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Book Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara

Release date: October 1st 2017

4.5 stars

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

I was really excited to get my hands on this book. It was one of my most anticipated to come out and I will definitely be buying a hardcover when it hits shelves. This book had an interesting world, plenty of interesting characters, and dragons. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think after the first chapter with Asha being a dragon slayer but the plot turned into directions I enjoyed.

Asha was the only daughter of the king, the youngest child, and had been declared the Iskari, a title that made people fear her and a way for her to atone for the destruction she caused as a child. She was the kingdom’s dragon slayer and each dragon she killed was one step closer to making up for breaking the law she had when she was younger. The Asha at the beginning of the book was so different from the Asha by the end. There was so much character development that it will be interesting to see where the character goes in the sequel. She was very protective of the people she cared about, though she counted few among that group, and I loved seeing her open up to knowing more people and questioning the laws and her beliefs as the story went on.

There were a few main dynamics in the book. The most prominent was the one between Asha and Torwin, a slave belonging to Asha’s betrothed. Torwin challenged her to think for herself and was a great partner through the book. Secondary was the dynamic between Asha and Jarek, the jerk she was supposed to marry and I loved seeing Asha finding ways to show her independence even as Jarek tried to control her. There was also great dynamics between Asha and her cousin Safire, and Asha and her older brother. They both showed glimpses that they were not exactly who Asha thought they were so I’m excited to see more of that developing.

I loved all the old stories that broke up a lot of the chapters. It was a great way to show some backstory and historical content without feeling like an info dump. It was reading folk lore for this kingdom and learning why the people had their beliefs. The book started off a little slow but not in a bad way. The pace picked up the more Asha found herself outside the walls of the kingdom, hunting, and by the end, I had to finish the book even though I should have been asleep hours before. It really was a book I just couldn’t put down.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes

Release date: April 3td 2018

Goodreads: Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Why I’m excited: I’ve heard good things about Jenn Bennett’s writing and this reminds of me another book(The Distance Between Lost and Found) that I really enjoyed.

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

Summer’s almost over. Where did it go? It flew by while I was busy reading I guess.

Currently reading: Stolen

Finished reading: FrozenThe Last NamsaraUnlikeliesThis is where it ends

Reviewed: Mask of ShadowsThe Color Project

What I’m hoping to get to next week: All the Crooked SaintsGirls Made of Snow and Glass to read

UnlikeliesThe Last Namsara to review

Books read it 2017: 130

Debut authors read in 2017: 32

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten recommendations for X. I did Top Ten Recommendations for paranormal fans. I tried to keep it focused on books where the paranormal was the main plot instead of being mixed in with fantasy.

10. nightmare affair The Nightmare Affair – Mindee Arnett. I love Mindee Arnett and this book with a main character as a Nightmare at a boarding school for paranormal creatures introduces us to a lot of creatures who don’t often get mentioned.

9. Antigoddess big Antigoddess – Kendare Blake. I love mythology so the idea of the Gods dying and warring while trying to save themselves really caught my attention.

8. unspoken Unspoken  Sarah Rees Brennan. Sarah Rees Brennan writes some of the best characters who can be badass while still having a great sense of humour and dropping amazing one-liners.

7. unearthly big Unearthly – Cynthia Hand. One of the first series I read featuring Angels and I loved it.

6. sweet evil Sweet Evil – Wendy Higgins. This was another Angels-features series but it focused a lot more on the fallen Angels and sins and the children forced to do their parents bidding.

5. obsidian Obsidian – Jennifer L Armentrout. I didn’t think aliens were my thing until this series. And I love a character who’s a bookworm.

4. vampire academy big Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead. This series brought me back into the vampire-love I thought I was out of.

3. some girls bite big Some Girls Bite – Chloe Neill. This series is more adult-ish  than the others on this list since the main character is in her 20s but it’s still very addicting.

2. darkest minds The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken. I loved this series and everything Alexandra Bracken has written. I can’t wait to see the movie. Please do it right.

  1. Raven boys big The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater. Same as above. Please make this adaptation right. I loved how intricate this whole series was. It was a slow read but so worth it.

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Book Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows

Release date: August 29th 2017

3 stars

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.
Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

I was really excited for this book when I first heard about it. A fantasy book with a gender-fluid main and an assassin competition? Yes please. The idea of the competition to find a new assassin to join the Queen’s group, with the competitors killing each other off, was reminiscent of Throne of Glass and The Hunger Games. I loved both of those books so if felt like I should have fallen in love with this one. But I didn’t.

Sal was an orphan who worked as a thief but when they found a flyer saying there would be a competition looking for a new Opal, part of the Queen’s assassins, they decided to drop everything and hurry to prove themselves. They wanted to serve the Queen. Sal could definitely be likeable. I enjoyed their interactions with Maud, the servant assigned to them during the competition, and their interactions with some of the other competitors. Sal showed how determined they were to become Opal, it was almost all they thought about, but revenge was also on their mind. Revenge against the people they felt had abandoned them and their people during the war, who’d betrayed them and left thousands to die. Becoming Opal would make their revenge easier.

All the competitors were identified by numbers and they all wore masks. It made it more difficult to get attached to any of them and only the ones who Sal either made a connection with or spoke of a lot made any kind of an impact. Very few of them stuck out and were just faceless numbers in the way of Sal’s end goal.

One of my biggest issues with the book was that Sal told everyone that they dress as they are on any given day and to address them as such, which is fine, but when combined with a first person POV, I, as a reader who couldn’t see what they were wearing, had no idea how to think of the character unless it was said how they were dressed. It was also something that was accepted by most of the characters unless the character was a jerk so did that mean gender fluidity was something that was accepted in this universe or did Sal just happen to join a competition with a lot of really accepting people? I did like that gender fluidity did seem like it was accepted as just a part of who Sal was but I would have liked more context in regards to the universe they were in.

