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Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) – Brandon Sanderson

Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: November 14, 2017 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: December 8, 2017
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5)

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin's Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar's blood-soaked past and stand together--and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past--even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.

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The Stormlight Archive just gets better with each book and OATHBRINGER is my favorite of the series by far! I’m still not in LOVE with the series like how I fell for Mistborn but I’m really kind of loving this ridiculously massive series. By the third book, I’ve really gotten to know these characters inside and out. I love the relationships between each one and how each relationship is constantly moving and growing. It’s been so much fun spending SO much time with these characters and in this world! I think I’m not quite as in love with this as I have been with other Sanderson works because of its length, and that’s also why I love it all at the same time. It’s not that the length itself is a deterrent but the reveals take longer to reveal and I’m just antsy to get some good plot twists that I love so much!

I just can’t wait to get to the incredible world-building and series-connector moments that I know are coming! I have so many theories and I just have to know how everything connects!!  I love how there’s always more beneath the surface and honestly, I don’t want to wait for book four to find out more! There were definitely a lot of THINGS that happened in OATHBRINGER though and I think this was the book where the most things really took place.

Exploring this world is incredibly fun! There are so many locations, plus locations on other planes… I mean, there’s a LOT to explore! What’s even more interesting is how each of these concepts have started apply in so many ways, and even hints at the other plane concept for all of the other planets in the Cosmere. The Cosmere concept has me totally geeking out, always, and although it gets just a touch confusing, it’s actually super cool.

I also love getting know more about each culture and how much detail and thought has gone Ito their origins. I also love how Sanderson humanizes the horrible, heartless enemy. You really get to peek behind the obvious and dig a little deeper into to truth. The characters have so much depth that we’re constantly getting to discover these characters in new ways. I love Kaladin and Dalinar, obviously, and Shalan grew on me in WORDS OF RADIANCE but she kind of lost her noodle for a while which was a bit annoying (still is). I really loved Adolin as well and I’ve loved the dynamics between all of the characters. Bridge 4 is my absolute favorite too.

Like always, another Brandon Sanderson series has it all. I’m in it for the long haul with this series, only being through the third book and there are expected to be ten or so… But hey, I’m here for this! I’m always up for any Sanderson.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Character depths. I love how much these characters have changed and grown over the series so far!
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. I just cannot wait for everything to come together and develop even further! I love the twists and turns these series have!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

It’s a commitment… that’s an understatement! But I will always recommend Brandon Sanderson’s books!

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BOOKS LIKE OATHBRINGER

          

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5) – Brandon Sanderson

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: October 17, 2017 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: November 17, 2017
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Three years ago, Lift asked a goddess to stop her from growing older--a wish she believed was granted. Now, in Edgedancer, the barely teenage nascent Knight Radiant finds that time stands still for no one. Although the young Azish emperor granted her safe haven from an executioner she knows only as Darkness, court life is suffocating the free-spirited Lift, who can't help heading to Yeddaw when she hears the relentless Darkness is there hunting people like her with budding powers. The downtrodden in Yeddaw have no champion, and Lift knows she must seize this awesome responsibility.

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Sooooo I didn’t like Lift’s interludes in WORDS OF RADIANCE so I was worried about reading this novella. LIft’s voice is young — a little too young for me, especially with the way that Kate Reading narrates it (I listened to the audiobook for all of the Stormlight Archive novels) — and I have a hard time with characters who are meant to intentionally sound young/uneducated/use a lot of slang so I knew it wasn’t going to be a… pleasant listen, but if there’s a practically full-length novella for a Brandon Sanderson series, obviously it’s important.

… Except EDGEDANCER really wasn’t as important as I had hoped. I am glad to have this piece of world-building and character development but to have a whole story aside didn’t really seem to add that much to the current world that couldn’t have been included in OATHBRINGER. I heard in the notes of one of the books (it’s been a couple months by now so I’m not entirely sure which one it was) that Brandon Sanderson felt that Lift was very important and wanted to include her actual sort of “origin story” with how she discovered and came into her abilities. Personally, I didn’t think this piece was crucial to the main storyline but since she does become a bigger character in OATHBRINGER, I do understand the feel for it. Even though I read this before OATHBRINGER, it’s been a couple months since I’ve read them both and Lift’s narration isn’t as bad with Michael Kramer’s narration. He always does a much better job with younger voices, having them sound more jaunty and upbeat versus Kate’s narration which is usually just irritating.

I also found Lift’s interactions with her Spren irritating as well (or maybe it was Kate Reading’s voice. Or both.) due to her actions and Wyndel’s overreactions to them. They just weren’t jiving for me. I did like seeing a new Radiant/Spren relationship though and it was an important piece of the magic system.

This extra character arc just didn’t seem as important as I had hoped and the character herself is a little irritating. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad in OATHBRINGER and I wouldn’t say I regret reading it or would have skipped it but I’m also not super invested in it either.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Radiant/Spren relationships. I meannnnnn I didn’t really love anything in this novella but it was nice seeing more of that Radiant/Spren bond.
Left Me Wanting More: Adults? The whole voicing was young and in an unpleasant way. I think Brandon Sanderson’s adult works are definitely better written although I have enjoyed some of his middle grade novels as well. This just didn’t jive for me.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

I didn’t feel it was SUPER important but usually if Brandon Sanderson includes a novella, there’s a reason for it. Maybe others benefit more from it? I was more distant because I didn’t love it.

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) – Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: March 4, 2014 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 31, 2017
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

The Assassin, Szeth, is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin's master has much deeper motives.

Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

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Whew, 48+ hours of audiobook! That was intense! 

The Stormlight Archive are the longest books I’ve ever read, followed shortly in number by A Song of Ice and Fire. What I love about these enormous books and series is that there’s just so much going on and authors like George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson have a way of spacing all of the characters out enough so that each one has their own individual story but then when they unite or cross paths with other characters, you find out exactly how their stories were meant to line up all along and we just weren’t seeing the bigger picture yet!

