Daughter of the Burning City – Review!

Hey all! 

I feel like I always start these posts with “It’s been a while. That’s a theme I’m working on changing.” so I’m not doing that this time. I will tell you that I have some (super secret) plans, but for now you’ll have to accept this review as a start.

I have a few life things first I’d like to share with everyone. So I started my senior year of college(!) about a month ago. I’m doing some stuff to prepare for the final things I have to get done this semester and next. Working on some grad school applications. Prepping a paper to present at a conference in November. All the fun stuff, you know?

I haven’t been able to write much because of all this. Or read much, sadly. BUT two nights ago I FINALLY finished DOTBC and I’m so ready to tell you guys all about it!

Let’s do this.

From Amazon:

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires 

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show. 

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered. 

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca. Their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.”

Back in July I made a post with Amanda Foody about why you should read this book. Now that I HAVE read this book, I’m going to tell you guys again: you need to read this book.

Okay, obviously you don’t need to do anything. But I highly recommend you read this book. Here’s some reasons why:

1. The plot will keep you guessing.
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know my absolute adoration for a good plot twist. Don’t give me obvious ones. Don’t do it. I will hate it. I did not hate these.
Sorina’s investigations into the murders of her family is one that has a lot of potential suspects. The way she goes about identifying people, and the lengths she’s willing to go to to protect them are unsurprising. She has a lot of love for her illusions, her family, and there’s not much she isn’t willing to give up to keep them safe. 

2. The characters are my loves. Again, if you’ve read my previous reviews, you know I want my characters layered. I love a good, complex character who doesn’t always fit with what we would consider the norm.
Sorina is The Girl Who Can See Without Eyes. She can be selfish and stubborn, indecisive and frustrating, and will do anything to protect her family, even when “anything” isn’t always the best course of action. So, naturally, I think she’s amazing. She’s also bisexual. But that’s a later point.
Her illusions are all complicated individuals as well. Despite being created by Sorina for her company, they all have distinct personalities and don’t necessarily mesh well with her. They’re vividly described and each have their own lives. When it comes to characters that aren’t exactly “real” this can be difficult to convey, because you’re trying to balance the idea of a “real” person with that of an “imaginary” one. Lines can become blurry and authors might slip into language that clearly shows “these are not real people don’t forget that” (not that all authors do this. Most don’t. But it’s very easy to slip into that language unconsciously). We never really forget that Sorina’s family were created, not born, but we don’t care about that. They appeal to us as people because they are just as lively as the “real” humans are. Sometimes even more so.

I will not say anything about Luca other than he is very special to me, as he reminds me a bit of a close friend of mine. Luca must be protected at all times. Unless you want to slap him for being an ass, which he can be. Then by all means please slap him.

3. It’s set in a traveling circus. The coolest one too. It’s a pretty badass place to grow up and, honestly, I would’ve loved to see more of it. We’re given pretty good descriptions of a few different places in the Gomorrah Festival, but one thing I wish we could’ve gotten some more of was the darker part of the city. I want to be transported there when I read–and for the most part I was–but I would’ve liked just a little more. Still, it’s a setting I loved and I think most readers will adore as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it in the future . . .

4. The diversity is EVERYTHING. We get characters of different racial backgrounds, diversity in appearance and ability, and so much LGBTQIA+ rep my heart was full.

Take Sorina, for example. She’s a Down-Mountainer by birth and was a slave as a child. She’s described as having distinguishing features (no not just her lack of eyes) and isn’t looked down upon by her fellow performers because of it. The festival is full of people from all backgrounds. It’s the Up-Mountainers you’ve got to look out for.

You’ve also got your lovely, lovely LGBTQIA+ rep. Sorina is bisexual. Nicoleta is a lesbian. Luca is, from my reading, demi-sexual and demi-romantic, putting him in the Ace spectrum. Villiam, again from my reading, is aromantic and asexual. Let’s just take a second to appreciate this, okay? Let’s just take one moment to take a deep breath and enjoy this rep.

Did you do it? I did.

5. The overall role of religion. This. Was. Fantastic. I don’t want to get into too much detail here because this is something I think you guys should read for yourselves. But it’s worth mentioning because it plays a HUGE role in the background of the world. Religion and religious fanatics are painted in a way that a lot of us can recognize. It’ll be familiar territory for some, and eye-opening for others. But I think the choice to have it be so prominent in this world Foody has created is ultimately a well-done and slightly twisted (in the best way) one.

