Book Review: The Godborn (The Sundering #2) by Paul S. Kemp

Book Review: The Godborn (The Sundering #2) by Paul S. KempThe Godborn by Paul S. Kemp
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on October 1, 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
In the 2nd book of the multi-author Sundering series launched by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, the shadow legacy of Erevis Cale lives on even as his old foe Mephistopheles seeks to stamp it out at any cost. Cale’s son Vasen—unmoored in time by the god Mask—has thus far been shielded from the archdevil’s dark schemes, alone among the servants of the Lord of Light who have raised him since birth.

Living in a remote abbey nestled among the Thunder Peaks of Sembia, Vasen is haunted by dreams of his father, trapped in the frozen hell of Cania. He knows the day will come when he must assume his role in the divine drama unfolding across Faerûn. But Vasen knows not what that role should be . . . or whether he is ready to take it on. He only knows what his father tells him in dreams—that he must not fail.

Enter Drasek Riven, a former compatriot of Erevis Cale, now near divine and haunted by dreams of his own—he too knows the time to act is near. Shar, the great goddess of darkness, looks to cast her shadow on the world forever. Riven has glimpsed the cycle of night she hopes to complete, and he knows she must be stopped.

At the crossroads of divine intrigue and mortal destiny, unlikely heroes unite to thwart the powers of shadow and hell, and the sundering of worlds is set on its course.

Book Review:

I should start this review by saying I’m a huge Paul S. Kemp fangirl. His books are insta-buys for me, regardless of if they are Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, or original fantasy. So my review of THE GODBORN might be a wee bit biased. But I think it’s safe to say this book is fantastic, especially if you’re a fan of dark, gritty fantasy.

THE GODBORN is the second book in the six book Sundering series. This is a series where you don’t have to read all the books in order, or even all of the books, as each is a standalone. Each book is by a different author, and takes some of that author’s Realms’ characters to explore the effects of the Sundering event. In short, the Sundering is the separation of Abeir and Toril, and the gods and other powerful people are jockeying for position and trying to use it to their advantage.

THE GODBORN features Vasen, the son of Erevis Cale. Raised in the Abbey of the Rose, a hidden stronghold of Amaunator in the dark, destroyed lands of Sembia, he’s a servant of the light, devoted to doing the right thing. But Vasen has a more important role than just shepherding pilgrims to and from the Abbey — he needs to save his father, who is trapped in a level of hell. Vasen is also key in stopping the Cycle of Night.

THE GODBORN does build off Kemp’s previous novels in the Realms, but if you haven’t read any of them, don’t worry. There’s enough background so that you won’t be lost. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read The Twilight War trilogy, and I had no trouble getting into or following this book.

So! All that said, THE GODBORN is freaking fantastic. I’m writing this review about 2 weeks after finishing it, and I’m still remembering some of the characters and plot twists. The author has both a gruesome imagination and a way of making me care for and remember his characters. Take Gerak and Elle, farmers from Sembia. Essentially two nobodies. Yet they go through some very horrible things, and I really felt for both of them, and I’m still thinking about them. They were just as important to me as the “big name” characters.

The only quibble I have with the book is I would have liked the events of the last few chapters to be spread out more. There was a lot of necessary buildup to get to the climax, but once I got there, I felt like it was over almost too quickly.

Otherwise, as I’ve probably said a dozen times, I enjoyed every second of THE GODBORN. The fantasy is dark, the characters are all interesting (good and bad), and the action is top-notch.

Socialize with the author:

Paul S. Kemp:
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– leeanna

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome topic: the Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’d like to see in book form, so I had to jump in and participate.

01: Historical YA for unpopular time periods:

Some time periods, such as Tudor England, are really popular, and dare I say, almost overrepresented, in both adult and YA fiction. One of my degrees is in history, so it’s safe to say I like it a lot, and I like using historical fiction as a way to gauge my interest in different time periods. I’d like to see Argentina under the Peróns, England in the Dark Ages, France before the Sun King, Ancient Egypt in the time of Hatshepshut, etc.

02: Alternate history:

This kind of goes along with my first wish, but I love me some alternate history. Examples: What would have happened if Cleopatra lived? What would have happened if Katharine of Aragon bore Henry VIII a son?

03: A wider range for New Adult:

I like the idea of New Adult as a genre, and I do think it’s important. I just wish more authors tried branching into paranormal, fantasy, historical, etc., rather than just sticking with contemporary.

04: More standalones/duologies:

I understand the appeal of a trilogy, but … not every series is meant to be a trilogy. Some books should really just be one book, not the beginning of a trilogy.