WORDS OF RADIANCE starts crossing all of those paths set up in THE WAY OF KINGS so it was great to see how these stories are coming together and where the big picture is going! I enjoyed WORDS OF RADIANCE more than THE WAY OF KINGS because I was better able to see this big picture. I’m so used to shorter series, both in number of pages and in number of books. Since The Stormlight Archive is currently planned to be ten books, there’s so much to explore throughout the whole series that a lot of secrets need to be kept in the first few books before reveals start happening, so at times, this series does seem a bit slower than other series I’ve read. It’s not really a bad thing, because I love really getting into this world and having this fantasy world feel so incredibly real with all of its detail, but it just doesn’t have me falling in love with this series as much YET since I’m still learning so much about it. 

I really liked the character development within this booke. Shalan grew a bit in THE WAY OF KINGS but she really starts to develop as a character in WORDS OF RADIANCE. Her role in the series is much more obvious in this book and she gets tied to many more characters and having already ready OATHBRINGER now as well, it’s great to see how much she grows and becomes more involved in each book, looking back on where she first appeared in THE WAY OF KINGS.
I still love Dalinar and Kaladin and I’m enjoying their characters even more as the series progresses and the supporting characters, like those of Bridge Four, are outstanding additions to the book to bring some levity, camaraderie, and so much more.

I liked getting more hints about the world but I’m still thirsty for so much more world-building! I have SO many questions that I know will get answered but again, I’m used to shorter series where I get more reveals much quicker so it’s hard to tell myself that they will be coming! Brandon Sanderson’s world-building is so incredibly interesting and now that I’ve learned so much about the Cosmere in general, it’s easier to see how each book of his set in this universe are starting to tie together. Things that I’ve read in other books are really starting to connect in The Stormlight Archive and this series has the most information about this universe, in my opinion.

I also like how there are interludes in these books, allowing other important POVs to come in. Some I liked, some I didn’t. I hated Lift’s POV interlude and was upset that she was going to become a main part of the series, being the main character in the EDGEDANCER novella, but I’ll get more into that with OATHBRINGER since that’s where she starts becoming more important. I really like the interludes that offer small pieces of important things later on, or ones that fill in some missing pieces of what we’ve already learned.

So far this isn’t my favorite Brandon Sanderson series but it certainly has potential! The more I read, the more I get into this story and fall in love with the characters, and clearly we’re going to be spending a lot of time together! I don’t know if it was a good or bad idea to read the first three books in one year since I’m going to be waiting very, very long for the rest of the series but I’m also glad I was able to do that so I could really get a solid feel for this world and have the characters stick in my mind so well!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Super long series. I haven’t ever read a series this long that wasn’t something light and easy, like a cozy mystery series. It’s so interesting to see the plot develop for a series that’s so big!
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals. I’m just greeeeedy. I love Brandon Sanderson’s twists and I want themmm!

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s a commitment… that’s an understatement! But I will always recommend Brandon Sanderson’s books!

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BOOKS LIKE WORDS OF RADIANCE

          

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: October 17, 2011 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Ghosts, Horror, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 30, 2017
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

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I actually tried to read this book, oh about four or five years ago, and decided it was too scary because I hate reading ghost stories but so many people had talked about the book that I had wanted to give it a try. I figured now that I’m braver and decided to read it NOT in the dark, NOT home alone, and NOT in a very old apartment that it would take away some of the fear factor and really… it’s not a scary book at all. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD has some gory and creepy moments but it’s more about the story of Anna and how she came to be, Cas and his family, and the friendships that form, rather than the fear.

The book was fun but it didn’t really pull me in. I liked Cas and enjoyed his point of view but the plot just didn’t quite work for me, which seems to be kind of a pattern with Kendare Blake’s books for me. I didn’t really care about the ending and didn’t really like where the story went. I felt like it would have been a better stand-alone, making this more about Cas and Anna’s story rather than Cas’s family and his history (for once I don’t want character backstory!). Even though there were a lot of things leading up to the conclusion, it still seemed to veer off in a different direction and just didn’t seem to fit the rest of the book.

It was a fun read but I don’t think I’ll pick up the second book. I’m glad I “faced my fears” and tried it again because it really wasn’t scary at all! I had just put myself in a spooky place when I first tried to read it and barely made it anywhere because I freaked myself out with a spooky setting, so I’m really glad I attempted this book again. I feel silly for being scared before but I guess I concocted the perfect storm for a fear factor the first time around!

The audiobook narrator was also very meh. He had breaths and pauses in weird places (the middle of sentences) and didn’t have very good accents at all. Anna’s Finnish accent was more Russian and no one had a Canadian accent or even a hint of one despite the fact that the book took place in Canada. I mean, all Canadians don’t have to have a strong, pronounced accent but I do notice the vowel changes a lot with my own Canadian friends so I guess I expected the same here. His voices for the other guys were like, no one’s voice ever in real life, and the girls were overdone and stereotypical, so that didn’t enhance my reading experience like some audiobook narrators can do.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ghost stories?! I can handle ghosts in books as long as it’s not in a scary capacity. I tend to freak myself out when reading scary ghost books but I’ve read quite a few books where ghosts appear in a less threatening capacity. Anna got a little creepy in this book but Cas’s interaction with her calmed it down.
Left Me Wanting More: Focus. I felt like the focus strayed, which is silly considering that was the end point all along… So I guess I was looking for the “twist” of the end to play a bigger role in the rest of the book so it didn’t feel like we were talking about two different things.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD was a quick and fun Halloween-time read. It didn’t impress me a lot but I had a good time reading it and while it was middle-of-the-road for me, I’m still glad I read it. I probably won’t read the second book, especially the way that it ended, so I can’t really recommend it but others enjoyed it a lot!

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BOOKS LIKE ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

          

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I had put off reading A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC for a while now, for a couple of different reasons. I had some personal reasons involved, some worries that it might be too much like NEVERWHERE, and I actually wanted to let some of the craze die down because hype really kills a book for me and I didn’t want to be caught up in it. I started A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC on audio because I really wanted to listen to Michael Kramer narrate the 2nd and 3rd books (along with Kate Reading) because he’s one of my all-time favorite narrators. It was funny though — I actually preferred the 1st books narrator on a lot of things so that was a surprise! I think he just got those voices all set up in my head and then I couldn’t shake them.

