Woven in Moonlight | Review // First Read of Hispanic Heritage Month!

Greetings readers!

Today I am excited to share my first review of my Hispanic Heritage Month read. This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and I am so grateful that I was able to get my hands on it!

I would like to thank the Canadian Manda Book Group for sending me an ARC! This is in no way affects my opinions!

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Woven in Moonlight
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Jan 7th, 2020
Publisher: Page Street Books
Goodreads

A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

The Likes:

I really liked the plot of the book, it was very politically charged and dealt with themes of colonialism and revolution. It really shows how grey and complicated it is to discuss this subject, but also how necessary it is. The kingdom of Inkasisa has suffered centuries of conquest and has recently felt the rumbles of a revolt that has the kingdom headed down a rough path. Ximena, an Illustrian, was part of the group that was overthrown by the Llacsans. She had a very one-sided view of how the world worked and she was constantly painting the Illustrians as the victims. What I loved to read about was her growth in understanding that Illustrians were not blameless and that their racism led to this mass schism and eventual revolt. However, the book doesn’t show that the revolt results in perfect harmony either and I loved that Ibañez didn’t shy away from writing about the corruption of power.

I also loved how the author displayed this cycle of violence that persists when people choose to always focus on the differences between groups of people instead of A) embracing the diversity of cultures and B) Seeing the harmony that also exists between cultures. I know that Ibañez was heavily inspired by the political climate in Bolivia, which just makes this book all the more realistic and authentic.

The magic system had to be my favourite aspect of this book. Ximena’s weaving of moonlight (title epiphany!!!) was so cool. And while I don’t want to give too much away, I must say that the cover is quite a revealing piece…..*wags eyebrows* Lots of characters in the book practiced magic and I was super intrigued to see everyone explore their powers.

You’ll honestly probably be hungry after reading this book. Ximena does a lot of eating and there are so many delicious foods described in this book. Luckily there is a glossary at the end for those who want to know more about the tasty treats. Beyond the delicious food, there was a wonderful exploration of culture in the book. There was a lot of talk about traditions, clothing and religion. Most of it fiction, but a lot of it was drawn from Bolivian life. Safe to say that the world building is top notch and you really get immersed into the life and conflict of the people of Inkasisa.

I liked how the ending set up the companion novel. I really, really liked the drama at the end. It was bittersweet because it is a reflection of what happens in real life when opposing views sever bonds.

The Questionable

The characters were just not in it for me to win it. I feel like this is such a cop-out for not enjoying a book, but I cannot lie about how I feel. Ximena, whose name I forgot was Ximena half the time since everyone referred to her as “Condesa”, was a decent character to say the least. I wasn’t totally in love with her but I didn’t mind reading from her perspective. It was actually very interesting reading about her growth from this close-minded, hostile girl to a more open-minded one. I understand that pretending to be someone you are not is pretty much a guaranteed way to lose yourself, so I liked that we got this self exploration plot. I can’t say that I really connected with her. Maybe a little when she would talk about having to unlearn an almost heritable hatred and the discomfort of re-evaluating your whole life, but other than that…meh. There was nothing really exciting to look forward to with her, this feels like such a horrible reason for not enjoying a character…

Rumi fell so flat to me. I…couldn’t. Like I found nothing remotely intriguing about him and I cannot even think of one thing right now that made him interesting. It’s not that he was bad and I in no means hate him, but he was just there. I didn’t connect to him in any way which is upsetting because I really wanted to find him interesting.

The other characters were slightly more intriguing. Like Atoc, the dictator, although he was pretty nasty. The priest guy and Atoc’s sister were also very, very interesting. They had lots to do with the twists which I really like.

The romance, I did not buy. It really tried to sell me this enemies to lovers thing which did happen, but I didn’t find myself involved. It probably has to do with my lack of connection to the characters. I just felt nothing. I had no feels. How do you ship, if you have no feeeeeellllzzzzz.

The pacing was quite slow and there weren’t many action packed moments. The author does kind of make up for it with some twists and secrets. But the single most important twist was so obvious, I just couldn’t.


Overall, this book was good, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Maybe I aimed too high with my expectations which is the likely culprit of my disappointment. I hate to call it disappointment though because this book has a really important message and I think that the YA world really needs to read this message.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend:  Yes, on the basis of the plot and it’s overall meaning.

Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to picking this up? What politically charged books do you enjoy? Have you ever had the problem of not connecting to characters?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Dreamer Duology | Series Review // I AM IN LOVE.

Greetings readers!

The following review will probably make no sense. I tried my best to be eloquent and we should all know by now that when Rendz tries to be smart she does not sound smart.

ANYWAYS. WELCOME TO A VERY GUSHY REVIEW. I AM SO EXCITED TO SHARE MY THOUGHTS ON THIS SUPER HYPED SERIES THAT I HONESTLY THINK IS WORTH THAT HYPE.

It is PHENOMENAL.

Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares
by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Goodreads

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.


*Many thanks to HBG Canada for sending me finished copies for review! You are the real MVPs in this line of work!*

THIS IS ALL LIKES

Where do I even begin? Gosh. I have had this series in my possession since last fall/winter and yet I had never found the right moment to pick it up. I was always too nervous. Do you know how incredibly hyped this book series is? Laini Taylor is a household name in YA and the first time I read one of her books, it didn’t go as planned. (For many reasons, most of them having to do with my level of maturity)

Well I can safely say that this series is undoubtedly AMAZING. Hella weird, but so, so, so wonderful! This is a story that is so complex and yet 100% comprehensible. Never was there a moment where I was lost or side tracked or doubtful of how things were. I have to applaud Taylor’s amazing writing style and organization. She crafted this story so elegantly that while you consume the words on the page you grow with immense knowledge of the world and it’s history and characters. You get lost in this story and it is a good kind of lost, the kind where you don’t even notice the pages slipping by because you are so incredibly immersed in the story.

The characters were absolutely phenomenal. Lazlo, Sarai and the rest of the gang were incredible. They were fleshed out beautifully, incredibly dynamic and complex. Ruby was hilarious, Sparrow was a sweety pie but also a boss, Feral was clueless but also fun and Minya was the first 6-year old that I called a b*tch and yet wanted to hug close to my chest. Thyon took some getting used to that’s all I will say, but he is also so incredibly interesting and his growth through both books is huge! Eril-Fane, I don’t even know where to start, but his story was so heart-breaking and complex and bitter and seemingly hopeless, but it’s a journey and it’s not easy and it might have spiritually broken my heart. Azareen, was a boss and broken and tough and vulnerable and so so so many more things. My heart ached for her every single time she was on the page!

Lazlo was everything. He is the Soft Boi™. I can’t think of a single other dude who beats his status of softness. I love him. I love him. I love him. I think I might actually be in love with him. Like he is scholarly, compassionate, funny, painfully naive, warm, passionate, he’s got a little bit of a dark side. Truly, I think I’m in love and this is coming from the girl who loves bad bois i.e. Carswell Thorne. Anyways. Lazlo was the perfect star for this series, from his humble origins to his big adventure, every step of the journey was charming and crazy and dangerous with him.

Sarai. People speak of her as if she is a spoiler, but I don’t think so. She was also soft. Like the cutest thing ever, but she can literally make you go insane (?) so like she’s also dangerous! I loved everything about her! From her dedicated love to her siblings to her compassion for dreamers and her love of life! Gosh when things happened to her I felt like sobbing. The end of book one is literally so HORRIBLE (in a good-story kind of way) that I didn’t know what to do with myself. Sarai’s goes through a lot and journeying with her and having to deal with all that she has done is an incredible adventure.

The chemistry Lazlo and Sarai had! *screams* I think it is the only sort of insta-love I will ever accept. INCREDIBLE.

Okay, this world is weird and really intriguing. I have an imagination, but Taylor has an Imagination. I loved Weep and it’s surrounding cities. I loved how complex it’s history was and how much it suffered for it. The creatures of this world are unlike like any others I’ve ever read. When shit gets weird, you know it’s a High Fantasy and this is a prime example of it! Taylor’s exploration of Weep and the world is so amazing and covers a lot of ground. The culture of the people is so beautiful and yet marred by it’s history. Gosh, it is amazing. It actually celebrates a girl’s first menstruation with a tattoo around the belly which is so cool!! And no aspect of the culture is left just to be, it is integral to plot and wow I just LOVED IT.

