Month: January 2017

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Windwitch by Susan DennardWindwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #2
Published by Tor Teen on January 12th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 382
Goodreads

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.

3 Stars

Second Book Syndrome, I spot you.

I feel so conflicted about Windwitch. It was one of my most anticipated sequels but it just didn’t live up to my expectations, albeit not being a bad book per se.

The first book had me hooked for several reasons. Those, however, disappeared in the sequel. A fast-paced plot? Negative. Safi and Iseult kicking ass together? Negative. Safi and Merik banter? Negative. Albeit offering an entertaining storyline and some extras like an LGBTQ+ character, Windwitch was clearly a filler, which definitely caused damage to my interest in this series as a whole. If you assume that the 3 stars are largely due to Aeduan and Iseult, then you are (sadly) correct.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Underrated Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group hosted by Lainey from Ginger Reads Lainey and Samantha from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday of the month, readers and bloggers present their Top 5 Wednesday choices for a specific topic. Today’s topic is a pick of five favourite underrated books which, much like the last topic, presents an opportunity to alert you guys to books you would’ve maybe overlooked. The books are ordered by release date and clicking on the book title will direct you to the respective Goodreads page. Speaking about underrated books gives us the chance to shine the spotlight on books that somehow got pushed to the back by the hyped and popular books, even though they’d deserve the same recognition. So, here are my top five underrated books I’d like to push on you!

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Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle

Mafiosa by Catherine DoyleMafiosa by Catherine Doyle
Series: Blood for Blood #3
Published by Chicken House Ltd. on January 5th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads

A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago.

Protected by an infamous mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can’t last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie’s the prime target of a rival clan. She’s determined to seek revenge on her mother’s murderers, but can she pay the price – can she be a mafiosa?

The third and final instalment in the explosive YA Blood for Blood series which started with Vendetta and Inferno.

4 Stars

Mafiosa was by far my most anticipated instalment for 2017. So imagine how ecstatic I was to find it on my doorstep on January 30th, a couple of days before the official release date. I swear, I didn’t make the Godfather an offer he couldn’t refuse. Or, make a pact with the devil (though I would have). Or, bribe the publisher. It was a miracle.

The fact that the sequel Inferno remains my favourite book in the series means that not everything about Mafiosa went according to plan. For the most part, Mafiosa was the addictive, gripping and action-packed rollercoaster I hoped it would be. I sat down, forgot about the world and blew through this in one sitting. Sadly, there were a couple of things that got in the way of my complete and utter bliss with this book.

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The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City by Ryan GraudinThe Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Published by Little on November 4th, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Pages: 424
Goodreads

730. That's how many days I've been trapped.
18. That's how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible....

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister....

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window.....

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

3.5 Stars

This was my first ever Ryan Graudin book, and the first thing I discovered was that Ryan wasn’t a dude. Hence, I had an interesting start with this book 😉

The Walled City was inspired by Hong Kong’s historical Kowloon Walled City, and its general atmosphere was therefore inherently dark. Very dark. Which made this dystopian tough to rate because, though I enjoyed the gloomy setting and strong female lead, the read was slow-going at times and I couldn’t get on board with the romance.

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Top 5 Wednesday: 2017 Debut Authors I’m Excited For

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group hosted by Lainey from Ginger Reads Lainey and Samantha from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday of the month, readers and bloggers present their Top 5 Wednesday choices for a specific topic. Today’s topic are debut authors we’re excited for in 2017, and I have plenty of those to share with you. The books are ordered by release date and clicking on the star will direct you to the respective Goodreads page. I personally think this is an incredibly important Top 5 Wednesday topic, as debut authors have a harder time showing up on people’s radars (though GR definitely helps with that) and competing against established authors when it comes to hype and sales. Therefore, I’d like nothing more than to share a few debut authors whose debuts have exciting premises, which I’m really looking forward to in 2017!

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrAll The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Published by Scribner on May 6th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 530
Goodreads

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

5 Stars

“When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”

What a gorgeous creature of a book.

I knew I needed to write a review for this book because I want to convince everyone to read it, but at the same time, it was such a struggle. Some books you just can’t describe, putting your finger on what you loved about them is difficult. But I will do my best.

All The Light We Cannot See is, simply put, beautiful. It’s a historical fiction novel set during World War II told from two perspectives. Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who has to flee her home of Paris with her father; the other is Werner, a German orphan who joins the Hitler youth and becomes a Nazi soldier. We also get some other perspectives interspersed throughout, but the focus is on the story of these two children and later on, young adults. It is told in a non-linear fashion and jumps between timelines so that we end up experiencing life before, after and during the war. This book is about the smaller players, the stories that usually go untold, that get forgotten in the turmoil of history.

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Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine

Prince of Shadows by Rachel CainePrince of Shadows by Rachel Caine
Published by NAL on February 4th, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Goodreads

In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and—if they survive—marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.

Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona—and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona…

… And will rewrite all their fates, forever.

4.5 Stars

I’ve only read one other novel by Rachel Caine, and Ink and Bone sorely disappointed me. So when I picked up Prince of Shadows, realizing only halfway through the book by whom it had been written, I was pleasantly surprised. Because this book was amazing. Now, let me tell you about my feels because I have many.

Let it be known that I love retellings, especially those that expand an original beyond its horizon. This Romeo and Juliet retelling was enriched by the point of view of Benvolio Montague, Romeo’s (much more reasonable) cousin. Prince of Shadows combines an engaging narrator (yes, Benvolio Montague is my dreamboat), a dark atmosphere set in the streets of Verona (yes, Verona is a gem of Italy) and poetic prose that makes the historical setting come to life.

First of all, how can I not fall in love with a Romeo and Juliet retelling that commences with trespassing and thoughts of murder? How, I ask you? Simply impossible.

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Chantal’s Top 10 Favourite Books of 2016

So…that was 2016. What a year. Unfortunately, it was a pretty bad year for the world, socially and politically, and I can only hope that 2017 will be better. That we make it better. From a personal point of view, it was a year full ups and downs. I successfully finished my first year of university, made many new friends, read lots of books, started applying for jobs for the first time in my life. And perhaps most importantly for all you reading this: Nina and I started this blog! It’s been such a rewarding experience and I want to take a moment to thank all of you who follow us, leave comments, or just read our posts from the bottom of my heart. It truly always makes my day when any of this happens.

At the beginning of the year I set my Goodreads reading challenge to 50 books. I ended up meeting that goal in September and so upped it to 65. Once again, I was able to meet it and ended up reading 68 books.  Though I read a lot of good books this year, I also read many that I didn’t enjoy and I’m hoping that 2017 will bring many awesome new ones. So, to round off the year, here are my top ten favourites of 2016. I’m very happy with how diverse this list is in terms of genre; I’ve really expanded my reading horizon this year and that is something I want to continue doing in 2017. I have decided to take on the challenge and do a ranking, but please note that this was extremely difficult and I will probably look back on this list in two days and wish I would have put them in a different order, so take the chronology with a grain of salt. I have added age categories and genres in brackets for those of you who may have not heard of a book and would like a quick overview.

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