Spotlight: Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

42504812._SY475_Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5) by Rachel Caine

Berkley Books | September 3, 2019

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

With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it’s worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.

The Great Library is one of those series I’ve been meaning to read for years. Every time I see or hear about this series, I’m like “why haven’t I read this yet?!”. It sounds like the perfect book for a booknerd. I recently checked out the first book in the series, Ink and Bone, from the library and I’m so excited to read it! Be sure to pick up the latest instalment from Rachel Caine!

Top 5 August Sequels

Today I’m sharing my most anticipated sequels, all coming out this month! I hope you add these to your TBR and buy or request them at your local library. You can learn more about this feature here.


36639688._SY475_Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst

Balzer + Bray | August 13, 2019

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

Synopsis:

The long-awaited sequel to Of Fire and Stars—in which Mare and Denna travel to a new and dangerous kingdom where Denna must be trained to tame her magic by a mysterious queen who is not all she seems. Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce.

Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

But just after Mare and Denna arrive in Zumorda, an attack on a border town changes everything. Mare’s diplomatic mission is now urgent: She must quickly broker an alliance with the Zumordan queen to protect her homeland. However, the queen has no interest in allying with other kingdoms—it’s Denna’s untamed but powerful magic that catches her eye. The queen offers to teach Denna herself, and both girls know it would be dangerous to refuse.

As Denna’s powers grow stronger, Mare does her best to be the ambassador her kingdom needs. Her knowledge of Zumorda and its people grows, and so too do her suspicions about the queen’s intentions. With rising tensions and unexpected betrayals putting Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerging on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?


40942588These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch

Balzer + Bray | August 27, 2019

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

Synopsis:

The thrilling sequel to These Rebel Waves—full of deadly magic, double crosses, and a revolution—from Sara Raasch, the bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series.

As a child, she committed unforgivable acts to free Grace Loray from King Elazar of Argrid. Now Elazar’s plan to retake the island has surpassed Lu’s darkest fears: he’s holding her and his son, Ben, captive in an endlessly shifting prison, forcing them to make a weapon that will guarantee Elazar’s success. Escape is impossible—unless Lu becomes the ruthless soldier she hoped never to be again.

Vex failed to save Lu and Ben—and that torments him as much as his Shaking Sickness. With the disease worsening, Vex throws himself into the rebellion against Argrid. The remaining free armies are allied with the stream raider syndicates—and getting them to cooperate will take a strength Vex thought burned on a pyre six years ago.

Imprisoned, betrayed, and heartbroken, Ben is determined to end his father’s rampage. Watching Elazar sway the minds of Grace Loray as he did those of Argrid, Ben knows he has to play his father’s game of devotion to win this war. But how can a heretic prince defeat the Pious God?

As armies clash and magic rises, Lu, Vex, and Ben will confront their pasts . . . or lose their futures forever.


36254449._SY475_Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier

HMH Books for Young Readers | August 27, 2019

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

Synopsis:

Ancient grievances, long-held grudges, and dangerous magic combine in this sweeping standalone fantasy perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Rachel Hartman.

They came in the night as she dreamt, in her berth, on a ship sailing home to del Mar. After, they would be all Reyna thought about: two carracks painted scorpion black. No emblem on either forecastle, no pennants flying above the mainmasts to hint at a kingdom of origin.

Never a good sign.

As the granddaughter of a famed navigator, seventeen-year-old Reyna has always lived life on her own terms, despite those who say a girl could never be an explorer for the royal house of St. John del Mar. She is determined to prove them wrong, and as she returns home after a year-long expedition, she knows her dream is within reach. No longer an apprentice, instead: Reyna, Master Explorer.

But when menacing raiders attack her ship, those dreams are pushed aside. Reyna’s escape is both desperate and dangerous, and when next she sees her ship, a mystery rises from the deep. The sailors–her captain, her countrymen–have vanished. To find them, Reyna must use every resource at her disposal . . . including placing her trust in a handsome prince from a rival kingdom.

Together they uncover a disturbing truth. The attack was no isolated incident. Troubling signs point to a shadowy kingdom in the north, and for once, the rulers of the Sea of Magdalen agree: something must be done. But can Reyna be brave enough to find a way?


