Wrap Up: January 2017

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I didn’t really have a great start to the year in terms of reading. I was feeling a bit burnt out after reading 22 books in December to finish off my Goodreads reading challenge. I just needed a bit of a break and as a result didn’t really read as many books as I usually do. But I still managed to read 11 books and I’m happy with that for now.

My Goodreads reading goal for this year is currently set at 100. I’m anticipating that I’ll read more than that but we’ll see how I go for now.

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Reading summary header

1. Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone  4 stars

This novel features a character with OCD and I had some issues with the OCD elements in this book. My full review is linked if you’re interested in my thoughts on that. However, I thought the rest of the book was beautifully written and really sweet and, ultimately, I enjoyed the reading experience.

2. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates  4 stars

I really, really liked this non-fiction book. It’s a collection of essays written in the form of a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son, detailing the struggles of growing up and living as a black person in America. It’s a great book about race and violence and I found it to be impactful and poignant.

3. An Improper Ever After – Nadia Lee  4 stars

This is the third part and conclusion to Elliot and Annabelle’s story that started with An Improper Bride and continued with An Improper Ever After. While I enjoyed this third installment and liked how their story ended, I’m still very disappointed with the author’s choice to split one story into three sections. I’ve said this about Nadia Lee’s recent books many times before, but it just feels like she’s trying to profit more from splitting what could be one book, into three. And this also ruins the reading experience for many readers because of the cliffhangers at the end of Books 1 and 2. Not sure that I’m going to continue to read her books if she continues to do this.

4. Wayfarer – Alexandra Bracken  4 stars

Wayfarer is the sequel to Passenger and I absolutely loved it. I loved being reunited with Nicholas and Etta, and learning about new characters as well. I did have a bit of confusion as I was reading the book but I loved how the duology wrapped up and thought it was a great novel.

5. Windwitch – Susan Dennard  4 stars

Windwitch is the sequel to Truthwitch and I liked them both equally. Windwitch is a little bit less action-packed and is more character-driven, which I didn’t really mind. At times, I wished there was a bit more plot but the character development that we saw in this sequel was absolutely brilliant.

6. Us – Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy  4 stars

Us is a sequel to Him, but could probably be read as a standalone. I really loved Him and didn’t think Us was as good, but I still really enjoyed my read of the novel and being reunited with the characters again.

7. Freeks – Amanda Hocking  35 stars

I am part of the blog tour for this novel and my post, along with a short Q&A will be up on the blog on Sunday. It’s a slightly creepy and eerie carnival story and I thought it was a fast-paced and thrilling read. There were some parts that I wasn’t a big fan of, especially the way that the book ended, but I still thought it was a great read.

8. Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge  3 stars

This is a Beauty and the Beast-inspired story and I found it to be kind of disappointing. I found a lot of it to be very confusing and lacking in plot and I was not a fan of the main character. There was also a strange love triangle going on in the book that I found to be frustrating and, as a whole, I just wasn’t very impressed with Cruel Beauty.

9. Crimson Bound – Rosamund Hodge  35 stars

Crimson Bound is a standalone novel that is loosely inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, and I enjoyed it slightly more than Cruel Beauty. However, most of the problems that I had with Cruel Beauty, I also had with this book. The story felt very dragged out and I absolutely hated the love triangle in this book. I did like the main character but found her to be frustrating at times too.

10. The Billionaire’s Holiday Bride – Nadia Lee  4 stars

This is a novella that should be read after five books in The Pryce Family series. It allows readers to be reunited with the five couples from the books in the series, but also develops the backstory and romance of a different couple from the series at the same time. I really enjoyed it and it brought a smile to my face.

11. Lisette’s Paris Notebook – Catherine Bateson  2 stars

I was not very impressed with this contemporary novel at all. It sounded like a really cute and fluffy story but I found it to be extremely dull and it lacked substance and plot. The main character was frustrating to read about and I found the characters and the writing to be lacklustre.

Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

windwitchPublisher: Tor UK
Release date: January 10, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 382
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Windwitch is the sequel to Truthwitch, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Windwitch was a fantastic sequel to Truthwitch. There was a lot of character development and I really enjoyed how much more we got to learn about the characters and the world. In this second installment, we follow the four main characters on their separate journeys. We have Safi who is now travelling with the Empress of Marstok, Vaness. Their ship is attacked and during their escape, they are captured by the scary Hell-bards. Prince Merik has also found himself the victim of an attack and after losing his ship and most of his crew, he roams his lands searching for the one who’s responsible for his disfigured face. Along the way he discovers a dark secret that could change everything. Iseult is on a mission to find her Threadsister, Safi, but runs into Aeduan, who has been tasked with the job of capturing Iseult. The two strike up a deal and end up travelling together but they both find out more about themselves and each other during their journey.

