Book Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

24657660Reign of Shadows

Sophie Jordan

4/5 stars 

Release Date: February 9, 2016

Publisher: Harper Teen

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.

Review:

What I love most about Reign of Shadows is its ability to bring me back to my favourite book worlds, namely Inkspell by Cornelia Funke. It has this dark fairytale re-telling but Jordan introduces enough elements for it to be classified as original fantasy. The POV alternates between Luna and Fowler and this transition is smooth. I didn’t feel like I was being thrown into the mind of another character after just getting used to the former. I instantly liked Luna, and it was great going on this adventure with her and watching her grow as an individual.

World-building is usually my favourite part of a novel and I’m happy it’s the case here. Luna has lived in a tower all her life and has little experience of the ‘Outside’ world, beyond the Black Woods. Her world is defined as Outside and Inside. Like Luna, the world starts out small for the reader and as she experiences Outside, the same can be said for the reader. This is an intriguing aspect to consider because like Luna, the reader knows there’s more to Jordan’s world than the Black Woods, but no limit has been set. I also loved the idea of a world shaped by darkness, with only an hour of midlight. There are bats four feet wide, huge eels, and my favourite, dark dwellers – creatures that live in the earth and feed on anything in their path. I love the idea of things you can only imagine becoming real.

Jordan places an emphasis on character development, mostly focusing on Luna and Fowler. This one-on-one interaction is great for the reader, who gets to know both characters while the two get to know each other. I found Luna shared more to the reader than Fowler, but I liked trying to figure out Fowler’s past. There’s a lot of romance and while I did enjoy it, I found it moved too fast in the beginning; it was almost cheesy. Life-and-death situations do bring people closer, but at the end of the day Luna and Fowler are still strangers. It was more believable near the end.

I loved the plot up until the end when the book ended on a cliffhanger. This ended up confusing me and my interpretation of the plot. At the beginning the main characters set out to find Allu, a mythical land free of dwellers. Analyzing it a bit more, you could also say Luna’s goal is to not live in the tower the rest of her life (which is accomplished). I haven’t seen this advertised as a series, but even if there’s a sequel in the works I personally feel book #1 should always have some sort of conclusion. It’s fine to include that possibility of more, but I don’t believe there should be a huge cliffhanger. As weird as it sounds I still enjoyed the adventure, even with my confusion of the plot.

Jordan’s writing has good flow and she’s at the stage where she’s in-tune with her writing. Jordan knows what words to choose and creates an almost poetic element to the book. Even with the plot confusion, Jordan has gained a new reader and I’m 100% certain I’ll read a sequel. I recommend Reign of Shadows for fans of Cornelia Funke and Stacey Jay.

I received an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Jar Recs: Winter

Book Jar Recs is a weekly feature where I recommend three books based on an idea, theme, or random word. Each theme has been randomly pulled out of a jar (inspired by a TBR jar). If you have any ideas you’d like me to put in the jar, feel free to share them in the comments below. You can also read my introduction post on this feature here.

This week’s theme is ‘winter’. Here are some of my favourite books based around that.

 


tumblr_nq9dt92m0Y1sefywro1_400I unexpectedly fell in love with Snow Like Ashes last year. When a novel has been on your TBR for so long you worry it won’t live up to your expectations. I was originally wary of kingdoms named after seasons, but Raasch makes it work. The protagonist, Meira comes from the county of Winter, which has been enslaved by Spring – and so Meira’s small band of survivors are determined to save their people. I usually find ‘winter’ or ‘cold’ the antagonist in stories so I loved that things were switched up here. Raasch is an incredibly, talented writer, particularly when it comes to first POV; everything Meira sees and feels is written down. This fantasy debut truly embodies ‘a hero in the making’. My full review of this title is here.

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

 


61-Trapped-In-IceTrapped in Ice by Eric Walters is a childhood favourite of mine. I immediately fell in love with the main character, Helen and the author’s writing. It’s really a fantastic adventure; a mix of fact and imagination. With the recent death of her father, Helen’s mother is hard pressed to find work, and is forced to take up a job on Karluk, a ship headed on an Arctic expedition. When the ship is unexpectedly trapped in ice, the crew and Helen’s family need to decide on a course of action – stay or leave.

