Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review: Windwitch (Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this review copy <3



Date Read: January 7 - 9 2017
Date Released: January 10th 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"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."

---

The more I think about Windwitch, and the Witchlands books in general, the more I fall in love with the series. I loved Truthwitch and the way it introduced us to the four main characters of the series, showing the bonds between the characters and our main ladies Safi and Iseult. In Windwitch though, each character is explored even more and the world expanded.

By the title and prologue, this is Merik’s book. However, Dennard switches between our four MCs which makes me feel like this is a book for all our characters and each of their journeys. This series to me is one that's more character driven than plot driven, and that suits me just fine!

Our main man Merik trudged through Truthwitch with the belief that his family hated him and thought him ill-deserving of the Nubrevnan crown. As a result of various circumstances the Prince is deemed dead and he’s now on a quest to prove that his sister Vivia is the one that destroyed him. This dangerous investigative work drives his story through Windwitch and despite everything, I admired his never dying love for his people and his need to protect those he loves. His desire to prove his sister’s guilt becomes an obsession for him but his eventual growth towards the end warms me. His is a journey of tolerance, acceptance, and a sharp dose of opening one’s eyes to the world around them for the sake of a kingdom.

My heart bled for Safi and everything she went through in Windwitch. Like omg is her life just basically going to be her on the run from everyone? All the kingdoms want her, to use her power or to barter her; the poor girl is being used left, right and centre. And she knows it. Her growth by the end of Truthwitch and her sort of ‘theme’ throughout Windwitch is her selflessness. It’s a real change from the girl I met on the first page of Truthwitch. Safi’s growth to thinking like a Domna, to trying to leverage her worth to help others really shines through in Windwitch but it also lands her in a lot of unfavourable situations. It’s like she can’t help but attract bad luck? It makes me love her more though, her compassion and drive to be better.

Iseult. My girl. My person. Hands down my favourite character. Maybe it’s because she’s got Asian in her blood and I relate to her more? I love her logic and calm. I love that, while it always seems like Safi is the main person because she shines so brightly, Safi needs Iseult too and actually, one isn’t complete without the other. Iseult never for a single moment holds a grudge or ill feelings towards Safi. I mean Safi lands them in a lot of shit but Iseult is just that selfless. She has a lot of inner demons to battle as well as coming to terms with her powers which aren’t what they seem. When I look at Iseult, I see solidarity. I actually love that Safi and Iseult were separated in Windwitch so that the reader could see each be their own person and be independent. Their bond and friendship was established in Truthwitch and Windwitch is about the strength of their connection while apart.

Then there’s Aeduan. Mysterious Aeduan who I started shipping before I even knew his name in Truthwitch. Dennard calls him Baeduan for good reason. This guy is shrouded in mystery and is a walking conflict to be honest. Like I just didn’t know what he’d choose most of the time and I loved that Dennard kept me second guessing myself. Just how morally sound is he? What is his past and connection to the other characters. This guy is mega chill and his vibe is “I’m bored, you don’t matter and I give no fucks” and then he’ll just whip out his sword and start doing his blood magic and I’m like LOOOOOOOL. I love him and I can’t wait for his book (SOOOON. Next year *sobs*).

We’re introduced to other characters as well that really stand out on their own - we finally meet Vivia who is So. Much. More than what Merik thinks. There’s the Empress of Marstok, Vaness who is the strongest Ironwitch EVER. I freaking loved the juxtaposition of these two monarchs. One is fighting for her rightful crown in a council that thinks she’s unworthy, while the other yields so much power it’s like the crown was just given to her. But both are powerful in their own right as we see in the way they can think and act quickly, and most importantly, in their love for their people. I mean they have questionable methods but yaaaas I cannot wait for more of these two.

Plot wise, there’s a lot of politics going on and it’s the intrigue that surrounds this Twenty Year Truce - why, if all the kingdoms don’t want to go to war, do they all start preparing for war. Everything is precarious and there’s STUFF going on in the background that’s pulling strings and I felt like a pawn being placed just so on the chessboard. All the characters have a part to play BUT WHO WILL BE THE ONE THAT CALLS CHECKMATE?

