Uprooted by Naomi Novik

“There was a song in the forest, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.” – Agnieszka (Uprooted by Naomi Novik)

Uprooted was one of those new release, but bargain book table finds- I had wandered into the book store (as I often do), without any real purpose, other than to peruse the books in hopes that some new book would jump out with me. The old lady at this little bookstore near my university recognized me by this point (of course), and directed me to this book, happily discussing how much she had enjoyed it. Now, her advice had never been wrong in the past (it was her who recommended Queen of the Tearling, among other, to me), so I bought Uprooted on a whim. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed this little fairy tale of a novel, from start to finish.

The story follows the tale of Agnieszuprootedka, a “dragon-born” girl. As one of the dragon-born, she risks being chosen by the Dragon, the cold, driven wizard who is Lord of her valley home. One might think that the people of the valley would eventually refuse him, but the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the Dragon to keep its powers at bay, despite the price they must pay; one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka knows that the Dragon will take Kasia; her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose, but Agnieszka herself. What the Dragon sees in her, prompting her selection, launches Agnieszka into an entirely different world of magic, politics and danger, pushing her closer, not further, from the danger of the Wood. For it may be that only she can stop the advance of the malevolent powers of the Wood for good.

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Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

“Even the strongest blizzards start with a single snowflake.” – Meira (Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch)

I received this book, and its subsequent sequel (Ice Like Fire) as gifts for Christmas. While the concept seemed interesting, I had been hesitant to buy these books for myself, as they seemed somewhat juvenile, in terms of the writing style and language. Turns out, I was right on both counts- Snow Like Ashes was both a fascinating read, however the writing was definitely rough around the edges and not as well rounded as it could have been. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

The continent of Primoria is a continent divided besnowlikeashestween Season and Rhythms alike. Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn rule over countries perpetually locked in their respective season. Rhythms
rule over more volatile lands, where the rhythms of nature still hold sway and normal seasonal changes occur. Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since. Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself, setting off a catastrophic chain of events that launches her headfirst into politics, love and war.

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Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

“If you wanted to, Safiya, you could bend and shape the world.” – Dom Eron (Truthwitch by Susan Dennard)

I picked this book up on a whim while I was at the book store a couple months ago (mostly because I couldn’t find anything else of interest in the tiny bookstore near my university), and it was one of the best impulse-book buys I have made in years. Honestly, this book is absolutely fantastic. Dennard weaves a wonderfully fantastical, yet believable, world, with an equally intricate plot and well-developed characters.

In the Witchlands, some individuals are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others. While the types of witchery vary greatly, some are more common than others. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. TruthwitchSafiya’s witchery is also the rarest of all. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires. Her Thread-Sister, Iseu
lt, is a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her. Iseult is the cool, wary balance to Safiya’s hotheaded impulsiveness; which is always getting them in trouble. After a failed heist, the girls must run for their lives; however, while Safi has her noble blood to protect her, Iseult’s Nomatsi blood damns her. Yet in a shocking turn of events, Safi’s noble blood turns out to be just as dangerous as Iseult’s foreign blood. Once again on the run, the girls must trust the help of the cunning Prince Merik of Nubrevna to get them safely beyond the grasp of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, Emperors, Princes, Queens and mercenaries, all of who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


(NOTE: Potential spoilers ahead! Continue reading at your own risk)

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The Selection Series by Keira Cass

While its a bit juvenile now, I’ve been following this series since it began, so I couldn’t just not find out how it all ended (yep, I’m that person). So, I’ll be doing a mini-synopsis and review of each of the five books in the series (excluding Happily Ever After, the novella collection, which I never did read). And hey, Moms (and Dad’s), don’t let the face-value content of this book turn you away- unlike The Bachelor (which clearly played some inspirational roll), these books are 100% PG rating approved!

The series takes place 300 years in the future in a country called Illéa (formerly the United States) which has a strict Caste system. When the Heir comes of age, a contest, called The Selection, is held to earn the right to be the next Queen (or King).  


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Golden Son by Pierce Brown

“I turn to the sea of Gold faces. This race- what a beautiful monster. They carry all of humanity’s strengths, except one. Empathy.” – Darrow (Golden Son by Pierce Brown)

WARNING: This review will potentially contain spoilers for Red Rising, the first book in Pierce Brown’s Trilogy. If you have not read Red Rising, I recommend doing so before you read this review! 

