Book Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

29939390Windwitch (sequel to Truthwitch)

Susan Dennard

5/5 stars

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Publisher: Tor Teen

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

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.

Review:

WINDWITCH by Susan Dennard was incredible from start to finish. Filled with action, heartache and some of the greatest moments of character development I’ve ever read, this book is sure to become a favourite of 2017. The world-building is so rich, it practically leaps off the page. Enemies become allies and allies become enemies in this stunning sequel to TRUTHWITCH.

I want to take a moment to talk about the writing. It was so beautiful that I’d take the time to analyze every paragraph, every sentence, and every word. I feel like, in a way, Dennard’s writing can be compared to the gorgeous, imagery-like writing of Laini Taylor. I’ve never really considered this before, but the world-building and character development is so complex, so rich, it’s reached that level. This is the best Dennard book to date.

Like in TRUTHWITCH, this novel is told in 3rd person, multiple POV’s. We have characters already familiar to us: Merik, Safi, Iseult, and Aeduan. However, Dennard adds a 5th voice: Vivia Nihar, Merik’s older sister. Having this many voices in one book can go really wrong, but Dennard is flawless. In fact, WINDWITCH is one of the best examples of a book told in multiple POV’s. The transitions were so smooth, that when character A’s POV ended, even though I wanted to know more about character A, I was satisfied enough to continue on with character B. There have been times when I’m reading a book with only two different POV’s and the voices weren’t different enough. I understood that these two characters had different personalities, traits and ambitions, but the voices sounded too similar; as if I were reading a book with 1.5 POV’s rather than 2. I’m really astounded at how flawlessly Dennard pulls this off.

Moreover, Dennard usually followed a specific pattern that helped make these transitions smooth. The first couple chapters had only 1 POV per chapter but eventually a POV would change mid-chapter. These POV “pairings”, as I’m calling it, were usually Merik and Vivia, Iseult and Aeduan, or Merik and Safi. Merik and Vivia, and Iseult and Aeduan were usually in the same location or general vicinity, so it made sense to have pairings like these. Like I said, this is one of the best books with multiple POV’s and if you’re writing a book like this or planning to, I’d recommend you study Dennard’s style. I think it’d be really helpful for writers to see why this style worked for Dennard and whether or not it could work for you.

The character development is so amazing, along with the sort of relationships we see between different characters. This book is Merik’s arc and the focus is mostly on him. He has so much rage and grief and regrets, that it’s funnelled into a new identity: the Fury. There’s also a focus on Vivia, and Merik & Vivia’s relationship as siblings/rivals. This relationship was the most prominent and I loved every moment of it!

Iseult/Aeduan fans will be very happy with this book. These two create a temporary alliance and start traveling together in the Contested Lands. Their chapters ended up being my favourite, mainly because Aeduan is my all-time favourite character! There was the makings of a slow burn romance and I mean slowww, but this book starts them off as could-be-friends and allies, which is something I’m really happy about.

Some readers might be a bit disappointed because, in a way, that strong friendship between Safi and Iseult, the one that drew readers to TRUTHWITCH isn’t as prominent. Safi and Iseult are definitely fighting to reach each other in WINDWITCH but it ends up more about how these two fight for survival without the other. These two characters are so strong together, but how do they fare without the other to lean on? Some very tough and heartbreaking decisions are made in this book. The reader ends up seeing a different side of the relationship we first encountered in TRUTHWITCH and I really liked that. WINDWITCH takes the characters we loved from the first book and has them forging new, exciting and sometimes difficult paths.

I was slightly confused at the beginning because a character death (that happened in TRUTHWITCH) is mentioned and I honestly couldn’t remember it happening. This was more on me than the book. I did read book #1 about 1.5 years ago.

The last couple of chapters, the POV’s would change three or four times in one chapter and my heart was actually racing. All I could think about was getting to the end, it was so good! I’m very excited for book #3 BLOODWITCH – which happens to be Aeduan’s arc 🙂 – and now plan to re-read TRUTHWITCH. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Also, because of something that happened near the end of the book I feel like I know what book #4 will be called. Okay, I’m not totally sure on the exact title but I kind of felt a foreshadowing of events to come in book #4. Dennard mentioned in a chat I think, one of the Witchlands novels was supposed to be called THREADWITCH (Iseult’s arc) but B&N wouldn’t accept that title so she had to change her plans. This ended up worrying me because I started thinking “Oh no! Everyone gets a book named after them except Iseult?!”. However, I am not worried anymore 🙂

