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 ūüė¶ 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?

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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‚ÄĒand 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‚Äôs been taken, or if she‚Äôs even alive. The only clue to both her aunt‚Äôs disappearance and her father‚Äôs murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book‚ÄĒa 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‚ÄĒand 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‚ÄĒthe only element that can shield humanity from the curtain‚Äôs 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‚ÄĒa 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‚Äôs formidable warhorses before her coronation‚ÄĒand 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‚ÄĒand 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‚ÄĒthat is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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?! ‚̧

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‚Äôs new reality. As she grants wishes under the watchful eye of the Afrit council, she remains torn between her two worlds‚ÄĒhuman and Jinn. Soon, secrets spill. Zars are broken. Humans become pawns. And rumors of an uprising become real as the Afrit‚Äôs 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‚Äôs everything to lose, and at the same time, everything to gain‚ÄĒfor 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: 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‚Äôs more gunpowder than girl‚ÄĒand 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.

The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

I was tagged by Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks and Maria @ Big City Bookworm. This tag was created by Chami @ ReadLikeWildfire and Ely @ Ely Jane.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2016

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All The Rage by Courtney Summers – I’m a huge fan of Courtney Summers so I’m glad her latest book didn’t disappoint. This book is so important when it comes to rape culture and I strongly recommend you all pick it up.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2016

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A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas РI really liked the first book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series but ACOMAF blew me away! Full review here.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey – I loved the first book The Girl at Midnight and I can’t wait to dive into its sequel!

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year

Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas | Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz – I’m a huge fan of all of these authors, so it’s no surprise I’m widely anticipating their latest books.

Biggest Disappointment

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The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine – this book was so underwhelming! It’s such a disappointment, considering I always see people recommending this author online.

Biggest Surprise

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Rabbit Ears by Maggie De Vries – I absolutely loved this book! This is a surprise because when I first started it I originally set it back down, a little taken aback by the writing style. It’s in 2nd POV, which can go really wrong if not done right. However, I’m glad I picked it back up, it’s a fantastic book! Full review here.

Favourite New Author

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Emily Skrutskie – this author impressed me with her sci-fi debut, so I’m excited to see what she comes up with next. Full review here.

Favourite New Crush

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Jin from Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – Jin is such a swoon-worthy character!

Favourite New Characters

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ACOMAF: Rhys’ inner circle –¬†Morrigan, Azriel, Cassian, & Amren

Book That Made You Cry

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All The Rage by Courtney Summers – and also made you angry and throw the book across the room! Seriously, you need to read this book.

Book That Made You Happy

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – the cover on the right is the new one, which will be on paperbacks next summer. Isn’t it stunning?!

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought So Far This Year

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The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – This was one of my favourite books of 2015 and when I saw it was on Book Outlet, I had to snag a copy. There’s still lots of copies for sale, I definitely¬†recommend you get it.

What Books Do You Need To Read Before The End of the Year

 

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – I bought this book last year and still haven’t found time to read it! I really need to read it soon, as I’m sure once Empire of Storms comes out there’ll be lots of spoilers online.

Now I tag Sasha & Sarena @ The Pendant Trilogy, Genissa¬†@ Story Diary, and Rebecca @ Intrepid Pages, and anyone else who wants to do it! If you’ve done this tag before, I’d love to see your posts.

Book Review: Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

 

25005214Queen Song (Red Queen #0.1) – prequel novella to the Red Queen series

Victoria Aveyard

3.5/5 stars

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Publisher: Harper Teen

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary‚ÄĒhow else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.

Review:

Victoria Aveyard’s writing is superb in this prequel novella to Red Queen. Queen Song tells the backstory of Queen Coriane, from her life before the Royal Court to her friendship with the crown prince as well as the heartache and despair that comes with being a Silver daughter. Although the writing was strong, the main character was not.

