Review of Windwitch by Susan Dennard

WindwitchWindwitch (Witchlands #2)
By: Susan Dennard
Release Date: January 10th 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
First, that cover. Wow, that is glorious and incredible. I was so excited to receive this book for review. I enjoyed Truthwitch but I felt that this sequel was even better. I loved all the tension this book had and didn’t feel that it suffered from middle book syndrome at all. It was action  packed, full of character growth and I loved the character’s relationships with each other. I loved how Dennard threw unlikely companions together.

Even in Truthwitch Aeduan, the Bloodwitch, caught my interest. He was easily the character I was most intrigued by. I needed to know more about his story and this book gave me glimpses. I loved reading from his point of view and also learning a bit about his past. Also, how can anyone not love him and Iseult together? These two have chemistry and I love what aspects they draw out of one another.

I’ll admit that in the first book I was a total black sheep and didn’t love Safi.  I don’t know why but she just didn’t resonate all that much with me but in this book she did! I loved seeing her thrown in an unexpected circumstance. She was bold, brave and badass. I loved how she interacted with others and I was just really swept away in her story.

I loved that though the content of the book was action packed and tense there were moments I laughed out loud. And Dennard did the action scenes so well! I could vividly imagine all the details and it felt like watching a movie as I read. The setting was well described which helped make this book that much more tangible. Of course the magical system continued to be impressive and really, this book has been one of my favorite fantasy novels I’ve read in a while. I’m so happy I chose to pick it up and read.

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Final Thoughts:
If you read Truthwitch you must read this sequel- and if you are new to the series I highly recommend it. I can’t wait to see where Bloodwitch, the third novel, will go.

Review of A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

apromiseoffireA Promise of Fire
By: Amanda Bouchet
Release Date: August 2nd 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this book on Twitter and after seeing that cover and reading the summary I was eager to jump in. I really enjoyed this book! It was a fantasy romance so there were some sex scenes so younger readers take note. This book was a quick read with characters I found easy to like and a nice helping of action and magic.

We are introduced to the lead, Cat, at a circus where she performs as a soothsayer, fortune teller and uses this backdrop as a means to hide out from her past. We follow the story from her point of view and I found her to be rather likeable- though she is STUBBORN. She has a really dark past and I think the reader can figure out pretty early what and who she is. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be obvious or not but it was to me. The other characters see that there’s more to Cat than she lets on but no one knows her secret. I think this disconnect between the reader knowing and the other characters not can be a tad annoying at places. Cat’s complete refusal to tell Griffin anything relevant about herself grated on me as well.

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Now, Griffin. What a character he was. He’s the Beta Sinta (second in command)-his family had just overthrown the ruling family in Sinta and he’s fighting to capture the respect and trust of the people his sister (Alpha Sinta) rules. He has need of Cat’s skills and was given an oracle dream that helped lead him to her. I completely pictured Jason Momoa when I was reading which was very nice, haha. His character was for the most part very likeable and, he too, was very strong willed. You don’t have to read for long before his life collides with Cat’s and these two bold personalities created many disagreements, and honestly, humor. I loved how these two pushed one another. I really enjoyed the romance (it does play a large role in the novel) and felt that these characters were well matched. Both struggle with flaws so it created a realness that I appreciated.

Magic had a huge role in this book and Cat seems to be able to do it all. It veered on convenient at times but I could go with it because the rest of the book was so entertaining. There are reasons she can harness all this magic but it, at times, makes her invincible. Regardless, I did worry for the other characters and their fates.

The world Bouchet has created was SO original! I think the mix of a new world, fantasy elements and ancient Gods really pushed this book into something so unique. I love that Hades, Poseidon, etc all have a role to play as they enforce their will on humanity. I loved that this element was woven into this world.

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Final Thoughts:
I will be reading the second book because I must know what will happen next. This book didn’t really leave you on a cliff hanger though people and events have moved to lead up to an epic battle that has to be on the horizon. If you are searching for an unique fantasy with a hate to love ship and some steamy scenes this book is for you.

Blog Tour- A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

ashadowbrightandburningA Shadow Bright and Burning
By: Jessica Cluess
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Random House
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

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

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is 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?

My Thoughts:
I fell in love at first sight with this book’s cover and the title. When I heard this was a fantasy book I knew it was for me. What I didn’t expect was the Jane Austen parallels throughout the novel as well as how fun a book this was.

I expected this to be more of a run-of-the mill fantasy with magic, a fantastical land etc. Ok, yes, had I read the summary I’d have seen that it takes place in LONDON and not a completely made up world. I loved that the setting ended up being Victorian London with dashes of magic and some really evil bad guys lurking around.

I felt this novel was fast paced and kept my interest from start to finish. I found the characters to be likeable and Henrietta was a wonderful main character to follow and learn the world with. She also so happens to be a rarity in that she is the lone female capable of magic. Once her abilities are recognized she’s whisked off to a school for magic and the story really gets going.

Henrietta refuses to go to the magical school unless her childhood friend, Rook, was allowed to go with them. These two characters have a history with one another and Rook’s character was very interesting. He had always been looked down upon and really isolated because of an event that happened when he was a child. I was mesmerized with the details surrounding him and this event.

Who doesn’t love the setting to have a magical school? Her Majesty’s Sorcerers are a small group and, of course, since Henrietta was the only female student she ran into trouble with not being accepted and feeling she’s not capable. I enjoyed reading about her own struggles with coming to terms with her power and the idea that she could be prophesied. Can you imagine the stress and pressure if you were prophesized to save everyone and yet you didn’t really feel you were the right person for the role?

