote from the finished copy that I love re: the world-building:

38. THE RULE OF DISPUTED TRUTH

Oftentimes, Memory Records offer different accounts for the same event. As such, all Memory Records are true and all Memory Records are false, for what is life except perception?

Page 118.

SIGHTWITCH has changed my perception of the Witchlands – both past and future. Which brings me to my final point: we are introduced to a darker, more ominous side of the Witchlands, a side we saw hints of in the first two books. The suspense I felt in this book, the way my heart raced, other books cannot even compare. There are Death Maidens and shadow wyrms and much, much more. Fans of TRUTHWITCH and WINDWITCH will not want to miss this highly anticipated, new release from Susan Dennard. Sighwitch: The True Tale of the Twelve Paladins. The illustrations in this book were created by Rhys Davies.

My recommended reading order: Truthwitch, Windwitch and then Sightwitch. Although Sightwitch is set a year before Truthwitch, I feel your reading experience will be much more positive if you’re already familiar with the world of the Witchlands. Also, things happen in Sightwitch that would be kind of spoilery to people who haven’t read Truthwitch or Windwitch.

Here are some more of my favourite quotes:

Tanzi had recognized that the stars, the Rules – none of it was real. It was only what we chose them to be.

Page 205.

I rested my hands on either side of his face – that beautiful, lined face that I had grown to love. “This is what the Goddess wills, and so we must obey”. Then, when he had made no move to turn, I murmured the only No’Amatsi words I knew: “Mhe verujta”

Trust me as if my soul were yours.

Page 219.

And if I was being honest, I wanted to find him.

But there is always the sharp, hidden side of Lady’s Fate’s knife, where what we want is not what we ultimately get.

Page 225.

I received an eARC from the publisher. This has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book.

aboutauthor

stdennardSusan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the New York Times bestselling books Truthwitch and Windwitch, and when not writing, she’s usually slaying darkspawn (on her Xbox) or earning bruises at the dojo.

She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband, two spoiled dogs, and two grouchy cats. Learn more about her on her blognewslettertwitter, or instagram.

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (spoilers)

26032825The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)

Holly Black

3/5 stars

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Review:

One: This review has spoilers. I tried to keep them as minimal as possible, but I wasn’t able to write this without mentioning them. If you’d still like to read this review, without the spoilers, I’ve blocked them out on Goodreads. I’m also undecided on what to rate this. I loved it but there were some parts I hated. Right now I’m choosing a neutral three star rating – it’s harder for my review to be found on Goodreads if there’s no rating.

Two: I’m including the TW’s for this book here.

TW: Murder, abuse, violence, Stockholm syndrome?? not sure what you call it when the MC is living with her parents’ murderer and thinks of that person as a father/doesn’t completely hate them?, being drugged against your will, sexual misconduct, harassment. There could possibly be more TW’s that I’ve missed.

On to my actual review!

THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black is possibly one of the best Faerie books I’ve read in a long time. Before starting this, I was going through a really bad reading slump. Reading TCP did not feel like a chore. I sacrificed sleep for this book! Sometimes I’ll read a book and even if I’m enjoying it and really need to know the ending, the actual reading part will feel like a chore. I’m really thankful that the hype surrounding this book didn’t get to me and that TCP broke my reading slump. That being said, I had a lot of problems with it.

I think the world-building, the plot, and the protagonist’s character development were excellent. The book’s map confused me a bit in regards to the size of Faerie but the world itself was incredible. I loved that not every Fae you met was gorgeous – there were goblins, trolls, and all manner of creatures. Even the “beautiful” Fae had some animalistic underside to them. In this respect, the author’s vision translated to the reader. The plot’s pacing was great and even if I saw some things coming, I still felt the suspense. Finally, Jude’s character development was amazing and I felt like she really grew throughout the entire book.

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Fae/Faerie books and I would read any Fae book, even the terrible ones. My favourite author was O.R. Melling. It’s that one thing I can’t get enough of. This means I’m a little familiar with the folklore surrounding the Fae, and how cruel and devious they can be. I was not surprised to read about a cruel, dark world with violence at every corner.