Something that I wished was delved upon more was the way the magic system works. The main elements make sense to me but Iseult’s power I still can’t grasp or picture. I wanted to know exactly how she sees these Threads - is it literally like a person is made of coloured yarn or where do these Threads stretch? If they’re not connection Threads to others but ‘feelings’ then what do they look like? Still hoping this gets explained in later books.

I loved the diversity that came so naturally in this series. It’s a multicultural fantasy which is what one expects in a high-fantasy world - Dennard draws on various ethnicities and features to create races within Witchlands. There’s also diversity of sexuality expressed by a number of characters, and a gender fluid character that plays an important part in the book who warms my heart.

I basically can’t stop gushing about Windwitch and if you haven’t started the series then do it. I breezed through Windwitch (hehe see what I did there) in like 2 days and I couldn’t put it down. Action packed, fast-paced, yet leaving so much room for character growth and exploration while furthering an intriguing plot, I was hooked. I kind of really need Bloodwitch now.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 End of Year Book Survey

HAPPY 2017 LOVELIES. I for one am not sorry to kick 2016 out the door and shut it for good!

I'm a tad late to the annual End of Year Book Survey created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner but it's a tradition soooo... I'm not even going to ramble like I do, let's just get into it!

Image CR: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/


2016 Reading Stats

Number of Books You Read: 76
Number of Re-Reads: 0 (I don't re-read lel)
Genre You Read The Most From: fantasy (of course!)

Best in Books


1. Best book you read in 2016?

Overall: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas - this sequel to ACOTAR absolutely blew me away omg!



But also...
YA: The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh
Adult: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover - wow this was tumultuous and emotional but beautiful and heartbreaking. Abuse trigger warnings but a wonderful read.


2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by VE Schwab - don't get me wrong I love V's books and her writing is fantastic but Lila Bard in AGOS just didn't cut it for me :(

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

A Court of Mist and Fury - I never expected the direction Sarah would take with ACOMAF and it pleased me SO. DAMN. MUCH.


4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did)?

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel - a brilliant sci-fi debut I think I pushed this on like 20 people and I know at least 7-10 went out and bought it :D

5. Best...

Series you started in 2016? Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff
Sequel of 2016? ACOMAF AHAHAHA (Gemina is a close second)
Series ender of 2016? The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh was THE perfect ending to The Wrath and the Dawn. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows of #2) by Leigh Bardugo left me in tatters. Don't make me choose. DON'T.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Nicola Yoon! I finally read Everything, Everything and fell in love. The Sun is Also a Star is wonderful.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch had a horror tag on Goodreads which it sort of was but wasn't (more thriller sci-fi) but I loved it so much and I hate horror.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - this sequel was even better than Illuminae! I sat down with this for 5h and COULD NOT STOP. Amazing. Thrilling. All the action at every page.


9. Book you read in 2016 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

I don't re-read books but I would definitely re-read my favourite bits of ACOMAF :D


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken - it's saaaahhhhh pretty


11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Inej Ghafa - Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom duology because THIS. GIRL. Read my post on why you should read the duology here.


12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi - oh my lordy the writing is STUNNING. Intricate and detailed, very different, lovely and you should read my gushing review here.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2016?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - this book had no right and wrong. It made the reader question what it means to have choice, to really live. I cried so hard it was beautiful.


14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - as a gamer I feel ashamed I didn't pick this up until this year. It came out 5 years ago and speaks to every gamer's heart.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2016?

“To the stars who listen— and the dreams that are answered.” 
- Rhys from A Court of Mist and Fury *sobs* it's so beautiful

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2016?

