Tag Archive | YA fantasy

REVIEW: Waters of Salt and Sin by Alisha Klapheke

Waters of Salt and Sin Book Cover Waters of Salt and Sin
Uncommon World #1
Alisha Klapheke
YA Fantasy
April 4, 2017
Kindle
386
Amazon
Flights of Fantasy
September 4 - 11, 2017

Set in a lush, high-fantasy world inspired by ancient Mediterranean cultures, Waters of Salt and Sin is perfect for Game of Thrones and Sabaa Tahir fans.

When seventeen-year-old salt witch Kinneret learns of a lost island of silver, she sets out to find it, raise her status, and finally have a chance to wed Calev, the high-caste friend she secretly loves.

But when a madman enslaves her sister, Kinneret must make a deal with the local ruler: Find the island to secure the ruler’s place in history. In return, the woman’s fighting sailors will rescue Kinneret’s sister.

Using Salt Magic to navigate cursed waters, Kinneret and Calev struggle to hide their taboo, caste-breaking feelings, knowing if the ruler witnesses the attraction, she will cancel the agreement. But when Calev makes a terrible mistake, Kinneret must choose between the life of her only remaining family member and saving the boy she loves from a traitor’s death.

My Review

 

I stumbled upon this book sort of by accident. I saw it listed for free in one of the book bargain newsletters I subscribe to. I download a lot of freebies that way and I was feeling a little guilty because they sit there unread. So, after a wave of guilt, I pulled up my massive list of books and chose this one at random.

And boy was I glad I did!

This book has it all. Action and adventure; a kick-ass heroine; a sweet love interest; and so much more! Taking place in a fantasy world where slavery is still an accepted practice, Kinneret is in the lowest caste there is. She and her sister, Avi, man a boat with a grumpy man named Oron. When her sister is kidnapped by slavers while they are on a quest for treasure that would buy their way up to a higher caste – a caste high enough to marry Calev, the boy she loves – her mission becomes more difficult than ever.

Over the years since indie publishing has become a thing I’ve had a lot of negative experiences with poorly written and unedited books being put out for public consumption. Fortunately, that was not the case with Waters of Salt and Sin. I could not tell you the difference between this and a book published by one of the big NY publishers. The authors writing is compelling and interesting. Something was always happening in the story and I had a hard time putting it down. If there had been a cliffhanger ending I would have bought book 2 right away. Fortunately for me there wasn’t, but I do have the next book in this series on my TBR for when my obligated reading list shrinks a bit.

So, should you read it? Fans of YA fantasy will gobble up this adventure. Great characters, an interesting plot and world, and pretty much non-stop action.


QUOTES

The glimmering saltwater winked at me and I gave it a lazy smile.
“Soon,” I whispered before heading back down.

 

I was a great liar, but I didn’t rejoice in it. Lying was the skill of the desperate, something I intended to stop being as soon as possible.

 

I shook, my teeth grinding, and the bells of my sash jingling. My dreams were broken, cracked at mid-mast and beyond repair.

 

Silver. Loads of it. More than I could picture in a thousand of my low-caste, spit-on, calloused dreams. It would be raw. It could be cursed. But it would be ours.

 

I was in love with my best friend.
And he couldn’t know until I had the silver to buy my way to high-caste. Only then could he consider me.

 

“What’s this about?” Calev asked. “I’m all for avoiding harvest prep—it’s exactly as appealing as a hug from Aunt Y’hudit—but usually I know what kind of adventure you’re dragging me into.”

 

I ignored his all-too-common, close-minded view on the line between religion, magic, and science. To me, they were just different words for the same thing.

 

“You don’t know what it’s like to have people push in front of you. To be refused service at the market because of bells.”
To watch the boy you love be promised to a girl only because of her caste.

 

“I was raised in a roadside brothel by a mother who fancied traveling theatre players,” Oron said to Calev, his words whipping toward us as the wind rose even higher, and we sped forward. “I speak the tongue of the wicked and witty.”

 

“The amir might not like this. You must be quiet, and still.”
I nodded. “I’ll be as inactive as your mind.”
“Wht?”
“What?” I echoed.

 

A ruthless amir grabbing for my silver.
My innocent sister twisting and screaming in the hands of a madman.
Salt Wraiths and legendary sea monsters.
I looked down at my hands, which suddenly didn’t seem as strong as they’d always been.

 

He was my luck, my heart, the blood in my veins, and somehow, some way, I would have him.

 

His first loyalty was to his people. Not to me. Not to the love sprouting between us.


My (Writing) Life

It’s the same thing I always say, it’s been too long between posts. I’ve been staying busy with a thousand things with my publishing job. I’m hoping things will slow down a little with the year coming to a close. Though we don’t aim to publish in December, there’s still plenty work going on in the background getting ready for January. But I’m still hoping the workload will slow at least a bit!

