Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

“Haven’t you ever wanted something so bad that it becomes more than a want? I need to get out of this town. I need it like I need to breathe.” – Amani (Alwyn Hamilton)

I received this book for my birthday (like many of the books I’ll be reviewing in the near future), and I couldn’t wait to get started on it. I’d heard raving reviews about Rebel of the Sands, and with such a gorgeous cover and an even more intriguing summary, I was already convinced this book would be everything I wanted it to be. And I was not let down- Rebel of the Sands is a fantastic novel. The action-packed pages and fiery romance drag the reader in, and from page one onward, I could hardly put this book down.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female. Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead. Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

Hi there Bookworms! I apologize for the lateness, and inevitable brevity, of this post. June has, unfortunately, turned out to be a shockingly busy time in my life, and as such, I’m finding less and less time to write. However, don’t let the brevity of this post fool you – these books are perhaps still my favourites, and are most certainly the reason I got into reading fantasy in the first place. It definitely helps when the main character has the same name as you! 

songofthelioness

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

As Marie Lu, author of the Legend Trilogy (which I am not a fan of, in case anyone was wondering) aptly said, this book is “wholly unique and utterly captivating”. It truly is. I started off a skeptic, because the whole “found documents/recordings/we blacked out half the words” thing was a bit offputting, but the story and the execution of this unique writing style quickly drew me in. And then blew me away with its originality and complexity.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Illuminae

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Eon by Alison Goodman

I’ll be honest here, I judged this book by its cover. Which is stunning, by the way. Eon is also such a simply name, between that and the stunning artwork on the cover, I was intrigued. And I am certainly glad I was, because the story between covers is every bit as intriguing and exciting as the covers themselves.

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he’ll become apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon’s power. It is forbidden for females to practise the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. But after a brilliant sword ceremony, Eon is catapulted into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where his desperate lie comes to light …

Eon

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Age of Legends Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

In this review, I will be providing a brief summary of each book in the Age of Legends Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong, in addition to what I did, and didn’t, like in each book. If you haven’t read all the books, I recommend waiting to read the reviews of the later books until you’ve read their prequel, as the reviews may contain some accidental spoilers here and there.

Sea of Shadows

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned. Only this year, the souls will not be quieted. Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

What I liked:

  • I’m a big fantasy fan, and this book certainly delivered. Armstrong created a well fleshed out, intense setting for this series, spending a lot of time setting up and describing the world throughout the book. There’s magic, mythical beasts and mysterious powers at work; and more than enough intrigue to draw most readers in.
  • Moira, Ashyn, Gavriel and Ronan felt thoroughly fleshed out- Armstrong certainly delivered on the character development front. Each of the four major characters are strongly delineated as individuals, and the reader certainly feels drawn to and connected to them as the story progresses.

What I didn’t like:

  • Despite a fantastical setting and a well-developed cast of main characters, this book just fell short in terms of action, romance and, well, excitement. The pacing of the story was totally off, with far too much down time and far too much build-up, leading to action scenes that were quite lack-luster.
  • The lack of romance was particularly disappointing, since it seemed like Armstrong was setting up for some romantic interludes right from the beginning, by pairing off each sister with a man, then leaving them alone in the vast, dangerous wilderness. One would expect.. something. Instead, the reader gets nothing, except for maybe some wayward thoughts here and there.
  • The actual goal of the plot. The journey was somewhat enthralling, riddling with mystical beings and the like, but really, what was the point of travelling all the way to the Imperial City to tell everyone that they failed in their roles as Keeper and Seeker, and oh hey, everyone is dead. Like the pacing, the romance (or lack thereof) and all the build up (which just led to a disappointing drop), the motivation behind the characters actions seemed to be somewhat dry.

Overall, This book did not meet my expectations. While all the elements of a great story were there – a fascinating world, interesting characters, and danger galore – Armstrong still came up short because she couldn’t bring them all together into a coherent, enthralling tale.