Anyway… I binge read all three books on audio and decided to review them all together instead of one-by-one!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 24, 2015 by Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 24, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1), Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

This was really good! I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect because I had really enjoyed VICIOUS and didn’t like THE NEAR WITCH (I never finished it) and I also had some personal qualms about starting this book… but I’m really glad that I did because it was actually really enjoyable! I actually enjoyed that some things were set up in book one that weren’t resolved. They weren’t cliffhangers but things that will be important to the plot in future books (I’m pretty sure I know what’s up with Lila) and I like that it wasn’t all resolved in ADSOM so it keeps me pulled to keep reading (even though I would anyway).

That being said…

This was a fantasy world that just totally came together as my kind of book. I LOVE anything with parallel worlds and I really liked how it was incorporated into fantasy instead of just sci-fi. The magic system is really interesting too. It’s not just magic and non-magic… there really are shades of magic and each world has varying degrees of how magic is incorporated and affects its citizens. I am still suuuuper curious about Black London and I kind of hope we journey there in a future book. I just have to know!!

ADSOM wraps up nicely and closes out a story line which is nice not to be left on a cliffhanger! There’s a lot more to discover so I’m sure the next book will get into that and also dip into what spiraled into play here so I thought it was nice on world-building side. There was a solid foundation but there’s still so much more to discover, and everything was nicely built into the story and I didn’t feel any infodumps about this world-system.

I also liked that the romance was slow and steady. Obviously there’s something building between Lila and Kell but it wasn’t instalove and their relationship is built on a friendship — that almost isn’t even a friendship! They butt heads, Lila is stubborn, Kell is kind of a loner (minus his affection for his brother), and yet their sparring and jabs totally work. I do love banter in my book relationships and although this was less flirting and romantic banter, it was just perfect for these two.

I’m actually surprised how much I enjoyed this because I really hadn’t expected to. I listened to the book on audio, having purchased it in an Audible sale, and mostly wanted to listen to the audio because Michael Kramer narrates the second and third books and he is one of my all-time favorite narrators! (Okay, and Kate Reading but Michael is most important.) I actually did like the narrator of this book so I’m not sure how the switch will go, even though I love the narrators of the next books! Steven Crossley is British so it was perfect for a book about Londons and I really enjoyed his narration and will actually go seek out more books that he voices. I didn’t like how he voiced the spell casting (it was much too formal because it wasn’t described as “said”, not anything that had to be so formally announced and pompous) but really that was the only thing I didn’t like about it.

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 23, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 31, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1), Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games--an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries--a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

Wow, I am so sorry for anyone who read this book when it first came out and had to wait for the third book. That ending was EVIL.

A GATHERING OF SHADOWS was very enjoyable! The beginning was good but the first half sort of felt like a book one instead of a book two. SO much happened in ADSOM that when things slowed down to this pace again instead of continuing on and escalating, it felt a bit like a step back.

The games/competition was really fun, but also felt like a book one thing that could have set up the magic system, worlds, and characters so it didn’t really feel necessary at all for this book. Unless it plays a big part in the third book, I don’t really think it pushed the plot forward much at all. The characters from the neighboring lands don’t seem to directly play an important part in the book and actually, Kell even said it himself that there was a totally different way this could have all played out (that’s vague, I know, but if I say more, it’s definitely a spoiler).

I did LOVE Alucard, who is my new favorite. (I think I just love all privateers. They’re so sassy and are always involved in banter.) And I also loved where Lila and Kell’s relationship went in this book. We had a bit of book-two-forces-the-lovebirds-apart syndrome here but it actually resolved nicely which is better than a lot of books!

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 21, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 6, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1), Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED...
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

And so I say anoshe to this series.

The ending to this book was just beautiful and a wonderful way to wrap things up. I loved the finality of everything and yet the openness to allow the characters to go off and pursue other things. The series was complete and yet there could totally be more books or a spin-off series with more things to come.

I will say, though, that the thing that struck me the most about this book was HOW MUCH happened. It’s the last book in the series so of course things will escalate but there were so many things that could have been put in the second book — like backstories, more world-building, explanations, etc — that felt a little too crammed into the final book when this would have been more suited for the action and not building things up at the same time. I would have loved to have learned more about Holland in AGOS instead of ACOL, as a specific example, and some of the revelations could have been developed in AGOS with a final reveal in ACOL instead of it all happening at once. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the length of the book but it just did feel like a whole lot was flung at me at once, especially in the beginning. It’s not that it was hard to follow but it was a lot to constantly take in.

Definite (mild) spoilers for the series in the rest of the review below so skim to the bottom if you want to avoid them! 

I also still have some questions that weren’t really answered… I understand the unspoken concept of the one black eye for Antari but I also wish that was more directly addressed. I wish we had known who Kell’s parents were and what his name was before he came to the royal family but I understand leaving that one open because who he was is not who he is and he chooses to be present instead of dwelling in the past. I also wanted to know more about Lila’s past, how she lost her eye (it was said to be an accident but I always wondered if it was more to cover up her true nature), and what led her to where she was. There were so many hints that Lila was so much MORE than basically everything but it was never said that she was more than an Antari… so was she more or was she just Antari? Or an exceptional Antari? Or am I just looking for too many answers that I should attain for myself? I figured out that she was Antari pretty much immediately once it was revealed that she was missing an eye but then the actual reveal wasn’t even an event. It just kind of… happened. Like oh yeah, Lila is doing magic now and she’s doing crazy stuff so I guess she’s an Antari and everyone else was just like, okay, guess so. Maybe because Lila does whatever she wants so people weren’t surprised when she broke all the rules anyway, but still. Again, I understand not wanting to go fully into each character’s past and reveal every little thing but just a few words of wrap-up could have left things more final, I think.