I think Coriane’s personality didn’t fully get across to me and her troubles came across as a pity party. She seemed like she’d make a great mechanic or engineer and a big reader, but she doesn’t really fight for those things. As well, she talks about these things, but we don’t really see her doing them. It should be show, don’t tell. She also observes and thinks about the Reds and the Silvers. I did like that and I felt like she could’ve made strong strides as the Queen. She acknowledges that the Reds have it so much worse than the Silvers, but the focus remains on what the Silvers can’t do (like fight cancer or death). The irony is that she’s told multiple times to get a backbone and is written as weak and underwhelming.

I read Red Queen over a year ago so I don’t remember every skill/talent that the Silver houses are known for, never mind remember what a Singer can do. I wish the author had mentioned Coriane’s ability earlier (rather than near the end) and maybe explained it a bit more. I was actually starting to think Coriane didn’t even have one. Elara’s ability was mentioned earlier and in greater detail.

Maybe my main issue was that, I the reader know the fate of this character, having read Red Queen and wished for a character who fights up until the last moment, despite their fate. Coriane did act but it didn’t feel significant. It seemed to place her deeper into the hole. If you liked the Red Queen series or want to read about the backstory of this character, this is a quick read – just don’t expect a¬†great YA heroine.

Book Review (Spoilers): A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

This review will contain spoilers – they’re more about certain characters and their actions than plot spoilers but read at your own risk.


17927395A Court of Mist and Fury (sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses)

Sarah J. Maas

4/5 stars

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

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

Synopsis on Goodreads: 

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court‚ÄĒbut at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms‚ÄĒand she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future‚ÄĒand the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Review:

A Court of Mist and Fury was absolutely phenomenal! It has to be my favourite Maas book to date and one of my favourite books of 2016. The writing is just gorgeous and I’m amazed at how far Maas has come since Throne of Glass #1. I liked Throne of Glass enough to continue the series but I wasn’t into it until Heir of Fire. I’ve fallen in love with this series a lot faster and I think that’s a testament to how much Maas has grown when it comes to her writing. ACOMAF is huge and for good reason. There’s so much good character development! I’m also a huge fan of the Fae and faerie courts, so that was a plus.

Before I really get into my review there’s something I want to address – I’ve seen it mentioned in a lot of reviews, so I can’t not talk about it here. This book is New Adult. When the ACOTAR series was first announced, Maas said herself (somewhere) it is New Adult. She’s never tried to claim it as YA. Now, there’s something you need to understand about NA. There are varying opinions on this so I might get it wrong, but NA was born, and then died very quickly in traditional publishing. Most NA authors self-publish – and a lot of the time NA books will get sold as Adult Contemporary Romance. So there’s no specific section in a bookstore for NA – I’m sure a lot of people don’t even know what NA is. Maas is a big name in YA so I think this is why the series has been lumped in the YA section. If you’re uncomfortable with sexual content and coarse language and don’t want to read that, that’s totally fine. I’m not judging your likes/dislikes, but don’t take your anger out on Maas. If you need someone to complain to, talk to the bookstore or publisher for putting it in the YA section. I personally think the content is fine for YA readers – these are thinks I’ve heard teenagers say and experience. But for the love of God, don’t try to say this is erotica. If you want to know what erotica is there’s an entire book industry devoted to it. Again, I’m sorry if I got anything wrong when it comes to NA.

Anyways, back to my review.

This book is big and I love how in-depth we get with the characters – so much more than ACOTAR. The beginning I would say is very much “setting the scene”. Feyre has been traumatized by the events of the last book. She has PTSD, maybe even depression – she doesn’t have an appetite, she has nightmares and she’s not coping well. I love how Maas is able to bring us really close to Feyre’s character and understand why she is not alright. It feels a bit slow because as readers we’re usually used to getting thrown right into the action, but this is important. Tedious, but important. We also get to see how Tamlin’s been affected by those same events. I won’t lie, if you love Tamlin you might have a hard time with this book. These events and even the trauma of his parents deaths have had a very negative influence on him, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of this. It’s always hard seeing the good guy turn bad. Even though I believe that people can just snap, I think I’d have to reread ACOTAR and really analyze Tamlin’s character. I can believe that he could snap just from those events (Under the Mountain) alone, but again it’s really hard trying to decide if this was the right choice for his character.