Through Henrietta we meet the other sorcerers and each vary from one another and treat her differently. I wasn’t sure who she should trust or not though I had my suspicions fairly early on. One character in particular really mirrors Austen’s Darcy. I think you’ll know him easily and honestly I wish that the author would have made him a bit more varied from that classical character. I felt that because he so closely resembled Darcy I had trouble taking him for his own character. Regardless, even though I got strong Darcy vibes (or maybe because of it) I couldn’t help but love him.

You would think that one gal being surrounded by all these sorcerers and her male best friend from home there would be a lot of romance in this book but there wasn’t. There are a few hints here and there but really I was surprised by how little presented itself. I’m not entirely sure where things will go in the next book but I’m excited to see (and I have someone I’m rooting for her to end up with).

You can’t have a fantasy without the bad guys and the Ancients were really original and packed a punch. I truly didn’t know what to expect of them or their impact so this upped the tension and my worry for the characters.

Final Thoughts:
I really enjoyed A Shadow Bright and Burning. I felt it was a strong beginning to a new series and I’m really excited to see where things go. This novel successfully played on some typical fantasy tropes but it felt fun and original.

Review of Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

furthermorecoverFuthermore
By: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: August 30, 2016  
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit–and with a liar by her side in a land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself–and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss. 

My Thoughts:
I am not usually a fan of middle grade but since this was written by Mafi I knew I’d have to give it a try. This book was EXCELLENT. It could very well be my favorite MG book I’ve read (at least in recent memory). This was such a quirky, original and fun book. The language was a bit strange at times- or at least the world building was. I suggest just going along with it and not trying to understand every detail. As you read you’ll become more and more accustomed to the world and soon it’ll all make sense.

The characters were wonderfully complex. The main character, Alice, was such a fun character to follow and get to know. She was the only person in Ferenwood that was pale and not bursting with color. In this world you can see how much magic a person has by how bright they are. So, being pale and devoid of color makes Alice looked down upon and brushed off by the people around her…even her own mother. There was deep sadness in her and I felt so sad for her. The one person that boosted her and made her feel worthy was her father. He’s been missing for the past years leaving Alice alone.

There was one person that wants to reach out to her, Oliver. He hurt her in the past so she refused to trust him though she had no choice but to work along side him for a common goal. These two had such a complicated relationship and I absolutely loved watching them grow as individuals and with each other. The progression of their trust in each other and their dependence was so well done. It was very realistic and it really had me rooting for them.

The world was really complex and I really hope that Mafi decides to write more books taking place within Ferenwood and Furthermore. These sister lands are similar to one another yet incredibly different. Both are full of magic yet Furthermore has nonsense rules and the citizens veer on the strange. Throughout Alice’s journey she ventures to many parts of Furthermore and meets up with characters that will not soon be forgotten. One of my favorite parts was in the land of Still. I was absolutely creeped out and it was delicious.

I do think Furthermore is a standalone but I really hope for more! I want to see what becomes of Alice and Oliver as they age. A bit of the backstory of these lands was touched on but I could see many stories being written to expand on this past.

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Final Thoughts:
Furthermore was such a beautifully told story with incredible characters and a whimsical world. I don’t know if it was supposed to have a touch of Alice in Wonderland but to me it did. I absolutely loved this world and the journey the characters took. I think readers of all ages will love this story.

Review of The Reader by Traci Chee

thereaderThe Reader
By: Traci Chee
Release Date: September 13th 2016
Publisher:Putnam
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
With a book called The Reader I was immediately sold on reading it (yep on the title alone) and luckily this book was an amazing read with multiple layers of story-telling. This is going to be a tough review to write because this book was not cut and dry. It had layers upon layers and really the best way to experience it would be to dive in.

Sefia was one determined main character. I loved her voice and her intense desire to find out why her father was killed. Her aunt was taken from her as well so she was a non stop machine working to get them back. Even with her goal she was still capable of learning, growing and showing immense compassion (more so as the story progressed). Really, she was such an incredible character and her growth throughout the book was beautifully executed.

Don’t go into this one expecting a quick or easy read. This was a book to take your time reading and really think about. You can thank those story-telling layers for that- we flip flop between Sefia’s story and what she’s reading in this mysterious book in her possession. This mysterious book introduced us to a band of pirates and oh, how I love their story. I think each of these characters was so well done and I couldn’t get enough of their story. I love the dynamic of the ship Chee created and the way she presented all their roles.

As for romance, this novel was not heavy with it but their was a couple I shipped and I can see them getting closer and closer as the series progresses. Really, there are a lot of characters and things going on with this book but I think that it was handled exceptionally well and readers that appreciate complex stories will love this one. I mean, it does have pirates, a very strong female lead, assassins and a very in depth world.

The writing itself was very beautiful and elegant. I loved Chee’s style and that there were little clues and extra bits sprinkled in the story. I only found a couple of them myself so I’d be curious to see where the others all are. Here’s what I found- View Spoiler »

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Final Thoughts: The Reader is so hard to review because of how layered the storyline was. I loved the complexity of the world and the plethora of well developed and intriguing characters. I highly recommend this book to fantasy fans that don’t mind a slower paced novel with layers of story interwoven into a common story thread.