Then there were the THINGS with the magic system. I’m a huuuuge magic-system geek and I love learning about all of the rules and what a magician/wizard/whoever can and cannot do. It felt a little inconsistent to me with new abilities popping up where they were convenient. I did like that average citizens of Red London were able to wield magic and how differently it was accessible to the “common” people and also how its accessibility was different from world to world. I did love that Antari were next-level magic users and the only ones who were able to use blood magic to perform extraordinary feats and that they could use every element and not just one or two or three. Does the black eye signify black magic? It seemed like it should due to the story line here but that really wasn’t addressed. Was it a piece of black magic within them or was it just magic and the essence of Black London had just turned bad? Was it a coincidence that the three Antari were from the three different Londons? Was there a Black London Antari and there is only allowed one from each London? Was it a coincidence that the three Antari had three different colored eyes (Lila: brown, Kell: blue, Holland: green)? Was this all planned and the rules of magic or was it all just randomly coincidental? Maybe I’m just naturally too curious but it seemed like these things were rules but never talked about. Maybe the characters don’t even know themselves. I’m just a total sucker for learning as much as I can about a magic system so that really felt incomplete to me. Maybe I’m just spoiled with Brandon Sanderson books that detail everything so much that I’ve eaten it all up and come to expect it in other books. (The Antari reminded me of Mistborn in a way, with their ability to use all types of magic so there was a minor association for me there.)

I also for some reason didn’t totally love the Osaron concept… maybe because I didn’t love the concept of magic taking a human form? I’m not sure. There was just something about it that I didn’t love and something just felt “off” there for some reason. Maybe because it seemed like some sort of a turn in the concepts and I was expecting a different direction regarding the escalation of the black magic. I was also hoping for more time in Black London because I’m just TOO DARN CURIOUS. So I guess most of my disappointments were just hopes and my curious brain demanding more answers!

Despite all of the thoughts I’ve just expressed, I did enjoy the series. I actually think the first book was the strongest in terms of plot and structure and it still remains my favorite. If things hadn’t gotten derailed with the games in AGOS and had continued with strong plot development, I think the series could have been even stronger and more cohesive. All of the books were entertaining and the characters were really just wonderful. I really loved the character dynamics, the personalities, and the wonderful relationships. As a series, I think AGOS just really killed the plot momentum and while it was still highly entertaining, it could have pushed things so much further and more time could have been dedicated in ACOL to tying things up along with the action instead of jamming everything into a final book. I loved every character and the ways that they all interacted with each other and I did think that was so well done. I really connected with each one and just loved the feelings that I got from their relationships. The ending of the series was bittersweet and just the perfect way to say goodbye, or rather, anoshe.

SERIES THOUGHTS

The first book in this series was definitely my favorite. I thought it was the most solid in terms of setting up the book’s overall plot and kicking off the series. I was disappointed with the lack of series development in A GATHERING OF SHADOWS (book two) because of the games involved and that really ended up taking the spotlight. It was still very entertaining but I’m such a world-building nerd that I can’t get enough of it and I don’t feel like things kept developing until the end of the book. A CONJURING OF LIGHT was also still very entertaining but things took a biiiiit of a weird turn for me and mostly, I just wanted more answers about this world. I feel like some were implied, some we could infer, and others were maybe coincidental? I thought things could have shaken out just a bit more to really settle all those burning questions, although the overall wrap up was very nice!

Now I just need to own the series in print so I can put them with my As Travars candle…

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

To my surprise, I really enjoyed this series. I had no idea what I was going to find within these pages (or I guess… audio files in my case) and I think it’s a solid series that could benefit from a little more plot and world-building.

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BOOKS LIKE SHADES OF MAGIC

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: August 31, 2010 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 7, 2017
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Speak again the ancient oaths,
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.
And return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.
Roshar is a world of stone swept by tempests that shape ecology and civilization. Animals and plants retract; cities are built in shelter. In centuries since ten orders of Knights fell, their Shardblade swords and Shardplate armor still transform men into near-invincible warriors. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.
In one such war on the ruined Shattered Plains, slave Kaladin struggles to save his men and fathom leaders who deem them expendable, in senseless wars where ten armies fight separately against one foe.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Fascinated by the ancient text namedThe Way of Kings and troubled by visions of ancient times, he doubts his sanity.
Across the ocean, Shallan trains under eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece Jasnah. Though Shallan genuinely loves learning, she plans a daring theft. Her research hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

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I listened to the audiobook of THE WAY OF KINGS and it was quite the long journey (I think it was literally 48 hours, give or take), but I am all about Michael Kramer so it’s totally worth it! It took me over a month to read between audio and print but I did it! My reading time has just been far too short and reviewing time apparently even shorter because it’s taken me three months to put this review together, but here it is!

THE WAY OF KINGS was enjoyable from start to finish but it still doesn’t top MISTBORN as my favorite Sanderson book/series. The beginning was maybe a little slower, the tone more serious, and things really did take some time to develop and get moving. I think I had an unfair preconceived notion about the book because Brandon Sanderson did a reading from book two (a part with no spoilers) at one of his events and so I was picturing a totally different time and place for these characters. I kept waiting for that to come into place and that was not a part of this book so it was hard to get the hang of!

I think my one… “let down” so to speak (I’m not really let down but I can’t come up with a better word right now) of the book is that ALL of the reveals were in the end. So much happened in the last few chapters that it was excitement overload and I would have loved a bit more of that throughout the whole book to keep excitement levels high, but that seems to be an evolution that happens in Sanderson’s later works rather than his earlier ones.

My Sanderson theory that the theme of pretty much everyone of his books (which I can’t share because it’s possible spoiler for pretty much any Sanderson book) seems to hold realtively true so far for THE WAY OF KINGS too! I figured it was coming, especially considering a lot of the world-building from other series but I really like it though! I’m catching on to it so it’s not as much of a shock or twist to see that coming in the ending of THE WAY OF KINGS (well, I guess it kiiiiind of started that way too) but I’m so, so, so anxious to learn more about it!