40096288._SY475_Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Pérez

Imprint | August 27, 2019

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

Synopsis:

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Starsis the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within…


42800505._SY475_Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

Katherine Tegen Books | August 6, 2019

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

Synopsis:

“The Little Mermaid” takes a twisted turn in this thrilling sequel to villainess origin story Sea Witch, as the forces of land and sea clash in an epic battle for freedom, redemption, and true love.

Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.

Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds?

Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.

Top 10 Reads of 2017

Today I’m sharing my top 10 reads of 2017! I read a lot of great books last year, so this list was extremely hard to narrow down. I couldn’t pick my absolute favourite book of 2017; it came down to two: Windwitch by Susan Dennard and Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. These books were so incredible! They completely captivate the reader, from the plot and the world-building to the characters and the writing.

Of course, I had eight other favourite books, which are listed in the order I read them in. Definitely add these to your TBR. I’d also love to know your favourite reads of 2017!


29939390Windwitch by Susan Dennard (sequel to Truthwitch)

Tor Teen | January 10, 2017

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

Synopsis: 

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.


18710209Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

HarperTeen | May 26, 2015

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

Synopsis: 

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.


29282402Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

Sky Pony Press | March 1, 2016

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

Synopsis: 

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.


25802922Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

Razorbill | June 21, 2016

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

Synopsis: 

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–and for Tara–will ever be the same again.


30269126Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Razorbill | February 7, 2017

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

Synopsis: 

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rheehas spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.


30256109American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Balzer + Bray | February 14, 2017

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

Synopsis: 

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?


25164304Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Balzer + Bray | November 22, 2016

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

Synopsis: 

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—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the 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 become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And 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.


31706524How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringyimana and Abigail Pesta

Katherine Tegen Books | May 16, 2017

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

Synopsis:

This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who tells the tale of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism.

Sandra was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. She had watched as rebels gunned down her mother and six-year-old sister in a refugee camp. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped.

Thus began a new life for her and her surviving family members. With no home and no money, they struggled to stay alive. Eventually, through a United Nations refugee program, they moved to America, only to face yet another ethnic disconnect. Sandra may have crossed an ocean, but there was now a much wider divide she had to overcome. And it started with middle school in New York.

In this memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, of her hope for the future, and how she found a way to give voice to her people.


33282947See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Dial Books | February 28, 2017

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

Synopsis:

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like.

But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.


30312547Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young | March 14, 2017

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

Synopsis:

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

November + December Wrap-Up Post

IMG_5798Happy New Year! I have not posted in such a long time, I am so sorry! I was in a bit of a blogging slump which turned into a reading slump, but I’m hoping to make up for it in January. I only read four books in the last couple months, so I’m a bit disappointed. I wanted to at least reach my goal of 75 books. On the plus side, none of the books I did read were bad.

My favourite one was Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. I’d heard good things about this book, but I was not prepared for how incredible it is! TPT switches between the POV’s of three dancers, who all attend a very competitive Manhattan ballet school and who all want the number one spot. Angst and drama, romance and revenge, this book has it all. The ending was also incredible and totally unexpected. Pretty Little Liars meets Dance Moms. TW: Eating disorder, addiction, harassment.

November Books Read:

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

December Books Read:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Money-Smart Kids by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

ICYMI:

Book Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Top 5 November Releases

2018 Reading Goals:

My reading goals for 2018 are really simple: focus on books I own, backlist titles and 2018 debuts & sequels. I hate having regrets about my reading choices, so I’m only picking up titles that completely catch my interest. The only challenge I’ll be doing (at this point) is reading some of the books on the 2018 Canada Reads Longlist. I’d love to hear about your 2018 reading goals!

Mini Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

30256109American Street

Ibi Zoboi

5/5 stars

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

Review:

Today I’m posting a mini review of American Street by Ibi Zoboi. This isn’t as detailed as my usual reviews, but I still wanted to share the book here.

This was so good and I’m having trouble putting that into words. Zoboi is a gifted storyteller. The characters of AMERICAN STREET captivate you from the very first page. I would say the character development is the strongest aspect of this book and the story is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read. I also loved how Fabiola would compare her experiences as a Haitian immigrant in America with Vodou culture. I’m paraphrasing here but Fabiola described her situation as, “American by birth, Haiti by blood”. I didn’t expect the magical realism and it was a really beautiful surprise. A superb debut YA novel! I’m avidly awaiting Zoboi’s next work.

