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.

 

Advertisements

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.

sept

23203252

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.

25064648

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.

oct

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!

nov

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.

dec

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?! ❤

Book Review: Nil Remembered by Lynne Matson

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

Lynne Matson

4/5 stars

Release Date: July 19, 2016

Publisher: Henry Holt & co.

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

Synopsis:

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

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

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

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21853636

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

17927395

A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I 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

27245910

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

23495112

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

18053322

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

24790901

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

24934065

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

Favourite New Characters

17927395

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

Book That Made You Cry

21853636

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

girlatmidnight

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: The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster

26883560The Drowning Eyes

Emily Foster

3/5 stars

Release Date: January 12, 2016

Publisher: Tor

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

When the Dragon Ships began to tear through the trade lanes and ravage coastal towns, the hopes of the archipelago turned to the Windspeakers on Tash. The solemn weather-shapers with their eyes of stone can steal the breeze from raiders’ sails and save the islands from their wrath. But the Windspeakers’ magic has been stolen, and only their young apprentice Shina can bring their power back and save her people.

Tazir has seen more than her share of storms and pirates in her many years as captain, and she’s not much interested in getting involved in the affairs of Windspeakers and Dragon Ships. Shina’s caught her eye, but that might not be enough to convince the grizzled sailor to risk her ship, her crew, and her neck.

Review:

I’m really disappointed with this novella. After hearing so many good things I expected to love it – the premise is exactly what I love reading in a fantasy book. I was confused for most of the novella, although the ending was definitely better than the beginning. Reading the first chapter, I felt bombarded by several characters, like opening a book on a random page. There were too many voices being introduced at once. I actually considered DNF-ing it, but decided to push through, since this is a short book.

What I understood about the world and Windspeakers was interesting, but I didn’t feel like enough things were explained in the beginning and middle. For example, Windspeakers are either referred to as wet-eye Windspeakers or stone-eye. Wet-eye means your natural eyes. When Windspeakers are fully trained they undergo a surgery to remove their eyes and replace them with stone eyes. This blinds them, but also increases their power. This wasn’t fully explained until near the end. It was also not explicitly stated whether stone-eyes are blind, until the end. I assumed this, but did theorize that magic could keep their sight or something like that.

Ultimately the author’s vision did not fully translate in the writing. Maybe it’s because this is a novella, so there are less words to use or just the writing. Who knows? I’d still recommend this because I liked what I saw of the world, but maybe request it from the library first. This is a quick read so if you don’t like it, your time isn’t too wasted. I feel The Drowning Eyes would have been better as a bigger book – allowing more time for the reader to bond with the characters and world.

May + June Wrap-Up Post

tumblr_o94xrqi3dh1sefywro1_1280I didn’t have a chance to blog about what I read in May so I’m combining it with June’s wrap-up post. I read a lot in May, but it was all novellas – no full-length novels so I’m a bit bummed about that. That made me determined to read more novels in June, which I did but not a lot. I did finish ACOMAF which is basically three books in one, so that’s got to count for something. 🙂

 

 

May:

The Black Knife by Jodi Meadows

The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo

The Siren by Kiera Cass – unfortunately this one was a DNF

The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster

Vampire Knight Volumes 7-10 by Matsuri Hino

June:

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

I loved ACOMAF! It’s definitely my favourite Maas book to date and one of my favourite reads of 2016. It’s the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses and I totally recommend it.

How did everyone do with their reading last month? Any good books to recommend?

So I was looking at my Goodreads Currently Reading shelf and noticed I have 10 books on there. 10! I’ve also started a couple other books that I haven’t added onto there, so I am determined to finish a couple of those this month. I’m also planning to finally start some books that have been sitting on my shelf for almost a year. Anyone else have the same problem?

ICYMI:

Movie Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

Review of Rabbit Ears + Interview with Maggie de Vries

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—but 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—and 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—and 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.

Blog Tour: The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish + Giveaway

26109041The Voodoo Killings

Kristi Charish

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Publisher: Vintage Canada (Random House CA)

Purchase: Amazon | Book DepositoryChapters/Indigo.ca | Kobo | Audible

Synopsis on Goodreads:

For the first time since we launched Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Random House Canada is thrilled to announce the debut of a new urban fantasy series. Kristi Charish’s The Voodoo Killings introduces Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner…

For starters, she’s only 27. Then there’s the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she’s broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker–who happens to be Kincaid’s on-again, off-again roommate.

Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighbourhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he’s tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle’s infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City’s oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She’s broke, but she’s not stupid.

And then she becomes the target…As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.