The characters in this book were fantastic! I LOVED Kaladin and for some reason I was surprised to see what his role was throughout this whole book. I was expecting a Kelsier sort of situation where his history involved a hardship and he ended up with that as a shadow of his past, but really Kaladin’s present ends up being one of his greatest hardships and he’s not on anyone’s favorable side throughout the book (until he takes matters into his own hands and starts to work on those leadership skills). I basically fell a little bit in love with him and I can’t wait to see what his future holds because it looks… bright *snicker*

I also love noble and wise and apparently super important Dalinar. Obviously he’s important as a main character but I loved what his fate ended up being and naturally, I can’t wait to see what happens to him in the second book and where things go from here. Readers are able to guess at what is happening to him throughout the book but I’m not quite sure what it REALLY means yet and why it’s happening to Dalinar.

I wasn’t the BIGGEST fan of Shallan but that’s also because I didn’t really care for her narrator in the audio (not that I have issues with Kate Reading (also how is THAT for an audiobook narrator’s last name!?) but meh. Female narrator. And I love Michael Kramer. A lot.) so I didn’t get into her character as much. I actually find myself not really liking a lot of Sanderson’s female characters except for Vin. I don’t dislike them but I just find the male characters much more interesting and apparently prefer their story lines much better, which is unfortunate because they are strong characters but not ones I seem to connect with. I think part of it is because the women are figuring things out (you go, gals!) and the men are in the action so there’s just a bit more draw to some of those action-based scenes.

I’m also enjoying the new world of Roshar and exploring everything that is has to offer! The cultures/races/people are interesting (especially with some recent reveals) and I love learning about all of the different people and places in Brandon Sanderson’s worlds. Book two looks like it’ll explore that history and creation even more which is totally my fantasy addiction and the reason I can’t put Sanderson books down! I haven’t felt as connected to a world since Scadrial but they’re all quite interesting and I have a feeling I’ll be learning much more about Roshar soon!

I don’t know why I thought this series was only three books so there goes my plan to binge read them all this year……. Well, I guess I can still binge read them (as long as Oathbringer is still on track for later 2017) but I just won’t be finishing the series when I do. Why do I do this to myself??? I’m in the middle of too many Sanderson series. Or rather, he seems to trap us in his series (okay, I’m not really that upset about being in the middle of all of his books) and won’t let us go! Just the waaaaait though. I’m so glad I was able to binge Mistborn because this is going to be a long journey with The Starlight Archive!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Loooong books. I have a hard time picking up chunkers lately because they just take so much time that I don’t have. I’ll do anything for a Sanderson book though!
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals earlier on. I would have loved to get a little more hooked from the start instead of SO many things happening in the end!

Addiction Rating
Add it to your TBR!

Okay, I can’t tell you to read it because not only is the book itself long, but so is the series… so instead I advise you to add it to your reading list!

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BOOKS LIKE THE WAY OF KINGS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    shadow and bone

Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: June 9, 2009 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 26, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn't like his job, and the immortal who's still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

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I’ve been on a Brandon Sanderson kick for… well, I guess for a few years ever since I read MISTBORN! I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through his entire collection and I picked up WARBREAKER when I was in the mood for some more delicious fantasy! By now, I’ve read a LOT of his books (almost all of them except for The Stormlight Archives) and I actually think this is my least favorite full-length novel that I’ve read from Sanderson so far… but that’s not really saying much since I thoroughly enjoy them all! It’s like saying you have a least favorite Harry Potter book (*cough Chamber of Secrets cough*) even though you rate them all highly.

Even though I was warned that ELANTRIS was slow to set up, I think I felt that more in WARBREAKER. It wasn’t that the book was slow but the majority of the real action is in the last literally 10% is when everything HAPPENS. I knew things were coming since it’s Sanderson (although this is one of his earlier novels… I read them all out of “order”) but I was preparing for some typical twists and surprises that were really right under our noses all along. I still LOVE how there’s a twist and you’re like “Oh, the twist! I’m surprised!” and then SOMETHING ELSE happens that you just totally didn’t see coming because you were so focused on looking for the first twist. I just love when surprises like that and authors keep readers on their toes!

The character development is quite gradual as well. I think Siri grows the fastest since she’s the freest spirit and allows herself to change, but I’d say my favorite transformation is Vivenna. I didn’t really expect a journey from her when the book started (I truly had no idea what the book was even about when I started. I go in blind or mostly blind on a lot of my books for a true experience), so I was surprised to see how big of a role she had in the book and how she really started to figure herself out by the end and discover what she truly wanted and not what everyone else expected of her. I think Vivenna went through the most lows in this book and so many unexpected turns and I really enjoyed getting to know her!

I love the bad guys and the good guys and in typical Sanderson fashion, the question of WHICH IS WHICH had me guessing all throughout the book. Some of the characters are quite naive which leads them to believe the bad guys are one group, and then the book leads you to believe the bad guys are the good guys, and then other things lead you to question everything. I really appreciate how well-crafted WARBREAKER was in this sense! There was some serious plotting to set everything up for so many twists and reveals in the end!

Truthfully, I would have loved for a bit more knowledge on the magic system, how Breaths work, and the history of Idris and Hallendren more throughout the book. It’s not an infodump, not at all, but there is a lot of explanation of everything towards the end and I think I would have loved more historical info throughout the book. I just always appreciate world-building that’s scattered throughout a novel so I really get to know the world as we go. I know some things need to be kept until the ending because it would ruin a twist but my biggest wish is that we had more historical knowledge and more about the magic system. I didn’t realize this was a series when I started it since this book came out over a decade ago, but it looks like Sanderson has plans for more books so I hope that this is something that will be touched upon in future books!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Alyssa Bresnahan
Performance: Very good

I don’t listen to a lot of female narrators outside of my favorites but this one went okay! I don’t know what it is but I just prefer male voices for audiobook narrators. I think the deepness and strength is just more pleasant to listen to than a soft voice or a high-pitched one so I’ve passed on a lot of female narrators. Alyssa Bresnahan did a really good job with this one, though! I was unsure at first but after I while, like any good narrator, I barely noticed her voice because I was so into the character voices and the book itself. I’m not going to actively seek out anything narrated by her but if I happen upon one and it’s a book I want to read, I know I’ll be in good hands!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique magic systems. Seriously, how does Sanderson do this? There are so many different magic systems in his books and it’s SO COOL how he develops each of them. Like, Breaths? How do you even think of something like that? It’s really quite impressive.
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. Sanderon’s books aren’t usually lacking world-building but I did want a BIT more history of the worlds and the magic itself. Since it was so unique, I couldn’t just throw assumptions together and I really wanted more detail!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Gosh, all of Sanderson’s books are great. This is probably my least favorite but still very, very good and I’m excited to continue the series!

