Christmas 2017 Book Haul

You all know the horror of being asked what you want for Christmas, especially when the only response that easily comes to mind is the one everyone already knows and expects – books. But I honestly just love unwrapping new books on Christmas morning! It means a Holiday Break spent curled up reading a relaxing – something that is very much needed this time of year! Especially when it’s as cold as it has been in Southern Ontario (for those of you who do not live in the region, or who are unaware of our recent cold snap, it was colder in Ontario this past week than it was in Antarctica!).

Before I divulge my exciting list of new books that I am excited to start reading, I must first of course relay how thankful I am to have people – family and friends – in my life who support my love of reading, and who always come through when it comes to providing ample reading material to this broke university student! In addition to the books listed below, I also received multiple gift cards to Chapters/Indigo, which I am hoping to stretch out until June!

  1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  2. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon 
  3. Nyxia by Scott Reintegen
  4. Runebinder by Alex R Kahler
  5. The Last Star Burning by Cailtin Sangster
  6. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
  7. Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson 
  8. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
  9. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
  10. Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell 

What books did you get this holiday season? Let me know in the comments – I am always looking for new books to read!

Everless by Sara Holland

Set to release in North America on January 2, 2018, Everless is Sara Holland’s triumphant debut novel. Fans of Victoria Aveyard (the Red Queen trilogy), Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns), Vic James (the Dark Gifts Trilogy) and Stephanie Garber (Caraval) will devour this lush novel’s breathtaking action, incredible romance, and dangerous secrets. I simply couldn’t wait to start reading it – the description had me intrigued – and after a relative dry-spell of fantastic books, I was in need of a good read!

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries. No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever. But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

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Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron

Sorry for the delay bookworms, but here it is – my full post for Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron! I am participating in the Sea of Strangers Blog Tour, hosted by Chapter by Chapter, which I am so excited about! Unfortunately weather, travelling and family commitments delayed this post, but I am still excited to share it with you all! For the remainder of the blog tour stops, or to check out previous stops, check here!

Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron is the second book in an epic fantasy series titled the Ryogan Chronicles (you can find my review for Island of Exiles here), by Cameron, which will be released on December 5th, 2017. The Ryogan Chronicles is currently predicted to be a trilogy, so there’s at least one more book to look forward to in this fresh and exciting fantasy series (Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader Copy of Sea of Strangers from Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review)!

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal. Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

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I had really enjoyed the first book in this series, Island of Exiles, and I couldn’t wait to read the next installment in this sprawling YA fantasy series! With engaging characters, human struggles, a society that (in some ways) is reflective of our own, and an engaging mission, I couldn’t imagine what I wouldn’t like about this one!

I have to spend a moment here talking about the fantastic world building in this series: It’s complex, diverse in so many ways and oh-so-amazing for the reader! As with Island of Exiles, I simply loved the sprawling nature of Sea of Strangers. Cameron immersed readers in a rich and intense culture – one that is similar but unique to the culture explored in Island of Exiles. The Ryogans have their own prejudices and problems, and they are also subject to the changing nature of their environment, just of the residents of Shiara are, but this new continent also brings with it a while new host of problems, beliefs and magical understandings. There are (seemingly) no easy solutions to this struggle, and new information emerges at every turn, quickly grabbing the reader’s attention and hanging onto it as the story progresses. Furthermore, the magic system was well established in Island of Exiles, and while complex and vast, it did not feel too overwhelming – although I would recommend a quick re-read of Island of Exiles to refresh yourself. Each new power was explained, and each caste of magic-wielder has a title and a role, making it easy to follow along. And, perhaps more importantly, this character and term heavy novel featured both a character list and a glossary.

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Now, on to the plot of Sea of Strangers. As mentioned, the plot is quick, action-packed and full of twists and turns. Not only this but the plot just flows so instinctively and never feels forced. The characters are faced with situations and frustrations that make so much sense and there’s absolutely no unrealistic surprises which I can definitely appreciate! As I have mentioned before, a pet-peeve of mine is when authors create some mythical power and/or item at the last moment that is conveniently capable of solving all the problems presented throughout the story in one fell swoop. Cameron instead sticks to her guns, with minimal alterations to the pre-established magic system, and what few new reveals she does insert are far from what could be described as the Holy Grail of solutions.