I keep talking about the history of Weep and I won’t say much because you really have to experience it to get the full meaning of it all. But I will say is that it deals with my most favourite, favourite plot-line ever: Divine Intervention. And let’s just say that the gods are not nice in this one. And they wreak havoc. And the consequences of that damage is so monstrous that both gods and humans don’t know how to move on.

The history and whole plot of the story deal with such hard questions. Taylor did not hold back. If I were more eloquent in these reviews I would do a full analysis, but I’m not so I’ll just tell you that it’s hard. It made me question a lot of the notion of heroes. Heroes who do the unforgivable to win. The trauma they might have after “winning” and the shame/guilt that comes with it. The way sorrow consumes a community as much as it does a person. The prejudice and hate that exists because we are taught to hate and choose to pass it down. How we reconcile the unforgivable to move forward, if that is even possible? How all-consuming vengeance can be and how it drains a person of their will to truly live. It’s an endless series of questions. Not all of them have answers, but I just love the way the book explores these themes and challenges the reader to think. 

The endings to both books are so incredible. Book one ends in a shock, that had me speechless! I didn’t know what to do with myself! Book two has quite an ending too! I did not see it going in that direction and there is one little bit that made me sob inside!

On the more technical side. The pace was perfect. Actually book one was a little heavy and slow in the beginning and it takes a while for the adventure to start, but I really liked that we got this full background so that we were fully prepared to take on the rest of the story! Other than that, the pace is great. The suspense had me going wild, it was just right to keep me intrigued all the time. The writing, as I mentioned before, is stunning. It was absolutely beautiful. The action was less fight-y and more of a ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh what the heck are we gonna do now??? kind of thing. Although book 2 has it’s moments and there are lots of flashbacks too!

THE MAGIC. I can’t say much about it. But the powers were quite unique. It gets a 10/10 from me.


Overall, I loved this series. I thought the writing was beautiful. The story was elegant, intriguing, thought-provoking and fun! It’s a story starring a book-nerd and a life-lover. The characters are amazing, the world is lush and horrific and enchanting. Everything about this series is perfectly thought out and wonderful. It’s a thrilling read!

Ratings:

Strange the Dreamer: 5 / 5 Stars

Muse of Nightmares: 5 / 5 Stars 

Recommend: ABSOLUTELY 100% YES.

I definitely look forward to picking up Taylor’s previous series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and co. I have a feeling I’ll have a better appreciation for it now!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this series? Tell me everything! Who are your favourite characters? Did you like the ending? Do you hope for more? Have you read Taylor’s other work?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Girl the Sea Gave Back | Review // It was…alright?

Greetings readers!

Coming at you today is another ARC review! One that is actually being published before its release date! Ahhh *feels accomplished*

I had an adventure with viking books this summer and I have to say I’ve been having quite a lot of fun with them! Adrienne Young’s YA debut, Sky in the Deep blew me out of the water! I absolutely adored it and if you want to know more of my thoughts you can read my review! Today I’m reviewing the companion novel which is set in the same world but follows a new set of characters and features new clans!

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

The Girl the Sea Gave Back
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Sept 3rd, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Price: $25.99 CAD
Goodreads

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

*Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing me with an ARC*

The Likes

The World was still as wonderful as ever! I really enjoyed getting to know about the other clans that had passing mentions in Sky. The frigidness of the winter and the brutality of the people was all so fascinating to read about.

The writing was just as lyrical! Young has a way with words that make the story seem like a fairy tale. It is a beautiful prose that really captures those moments of wonder and fantasy! I think this is what really kept me in this story.

The plot of the story was interesting. Getting to see how the politics of the clans have changed now that there is a new-born clan (You’ll have to read Sky to get it  *winks*) I loved reading about the decisions of the war councils and deceptions of different clan leaders. The new clans mean that there are new traditions and gods and practices. The Svell were quite an interesting bunch and I wish we had got to see more of the Kyrr, but I guess that is why they are so mysterious.

The epic battle scene was an epic battle scene, no doubt.