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BOOKS LIKE WARBREAKER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    the storyspinner

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) – Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: May 14, 2013 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 8, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

bookreview1

I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through Brandon Sanderson’s entire published works and next up on my list was THE RITHMATIST! For some reason for the longest time, I thought this book was Middle Grade but it’s actually Young Adult, though I see some great potential crossover for those two age ranges, along with the ever-present crossover to Adult since Sanderson’s books are always so clever and well-put together. THE RITHMATIST reads a little younger than Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy (which is also YA) and actually really reminded me of Harry Potter! It was just something about the characters, the structure of the book, and possibly the presence at school that reminded me of Harry Potter and all of the mischief he manages to get into, not to mention the distrust of a teacher and some other secret happenings that really reminded me of Hogwarts in the best way. It is definitely the youngest-feeling book I’ve read from Sanderson (since I haven’t read the Alcatraz series yet) and that is quite notable but I wasn’t put off by it at all since that’s really what I was expecting!

loved the characters in this book. Joel is the main character in THE RITHMATIST and I love his thirst for knowledge, especially when it comes to the Rithmatists. Not being a Rithmatist himself, he has to try to find information in secret since non-Rithmatists are not allowed to learn all of the theory, strategy, and history, but that is Joel’s true passion. As usual, Sanderson creates an excellent core group of characters who are all a little bit misfits. Joel, the wannabe Rithmatist;  Melody, the Rithmatist who couldn’t care less; and Professor Fitch, the pleasant yet out-dated professor make up the main part of this group and it’s so special to watch all of these personalities and strengths balance each other. They work so well together because their relationships are so mutually beneficial… and of course there’s some great banter in their with some clashing personalities that kept me delighted and maintained a lighter tone!

It’s always so interesting to see what kind of magic system Brandon Sanderson chooses for his books. In this case, it’s the power to bring chalk to life as an offensive and defensive course of action. Rithmatists have the power to draw chalk lines or figures and give them basic direction and of course, the way chalk lines are drawn and connected have a very systematic way of behaving. I’m always so impressed with how much thought and effort goes into creating a magic system and I really enjoyed how unique this one was! I’m not sure I loved the concept — I suppose bringing inanimate objects to life is hit or miss for me — so I wasn’t totally crazy about it, but the structure and rules really brought the ideas together and made it a somewhat realistic (albeit, fantastical) concept to follow and understand.

The geography and history were also incredibly interesting, as always! Sanderson chose to mix fantasy and history, creating a time period that felt a little steampunk but had an alternate history incorporating the origin of Rithmatists and how they shaped the world. The course of events changes history completely and even changes geography, breaking up what we know as North America into the United Isles, consisting of a broken apart continent of many islands with various Rithmatist schools throughout the country. There are also some real historical figures who make appearances and in the alt-history concept, affect the world in similar or entirely different ways. It’s quite fascinating and I really enjoyed what Sanderson did with the book! I always find it fun to see “what if”s and see an alternate geography based on a different history.

THE RITHMATIST was just plain fun and I loved its lighter tone. I really enjoy the deep Sanderson novels but this one felt like it was quite a bit lighter and did have a sort of Harry Potter feel — which is to say that it reads potentially younger but is still enjoyable for an audience of all ages. The ending left me just waiting for more and there is confirmation of another book but we might still be waiting a few years for it according to the most recent Sanderson news! Such is the life of a Sanderson fan. (And this is what I get for bingeing all of his works.)

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Michael Kramer
Performance: Excellent overall! One of my favorite narrators

I listened to the book on audio which was fantastic since Michael Kramer, who narrates the entire Mistborn series, also narrates THE RITHMATIST. It’s the first YA book I’ve heard him narrate (actually, the first book besides the Mistborn books) and I think he handled the younger voices really well! Sometimes the younger male and younger female voices weren’t as distinct as his adult voices but he’s just such an enjoyable narrator! I was lacking a few things with the audio, simply because there are diagrams within the book showing different chalk defenses and moves that obviously I couldn’t see since I was listening. They’re all described but obviously you  miss a little bit in that sort of experience! 
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Joel // Character obsessions: Learning, Rithmatic theory, family.
I keep wanting to call it “rithmancy” because of “arithmancy” in Harry Potter… But I don’t think that’s right. Rithmatic theory? I think?
Anyway! Joel was such a fun character. I love characters that are so knowledge-thirsty because they’re the ones always off to the library or hunting for clues to give readers all of the amazing answers and discoveries that I love so much! He was smart, clever, and maybe a little naive but that added to the gentleness of his character and he was so incredibly likable.
Melody // Character obsessions: Unicorns, frivolity, ice cream, the easy life.
Melody is so sassy! She’s an unlikely companion for Joel but they totally work together because they have very different strengths. They really help each other even though they butt heads a lot but I love their banter.
Nalazar // Character obsessions: Dominance, power, scowling.
Nalazar = Snape in the best possible ways and that’s all I’m going to say about that!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Alt-History. Alt-history is SO much fun. I love changing timelines and imagining “what if”, especially when it comes to new geography. This wasn’t my favorite imagination of the “former” North America but it’s always fun no matter what!
Left Me Wanting More: Realistic magic? That’s an oxymoron, I know, but I wasn’t toootally hooked on the chalk concept. I got along with it all right and structured rules always help but bringing chalk wasn’t my favorite magic system.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I’m a true fan of pretty much everything that Sanderson writes and there isn’t really a book of his I wouldn’t recommend. THE RITHMATIST was fun, easy to read, and quite clever.