So basically what I’m trying to say here is that I really loved this book. I think it was well-written, full of diverse characters, and a fantastic debut. I gave it a 5/5 on Goodreads and I’m fully recommending you guys get this book. From your library, from a bookstore, from a friend, whatever you want! But I really think this is worth the read.

I have free time for the next few days, so I’m off to do a little more reading. Hope this was helpful!

Kailey

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Windwitch

Salutations, world of internet people. How are all of you beings today?

My strange self is glad to be posting this, finally. Wait, you don’t know what this is? Didn’t I say it while I was being weird? No? Oh, well it’s

MY WINDWITCH BOOK REVIEW

*throws confetti*

So, you’d think for being so excited about this book, I would have read it in one, two days max. NOPE. I only just finished it (literally thirty seconds before I started writing this) and I’ve had it for about a month. Now, I understand that’s pretty normal (especially for a busy person) but I dislike this.

One thing that sucks about being a crazy busy college student is that one does not have as much as free time as they’d like. Welcome to real life, I know. However, this semester has been busier than most for me. It has seriously cut into my reading time. Which sucks, because that is my de-stress time. And I have really needed some de-stress time these past couple of months.

Sigh. Alright, pity party/tangent over. The reason I mentioned it at all was because I felt bad for not having this review up sooner. I always feel bad when I go silent on here, even if only a few people actually read these posts. So, I’m sorry for not having time for this sooner.

Now then, onto the book review.

First let me just say this: Windwitch did not disappoint.

Holy hell I am so happy. I am so in love with this book.

So when I first talked about how excited I was for this book I mentioned how much work the author put into it. After reading it I can confirm: she poured her soul into this novel you guys. I felt the blood, sweat, and tears in every word. 

Let’s get into a few details (no spoilers though)(I won’t ruin this for anyone who wants to read it)(and you all should DEFINITELY read it).

First of all, we got to hear from Vivia’s POV, which originally I was concerned with. Don’t get me wrong, I was crazy excited to hear from her. I think my original reaction was something like “yay we get to hear from the evil one!” I cannot confirm or deny if Vivia is evil or not, but I can say my original skepticism of how she would fit into the story was shattered about two sentences into her first chapter. I flat out LOVED having Vivia’s POV thrown into the mix. It helped fill out the story and give the readers a new perspective.

Second: Merik, my love, my precious windwitch, your story was beautifully executed. It wasn’t what I thought it would be. But it was everything I could have hoped for and more. I have nothing more to say than this. 

Third thing: love stories are not the focus. Hell yes love stories are present! And I know love was not the focus in Truthwitch either. I like this. I am thrilled by this. I am all for a good love story, but sometimes it feels . . . overdone. There is love present in this novel, but it’s not the same romance story we’ve all seen a million times. Love does not always have to be passion and romance. Sometimes it’s best friends fighting for one another across continents. Sometimes it’s a spoiler and I can’t share it with you guys but read the book and find out.

But that brings me to point number four: there are some killer potential love interests in here. I can’t decide which couple/potential couple I ship the most. Ugh. So many options. So much cuteness.

Some quick and random things I loved: the writing, the world, the writing,the characters, the writing, the meticulous attention to detail throughout the entire book, the lovely and emotionally stacked writing . . . have I mentioned I love her writing? Susan Dennard is fantastic.

Okay I hope this was helpful. I know it was basically me screaming BUY THIS BOOK but it is worth it. Read the book. Then come talk to me about it so we can freak out together.

Okay, must sleep. *throws more confetti* Byeeeeeeeeee!

Kailey

Food For Thought

Super, super, SUPER short post but I had a question and wanted to see what other people thought.

I finished reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell yesterday. And while I LOVED the concept and most of the story, I felt like the ending was rushed and could have been better. 

I was talking with one of my roommates about it and she told me how she thought it read like a newbie fanfic writer wrote it: all build up and then rushed action. I thought that made sense.

One of my own theories is that because this was written as a fanfiction in a book originally, maybe she wanted to keep the feel it might retain.

No matter what the reasoning, it’s really bothering me. I was wondering if anyone else had read Carry On and could give me their opinions and thoughts on the second half of the book. What did you think of the structure when you read it? How did you feel the characters were treated? Do you think the speed of the plot was appropriate to the latter part of the story?

