Top 5 February Releases

Some incredible books were released this month! I read and loved SIGHTWITCH by Susan Dennard and can’t wait to start these other ones. You should definitely buy or request these at your local library, if you can. Once you’ve read them, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and other book retailer sites – long, short, positive, negative, it all counts. You can learn more about this feature here.


91QrCSFmO3LSightwitch by Susan Dennard (companion novella to Truthwitch and Windwitch)

Tor Teen | January 13, 2018

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

Synopsis: 

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.


37913374Web of Frost by Lindsay Smith

Eventide Press | February 13, 2018

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

Synopsis: 

A too-young queen must learn to control her powers in order to save her empire, but can she trust the only person who’s taught her to use her gift?

Russalka is a proud empire, frozen and vast, protected for centuries by a royal family who works miracles from the saints. But rebellion stirs in the streets, and its war-hungry neighbors threaten to invade. The young princess Katza has been tormented by visions of her bloodied hands destroying Russalka—a clear message from the saints that she must never rule. So when tragedy places her next in line to the throne, Katza fears their warnings are on the verge of coming true.

Then she meets Ravin, a mysterious young prophet with visions of his own: visions of Katza as a regal empress with unimaginable power. All she has to do seize upon the holy magic of her bloodline. But the more Ravin whispers in her ear, the more Katza begins to wonder whether he has her best interests at heart. With a revolution boiling over and war looming at the border, the greatest threat to Russalka may be Katza herself.


23197837The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton 

Disney-Hyperion | February 6, 2018

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

Synopsis: 

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.


35297380American Panda by Gloria Chao 

Simon Pulse | February 6, 2018

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

Synopsis: 

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?


32618983The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta 

Scholastic | February 27, 2018

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

Synopsis: 

MEET KIRANMALA: INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMONSLAYER

(But she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish later that day and a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories—like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess—and a wealth of secrets about her origin they’ve kept hidden.

To complicate matters, two crushworthy Indian princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’re here to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and slay demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld (who may or may not want to kill her) and the rakkhosh queen (who definitely does) in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

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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.

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!