I definitely recommend this for the usual middle grade reader, but also feel whatever your age, this makes for a fast, enjoyable read. Walters bases his story on true events [Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913] and people, and found he does a great job of imagining personalities. It’s all the more intriguing having a story told in the POV of Helen, someone with little to no experience in this type of situation and I loved that she wasn’t afraid of asking critical questions. Walters novels are either a hit or miss for me, so I’m glad it was the former.

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

 


15850937Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston is set in a post-apocalyptic world frozen by ice. What really sold me was the mix of magic and dystopian themes. Set in New Vegas, Natasha Kestal is a blackjack dealer trying to earn enough for passage to “the Blue”, a mythical land free of cold and snow. Nat has a deep, dark secret and when trying to run from it, meets up with Wes who agrees to take her to the Blue, or as close as possible. Together, Nat, Wes, and his crew start on an adventure full of secrets while battling terrible creatures, rotten from the misuse of magic. I love myths so having the authors include some of my favourite ones as the basis of their world-building was awesome! If you’re afraid of getting stuck with a stereotypical, dystopia novel, fear not, De La Cruz and Johnston blend fantasy and post-apocalyptic themes in an ingenious way.

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

Book Jar Recs: Time Travel

Book Jar Recs is a weekly feature where I recommend three books based on an idea, theme, or random word. Each theme has been randomly pulled out of a jar (inspired by a TBR jar). If you have any ideas you’d like me to put in the jar, feel free to share them in the comments below. You can also read my introduction post on this feature here.

This week’s theme is ‘time travel’. I’ll be sharing some books that are based around that concept.


23310784Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini has to be one of my favourite reads of 2015. The main character, Lily Proctor has been sick for most of her life, diagnosed with more allergies than she can count. This in turn prevents her from living life like a normal teenager. Then a humiliating event has her wishing she could disappear and Lily is suddenly sent back in time to a different Salem – brought by her other self Lillian, the strongest and cruelest witch of all.

What I loved most was the world-building. Angelini gives us an alternate Salem that has been shaped by witches and magic. It’s not made clear about the rest of the world, but America hasn’t advanced very far due to the terrifying monsters that roam the land. The only safe places are walled cities like Salem, all connected and ruled by the Thirteen Colonies. I also loved that magic worked in conjunction with technology, and science played a big role in explaining things, like how Lily got here, or the stones/gems that are a Crucible’s [witch] source of power.

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


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Winds of Salem is the third book in Melissa De La Cruz’s Witches of East End series and a fantastic end to the series. Freya Beauchamp is sent back in time to 1692 Salem (yes, another Salem book!) with no idea of who she is. Her mother, Joanna, and sister, Ingrid are stuck in the 21st century, trying to figure out how to rescue her. I’ve always loved the way the author took witches and Norse mythology, and brought them together.

In the book, the reader gets a first-hand look at a Salem witch trial along with other historical details like marriage and inheritance. I’ve found all of De La Cruz’s books to be fast reads and the Witches of East End series seems tailored for an adult or new adult audience. While delving into witches and myth, these books have a magical realism feel to it rather than urban fantasy. I recommend Witches of East End for a first time reader of De La Cruz’s works.

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


14288198Writing up this post had me realizing I haven’t read a lot of time travel books, so I’m cheating with this last rec (a non-fiction) where the reader travels through multiple times and experiences instead. Intolerable by Kamal Al-Solaylee is a memoir that details the author’s life experiences living in the Middle East from the 1960’s all the way to his life in the 2000’s living as a gay man in Toronto, Canada.

I rarely read non-fiction, unless it’s a required reading for school and probably only read this because it was on the Canada Reads 2015 Shortlist. The author has an incredible story to tell and I loved the last half of the book more than the first. What’s most interesting is the author realizing, as a young adult, the steps he needs to take if he wants to live somewhere more tolerant. I also loved that not only does the author touch on his own experiences and realizations, but he also delves a bit into the history of his parents and from times as a child that he wouldn’t remember, but his older siblings do. I personally found the writing ordinary and didn’t enjoy the introduction but this a great, short read for both the fiction and non-fiction reader. It’s a book that sheds a lot of light on the Middle East and great for informing the reader on things they might not have known or were ignorant of.