I’m officially DONE with edits on PEACE IN FLAMES! I’m going through a final proofing right now. I sent the book to my Kindle and I’ve got the device reading to me so that I can catch the little errors that my eyes may miss. I’m so excited to have her ready to go well before her release in February!

I had a glorious evening last night working on SUMMER OF PEACE. So much progress made. Unfortunately my heroine, JoJo, is mad at me today, so I’m a bit stuck. I know that sounds weird, but I swear, this character has taken on a life of her own. I always thought authors were crazy when they talked about “characters talking” to them. But alas, I’m one of the crazies now. JoJo is very loud, except today. Today I threw something at her that she’s having trouble processing.

Until next time….

REVIEW: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Wow, I’ve had such a crazy busy week!

I wish I could say it was crazy busy getting my writing done, but that would be a lie. I still need to finish my first draft of Peace in Flames and then start the second draft of Summer of Peace. I’ve got a deadline and I’m really hoping I can meet it!

But no, there was no writing to be done this week. This past Friday was my 10 year wedding anniversary. (That’s ten years of managing to not annoy each other enough to smother the other while we sleep!) We figured that was good cause for a celebration, so The Husband and I ditched the kids with my sister and took a 3 day trip up to Duluth, Minnesota. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Harborview, only a 15 minute walk to Canal Park, which is the cutest little boardwalk area of Lake Superior. We spent one of the days of our trip touring the Glensheen Mansion (SO beautiful! And book research!), then driving along the scenic North Shore, eventually stopping in Two Harbors for lunch, then on to Split Rock Lighthouse (fun fact: my FitBit calculated the steps from the waters edge up to the top to be 9 flights! My legs were burning!), and finally on our way back to Duluth we stopped at Gooseberry Falls and checked out the waterfalls. If we’d planned ahead we would have worn our swimsuits and gone swimming under the falls! (Next time.)

Gooseberry Falls – Upper Falls

All of the pictures are still on my camera (boo!) but I’ll probably share a few when I pull them off. Until then, here’s one of the shots I took on my phone of the upper falls at Gooseberry. Hubby and I parked ourselves on a bench (our legs were still burning from the light house steps!) and just took in the scene. You can’t find this kind of tranquility in the city, that’s for sure.

Did you guys do anything new/fun last week?


Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Series: Akata Witch #1

Read: June 14 – July 19, 2017

Format: E-ARC

My Book Rating: 2.5 Stars

Publisher: Speak

Release Date: July 11, 2017 (originally published April 14, 2011)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 349

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017, Flights of Fantasy 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Affectionately dubbed “the Nigerian Harry Potter,” Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one’s place in the world.

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.

Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

This is a really difficult book for me to review. There were pieces I loved as well as pieces I didn’t. On a whole, the story just never came together into a coherent storyline.

The setting of this book is very cool. It takes place in (what I imagine is) modern Nigera. I know absolutely nothing about Nigera, so it was a little bit of a culture shock for me to read about this area, but it was also cool and enlightening. As Sunny discovers her Leopard (their word for magical people) abilities, we get to know more about that sub-world, which was also cool, if a bit…odd.

The writing of this book feels middle grade, but there are so many situations the characters find themselves in that are beyond the maturity level of middle grade readers. Being touted as “the Nigerian Harry Potter” I feel like they missed the mark a touch. The first two Harry Potter novels, which I would consider to be lower YA/Middle Grade, did not have themes as dark as the later books. Akata Witch dove right in with the very dark themes.

So much of this book is spent building the world and magic system that the plot seems mostly forgotten. At one point we learn that Sunny and her Leopard friends are supposed to take out a Leopard man who has been kidnapping and murdering children. Instead of, you know, training the kids to take on this task… they’re given little tasks that don’t really do a whole lot to train them.

The book starts out with Sunny having a vision. And then that vision is pretty much forgotten throughout the whole book. It’s kind of a big deal, especially if it were to come true, but everyone just brushes it off.

All of the adults/mentors/leaders in this book are pretty useless. They’re mostly mean and more often than not, NOT helpful to these 12/13 year old children.

There’s also talk of Sunny’s mysterious (dead) grandmother. There’s very little talk of her throughout the story until the end. I feel like there was a missed opportunity, not making more use of her. I’d actually rather read her story than Sunny’s!

 

Do I recommend this book? I don’t know… this book was just all over the place for me. I liked the idea, but I think the plot needed to be tightened. Unfortunately it’s a miss for me. If you want to explore a magical world / culture that is pretty unique, this might be worth reading for you.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

But it was what I saw in the candle that stayed with me most. I’d seen the end of the world in it’s flames. Raging fires, boiling oceans, toppled skyscrapers, ruptured land, dead and dying people. It was horrible. And it was coming.