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Sept/Oct/Nov. Wrap-Up Post

img_0785I haven’t done one of these in three months and decided to just combine them. I’ve been super busy with school and haven’t had much time to read. Little to no reading time means little to no books to talk about here  😦

September Books Read:

Vampire Knight Vol. 13-17 by Matsuri Hino

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Black Bird Vol. 1 by Kanoko Sakurakouji

Inuyasha Vol. 1 by Rumiko Takahashi

October Books Read:

None 😦

November Books Read:

Wolf Pack by Edo Van Belkom

Dear Canada: These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens by Ruby Slipperjack

Inuyasha Vol. 2-3 by Rumiko Takahashi

Rush by Eve Silver

Warrior Witch by Danielle L. Jensen

I ended up reading six books in November but I feel like I’m back on track. I started Rush over a year ago and Warrior Witch back in May. It’s really great to be able to check two books off my very long, currently-reading shelf.

Out of this list, I have one favourite I hope you check out above all the others: Warrior Witch. I know I said it took me six months to read this book, but I didn’t want it to end. Warrior Witch is the last book in Danielle L. Jensen’s Malediction Trilogy and it’s one of the best endings I’ve ever read! I can without a doubt give this book five stars. The writing is beautiful, with action-packed scenes and everything we could ever hope for in a final book. I won’t lie, the ending just about killed me but it was worth it. The characters were phenomenal and Jensen gives both her characters and her readers what we deserve: a riveting conclusion. If you haven’t heard of this series, the first book is called Stolen Songbird and it’s such a great fantasy series, 100% recommend.

I’m only six books away from my reading goal of 75, but I’ve decided to try for 100 books, or as close as possible. I’ll have lots of free time in December so fingers crossed.

December TBR:

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Spindle by E.K. Johnston

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Plus a few more but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I’d love to know what everyone’s reading in December and how close you are to your reading goals!

ICYMI:

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Back to School & New Books

Goodreads Choice Awards 2016: Semifinal Round

Goodreads Choice Awards 2016: Final Round

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

21414439Truthwitch

Susan Dennard

5/5 stars

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Publisher: Tor Teen

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Review:

I love reading an author’s second series because of books like TRUTHWITCH. Dennard’s writing is gorgeous, and her characters fresh and original. The world of TRUTHWITCH is huge and it’s because of Dennard’s experience as a writer that the reader is never overwhelmed by it all. This is the book that will be talked about for years to come, a book that deserves every bit of hype.

TRUTHWITCH is the tale of two threadsisters and Dennard is able to perfectly balance their stories, so that it never feels like one is more significant than the other. This is a multi-POV book; told in the POV’s of Safi (our Truthwitch), Iseult (Threadwitch), Merrik (Windwitch), and Aeduan (Bloodwitch). In a lot of cases, this is a big undertaking because there needs to be enough space given to each character. Dennard is absolutely perfect when it comes to this. The switch between POV’s is smooth and I felt like I got enough time with each and every character.

I loved all four of our main characters. Safi was funny and ambitious, someone who acts before she thinks. Iseult was my favourite, mainly because I felt our personalities were very similar. She was introverted and calm, and I felt like she was very selfless, in the sense that she’d give up everything if it meant her friends and family were happy. Merrik is someone who would do anything for his country and is desperately fighting for its survival. He also has a lot of rage, which fits so well with his witchery. Then there’s Aeduan, the infamous Bloodwitch. Like Iseult, he was another favourite and I can’t wait to find out more about him. He’s very mysterious and a bit of an anti-hero, but that kind of makes me love him more haha. The characters go through some serious character development and I especially loved the actions of Safi at the end – it showed her growth.

I usually mention this in my reviews, but world building is my absolute favourite and Dennard did not disappoint. If you’ve seen a map of this world, you might have noticed that it looks like an alternate version of Europe. I loved that! Dennard is so strong when it comes to giving the reader a good visual of her world. There are so many different cultures, but again we are never overwhelmed. We’d glimpse the world through the characters actions, through music and poetry, myths and legends. It was also great seeing both the good and bad of the world. For example, we experienced the discrimination of the Nomatsi through Iseult, which is her ethnicity.

I actually think if you liked Avatar: The Last Airbender, you’ll like this. The world is based upon elemental magic and the scale of the world (very big!) is about the same. I also sensed a bit of Zuko in Aeduan, which was great.

Dennard is truly a Wordwitch when it comes to writing. With magic and suspense at every corner, TRUTHWITCH is a must-read. The writing is visually stunning and the world equally so. Dennard has created a beautiful start to a fantastic, new series.