That being said, just because I (an adult, and not the target audience) expected a dark, cruel world doesn’t mean the target audience will, or will even understand that some of the elements in this book are not what the real world/real people should actually be like. Some of my problems with this book would be something happening, that makes me include a trigger warning at the top of my review, and that thing being acknowledged but not challenged. I’m mostly worried about a reader connecting with one of these situations and thinking their own situation is standard, when it’s really concerning! Yes this is fantasy but that doesn’t mean a reader won’t connect their real-life situation with some aspect of this book.

For example, at one point in the book the MC is forced to eat Faerie fruit (which is basically a drug to humans) and had a very real chance of being raped or sexually assaulted. I considered it a date rape drug. The MC is compelled to take off her clothes while bystanders & the person who forced her to eat the Faerie fruit either laugh, take advantage of the MC or ignore the situation. This is acknowledged as wrong later on, but it’s never fully challenged. The assailant is never even brought to justice (for this, at least). There are probably more examples I could find but I don’t want to write a 10 page review.

As I said earlier, the MC’s character development was great but any development between Jude and other characters were basically thrown out the window. I would say the bond between Jude and her older sister Vivi were good but I was expecting more. I always want more when it comings to the MC and their sibling(s). Also, the title and the synopsis makes it seem like Cardan is the second biggest character in this book and yet there was hardly any real development between him and Jude. It’s only two thirds in that there’s any real progress.

Jude did learn that maybe there was more to Cardan than meets the eye but it was usually through a third party. So, Jude might witness something, without Cardan knowing, or she might learn something about him but from someone else. It was so dissatisfying. How is he “the cruel prince” if he’s always in the background?! The title was possibly referring to someone else (who I won’t name for spoilers) but yeah. Very disappointing.

The romance was also terrible! I expected some romance between Jude and Cardan which didn’t happen until the end. What I did not expect was Jude/Locke romance. I’m like okay, maybe it’s a love triangle. Locke turns out to be really sweet, probably the nicest of Cardan’s friends. UNTIL. We find out that Locke is secretly engaged to Jude’s twin sister, Taryn AND that he forbade Taryn from telling anyone, especially Jude. So Taryn is acting weird, always asking Jude what she’s doing with Locke AND IT ALL MAKES SENSE. I’m sorry if this seems unprofessional but this is a really creepy love triangle/square. And at the end, Taryn still wants him, while he wants both of them. Being a Fae is not an excuse for this not to be challenged. The romance was all ruined by this. Also, if my sister chose some creepy guy over me, believe me when I say we’d be having words. I can’t believe I got less Cardan for this!!

Obviously the author is really good with plot twists but I did see the ending coming. Did anyone not see it coming?

There was a slut-shaming moment/quote I’m including below because it went unchallenged and it could have been done without the slut-shaming. Totally unnecessary.

“I turn toward Oriana, expecting another speech about not getting into trouble or even a speech about keeping my legs closed around royalty, but she is too busy pleading with Oak to get out of the road” page 227.

For context, Oriana (basically Jude’s stepmother) believes Jude is becoming involved with a Fae prince and she’s warning her that wives and consorts of Fae royalty always end up as pawns. The warning was fine but not the “keeping my legs closed” part. The author could’ve just said something like “don’t be involved with a prince, it always ends bad”. This definitely lost a star.

Thank you for reading! Just to rehash, I loved THE CRUEL PRINCE but it has a lot of unchallenged problems and it is important that readers are aware of them. I’d love to know your thoughts on this book, if you’ve read it!

Top 10 Reads of 2017

Today I’m sharing my top 10 reads of 2017! I read a lot of great books last year, so this list was extremely hard to narrow down. I couldn’t pick my absolute favourite book of 2017; it came down to two: Windwitch by Susan Dennard and Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. These books were so incredible! They completely captivate the reader, from the plot and the world-building to the characters and the writing.

Of course, I had eight other favourite books, which are listed in the order I read them in. Definitely add these to your TBR. I’d also love to know your favourite reads of 2017!


29939390Windwitch by Susan Dennard (sequel to Truthwitch)

Tor Teen | January 10, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.


