Cover Reveal: THE BROKEN ONES by Danielle L. Jensen

It’s finally here!! I am so happy to be able to help share the cover of THE BROKEN ONES by Danielle L. Jensen! This cover is so, so gorgeous and could possibly be my favourite, of all of Jensen’s book covers. TBO is a prequel novel to Danielle L. Jensen’s The Malediction Trilogy, one of my all-time favourite series and I can’t wait to read it. I was really satisfied with WARRIOR WITCH, the final book in the series, but I love being able to return to this beautiful world. For those not familiar with the series, I’d recommend reading STOLEN SONGBIRD (book #1), then HIDDEN HUNTRESS and WARRIOR WITCH. Even though TBO is a prequel, I always feel the official first book in a series has a better hook while prequels provide a bit of insight into characters you already know and love.

Without further ado, here’s the full synopsis, the cover and other important details. You can also find my review of HIDDEN HUNTRESS here and my immediate reaction to finishing WARRIOR WITCH here. Be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom! Angry Robot is giving away four sets of paperbacks (to be sent when the finished copies of The Broken Ones are available), plus signed swag (bookmarks & bookplates). This giveaway is international.

THE BROKEN ONES by Danielle L. Jensen

Angry Robot | June 6, 2017 | Goodreads

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

Synopsis:

A prequel to the USA Today bestseller and Goodreads Choice finalist Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy).

Below Forsaken Mountain, a revolution stirs with the aim to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right hand of its leader. It’s a secret more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it from everyone, even the girl he loves.

Since a tragic accident revealed her affliction and ruined her sister’s chance at the throne, Pénélope is an anathema to her father, the Duke d’Angoulême. Deeming her life worthless, he gives her one chance to survive: find proof that the boy she loves is a leader in the sympathizer revolution.

Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.

Except being together might be the greatest risk of all.

Now the cover!!

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Isn’t it amazing?! Usually there’s only one character/model on Jensen’s covers, so I love that both Marc and Penelope are on it. The artist for THE BROKEN ONES cover (and the covers for the rest of the series) is Steve Stone. WebsiteArtist Partners Profile.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

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Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

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Warrior Witch by Danielle L. Jensen

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About the Author:

DaniellView More: http://heatherpalmer.pass.us/danielle-jensene L. Jensen was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous, and it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy: Stolen SongbirdHidden Huntress, and Warrior Witch.

Follow Danielle L. Jensen on Amazon

My website: danielleljensen.com

Twitter: @dljensen_

Instagram: danielleljensen

Facebook: @authordanielleljensen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7091823.Danielle_L_Jensen

Rafflecopter:

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Angry Robot is giving away four sets of paperbacks (to be sent when the finished copies of The Broken Ones are available), plus signed swag (bookmarks & bookplates). This giveaway is international.

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

Goodreads Choice Awards 2016: Final Round

The final round for the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards has begun! If you remember, I posted about my favourite books and authors that made it into the semifinal round here. Some of them made it and others didn’t, so I’m sharing that below. Voting ends November 27, 2016.

Best Historical Fiction:

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien didn’t make it to the final round, I’m a bit sad about that. These four did and I think I’m voting for Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. All sound good though.

Best Fantasy:

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab made it to the final round! I’m so happy about that, I hope you all vote for it. Or if you haven’t read it, add it to your TBR along with the first book A Darker Shade of Magic.

Best Poetry:

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The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace made it to the final round! I haven’t read it, but have only heard good things.

Best Debut Goodreads Author:

Three of the four books I was rooting for made it! I’m sad The Reader by Traci Chee didn’t make it, but am super glad about the other three. I’ve been really rooting for The Girl from Everywhere, so I hope you vote for that one, or at least add it to your TBR.

Best Young Adult Fiction:

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis didn’t make it this round, but I knew it’d be tough – a lot of great books were selected. I’m also sharing a book I didn’t mention last time: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. This is a Sherlock Holmes retelling set in present day. The main character, Charlotte is actually the great-great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock. I haven’t had the chance to read it, but it sounds really entertaining.

Best Young Adult Fantasy:

My Lady Jane and Ivory & Bone didn’t make it 😦 This category is basically overrun by super popular or overhyped books. I knew ACOMAF would still be in the running and I’m voting for it this time. It is my favourite book of 2016 – yes, the year isn’t over but I doubt any other book will top it.

Thanks for reading and please vote here! Did any of your favourites make it to the final round?

Book Review: These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens by Ruby Slipperjack

29913356Dear Canada: These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens

Ruby Slipperjack

4/5 stars

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Publisher: Scholastic Canada

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Violet Pesheen is struggling to adjust to her new life at Residential School. She misses her Grandma; she has run-ins with Cree girls; at her “white” school, everyone just stares; and everything she brought has been taken from her, including her name—she is now just a number. But worst of all, she has a fear. A fear of forgetting the things she treasures most: her Anishnabe language; the names of those she knew before; and her traditional customs. A fear of forgetting who she was.