I loved everything that went down in this book but I did feel that it was a bit of a filler book. I didn’t really have a good idea of where the book was going and how everything fit together until close to the end of the novel. There isn’t a lot that actually happens besides a lot of walking around, escape and survival. It was definitely more of a character-driven book than a plot-driven book, and because of this, it took me a while to get through it because I was unsure of what was happening and where the series was going. The last 100 pages of the book, however, makes things a lot more clear and by the end of the novel, I could see a clear direction of where the series was going. I also didn’t really mind that it was a character-driven book because the characters were extremely interesting to me.

I highly enjoyed how much the characters developed in this book, and I loved seeing the relationships between them deepen. The dynamic between Safi and Vaness was a really interesting one and I enjoyed seeing the respect that grew between them. I also really enjoyed Safi’s interactions with the Hell-bards and how the group dynamic changed throughout the book. I enjoyed seeing the complexities of Merik and his sister, Vivia’s relationship. I really appreciated being able to follow Vivia’s perspective throughout Windwitch too because I thought she was a fantastic character and I’m glad that we got to see so much of her. But most of all, I enjoyed Aeduan and Iseult’s budding relationship that evolved from animosity to respect to companionship. I just ship them so hard! I can’t wait to see how all these relationships unfold in Bloodwitch.

Overall, I thought this was a really strong sequel, despite not being able to latch on to the plot. I highly enjoyed all of the characters and I’m really excited to see how everything plays out in the next installment.

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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Publisher: Tor Teen
Release date: January 5, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 416
Goodreads || Book Depository

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. 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.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Truthwitch was an action-packed and entertaining series starter that leaves you wanting more at the end. This high fantasy series is set in the Witchlands where some are born with some form of elemental magic. The Twenty Year Truce in the Witchlands is about to come to an end and everybody is preparing for the descent into war. Our two protagonists, Safiya and Iseult, are thrown into the middle of all the plotting because of their highly coveted abilities and the story begins from there.

Basically, this book was a long survival and escape story. We see Safi and Iseult escape from their home in Dalmotti, where they are being hunted by a Bloodwitch and the Emperor, to the country of Nubrevna, aboard Prince Merik’s ship. Along the way, they encounter trouble and must use their training and rely on others to get out of sticky situations. This book was so action-packed and exciting. There are lots of things going on at the same time and there’s a sense of urgency and frenzy. But despite all the fast-paced action, the plot moves at a pretty slow pace. There isn’t actually very much going on in the book besides Safi and Iseult escaping from those who hunt them. There were quite a few plot twists in the book that kept me engaged but I didn’t find them to be particularly shocking. There were lots of things that I had predicted from the very beginning of the book. But having said that, the last third of the book was fantastic and I enjoyed every aspect of the plot during that last section.

The magic system in this book is very complex and I found it to be quite confusing at the beginning. You’re just thrown into the world with no clue as to what’s going on and there’s very little help from the author. I had to work pretty hard to figure everything out because it wasn’t very well-described or explained. I felt quite overwhelmed for the first 100 pages because a lot of terms were dropped and we were introduced to about 15 different kinds of witches. It was just overwhelming and confusing. However, it all slowly starts to make sense as you progress through the book. In terms of the actual world building, I had some of the same problems. There’s not very much information given about each of the empires or any of the conflict that they might have had. Despite the very elaborate map included in the book, I found the world building to be quite lacking. There was nothing that distinguished one empire from another and I didn’t have a clear sense of what each empire stood for. There was nothing about the history or culture of each empire.

“Because ‘just me’ isn’t who we are,” Iseult hollered back. “I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end.”

The characters were probably the standout aspect of the book for me. Safi and Iseult were both very fierce and independent characters and I enjoyed the close friendship they had. They were very loyal to each other and I loved how well they worked as a team and the dynamic between them. I liked Iseult a little bit better than Safi, because I found Safi to be a bit too impulsive and reckless. She didn’t seem to really care about the position that other people were in and how she could screw things up for them. But I did really appreciate her growth and the way she gradually started to recognise that her actions had consequences. Like I said, the whole friendship between the Threadsisters was really enjoyable, but I found that I didn’t completely understand what being Threadsisters meant. I mean, is it supposed to be an official bond like the parabatai in the Shadowhunter world? There wasn’t very much information given about Safi and Iseult’s pasts and I wished that we had gotten a little bit more. I also wanted to know more about their abilities. I couldn’t really see what was so special about Safi’s Truthwitch powers. I can understand why people want her abilities, but just because she can discern truth from lies, doesn’t mean she has to actually help them…

I really enjoyed a lot of the side characters too. Merik was a wonderful character who just came across as very noble and responsible. He knows what’s most important to him and he doesn’t stop working towards getting what he wants. I liked the slow burning romance that he had with Safi and that it didn’t overpower Safi’s friendship with Iseult or the plot of the book. Another character that I really liked was Aeduan. He’s a bit of an ambiguous character and is morally grey, but he has a lot of great moments in the book and I enjoyed the dynamics between him and Iseult a lot. Like I hardcore ship this. I’m not sure where his character is going in the next book, but I can’t wait to find out.