Disclaimer 1: I won an advanced readers copy from the author, this has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book.

Disclaimer 2: I wrote this review about a year after reading it, but I based it on notes written immediately after finishing it, so everything in my review is accurate.

 

August Wrap-Up Post

23381012So I read a total of five books in August, which feels like even less because four of those were novella-length 😦 Hopefully I’ll be able to read at least ten in September.

Books Read:

Born to Endless Night by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

Angels Twice Descending by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

Vampire Knight Vol. 11-12 by Matsuri Hino – these were the only books I gave 5 stars to, so let’s hope for more 4-5 star reads in September

Circle of Jinn by Lori Goldstein

I did get to finish a series this month (Circle of Jinn), which is one of my goals of 2016. I’m glad I read the Becoming Jinn/Circle of Jinn series, but overall there are other series I enjoyed more so I wish I put more time into those versus this one. You can read my full review here and decide whether this series is for you. I was not, however, able to read a single book for ARC August, which is really disappointing.

I feel like I’ve been concentrating so much on reading 2015/2016 debut novels that I’ve forgotten a bit about what I really wanted to do this year re: my reading goals. I love reading debuts and supporting these, usually, brand new authors but there are so many series I love and want to get caught up on. I’ve decided that for the last four months of 2016 I’m going to try and read backlist titles as well as books I’ve been putting off for months. Don’t be alarmed, I’m still going to read debuts, but only if I already own or have placed a library hold on it.

So I’d love to know what books you’re planning to read in September? Is anyone else going through something similar, where you try to support new authors but also end up putting off books you really want to read?

ICYMI:

Book Review: Nil Remembered by Lynne Matson

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Author Interview with Courtney Summers

Book Review: Circle of Jinn by Lori Goldstein

18046383Circle of Jinn – sequel to Becoming Jinn

Lori Goldstein

3/5 stars

Release Date: May 17, 2016

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Being Jinn is Azra’s new reality. As she grants wishes under the watchful eye of the Afrit council, she remains torn between her two worlds—human and Jinn. Soon, secrets spill. Zars are broken. Humans become pawns. And rumors of an uprising become real as the Afrit’s reach extends beyond the underground world of Janna.

Straddling the line becomes impossible. Aware of her unique abilities, Azra must not just face but embrace her destiny. But when the role she must play and those she must protect expand to include a circle of Jinn greater than her own, Azra will be forced to risk everything. A risk that means there’s everything to lose, and at the same time, everything to gain—for herself and her entire Jinn race.

In this dramatic sequel to Becoming Jinn, Azra’s story comes to a heartfelt and thrilling conclusion.

Review: 

I’m very conflicted over the rating of this book. Halfway through this was a 3.5-4 star rating for me and then when I reached the last 100 pages of the book, it became a 3. More on why in my review below.

CIRCLE OF JINN is the sequel to BECOMING JINN and while I enjoyed it overall and am glad I finished the series, I’m a bit disappointed. Becoming Jinn had such a solid plot and the character development was fantastic, particularly when it came to Azra, our protagonist. Even though this was Goldstein’s first novel, I could tell from the writing she was not an amateur [writer]. There were a few things I disliked about the first book: it focused more on the human world and Azra’s ties with humans (like Henry and Nate), which wasn’t my personal reading preference – I wanted more fantasy, less contemporary; more Jinn less human. I was hoping the second book would give me that, as things were finally getting exciting by the end.

Sadly this wasn’t the case. Like I mentioned, things were pretty slow until halfway through the book. The one thing I did like is that Azra being so focused on her ties with the human world mirrored the real problems teens go through today. For example, Azra is sort of together not really together with Nate, but she kissed Henry. She feels really guilty about that and wonders if she should tell Nate, even though they aren’t official. These are things teen-me could relate to. There were also more “serious” issues; in the first book we learn Henry’s sister and childhood friend of Azra, Jenny died as a kid. That accident and the resulting trauma has lived with her ever since. Even if this book didn’t meet what I wanted 100% (more fantastical elements), I still felt I needed to finish the book. I feel teens will enjoy and even find solace in Azra. The character development between Azra and self & Azra and other characters was great. The reader is able to connect with Azra.

I also liked the introduction of new characters like Zak and Matin. I can’t say who exactly they are (spoilers), but I feel most readers will like them.