My review has a second paragraph but I didn’t include it here because it’s a huge spoiler. You can find it on Goodreads, where the spoiler part is hidden. Thanks for reading!

Book Review: Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

25802922.jpgMirror in the Sky

Aditi Khorana

4.5/5 stars

Release Date: June 21, 2016

Publisher: Razorbill

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–and for Tara–will ever be the same again.

Review:

This won’t be a very detailed review, more a recommendation and why this book is so important.

So I’m really sad this has such a low average rating on Goodreads but at the same time I’m not surprised. I think I may have misinterpreted the synopsis or something because when this book became more contemporary than sci-fi (what I was really interested in), I had to set it down/read it in-between other books. The sci-fi aspect is still a very big part of this book but it’s not the focus. If you want to read this because of the sci-fi element and not the contemporary you won’t like it. I’m still going to recommend MIRROR IN THE SKY to everyone because this book is so, so important! Don’t just write it off as “high school angst” – MIRROR IN THE SKY is so invaluable to teen and young adult readers. This is OwnVoices for an Indian MC; the main character is biracial but I’m not sure if that is also OwnVoices.

So many important topics/themes are covered: the pressure placed on teens to get good grades, join a fair amount of clubs/do extracurricular activities, work or support your family, make a decision/career choice that will impact your entire future at a very young age (16/17); peer pressure, bullying, racism, micro-aggressions, tokenism, misogyny. Finding yourself and just fitting in. Khorana creates a very authentic voice in her main character, Tara as well as her friends and family – it never felt like the author was introducing too much to the reader. There were so many things I could relate to, having experienced them when I was a teen and even as a young adult.

Khorana’s writing is incredibly beautiful! As the novel progresses and Tara experiences new things, some good and some bad, the narrator [Tara] talks about these events with such wisdom. They’re the kind of lines you find yourself quoting over and over again because they’re so beautiful and memorable. For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.

Important things to consider before reading/recommending (spoilers below):

One of the secondary characters is outed as gay by a friend to her other friends. The scene wasn’t exactly positive (happened during a big fight) so it could be harmful to LGBTQIA readers.

Another secondary character may have had an eating disorder – I use the word “may” because this character denied it but most of her friends agreed?said? she had one.

I haven’t been able to find any reviews that discuss these two things or the rep of either characters.

Book Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

29939390Windwitch (sequel to Truthwitch)

Susan Dennard

5/5 stars

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Publisher: Tor Teen

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

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#12DaysOfDiversity Retelling Readathon 2016

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I’m participating in 12 Days of Diversity, a holiday readathon of Diverse Retellings! Hosted by Julia Ember, author of Unicorn Tracks and the upcoming titles: Tiger’s Watch and The Seafarer’s Kiss, the readathon runs from December 19th to 30th, 2016. I’m not sure if sign ups are still open but you can read all about it in Julia’s original post here. There are also prizes 🙂

Reindeer level – Read one of the books from each category plus one other book from any category. Six books in twelve days. Then review the book on Goodreads, your blog and another retail website. Everyone who completes this level is entered into a draw for a $35 Amazon gift card or equivalent from a bookstore of your choice.

Badass Santa level – this is given to the participant who earns the most amount of Readathon Points. Points are calculated as 10 points per book read and reviewed, with a further 5 points for taking a photo of the book and showcasing it on Instagram. This person will win an actual mini trophy engraved with their name, their title as Badass Santa, their blog name and #12DaysofDiversity, along with a $75 Amazon gift card or equivalent from a bookstore of your choice.

There will also be prizes for Most Beautiful Instagram Post and Most Hilarious Review. Winners will get a diverse retelling of their choice.

I don’t expect to win the Badass Santa level, but I am aiming for the Reindeer level and the Most Beautiful Instagram post. I’m not that funny, so I don’t think I’d win Most Hilarious Review 😉

Here are the books on my TBR. I don’t believe I’ll read more than six, but I’ve included all the books I’m interested in reading – if not now, at some point in the future.

Please check out the full list here. There’s so many great titles, some I’ve read, that I couldn’t possibly fit them all here. You’ll also notice some titles fit in multiple categories.