Most of the book is set in the Night Court and there were some gorgeous, incredible scenes. When Feyre would explore the city with Rhys or by herself or with friends it was truly enchanting. It’s definitely a place I’d like to visit. Another great thing about this book, Maas decided to incorporate the Cauldron into the plot. The Cauldron is a creation myth so its significance is huge in Prythian. Feyre needs to find some artifacts hidden in both Prythian and the mortal realms, and destroy the Cauldron (which is in the King of Hybern’s possession). Feyre travels to different courts, among them the Summer Court which was beautiful! I imagine it looks like Greece or someplace around the Mediterranean. The world-building never fails to impress me.

Rhys. I loved Rhys! Maas showed us this deeply sensitive character, and how well a person can wear a mask. I was instantly intrigued by Rhys when we first met him in ACOTAR. I really liked this dark, trickster-like character, but I hadn’t been entirely sold on Rhys + Feyre. There were a couple moments in ACOTAR that I personally found abusive. Sorry, that’s my honest opinion. When Rhys and Feyre made that bargain, I got a Hades and Persephone vibe so I knew there’d be a lot of him in ACOMAF – and I was a little worried about how the romance would play out. This book is really good at selling you Rhys + Feyre. The romance between the two was well done. There’d be moments when Feyre could take the next step but she stops herself because she’s not ready or feels guilty, thinking it’s too soon – these are natural moments in dating. The development between the two was realistic¬†and believable. As well, there are a couple scenes I’d been dying to read since starting the book and let me tell you, they live up to your expectations. In the beginning I was a little taken back at how charming Rhys was – a little too much compared to the character we met in ACOTAR. However, as I continued to read I really grew to like him – Maas is really good at unveiling his mask. I don’t have a problem when the MC finds or falls in love with a new guy/girl – I mean, that’s life. We fall in and out of love all the time. As well, Feyre and Tamlin didn’t know each other for that long – what they went through can bring a couple closer together, but it doesn’t stop the falling out of love part. I only wish Tamlin hadn’t been turned into the abusive villain, which helped this new romance seem like the better/only choice. Make Tamlin the villain, but not the abusive one. Again, this is one of those was-this-the-right-choice-for-this-character questions.

My dislikes are mostly general but there is a specific one. This is a quote from page 296:

“I had done everything-everything for that love. I had ripped myself to shreds, I had killed innocents and debased myself, and he had sat beside Amarantha on the throne. And he couldn’t do anything, hadn’t risked it-hadn’t risked being caught until there was one night left, and all he’d wanted to do wasn’t free me, but fuck me, and-
Again, again, again. One-two; one-two; one-two-
And when Amarantha had broken me, when she had snapped my bones and made my blood boil in its veins, he’d just knelt and begged her. He hadn’t tried to killed her, hadn’t crawled for me. Yes he’s fought for me-but I’d fought harder for him. ”

I don’t like the assumption that Tamlin’s actions equal he doesn’t really care or didn’t fight as hard. Everyone reacts differently to things – I’ve personally experienced this myself, where people thought I didn’t care about something because of how I reacted. I’m not debating whether or not Tamlin fought as hard as Feyre, but the assumption that he didn’t because of his reaction.

All in love I really loved this book and can’t wait for the third one. I hope Maas continues on the fantastic world-building and takes us to some of the other courts in the next book. I know there’ll be some great action scenes because of how ACOMAF ended.

Nefarious Tales: Disney Villains & their Backstories

Nefarious Tales - Villain week

Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Nefarious Tales Blog Event, hosted by Mishma from Chasing Faerytales. This week is all about celebrating our favourite villains. I was so happy to be chosen for this because I love villains (who doesn’t ūüėČ ). Be sure to check out the stops below as well as a special giveaway. A villain inspired mystery pack will be given away and it’s open international.