The Questionable

The characters were okay at best. Tova had a rough life, I totally get that. I really felt for her, especially since her childhood was spent lonely and constantly being exploited for her powers and her life threatened. But she spent a lot of the book wallowing and sulking and I got bored real fast! *Is that too harsh* Halvard was……………………………………… he needed to stay 7 years old. He was just not as interesting as an adult! I’m sorry, but it’s true! I know he was having a very hard time trying to be the best of both worlds in his new-born clan, but I was often bored with his side of the story.

To be honest, I didn’t connect to any of the characters. Both Tova and Halvard fell extremely flat to me. I tried my best, but there was nothing that grabbed at me. I thought that Tova’s Truthtongue prophecies would real me in, but they didn’t. There weren’t many side characters to get into either and the few glimpses we got at Eelyn were NOT enough!

To be even more honest, I was very disconnected from the whole story. Even if the politics were interesting, the characters really brought me down. I was just feeling meh a lot of times and it didn’t help that I had to read about characters that I frankly didn’t care much about!

Young tried to sell me a romance that did not work for me at all. They don’t even know each other!!!!!!!–literally–and they already be thinking that they’re ready to move clans for one another? Uh-uh. No.


Overall, I really don’t know how to feel about this book exactly. I liked it while I read but after having it simmer for a bit, I find it very lackluster. It just does not compare to Sky in the Deep in my opinion! I didn’t really connect to those characters which was the biggest upset. I had hoped the plot and action would be enough, but they really kept this book just above average!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Mmmm sure. But read Sky in the Deep first!

Let me know what you think! Have you read any of these? Are you excited for it? Did you read Sky in the Deep?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Sky in the Deep | Review // THIS WAS AMAZING!

Greetings readers!

I’ll be honest, I bought this book on a whim because I had just received bad news from school so to console myself I bought a book. That was over a year ago. It took me over a year to actually pick up this book………….and I regret not picking it up sooner.

Because friends. This book. THIS BOOK.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep

Pub Date: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Price: $23.50 CAD (Hardcover)/ $14.50 CAD (paperback)
Goodreads 

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

The Likes:

Characters:

Eelyn was AMAZING. Uh amazing. So fierce and stubborn and brave and she has the biggest heart! I cannot properly express how I feel about her because there are just so many emotions swimming around in my head. She felt so raw and honest about her whole self. (Rendz, do please try to make some sense) It’s just that I related to her despite having nothing in common with her! It’s her undying loyalty to the family she has always known and comes to know that really got to me.

Fiske! I had to get over his name (I mean fish. Fish.) but he was so so good too!!!!!!!!!!! I had to say that it took a little warming up to him because he was so cold and distant it was hard to see that warm, intense passion that he was made of. I would have loved if we had gotten to see some of his perspective too, I think it would have added a lot of interest to the story. But reading him from afar was pretty fun too.

Iri, ok son…I questioned him for the longest of time for reasons you shall read about in the book. However, I did like him. Perhaps not my fave, but still worth the mention.

Halvard = adorable.

The slowburn romance to die for!

Wowowow. Okay. This was intense, I don’t even know where to begin. For the longest time throughout my read I was like hurry up and kiss alreadyyyy. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was a little worried because not only did he shoot my girl, but she was also labeled as his “slave”, a fake one, and yet I hesitated. However, I thought that it was written really well and it does take forever to happen which makes it all the more intense.

The Thing that really won me over was the dynamic between Blood family and Found family

I was so conflicted the whole way! It really made me think about my own perceptions of family! Let me tell youuuuuuu. For the first half I was like blood family, blood family, blood family, but then the book got me thinkinggggg. And it made me think hard. I mean before going in, I had an appreciation for found family relationships yet blood family still sort of topped it, but after having read this book they are more at an equilibrium. I just feel like this theme taught me so much. About family, about myself and about the universal family that connects us all, the one that makes us kin rather than enemy.

The Epic Vikingness of it all

This world was absolutely thrilling. It was cold, brutal and yet so warm in its sense of community. It was the middle of summer and yet I felt the cold while reading, it was all so vivid and alive! The cultures of the clans and their traditions and religions that were so wonderfully explored and explained.

The fighting was so intense and there were some scenes that were just so brutal! The eyeball (ahhhh)!!! I cannot explain to you all how incredibly action-packed this story is, along with the political intrigue and family issues, it was so so so intense. It’s a type of intensity that grabs you so hard you feel it in your bones!!!