I’m thrilled to be celebrating author Kristi Charish’s most recent release, The Voodoo Killings. I’ve been waiting almost a year to read this and I can’t wait for you all to read and (hopefully) love it! Today I’m sharing my top 5 reasons to check out this fantastic book. Kristi is also giving away a copy of The Voodoo Killings and an audible code, so be sure to check out those giveaways below.

top5

  1. The author – in the last year or so Kristi Charish has quickly become a new favourite of mine. Her writing is incredible and I’ve been really impressed with her debut series Owl and the Japanese Circus. When it comes to kickass heroines, Charish knows what she’s doing.
  2. Zombies – this has become a really popular theme in the last few years or so and I’m really excited to read Charish’s take on it.
  3. Strong heroine – Kincaid seems like a character I won’t soon forget.
  4. Voodoo combined with the zombie aspect sounds really dangerous, at least for Kincaid so I know we’ll get an action-packed adventure.
  5. This book sounds like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets iZombie and as a fan of both shows, that only excites me more. Also, it being set in Seattle makes me think of Grey’s Anatomy (I’m on a Netflix binge).

Bonus: just look at that cover 😍 If I wasn’t already a fan of Charish’s books, I’d pick up this book on cover alone. I think it’s impossible for a cover to look that good and the book not be as good if not better.


About the Author:

Kristi+FB+HSKristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world, and THE VOODOO KILLINGS (Random House Canada), an urban fantasy/mystery about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle with the ghost of a deceased grunge rocker.

She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. She’s also a co-host for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast.

Before becoming an author Kristi was a research scientist. She holds a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists. You can find her on Twitter @kristicharish. Visit her website.


Giveaway:

Kristi is giving away one copy of The Voodoo Killings – winner’s choice of physical or ebook and an audible code, so you have two chances to win! Both giveaways are open to US/Canada residents, but the ebook choice is only for Canadian residents. Open from June 8 to 29, 2016 midnight EST. Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted or a new winner will be chosen. Do not take entries for something you haven’t done, you will be disqualified. Good luck! Enter through the rafflecopter. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review + Interview: Rabbit Ears by Maggie de Vries

18053322Rabbit Ears

Maggie de Vries

4.5/5 stars

Release Date: March 18, 2014

Publisher: HarperCollins

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Kaya is adopted, multiracial, grieving the death of her father—and carrying a painful secret. Feeling ill at ease with her family and in her own skin, she runs away repeatedly, gradually disappearing into a life of addiction and sex work. Meanwhile, her sister, Beth, escapes her own troubles with food and a rediscovered talent for magic tricks. Though both girls struggle through darkness and pain, they eventually find their way to a moment of illumination and healing.

This powerful YA novel is rooted in the tragic life of the author’s sister, Sarah, a victim of serial killer Robert Pickton and the subject of Maggie de Vries’s Governor General’s Literary Award–nominated memoir for adults, Missing Sarah. Sarah’s tragic experiences inspired the character Kaya, as well as an adult sex worker she meets on the streets. Vancouver’s missing women form a chilling backdrop for the story.

interviewlogo

I want to say thank you to Maggie for allowing me to interview her. Be sure to check out my review of Rabbit Ears; it’s a fantastic book that I highly recommend!

1. Although Kaya’s story is fiction, Rabbit Ears was inspired by Vancouver’s missing women and the tragic experiences of your sister, Sarah. Can you tell me why you chose fiction as your medium?

MD: I wanted to write a story about a girl who survived, when my sister did not. And after I learned that my sister was sexually abused when she was a child, I wanted to explore the silence around abuse. To do that, I needed to write Kaya’s experience from the inside, and to do that I needed to write fiction. I also didn’t want to subject my family to another book about them. Fiction provided me with the distance and the flexibility that I needed. In the end, fiction also allowed me to include my sister Sarah as someone who helped Kaya, and that was a joy for me.

2. Kaya refers to herself as “you” while Beth refers to herself as “I”. I found this had several implications for both Kaya and the reader. How did this develop? Did you always know you would tell Kaya’s story this way?

MD: I didn’t. I believe that I wrote both Kaya and Beth in third person at first. Then I took a short story writing workshop from Zsuzsi Gartner, and she encouraged all of us to try something different. I went home and tried second person, even though I know it’s frowned up. Immediately, it felt right. Because of what has happened to her, Kaya is at a bit of a distance from herself. “You” makes is easier for her to tell her story. Then, at the end, she is able to switch to “I.” I think “you” also may implicate the reader more than first or third person does, forcing them to place themselves in the place of the character.

3. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

MD: I always say, read, write and live. Sometimes writers forget about the living part, but if we aren’t living fully, and paying attention to our sensory and emotional experiences, observing our world closely, we won’t have the stuff to write from. I also believe that we find our voices by grounding ourselves in our own experiences and writing from there, even when we are writing about aliens or life on the other side of the world.

4. How did you feel when you found out Rabbit Ears had been nominated for a 2016 White Pine award?

MD: I was thrilled! I knew that it meant that many teens would read and talk about Rabbit Ears, and that made me very happy. Also, even though I grew up in Vancouver and I have lived in Vancouver for much of my adult life, I was born in Guelph, Ontario and my mother lives there now, so I have spent a lot of time there. I’m excited about coming to the ceremony on May 17 and spending some time in Ontario then.