Sea of Shadows

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

“We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.” – E. Lockhart

If you haven’t read this book in the two years since it was published, I highly recommend doing so. Despite it not being my usual “type” of book, I picked this little read up based on reviews and hype alone. I was not disappointed. From the beginning, the reader is drawn into a complex, twisted tale they just know is hiding more below the surface. Lockhart dangles the punch-line just out of reach, tantalizing the reader to keep reading, more and more and more, until the book wraps up with a twist reminiscent of Life of Pi.

A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends – the Liars – whse friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret.

Lies upon lies.

True love.

The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel that keeps the reader hooked from the first page to the last, begging to know what exactly the Liars did in Summer Fifteen that damaged Cadence’s mind and forever changed the Sinclair family. Between crippling headaches and her confusion, Cadence tries to remember. The Liars won’t tell her. The other Sinclair’s won’t tell her. And Cadence seems unable to unlock the secrets trapped within her own mind; the horrifying truth that once remembered, could potentially shatter her mind, or free her.

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The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

I was very excited to read this book, as the premise sounded very intriguing- a rich runaway who joins a mysterious court to escape a future she doesn’t want, only to get caught up in a more dangerous, secretive society than the one she left. And honestly, I did enjoy this book, but all of its originality quickly seeped away when I realized it was just a story about the colonization of the Americas with different names, and an utterly uninspiring story. This book, while enjoyable, fell short- the plot didn’t really go anywhere, and probably could have been wrapped up 100-150 pages earlier, skipping a whole lot of boring nonsense that Mead undoubtedly threw in to increase the page count.

The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court. Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court. When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor. But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands.

The Glittering Court Cover

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Fire by Kristin Cashore

You know those books that you love to read, because no matter how many times you read them, you still love them just as much? Fire by Kristin Cashore is one of those books for me. This book came out in January of 2011 (eek- 5 years ago!). My personal copy is dog-eared, torn up and probably has a bit of water damage (from being hauled to the beach, or cottage, or camping, more than once). I’ve loved this book since the first time I’ve read it, and while its companion novels, Graceling and Bitterblue, are certainly wonderful, only Fire holds a special spot in my heart.

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men. Monsters, terribly beautiful creatures with the power to control the thoughts of man and beast alike, plague the land. Fire is the last remaining human monster. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, she is equally hated and adored. She also has the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets or thoughts of innocent people. Fire enjoys her quiet, routine life in the mountain range in the north of the Dells, until Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City. The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king – a plot far more complex than she, or the Royal Family themselves, could have ever imagined. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom. If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

Fire

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June 2016 Reading List

With summer just around the corner, and the Spring semester (finally, mercifully) over, I’ve finally got the time to look ahead to what I’d like to read, and what I haven’t managed to find the time to read quite yet. As with May, I’m still playing catch-up on on the books I missed out on during the school year. The local librarian (who has known me since I was 8), always says that the usage of the tiny library branch by my house increases as soon as I finally make my way from university. Whether or not that’s true, I can’t say.

As always, if you’ve got any reading suggestions for me, please be sure to post them in the comments! I’m always looking for new books to read!

So, my new (ish) must-reads for this month (if you haven’t already read them) are:

  1. Dream a Little Dream: The Silver Trilogy #1 by Kerstin Gier
  2. Dream On: The Silver Trilogy #2 by Kerstin Gier
  3. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
  4. And I Darken by Kiersten White (Release Date: June 28th, 2016)
  5. Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh (Release Date: June 7th, 2016)
  6. The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Plus (of course) some books I didn’t have a chance to get to in May (sadness), because school and work got in the way:

  1. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
  2. Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong
  3. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  4. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  6. The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

In addition, I would like to take a moment to discuss my posting schedule for June. Despite school being (almost) over, I will now be working full-time, on top of an unreasonable amount of other things. While I like to be busy, this does limit the free time I have available to me which, sadly, means that I will be posting less book reviews. I will be aiming to stick to a consistent schedule of new posts every Monday and Friday. Friday will be a special feature- Flashback Friday! I’ll be posting reviews of not-so-recent books or series that I loved, hated, or found to be otherwise notable.

Happy Reading Bookworms!