Wayfarer

20983366by Alexandra Bracken
YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction
4 of 5 stars

Yet another immensely satisfying end to a series! The 500-page factor had me a little hesitant to dive in—I knew I would need TIME—but once I did I found this even faster-paced with more adventure than Passenger.

Etta and Nicholas are separated across centuries and continents and their fight to find each other and destroy the astrolabe jumps us to every imaginable period and region (though regrettably, no dinosaurs). Etta finds herself in the care of the Thorns, with surprisingly not-dead people intent on helping her. Nicholas and Sofia struggle not to kill each other as they track the astrolabe, with the mysterious assistance and resistance of traveler Li Min. Surprises and twists keep the pages flying by!

Once again, the attention to detail and research blew me away. It just feels like you are there, no matter where they go. There’s more magic this time, and definitely more secrets to expose, so without spoilers, anything you loved in the first book is doubled in this installment! It made me want to plan a bunch of trips by the time I finished it.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Wayfarer is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – Not technically time-travel, but this is a beautiful story about a girl with a cursed horoscope that finds herself caught between the human and the Otherworld in a mystery that involves lifetimes. See my review here.
  • Abarat by Clive Barker – Candy Quackenbush of Chickentown, U.S.A. is bored to death until a wave carries her from our world to the world of the Abarat, where every island is an hour of the day and a dark power is threatening to destroy it all. Weird but interesting portal fantasy with incredible artwork!
  • Old Magic by Marianne Curley – When Kate and Jerrod meet there’s an actual lightning storm—in their classroom. Kate must convince the skeptical Jerrod that he has magical powers, and that the curse that has dogged his family is something they will need to travel to the past to fix. This is a fun read you’ll breeze through in a few hours.
  • A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones – One of the best fantasy writers of our time tackles time-travel in a unique way. Time City is built on a patch of space outside of time, and its residents are charged with overseeing the cycle of history. But when the timeline begins to crumble, two boys pluck Vivian Smith from Twenty Century to help them save it. Except they got the wrong Vivian, and now they have to save the timeline anyway! So good and will squeeze your brain.

The Edge of the Abyss

26219455by Emily Skrutskie
Science Fiction
4 of 5 stars

I have been waiting for this since I read the first book last year and it did not disappoint! More pirates, more adventure, more mayhem, more kissing!

Cas has had a tough three weeks since she pledged her loyalty to the pirate queen Santa Elena. But keeping busy with training lets her avoid Swift as much as possible, which is perfect. Then the crew of the Minnow discovers that Bao isn’t the only unregistered Reckoner in the NeoPacific—sightings of the untrained sea monsters, dubbed Hellbeasts, start popping up everywhere, threatening the entire ocean’s ecosystem (not to mention all the ships). Cas must find Bao and train him to fight the Hellbeasts if they want to restore balance to the ocean.

This book is filled with manipulative mind games from Santa Elena and the broken pieces of a relationship between Cas and Swift and I loved every page of it. All three women are ambitious, stubborn, ruthless, selfish, and constantly abrasive to each other. The power dynamics here are just addictive as Swift and Cas try to see if equal footing is even possible, and as Santa Elena challenges them to see who will be her successor. It’s a satisfying character study of pushing people to the brink of their conscience to see what they’ll do.

I felt like I could smell the sea the entire time, this story feels that real! I’m still impressed by how much the writing crams into such a short space. Every sentence is working hard and yet it’s easy to read. This short duology is a swashbuckling adventure you shouldn’t pass up!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Edge of the Abyss is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu – Adelina chose to embrace her powers and it is leading to a rift between her and her sister Violetta, and her allies. It’s also opening a darkness within her that she must face before it destroys her. See my review here.
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – Kestrel and Arin engage in games of deception that affect the war between their nations and the warning desires in their own hearts. For power plays and mind games there’s no better book than this! See my review here.
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – A fun romp of a graphic novel about shape-shifter Nimona’s goal to become a villain’s sidekick. The usual themes of good vs evil, what makes a monster, does your past define you, what is justice, with plenty of good jokes thrown in the mix! See my review here.