Her notebook is the one place she can record all of her worries, and heartbreaks, and memories. And maybe, just maybe there will be hope at the end of the tunnel.

Drawing from her own experiences at Residential School, Ruby Slipperjack creates a brave, yet heartbreaking heroine in Violet, and lets young readers glimpse into an all-too important chapter in our nation’s history.

Review:

These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens by Ruby Slipperjack tells the story of 12 year old Violet (Pynut) and her experience at a residential school during the years 1966 and 1967. Like previous Dear Canada books, the novel is told in a diary-like format. If you’re unfamiliar with the Dear Canada series, they are books published by Scholastic Canada with the purpose of introducing middle grade readers to Canadian history through fictionalized diary entries, along with an epilogue, historical note and (usually) real photographs and maps. Most of the books are written by different authors but the format is always the same.

The diary-like format has always been my favourite thing about this series and THESE ARE MY WORDS is no exception. The diary entries help with bringing the reader back in time and makes Violet seem all the more real.

I could immediately get into this book and the story itself was fantastic, but Violet’s characterization fell a bit short for me. She didn’t seem to have much of a personality and I couldn’t get a strong sense of the emotions she was feeling. I understood she felt angry, scared, anxious and on occasion joy, but it was more told than shown. I thought at times maybe we didn’t fully see her personality because of the way residential schools were; Violet would have gotten in serious trouble for the things she wrote. I also thought that, this being a diary, she could have at the same time poured everything she had into it. Residential schools did drain children in every possible way, mentally, emotionally, and physically, so it’s also possible that at the end of the day Violet didn’t have a lot to share.

The first couple pages were very powerful, showing the horrific ways Indigenous children like Violet were treated. One of the worst was when Violet was given a number. Being reduced to #75 really made an impact. Unfortunately, the last couple pages didn’t have the same effect and it didn’t feel like an ending. I didn’t really feel like Violet’s story was over, unlike other books in this series.

THESE ARE MY WORDS is really great for introducing middle grade readers to the history of residential schools and Canadian history. Like other Dear Canada books, this novel was outstanding and I read it from start to finish. I recommend that all teachers, librarians and parents buy this for their MG readers. I don’t think many people realize how close to us residential schools have existed. The author mentions in the historical note that the last residential school closed in 1998. 1998! That’s only an 18 year difference from this book’s publication date. I haven’t read this series for years so I’m really happy this was the book that brought me back into it.

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.

 

Back to School & New Books

If you’re like me, it’s that time of the year again and you’re going back to school. I’m starting a new semester of university and in honour of that I decided to create a bookish back to school post. So whether you’re going back to school or it’s the same, old routine, here’s some books releasing in the next couple of months that I’m super excited for. You can read them during your daily commute, between breaks, and before/after school. Be sure to add these to your Goodreads/50 Book Pledge shelves! If you decide to preorder any, keep a watch on the author’s Twitter/Goodreads/Website – a few of these books have or will have preorder campaigns.

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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Publisher: Random House

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

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

This one sounds absolutely phenomenal! Magic and monsters and Victorian London, what’s not to love? I think if you liked The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare or The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, you’ll like this.

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The Reader by Traci Chee

Release Date: September 13, 2016

Publisher: Putnam/Penguin

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

A stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of, perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent.

I’ve heard so many good things about this book! I’m a huge fan of Inkheart, so it being compared to that has me really excited.

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28220826When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Publisher: Thomas Dunne (St. Martin’s Press)

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

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.
But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

I absolutely loved McLemore’s debut novel The Weight of Feathers, so I’ll pretty much buy any future work of hers. You should definitely pick up this and The Weight of Feathers, which was a gorgeous, stunning piece of magical realism.

27414389A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Release Date: October 25, 2016

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

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

A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.

I am so, so excited for this, it’s one of my most anticipated books of the year!

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Flashfall by Jenny Moyer27414369

Release Date: November 15, 2016

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

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

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner, Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

Eeee! I’m so thrilled for this one. It kind of has a The 100 feel to it, which is a fantastic show by the way, incase you’re looking for something new to watch. It’s based on a book series, but I’ve never read it so I can’t comment on that. Anyways, Moyer’s world sounds dangerous and unique and action-packed.

25164304Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Release Date: November 22, 2016

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

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

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 before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), 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 work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. 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.

I’ll be honest, when I first read the summary I thought it would go something like this: MC is a princess betrothed/has an arranged marriage with a prince from a neighbouring land, but then falls in love with a mysterious guy, maybe the best friend of the prince or a secret rebel. Then the summary goes: falls in love/starts having feelings for the sister of her betrothed. I paused, re-read the summary and my excitement basically went through the roof. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the previous trope, I’ve just seen it a bit too much in fantasy lately.