Diverse Retellings Published in 2016:

And I Darken by Kiersten White — Retelling of Historical Dracula, Gender-Flipped, LGBTQIA

Beast by Brie Spangler — Retelling of Beauty and the Beast, LGBTQIA

Marian by Ella Lyons — Retelling of Robin Hood, LGBTQIA

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi — Retelling of Hades & Persephone, POC Protagonist

Protagonists of Colour:

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale — Retelling of Maid Maleen (Grimm), POC Protagonist

Hunting Monsters by SL Huang — Retelling of Red Riding Hood, POC Protagonist/LGBTQIA

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine — Retelling of Phantom of the Opera, POC Protagonist

Street Love by Walter Dean Myers — Retelling of Romeo and Juliet, POC Protagonist

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriot — Retelling of Cinderella, POC Protagonist

Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis — Retelling of 12 Swans, POC Protagonist

Ramayana by Daljit Nagra — Retelling of Ramayana, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler — Retelling of Little Mermaid, POC Protagonist

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi — Retelling of Hades & Persephone, POC Protagonist

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin — Retelling of The Wizard of Oz, POC Protagonist/Non-Western Influences

LGBTQIA Protagonists:

And I Darken by Kiersten White — Retelling of Historical Dracula, Gender-Flipped, LGBTQIA

Ash by Malinda Lo — Retelling of Cinderella, LGBTQIA

Beast by Brie Spangler — Retelling of Beauty and the Beast, LGBTQIA

Hunting Monsters by SL Huang — Retelling of Red Riding Hood, POC Protagonist/LGBTQIA

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesa Lia Block — Retelling of The Odyssey, LGBTQIA

Seven Tears at High Tide by CB Lee — Retelling of Selkie Folklore, LGBTQIA

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller — Retelling of The Iliad, LGBTQIA

Non Western Stories & Myths:

Ramayana by Daljit Nagra — Retelling of Ramayana, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson — Retelling of Indian Folktale, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi — Retelling of Hades & Persephone, POC Protagonist

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh — Retelling of 1001 Nights, POC Protagonist/Non-Western

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin — Retelling of The Wizard of Oz, POC Protagonist/Non-Western Influences

Published by a Small Publisher:

Hunting Monsters by SL Huang — Retelling of Red Riding Hood, POC Protagonist/LGBTQIA

Marian by Ella Lyons — Retelling of Robin Hood, LGBTQIA

Seven Tears at High Tide by CB Lee — Retelling of Selkie Folklore, LGBTQIA

If you’re not able to participate, you should still check out the list. There’s a lot of great books to discover! Let me know if you’re participating and what books you’re hoping to read.

Goodreads Choice Awards 2016

The semifinal round for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 has started and I just wanted to take this moment to write about and highlight some favourites. Obviously you can only vote for one, but I hope you find some new reads. I’m only sharing the categories and books I’m interested in, but make sure you check out all 20 categories and vote here. Voting ends in three days (November 13).

Best Historical Fiction:

I haven’t read any of these but have heard good things so they’re all on my TBR shelf.

Best Fantasy:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab is one of my favourite novels so I couldn’t not vote for its sequel A Gathering of Shadows. City of Blades and Cursed Child are also on my TBR shelf.

Best Poetry:

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I haven’t read The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace but have heard so many good things about it. I’m a huge fan of the author’s book blog.

 

Best Debut Goodreads Author:

I loved Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton and have heard really good things about The Girl from Everywhere, The Reader and The Star Touched Queen! I personally voted for The Girl from Everywhere so I hope you vote for that one too, but the rest are great choices.

Best Young Adult Fiction:

There’s a lot more good books in this category but I couldn’t fit them all, so I’m highlighting the ones I really, really want to read. I voted for The Female of the Species, in case you were wondering hint hint 😉

Best Young Adult Fantasy:

So this category has a lot of good books and a lot of NYT Bestselling, big name authors. I’m really proud of Julie Eshbaugh, her debut Ivory and Bone made it among authors like Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Aveyard. I was talking to Jodi Meadows on twitter, the author of My Lady Jane and The Orphan Queen (really good duology!) and she was really surprised to see My Lady Jane had made it into the semifinals. Even though ACOMAF was technically my favourite book, I decided to vote for My Lady Jane because I knew a lot of people would be voting for SJM.

I’d love to hear what books you voted for or if any of your favourite books made it to this round.

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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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.