Monday, June 26, 2017

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

**The Waking Land by Callie Bates is available Tuesday, June 27th!**

The Waking Land by Callie Bates. Del Rey Books, 2017. Hardcover. 400 pages.

*I received a physical copy of The Waking Land courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

This is another hard one to review. I was already looking forward to this one, and then I saw Robin Hobb's (author of The Farseer trilogy) five-star review and my excitement shot up even more. After reading it, however, I'm left feeling very unsure. 

On the whole, this is a solid, entertaining fantasy that I really enjoyed. But despite that... it was still a rather average book. I don't mean that in a distinctly negative sense, but more in the sense that  I had certain expectations of this book that weren't met -- it is still a good book overall, just not what I thought. Parts of this book really stood out and seemed unique, but there were just as many overly predictable plot points as well. This book was brimming with potential and an overabundance of fantastic magical ideas, but there were so many places that just fell flat and left me wishing for more, which disappointed me. 

The characters were really a mixed bag. I loved some of them, like Alistair and Jahan, but others were just... meh. Elanna was also hit and miss. She  had many moments of seeming rather annoying and repetitive, but I did also really appreciate her moments of strength and forcefulness when she would realize that she just needed to buck up and make a decision or follow her gut, even if it didn't seem right. I was also a bit annoyed by how wishy-washy she seemed regarding her loyalties, but then I considered her position of having to choose between the place where was raised and is loyal to and a place where she is actually from and where her biological family is, and I actually understood what a difficult position that would be. So props to Elanna for struggling through such a weird situation.

Alistair, whom I mentioned above, isn't necessarily a 'main' character, but is someone I considered a main secondary character, and he really helped bring life to every scene he was in. I loved his loyalty, his strength, and down-to-earth nature that made him such a fascinating person to follow. Jahan, the love interest of Elanna, was also someone that I really enjoyed reading. Was some of his personality a little bit cliche'd? Yes. Was the romance a little odd and unnecessary? Yes. I can't deny either of those things, but despite them, I still really loved every scene he was in - he shined and brought so much life to the story.

The main thing that I really loved about this book was the magic system. I love magic that is tied to the earth, and this was an amazing take on that notion. I loved how Elanna could control the land around her and make things grow and whatnot, but I wanted so much more! Her process from not really knowing how to use her powers to using them to save her land was far too quick for my liking and understanding. I wanted to know more about how she actually used her power and learned to master it, and I feel like we just didn't quite get enough. 

Now, the romance: I liked it in general, but it was too fast. I completely understand that lust you get when you first meet someone that is so strong and it feels like you're in love - but you're not! You might fall in love one day, but it's not immediate -- it takes a while, so don't rush ahead and make things weird. If there had been just a little bit more time between the characters, it would have been just fine. 

The writing is nothing spectacular, but it is certainly well-done and enjoyable. The world-building was also okay. I felt a little confused about locations, but in the end it worked. The history in this world is a bit confusing at times, and many things are thrown around.

Overall, I am giving The Waking Land 3.75 stars! I had to get into the nitty-gritty here because it didn't quite reach four stars but it was absolutely above three. Hence, 3.75. I recommend this to anyone who loves an entertaining fantasy with some entertaining dialogue, complex political issues, and a great magic system.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

TBR Thursday: Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

TBR Thursdays is hosted by Kim @ Kimberly Faye Reads! This feature was created with the intent of spotlighting a title from your shelf that you planning on reading in order to discuss why you want to read it, as well to discuss the book with others! If you'd like to join, feel free to use the banner created by Kimberley (or your own), and stop by her page to participate.

My pick for this week is Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamd! The first time I hard about this book was when ARC for this one showed up at my door a few days ago and I have been wanting to pick it up ever since. The whole cult/society concept sounds like a really interesting one!

Gather the Daughters
Synopsis from Goodreads:

"Never Let Me Go meets The Giver in this haunting debut about a cult on an isolated island, where nothing is as it seems.

Years ago, just before the country was incinerated to wasteland, ten men and their families colonized an island off the coast. They built a radical society of ancestor worship, controlled breeding, and the strict rationing of knowledge and history. Only the Wanderers--chosen male descendants of the original ten--are allowed to cross to the wastelands, where they scavenge for detritus among the still-smoldering fires.

The daughters of these men are wives-in-training. At the first sign of puberty, they face their Summer of Fruition, a ritualistic season that drags them from adolescence to matrimony. They have children, who have children, and when they are no longer useful, they take their final draught and die. But in the summer, the younger children reign supreme. With the adults indoors and the pubescent in Fruition, the children live wildly--they fight over food and shelter, free of their fathers' hands and their mothers' despair. And it is at the end of one summer that little Caitlin Jacob sees something so horrifying, so contradictory to the laws of the island, that she must share it with the others.

Born leader Janey Solomon steps up to seek the truth. At seventeen years old, Janey is so unwilling to become a woman, she is slowly starving herself to death. Trying urgently now to unravel the mysteries of the island and what lies beyond, before her own demise, she attempts to lead an uprising of the girls that may be their undoing.

Gather The Daughters is a smoldering debut; dark and energetic, compulsively readable, Melamed's novel announces her as an unforgettable new voice in fiction."

