December TBR + Christmas Wishlist

Hey Bookworms! For those of you who have been following my reading journey on my Bookstagram, you’ll know that I have a relatively successful reading month in November – in fact, I managed to read 7 books, despite a wildly busy month at work! I totally did not anticipate this level of reading success in November, but I am so happy that I found so much time to read this month, despite everything else going on in my life!

SO, WHAT WILL I BE READING THIS MONTH?

With Christmas just around the corner, I have decided to put myself on a “Book Buying Ban” until the New Year, which means my monthly TBR will be limited to the four books currently in my To Be Read Box, and one audiobook!

  1. Hunting Prince Dracula (Audiobook) by Kerri Maniscalco (Release Date: September 19, 2017)
  2. Heart of Thorns (ARC) by Bree Barton (Release Date: July 31, 2018)
  3. Ruin of Stars by Linsey Miller (Release Date: August 29, 2018)
  4. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake (Release Date: September 4, 2018)
  5. Enchantee (ARC) by Gita Trelease (Release Date: February 5, 2019)

That being said, I do have quite the Christmas Wishlist, which is lined with new releases! For anyone looking for gift ideas of their own (and for my own reference in the future), I thought I would share my Christmas Wishlist here as well!

  1. Ever the Brave by Erin Summerhill (Release Date: December 5, 2017)
  2. Sea Witch by Sarah Henning (Release Date: July 31, 2018)
  3. Mirage by Somaiya Daud (Release Date: August 28, 2018)
  4. The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell (Release Date: October 5, 2018)
  5. Empress of all Seasons by Emiko Jean (Release Date: November 6, 2018)
  6. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (Release Date: November 6, 2018)
  7. Once a King by Erin Summerhill (Release Date: December 4, 2018)
  8. Evermore by Sara Holland (Release Date: December 31, 2018)

WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR WISHLIST? LET ME KNOW!

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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September 2017 FairyLoot Unboxing

FairyLoot is a monthly book subscription box that specializes in Young Adult Fantasy books, based out of London, England. Recent themes include Otherworlds (August 2017)Tricksters (July 2017), Elementalists (June 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 September 2017’s FairyLoot box was “All That Sass” – is inspired by your favourite sassy characters in YA! If you’re a fan of The Infernal DevicesThe Mortal InstrumentsThrone of Glass and The Grisha Trilogy then you are going to love this box – and even if you’re not, there’s no doubt in my mind you would love it anyways! There’s a TON of fantastic items, including exclusive foiling on the cover of the book of the month. Some of these items have never been included in a FairyLoot box before (Warning: Spoilers for box contents past this point)!

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So what, exactly, was in the box?

Continue reading “September 2017 FairyLoot Unboxing”

Alanna’s June Reading List

This post may be a few days late… But better late than never, right? June is sure to be a busy month for me, what with the end of the school year and the start of summer camp just around the corner, but there’s always time for reading! Even if it has to be done in the dead of night when I’m supposed to be sleeping.

But who could sleep with all these awesome new and upcoming releases? (Plus some older releases I’ve finally added to my TBR!) I’m also thinking that I may just have to camp out at the book store on June 13, because wow! – so many books coming out on one day!

  1. Roar by Cora Carmack (June 13, 2017)
  2. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (June 13, 2017)
  3. Now I Rise by Kiersten White (June 27, 2017)
  4. Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh (June 13, 2017)
  5. Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts (May 30, 2017)
  6. Thief’s Cunning by Sarah Ahiers (June 13, 2017)
  7. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (June 6, 2017)
  8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (July 3, 2012)
  9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (July 1, 2014)
  10. Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien, illustrated by Alan Lee and edited by Christopher Tolkien (June 1, 2017)

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Please note that the above release dates reflect North American publication dates; they in no way are guaranteed to reflect international publication dates! 

MINI MONDAY: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

I received Vassa in the Night as part of my September FairyLoot box (featured at the end of this blog post for anyone interested!). While this may not have been a book I would have purchased for myself (likely I would have borrowed it from the library as a light read this summer), I still found myself intrigued enough to pick it up shortly after receiving it. And to be quite frank, I was not overly impressed. I walked into Vassa in the Night blind, and walked out disappointed in the experience, and still slightly confused.

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now-but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters-and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission. But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair….

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MINI MONDAY: Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu

I love the UK cover of this book, but I’ll be honest, I never would have picked this book up in Canada, simply because the cover is so outdated, and the summary not particularly engaging. However, as I was standing in Waterstones in London, desperately searching an unfamiliar bookstore for a book to read on the 8 hour flight home, the cover caught my eye and I went with it. And I am glad that I did, because it was certainly an engaging read. It is not, however, the type of read you’ll want to be swallowing in one sitting (i.e. not necessarily a great plan book), due to the complexity and sheer size of the story.

Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings — cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule. Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings’ laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings’ mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings’ power…if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don’t find her first.

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Please be warned that this review contains some small spoilers; I will, however, warn the reader before divulging a spoiler, so if you have not read the book yet, it is still possible to read this review! 

I had been following Jay Kristoff’s journey through writing this book (along with Gemina, which I’m quite excited about as well), for some time, so I was very excited to finally be able to pick up Nevernight and read it for myself. The very focus of the book – a young assassin with a vendetta – is definitely right up my alley for popular story tropes right now, so obviously I had to read it.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family. Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined. Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic – the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires. Revenge.

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Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

This is a full review of Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas. This means that this review will contain some spoilers for the book! If you would like to read a spoiler free review for Empire of Storms, click here

I’ve been following the Throne of Glass series since (almost) the beginning; I picked up Throne of Glass as soon as it was out in soft cover, and in no time,  I was hooked. I, like many other readers, have been eagerly awaiting the release of Empire of Storms for well on a year now, and the wait was certainly worth it! Maas has produced another beautiful written, intricate piece that will leave readers wanting more and utterly shattered.

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t. With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

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The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

This blog post (inevitably) contains spoilers for The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. If you have not read the first book in this series, I highly recommend doing so before going any further. My review for the Bone Season can be found here

As soon as I finished The Bone Season, I could hardly wait to pick up its sequel and get started. In fact, I was back at the book store the very next day! I did take my time with this book though; not because I didn’t enjoy it (I did), but because it was the book I brought along on our European adventure, and I wanted to make it last. Needless to say, it did not  last the entire trip, and I ended up making an emergency  trip to Waterstones before our flight home to pick up a read for the excruciatingly long flight over the Atlantic.

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London . . . As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

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