I’ve already mentioned that I love villains but I also love all things Disney so:

Villains + Disney = Pure Gold!

Recently it seems like there’s a market, whether in books, film, or television for telling the backstories or POV’s of villains and¬†anti-heroes. Here are some disney villains that I’d love backstories of. I feel like learning a villain’s back story helps so much more with the character – sometimes¬†you even feel sympathetic towards them.

Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty

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Maleficent_poster

I first became¬†interested in Maleficent’s back story when the 2014 film Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie released. If you haven’t heard of¬†it, it’s a re-imagining of the 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty. I definitely recommend watching it because it’s such a gorgeous¬†portrayal of Maleficent and her side of the story. Jolie is a perfectly terrifying villain. Anyways, I really want to know why the other fairies had an issue with Maleficent and why King Stefan decided to involve himself in this¬†fairy feud. I’m not an expert¬†on this matter, but I’ve heard the worst thing you could do is invite every fairy¬†but one.

 

 

 

Ursula from The Little Mermaid

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Ursula is another favourite of mine. If you don’t remember, Ursula is known as the sea witch by the merfolk and looks a lot like an octopus. In The Little Mermaid, Ursula mentions that she used to live in the palace, before her banishment which has always intrigued me. Who was she, what sort of role did she have and why was she banished? Most importantly, was she always an octopus?¬†I think the fact that she turns every merperson she catches into tiny plants reinforces that idea – a sort of revenge for having lost her own tail. Plus, Poor Unfortunate Souls was one of the best songs in the movie –¬†it’s both thrilling and a cautionary tale.

Hades from Hercules 

I’ve always loved Greek mythology and the various myths surrounding Hades definitely captivate. Add in a bit of Disney magic and you get a villain that, despite his unpleasant place in the pantheon, is still able to see the humour in life (pun intended). Actually, when I started writing this post I realized Hades is pretty much funny all the time, even when he’s losing – of course, I doubt Hades is amused by this but the viewer definitely gets a laugh. So what I’d love to know is how does a greek god who got the short end of the stick find the time to be both mad and witty?

*spoilers for The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis below

Jadis, the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

The-Chronicles-of-Narnia-film-series-images-5ecbfa4b-ab52-4b31-a62c-0fa296f11ec

I’m cheating a bit with this one as the Witch Witch is technically half-disney – the book series by C.S. Lewis inspired the 2005 movie. When I read The Magician’s Nephew, I immediately wanted to know more about Jadis. She came from a world separate from both Narnia and our own, called Charn; a world that started out good, but soon fell to evil. Jadis was a powerful sorceress who battled with her sister for control of their world. The White Witch reigned terror over Narnia for 100 years but before that,¬†destroyed her own world rather than be defeated. Now imagine TWO of these villainous queens battling for control of Charn – sister against sister, villain vs. villain. That makes for a pretty incredible book.


Nefarious Tales Blog Stops:
Monday April 18:
Wren @ Bookmato Chronicles – Ten Reasons why all Victors want to be Victor Vale
Holly @ The Fox’s Hideaway – Villains I’d Join the Dark Side for
Maha @ Younicorn Reads – Why Villains Actually Make the Decisions They Make
Tuesday April 19:
Lisa @ Lost in Literature – Favourite Villains
Emily @ Paperback Princess – Villains of Harry Potter
Maryam @ Once Upon a Story – What if villains rule the world
Crini @ It’s all about Books – Why we love villains
Wednesday April 20:
Cee @ The Novel Hermit – The older I get, the more I appreciate villains
Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secret – Evil Edits: How I imagine villains to look like

