ARC Review: Rise of Fire

Rise of FireRise of Fire by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Luna and Fowler have escaped the kingdom of Relhok, but they haven’t escaped the darkness. When a battle against the dark dwellers mortally injures Fowler, Luna is faced with a choice: put their fate in the hands of mysterious strangers or risk losing Fowler forever.

Desperate to keep the one bright part of her life alive, Luna accepts the help of soldiers from a nearby kingdom. Lagonia’s castle offers reprieve from the dangerous outside world—until the king discovers both Fowler’s and Luna’s true ties to Relhok and their influence over the throne.

Now pawns in each kingdom’s political game, Luna and Fowler are more determined than ever to escape and build the life they’ve been dreaming of. But their own pasts have a tight hold on their hearts and their destinies. Luna must embrace the darkness and fire within her before she loses not only Fowler, but the power she was destined to inherit.

The best thing I liked about Reign of Shadows is that it had this post-apocalyptic fantasy world where there has been a constant solar eclipse for 17 years and our protagonist Luna is visually impaired, and for whom it does not make a difference – she has grown up in darkness, and her other senses are much stronger, making her as able as any other sighted person. In the previous book, she set out for adventure (well she was on the run looking for a safe haven) and she proves that she is not helpless. She can take care of herself but also save others. She is the lost queen of her kingdom and the usurper is out to extinguish any trace of her. And the person she falls in love with, he too is on the run from the same man. Now the last book had ended on a cliffhanger, with Fowler taken by the dwellers (a species of homicidal beasts) and she jumps in to rescue him.

In this book, she manages to save him, but since his attack he has been poisoned and to keep him alive, she agrees to accept the help of their neighboring kingdom. Until this point, the story has the same tone and pace as the former. But once it comes to the castle, the story gets a tad boring. There is barely any court intrigue, and we instead have an arrogant king trying to dictate her life and making marriage arrangements of his own choice. During all this, she manages to keep her lack of vision a secret, but the prince (who is skeevy-charming) finds out. And I pretty much lost interest with those royal siblings trying to get a claim on their respective counterparts between Luna and Fowler. The ending is rushed, and barely explained – so much of that buildup could have been done during the middle of the book but no, we have sneaking around and professions of love. *eyeroll* It reminded me of why I hate predominantly romance-based books, which this duology did not seem to be at the start. And all those interesting threads and questions I had at the end of the former book – like the origin of the eclipse, the whole existence of treacherous life forms, Luna’s connection, the Oracle – some of them are barely wrapped up in an epilogue (!) of all things, and others aren’t even brought up. The only saving grace was that the author did not (thankfully) ‘cure’ her condition. But, it felt like the series was incomplete and there are things to come but I know for a fact that this is a duology so this ending has disappointed me immensely. I can’t even say that the good writing and semi-decent plot could make up for the lack of consistent world-building or the change of the entire tone of the series. Just not the sequel I was waiting for.

Received a review copy from Harper Collins, via Edelweiss.

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Review: Windwitch

WindwitchWindwitch by Susan Dennard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

Windwitch is a fantastic action-charged sequel to Truthwitch, where the political intrigue deepens and a threat that arose in the previous book gains prominence. The book starts with Merik’s ‘death’ and his subsequent quest for vengeance against his sister and those that conspired to have him killed. He has been proclaimed dead, so he walks around with a new face and a new identity – that of a God. Meanwhile, his sister (this is the first time we get her POV) is trying to carve a place as a woman and a Queen in her court. She is tasked with protecting a secret in the kingdom, by her mother and she is strategizing how to use it to her country’s benefit. Meanwhile, Safi is re-evaluating what her place is and what she wants to do with her life. Iseult is on the run from a clingy Weaverwitch who insists they are kindred souls, and strikes a bargain with Aeduan (who reveals some secrets of his own) to track down her lost Threadsister.

The plotline of Windwitch is a little more spread out than Truthwitch, since it involves more character POVs and more kingdoms. More political maneuvers, uprisings and chances of war. There is a lot going on, and the way I was reading it (leaving and coming back – I was pretty distracted) was probably not the way to read it. This book demands your attention, and does a good job of keeping it. It still does feel, at some times, like it is all over the place. There are so many plot threads, and while they come together often enough, the fact that they do so does not feel organic every time. The ending delivered some big punches and I am interested in finding out what those will mean in the future of this series.

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January Wrap-Up

Hello, everyone! How has 2017 treated you so far? Reading going good this year?