Shortest: The Crown and the Arrow by Renee Ahdieh - 9 pages, The Wrath and the Dawn short story
Longest: according to Goodreads Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas - 693 pages buuuut...
The Way of Kings (part 1 and 2) by Brandon Sanderson - 1122 pages total I read the split versions

17. Book that shocked you the most

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by NK Jemisin - this book was so intriguing (it intrigues me still, I can't wait to read the sequel), every turn a surprise!


18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

FEYRHYS (ACOMAF)


19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year

The friendship between Emmy, Caro and Drew in Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway - SQUAD GOALS


20. Favorite book you read in 2016 from an author you’ve read previously

ACOMAF...?

21. Best book you read in 2016 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure:

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel - I saw Crini raving about this (and her posts on the cover). I LOVE THIS BOOK.


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Amar - The Star-Touched Queen *bites lip*


23. Best 2016 debut you read?

SLEEPING GIANTS BY SYLVAIN NEUVEL OMG

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?

Ommgggggg ACOMAF because THE NIGHT COURT. A court of dreamers *sobbing*


25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?

PS I Like You by Kasie West - her contemporaries are serious yet cute and so sweet.


26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2016?

I fucking cried my eyes out in Crooked Kingdom


27. Hidden gem of the year?

I'm not sure you heard me the first time SLEEPING GIANTS BY SYLVAIN NEUVEL.

28. Book that crushed your soul?

Crooked Kingdom FML

29. Most unique book you read in 2016?

Gemina because there really is no other like it.

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury - I've never read a more pointless book in my life

There we have it folks my year in books. Basically ACOMAF flailing right hahaha. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: November 2016 FairyLoot


Two posts in one week? What is wrong with Jaz you must be thinking. Well I'm on annual leave because IT'S THE FESTIVE SEASON and I also really wanted to share my thoughts on my first ever FairyLoot box!

FairyLoot is a YA book subscription box that centres on sci-fi/fantasy books and they're based in the UK. As with OwlCrate, I made the plunge to try out FairyLoot for November because birthday muahaha. What really drew me to them was their concentration on SFF and what seemed like every box included a book plate (I'm a sucker for signed merch).

Ok let's get right into it.



Month: November 2016
Theme: Royals & Rogues
Price: ~$70 AUD (£26 single purchase + £15 shipping to Australia = £41)
Delivery: Shipped November 19 arrived November 29 (10 days to get to Australia)

My Rating:

The Royals & Rogues themed box included:
  • Hardback copy of Nemesis by Anna Banks
  • Signed Nemesis bookplate
  • Nemesis bookmark
  • Nemesis print
  • Letter from Anna Banks
  • Royals & Rogues themed tea + tea filters by The Tea Leaf Co
  • The Wrath and the Dawn mirror by Bookworm Boutique
  • Queen of Terrasen notepad by Drop and Give Me Nerdy
  • Wolf by Wolf quote print by Read at Midnight
  • Queen of Books mug by Read at Midnight
  • Red Queen art print + quote (double sided) by Book Otter and Lovely Owls Books
  • Spectorium soap crystals by Crafty Ragamuffin
  • A Court of Mist and Fury tote by Lovely Owls Books
  • FairyScoop
Not gonna lie I nearly shit bricks in excitement when I opened my box. Never have I been so pleased with a book subscription box.

Opening the book bag...
I hadn't heard of Nemesis before but I've read Anna Banks' earlier stuff, and based on what I read of the blurb, this is another mermaid type book which I'm quite keen for. BOOKPLATE. I am so freaking trash for bookplates. Signed guys. SIGNED. This was enough to draw me in to the box haha. It's extremely hard to get signed stuff in Australia so I always jump at the chance. There's also the matching bookmark for Nemesis, a sketch of some... thing... creature... from the book and a letter from Anna herself (I've yet to read this). This all came in the black book bag FairyLoot have started to put their books in to keep them from being damaged. Another lovely idea because my books always get damaged in my bag and I'd been using the Aesop cloth bags up until now. LOVE LOVE LOVE. So that's all the 'official' Nemesis stuff! The FairyScoop which is a newsletter also included an interview with Anna which was really fun to read.