18710209Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

HarperTeen | May 26, 2015

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.


29282402Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

Sky Pony Press | March 1, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.


25802922Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

Razorbill | June 21, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–and for Tara–will ever be the same again.


30269126Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Razorbill | February 7, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rheehas spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.


30256109American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Balzer + Bray | February 14, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?


25164304Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Balzer + Bray | November 22, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


31706524How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringyimana and Abigail Pesta

Katherine Tegen Books | May 16, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who tells the tale of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism.

Sandra was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. She had watched as rebels gunned down her mother and six-year-old sister in a refugee camp. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped.

Thus began a new life for her and her surviving family members. With no home and no money, they struggled to stay alive. Eventually, through a United Nations refugee program, they moved to America, only to face yet another ethnic disconnect. Sandra may have crossed an ocean, but there was now a much wider divide she had to overcome. And it started with middle school in New York.

In this memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, of her hope for the future, and how she found a way to give voice to her people.


33282947See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Dial Books | February 28, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like.

But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.


30312547Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young | March 14, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

November + December Wrap-Up Post

IMG_5798Happy New Year! I have not posted in such a long time, I am so sorry! I was in a bit of a blogging slump which turned into a reading slump, but I’m hoping to make up for it in January. I only read four books in the last couple months, so I’m a bit disappointed. I wanted to at least reach my goal of 75 books. On the plus side, none of the books I did read were bad.

My favourite one was Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. I’d heard good things about this book, but I was not prepared for how incredible it is! TPT switches between the POV’s of three dancers, who all attend a very competitive Manhattan ballet school and who all want the number one spot. Angst and drama, romance and revenge, this book has it all. The ending was also incredible and totally unexpected. Pretty Little Liars meets Dance Moms. TW: Eating disorder, addiction, harassment.

November Books Read:

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

December Books Read:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Money-Smart Kids by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

ICYMI:

Book Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Top 5 November Releases

2018 Reading Goals:

My reading goals for 2018 are really simple: focus on books I own, backlist titles and 2018 debuts & sequels. I hate having regrets about my reading choices, so I’m only picking up titles that completely catch my interest. The only challenge I’ll be doing (at this point) is reading some of the books on the 2018 Canada Reads Longlist. I’d love to hear about your 2018 reading goals!

Top 5 November Releases

It’s finally November and some of my most anticipated releases came out or are coming out this month. I am so, so excited to read these and you should definitely add these to your TBR.

Be sure to buy/preorder or request these at your local library, if you can. When I write up this feature, it always reminds me about that one book I forgot to ask my library to get. If you’ve read any of these, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and other book retailer sites – long, short, positive, negative, it all counts. You can read more about this feature here.


speakerThe Speaker (Sea of Ink & Gold #2) by Traci Chee

G.P. Putnam | November 7, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Having barely escaped the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer are back on the run, slipping into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.

With Sefia’s help, Archer travels across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while she continues to investigate the mysterious Book and secrets it contains. But the more battles they fight, the more fights Archer craves, until his thirst for violence threatens to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny. As Sefia begins to unravel the threads that connect Archer’s fate to her parents’ betrayal of the Guard so long ago, she and Archer must figure out a way to subvert the Guard’s plans before they are ensnared in a war that will pit kingdom against kingdom, leaving their future and the safety of the entire world hanging in the balance.


novemberThe November Girl by Lydia Kang

Entangled Publishing | November 7, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

I am Anda, and the lake is my mother. I am the November storms that terrify sailors and sink ships. With their deaths, I keep my little island on Lake Superior alive.

Hector has come here to hide from his family until he turns eighteen. Isle Royale is shut down for the winter, and there’s no one here but me. And now him.

Hector is running from the violence in his life, but violence runs through my veins. I should send him away, to keep him safe. But I’m half human, too, and Hector makes me want to listen to my foolish, half-human heart. And if I do, I can’t protect him from the storms coming for us.

“Three-dimensional vividness…An emotional and dramatic tale of an otherworldly relationship.”
–KIRKUS REVIEWS


brassThe City of Brass (the Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Harper Voyager | November 14, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass–a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for.


jadeJade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee

Orbit | November 7, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.
Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.


roseRosemarked by Livia Blackburne

Disney-Hyperion | November 7, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes.