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While this was a fantastic and epic fantasy adventure that will certainly have fans of the YA Fantasy genre intrigued, it was the inclusive nature of Cameron’s writing that really reeled me in. The diversity is amazing and what I love about it is that it is so raw and genuine without ever being forced upon the reader that ‘this book is diverse’. It’s not there for the sake of being diverse – it just is diverse. There’s diversity of culture, of skin colour, of gender (including a third gender), of sexuality (including asexuality). Cameron handled to topic of LGBTQ2+ characters, racial diversity and cultural diversity with ease, twisting the topics together until they felt natural within the society she has created. I especially lied how, at the beginning of the novel, Cameron had a character list. While this is not uncommon, especially in YA Fantasy novels with large casts, it was something else that Cameron included on this list that caught my eye – she included the preferred pronouns of all of her characters (he/him, she/her, em/eir). Beyond this, Cameron also tackles the topic of prejudice against individuals of supposed “deviant” sexual prejudices and different abilities/physical features. While the society in Shiara was generally accepting of these differences, the Ryogans are less so, and this is perhaps a reflection of our own society.

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Overall, readers of the genre will really enjoy this addition to this fantasy series by Erica Cameron, which presents a sprawling, diverse world with complex issues and a wealth of magical power. Readers will be ensnared by the scope of the world Cameron is creating, but also by the depth of the characters, and the humanity behind their struggles (4.5/5).

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao is an East Asian fantasy re-imagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress – and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny. I received my copy of the book in the October FairyLoot, which featured all things “Villainous” – otherwise, I really don’t think I would have picked this one up for myself. I haven’t been a huge fan of fairy tale retellings of late, and this seemed like another YA Fantasy Retelling ripe for disappointment.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

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The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli was undoubtedly one one of my most highly anticipated books of Fall 2017. This debut fantasy explores an intricately woven world of deception, inner darkness, and dragons that fantasy fans won’t be able to resist. I received my copy – a gorgeous silver version of the book – in my November 2017 FairyLoot box, and I simply couldn’t wait to dive in!

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 darkness—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 learning 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.

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November 2017 FairyLoot Unboxing

Better late than never…right? This unboxing post was delayed for a handful of reasons, the most pressing being how overwhelmed I’ve been with all my Teacher’s College work!

FairyLoot is a monthly book subscription box that specializes in Young Adult Fantasy books, based out of London, England. Recent themes include Villainous (October 2017)All That Sass (September 2017), and Otherworlds (August 2017). Every month they have a different theme and select an exciting newly released fantasy novel, in addition to 4-6 hand selected goodies – like book inspired teas, candles, bookmarks, tote bags, and more!

So, how can you get a FairyLoot box of your own (because once you see the awesome books and all the awesome loot in them, I know you’ll want one too)? For more information, check out FairyLoot’s website!

And, if you decide to subscribe? Check out my FairyLoot Page for current discount codes for 3 and 6 month subscriptions!

So now, on to the exciting part – the unboxing! The theme for November 2017’s FairyLoot box was “Ladies That Slay”, and it celebratesour favourite ladies from Young Adult Literature that kick butt, including ladies from Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Raven Cycle and more! So if you love a good badass female lead, then you are going to love this box – and even if you don’t, there’s no doubt in my mind you would love it anyways! There’s a TON of fantastic items, including TWO books – one which is an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of an epic YA Fantasy that won’t be released until May 2018 – how cool is that? Some of these items have never been included in a FairyLoot box before, so I was super excited to unbox this month’s box!

(Warning: Spoilers for box contents past this point)

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Sea of Strangers (ARC) by Erica Cameron

Hi Bookworms! I have some really exciting news to share with you all – I will be participating in the Sea of Strangers Blog Tour, presented by Entangled Teen!  The Blog Tour runs from December 11 – 29 (M-F), and I will be hosting the tour stop on December 27, 2017!

Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron, is the second book in an epic fantasy series titled the Ryogan Chronicals (you can find my review for Island of Exiles here), by Cameron, which will be released on December 5th, 2017. The Ryogan Chronicles is currently predicted to be a trilogy, so there’s at least one more book to look forward to in this fresh and exciting fantasy series (Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader Copy of Sea of Strangers from Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review)!

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal. Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

Image result for sea of strangers erica cameron

Continue reading “Sea of Strangers (ARC) by Erica Cameron”