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28375641Spindle by E.K. Johnston

Sequel to A Thousand Nights, read my review here

Release Date: December 6, 2016

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

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

The world is made safe by a woman…but it is a very big world.

It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen drove the demon out of her husband and saved her country from fire and blood. Her family has prospered beyond the borders of their village, and two new kingdoms have sprouted on either side of the mountains where the demons are kept prisoner by bright iron, and by the creatures the Storyteller Queen made to keep them contained.

But the prison is crumbling. Through years of careful manipulation, a demon has regained her power. She has made one kingdom strong and brought the other to its knees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with the final blow: a curse that will cost the princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her life.

The threads of magic are tightly spun, binding princess and exiled spinners into a desperate plot to break the curse before the demon can become a queen of men. But the web of power is dangerously tangled–and they may not see the true pattern until it is unspooled.

I loved the first book, A Thousand Nights and was thrilled to learn the author wrote a sequel/spin off companion book. This takes place 1500 years after ATN, but it’s still recommended you read the first. Johnston’s writing is really superb.

24846331Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Publisher: Harcourt Childrens Books

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

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

I love fantasy, so this is exactly the sort of thing I’ll read. I’m also getting a Robin Hood feel from it, which has boosted my interest. Also, wouldn’t that cover make the perfect colouring page?! ❤

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.

Interview with Courtney Summers | All the Rage

Today on the blog I’m sharing an interview I did with Courtney Summers, author of several  books, including ALL THE RAGE. All the Rage was one of my favourite novels of the year and I was thrilled when Courtney agreed to do an interview with me.


21853636All the Rage

Courtney Summers

Release Date: April 14, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

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Q: The thing that stands out most about All the Rage is Romy’s voice. It’s brutally honest and Romy herself seems like an unlikable character (I of course loved her!). How did you develop her voice?

C.S: I’m so glad you loved her! Thank you. Romy’s voice was developed over the course of several drafts. I feel like a big part of developing a character’s voice is just standing back and letting it happen on the page. I try not to get in the way of it by worrying too much about how it will be received. My general rule of thumb for writing all my female characters, Romy included, is to not shy away from emotions and actions that might come across as unlikable to readers and to state them plainly, even if they’re uncomfortable or hard to read about.

Q: I want to discuss a quote from All the Rage that had a deep impact on me:

“So you never said if you’re having a boy or girl.”

“We won’t know until it’s born.” I hope it’s not a girl (61).

Roy is really surprised by this. Can you tell me what you were feeling when you wrote this? Like Romy, were you surprised to find yourself writing this?

C.S: Romy is (understandably) having a really hard time dealing with her rape–she’s not dealing with it. I wanted to show how deep that trauma and hurt runs, the impact it has. I also wanted to show that even Romy can be surprised by how pervasive her trauma is and how much it has and continues to take over her life. It’s an upsetting scene and it needed to be. I wanted to be sure Romy’s pain was being clearly expressed to the reader.

Q: It’s really important for Romy to be wearing red lipstick and nail polish, and for me I saw this as a sort of armor. What was the inspiration behind this?

C.S: Romy views it as armor too. I wanted her to have something that was in her control. Everyone in town thinks Romy’s a liar. They have no problem re-traumatizing her by bringing up her rape because they don’t believe it’s true. When they see her, they see The Girl Who Cried Rape. By wearing the bright red lipstick and nail polish, Romy is, in her own way, controlling what people see–if only for a moment. 

Q: Do you have any book recommendations for after finishing All the Rage?

C.S: If anyone hasn’t read Speak before they read All the Rage, they should definitely pick it up. Pointe by Brandy Colbert. Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook.

Q: Can you share with us any projects you’re working on?

C.S: I’m working on something new, but that’s all I’m willing to say about it right now. 🙂 

Q: Can you tell me about what you’ve been reading lately?

C.S: I have been working my way through the Supernatural tie-ins! I love the show and they’re a lot of fun.


About the Author:

courtney2014hiresCOURTNEY SUMMERS was born in Belleville, Ontario, Canada in 1986 and currently resides in a small town not far from there. When she was around 10 years old, her local theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha (directed by her father) sparked her dream of telling stories that would move people the same way Don Quixote’s had moved her. At age 14, and with her parents’ blessing, Courtney dropped out of high school to pursue her education independently. During this time, she explored various creative mediums in search of the one that would best serve the tales she wanted to tell. At age 18, she wrote her first novel and never looked back. Her first book, Cracked Up to Be, was published in 2008, when she was 22. To date, she has authored five novels and is best known for her unapologetic, difficult female protagonists. When Courtney is not writing, she enjoys playing video games, watching horror movies, Supernatural, and planning for the impending zombie apocalypse. In 2016, she was named one of Flare Magazine’s 60 under 30. Visit her website and on Twitter @courtney_s

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.