Anyone who has read Carry On is more than welcome to leave their opinions below! And I wanted to say that, despite my disappointment in the ending, I still really loved this book. Simon and Baz are amazing characters and I am glad that I got to read their stories. If you haven’t read it I say do but I really recommend you read Fangirl first.

Ok I’m off to my mythology class (it’s pretty cool). Bye!

Kailey

Empire of Storms

Hey all! So I know it’s been a while but school and life have been mega crazy lately.

So recently I finished the new Sarah J Maas novel Empire of Storms and I’m. In. Love. 

A bit of background on this for me: I’ve been reading Sarah’s books for about a year now but I read everything that she had published in a little over a month. Her writing is fabulous and her world building makes me swoon. So do her characters.

EOS was no different. This isn’t a review per say but I do want to talk a little bit about it (no spoilers don’t worry!). 

First of all I want to talk about the perfection of details that SJM puts in her books. She brought back things that I hadn’t thought about in a very long time. Her reintroduction of these small (but significant) bits of information was done near flawlessly. Something minor we dismissed in say Queen of Shadows turned out to be instrumental to EOS. I’d love to go into a gushing tangent about her skill in this regard (reminded me a lot of Cassandra Clare’s talent with it to tell you the truth) but if I did that it would be a very, very long post and I don’t think I want to do that to anyone who might be awesome enough to read this. So I’ll leave it at that and move on.

Next I want to discuss the storyline. Holy plot twists Batman. Did I see that coming? Nope, never, not at all. But that’s the mark of a talented writer. The mark of an even better one is when they pull it off seamlessly. Without spoilers it’s hard to talk about the plot in more than vague terms but I’ll give it a shot. 

Essentially the story picked up a short time after Queen of Shadows left off. Not much time had passed but enough that we weren’t in the exact same moment. Days to weeks at most between times. I thought this was well done because books that pick up at the exact moment the previous one ended for me always feel rushed. Giving the characters time to react and digest the previous ending always makes for a more interesting beginning. But that’s just my opinion.

We do pick up the story in Terrasen but one thing I will tell you all is we don’t get to see much of this beloved country. The story follows Aelin and her court closest obviously but we see quite a bit on Manon Elide as well. Their stories are just as essential as our court’s even if they are all in different places (or are they . . .).

So I guess that’s a good segue into characters! We saw a lot of semi-familiar faces throughout the book and they all served their purpose to further the story. I don’t think there was a single person in this story who I felt could’ve been left out. Each person’s story was intertwined well with the overall plot. We got a little bit of Lysandra’s POV but that’s one thing I wish we could’ve seen more of. We got some great Aedion moments and I won’t spoil anything but Aedion is now a character with a very special place in my heart.

So now that I’ve given a bunch of vague teasers and gushed my way through the basics, let’s get down to the fun parts.

Things I loved about EOS:

  • The language! I am a super picky reader. Not to say I don’t have about 7 billion books I love but there’s a difference between loving a book for the plot and loving a book because it grips your soul. For me all soul-gripping books have fabulous language. And EOS did not disappoint in that regard. SJM is one author who knows how to wield words like the weapons they are. I could feel how each and every word was chosen carefully in order to reach the novel’s full potential. Now there were a few points where I thought the phrasing could have been done better but they were few and far between and overall didn’t detract from the beauty of the story in any way. 10/10 on the language she used.
  • The settings! Okay so I told you before we don’t get to see a lot of Terrasen BUT we do get a few fabulous new places to see. I loved the introduction of new settings into this story. She built these places strongly and vividly. One thing I was disappointed on here though was that at one point we see ruins, and these ruins are supposed to be this creepy, chilling place. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that when I read about them. I felt a little too much distance. But I know other people HAVE felt that creeped out feeling when they were reading that part, so I’m going to chalk this one up to personal issues and leave it be. Plus she makes up for that (in my opinion at least) when she writes about other places Aelin and her court visit. It felt like I was there with them nearly every step of the way. That was how good the settings were done. I give it a 9/10 on this aspect of the novel.
  • The plot twists! I said it earlier and I’ll say it again–HOLY PLOT TWISTS BATMAN! Now these weren’t as shocking as say a “you’re brother and sister” kind of thing (any Cassie Clare fans out there? Any at all? Please?) but they were substantial enough that they warrant talking about. For example, Aelin will always be Aelin. We can see how she’s growing and learning but she will always have something up her sleeve that we did not see coming. That’s part of the fun I think. Knowing that she’s got to have some trick up her sleeve and wondering what it is or when she’s going to reveal it. But she’s not the only one. Lets just say we didn’t see the last of Maeve in Wendlyn. Which is really just too bad. We get more than a few confirmations of things we’ve all been waiting for as well. Plus a few bombs dropped we probably would have rather not found out. So many twists and turns to this novel. Gods and monsters and plots, oh my! 10/10 on this (but really more like 50000/10 because wow). 