September + October Wrap-Up Post

34076952I didn’t read that many books in September so I decided to just combine my wrap up with October’s. I only read four books in September 😦 but finished nine in October thanks to a lovely invention called audiobooks. I also reached the 50 book mark, which makes me more confident about reaching my goal of 75 books by the end of the year. Recent faves:

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo – This anthology of six fairytale-like illustrated stories set in the Grishaverse is absolutely stunning! I’ve only read Shadow and Bone and I didn’t feel like you needed to read every Grisha book to understand this one. My favourite story was Little Knife, mainly because the ending truly wowed me. The illustrations were gorgeous and really made the book. This is also a short read, so it’s a great book to add to your reading challenge.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds – This is the first MG book in the author’s Track series and OH MY GOD it was amazing! I listened to the audiobook, read by Guy Lockard, and both the writing and the narrator were incredible. I don’t think I have ever read a book that actually made me want to run (something I hated in public and high school). I never wanted this book to end, it was so good. I can’t wait to finish Patina, the next book in the Track series and to read Sunny, the 3rd book in the series.

September Books Read:

Vampire Knight Vol. 18-19 by Hino Matsuri

Inuyasha Vol. 16-17 by Takahashi Rumiko

October Books Read:

Defy by Sara B. Larson

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

ICYMI:

Top 5 September Releases

Back to School: 6 Books to Add to Your TBR

Recent Cover Reveals in YA Sci-fi

Top 5 October Releases

Book Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

34076952The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Leigh Bardugo & Sara Kipin (illustrator) 

4.42/5 stars

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Publisher:  Macmillan/Imprint

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

Review:

THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS by Leigh Bardugo is a gorgeous anthology of six fairytale-like illustrated stories set in the Grishaverse. Whether you’ve read every Bardugo book or the Grishaverse is entirely new to you, there will be a story to enchant and frighten you. The illustrations were stunning and truly made the stories.

The format of the book: the writing would be in the usual place, taking up most of the page with illustrations surrounding it.

I loved that as you turned the page, the illustration would be added to, as if you’ve been given another clue as to how the story will end. The more you read, the more hints you’re given. The pages that followed the end of the story would be a completely illustrated two-page spread. It just added so much to the anthology.

The only reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars was because sometimes I get annoyed with that common fairytale narrative “a couple had a daughter but she was boring/ugly/useless so they treated her more like a servant but the daughter became used to it so oh well” or “she was so beautiful everyone wanted to marry her but also very kind”. I know they’re central aspects of a fairytale but they still annoy me.

Here are my individual ratings and thoughts on each short story:

Ayama and the Thorn Wood – 4/5 stars – I liked this one and it was definitely the right story to start the anthology. Bardugo explains in the author’s note where her inspiration for this story came from, but I saw different fairytales and myths in this one.

The Too-Clever Fox – 5/5 stars – This is probably my third-favourite story in the collection. I loved Koja, the “too-clever fox” and I didn’t guess the plot twist until it was too late.

The Witch of Duva – 3.5/5 stars – I’ve read this one before so it didn’t entertain me as much as the first time but I still didn’t guess the ending until halfway through.

Little Knife – 5/5 stars – I absolutely loved this one! This is probably my favourite out of all of them, simply because the ending truly wowed me. I didn’t see it coming and now I’m imagining so many possibilities, of what happened after the ending. Just superb!

The Soldier Prince – 4/5 stars – I liked the last half more than the first. I really loved the way it ended. This one was set in Kerch and when I read Six of Crows (hopefully soon) I’ll be looking for hints of this story in the SoC duology.

When Water Sang Fire – 5/5 stars – This one would’ve been my favourite because mermaids! if the ending of Little Knife hadn’t wowed me so much. This story deserves a gold star or something for drawing the most emotion out of me. I felt joy, sadness, anger and a need for revenge!! The ending had closure and I can pretty much guess what a sequel would entail but I still need one.