Are you interested in reading this book? What books are on your TBR?

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
Publication Date: July 25th, 2017
Harlequin Teen
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

Daughter of the Burning City
"A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear."

Guys. I've been anxiously awaiting this book for months and months and I'm so glad that there is only a little over a month until its release! Every aspect of this book just calls out to me in the same way that the Sirens call out to sailors. But seriously, can this be out yet?

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Series I've Been Meaning to Start

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

There are a lot of books in the world. And within those books are a lot of series, many of which sound amazing and I really want to read, but simply have had the time -- or I'm too intimidated -- to start them. Here are just a select few of some of the series that I'm dying to read. What do you guys think?

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1)
Discworld by Terry Pratchett
I'm almost ashamed to admit that I haven't started this series. I've honestly been meaning to for years now, but for some reason I just haven't. I think that there is a small part of me that worries I won't find them as funny as everyone else does, but I don't think that will actually be an issue. Here's to hoping I get to this series soon!

Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)
Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
If you know anything about the Malazan series, then you can probably understand why I've been putting this one off. To be fair, I have started the first book twice and ended up putting it down both times. I can understand why it's one of the top fantasy series out there, but I just get so confused and lost when I try to make sense of everything... one day, Malazan, one day.

The Black Company
The Black Company by Glen Cook
This is just another great fantasy series that I've heard great things about and I would really like to start. It sounds pretty exciting, and I'm always up for some good fantasy.

The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1)
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The King Arthur legend is one of those stories that I know the vague details surrounding it, but that I've neglected to ever fully read about. I've heard that The Mists of Avalon is an awesome series that retells the legend through the eyes of some of the women involved, and I just really want to read this one!

The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga, #1)
Loom Saga by Elisa Kova
The Loom Saga just sounds so unique and compelling, I've been really dying to get my hands on a copy of the first book, The Alchemists of Loom. If I'm not mistaken, the second book comes out this July, so now would be a great time to get on board!

The Blade Itself (The First Law #1)
The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
Key words I've heard to describe this series are 'dark,' 'depressing,' 'violent,' and 'gritty,' and well, that sounds just about right for me. I think I'll have to be in the right mood to start this series, but I have a good feeling that I'll really like it.

Fire from Heaven (Alexander the Great, #1)
Alexander the Great Series by Mary Renault
If you know me, you know I love Alexander the Great and reading about him. I actually read the first half of the book a few years ago and I'm not really sure why I put it down, but what I do know is that I want to read through this series! Renault has a lovely writing style that just flows in such a poetic manner.

Outlander (Outlander #1)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Yes, I want to see what all the fuss is about this series! I hear so many good things about it (and some bad, to be honest) and I am just dying to see what it's all about. I'm not normally much of a time travel fan, but I think it'll work it out alright.

Sabriel (Abhorsen, #1)
The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix
Another one that I'm embarrassed to say I've never really gotten started on. Like a few others, I've read most (?) of the first book, but I don't really remember much. I remember being somewhat disappointed and not liking it as much as I thought, but I'm hoping things will be different when I try to restart this series.

Fire in the East (Warrior of Rome, #1)
Warrior of Rome by Harry Sidebottom
Honestly, I know very little about this series other than the fact that it's in an Ancient Rome setting. I'm also looking for good ancient Rome/Greece books, so I'm completely ready to check this one out.

The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
I've had the first book on my Kindle for ages and I've never read more than 30% of it. I love Viking stories, Bernard Cornwell is highly praised, and this is already a series that I always watch on Netflix, so I definitely want to get started on this series!

What series have you been meaning to read? Have you read any of these or do you want to read any of these? Let me know!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Waters of Salt and Sin by Alisha Klapheke

Waters of Salt and Sin by Alisha Klapheke. 2017. Ebook. 386 pages.

 If you like your adventures on the open seas, then this book is tailor-made for you.

Waters of Salt and Sin was such a delightful new fantasy book. I confess that there is always a little bit of hesitation when accepting self-published books for review, simply because of some of my past experiences. I know that that is rather unfounded and unfair, but I do my absolute best to give every self-published author a shot, and I'm normally glad I did — in this case, I'm thrilled that I did.

This story centers on almost-18 Kinneret her younger sister Avigail, and their close friend Calev, who is also almost 18. Kinneret and Avi are now on their own after their parents die from illness, leaving Kinneret in charge of providing for her and her sister with the use of her sailing abilities and her goal to one day become kaptan of her own ship. The special thing about Kinneret is that she is able to perform what is known as salt magic, which basically allows her to control the seas and help her with her sailing.

Klapheke has a great writing style that is both engaging and entertaining. She uses well-developed ideas and thoughts, and also provides many beautiful descriptions of places and scenes. I felt that her descriptions were balanced well and were not overly excessive. I really loved the salt magic concept; I enjoy some well-written elemental-type magic, and I thought she wrote the relationship between Kinneret, the sea, and her magic really well.

