Monday 14 June 2021

A Song of Wraiths And Ruins Is One Of Its Kind

A Song of Wraiths and Ruins
Series: A Song of Wraiths and Ruins #1
Author: Roseanne A. Brown 
Publication Date: June 2nd 2020
For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?


Note: I wrote this review sometime last year, but never published it (don't ask me why).

A Song of Wraiths and Ruins was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020. I was really excited to dive into a world that included something I had never heard of in books - African Mythology. That was perhaps the most persuasive factor in my excitement for ASOWR release. In fact, it was actually my favourite aspect of the book. Not only did it lend a hand in making the plot much more intriguing, I also felt like I had gained something by learning about the different gods and cultural traditions of each tribe. It truly was an eye opener and one that I was respectfully in awe of.

I will also be honest and say that if it wasn't for this rather fascinating element, I may not have continued past the first 150 or so pages. Bear in mind that I did have rather high expectations for ASOWR. However, as much as Brown's writing was rich - I really enjoyed the world building, being able to envision the scenery and the characters appearance - I felt like the plot was slow, which resulted in a lack of engagement. For most of the first half, I didn't feel compelled to be concerned about what the characters did or which direction the plot went.

It wasn't until the plot was building towards the conflict (midway) and Karina and Malik began to interact with each other that I started to become invested. In fact, the moments between the two characters were my favourite. In particular, the dialogue they shared made the events and the emotions between them feel more real. I don't think I've ever enjoyed dialogue in a book as much as in ASOWR.

Once we got down to the last 200 pages of ASOWR, I was totally hooked. It was hard not to root for our protagonists as a pair and individually. The action had kicked in and the pacing had picked up, creating that exciting and gripping atmosphere I was after. There was also a particular moment between the two main characters that essentially changed my mind about the entirety of the book.

I cannot wait to see what happens to the both of them and again, much like how I felt about A Song of Wraiths and Ruins, I am eagerly awaiting its sequel!

Thursday 4 February 2021

REVIEW: The Island by C.L Taylor

The Island
Author: C.L Taylor
Publication Date: 21st January 2021
Genre: YA Thriller
Welcome to The Island. Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island. But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re coming true. Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?


Disclaimer: I received a copy of *The Island* in exchange for an honest review.

I was really excited to dive into this once I got my hands on it. The mistake I made was reading right before bed because not only could I not put it down, I scared myself in the process as well.

The Island takes a hold of you and won't let go and there are three factors that contribute to this: 

1. The pacing of the story - it's quick to pick up and remains intense until the very last moment. I was captivated and didn't realise I had kept turning the page until 2 hours later, I had finished the entire book. 

2. The setting, which created a creepy and suspenseful atmosphere - a tropical island is usually known as paradise but Taylor is able to convey how quickly it can also turn into an isolated and threatening place. I was awestruck by the vibrant and lush setting, much like the characters, before starting to see the dangers around every corner, the longer the characters spent on the island. 

3. The characters' observations - this is another tick against Taylor's writing as she was able to manipulate my emotions through the lens of the narrators (there are two in this story). I'm still contemplating why she chose to include those two perspectives but it did make me stop and think as to who was the more reliable narrator. 

I was shocked by the ending and thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience at the time. I felt like beyond just being a thriller novel, Taylor was also able to address some really important themes such as trauma, grief and mental health, bringing awareness to these topics and how we should be generating conversation and showing more care to the people around us. I will say though that looking back now, as I finished this a few days ago, the plot wasn't as "hole-proof" as I thought. There are some moments where I can now say didn't read as well or were a little questionable. In fact, I can pinpoint a moment where the characters could have made a different call and things would have turned out for the better. It didn't really make sense to me why the characters never pointed it out. 

Overall, I think if you are a thriller fan, *The Island* will be right up your alley. It's got the suspense, mystery and engagement a thriller needs.

Wednesday 6 January 2021

21 Books I Want To Read In 2021

The time has come for a new Yearly TBR. I've gone for 21 not just because it is 2021 this year but also because last year I read 20 books and so the extra 1 will be somewhat of an achievement for me. 

If you've seen my reading list from last year then you might recognise some of the titles on this list - I didn't get to as many as I had wanted to. 

I tried to select a wide range of books, from fiction to non-fiction, various genres and a mix of diverse authors. In a sense I am trying to read intentionally. So without further ado.


Books Mentioned

The full list can also be found on my 2021 Reading List Shelf

What Do You Want To Read This Year?