Windwitch

29939390by Susan Dennard
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars
Book 2 in the Witchlands series

If you follow the author at all, you’ll know that she writes amazing monthly newsletters, has a wealth of helpful advice on writing and craft on her website, and this book took her two painful years to write. It is completely, entirely worth it, and I am so grateful she put in the blood, sweat and tears to share this story!

Picking up right after the events in Truthwitch:
-Merik the Windwitch is horribly scarred from an assassination attempt that destroyed his ship and killed all but one crew member. Merik thinks it was his sister’s doing, but his companion Cam is not convinced.
-Safi the Truthwitch is on her way to Marstok with its Empress, Vaness, who is an Ironwitch.
-Iseult the Threadwitch is alone and trying to meet up with her Threadsister Safi.
-Aeduan the Bloodwitch finds himself tracking Iseult again both as a job and to get his missing silver back.

-Added to all that is Merik’s sister Vivia (a Tidewitch) and her attempts to secure the throne.

Given all the intricate plot threads and magic tied to these characters, I think it’s completely understandable that this would be difficult to write. But Sooz makes it look easy! Each arc, each transition between the points of view is so smoothly done. Each character has a different voice as well, which is so hard to do. Characters naturally collide and separate again, and all of them experience such moments of growth. This book is just action-action-action EMOTIONAL PUNCH–repeat!

Without spoilers–we see Merik and Vivia struggling to help their starving nation as tensions erupt all around their borders. The Puppeteer continues to invade Iseult’s mind with disturbing information and hints about Iseult’s potential abilities. Safi continually finds herself among enemies-turned-tentative-allies. All of them are forced to confront uncomfortable truths about themselves and the world around them, and it’s this that keeps you flipping the pages as quickly as possible.

I think my favorite part was Vivia–learning about her motivations, her struggles as she attempts to run a country full of men who think she shouldn’t, and her dedication to her country regardless of what she must sacrifice or who gains the credit was so interesting and inspiring. All the characters make decisions you don’t always agree with, yet their earnest intentions keep you on their side. It’s truly enjoyable to follow their journeys!

This has all the best aspects of a sequel: deepened world-building, more types of magic, more intimate character relationships and interactions, and nonstop action. It’s hard to convey without spoilers, but if you enjoyed the mood and characters of the first, you will find more of that here!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Windwitch is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce – The Circle of Magic quartet and The Circle Opens quartet features four teens with different types of magic whose intense, unyielding friendships help them defeat evil sorcerers and unite cultures. Adventures abound, and it’s fun watching these characters grow up. These were some of my favorites when I was younger and Pierce is an author worth reading.
  • The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie – Cas is captured by the Pirate Queen Santa Elena to train a sea monster for her (instead of training them to kill pirates). See my review here.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I recommend this because this story has another awesome female friendship at its heart, but it was much darker than Windwitch. See my review here.
  • Abarat by Clive Barker – Candy Quackenbush finds herself in an archipelago where every hour of the day has its own island and she discovers she is destined to save them all. Beautiful artwork by the author fully illustrates this series.

The Wolf Wilder

24885821by Katherine Rundell
Children’s Lit
5 of 5 stars

This is the perfect winter fairy tale! I loved every page of this story. Set in the heavy Russian winter a hundred years ago, we spend a week with Feo, the wolf wilder’s daughter.

Russian nobility started a trend of keeping beautiful wolves as pets—or as much of a pet as a wild wolf can really be. But when the wolf attacks a friend or the aristocrat tires of it, what happens to the wolf? It’s bad luck to kill one. So they make their way to Feo’s door for her mother to teach the wolf to be wild again, able to survive on its own after years of pampering.

But when General Rakov decides the half-wild wolves are pests, he will stop at nothing to kill them and everyone Feo loves if they don’t stop looking after the pack and keep the wolves away. When he imprisons her mother, Feo knows she and her half-wild wolves must save her.

Feo must traverse the wilderness outside St. Petersburg and find a way into the prison in only a week—but she and her wolves find surprising allies on her journey, and Feo realizes that sometimes people can provide comfort and help instead of just interrupting her solitude.

