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: 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

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: August 2020

Is 2020 over yet? Asking for a friend.

In the reading world, I did get through quite a few books, with some five stars. So that’s something! A lot of upcoming releases as well.

Favorites this month: You Have a Match, From Blood and Ash, and Heart Bones
Least favorites: Harley in the Sky, Between Shades of Gray

  • Hitching the Pitcher (Belltown Six Pack #1) by Rebecca Connolly, Sophia Summers, and Heather B. Moore – (☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts (Steampunk Proper Romance #4) by Nancy Campbell Allen – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • [ARC] Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #3) by Lyssa Kay Adams – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Intertwine (House of Oak #1) by Nichole Van – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • [ARC] You Have a Match by Emma Lord – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Royal We (Royal We #1) by Heather Cocks – (☆☆ 1/2)
  • Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Brown – (☆☆☆)
  • The Extra (The Extra Series #1) by Megan Walker – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crown of Coral and Pearl #2) by Mara Rutherford – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) by Diana Gabaldon – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman – (☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Mistletoe and Mr. Right (Moose Springs, Alaska #2) by Sarah Morgenthaler – (☆☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – (☆☆☆)
  • Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Bright Raven Skies (Sweet Black Waves #3) by Kristina Perez – (☆☆☆☆)

What were some favorite books you read in August? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical Fiction / Magical Realism
Length: 336 pages
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish–to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age–her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true–but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

A BIT DULL.

I did a buddy-read for this and I think that was more interesting and fun than this book was.

The writing was gorgeous and easy to follow. That was never my issue, I didn’t click with the story as a whole. Magical realism + historical fiction are a hard combination to mix. I usually don’t like them, and this was no different. I found it a unique premise and clearly saw the effort put into this. A lot of research into Mozart’s history was accomplished to make this book what it was. I would have loved a historical fiction based off of Mozart’s life without the fantasy aspects.

I mostly felt disconnected from the story. I did feel some depth with Nannerl and truly saddened by her inability to stand and do what she wanted just because she was a woman (with respect to the time period). She didn’t really ever do anything about this though, which I guess as I’m writing this, falls in line with the historical aspects (based off of the author’s note, not my own research).

It was a younger YA than I was thinking and honestly it needed some more flair for me to be into it. With the characters mostly very young the entire book it wasn’t like they could do much anyways (other than practice the claiver). I was underwhelmed and sped read to get through it. I struggled to even write more for this review because I don’t feel like I have anything to say about it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction / magical realism
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: general sickness (small pox, etc.)

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