Book Review: A Torch Against The Night

Title: A Torch Against The Nightatorchagainstthenight_cv-4-14

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Pub. Date: August 30, 2016

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.
 Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.
 But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

Even though I own a physical copy of this book, I decided to listen to it via audiobook – and I was not disappointed. In my Six of Crows Book Review I talk about how nervous I was trying out audiobooks – you can click the link and read why.

I initially read An Ember In The Ashes earlier this year in the Spring and loved it. I loved how it mixed Ancient Rome with Middle Eastern Mythology and how that created this unique fantasy world that draws the reader right in and captivates.

I really enjoyed the different point of views, and how they provided a more cohesive story. So much is happening in the Empire, and seeing how 3 different people see that was fantastic. I enjoyed the pacing, never finding it too slow or two fast. There were characters I HATED, but the good kind of hate. The kind of hate where the Sabaa did her job so effortlessly that their characteristics and actions led them to be bad. I love when I have a real reason to hate a character.

One thing that did surprise me was that I actually grew to like Helene. In the first book, I honestly didn’t care about her. She was an interesting character, but I wasn’t swayed either way on her. In this book, I found myself actually looking forward to her chapters, and seeing the internal and external fight she was up against. Out of Elias, Laia and Helene, I think Helene had it the worst. Her life was torn out from under her, and she had to survive in the heart of a world that would sooner see her dead if she stepped one toe out of line. I loved how much she changed over the course of the book, and I cannot wait to see what hell she rains down upon the Empire in book 3!

Overall, I loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone who loved a unique fantasy with deep characters – I honestly don’t think you’d be disappointed…just make sure to read An Ember In The Ashes first!

Book Review: Six of Crows

Title: Six of Crowssixofcrows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Pub. Date:

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.

Bought this book the day it came out, and only this past week have I finally read it….well actually I downloaded the audiobook. Needless to say, I absolutely loved this book. Since I do have a YouTube Review and Talk (Linked below) I’ll try and be brief.

Leigh created a fantastic world when she wrote the Grisha Trilogy, and simply expanded that world to encompass a wider range of characters. I had heard so much about Six of Crows and how everyone – and I mean, EVERYONE loved it. I was a little apprehensive. I figured with expectations and love for this book being so high, that the book couldn’t possibly rise up to them. NEVER HAVE I BEEN HAPPIER TO HAVE BEEN PROVEN WRONG. I loved every single minute of this book.

The pacing, the world, the characters, every aspect of this novel was so well done in my opinion. I really enjoyed all the characters – there really wasn’t one I hated, and I think a large part of that came from the fact that none of the characters are your “traditional typically good” characters.  I mean, it’s in the synopsis. I loved learning and growing with these characters.

I keep saying that I loved every character, and that’s not even a lie. I loved how complex they are, and their reasonings for their actions. The wit and humor and intricate workings of the group. The way Kaz interacted with others, and how Inej is able to slip silently into the shadows…how much I wanted to hug Matthias tightly and never let go. In 480 pages, Leigh made me care for every single character, made them real and made them come to life.

As for the audiobook version – the people who voiced Leigh’s wonderfully crafted characters really brought them to life. Traditionally I read books being as I’m more of a visual person. Six of Crows was my first venture into the world of Audiobooks, and I feared that I would miss a lot of the story, not being able to comprehend it fully without seeing the words on the page. The way the people read the characters and the overall production of the audiobook made it so easy to follow along and listen to the book come to life. I actually went and bought Crooked Kingdom, and I don’t know if my heart is ready for it. The next question is, do I read the physical copy of Crooked Kingdom (which I now own) or do I listen to the audiobook with the same cast reading it?

I often find it rare when a book is so hyped and so loved for it to meet my heightened expectations – usually I find that books tend to fall short, never quite making it. Six of Crows had me captivated, roiling with emotions from the first chapter to the last sentence on the last page.

Book Review: Red Queen

Title: Red Queenred_queen_book_cover

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publish Date: February 10, 2015

My Rating: ♥♥♥

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would, which is why I gave it 3 stars. Maybe it was the hype surrounding it, the lady who read the audiobook, or maybe something else, but overall I didn’t quite grasp what the hype was about over this book. I have been wanting to read it since before it came out officially.