After finishing Red Rising, despite the lack luster plot, I couldn’t wait to pick up Golden Son and start reading. Pierce Brown took something I had deemed unoriginal (I mean, come on, Red Rising screams The Hunger Games. If you don’t believe me, check out my review) and made me care about it. How? I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t care a whole awful lot about Darrow, about Mustang, and about Sevro and his Howlers, just to name a few. So, inevitably, I found myself back at the book store, picking up Golden Son.

Golden Son picks up two years after Darrow won the competition at the Institute on Mars. Darrow, now twenty, has left Mars to further his education at the Academy, where he learns the art of war and how to command warships, as the Sons of Ares wish- despite the fact the Sons of Ares have not contacted him since his graduation from the Institute. At the Academy, Darrow continues his feud with Cassius and the other Bellona, who following his loss at the Academy, publicly shame him, causing Augustus to disown him and plan to auction his apprenticeship off. At this time, all the major houses travel to Luna for a summit with the Sovereign. While on Luna, Darrow is contacted by the Jackal, who seeks a alliance with Darrow against his father, who has banished him from Mars following his disgrace at the Institute. However, the summit on Luna is far from over, with the excitement just heating up. Leaving his explosive meeting with the Jackal, Darrow is cornered by the Sons of Ares, who instruct him to blow up the banquet the following evening, quite a turn from their previous clandestine tactics. At the gala, Darrow discards the Sons of Ares’ plan by declaring his desire for a duel with Cassius. Just as Darrow is about to win the duel, the Sovereign intervenes to save Cassius’s life, declaring her word is law. This leads to arguing and then fighting amongst the families, which in turn leads to bloodshed and civil war. Darrow declares the Sovereign to be corrupt. He knows that the Golds can deal with terrorism, and has come to believe terrorism itself is wrong. But he does know the Golds fear; that their society will not survive open civil war. Following an attempt on their lives, Darrow and the Augustans flee, bringing to their side the most loyal of their allies. Following a desperate campaign to survive and maintain power, a massive invasion of Mars is launched, in which all the classes (Gold, Blues, Greys, Obsidians, etc.) fight alongside one another in order to defeat the Sovereign and the Bellonas.

So that’s basically the gist of the plot in this book. I’ve left out some major points, which I’ll discuss below (spoiler alert!), but for those of you who haven’t read the book, let me just say this- I loved this book! It was significantly better than Red Rising, for several reasons, least of all it’s inherent originality.

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.” – Darrow (Pierce Brown, Red Rising)

My love for sci-fi, dystopian novels has all but died off of late, probably because of the repetitive, dry nature of most new books in the genre of late. And I mean, if I’m to be honest here, Red Rising is essentially just a more intricate, well written, less romantic version of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Brutal caste system designed to oppress the low and bolster the high? Check. Secret rebellion in the making? Check? Throw a bunch of children into an arena and tell them to fight? Check (I’ll concede a bit here- they did tell them that the goal wasn’t to actually murder each other, but that went to shit pretty fast and no one stopped them). If it weren’t for the poignant lack of star-crossed lovers, I would have almost though that I was reading The Hunger Games. Well, that and the fact that Red Rising doesn’t even take place on Earth (hence the sci-fi).

Red Rising’s story takes place in the distant future. Humanity (if it can be called that) has spread out across the solar system, and has also divided itself with a caste system of Colors. Golds rule over society, while lowReds like Darrow live out their entire lives beneath the surface of Mars, mining for helium-3, believing their hard work and sacrifice are all in an effort to eventually terraform the planet and make it habitable for future inhabitants. Darrow, like the other Reds of his colony, believes himself to be a pioneer of what will one day be a great civilization. This lie, fed to the Reds by the ruling Golds, is shattered when Darrow is recruited by the Sons of Ares, following the death of his wife. For the first time, Darrow sees the world above the surface- a world already terraformed and habitable, filled with the other Colors. Through the influence of the Sons of Ares, Darrow is Carved in a Gold, and thrown into the Golds most elite competition- the Institute. There, he fights among the children of the Peerless Scarred to become one of them. Should he win, he’ll be given the chance to apprentice to a Peerless Gold and further infiltrate their society. Should he lose, the penalty could be death.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

NOTE: If you haven’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first book in this series by Sarah J Maas, I would recommend NOT reading this review until you have done so, as it definitely contains some spoilers! 