Full of charming and surprising side characters, true moments of darkness, and insightful comments on humans and the nature of community, this short story captivated me from start to finish! It’s the perfect blend of adventure and tension while keeping the mood of a legend told by the fire.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Wolf Wilder is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt & Alison McGhee – Another wintry story, this time in Vermont. Two sisters cope with their mother’s death in different ways, but when Sylvi disappears, Jules must figure out how to go on alone—until a fox kit finds her. See my review here.
  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker – A boy and his fox part ways when his father enlists in the army. But Peter soon realizes he shouldn’t have left Pax in the forest, and begins the journey back to find him. Meanwhile, Pax waits for his boy, learning all he can to survive until they are reunited. See my review here.
  • Risuko by David Kudler – Another girl accustomed to isolation is taken in by a noblewoman who runs a secret organization that might turn the tide in Japan’s war. Risuko just wants to climb, but she must also see if her fate has other plans. See my review here.
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – Much darker and not about actual wolves. In alternate 1956, the Axis Powers won WWII and a desperate underground rebellion plans to assassinate Hitler at the Victor’s Ball for a grueling cross-continent motorcycle race. Yael is impersonating the only female racer, and she must win if she wants to take the shot that will avenge her family and friends. See my review here.
  • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis – This may seem too dark to compare, but aspects of Feo’s character strongly reminded me of Alex Craft. This story is about her, and her attempt to fit in and be normal in a small town after her sister’s murder—and her own secret vengeance. See my review here.

What to read again:

Ever since Harry Potter I’ve enjoyed re-reading the previous books in a series before the next one comes out. You get to soak up all the nuances and speculate about what’s going to happen next—it just makes the whole experience richer and more fun! What am I going to start re-reading?

Truthwitch by Susan DennardTruthwitch

I adored this book and the pacing is unmatched! Nonstop action with incredible characters and world-building. Best friends Safi and Iseult have gotten into and out of a lot of scrapes over the years, but now they’re in over their heads. Three different groups and governments are hunting Safi for her truth-seeing abilities, and they don’t know where to turn or who to trust. As they race around the world, barely one step ahead, the true nature of the plot begins to come together.

No more spoilers, but you can see my review here! Windwitch is the second in this series of four books. It comes out in a few weeks, so pick this up now because you’ll want more of this story!

29939390

The Midnight Star

28588345by Marie Lu
YA Fantasy
5 of 5 stars

This is exactly what I needed during this time of uncertainty and fear—a story to remind me that no matter how many terrible things someone has done, anyone can still choose goodness at any time.

Adelina’s journey into darkness from an outcast with powerful illusions to a queen with everyone at her feet has held me spellbound since its beginning.  Her ambition and determination pits her against everyone, including her former allies and her own sister Violetta. Yet part of her longs for the love and light she remembers feeling with her sister and the thief Magiano before her desire for revenge took over.

Right after she establishes her empire, Adelina receives word from the former Young Elites leader Raffaele that her sister is dying—just like all elites will die as their godlike powers consume their mortal bodies. Reluctantly, Adelina joins forces with the former Daggers and Queen Maeve’s army on a quest to save themselves—if she doesn’t decide to betray them all first.

Just as Adelina’s journey to become queen felt both like her destiny and her fatal flaw, this quest carries the weight of selfish desires and fate.  The pacing is relentless, and the characters are caught in a whirlwind of battles within and outside of their group. This is more about how the changes they have already undergone affect their relationships now, rather than what changes await them.