For me, this book does suffer a little from the Chosen One Syndrome, where Safi and Iseult are the special Chosen Pair, and everybody else has to sacrifice their lives to save them. Considering how great the secondary characters were, I didn’t think they needed to be pushed into the role having to risk their lives at every turn. It also doesn’t help that some of the characters are monks who have sworn an oath to protect the lives of the cahr awen, and have kind of made it their life’s mission to do so… But that’s a minor criticism.

Overall, this was a great book. I’m not sure that it lives up to all of the hype but I enjoyed it anyway. Hopefully the sequel will be a little bit stronger.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Author Duos I’ve Love To See Write A Book Together

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is author collaborations I’d love to see. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the team at The Broke and The Bookish. I feel like I chose a lot of authors who have similar writing styles to pair together, instead of being creative and choosing vastly different authors. But oh well. Why change things up when they work?


1. Jandy Nelson & Gayle Forman

jandynelson gayleformanCoincidentally this was the example that Jamie from The Broke and The Bookish gave for this week’s prompt. I agreed so much with it! I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson is my favourite YA book, and the Just One Day/Year duology by Gayle Forman is also one of my firm favourites. I would love to see a collaboration between them. It would have the most beautiful writing!


2. Tahereh Mafi & Ransom Riggs

taherehmafi ransomriggsThis is kind of cheating because I still haven’t read the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi… (I did recently read the Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children trilogy by Ransom Riggs though). I just had to put this down as a collaboration though because they’re a married couple. I think they’d work so well together and it would just be an awesome time!


3. Cassandra Clare & Rick Riordan

cassieclarerickriordanCheating again because I haven’t read anything by Uncle Rick yet. Sorry! I will get onto that mission soon. One day I will be caught up. One day.

A while ago when I was at a Cassie Clare event, she mentioned that she absolutely loves Rick Riordan. So for Cassie’s sake, I’d love to see them get together and write a fantasy series!


4. Jenny Han & Becky Albertalli

jenny han View More: http://thedecisivemoment.pass.us/becky-headshotsJenny Han and Becky Albertalli both write the sweetest books! I mean there are cookies and baked goods on almost every page of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and there are Oreos in Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Yup, I want this collaboration solely because of food. I have a sweet tooth okay?! Who can resist cookies?


5. Patrick Ness & Maggie Stiefvater

patrickness maggiestiefvaterI’ve only read one Patrick Ness book (as I’m writing this up I am reading my second, A Monster Calls), but I’ve been told by many that he’s a bit of a literary genius. Maggie Stiefvater is a jack of all trades and a genius herself.

What happens when two geniuses come together to write a book? Best. Book. Ever. Undoubtedly.


6. Sarah J. Maas & Sara Raasch

sjmaas sararaaschThe Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas and Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch are two of my favourites. They’ve both got AMAZING worlds and some fierce female protagonists. I’d love to see them come together and create another epic world and charming characters. Plus they’re both young and they could be besties (coz I’m totally in a position to decide this).


7. David Levithan & Patrick Ness

davidlevithan patricknessSo remember what I said about Patrick Ness being a literary genius? To me, David Levithan is a literary genius. I’ve loved every single one of his books that I’ve read. They’re both incredible writers and I think they could come together and write a fantastic diverse book. It would have great writing and can you imagine the feels you would get? (coz feels are totally additive like that)


8. Maggie Stiefvater & Holly Black

maggiestiefvater hollyblackMaggie Stiefvater is a really quirky writer and her books have a really great paranormal/creepy vibe (speaking from my experience with the Shiver trilogy and what I know about The Raven Cycle). When I read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, I kind of felt the same vibe. They both write paranormal books set in creepy small towns.


9. Ransom Riggs & Marissa Meyer

ransomriggs marissameyerI think this would be a really cool collaboration! I LOVE Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and I also love Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. I would love to see a sci-fi series (maybe another fairytale retelling?) featuring peculiar children with special abilities. Or maybe the peculiar children from Miss Peregrine’s can time travel to the future?! I want this!


10. Sarah J. Maas & Susan Dennard

sjmaas susandennardI think this collaboration is already happening actually. If you weren’t aware Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard are besties. It would be awesome to write with your best friend. I think they’d bring out the best in each other and they probably know each other so well that their book would be super seamless and cohesive. Plus the writing process would be so much fun!


Do you agree with any of these collaborations? Which authors would you like to see write a book together? And which released collaborations do you love and recommend?