I was a bit wtf at the Spectorium crystal soap (by Crafty Ragamuffin) until I read the interview with Anna Banks in the FairyScoop and the Royals & Rogues card to determine what it was. At first I thought it was candy and I was like wow that's a really huge chunk of candy haha. I'm not entirely sure how to use this (rub it all over myself?!) or if I'll even use it at all as I'm not a soap user but we shall see! It smells really good though. Like candy actually. Yeh if I wasn't told it's soap, I definitely would've taken a lick leeeeeel.

The art/quote prints are really pretty and I especially love the Mare illustration from Red Queen (Book Otter is so talented I was like wooooow). There's a cool Red Queen quote on the back by Lovely Owls Books. The Wolf by Wolf quote print was designed by Aentee omgggg I was flailing when I found out GO YOU AENTEE.

Speaking of Aentee (aka Read at Midnight). THAT MUG. Queen of Books. I'm totally taking it to work with me IT IS SO GORGEOUS. YOU GO FAIRYLOOT. I adore mugs. As a tea lover I am always using mugs and on the lookout for pretty ones. The design is quite floral which is so me and UGH is there a more perfect mug for a book lover? I think not. Apparently mugs have never been done in a box before and it's seriously such a good idea! What's next, drink bottles/thermos?

Tea (by The Tea Leaf Co)! With tea filters/bags to put the loose leaf tea in. I love it when people consider these things. Sadly for me I hate Earl Grey leeel so I'll probably take it to work and share it around. I still think it's really cool though that FairyLoot got tea Royals and Rogues themed :D

As a massive Throne of Glass fan the Queen of Terrasen (by Drop and Give Me Nerdy) notepad really appealed to me but it's so pretty I don't wanna use it *stares at it for life*

Then there's the mirror WITH A WRATH AND THE DAWN QUOTE (by Bookworm Boutique). Y'all know how much I adore that duology? Shazi and Khalid for life. "My queen is without limitations. Boundless in all she does." *SOBS* All the feels.

And then. AND THEN. Sweet baby Jesus I was squealing and nearly screaming when I saw the tote. THE TOTE. THE. TOTE. Designed by Lovely Owls Books it is hands down the BEST tote I now own because RHYSANDDDDDDDDDD. *Heavy breathing* RHYSRHYSRHYSRHYS. ACOMAF ACOMAF <3 Rhysand is book boyfriend #1, A Court of Mist and Fury is my #1 fav book of all time so this was utter perfection. The quote is absolutely perfect and makes me want to cry whenever I think of the scene it happened "That I will bow before no one and nothing but my crown." Shit this breaks my heart. Can't even right now. You guys don't know the feels this brings out in me.

Item price breakdown time:
  • Nemesis hardback $24 AUD on the Book Depository
  • Crafty Ragamuffin soaps ~$9 AUD on their Etsy store
  • The Tea Leaf Co Earl Grey tea £6.99 = ~$12 AUD on their site
  • Bookworm Boutique mirror ~$5 AUD ? Guesstimate
  • Lovely Owls Books ACOMAF tote ~$27 AUD (RedBubble pricing)
  • Read at Midnight mug ~$20 AUD (society6 pricing)
  • Prints ???
Total ~$97+ AUD so definitely got my money's worth. This did not include the prints.

Welps this review turned out to be more flailing and screeching than actual reviewing... Royals & Rogues has been so well curated, each of the items fitting the theme (I'm mega mega happy that both the ToG and ACOTAR series made it in the box along with TWatD). The mug is so useful and the tote absolutely blows me away.

How much did I love this box? Enough to take out a 3 month subscription (they're not paying me to say this either). I highly recommend giving FairyLoot a try, because despite how expensive it is, I find that the bookplate and the extra items they pack in make it really worth it. Maybe I was lucky with my first experience and all the extras they included were for books I adore? It definitely added to my love for the box.