The society in this novel is caste-based, and Avi and Kinneret are low-castes, while Calev is high-caste. Practicing magic and getting caught could render one to become an Outcast, so Kinneret tries to keep her abilities a secret. I think Klapheke portrayed this caste-society really well, and she seemed to really capture the stigmas that different caste levels had for one another, along with the power within each caste. She also portrayed the struggles of having a friendship that spans low- and high-castes, which I think brought some good attention to the injustices associated with those that tend to think that they are better than those 'beneath' them. A lot of fantasy books deal with class-systems on some basis usually, but I thought Klapheke had a somewhat unique take on the situation and carried it out really well.

I really liked Kinneret's strong-willed personality, but I loved her ability to make mistakes, let her emotions get the best of her, and overall just be human. She wasn't perfect by any means, but her passion and dedication to saving her sister -- and even at the injustice of the caste system -- really drove her and made her who she is. Avi was also a great character, but she isn't present for a good portion of the book, so I'm not sure that I really have all that much to say about her.

Calev was a good character also, but he bored me just a bit more than he probably should have. He had some personality to him, but I wasn't overly impressed. I was, however, pleased with the timeline of Kinneret and Calev's romance. When the story begins, we learn that they had known each other since they were young children, so nothing felt rushed to me. Kinneret had always had feelings for Calev that she knew could never go anywhere because of their caste-level differences, but of course feelings don't just go away. Klapheke paced this entire aspect really well, and I applaud her for not rushing anything into awkward territories.

Oron, however, was probably my favorite character. He's sort of your typical grumpy sailor guy that liokes to drink and enjoy the company of women, but is also unfailingly loyal and pretty good at heart. 

The main issues I had were with how conveniently things tended to work out - for instance, Kinneret's Aunt's involvement just felt a bit too easy when it came to working out certain issues that arose. I also felt as though the emotions and actions of the characters were necessarily explained or to the fullest extent they could have been, or conversely and things were stated that were far too obvious. 

Overall, I've given Waters of Salt and Sin four stars!

**I received a copy of Waters of Salt and Sin courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review, though this in no way affects my review.**

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Recommendations: Books Featuring Fathers... The Good and the Complicated

You may recall that for Mother's Day I compiled a list of mothers in literature that have both positive and more complicated relationships with their children, and I have decided to do the same thing for Father's Day!

I'll be honest: this list was hard to compile. I already had enough difficulties with the immense abundance of orphans in literature when  I was creating my Mother's Day list, but as I went through potential book options for Father's Day I realized that there are so many more mother-child relationships featured than father-child -- at least in the books I've read. Fortunately, I was able to find a good selection of books with awesome fathers, not-so-great fathers, and downright questionable ones. Enjoy!

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)
A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab
I was so impressed by Rhy's father, King Maxim, in this book. I feel like it is so rare to find positive father figures in fictional royal families and in fantasy, so this double hit was wonderful. He was strong, had strong ethics, and truly cared for his son and the land he ruled. Definitely a great father figure!

Miranda and Caliban

Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
I would file Prospero under 'questionable fathers.' He is strict, controlling, and incredibly secretive about his odd research. The relationship between Miranda and Prospero has its ups and downs, but overall I'd say that there are more downs. I liked how well Carey portrayed Miranda's confused feelings regarding her love towards her father -- I thought it was done really well!

I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Cassandra's father is a bit questionable in this book, as well. He is a rather unpredictable man prone to random bits of emotion, and you really never can count on him. It's not a directly negative portrayal, but there is certainly a lot to explore in this father-daughter relationship!

Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Review)
I couldn't not include this one. Between the World in Me is basically a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his about race relations in the US, and it's a must-read. 

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
This is such a complicated father-daughter relationship. On the one hand, they share a similar passion, but on the other hand, things get a bit dicey when it comes to her father's intentions for doing what he does. I don't want to go into details, but needless to say this is a complicated relationship!

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Review)
I wrote about Star's mom in my Mother's Day post, and I felt compelled to include her dad as well because he's, well, awesome! He was blunt, encouraging, and insanely wise about the world. He imparted so many great lessons and important topics to consider with his children, and I just think his relationship with both his children and his wife were great. Great parent duo in this book!

The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter, #1)
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (Review)
Despite the fact that he is named a 'madman' in the title, this book has yet another complicated father-daughter relationship. Juliet's father abandoned her as a child, so when she tracks him down to find out why, she's met with an... interesting situation. I loved this book!

The Waking Land
The Waking Land by Callie Bates (Publication date: June 27th - review coming soon!)
This is a really complicated father(s)-daughter relationship. There's Elanna's biological father and the father who raised her, and she's placed into a position where she has to determine just what each one means to her. This father situation was complicated and very interesting to read about!

Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes, #1)

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
In this book, Wen is her father's medical assistant at a slaughterhouse. Their relationship is tenuous at best and full of incredibly realistic conflicts. I found their relationship to be one of the stronger aspects of this book.

Perfect Little World

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
This book isn't about just one father, but instead many. I thought this would be a good one to wrap up this list with because of the main idea of the book: communal parenting with nine different couples. The dynamics explored in this story are so interesting to consider, and I thought the father-child relationship dynamics fit well into the complicated (but also positive!) area.

Do you have any books to add to this list? Have you ready any of these? Let me know below!

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