05: Celebrate the geeks!

I want to see more books where girls love coding, programming, science, math, whatever. Trekkies, Whovians, whatever. Let that geek flag fly — don’t make geekiness something that needs to be fixed.

06: Adventures on other planets:

I haven’t read a lot of YA set in space, so maybe I’ve missed this, but I really would love something along the lines of John Varley’s Eight Worlds.

07: Different mythical/supernatural creatures:

Where are the selkies, unicorns, banshees, centaurs, etc?

08: Real dystopian books:

I want the nitty and gritty and dirty details of dystopian life, not a thin veneer so the romance takes center stage.

09: Ballet:

SO many “ballet” books aren’t ballet books at all! I’m lookin’ at you, THE BROKENHEARTED. I loved, loved BUNHEADS by Sophie Flack, and I’d adore more books in that vein.

10: Lesbians in YA:

Slowly, more LGBT is trickling into YA, but it’s the guys who are getting represented. That’s great, but I want to see girls crushing on girls and more, in a variety of genres, and without coming out angst.

*Two of my favorite indie authors, Jenn and Sarah Diemer, have set out to change this, but I’m greedy and want more.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

– leeanna

Book Review: Diamonds & Deceit (At Somerton #2) by Leila Rasheed

Book Review: Diamonds & Deceit (At Somerton #2) by Leila RasheedDiamonds & Deceit by Leila Rasheed
Series: At Somerton #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on January 7, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 420
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
One house, two worlds...book two in our sumptuous and enticing YA series about the servants and gentry at Somerton Court.

A house divided...

London is a whirl of balls and teas, alliances and rivalries. Rose has never felt more out of place. With the Season in full swing, she can't help but still feel a servant dressed up in diamonds and silk. Then Rose meets Alexander Ross, a young Scottish duke. Rose has heard the rumors about Ross's sordid past just like everyone else has. Yet he alone treats her as a friend. Rose knows better than to give her heart to an aristocrat with such a reputation, but it may be too late.

Ada should be happy. She is engaged to a handsome man who shares her political passions and has promised to support her education. So why does she feel hollow inside? Even if she hated Lord Fintan, she would have no choice but to go through with the marriage. Every day a new credit collector knocks on the door of their London flat, demanding payment for her cousin William's expenditures. Her father's heir seems determined to bring her family to ruin, and only a brilliant marriage can save Somerton Court and the Averleys' reputation.

Meanwhile, at Somerton, Sebastian is out of his mind with worry for his former valet Oliver, who refuses to plead innocent to the murder charges against him--for a death caused by Sebastian himself. Sebastian will do whatever he can to help the boy he loves, but his indiscretion is dangerous fodder for a reporter with sharp eyes and dishonorable intentions.

The colorful cast of the At Somerton series returns in this enthralling sequel about class and fortune, trust and betrayal, love and revenge.

Book Review:

CINDERS & SAPPHIRES, the first book in the At Somerton series, was one of my favorite reads of 2013. I think DIAMONDS & DECEIT will be one of my favorite books of 2014. If you like Downton Abbey, or historical fiction, there’s a good chance you’ll like this series.

DIAMONDS & DECEIT is just fun. Even though I’ve read it, I keep returning to it and rereading. The author has a way of sucking me into the lives of the Averleys and their servants, including all the drama, shocks, and romances they experience during the London season. Usually I don’t eat up that sort of thing so easily, but Leila Rasheed just sucks me in. I’m addicted!

I feel like a lot more happens in this book than in CINDERS & SAPPHIRES. I might actually like DIAMONDS & DECEIT better, which is unusual for me because usually the first of a trilogy is my favorite. As for what happens? Ada and Laurence’s engagement moves forward, Oliver has his trial, Georgiana tries to run Somerton, Rose tries to fit into society, Charlotte has more of a personality … and so on.

Rose is still my favorite character. She’s in a hard position, neither fully upstairs or downstairs. If you remember, at the end of book one, it was revealed that she’s Lord Westlake’s illegitimate daughter. Now recognized as one of the family, she struggles to fit into society, but is reminded constantly of where she came from. I like how she questions the new life she has, wondering if it’s really worth it. Rose falls hard for the Duke of Huntleigh, who has quite the reputation for scandalous behavior. But in contrast to Laurence, Ada’s fiancé, is he really that bad? Yet another opportunity to think about society and how it was changing in the 1900s.