“The issue isn’t whether he loved you, it’s how much. Too much. Love can be poison” – Rhysand (Sarah J Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury)

After A Court of Thorns and Roses, I really didn’t think that Sarah J Maas could produce something that would outdo the intrigue and draw of the first book in this series. I was utterly wrong. I read A Court of Mist and Fury in less than 2 days (and I am now dealing with some serious disappointment at how long I’ll be waiting for Book 3), and I loved every page, no every sentence, of this book. Maas brought the same sexy, dark world back to life in this second installment, which was expected, but she also infused this book with some hard hitting topics, which wasn’t expected.

A Court of Mist and Fury picks up approximately 3 months after the epic conclusion of A Court of Thorns and Roses, with Feyre adjusting (badly) to her new life as a High Fae. Actually, more accurately, she’s adjusting (badly) to being with Tamlin, who in light of the horrors they encountered Under the Mountain, has become an over-bearing, brooding and somewhat frightful High Lord, who has essentially confined Feyre to the house. With their wedding imminent, Feyre is drowning under the idea of being irrevocably tied to Tamlin as she struggles to come to terms with the choices she made Under the Mountain. It’s only when Rhysand shows up to make good on his bargain that it becomes clear that Feyre is literally wasting away. Following a dramatic fall out at the Spring Court, Feyre is faced with a decision, and the implications leaving Tamlin will have for both herself, and her newfound friends. Her decision leaves Feyre at Rhysand’s side, navigating both the Night Court and her newfound Fae abilities and they race against time and unknown foes to combat the rising threat that is Hybern. The plot culminates in an entirely unexpected (or maybe I should have expected it but I was too drawn into the plot) turn in events, that will push Feyre, her friends and her family to heartbreak, hatred and war. Once again, Maas has crafted an epic conclusion to a novel riddled with twists and turns that will leave the reader stunned and wanting more.

NOTE: From here on in, I can’t promise that this review will be spoiler free, as there are some things that need to be discussed that are definitely spoilers! )

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first in a new series by Sarah J Maas has it all- mystery, magic, romance (along with more than enough sexual tensions and steamy sex scenes) and plenty of violence.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is centered around a human girl by the name of Feyre, whose destitute family lives on the brink between the human world and that of the Fae. To Feyre, the Fae are a hated tale as old as time, yet not enough to scare her out of the forest, where she hunts to keep her family fed. However, when Feyre knowingly kills a Fae patrol (in the form of a wolf), she finds herself whisked away to the Spring Court of Prythian by the handsome Fae Lord, Tamlin. The Spring Court is ripe with mystery, intrigue and tension, which Feyre soon discovers to be centered around a mysterious “her”. Guided through Fae politics and life by Tamlin and  Lucien, Feyre comes to love Prythian (and a certain handsome High Lord) and the freedom and release it offers her. Too soon, however, this brief illusion of safety and happiness is shattered, and Feyre finds herself plunged into the horrors Under the Mountain, a terrible court ruled by the self-proclaimed Fae Queen, Amarantha. Forced to compete in a series of grueling and torturous trials in order to save her friends, Feyre must make impossible decisions that will tear her far too human heart apart.

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May 2016 Reading List

I’m going to start things off nice and simple, with a list of books I’ve been reading, or will be reading, in May. Likely, these books will be among some of the first of my reviews, since they’re on hand (in St. Catharines, and not in Guelph), and fresh in my mind.

May is always one of my favourite times of year- its a pretty hard hitting month for book releases, what with everyone trying to get their book out there in time for summer, so it means lots of new reading material. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win in my book. Also, if I’m being honest, I slacked on the reading during exams, and now I’m playing catch-up.

My Must-Reads for new(ish) releases this month are:

  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas (if you haven’t read the first book in this series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, you’d better add that to your list as well!)
  2. The Crown by Keira Cass (again, another sequel, so make sure you check out the other books in this series prior to reading this one!)
  3. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima (okay, so maybe May is the month of super awesome sequels…?)
  4. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  5. Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong
  6. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  7. Cress by Marissa Meyer
  8. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Apparently, in case you’ve failed to notice, I’ve got a thing for sequels this month. Some other books I’ve stumbled upon recently, which aren’t quite as new onto the scene, but which are definitely still worth a read:

  1. Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  2. And of course, its sequel, The Invasion of the Tearling, also by Erika Johansen
  3. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
  4. I’m nothing if not consistent… Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch
  5. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  6. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Well, that’s all for tonight. Let me know if you’ve any reading suggestions of your own!

Happy Reading! 🙂