That’s not to say that it was a bad book, but I guess I’m just not the right audience. I felt like I had read the book before, seeing as it incorporated a lot of dystopian tropes. For me, it didn’t feel overly unique or attention grabbing.
I am interested in knowing what happens next, but I’m not clamoring or dying to find out, so in time, I’ll probably pick up the second novel. As I continued to listen to the audiobook, I kept hoping that there would be a twist in the plot or something, but I never got that. Mare Barrow is a girl who comes from nothing, is a thief, and then in a turn of events she is given the world. As a reader, I learned a lot about Mare, and I felt that the constant insight into who she is, was repetitive and occasionally unnecessary. I found myself liking her brothers, more than I liked her.
The final battle scene was pretty epic, and well written visually, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, it was probably my favorite moment of the whole book – the moment Mare truly comes into her own.
As a debut novel, it wasn’t bad, and I have no doubt that the story only gets more interesting and engaging as the books go on, but as for Red Queen, I feel like it was way overhyped, and ultimately I set my expectations too high, and they could have never possibly been met. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good dystopian fantasy, who likes stories of a heroine working to surmount seemingly insurmountable odds.

Catch Up and NaNoWriMo

So…it’s been awhile, and I’ve been super busy, AND kind of bummed that I’ve been too busy to post on here.

A couple of things:

  1. I launched my YouTube Channel – it currently has 1 video up….I did record a video talking about NaNoWriMo that I planned on posting before the event actually started, but I never got around to editing it so I’ll be re-recording it and posting it later this week.

So now onto the main part of this post, the actual content that will make this post interesting to read. So NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month has started today. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November (30 days), which roughly equates to 1,700 words per day to stay on track.

I’ve completed NaNoWriMo every year since 2011, so since I was a senior in high school.

My first year was rough. Remember that post where I talked about writer’s block…well, in 2011 I experience my worst EVER case of writer’s block. When you only have 30 days to write 50K, writer’s block is the worst thing to get. It was so bad that none of my usual tricks to get out of it worked. I was stuck, my brain couldn’t seem to form any kind of coherent words, phrases, sentences – hell, it could barely form the english language when it came to that story. It was AWFUL. The story is crap. I ended up completing NaNoWriMo that year, but the last 25,000 words ended up being written in 5 days. I haven’t looked back at that story since.

2012 – my second year, and my first semester of college. The story I wrote that year was actually the sequel to my novel that I have been working on since 2012 – and while I didn’t have to cram half of the whole word count in the last five days, it was still stressful. Being a full time student, and trying to make the time to write at least 1,700 words a day was hard, but ultimately I was able to finish it. Since 2012 the novel I’m working on has been replotted and rewritten so the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo that year is incorrect and not needed to tell the story.

2013 – I was really excited for NaNoWirMo that year. In March/April/May, my friend an I went to a writing work shop with Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, Erin Bowman, Kat Zhang and Jodi Meadows. One of the writing exercises was to roll a set of 3 dice, and then write a quick scene using the images that were on the top of the dice. That tiny scene I wrote ended up being my NaNoWriMo story for that year. For the months leading up to November all I wanted was to write the story, write the characters, but I wouldn’t allow myself. It is a fantasy story about good v. evil, light v. dark – a battle that my two main characters had to fight within themselves and with the world at large. “Goodness” and all the ideals that came with it were incredibly rare, most people were immoral and “bad” because goodness and light had been purged from the world. That story flew out of me when the time came, and I finished 2 days early. I still really love this story.

2014 – I wrote another fantasy story this year. This was an epic love story. A prince and a princess forever destined to be together – their lives constantly intertwined. A world that hits the rewind button whenever they die, and they always die at the same time. Just like in 2013 the story flew out of me, the words flowing easily to the page. 2013 and 2014 were easily the easiest and most enjoyable NaNoWriMo stories to write.

2015 – I was so set on writing a Peter Pan adaptation/inspired by/retelling – so I did it. While I was writing it, I thought I was so clever…after reading back through it after November ended, I realized that it wasn’t really that good of a story. Neverland was dying and it was up to a girl to save it. I feel like if I really sit down with the story, then I could fill in all the holes it has, but as it is, it’s not good.

Now that you all have a brief and vague idea on my NaNoWriMo history, I can tell you my three personal goals for the event.

  1. Reach 50,000 words.
  2. NEVER REPEAT 2011 NANOWRIMO EVER AGAIN (meaning, never get stuck writing 25,000 words in 5 days).
  3. Write the whole story

When I say “Write the whole story” what I mean is, my goal is to do just that, but in bare bones, outline form. I try to write the story from start to finish, even if it means leaving out a lot of the detail and world or character development. My goal is to tell a whole story, because for me, it’s easier to go back in and fill in the blanks, so that is what I have been doing for the last 3 years, and it’s what I’m going to be doing this year, while I write my Young Adult Fantasy Novel. – Yes, that’s the title.

I hope any of you who read this and are doing NaNoWriMo that you are successful! Feel free to add me as a Writing Buddy on the site! “Hockadoo” is my username! I’ll be posting word count updates on Instagram and Twitter as well!

Thanks for reading!