And oh man, that ending! I have GOT to get my hands on the last book in the trilogy, but until then, I’ll be content to reread DIAMONDS & DECEIT because I enjoyed it that much.

Socialize with the author:

Leila Rasheed:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Review: Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle CharbonneauIndependent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing #2
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on January 7, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Pages: 310
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.

Book Review:

THE TESTING was a book I really enjoyed in 2013. I actually read it twice last year, once when it came out in June and then at the end of December so I could be ready for INDEPENDENT STUDY. To say I wanted to get my hands on INDEPENDENT STUDY is an understatement. I couldn’t wait to dive back into the dangerous world Joelle Charbonneau created, and find out what was in store for Cia at the University.

One of the things that I liked the most about INDEPENDENT STUDY is that the reader knows everything that happened to Cia during the Testing, but Cia herself does not. As part of the Testing process, all successful students have their memories removed. Cia managed to keep some, by recording the most important moments. Even so, she can’t believe what she recorded, and it’s chilling for the reader to see her trust Will. Will, who betrayed Cia and Tomas, and tried to kill both of them.

Just because the Testing is over doesn’t mean the danger is done. Cia finds that out quickly when a student doesn’t pass the first set of exams and is Redirected … aka killed. When she and her fellow Government students undergo the Induction — almost like hazing — of the upper years, she ends up locked in a box and almost left behind by her team.

Cia’s intellect and reasoning skills were one of my other favorite things about THE TESTING, and they continue to play an important role in INDEPENDENT STUDY. Her brains and skills actually get her into trouble, as she catches the eye of the head of the Testing, as well as the President of the United Commonwealth. It seems as though everyone is waiting for Cia to show any little sign of weakness, from her fellow students to the head of the country.

INDEPENDENT STUDY wasn’t a knock it out of the park book for me, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. I am really happy the third book in the trilogy, GRADUATION DAY, comes out in June, because with the cliffhanger ending, I NEED to find out what happens, and there’s no way I could wait a year.

Here’s what I didn’t dig on INDEPENDENT STUDY:

Cia is almost a little too perfect. I hate to say it, because I absolutely love that the girl has brains and uses them, rather than relying on someone else or falling back to fighting her way out of danger instead of thinking through it. But she manages to outthink just about everybody, and juggles a heckuva lot, from nine classes to inventing a way around the GPS transmitter in her bracelet.

I had a harder time getting into INDEPENDENT STUDY than I did with THE TESTING. I don’t know if it was because there was less action, or just some of the way things were written. I had to reread some passages to figure out just what the heck was going on.

The majority of the book feels like a setup for the last book. Actually getting to University and surviving the Induction take up a huge part, and then there’s not a lot on Cia’s actual classes. After the adrenaline rush of the Testing process, I just expected more to happen the second book.

Socialize with the author:

Joelle Charbonneau:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Review: The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle CharbonneauThe Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on June 4, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Own
Goodreads
5 Stars
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

Book Review:

I found THE TESTING to be a fun, fast-paced read. I actually read it twice in four months, and enjoyed it both times. I hate to make comparisons, but I want to call it a thinky version of THE HUNGER GAMES.

Cia wants to undergo The Testing more than anything else, and have the chance to attend the University. It’s the only way she’ll get to continue her education. But no candidates from her colony have been chosen in years, and when her name isn’t called at Graduation, she’s sure she’ll spend the rest of her life fixing tractors.

But then an official from Tosu City, the capital of the United Commonwealth, comes to Five Lakes Colony to take Cia and three others to be Tested. The night before she leaves, Cia’s father reveals a horrible secret about his own Testing, sharing half-remembered memories of watching a candidate die. He can’t tell her exactly what happened, because after The Testing, the officials erased his memory of it. But he remembers enough to tell Cia to trust no one.

When Cia’s roommate kills herself after the first phase of The Testing, and the official in charge seems glad Ryme weeded herself out, Cia realizes that she’s in more danger than she thought possible. One wrong move could result in the end of chance, or maybe even her death.

I can’t pinpoint exactly why I liked THE TESTING so much, but it might be because it’s pretty much the biggest test ever. I liked that Cia had to use her brain and skills to pass each part of The Test. It’s not all about being kick butt at action and fighting, although that does come up later in the book.

I also liked the ending, and it has me eager to read the next in the series, INDEPENDENT STUDY, right this second. All Testing candidates have their memories erased at the end, which I think will make for an interesting second book, because the reader knows *everything* that happened, while the characters don’t.