Things I didn’t like as much:

  • The sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes in EOS. I was little surprised when I came across the first one (I hadn’t read any spoilers or hints at all about this book before diving in). I don’t think they detract from the book in any way. In fact they show significant moments and give us a lot of insight to what’s really happening in the characters’ heads. They were done very well and not at all overly long or cringe worthy. This is just a personal preference I have that I don’t much like sex scenes. That, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t expecting them, made me not as much a fan of seeing them there. But looking at it from SJM’s point of view I can understand why she added them in there. 
  • The way some characters were introduced. So I haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade yet. I discovered that I probably should have while reading EOS. A lot of characters who come into play throughout the story aren’t fully introduced because they had their own short stories with Aelin in The Assassin’s Blade. Well, if you haven’t read it yet (or you’re like me and didn’t know to read it beforehand) that can be a little annoying. I was able to fill in the gaps by clues and context, but I would have preferred to know full back stories. Moral here: read The Assassin’s Blade before EOS if you can.
  • The distribution of POVs. GIVE ME MORE LYSANDRA! I WANT MORE LYSANDRA! It was all fairly even distribution between characters except for her. So that was sort of disappointing. Personally I’d rather have had less Lorcan and more Lysandra. And more Aedion too if possible.

I know a lot of people took issue with the fact that Chaol wasn’t in this book but I think it makes perfect sense not to include him. Let him heal in the south and bring him back in the final novel. Overall not many things in this book that were problems. The issues I did have aren’t all big things and they didn’t take away at all from how much I loved this book. I would have devoured it in a day if I could have but I’ve been so busy with school and other things that I’ve barely had time to read. 

I highly recommend this or any Sarah J Maas book to anyone and everyone. She’s a fantastic writer and one of my favorites. It’s no secret that I want to be her when I grow up (no I’m not a grown up I’m just a college student shhh that doesn’t make me a grown up). One thing I will warn you about: you will cry. There is no way around it. Accept your fate. Tears will be shed because holy hell this book is emotionally stacked. That’s all the warnings I’m going to give though.

So I hope this made sense and wasn’t too bad of a review/reaction. Now I’m going to go crank out another 2k words on my WIP (almost halfway done!) so I’ll talk to you soon! 

GO READ EMPIRE OF STORMS!

Kailey

To Outline or Not to Outline . . .

That is the question.

Recently I was at a convention where I had the opportunity to talk to some amazing authors. I was even able to talk with Susan Dennard one-on-one for a while (she’s so sweet!). They were all very kind and had great advice.

One thing they talked about was outlining. The authors at the conference were pretty split on this issue. Some outline and some don’t. Personally, I didn’t outline my first novel. And now I’m in the middle of outlining my next one.

One thing I’ve learned about the process (from my own experience and from advice given by others) is that it IS helpful. I prefer to just write everything out and then go back and check on the details to make sure everything lines up and flows correctly. That’s what I like to do and that’s what worked on my first book.

Working on my second book, it was obvious there were too many details and small plot points to just write it all out. So now I’m working on the outline for book two and, as much as I absolutely loathe it, it’s going to help me in the long run I can tell.

Ultimately, I know it’s my choice whether I want to outline or not. And when you get down to it it’s about the same amount of time spent. Say I spend two days writing my outline. That’s about what it took me to go back through my first novel making sure I got everything correct. And the more detailed the book is, the more time I’ll spend going through to check it. Same with working on the outline.

Ultimately it’s your call if you want to outline a project. If you think you can do it without an outline go for it! It’s all about you being comfortable with your writing and molding your work into what you want it to be. If you think you can get there without an outline then more power to you!

I’m not sure if this was helpful or not. I’m not even sure it made much sense (I hope it did). If you found this helpful, great!

Just want to point out I will not be posting every day. At least, not once classes start back up. I don’t really think I’ll be posting on a regular basis. I only wanted to post this because I am currenly working on an outline and so the ideas are fresh in my mind. But I hope you don’t mind my weird as hell schedule once it starts up.

Okay that’s it! Back to outlining for me. Ugh đŸ˜¦ Bye!

Kailey