I read through the book pretty quickly. The competition and Sal’s quest for revenge felt a little repetitive after a while, almost formulaic. It wasn’t often I felt the need to slow down my reading pace in fear of missing vital information because it didn’t feel like a whole lot was being revealed. I do want to know more about the world, the shadows, and to see what will happen to Sal next, so there was enough interest in the book that I will read the sequel. It’s just not one I can see myself re-reading.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Color Project by Sierra Abrams

The Color Project

The Color Project

Release date: August 17th 2017

3.5 stars

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.
Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.
When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

This book had made its way on to my must read list a while ago and once I had it in my hands, it didn’t take me long to settle in to read it. I really enjoyed the friendships, family dynamics, the relationship between Bee and Levi, and the whole concept of The Color Project. It’s the type of book that can make the reader want to go out and get involved the way these characters did. I also really liked all the scenes that involved Bee at her job at a florist’s, especially once she began designing her own arrangements.

Beatrice, Bee, was the second oldest in a family of four and I found she was a very easy character to relate to. When she found a project she believed in, she threw herself into it, like with The Color Project. She loved her family, sometimes they could annoy her, but when they needed to pull together or comfort each other, they were there. She had some great friendships with Gretchen, her best friend who had recently moved, with some of her brother’s friends, and new friendships with some of the workers at The Color Project. She went by her nickname, Bee, instead of her full name and only a few people even knew her full name. I liked that Levi made a game out of guessing her name. It was cute and playful.

The relationship between Bee and Levi was a huge part of the story so I was glad I enjoyed it. There was an immediately attraction and interest between them but it was a slow developing relationship. They were good for each other and I thought it was a believable relationship with the issues that ended up appearing, like the big one from the synopsis with Bee not wanting to reveal her full name. There were times when I wanted to yell at them to just talk to each other and to actually listen to what the other was saying, but it showed that as cute as they were together, they were not immune to having problems in their relationship.

There was a few times the book felt a little long. From the synopsis, I knew there would be an illness in Bee’s family but it seemed to take forever for it to be revealed. I think I was about halfway through the book before that storyline took place. It did make me feel like the story was dragged out a bit, even with all the cute interactions between characters(which I am always a fan of). I did find the plot easy to predict but the character dynamics did their best to make up for it.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Love, Life, and the List

Love, Life and the List

Release date: March 27 2018

Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.
Which is where the list comes in.
Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

Why I’m excited: I love Kasie West, this sounds so cute, and I love the concept!

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

Been a bit of a rainy week. *sad face* hopefully next week will involve more sun.

Currently reading: This is where it ends

Finished reading: Daugher of the burning cityMask of ShadowsSailor MoonThe Color Project

Reviewed: wintersong15797848

What I’m hoping to get to next week: The Last NamsaraUnlikelies to read

The Color ProjectMask of Shadows to review

Books read it 2017: 126

Debut authors read in 2017: 31

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is the official Top Ten Tuesday is taking a break for a few weeks so I’m making one up. This week I’m doing Top Ten things the placement of the books on my bookshelves tell you about me and my feelings toward them.

10. The book/series is on the shelf closest to my bed: this is an all-time favourite.

9. The book is resting on top of a shelf or on the nightstand: it’s newly bought or a very recent read.

8. The series is in a row behind the main row on my deep bookshelf(two rows per shelf): the cover changed and I’m still not over it.

7. A book by a certain author isn’t placed with all the others by that author: I really didn’t like it and don’t want it near the books I did like.

6. The book is on a shelf in my closet: I didn’t enjoy it and don’t plan on re-reading but there’s still something keeping me from getting rid of it.

5. The book is on the farthest shelf from my bed: it’s on the TBR list and will be read one day.

4. The series isn’t together: I either just read or just bought a book in the series and haven’t gotten around to putting it away.

3. The book is in a stack on the floor or computer chair: newly bought or the product of having to re-arrange shelf space and now needs a home.

2. I own multiple copies: this book is an absolute favourite so when the opportunity for special editions or signed copies came up, I took advantage.

  1. I own the whole series but it’s in the closet shelves: the author killed off my favourite in the last book and I’m still angry about it.

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Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

wintersong

Wintersong

4 stars

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

The year is far from over but I can already predict that this book will be high on my top ten favourite debuts. It was magical, lyrical, and it was an absolute joy to get sucked into this story. It had great characters, an addicting romance, and had all the Labyrinth feels I could want.

Liesl loved her family so it was no surprise that she would sacrifice herself for her sister. I liked her journey with her music as she became more confident, being a female composer during a time when women playing music was considered a silly indulgence. I also liked the emphasis on the difference in the relationships she had with her brother and her sister. She loved both but there was a special bond she shared with her brother and it left her sister feeling ignored.

The romance with Liesl and The Goblin King took time to grow on me and I was glad it did. If it had happened too fast I think I would have disliked it due to how she came to be his partner. The slow progression of their relationship worked. The romance would be the main reason I wouldn’t recommend it to younger teens but the older YA or NA crowd would be the perfect audience. Plus adults who love YA.

The story was dark and there was a lingering nostalgia as I read, a cross between Labyrinth memories and childhood imaginary friends long faded. I loved the way music was woven so heavily into the story and that there were many differences in this book and the movie Labyrinth so there were still surprises.

The sequel has definitely made its way on to my 2018 most anticipated list.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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