Socialize with the author:

Joelle Charbonneau:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Companions (The Sundering #1) by R.A. Salvatore

Book Review: The Companions (The Sundering #1) by R.A. SalvatoreThe Companions by R.A. Salvatore
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on August 6, 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
This latest installment in New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore's beloved fantasy saga, The Companions moves Salvatore's signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt's fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life--the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.

Book Review:

I’ve long been a fan of Drizzt Do’Urden, and R.A. Salvatore’s multiple trilogies with him and Bruenor, Catti-brie, Regis, and Wulfgar are some of my favorites in the Realms. Sometimes I like a good drow just as much as I like an evil one. Also, the War of the Spider Queen series is one of my all-time favorite series in the Realms, so I was happy to see another series on its scale.

THE COMPANIONS is the first in the new six book Sundering series. Each book is a standalone, and they explain the impact and effects of the Sundering event, the separation of Abeir and Toril.

Bruenor, Catti-brie, Regis, and Wulfgar are given the chance to be re-born by the goddess Mielikki, so that they can help Drizzt and the goddess. Bruenor, Catti-brie, and Regis accept, eager to aid Drizzt. THE COMPANIONS is mostly the story of their new lives as they struggle to adapt, as all regained the memories of the previous life, and have to adjust to being a fully functional human in a child’s body. They also have to survive to age twenty-one; there is no guarantee they will outlive the dangers of their world so that they’re alive to help Drizzt.

The tales of their new lives were my favorite part of the book. I think the author did a fantastic job of staying true to his characters, yet allowing their new circumstances to realistically change them. For example, Regis becomes a lot braver, as he’s determined to be a help to his friends rather than a hinderance this time around. Catti-brie gets to experience having biological parents. And Bruenor questions his faith, wondering if he made the right decision.

At the beginning and end of the book, Drizzt is in serious danger of dying, and it’s this death the Companions were brought back to prevent. If possible. As I haven’t read the more recent Drizzt books, such as the Neverwinter Saga, I didn’t know if his injuries were related to events in those books, or from something else. A little more information on the dangers Drizzt’s in would have helped out there.

The beginning of THE COMPANIONS was hard for me to get into. I had to read the first couple chapters a few times, but once I got past those, it was smooth sailing. I think I had trouble because there’s some time hopping, and as I read this in e-book format, it was hard to flip back and forth to figure out what year I was in. I also wasn’t sure of what was going on, But once I stopped worrying about that, the book was a lot easier. And after the book gets going, it’s much easier to figure out what year the characters are in.

Overall, I think THE COMPANIONS is one of the best books R.A. Salvatore has written, and that it’s a great kick-off for what will become a new favorite series.

Socialize with the author:

R.A. Salvatore:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Witch Fall (Witch Song #3) by Amber Argyle

Book Review: Witch Fall (Witch Song #3) by Amber ArgyleWitch Fall by Amber Argyle
Series: Witch Song #3
Published by Self-Published on January 15, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 332
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
3 Stars
With the magic of their songs, the Witches control the seasons, the storms, even the sea. Secure in their supremacy, they have forgotten the unmatched destructiveness of mankind. For the world has begun to covet their power, seeing them as weapons to be controlled instead of rulers worthy of obeisance.

Born of witches but raised among their enemy, Lilette searches for a way to heal the rift between mankind and the witches. But it may be too late to save either. For if there is one thing Lilette has come to know for certain, it’s that all things fall.

Today on my stop for the WITCH FALL blog tour, I have a review. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway. The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, and you can check out the full schedule here. Also, during this tour, WITCH SONG is free on Amazon.

Book Review:

WITCH FALL is the third book in Amber Argyle’s Witch Song series, but it’s also the prequel to the series. Instead of following Brusenna as the other two books have, WITCH FALL is Lilette’s story. If you’ve read WITCH BORN, the second book in the series, her name should be familiar to you. If you haven’t, don’t worry. You could read WITCH FALL before the other books if you want. This series is more of a circle than a straight line, if that makes any sense.

Although I knew some of Lilette’s story, I liked getting the chance to see it unfold from her perspective, and also seeing the real history of the witches. In WITCH BORN, Brusenna learned about Lilette and the cursed land of Harshen. But what she learned wasn’t the whole story, just as history doesn’t always record events truthfully. What I read in WITCH FALL answered some of the questions I had throughout the series, such as why witches are so hated in Brusenna’s time.

WITCH FALL is probably my favorite of the author’s books. I liked Lilette much more than Brusenna, because Lilette never gave up. Anytime she was in a bad situation (and there were a lot of bad situations!) she just kept going. Even if the odds were against her, she would keep thinking of what she could try next to escape.