IT BASICALLY EMBODIES ONE OF MY FAVOURITE NARNIA QUOTES:

“A common enemy unites even the oldest of foes.”

I MEAN, IF YOU’VE READ IT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!

The Questionable

Mmmmm…nada!


Overall, I loved this book. I think this review basically explains how inexplicable my emotions are about this, but rest assured that they are all on the positive side. I loved the characters of this story. They are what made it for me, but the whole family dynamic is the winning factor of it all. I was so completely blown away!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Absolutely!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What are some of your favourite viking books? Do you like books that deal with family issues?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Queen of Ruin | Review // A Solid Sequel!

Greetings readers!

Here I am with a long overdue review! Last year I had the lovely opportunity to read Grace and Fury and I am so fortunate to have been able to read the sequel this year! I really enjoyed myself  in the first book and I am proud to say that the sequel did not disappoint!

Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart

Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury, #2)
via Goodreads

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pub Date: July 2nd, 2019
Price: $24.99 CAD
Goodreads

A fierce sequel full of sisterhood, heart pounding action, betrayal, and intrigue in the royal court in a series that “breathes new life into the feminist story of oppression and resistance” (Publisher’s Weekly).

Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi’s sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader.

Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.

Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.

The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart’s unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.


Buy It!

Indigo Chapters | Amazon


*Many thanks to Hachette Canada for providing me with an ARC*

The Likes

Serina was a really fun character to read about. She’s still dealing with how to be a leader on this island full of women when she’s been trained to submit for so long. It’s a struggle for her to find that sense of being in charge when she’s never even felt like she was in charge of her own self. I also loved how she put some of that grace training to work and that this book didn’t dump on “being a lady”.

Nomi was always fun to follow. She is just so fierce and determined and passionate. Qualities that she had been told to keep down and out of sight because they do not become of a woman, but after all she’s been through, the betrayal she has faced, she works hard in this sequel to make up for it.

Others… There were so many great characters in this book. You get to know a bit more about Val and the crown Prince, whose stories were a little flat before, but this time we get into some of the nitty gritty of their lives.

The plot was fast paced and always had that cliff hanger bit at the end of a chapters that would keep me totally sucked into the story. The trials that these sisters go through are truly heartbreaking, but I loved reading about how their different strengths helped them in different times.

The action and intensity were so spot on. I have to say that the final battle scene was classic and made me feel like a warrior myself!

The sisterhood was there and even though they get separated for a while the connection between these two MCs is stronger than ever because they have the hope of meeting again. And the sister-love stretched beyond Nomi and Serina, there is sisterhood and female friendship across the characters in this book as they come together to fight against their oppressors and society that have brought them down.

The Questionable

I just wasn’t fully on board with how the politics of it all was resolved. I mean I liked that they weren’t fully resolved and there were still questions to be had, but I felt like there was room for more…


Overall, this was a very good sequel! It held a lot more action scenes, and the feminist agenda was still there. The incredible sisterhood and girl power was a wonderful experience that I think lots of readers will enjoy!

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Recommend: Yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this one yet? Are you looking forward to reading it? What are your favourite sisterhood books?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Merciful Crow | Review // I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got was totally AMAZING!!!

Greetings readers!

You know when you go into reading a book and you really have no idea what to expect? I think I’ve asked this existential reader question before. From personal experience, I understand that there are two possible outcomes for something like this.

A) Either you are confused the whole way through and you have no idea what is truly going on.

OR

B) You come out pleasantly surprised and full of feeellllzzz

Thankfully after reading this book, fully unaware of anything about it, I came out more in the option B category.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 30th, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Price: $25.99 CAD
Goodreads

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


*I read an ARC sent by Raincoast books!*

The Likes

Characters:

Fie: I’m not really a big user of the word “rad” but if I do use it I now have the perfect entity to which compare anyone or anything else’s radness. Because let me tell you Fie is 100% my definition of rad. She was an incredible character to say the least. Her family values alongside her own morals, goals and hopes were so intriguing. She would literally do anything for her fam (which Hi yes I relate to most definitely), but she also had that side of her that wished she wasn’t so part of the community she was in. I loved that this story explored how hard it was for her to be in the community she was but also be herself and defy the values that have been engraved in her so that she could save her family. I just really enjoyed reading about her journey, her struggle to accept that she wasn’t a carbon copy of every other member of her caste, but that she chose to branch out and break through the rigid class lines. That’s not to say that she doesn’t embrace her people, but through many obstacles she comes to learn that her breaking the cycle is what needs to be done.