World-building – one of the things this book is sorely lacking. It’s one of my favourite parts of a book, so that was a huge negative for me. There were so many things I wanted to know about Janna, the home “city” of the Jinn as well as the Jinn and Afrit. For example, I thought female jinn were sent to live in the human world hundreds of years ago, but apparently this happened right before Azra was born?! As well, why do Jinn grant wishes to humans? I know the Afrit force Jinn to do it to control them, but what about before the Afrit were in power? At one point a Jinn will not have enough magic to connect to a human’s soul and see what they truly desire, and therefore no longer be able to grant wishes. What’s the point of that then? Some might do it out of the goodness of their hearts, but not all are fond of humans.

I mentioned above that my rating changed when I got to the last 100 pages of the book. So many plot twists were revealed that it was just too much and those 100 pages felt like a mess. It was made even worse because in one way or another, these plot twists were all connected. The author was able to tie up all the loose ends, but it was a very bumpy ride for the reader. Circle of Jinn was also lacking action, so the ending felt anticlimactic. I wasn’t exactly expecting sword fights but a little more action would have been nice.

Now that I’ve mentioned the lack of action, there was also a lack of action from Azra’s Zar sisters. The Zar is supposed to be this eternal sisterhood going back generations. I loved this and thought it was a really great creation on the author’s part. The point of this sisterhood is to help with wish-granting etc. Together they have so much more power, so granting a wish or performing a spell is made much easier than if just the one Jinn was doing it. I felt like the author really took a step back with them. If the Zar had all helped fight the antagonist together, it would have canceled out the “Special Snowflake effect” [Azra]. The author tries to cancel the SS effect by introducing/revealing characters with powers similar to Azra, but it didn’t really work out in the end.

I actually have so many issues with the epilogue. Half the things that were mentioned could have happened in the actual book, and might have been the action this book was sorely lacking. So, I thought this book was a trilogy and I’m wondering if it was meant to be one but for one reason or another was made into a duology? It felt like the author had to fit things meant for two books into one.

Final thoughts: if you loved Becoming Jinn, you’ll probably like this. If you usually read contemporary and are looking for something that isn’t hardcore fantasy and without a lot of action, you’ll probably like this series. If you were disappointed or frustrated with Becoming Jinn, it’s unlikely you’ll enjoy this.

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

21936988The Sin Eater’s Daughter

Melinda Salisbury

3/5 stars

Release Date: February 24, 2015

Publisher: Scholastic Press

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

A startling, seductive, deliciously dark debut that will shatter your definition of YA fantasy. Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn’t a member of the court. She’s the executioner.As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Review:

I listened to an audiobook of The Sin Eater’s Daughter (read by Amy Shiels) and that was a huge mistake. There’s a lot of info dumping at the beginning of the novel, so it makes the audiobook seem really slow – like REALLY slow. The main character, Twylla would usually be talking about her past or the history of her kingdom and neighbouring kingdoms, which was interesting, but somehow the audio made it seem super boring.

Actually, the entire first half of the novel was boring and made me want to DNF it. I only continued it because at one point the king defies the queen in public and I knew something would go down. Usually the king and queen rule as equals, but the queen is the boss around here and is pretty much a villain. People have to tiptoe around her for fear of offending her and being put to death. The queen was actually the most intriguing character. I feel like I got a better sense of her personality versus Twylla’s. Finishing this book, I understand what Twylla is but not really who she is. I know being locked up in the castle half her life doesn’t really give Twylla the chance to get a hobby or make friends, but she still should have made a deeper impression on me than the queen.

There were things I liked and enjoyed about the book. The author infuses legends and myths familiar to the reader with her own fantasy world’s ones. For example, we hear stories like the Pied Piper and the biblical story of Adam and Eve falling from grace – although she changes a few things and doesn’t use the same names. The Sleeping Prince myth becomes central to the plot and I believe something like that already exists in our own world, which was great to read about! I also loved how sins existed in this world. There exist sin eaters, like Twylla’s mother, who eat the sins of dead people, which allows their soul to move on. This takes a huge toll on the sin eater. Twylla herself was meant to become a sin eater after her mother dies, but her destiny is changed and she becomes the goddess-embodied. I loved those two aspects! The world-building was my favourite part of the novel.

The romance was a little weird. Twylla and the prince haven’t seen each other for two years, so they act like I would expect: awkward strangers. Twylla and her new guard, Lief, however start to gain feelings for each other, but it only got weird when the guard says he’s in love with her after only knowing each other for 1-2 weeks. I liked the romance but it also had a lot of WTF moments.

