Review of Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

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Given to the Sea
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Putnam’s Childrens
Format: E-Arc
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Everyone has a place.

Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.

My Thoughts:
I really love that McGinnis’ style and genre changes for each book she releases. When I saw she was venturing into fantasy I had to have this book. It was a tad different than I expected but it did have some of the McGinnis trade marks- it wasn’t an overly happy story and it had a complex world. The story was told from 4 point of views. I am a fan of multiple POV so I didn’t have trouble with this though I did sort of mix up a character or two. For some reason the Witt story line had me confused each time it went to his chapters. I don’t know if I couldn’t get a good feel for his character or what but I was always having to remind myself who he was.

I thought at first that I would enjoy Khosa’s character the most but I never did really connect to her. I thought the idea of her family history and her draw to the sea was so interesting though. What a completely original story idea! Her constant draw, even against her will, to the ocean was mesmerizing. The fact that she felt dancing in her bones and the need to dance to her death? Wow, that’s dark and awesome.

The characters I really grew to like were Dara and Donil. The fact that they were the last of their race was so sad to me. I loved their magical abilities and how much it really weighed on them and their actions. The unrequited love Dara felt had my heart breaking for her. Really- they just had such a sad story.

Vincent was likeable and easy to read about. I enjoyed his POV and I might have felt he was the easiest to connect to. With the combination of all these characters and their stories it was a really complex storyline. I admit, there were times I wasn’t sure what was happening! I still felt the draw to continue reading regardless.

Final Thoughts:
Given to the Sea wasn’t what I expected exactly but regardless I found the characters and story to be incredibly interesting even if I didn’t follow everything throughout my entire read. It all pulled together and the further I read the more I could grasp the world and reasoning behind character’s actions. As with most McGinnis books, this one wasn’t overly happy but it had a realistic quality to it that I really appreciated.

Blog Tour- Review for Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Welcome to the Strange the Dreamer blog tour! I’m the first stop and I’ll be sharing my attempt at a review. There are some books that seep into your veins and you aren’t the same after reading them- Strange the Dreamer is one of these books. I don’t feel I’m fully adequate to express myself in a review but below is my attempt. But first, let’s take a look at the book and author…

About the Book

StrangeTheDreamerStrange the Dreamer
By: Laini Taylor
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary:
A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

ABOUT LAINI TAYLOR:

Laini Taylor_Author Photo_AliSmith creditLaini Taylor is the New York Times bestselling author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & BoneDays of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times, a National Book Award finalist. Her newest book, Strange the Dreamer, is the first in a stunning new epic duology. Laini lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.

LINKS: Website | Twitter

My Review

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I am a long time fan of Laini Taylor’s work and couldn’t wait to get my hands on Strange the Dreamer. It lived up to every single expectation I had for it. Beautifully written, magical and a story that left me breathless. I don’t know how Taylor creates such detailed and exquisite worlds. And her characters! Just wow- Lazlo is real to me now as are all the population of Weep.

We follow Lazlo on his journey from junior librarian to Weep. He’s had a lifelong obsession with Weep and the idea of magic. To watch him realize that dream and get to experience what he’s wanted to for so long was wonderful. He also has such character growth as the story progressed. I loved reading from his view point and seeing this intricate world from his eyes.

The mystery around the city of Weep kept me completely mesmerized. I became just as enamored with it as Lazlo. I needed to know what all had happened in Weep’s past just as he did. The characters we meet in Weep are so well developed and detailed. I love the mix of dreamers, gods and myths in this book. It all ties so beautifully together.

Beyond just how intoxicating the characters and story are the writing itself is something else entirely. I can’t think of any other author that can write like Taylor can. Her words are literally magic. And because of this magical writing this book will cast a spell on you. It’s a long one- with a lot of characters and world building and you’ll want to savor it. Don’t go into this thinking it’ll be a quick read. You’ll want to take your time and really bask in the words and world.

In short- read this book as soon as possible.

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
3/20: My Friends Are Fiction – Review
3/21: Alexa Loves Reading – Bookish Style Files
3/22: Mundie Moms – Review
3/23: What Sarah Read – Review
3/24: Reading Teen – Review

Week 2:
3/27: No BS Book Reviews – Makeup Collage
3/28: YA Bibliophile – Review
3/29: The Irish Banana Review – Review
3/30: Quite the Novel Idea – Review
3/31: Fiction Fare – Review

 

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.