I tried to make sense of that too. Just know that I loved her.

ON A FUN NOTE: I didn’t know exactly how to pronounce her name. I wasn’t sure if it was Fee or F-eye. SO throughout the whole book whenever I read her name in my head I would actually read Fee–Feye–Fo-Fum. How tragic.

Tavin: I tried hard to put up a brave face against him too, but I am a sucker for charmers and charm me away he did. Although we didn’t get a perspective from Tav, he does go through a lot of growth. There are prejudices to unlearn and bigotry that he has to recognize in himself and his own caste. What I really liked about him was how much heart he had and that he was willing to die so many times for others. It’s not surprising he had a self-sacrificing complex because that literally was his job. His little secret I guessed at..but was still super surprised.

Jasimir: So this relationship started out very rocky. Why? Because I did not like him for 70% of this book. Oh geez. Um. How do I even explain this. If we need to talk about growth, then Jas is one who definitely needed to grow. He needed to learn the difference between sympathy and empathy because as much as he felt sorry for those who were suffering around him he did little to make a difference or to show his compassion. AND THIS FRUSTRATED ME like it did Fie. But then we get to that 30% and he really starts to change and stops being the brat I had been calling him and that is why he is in the liked category. There is definitely still a lot to come from him, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we don’t revert back to the mess he was before.

The World and It’s Politics

A caste system based on different birds. Um YES. This was actually so cool. It was a harsh system no doubt and I wouldn’t exactly want to part of this world but it was an interesting take on a caste system. It is an unfair world in which the Crow Caste, Fie’s people, are treated like less than dirt, hunted to extinction, yet are so critical to aiding the other castes from a plague. Fie spoke so much truth, I was nodding my head and agreeing with her so much. The extent to which the Crows were mistreated was so mind-boggling, but you can’t help but look through history of the real world and find the parallels that run through it.

The Magic

It is in the teeth. TEETH. Owen really put magic in teeth and I am 1000% on board with this. I loved that each bird had it’s special power, I loved that the teeth could call on the power of the people who once lived but also allow the crows to relive those lives in memories. I don’t want to say much because I want you to experience the glorious magic when you read this book.

BUT THE BEST PART. I had gotten my wisdom teeth removed when I read this book so reading about bloody, magical teeth was such great irony I couldn’t help but love it more.

The Romance

Slow burn, enemies-to-lovers that shipped with my entire being. Thank you very much.

There was an abundance of diversity in terms of sexuality and gender identity. Jasimir is gay, and I’m pretty sure Tav is pansexual because he says he doesn’t care for gender. There is a non-binary side character. There are also characters of colour throughout the novel. And these are more than just quite side characters but major persons in the novel that are critical to the plot!

The Questionable

It’s a lot of walking. A lot of journeying. So the action was not the most prominent thing. I am an action kind of girl, I live for the thrill of the fictional fight. And there are plenty of action scenes still I felt like there was a lot of slow movement that had me teetering on the edge of disengagement.


 

Overall, I super duper enjoyed this one. I think the characters just did it for me. I think Fie completely won me over and I loved her story and everything to do with her. The writing was wonderful, the pace a little slow, but the overall story was a very powerful one!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES! I think lots of readers will like this one!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? What kind of bird would you want to resemble? A weird question, I know.

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Storm Crow | Blog Tour // Review

Greetings readers!

I am so glad to be part of this blog tour for The Storm Crow, a new and highly anticipated read! Many thanks go out to Raincoast Books for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for sending over an ARC!

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 9th, 2019
Publisher: SourcebooksFire
Price: $25.50 CAD
Goodreads

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.