I also liked Jolin, a character who reminded me a bit of myself. Jolin is high on intelligence but low on societal conventions, and her desire to be a power among the other Witches leads her to making some not-so-smart decisions. Every chapter of WITCH FALL starts with a quote by Jolin; when I read the last chapter of the book, I appreciated those quotes even more.

Overall, I feel that WITCH FALL is a solid prequel/ending to the Witch Song series.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

amber argyleAmber Argyle is the author of Witch Song and Fairy Queen trilogies. She grew up with three brothers on a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains. She spent hours riding horses, roaming the mountains, and playing in her family’s creepy barn. This environment fueled her imagination for writing high fantasy. She has worked as a short order cook, janitor, and staff member in a mental institution. All of which has given her great insight into the human condition and has made for some unique characters. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and Physical Education from Utah State University. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three small children.
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WITCH FALL buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Book Review: Witch Born (Witch Song #2) by Amber Argyle

Book Review: Witch Born (Witch Song #2) by Amber ArgyleWitch Born by Amber Argyle
Series: Witch Song #2
Published by Self-Published on September 5, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 330
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Goodreads
3 Stars
Brusenna thought it was finished. She defeated the Dark Witch, saving the Haven Witches from imprisonment and death. She found love and a place to belong. She was wrong. Haven is not the sanctuary it appears to be. Even love is in danger of slipping away like water through cupped hands. Some things can't be saved. A new threat merges with the old as the Witches' dark history begins to catch up with them. Only Brusenna knows the extent of the danger and how to stop it, though doing so might cost her everything. Including her life. Will Brusenna be required to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Book Review:

WITCH BORN, the second book of the Witch Song series, picks up where WITCH SONG ended. Senna is now at Haven, learning all about her Witch abilities, but life isn’t happily ever after. She’s separated from Joshin, her Guardian, because the Witches don’t approve of their relationship. Senna’s powers are also increasing, and when she discovers a huge secret, she’ll stop at nothing to set right the wrongs of the past.

One of my minor quibbles with WITCH SONG was that Senna just used plants and seeds in conjunction with her songs. In WITCH BORN, the magic system is elaborated upon, showing how the Witches control the elements and create potions. When Senna travels back to Tartan, the land the Witches cursed at the end of WITCH SONG, we get to see the effects of their curse to deny Tartan life: in mere months, the country is a destroyed husk of its former self.

Senna’s romance with Joshin cools a bit, both because of their forced separation and also because when they are reunited, Joshin tries too hard to protect Senna. I appreciated that Senna realized she had to accept and love herself before she could love someone else.

I did have a big peeve with WITCH BORN, though. The other Witches, especially the ones in charge, know that something is happening to Senna. She’s become extremely powerful, and unlike the others, she can actually hear the elements. They know she is Creator-touched, yet they refuse to tell her what that means, and why it’s important. I HATE that sort of thing, especially since Senna was attacked over and over again, almost kidnapped, etc.

I also thought that the book was a bit long, just like the first in the series. I think some of the book could have been edited down, to make it a bit tighter. That said, I did like the second half, and did like where the author went with the story, revealing secrets the Witches have kept forever.

Socialize with the author:

Amber Argyle:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Witch Song (Witch Song #1) by Amber Argyle

Book Review: Witch Song (Witch Song #1) by Amber ArgyleWitch Song by Amber Argyle
Series: Witch Song #1
Published by Self-Published on September 1, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 325
Format: eBook
Source: Author, Kindle Freebie
Goodreads
The Witch Hunters have come for Brusenna, for she is the last. All the others have been captured by the Dark Witch. And without their magical songs to control nature, the world is dying.

Though young and untrained, Brusenna must succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the Dark Witch. Fight her. Defeat her. If Brusenna fails, there will be nothing left to save—for the Witches, for mankind, or for the young Guardian who has committed his life to protecting hers.

Book Review:

In WITCH SONG, Brusenna is the last Witch left alive and free. The only hope of the other Witches, she must find a way to beat the most powerful Witch in the world, Espen, who has captured all the other Witches and taken their power for her own. The only problem? Brusenna is an untrained teenager. She barely knows anything about being a Witch, and is almost scared of her own shadow.

I liked what the author did with witches in this book. Witches have power through their ability to sing, and the better the song, the more responsive the spell. They use seeds and plants as their weapons and tools, singing them to life from a seed to a full tree in seconds. Although, I did wonder why the witches only drew upon the Earth for power when they sang to all the elements for aid.