Plot-wise it didn’t go exactly how I thought it would. There’s not much action and the protagonist pretty much stays in the castle for the entire book. I also expected the ending to go a different way, especially considering there’s a sequel. I did like the way it ended but the way I envisioned it was perhaps a bit more exciting haha. It just seemed too good to be true.

I also want to address the title. For the first half of the book I felt like it was a catchy title, but didn’t really relate to the novel or protagonist. Twylla’s younger sister is more the Sin Eater’s daughter than her, so it felt like those “The Tiger’s Wife/Daughter/something” titles that are nice but random. Twylla is the goddess-embodied and the future queen. She hasn’t seen her mother in years and won’t be the next sin eater. However, when I think about the last half of the book I’m a little unsure/neutral on the title. Sin becomes a more central theme during the last half.

Anyway, I did like this book and plan to read the sequel but there’s no way I’m listening to an audiobook again. In the last two minutes of the audiobook, creepy music starts up which was about the only good thing it did for me – it made me really excited for the sequel. Final verdict: if you don’t mind info dumping, you’ll probably like this. I wouldn’t recommend the audiobook.

Book Review: Nil Remembered by Lynne Matson

30827348Nil Remembered (Nil #0.5) – prequel novella to the Nil series

Lynne Matson

4/5 stars

Release Date: July 19, 2016

Publisher: Henry Holt & co.

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

Synopsis:

My name is Scott Bracken, and this is my journal.

Scott Bracken has been home for 28 days, but nothing is the same. A month ago, he escaped from Nil, an island of wonder, beauty, and incredible danger. Now, back in his old life, no one believes Scott’s story. To deal with his present, Scott must relive his past—whether he wants to or not.

Introduced to readers in Nil Unlocked, here, for the first time, is Scott’s journal in its entirety. Delve deeper into the world of Nil—before Charley and Thad, before Skye and Rives—and discover the truth.

Review:

NIL REMEMBERED by Lynne Matson is a quick, enjoyable read. I loved the main character, Scott – his personality really stood out to me & his humour was great. I also loved that, after going through Nil, he still found ways to make jokes. It actually reminded me of the protagonist in THE MARTIAN.

This novella is written in a journal-type format, with a mix of drawings and entries. It was an interesting way of re-discovering Nil, at least for someone like me who’s read the first book in the series & already knows a bit about the island. Sometimes it got a bit boring which I think was due to the lack of dialogue.

At the end of almost every journal entry Scott would write, “my name is Scott Bracken, and this is the truth”. I think it made this journal-type format all the more authentic. When you’ve gone through such a traumatic experience and people are telling you it wasn’t real, it definitely seems like something you’d be constantly thinking about. Something that you’d have to write down.

There were only a few things I disliked about the book. One is really specific; here’s a quote from the book:

“Now she’d been sitting in front of the Wall of Names for the last twenty minutes, Indian-style, like she was silently singing the Clash song ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go.'”.

I don’t really like that term “Indian-style”, which I usually see describing someone sitting cross-legged. I only ever see it in books published in the US, so maybe it’s only me (a Canadian) but I feel like people should use words like “cross-legged” instead of “Indian-style”. I feel like it’s not referencing Indian as in India but Native American, so I always get a bad feeling when I see it.

Overall I thought this was a fun, interesting addition to the NIL series and I definitely recommend it. Even though it’s a prequel, I’d say read NIL first and then this, just so you have a better understanding of Nil going into it. Disclaimer: I downloaded the ebook from Kobo for free, this has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book.

July Wrap-Up Post

IMG_1391I read a total of 16 books this month. Even though most of them were novellas, I’m still feeling very accomplished. I was able to reach the 50 books read mark before the end of July. One of the books I read, The Bane Chronicles, I started over a year ago so I’m glad I finally finished it. I also started Rebel of the Sands back in March, so I’m happy I finished that too!

Books Read:

Steel Scars by Victoria Aveyard

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Naruto Vol. 3-4 by Masashi Kishimoto

Morrighan by Mary E. Pearson

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson

Nil Remembered by Lynne Matson

Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

The Lost Herondale by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

The Whitechapel Fiend by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

Nothing but Shadows by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

The Evil We Love by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

Pale Kings and Princes by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

Bitter of Tongue by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

The Fiery Trial by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Rebel of the Sands would have to be my favourite book of July. Hamilton’s writing is gorgeous and I loved the slow-burning romance between the main character, Amani and Jin, a mysterious stranger she meets in the beginning of the novel. I am super excited for the sequel Traitor to the Throne. I hope you guys all check it out! Some books I liked but ultimately underwhelmed were Nothing but Shadows by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan and The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. For the first, it was basically a story within a story and very boring. The second one was also very boring for the first half of the book and there wasn’t a lot of action.