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BOOKS LIKE THE RITHMATIST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    PETER AND THE STARCATCHES

Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the Ants

MINI REVIEWS

I’ve somehow fallen extremely behind on book reviews (that’s life!) so I’m combining a few audiobook reviews into one post today! Life has been so busy that I’ve been finishing way more audiobooks lately than I have print copies — but I’m always a fan of audios! Here are a few thoughts on 738 DAYS by Stacey Kade, TRICKY TWENTY-TWO by Janet Evanovich, WE ARE THE ANTS by Shaun David Hutchinson.


Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: 738 Days by Stacey Kade
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 7, 2016

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.
Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.
Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.
To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

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I was in need of a new audiobook when I started 738 DAYS and it seemed the most appealing choice out of my current selection! I had heard a lot of good things about it and although I wasn’t feeling any of my options, this one seemed to be my best bet for my mood at the time. I hadn’t realized it was so realistic/contemporary (I thought it was going to be more thriller/action — ah, the curse of going in mostly blind) but I did enjoy the book! Since I wasn’t in the mood for a serious contemporary novel, I ended up getting a little eye-rolly at some of the mushy parts (it was my own fault!) but 738 DAYS was a really well put together novel.

I thought the characters were quite realistic. I liked the array of emotions from Amanda. I could easily see how the trauma of her past still affected her — and likely would affect her for a long time or even the rest of her life — and yet she was determined not to to get stuck from it and have that trauma hold her life back. I loved her strength and determination. It was nice to see that gusto and not have her be too gung-ho or the type that constantly refuses someone’s help just so she can do something herself. There was a great balance of growth and seeing that moving past this wasn’t easy. I also really liked Chase and that we met him in his days of redemption. I think it’s easier to like a character when the bad stuff is in their past versus watching them go through the periods of self-destruction. It’s easier to distance yourself from that negative side and it was really nice to see Chase already in the process of that change to be a better person. He and Amanda really just clicked together and I liked how easy that relationship felt. I’ll admit that since I was thinking it was a bit more thriller (oops) that I wasn’t really excited about the romance at first (I know, I know, that’s what the whole book was ABOUT) but the great thing is that it totally grew on me. To swing me from not thrilled to totally loving it says a lot!

I’d say this is more of a New Adult title (given age range and sexual content I wouldn’t say it’s YA) and if you’re hesitant about reading New Adult given some of the more cheesy titles that have previously given it a bad name, this is a great place to start! It’ll definitely be one of my New Adult recommendations for people looking to try some.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | 738 DAYS had dual narrators for the two main characters. Andrew Eiden voiced Chase and Shannon McManus voiced Amanda. I didn’t really like Shannon’s voice much but it wasn’t enough that I actively disliked it (which has happened in the past and I’ve turned an audiobook off). Her voice is high and clear, very feminine, but it has kind of that Valley Girl intonation that bothered me a little bit. I did like Andrew Eiden’s voice but I still wasn’t overly in love with his narration. I’d say a solid 3.75 – 4 stars for the narration on this one.


Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 17, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 19, 2016
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)

Something big is brewing in Trenton, N.J., and it could blow at any minute.
Stephanie Plum might not be the world's greatest bounty hunter, but she knows when she's being played. Ken Globovic (aka Gobbles), hailed as the Supreme Exalted Zookeeper of the animal house known as Zeta fraternity, has been arrested for beating up the dean of students at Kiltman College. Gobbles has missed his court date and gone into hiding. People have seen him on campus, but no one will talk. Things just aren't adding up, and Stephanie can't shake the feeling that something funny is going on at the college - and it's not just Zeta fraternity pranks.
As much as people love Gobbles, they hate Doug Linken. When Linken is gunned down in his backyard it's good riddance, and the list of possible murder suspects is long. The only people who care about finding Linken's killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case, security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Linken, and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully has some tricks up her sleeve.


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I am loving that the Stephanie Plum books are coming back around to being actual stories that I care about and not just throw-away, silly novels. TRICKY TWENTY-TWO actually had the characters addressing serious issues. We hear talk of marriage and serious commitments, and not in just the silly way of how the characters are usually afraid of commitment or Stephanie’s caught up between Morelli and Ranger. I loved that things got a little deeper and the characters became more real again and not just caricatures of themselves.

The plot was better too! Less crazy, wild animals and more actual cases, bringing that sense of mystery back to the book and not just a silly thriller aspect. I do love these books — they’re fun, familiar, and the audios are SO quick. I’m really glad that they’re coming back around and keep me excited for more! For a while I was starting to grow tired of them (not like I’d quit them!) but I’m really happy that I’m getting that faith back in the series.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | As usual, Lorelai King was a lot of fun! I think she’s really good at all of the different voices (and there are a LOT of distinct ones) and she really brings these books to life. I don’t think I’ve read Stephanie Plum book in print for maybe ten books (or more!) because they’re just so much fun on audio and somehow they go by so quickly!!

Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Publishing Info: January 19, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 26, 2016

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.
Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.
What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.
But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.
The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.


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I hadn’t picked up WE ARE THE ANTS for a while because truthfully, I was afraid of the whole “abducted by aliens” thing. While I will agree that it is a big part of the book, it’s not a main portion of the action. Henry does believe that he keeps getting abducted and that he has the ability to save the world or let it be destroyed but it’s more about the question of his decision than it is about the aliens.

The book is a lot deeper and a lot more realistic fiction than I thought it would be too! Obviously aliens had me believing it was sci-fi but it was really more of Henry’s story, what he was going through since his boyfriend’s suicide, the bullying that’s occurring in his life, and his relationship with his family. It was a heart-achingly beautiful novel, quite realistic and really thought-provoking. It was darker than I had anticipated but there was also a wonderful balance of humor to ease that darkness a little bit. Shaun David Hutchinson did an amazing job and really brought me into a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own (alien abduction is really just a turn-off for me) and I like how that whole idea was incorporated into the book! I was poignant, original, and very well-written.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | Gibson Frazier was a really good narrator! This is the first time I’ve ever listened something he’s narrated (I have a tendency to listen to my favorites) and he was really great! Sometimes a little monotone but I also think that was a bit of the character so I’m not sure if it was him or Henry. I liked how well he seemed to fit the character and I really enjoyed him in this book. Sometimes I did wish for more emotion but I’d be interested to listen to more from him.