Brusenna, or Senna, goes through quite the journey in WITCH SONG. At the start of the book, she’s the target of bullies and isn’t very confident of herself. Gradually, as she learns about her powers and travels to try and free her mother and the other captured Witches, she becomes more confident and self-assured. However, I’m not a fan of girls thinking things like, “I’m not pretty enough, a guy like Joshen couldn’t like me like I like him.” Senna wavered back and forth a lot on Joshen (her Guardian, aka protector), even trying to send him away to protect him multiple times. I wanted to tell her to get over it, and accept that Joshen was going to stay and do his best to keep her safe.

On one hand, I feel like the book was a bit too long. Halfway through it I was wondering if it shouldn’t have been two books instead of one, because the story just kept going and going. But on the other, some important events were skipped right over. Senna spends a year or more training herself, learning everything she can from books left behind, but that year is just mentioned. Whenever Senna uses her powers after that, it’s explained as something she learned on the island. I would have liked to see her learning, and experimenting, rather than being told about it.

Overall, I thought WITCH SONG was a decent book. It’s the start of a series, one I would continue based on how I feel about this book.

Socialize with the author:

Amber Argyle:
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– leeanna

2013 Favorite Books of the Year

I read 225+ books in 2013, so it was difficult to narrow down a list of favorites. I went through my spreadsheet of books read and picked out the ones that jumped out at me. Quite a few on this year’s list were also on last year’s.

SHADOW ON THE CROWN by Patricia Bracewell
Review: Shadow on the Crown book review
This isn’t a “girl meets her prince and lives happily ever after” historical fiction. It’s gritty, dark, and realistic, and I LOVED it.
CINDERS & SAPPHIRES by Leila Rasheed
Review: Cinders & Sapphires book review
I read this twice this year, and enjoyed it both times. I found it to be a fun, gossipy historical fiction perfect for fans of Downton Abbey.
CINDER and SCARLET by Marissa Meyer
Review: Cinder book review
It’s no surprise that I love The Lunar Chronicles. I haven’t reviewed SCARLET yet because I raced through it too quickly the first time, but I’m sure I’ll reread it this year in preparation for CRESS and write a review then.
SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo
Review: Siege and Storm book review
SIEGE AND STORM continues another one of my favorite trilogies from 2012, and I freaking loved it. When I tried to take notes for a review, I gave up after Chapter 5 because I didn’t want to stop reading. Leigh Bardugo can make me like just about anything, including a sort of love triangle. (and we all know how much I hate those)
PRETTY GIRL-13 by Liz Coley
Review: Pretty Girl-13 book review
PRETTY GIRL-13 is one of those books that I was dying to discuss with someone else after I finished it. Unfortunately, my mum thought I was silly. That’s what I get for living in a house of non-readers :|
IF YOU FIND ME by Emily Murdoch
Review: If You Find Me book review
It’s books like IF YOU FIND ME that make me rethink my stance on contemporary books. Usually I’m not the biggest fan of the genre, but if I could find more like this book…
INCARNATE and ASUNDER by Jodi Meadows
Review: Incarnate book review and Asunder book review
ASUNDER continued yet another of my favorite 2012 series, Newsoul. Aside from absolutely loving the covers on this series, I adore Jodi’s writing style, and also Ana’s character.
THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE by Laura Bickle
Review: The Hallowed Ones book review and The Outside book review
Who knew Amish + vampires would make for an awesome duology? I love end of the world books, and I like how the author explored that in these books, showing how some super scary vampires would effect both the inside and outside of an isolated community.
THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I know I’m a latecomer to this trilogy, but I finally read all three. I liked how the hits just never stopped coming. Every time I thought something worse couldn’t happen, it did.
ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein
Review: Rose Under Fire book review
This book ripped at my heart both times I read it. It’s one of those I want to shove into everyone’s hands, because I liked it that much.
UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy by Veronica Rossi
Review: Under the Never Sky book review, Through the Ever Night book review, and Into the Still Blue book review
Undying love for this trilogy!
KINSLAYER by Jay Kristoff
Review: Kinslayer book review
Yeah… this is one of those books where I’m wincing at the stuff that happens, but loving every second of it.
PANTOMIME series by Laura Lam
Review: Pantomime book review and Shadowplay book review
I love the way the author explores gender in this series, and let’s not forget the circus and magic theatre settings.
MADE OF STARS by Kelley York
Review: Made of Stars book review
My first attempt at reviewing this was gibberish, because MADE OF STARS sucker punched me.

– leeanna