I’d love to know what everyone read in July and what they plan to read in August? Are you taking part in the ARC August challenge?

Click on the links above to read my reviews.

ICYMI:

The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

ARC August Challenge

Book Review: Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

Book Review: The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

24934065Rebel of the Sands

Alwyn Hamilton 

5/5 stars

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Review:

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton is a gorgeous, gorgeous book! I’m in awe of how beautiful the writing is. Not only does Hamilton create a world I’d love to live in, but she also creates a protagonist who I’d love to be friends with, who I might aspire to be like & who I wouldn’t mind being enemies with because I know that battle would be phenomenal. I strongly recommend everyone read this, it’s not a book I’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

The world building was my absolute favourite. I loved the legends and stories Hamilton would weave into her world. They were so enchanting; I really need some kind of legends/mythology book that lists them all. Hamilton combines two very different cultures and I wasn’t sure how that’d work, but it actually goes really well. Although the first couple chapters only seemed to have a Wild West feel, once I got into the novel, the combination was quite flawless. There are high-speed train heists and djinni and ghouls!

Amani has to be one of my favourite protagonists of all time. I liked her, but I also liked that she’s not completely likeable (if that makes sense haha). Reading this, I got a “The Mummy” feel from it. Jin was also a fantastic and very swoon-worthy character. The chemistry between the two was like this slow-burning romance – exactly like the desert. I loved that the romance wasn’t immediate – the two are strangers in the desert, and both have their secrets.

One of the only things that I was confused about was the geography of the world. I was a little unsure of which countries were against which and which countries had a part to play in the war. I think a map would have helped as I’m more of a visual person, but I know no map isn’t the fault of the author.

Another thing I loved was the reveals! Jin being a bit of a stranger, I was so focused on trying to figure out who he was that when Hamilton revealed some things about other characters I was totally and completely surprised. I did end up being half-right when it came to figuring out who Jin really was. One of these reveals was really interesting and opens up a thousand possibilities! I’m excited about that.

Rebel of the Sands is one of my favourite debuts of 2016 and I expect a lot of good things from Alwyn Hamilton in the future. I’m still not over the gorgeousness of this book! Be sure to check this one out as well as it’s sequel Traitor to the Throne, coming in 2017.

Book Review: Steel Scars by Victoria Aveyard

25362018Steel Scars (Red Queen #0.2) – prequel novella to the Red Queen series

Read my review of Queen Song (Red Queen #0.1) here

Victoria Aveyard

4/5 stars

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Publisher: Harper Teen

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

In this digital prequel novella set in the Red Queen world, Captain Farley exchanges coded transmissions with the resistance as she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital. She was raised to be strong, but planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected—until she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation: Mare Barrow.

Review:

In this prequel novella to RED QUEEN, STEEL SCARS tells the story of Farley, a secondary character from RQ & a captain of the Scarlet Guard – a group rebelling against the Silvers in power. I absolutely loved this book! Farley is a fantastic character and I wouldn’t mind reading a full-length novel in her POV. I also wouldn’t have minded if RQ had been told in Farley’s POV instead of Mare’s. Obviously it wouldn’t have been called RQ, but it’d be way more entertaining (to me).

I think I like Farley a bit more than Mare because she isn’t a special snowflake. She’s worked very hard to get where she is and her strength is human. I don’t mind characters who end being a special snowflake – I mean, who doesn’t imagine themselves as heir to the throne or having magic powers or finally getting their Hogwarts letter. However, I don’t always like it when everything about the protagonist is self-made, human strength and then suddenly we find out they’re a special snowflake & everything that made them human is left in the dust. It’s easier to identify with a character if their strength seems somewhat realistic & obtainable to us.

I also loved the behind the scenes feel we got from this. Reading decoded messages sent to and from Farley was great (although sometimes hard to read). Overall, it was really exciting! We also saw a bit of Shade Barrow, Mare’s brother and I loved the chemistry between him and Farley. Another reason why a full-length novel in Farley’s POV would have been great.

Something I did dislike about the novella, it was one big book, no parts or chapters to separate it. It made it hard to decide when and where would be a good place to pause. Sure, I can bookmark it at the beginning of the page but it seemed like pausing in the middle of the action.

I find you don’t need to read Queen Song to read this but you should read Red Queen beforehand – you’ll understand things a bit more.