 

“Let me tell you something Chichi and Sasha have a hard time respecting,” Orlu said, putting his fork down. “Leopard People—all our kind all over the world—are not like Lambs. Lambs think money and material things are the most important thing in the world….Leopard people are different. The only way you can chittim is by learning.”

 

Realizing what she was was the beginning of something, all right. . . But it was also the end of something else.

  

“This is crazy.” Sunny couldn’t stop grinning. Life was getting weirder and weirder. But this weirdness she really liked. If she could do this at will, nothing could harm her. Not even her father when he was angry.

 

 “You guys never had a chance,” Ibou said. “Girls belong on the damn sidelines.”
“Do you know what century it is?” she asked.

  

“Sunny, you have friends and enemies in the spirit world, for before you were born you were a person of importance there. What kind of person were you? Well, that is something you’ll have to figure out.”

 

 

REVIEW: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Read: June 25-27, 2017

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Random House, Del Rey Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: YA / NA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Reading Challenge(s): Flights of Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

First of all, can we look at this cover? How cool is this cover! And it’s entirely appropriate for this book. Like, I can’t think of any cooler cover for this book. It perfectly sums up the story and the character Elanna.

So, as far as I can tell this is a stand alone fantasy novel. It’s billed as YA, but it’s really more upper YA into NA due to one steamy scene. I hope this becomes a series though, because I was blown away. I’m just not sure what is left of the story to tell… but I’d still read it!

This world and magic system is so cool. Basically, El lives in a country where magic is outlawed. If someone is suspected of magic, the Witch Hunters are called, and it’s a death sentence. So El doesn’t tell anyone that plants come alive around her – one touch of her finger and she can make them grow. She has big plans of going off for further training to be a botanist. Of course, the king might have other plans, like an arranged marriage.

No worries about that whole arranged marriage by the king thing though, because the king is murdered. Oh, and El is one of the prime suspects. And aside from taking her away from her parents and homeland at five years old to become a political prisoner—due to her father leading a rebellion, she actually kind of liked the guy. So begins her tale. She goes through a lot of changes of heart in this book, starting with not wanting anything to do with her parents. Not wanting to accept her magic. Wanting things to stay the same for her in King Antoine’s court.

El’s journey is a long one. Like, this book could have been broken into like, at least a trilogy, but it wasn’t, and I’m glad the author chose to keep it as one book. It meant no wait time to finish this journey!

The magic in this book is so cool. The land is literally alive and that power lives inside Elanna. There’s a lot of talk of the ancestors and ancient magics and so on. I loved it.

The romance? I don’t know if I was just in the mood for this kind of romance or what, but I immediately fell under Jahan’s charms. His personality was just so… charming! And he’s got secrets of his own. He was very easy going and had a nice sense of humor.

This review does this book no justice. Seriously, none. I can’t even describe all the feels. I can say this though, I did not want to put this book down. Most times I have my specific reading times and I stick to them. With this book? That went out the window. I read and read, and then I read some more. Until I’d devoured this entire thing in 3 days time—which is pretty quick for me for a book this long.

So, long story short: fans of YA fantasy tales with really cool and unique magic systems and a swoon worthy love interest will enjoy this story.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

It’s been fourteen years, last night. Fourteen year since King Antoine took me hostage; fourteen years since I’ve seen or heard from my parents.

 

I’m supposed to be safe here, safe to taunt myself with a magic I am not supposed to possess. A magic I still don’t understand.

 

I have no power but the king’s mercurial affection, which would vanish as soon as anyone named me a witch.

 

For a moment, I forget to be afraid. I just want to listen. I want to understand what the plants are saying.

 

“Jahan what?” I demand. “And I’ll thank you to state your intentions as well!”

A snort escapes him: He’s definitely trying not to laugh. “Jahan Korakides, at your service, demoiselle. I swear to you, my intentions are nothing but honorable.”

“Indeed?” I say. “A man takes a woman—by magic—and knocks her senseless, and she comes to on a horse in the middle of the night, and she’s supposed to assume his intentions are honorable?”

 

But I won’t use my magic to help them. It’s too dangerous, and it gives others ideas. It makes them think I might be what they want me to be.

 

“But you never came for me,” I say. “You left me there. You left me—”

“No,” she says fiercely. “I was always with you. Every day. Every moment. I am your mother, and I was with you.”

 

There’s a story in which Wildegarde makes an entire forest grow overnight; the next morning, the trees rip their roots from the ground and walk.

 

“…The Ereni had to fight their way through shifting forests and hills; they drowned in streams that appeared out of nowhere and valleys that seemed never to end. So by the time they reached Barrony, they wanted more than conquest. They were half mad. They wanted blood.”

 

The earth knew what I wanted. It did as I asked.

 

“So you trust me now?” His breath touches my face; his fingertips linger on my neck.

“Maybe,” I say with a laugh that catches in my throat.