Not for me – 2017 is already kicking my ass. I thought this was the year I would push further than 2016. I was riding on the high of being constantly ahead of my reading challenges last year, and got sloppy. An important thing to note – I was successful at last year’s Goodreads challenge because I kept myself ahead; I would read as much as possible in every free minute. But this year started off on such a bad note. In January, I read only in the first half of the month. After that, well, it was like I slipped into a slump. More likely, it was all the news occupying so much of my reading time, plus my depression hitting an all-time high (which means, I was on an all-time low) – all adding up to swinging between insomnia and hyper-somnia (some days I wish I was a Twilight vampire and did not need ANY sleep), as well as stressing out about the manuscript that I will have to write and submit by the middle of this year if I have any hope to publish my research before I graduate. Science is pretty merciless because it does not wait for you – there are other, more talented people (by which I mean post-docs) working way better and faster than you, so by the time you have just got enough results to establish significance, some one else has already published. Anyway, basically what I want to say is – I would like to start this year afresh. But since time travel is not yet possible, I will have to suck up, get therapy, meds whatever, whip myself into shape and ignore my Goodreads reading challenge so that I am not further stressed out. NOTE TO SELF: READING IS SUPPOSED TO BE RELAXING!

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Krutula has
read 17 books toward
her goal of
260 books.
hide


10 books and 1 manga – quite a low for me! But as I said, I am not focusing on this at the moment. I will read whenever possible and not stress about the deficit – yet. My mental health is more important than an arbitrary challenge that I set to compete against my past self. But enough about me – let’s move on to the books and what I thought of them!

Pretty good 

The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2) Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1) Wallbanger (Cocktail, #1) Dreadnought (Nemesis, #1) Deathless Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

Try it out

One Moment Because of the Sun The One Memory of Flora Banks #famous Scum's Wish: Volume 1 Continue reading

Book Blogger Hop: January 27- February 2


Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer

This week’s question is:

How many books have you started, but just couldn’t finish?

Answer:

Four, in my lifetime.

  1. A contemporary Indian novel (I don’t even remember the name now!) suggested by my friend , that was too boring to continue
  2. The Blood of the Hydra (Michelle Madow) – I’ve started this book a couple of times but can’t get past the first few pages.
  3. Grey (E L James) – vomit-inducing, not recommended
  4. Sinner (Maggie Stiefvater) – even I am surprised how I never finished it because I love both the series and the author, but this book felt directionless to continue.

 

Review: Truthwitch

TruthwitchTruthwitch by Susan Dennard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

If, like me, you have read her Strange series, you know Dennard has skill in building up a universe, amazing characters and an adventure-filled plot. (That the series had a sad ending is another matter altogether) Her new series takes us to the Witchlands, where there are witches that can control elements and lots of kingdoms fighting for power. The world of Witchlands incorporates elemental magic, mostly, but there are other new kinds of magic, like Isuelt’s Threadwitchery, Safi’s Truthwitchery and Aeduan’s Bloodwitchery. The magic is fed by Origin pools – wells that contain the source of magic but which have run out in the past few centuries. Which of the pools feeds the Threadwitchery and Truthwitchery is not made clear, however, and I wish the build would have been more clear about that.

As the novel switches back and forth between Safi, Isuelt and Merik, we get a view of how magic is seen across their lands. For Safi, her Truthwitchery is something to be hidden as it would start a bid for her power (whether that is really useful is to be seen, though). Merik’s Tidewitchery helps him be a great sailor, but he is a prince first and is in a rivalry with his elder sister for power. Isuelt, meanwhile, left her nomadic clan as she couldn’t keep up with their rules and finds a family in Safi. Her magic (to see the life force and bonds in the universe) is revered but she is not – people draw away from her when they see her ethnicity. Safi’s power is a driving force of the conflict in the book – each of the empires are yearning to have her under their control, while she wants to be free of them. However, she grows to be selfless and gives up her freedom for the greater good.

A big positive of this novel was the strong bond Safi and Isuelt share – they are Threadsisters. Thread families are a different kind of concept, as in they are bonds made of compatibility and choice rather than blood, which definitely adds a layer of complexity when it comes to loyalty. So far, it seems Thread families are considered higher than blood ones, but where it leads is to be seen in future books. Aeduan makes a nice villain (at least one of them) as a witch-hunter who is utterly focused on the hunt. His loyalty is a fickle thing, though, and I am interested in how it plays out in consequent books. Merik is a matyr-hero kind of character, but he has a sense of responsibility to his people. In fact, most characters in this book are shades of grey, with their motives ranging anywhere from protection of family to protection of empire – notable exception is the Cartorran emperor; he can burn in hell for all I care, trying to marry a girl three times younger than him!

Overall, a strong series starter – I have high hopes for this one. The world and its canon just needs to be more defined and not all over the place.

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