Elantris – Brandon Sanderson

Elantris – Brandon SandersonTitle: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: May 30, 2006 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 12, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy. lf.

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Ever since I read MISTBORN a couple years ago, I’ve been obsessed with Brandon Sanderson’s writing. His books launched me into the world of adult fantasy when I had been reading nearly exclusively young adult and I’ve been on a mission ever since to gobble up the rest of his books. Every book I’ve read (and every novella) has been enjoyable and I simply cannot get enough. I took advantage of an Audible deal that had Brandon Sanderson audiobooks on sale so I picked up ELANTRIS and WARBREAKER (which I also hope to read soon) and decided to start with ELANTRIS since it was Sanderson’s first published novel and it’s a stand alone.

ELANTRIS was such a good, solid read. At times it felt a bit lengthy and I was anxious for things to get moving but that could also be because I was listening to the audiobook so it did take me significantly longer than if I was reading it in print. I was “warned” ahead of time that the beginning was a lot of set up and character development and the true action and twists didn’t occur until closer to the end so I was all right waiting for that. I also didn’t mind because the characters were just so enjoyable! Since it’s not as action packed as some of his later books, ELANTRIS is able to really dig into characters and let their personalities shine! Raoden was truly as personable as he was made out to be and I loved Sarene’s independence and strength. Each character really brought the book to life and it was so easy to connect with each and every one of them.

The concept of Elantris and its fall was incredibly interesting. For most of the book, no one really knows why the once godlike inhabitants of Elantris fell and why the Shaod continues to take people, turning them into the “creatures” that the cities fear and quarantine. The world-building and background surrounding these questions impressed me and as always, the big reveal was so satisfying. I was really hoping for a bit more history of the magic system because it was so interesting and complex and I’m always anxious to dig into why and how it works! There is an explanation but I’ve been spoiled with the details that Sanderson includes in subsequent books and so I was seeking so many more details about AonDor! I also hoped for a bit more of digging into the creation myths of the Cosmere but since it was Sanderson’s first published work, there was still so much more to come to play around with what this world was, what drove its magic, and how it connected within the Cosmere. I know ELANTRIS was a stand alone (well, it does have a short story but it’s more of a companion to the novel than a continuation) but I would love to learn so much more about this world! I immediately went digging into the Coppermind (the Wiki for Sanderson’s complete works — it’s incredibly detailed!) to get any more info that I possibly could! All it did was make me want another book detailing this planet’s history even more.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sanderson yet (since I’m finally writing a review for a book that’s not a sequel in a series), the Cosmere is Sanderson’s universe and most of his adult works take place on a different planet in the Cosmere. ELANTRIS is the first book set in the Cosmere and takes place on the planet Sel. Each Cosmere-set series is independent of the others but they all take place in the same universe and therefore share the same (incredibly detailed) history. I won’t get into it because a lot of this was explained with MISTBORN: A SECRET HISTORY, which is meant to be read after the 6th book in the Mistborn series and it could be a little spoilery to say more about the Cosmere since I only just discovered it this far into my Sanderson journey. I will say, though, that I’m constantly impressed with the world-building and I’m obsessed with books that are not series that connect. Sanderson is such a craftsman when it comes to connecting the Cosmere books and it may not always be in the most obvious way but when you make that connection, it’s so incredibly satisfying and it is such a delight to observe as a reader!

ELANTRIS was a book that really stuck with me and I keep thinking about it long after I’ve finished! It didn’t have quite as many historical details or action as some of the first Sanderson books I’ve read but I actually enjoyed that because it’s great to see how Brandon Sanderon’s writing style has changed, evolved, and can differ from story to story. I love that the books can feel so unique and yet still have a typical Sanderson feel that I can identify with. I can’t wait to continue my Cosmere binge later on this year!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible during a sale
Narrator: Jack Garrett
Performance: More books narrated by Jack Garrett, please!

I’m always iffy trying out a narrator that I haven’t listened to before, especially with a favorite author AND an audiobook that’s literally 28.5 hours long. That’s over a full day of my life listening to one person’s voice so it gets intimidating to pick someone new! I’m really glad that I not only liked Jack Garrett but ended up loving him! His narration really embodied each character and each person had their own unique voice. I’m always so impressed with how many different voices a voice actor can do and with a detailed cast of characters, Jack Garrett had no issue making each voice quite unique. His female voices were softer and more feminine but not over the top. Accents were well placed and the general performance of everything was just top notch. I don’t know what other books he’s narrated but I will definitely be seeking out more!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

elantris goodreads

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Raoden // Character Obsessions: Answers, leading, duty, giving.
Raoden was amazing. I loved how he really was so incredibly likable and most of all, I loved that he was so concerned about his people, no matter where he ended up. He wanted to make sure everyone had a purpose and that purpose made them feel useful in a place that might otherwise consume all of their hope. He was a fantastic character to follow and that is one of the sad parts about ELANTRIS being a stand alone… I’d love to spend more time with these characters!
Sarene // Character Obsessions: Damning the man, equality, investigations, justice.
Sarene was strong, independent, and in control. She didn’t care about gender “norms” and just wanted what was fair and right for all, regardless of gender, class, or status. I loved her constant push to empower the women in this book and total disregard for what Arelon considered appropriate. She was an amazing female character and I loved how she dominated this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasy stand alones. There are so many fantasy series and I don’t often read a fantasy stand alones! I did become a bit greedy and wanted more of this world but it’s also so nice to have this wrapped up and I don’t have to wait years for more books or spend more time continuing a series.
Left Me Wanting More: Details. As I mentioned, the only thing I really craved more of were some details — how Sel connected in the Cosmere, more of its creation story, more info on AonDor and Aons, and how the magic system worked. These are the reasons I think I crave more of a sequel/continuation but the book really is a fantastic stand alone.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I just love Brandon Sanderson and there isn’t a book of his yet that I won’t recommend.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

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