SPOILERS BELOW

That being said, the more I think about the ending, the more angry I am. I would’ve taken a happy ending over a character who’s fate is basically to become an anti-hero or villain. I actually thought Ulla and Signy would end up throwing the prince away and rule together as queens. I don’t know, that’s what I got from the way they interacted with each other.

SPOILERS END

I would still 100% recommend this book.

Top 5 October Releases

So many incredible books came out this month! Two of my favourite authors are listed below as well as three new-to-me authors who I’m sure will become new faves. Definitely add these titles to your TBR.

As always, I hope you buy or request these at your local library. If you’ve read any of these, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and other book retailer sites – long, short, positive, negative, it all counts. You can read more about this feature here.


33958230Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Philomel Books | October 10, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.


24974996Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Crown Books for Young Readers | October 17, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.


22552026Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books | October 24, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.


33158561Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Feiwel & Friends | October 3, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.


34017058The Bloodprint (The Khorasan Archives #1) by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Harper Voyager | October 3, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

A dark power called the Talisman has risen in the land, born of ignorance and persecution. Led by a man known only known as the One-eyed Preacher, it is a cruel and terrifying movement bent on world domination—a superstitious patriarchy that suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing.

But there are those who fight the Talisman’s spread, including the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of influential women whose power derives from the Claim—the magic inherent in the words of a sacred scripture. Foremost among them is Arian and her apprentice, Sinnia, skilled warriors who are knowledgeable in the Claim. This daring pair have long stalked Talisman slave-chains, searching for clues and weapons to help them battle their enemy’s oppressive ways. Now, they may have discovered a miraculous symbol of hope that can destroy the One-eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: The Bloodprint, a dangerous text the Talisman has tried to erase from the world.

Finding a copy of The Bloodprint promises to be their most dangerous undertaking yet, an arduous journey that will lead them deep into Talisman territory. Though they will be helped by allies—a loyal ex-slave and Arian’s former confidante and sword master—both Arian and Sinnia know that this mission may well be their last.

Book Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

ghostbrideThe Ghost Bride

Yangsze Choo

4/5 stars

Release Date: August 5, 2014

Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Yangsze Choo’s stunning debut, The Ghost Bride, is a startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists.

Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at what price?

Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family.

Reminiscent of Lisa See’s Peony in Love and Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s DaughterThe Ghost Bride is a wondrous coming-of-age story and from a remarkable new voice in fiction.

Review:

I absolutely loved THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo. I ended up listening to the audiobook, read by the author. The writing is really lovely, I couldn’t stop reading/listening to the story and the author did a fantastic performance re: reading the book. Audiobooks are usually a hit or miss for me, but this was probably my best experience yet. Another great thing about the author reading the book, I got to hear how the characters sound to Yangsze, which was pretty cool.

Li Lan was a very interesting protagonist. Sometimes things would happen to her and she’d act totally calm or she’d go do things she probably shouldn’t. Half of it was probably bravery and if she didn’t do them the plot wouldn’t move along but the other half was like curiosity or something. So I’d be like “no don’t do that” but also “why are you doing this *very confused*”. So I liked the protagonist but I also had mixed feelings re: her actions. Li Lan doing certain things that were obviously a bad idea didn’t create suspense but confusion.

I’m torn between giving this a 4 or 4.5/5 stars. I would also categorize this book as historical fiction with fantastical elements. The story was very captivating and I didn’t want to stop listening to the audio. My favourite part was probably part 2 or 3, when the MC was exploring the afterlife. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the ending – it kind of ended on a cliffhanger. This may be an effect of listening to the audiobook so I plan to check out a physical copy; I might get a sense of closure that way.

The book does use the slur c*olie a few times and while technically accurate (the book is set in 19th century colonial Malaysia) I think the author should have acknowledged it’s a slur. I’m not 100% sure if it was necessary, considering the MC doesn’t think of those in a different class as below or less than her.

This book is also told from the POV of an upper class Chinese woman (I think she’s around 18?) living in colonial Malaysia. The family have fallen on hard times, so they aren’t exactly rich but have been able to (mostly) hide their debt and still have a good name. It should’ve probably been acknowledged the sort of privilege the MC has over other classes of people living in 19th century colonial Malaysia.