Book Review

Book Review: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 472 pages
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Straus and Giourx
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

A GOOD START.

I’ve decided I’m into this. Enough to check out the next in this series.

It’s hard to judge a fantasy series off of the first book because I know fantasies can take a long time to build. I think that was the case here. There was world-building, magic systems, personalities of characters to begin to figure out. This was all present here and makes me hopeful that in the next one we’ll get get to the real deepness of the book now that the groundwork is laid out.

I love the setting and it felt good to be back in a YA fantasy world. It’s my favorite genre for a reason! I love Zafira and Nasir. Hot dang the tension between them was aaaaamazing. Hardcore shipping them and better get a HEA with them or I’ll just be obliterated. They had good banter, moments of strength and weaknesses, and you could really feel them.

Things started off strong with pacing, but oh wow, dragged in the middle. It unfortunately showcased one of my lower favorite tropes, traveling. Most of the book focused on Zafira going on a journey to restore magic. Plenty of things happened along the way, yet at times felt like it things were moving rather slowly. Luckily in the last quarter they sped up again and the action took off, leaving me wondering what’s going to happen next.

These side characters were fantastic too! I didn’t find the forgettable or annoying. I wanted to know more about them and was also blown away when plot twists came in involving them. They weren’t wasteful additions and clearly are bringing a lot to the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, some intense kissing
  • Violence: swords, arrows, ifrit/magical creature attacks, physical, magic

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Book Review

Book Review: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 512 pages
Author: Abigail Johnson
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Can life begin again… every other weekend?

Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

FELT THIS.

I love when you can feel really connected to a book. I felt that way from the very beginning of this. I have divorced parents and had a lot of back and forth growing up. While I didn’t experience everything in this book, many of the emotions and thoughts really hit home.

The bond between Adam and Jolene was so tender and made me want to hug them both. I loved watching their relationship burgeon from friends to lovers in this sweet, and heartening way. It was gorgeous writing that brought you into the story and held you there. I had no problems with motivation to pick this up. I wanted to follow these characters stories and to what I was hoping was a happily ever after.

My only drawback in this one was the length. As a contemporary being 500+ pages, some scenes dragged on. While still enjoying the story I felt it took away from it.

I love how Jolene and Adam just got each other. Going through such a difficult situation and having someone by your side that gets you, oh be still my heart. Absolutely couldn’t get enough. This is definitely a hidden gem in the YA category and one I would highly recommend!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warnings: divorced, separated parents; adultery, alcoholism, a mom trying to make her child sick, toxic relationships (a side character friend of Jolene’s)

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Book Review

Book Review: Elantris (Elantris #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 638 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 1st, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

AMAZING. PER USUAL.

I’m never surprised that I always end up loving any book by Sanderson. Occasionally with a favorite author, you run across a book that just doesn’t click, 13 books later, and I DO NOT HAVE THAT ISSUE. I love them all.

This was no exception. Elantris is one of Sanderson’s older titles that I *think* some claim is a lesser novel of his? While no Stormlight Archive, it’s still a superb read. I listened to it on audio and thought the narrator was great too.

One of my favorite parts was the romance (who’s surprised?). It’s nothing major or anything, but the lost loves finding one another was precious and just sweet. I adore Sarene and Raoden as characters. Talk about a power couple. Both strong, courageous, and didn’t take a thing laying down. One of the best character arcs was for Hrathen. He went from someone I hated, to someone I understood and appreciated as a POV in Elantris. All three of these characters had points-of-view and it really gave angles to all sides of Arelon and Elantris.

I loved the magic system and the way the world worked in general. I thought it was interesting how heavily the world’s religions played into the characters and the nation itself. It was a solid combination of all of these that kept up the intrigue and mystery.

I hope one day we do get a sequel because there’s clearly plenty more story lines that Sanderson could pursue. This one ends without any cliffhangers and with a great close out that doesn’t leave you hanging.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: poison, sickness, physical, demons, swords; not overly gory

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Book Review

Book Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult dystopia + romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: October 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

WELL THAT WAS INTERESTING.

What a unique book y’all. And yet…not? I did a buddy read for this book and we both were finding so many tidbits from other books in here that combined to form a whole new novel. It was definitely something different.

I liked how quick it was to read. I would look down and be astonished at how many pages had already flown by. The Grace Year keeps you involved and wanting to know what happens next. I had so many questions throughout it that kept me on my toes. Who was going to die? Why did this happen? Wait, is that what I think it is? Ah, I love a book that makes me question.

This was also a very odd world-system. I would have loved to know if this county’s system was more broad than just this small area, but I was creeped out by the system anyways. Sending the girls off because they have “magic,” was so barbaric I could barely handle it.

One aspect I really didn’t like that caused the 4 star rating was the love story. For someone SO INCREDIBLY ADAMANT they didn’t want to be married or committed in anyway to fall for someone else was a bit unbelievable. The way it was written made it seem like a shorter time period than it really was which also rushed the process. Tierney’s relationship could have used a lot more development, or flat out cutting this piece out.

I liked how everything ended. Michael was a saint and I can’t believe the compassion and forgiveness he had for what Tierney did (which was another piece of the book I didn’t love). Michael did everything for her and I was grateful to see them begin to work things out. I also loved that the usurper was close to home. It made the theme of this book clear, women need to support women and not tear each other down.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopia + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: very little detail fade to black scene, some kisses
  • Violence: murder, lightning strikes, punishments in the form of removing fingers/ear/toes/hair, poison, knives

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