5. Can you share with us any projects you’re working on?

MD: Right now, I’m working on revisions on A Voice for Change, which is a different project for me because I’m not the author. A Voice for Change is Rinelle Harper’s story and she and her mother are the authors. I’m the writer. Rinelle is a remarkable young woman, and it has been a great honour to work on this book with her and her family. I have learned a great deal. I’ve spent a lot of time in Winnipeg and I’ve traveled to their home community of Garden Hill in northern Manitoba. I believe that A Voice for Change will come out this fall.

I also have a picture book coming out next spring called Swimming with Seals. Like Rabbit Ears, it’s a true story in fictional form. My sister Sarah and her daughter Jeanie both love to swim, just like in Rabbit Ears, but they never got to swim together. In Swimming with Seals, they do.

6. What have you been reading lately? Anything you can recommend?

MD: Right now I’m reading The Hunter and the Wild Girl by Pauline Holdstock, which is a strange and beautiful, like a dark fairy tale. And I just finished Ru by Kim Thuy, which is one of the most poetic books I’ve read in a long while. Haunting. Also by my bed at the moment is The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. I had never read anything by Oliver Sacks, and when he died last August, I was reminded that that was a terrible gap in my reading. What a fascinating man!

review

When I finished this book all I could think was wow. Just wow! Even though Kaya’s story is fiction, the author has weaved in true stories of Vancouver’s missing women and that builds up such an emotional response in the reader. The characters of Rabbit Ears have their own deep, dark painful secrets; the more you read, the closer you are to figuring out what those are. I couldn’t help asking myself is this the story of a survivor or someone who couldn’t get out. Rabbit Ears is an incredible book and the author brings alive some very important issues, including but not limited to: Vancouver’s missing women, drug addiction, sex work and teen runaways. This is a must-read, something that shows you can help break the silence and bring awareness. A discussion opener.

I couldn’t immediately get into the book. The format and writing style surprised me so it was hard to convince myself to continue reading. I’m so glad I did because once I got into it, I couldn’t stop. Later on, deep into the book, I started reflecting on the writing. Rabbit Ears is split into two POV’s: Kaya’s and her older sister, Beth’s. Within each chapter, there are a lot of page breaks; short entries like you’d find in a journal or diary. What’s really interesting (I didn’t immediately see the difference) is that Kaya’s POV is in second person while Beth’s is in third person. This means that instead of Kaya referring to herself as “I”, she uses “you”. This has a few implications. For the reader, it fits with the idea that by reading this, you provide a space for Kaya’s story. It could even mean that an Outsider is telling Kaya’s story because for some reason Kaya herself isn’t able to. This worried me about how the book would end, as I mentioned before. For Kaya herself, the “you” creates a wall – it’s easier to tell your story if you’re looking at yourself from far away. The entire format of the book is a perfect fit for the story.

I loved the different perspectives of Kaya and Beth. Kaya, Beth and their mother are grieving the loss of their father, who passes away from cancer before the book begins. This seems to set off the events happening in Rabbit Ears. Kaya is adopted and multiracial; with little to no friends in school, she is constantly dealing with bullying and racism. She ends up meeting Sarah, a sex worker and heroin addict, in Vancouver’s Eastside. Sarah saves her and tries to warn her of the dangers. She herself doesn’t believe she can get out, but Kaya has a home and a family. Sarah views Kaya as a survivor, someone who can be saved, someone who doesn’t belong in this world of sex trafficking and addiction. The fact that the author has written in her own sister, Sarah (who was a victim of serial killer Robert Pickton) as a character makes the novel all the more powerful and moving.

We don’t see Beth’s POV as much as Kaya’s, but we do see enough. I would say Beth takes up the tough love approach when it comes to how she and her mom deal with Kaya. Beth doesn’t understand why Kaya would do this – hurt their family and runaway from home. She thinks their mom is too lenient on Kaya. Beth is also embarrassed by what’s going on, not wanting her friends to find out. However, Beth is also worried for Kaya. After all, they are still sisters and I felt like throughout the novel, Beth really comes through. This bond of sisterhood is strong.

This book is shorter than my usual reads, but the length doesn’t diminish the plot. If you feel like this book will make you uncomfortable because you’ve never experienced what these characters go through, I recommend you read this. This book opens your eyes, it makes the unbelievable very real. Fortunately, I’ve never had to experience what Kaya and other characters go through. I know these things can and do happen to women, but reading this book actually opened my eyes. So if you’re reading this book or you’ve read it and think “how can this even be real”, stop and reflect. Kaya’s story is fiction, but her story is representative of so many victims. There is truth between the lines.

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 😉 ). 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

Sleeping-beauty-disneyscreencaps.com-791

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

enhanced-buzz-wide-32020-1442957141-21

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 – Fancasting 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 – Disney 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