Zoe @ Stories on Stage – Favourite Villains

Thursday April 21:
Erica @ The Novel Ink – President Snow
Emily @ Emily Reads Everything – People We Love to Hate
Lynette @ Charmingly Simple РFancasting of Disney Villains
Crini @ It’s all about Books – Favourite and Least Favourite Villains
Friday April 22:
Nicole @ Quality Fangirls – Villain Aesthetics
Emz @ Paging Serenity – Why I Love Anti-heroes
Denise @ The Bibliolater – Why Do We Need Villains
Saturday April 23:
Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout – 11 Common Villain Tropes as Pokemon Moves
Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts – Awesome Villain Powers
Nova @ Out of Time – The Darkling Formula
Sunday April 24:
Meleika @ Endless Pages – Why Everyone Needs a Villain in their Life
Adriyanna @ Life Writings of a Reader РDisney Villains & their Backstories
Ava @ Bookishness and Tea – Favourite Villains and Why I Love Them
Monday – My ultimate list of favourite fictional villains
Tuesday – Let’s talk about antiheroes!
Wednesday – Disney Villains (Jillian)
Thursday – Types of Villains
Friday – Villain Songs
Saturday – Why YA needs villain protagonists

Sunday – Favourite movie villains


Contest:

One person will win a villain inspired mystery pack, open INT. Enter through the rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

20983362Passenger

Alexandra Bracken

3/5 stars

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods‚ÄĒa powerful family in the colonies‚ÄĒand the servitude he‚Äôs known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can‚Äôt escape and the family that won‚Äôt let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas‚Äô passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them‚ÄĒwhether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods‚Äô grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

Review:

As I whole I thought the book was good, but I had issues with the pacing and structure. I do plan to read the sequel, but if I find the same issues, that will negatively impact my reading experience, more so than book #1. I found the prologue and first chapter to be very confusing, so much so I almost DNFed. I loved the last 30% of the book and thought it was really exciting! That cliffhanger at the end was great as well.

Bracken has a knack for world-building. I never felt like she was info-dumping when it came to explaining how time-travel works in her book. Information about passages and travellers were explained at the right moments; I was never confused about that. In addition, the settings were described really well – it was so easy to visualize all the different places Bracken takes us to. I wish we’d spent more time in Angkor, but I do see how other places warrant more space.

Although I could imagine the setting really well, the same can’t be said for physical actions. I didn’t feel like the author was clear when trying to visualize what a character was doing. For example, if character A is getting kidnapped, it’s important to know if they’re being carried by character B or on an animal etc. Important details like that weren’t made clear. Things were happening and then suddenly they weren’t anymore.

I loved Nicholas and connected with him immediately. I enjoyed being in his head. I liked learning more about him and his life. I also liked that the author made clear the issues Nicholas faces as a POC in various timelines and the way it opened Etta’s eyes. I did like Etta, but she struck me as a plain Jane; I didn’t really connect with her, or even think much of her. I’m really surprised by that because her being a violin protege should have gained a large emotional response. I’ve always wanted to play an instrument, like a violin in the way she plays – being so good to make a professional career out of it. Along with the time-traveling ability, that should have had me wishing to be her, but instead I just wanted to steal those two parts of her, nothing else.

I loved the chapters in which Etta and Nicholas were at sea, but there weren’t many of them. I know the title of the book refers to the time-travel element, but I feel like this book has been largely marketed as a pirate/sailing sea adventure. I just wanted more of that. There’s lots of references to pirates & sea adventures, but nothing really comes of that.

My issues with the pacing and structure mainly happened in the first half. Sometimes the pace was so slow and other times it was too fast. Certain characters would be sharing things about themselves and I’d feel like I missed some important character development that led to that point. This book is really big and the structure of it made it harder to get through. Like I said, if I find these same issues in the sequel and it’s just as or bigger than book #1, it’ll be a very unhappy reading experience.

I loved the ending and thought it was wrapped up really well. I have to commend Bracken for that cliffhanger – I could have completely hated the book and still read the sequel just to know about a certain thing that happens (assuming I read right to the end). I hope the sequel is like the ending – exciting, fast-paced and full of plot-twists.