Buy It

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


The Likes

The Characters

Let’s start with Thia who was such an incredible character! I absolutely adored her. After basically witnessing the destruction of her beloved country, Thia’s grief totally overwhelms her and succumbs her to a several months long depression and it takes her a long time to call it what it is. She carried this exhausting weight with her all the time and it prevented her from being who she was before the destruction. Throughout the story and the challenges she is put through, Thia has to find a way to live on with that sadness that used to keep her under her covers. And as the story goes on, Thia really starts to shine. We get to see her spunk, her extreme curiosity and her passion. Her fears and grief are always near at hand, but she slowly starts to creep out of the darkness that she once found so comforting and confronts the world before her. The struggle is never easy and Jospehson doesn’t shy away from showing how tough it can be to hold on to hope. It’s very rare to see mental health rep in fantasy and I thought that this was an incredibly interesting take on it!

Ericen…hmmmmmmmmmmm okay. So I really liked to hate him??? And then I pitied him??? At one point he is just so terribly horrible and then things happen and other things are brought to light and it’s just a whirlwind of emotions with this guy. I don’t even know exactly what to say. I can’t say we get a completely unbiased portrait of him because the entire story is told from Thia’s POV so we don’t get to go into his mind. But he is very interesting and mysterious. And at the end there I had a lot of questions about him and I honestly don’t know what he is going to do next which is the most exciting bit.

Other characters…Are kind of spoilery if I talk about who I want to talk about. Um, but here are some I can talk about! The best friend, Kiva, was so ferocious and charming I loved her! She was a great, fiery addition to this adventure! The sister, Caliza, is also really interesting. We don’t get a lot from her, but she is in a tough situation, that by no means excuses some of the things she says to Thia, but a little empathy is required everywhere.

BUT THE VILLAIN-CHARACTER…OMG I HATE HER!!!!!!!

The World

Love. Love. Love. 

Okay, first off the ARC came with a map and an index with all the countries of the world and it was just amazingly helpful. There’s a lot happening here and not all of it is easily memorable so having those two points of reference was amazing.

Besides that, the countries and people of this world were so fascinating. The ways in which they lived and practiced and fought were pretty, pretty different. The story revolves largely around the threat of one country becoming too powerful and conquering and slaughtering only to swallow their victims into their own body.  Thia is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen to her country of Rhodaire but things get messy.

The politics of this world were very tricky. Thia gets into a very sticky and messy situation where they are trying to break her and use that depression against her. It was hard to read about sometimes because I wanted to help but there was nothing I could do obviously, so I really had to hang on during this wild ride. It’s not all black and white. There are are shades of grey that really bring a richness to the troubles of these countries.

The Magic

Giant, magical, elemental, crows. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. The index also explained the types of magic found in these birds so that was really helpful too because we get a better understanding of how Rhodaire used to function with them and why they are so pivotal to the characters. I really liked this magic system, I did. It was not exactly what I was expecting and it definitely comes with it’s surprises.

The Action and Intensity

Perfect for this high fantasy! There were lots of moments when I was screaming and yelling at the characters for making terrible decisions, but it was fun! I enjoyed myself immensely while reading this. It has an even pace with the promise of danger always looming and when it finally comes you can’t help but be surprised and completely sucker punched by it!

The ending took me a little by surprise, I was not expecting things to go down the way they did and that is always a wonderful thing because it amped up the risk!

The Romance

I’m not gonna even spend time on this. Um. What do I even say? Things happened. Then more things happened. Then some things happened too quickly and I was kind of like ??? and then OTHER things happened and I cringed out of second-hand embarrassment. So I will just say that it helped with the drama, but I refuse to get attached for *reasons.* But I think others who’ve read this might already have made an attachment. Who knows?

The Questionable

Maybe I just wanted a little more with the magic. I felt like bigger things could have been done there even though the window for it was limited. I just think that’s what’s missing for me to give it the full stars!


The Quickie Fan Art

This is a very–very–quick sketch of a certain drawing that is actually in the book. I felt inspired when I read it so I took a shot at it!

It’s most definitely not perfect and I plan on doing a much better and cohesive version of it sometime soon! But for now enjoy the quickie sketch!


Overall, I had a wonderful time reading this book! It had all the right action and suspense. Thia is an incredible character with such raw experience and heart. The politics of the world will have you nervous and the magic in awe! I am so excited to see where the sequel takes us next!

Rating: 4.85 / 5 Stars (What is even this rating, Rendz????)

Recommend: YES! Oh yes, oh yes!

Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to reading this? Have you ever read fantasy mixed with a mental health rep before? Isn’t that cover gorgeous!?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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