This flew by for me and the ending is beautiful and perfect. As with most trilogy ends, it’s hard to say more without spoilers!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Midnight Star is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski – Arin struggles to lead the Herrani resistance against the Valorians believing that Kestrel has betrayed him. Kestrel is actually in a forced labor camp because her father received the letter professing her love for Arin, instead of Arin himself. This is an emotional book for both characters as they try to reconcile their beliefs about each other and save their nations. See my review here.
  • Eona by Alison Goodman – Now that her true identity is revealed, Eona must lead the resistance to restore the true emperor to his throne while struggling with the limits of her dragon power and her true gender. A gripping study of sexism and what lies between good and evil. See my review here.
  • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis – An unflinching look at the double standards for men and women as seen through three teens after a party turns violent. Small-town seniors Alex, Jack and Peekay all have their own reputations, dreams and fears that collide in unexpected ways. This highlights the dark and insidious patterns of rape culture and what we can do to stop it. See my review here.
  • Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor – The massive and spell-binding conclusion to this trilogy about seraphs, chimaera and star-crossed lovers that hoped to stop their endless war. Karou and Akiva’s splintered relationship is all that remains to ally them against Jael’s army of seraphs that want to rule all of Eretz and Earth. See my review here.
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – A shape-shifting aspiring villain forcefully sidekicks herself to Lord Blackheart to learn the ropes, but he quickly realizes his new ward is dangerously unpredictable. See my review here.
  • Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman – Kate disguises herself as a boy and sets out to avenge her father’s murder at the hands of greedy prospectors hoping to find a secret gold mine.  She has the unlikely help of an Apache girl and a pair of brothers with their own secrets. See my review here.
  • Vicious by V. E. Schwab – An experiment meant to unlock superpowers in humans pits two roommates against each other because neither can agree who is the hero and who is the villain. See my review here.
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux – A rising opera star mentored by a mysterious man finds herself caught between his obsession and the chance at true love with a childhood friend. There is a lot of nuance here that you won’t find in the musical!
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – A man wrongly imprisoned escapes and builds his fortune as he plots to avenge himself on the three men that took his fiancée, his ship and his wealth.
  • Clariel by Garth Nix – Clariel isn’t adjusting well to her new city life–she misses the outdoors and her freedom. When Free Magic is discovered in the city, her attempts to be useful are thwarted, and her plan to regain her freedom once and for all comes with a terrible price.

Eona: the Last Dragoneye

7992995by Alison Goodman
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars
Book 2 of a duology

This is an intense follow up to the first book! It provoked so many emotions in me that it was hard to read at times.

With her true identity exposed and the country torn apart by civil war, Eona must master her power or risk the destruction of everything and everyone she loves.

As with the first book, there’s a lot of political intrigue and secrets. I felt like this time it was not solely based on characters refusing to talk to each other though, so I enjoyed it more. Eona evolves so much as a character here–I loved her unquestionably in the first book, and in this one she made so many decisions that angered me–yet I could see her reasoning. As she made deals for knowledge and power I kept feeling a love-hate relationship with her and it was such an interesting read. Especially since I felt many of her choices that upset me at first wouldn’t have upset me if a male character had made them. The double-standard of women and men in power is examined a lot as a side theme, and it’s eye-opening.

Along with that, Eona faces the struggle of being a woman in a man’s world. Aside from relearning how to dress and carry herself as a woman, the disparity of power between the genders impedes her. She is expected to speak, walk, think, reason differently as a woman, court protocol continually reinforces her inferior rank, and her closest friends make her re-earn their respect. There is so much here any woman can identify with from personal experiences.

As with the previous book, the side characters Ryko and Lady Dela continued to endear themselves to me–which helped when I was frustrated with Eona. They’re interesting foils to Eona since they both have immovable convictions, whereas Eona is learning what her moral and ethical boundaries are. Lord Ido also has a larger role in this book, and he is just a fun character to analyze, love him or hate him. He keeps you on your toes!

There’s a lot more action in this book, and we learn a lot more about the dragons, their history, and their powers. Everything tied together so well, yet in such a surprising way!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Eona is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Risuko by David Kudler – Risuko is just a peasant girl who loves to climb. When a noblewoman notices her abilities, she is recruited to the Full Moon, where she will learn to be a “very special kind of woman” and possibly save her country. See my review here.
  • Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman – Seraphina’s abilities have led her to assist the crown, but now she must seek out and recruit the half-dragon’s like herself if she wants to stabilize their fractured land. See my review here.
  • Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce – A girl disguised as a boy takes her brother’s place as a page to learn the skills and discipline of knighthood. See my review here.
  • Soundless by Richelle Mead – Everyone in Fei’s village has been deaf for generations, but when they begin to go blind too, and their food supply is cut off, she decides to risk her life by descending their remote mountain to find help. See my review here.
  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu – Adelina’s journey to power and descent into darkness becomes more compelling and dangerous in this sequel. See my review here.

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