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

Truthwitch Launch Party: Part Four

Welcome to part four of my Truthwitch Launch Party feature. Over the last couple days I’ve been sharing fun ways to celebrate the release of Truthwitch.

Yesterday I posted a colouring page activity using the US cover and the map so today’s fun idea involves the UK cover. Both covers are equally stunning, so I knew I couldn’t leave one out.

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Similar to a colouring page, you can colour in the stained glass:

uktruthstained

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I left some colours so that it’s not too hard to figure out which colours go where. Feel free to use different colours and don’t worry if it doesn’t match up entirely, it’s purely for fun!

Here’s the TruthwitchUKStained PDF file you can download with all three images.

ICYMI: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Truthwitch Launch Party: Part Three

Hi everyone! It’s day three of my Truthwitch Launch Party feature, where I’m sharing fun ways to celebrate the release of Truthwitch. Remember to check out the hashtag #TruthwitchParty to view everyone’s great ideas!

Colouring is so fun and relaxing that I decided to make a colouring page of the Truthwitch US cover and the Witchlands map:

truthwitchcolouring2

witchlandsmapgrey copy

Just download the TWColouringPages PDF file and print them off! Be sure to share them on Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr and tag me @ akzfineart

I wasn’t able to make a colouring page for the UK cover, but stay tuned. Tomorrow I’ll post a similar activity using the UK one.

ICYMI: Part One | Part Two

2016 Goals & Resolutions

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Hi everyone! Happy New Year! I cannot believe it’s already 2016?! Last year I read a total of 72 books, which I’m so proud of compared to 2014 when I read around 30-ish books. I also participated in the #50 Book Pledge, the 105 Challenge (hosted by Nori at Read Write Love 28) and the ARC August Challenge (hosted by Octavia & Shelly at Read Sleep Repeat).

This year I’m challenging myself to read 75 books, sticking within four different categories:

Category One: 2016 new releases

Category Two: Books added to my TBR pile in 2015 – it’s so easy clicking that “Want to Read” button on Goodreads.

Category Three: Books added to my TBR pile before 2015 – I seriously have so many!

Category Four: Books I Own – it’s so easy buying books and letting them sit on my shelf; they may not have eyes, but they’re always staring at me!

Originally I was going to apply a set number of books for each category, but I don’t like putting myself in a box. Instead, I’ll read two books from category four, then one book from category one, two, or three and repeat. That way I’m actually making a dent in the amount of books I own and haven’t read!

I also can’t start a new series unless I finish two. We’ll see how that one goes … maybe I’ll make an exception for 2016 releases. 🙂

Here are some series I hope to finish/get caught up on:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Dust Lands series by Moira Young

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Some series or authors I want to start:

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

And two very important goals:

Read all the books of Sherrilyn Kenyon and Brian Jacques!

I am a huge fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon and so sad to admit I can’t remember the last time I picked up one of her books! Whenever I see a book of hers in a store, I always buy it. If you’ve never read or heard of her (where have you been living?!), you need to run to the bookstore/library because her books are incredible. Most of her books are part of a series, but each is written as a standalone; so you could pick up the most recent one and still be able to understand what’s going on – though it helps if you read them in chronological order.

I’ve wanted to read Brian Jacques’ books since hearing that my favourite childhood tv show, Redwall was based on his book series (same name). I’m curious, how many of you remember/watched the tv show or read the books?

Reading/Blogging Challenges I’m participating In:

Non-Reading Goals:

  • write a page a day
  • keep a reading journal => I’m on track with this one because I’ve been keeping one since late September
  • go to the gym more often (3x a week)

So there you have it! These are the things I want to accomplish in 2016! Are any of these similar to your own goals and resolutions (like books you want to read or challenges you’re participating in)? I’d love to hear about them!