Spirit Followers by Lydia Redwine (Instruments of Sacrifice #1)

33211314

Quality of writing: 4 out of 5 stars.

How much I enjoyed reading this book: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“When a Royal dies, the realms elect the one to take their place. By reasons Camaria does not know, her realm elects her as the next Royal. Now that she is the new-found sixteenth Royal of the nation of Mirabelle, Cam embarks on a journey with her sisters and a young huntsman to the four realms of the nation to complete training in the four kinds of magic. Once she has completed this training, she will then be permitted to consume her annual amount of magic and possess manifested powers. Her ventures are unexpectedly steeped in precarious events when Cam discovers a secret plan of revolt, a past she never knew, and an ancient people group thought dead who call themselves the Spirit Followers.”

This review has been long in coming, and I am grateful for Lydia’s patience with how long it took me to get to her book! College and life got the better of me, but I was finally able to read the review copy that Miss Redwine sent me, and I am excited to be reviewing it! In lieu of that, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to Lydia Redwine for sending me her book in trade for an honest review. In no way has this influence my opinion or review regarding “Spirit Followers.”

Lydia Redwine’s book, “Spirit Followers,” was a very good debut to what seems to be a promising career as a writer. Lydia is a talented writer, this book being a fairly complex novel for not only the first book in a series but also a debut novel. While reading “Spirit Followers,” I thought that the approach Lydia took toward the fantasy genre was fairly unique compared to some of the other books that I have read within the genre, and her world building was well done. The society and different “cultures” that Lydia introduced in “Spirit Followers” reminded me a lot of Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series in how each teenager had to decide which magical inlet they wished to become a part of and to live in for the remainder of their lives, especially because of how each “district” was divided by certain abilities and cultural traits. Basically it was the factions renamed with a dash of magical giftings; that aspect was not particularly original feeling, but I don’t think that it was a problem or detrimental to the plot, despite the similarities between this book’s society and other dystopian novels’. Besides the differing magical enclaves, some of the other rebellion themes were reminiscent of other YA fantasy and dystopian books that have been written throughout the years, but I thought that Lydia Redwine did a good job adding different dynamics to her story that made a similar theme completely her own.

Lydia definitely started her debut off with a bang , but for me personally, I wished she had taken a bit more time to introduce her characters and the society before throwing me as a reader right into the thick of the plot. I didn’t feel like I got to know Camaria (AKA Cam) as well as I wanted to before her whole life started to implode and the drama started saturating the story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy action-packed, fast-paced plots, but I would have liked to have had the time to get attached to Cam and the other characters before their world suddenly went up in flames in the traditional YA way. The pacing was a little problematic for me in the beginning of “Spirit Followers,” but Lydia did a really good job of keeping her plot moving by introducing new characters and having Cam and her group travel around the different “factions” throughout this book.

As with Cam, I did not feel like I got attached to any character in particular. Oliver, Cam’s friend, made an appearance just in the beginning of “Spirit Follows” only to disappear for 90% of the book, and I was a little bummed by that because I thought that he could have been a more dynamic character if he had been present in this book for longer. Riah’s story was vague, but I totally got what Lydia was going for with this character, although I wish it had been more “fleshed-out,” so to speak. I don’t go for the bad boy type where they are actually the enemy, despite their inner struggle between good and evil; that’s just not my personal taste, so Riah was the kind of character that was fairly interesting, but I was not particularly invested in him. Fiera was probably the character that I liked the most, and she reminded me a lot of Nesta from “A Court of Thorns and Roses.” Normally I don’t like the prickly, super intense female characters, but she ended up being the most dynamic character in “Spirit Followers,” and she got business done, which I totally respected.

Besides the characters, I was quite surprised by Lydia Redwine’s world building. She did a fantastic job of not just telling her readers about all of the different regions of her world, but also showing them. Cam and her group of reluctant rebels traveled to most of the little enclaves where she (and her readers) learned about the different cultures and the magic that was present in the region. Lydia did a very good job of making her world feel expansive, and I think that there is a lot of potential in the next couple of books in this series to explore in-depth the history of Cam’s world.

Overall, I thought that Lydia Redwine’s debut was well-written and creative with a fast moving plot, but I do wish that certain aspects had been more developed (like some of the characters) before you-know-what hit the fan. I did not feel as attached to the characters as I had hoped I would be, but they were still very good. I have other things that I want to talk about regarding the plot and the loops that Lydia took her characters for, but I do not want to spoil anything for those of you wanting to read this book! I feel like “Spirit Followers” would be a great book for fans of both the fantasy and dystopian genres, especially fans of the “Divergent” series, and although this book had a high body count, I think that younger readers (middle school) would like this book, too.

Advertisements

The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens

The Lies About Truth by Courtney C Stevens

“The Lies About Truth” by Courtney C. Stevens

Publishing House: HarperTeen

Release Date: November 3rd, 2015

Quality of Writing: 4 out of 5 stars.

How much I enjoyed it: 3 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.”

Thank you, HarperTeen, for hosting the giveaway on goodreads and for sending me an ARC of this book. In no way has this influenced my review.

“The Lies About Truth” was a pretty good contemporary book. It had a lot of depth to it because of the issues that Courtney C. Stevens dealt with, and I thought that the character were well-written. I can see why people like “The Lies About Truth,” because it was a very good book, but it just did not click for me.

There are a lot of moments in my life when I wonder what’s wrong with me and why I don’t like something that seems, from all appearances, so good? I felt that way about this book because, even though it was well-written and had a great, emotional story, I just did not connect with the characters or the story. I could appreciate it and the journey that the heroine and her friends went on, but I did not fall in love with the heart of the story. I feel like whenever I read a novel by Katie McGarry, I am completely emotionally invested in the story she tells and the characters she writes; her books capture my heart, and that’s all there is too it. Sadly, I didn’t get that feeling of being emotionally drawn into the story or invested in the characters, despite their tumultuous circumstances and really wanting to connect with them. “The Lies About Truth” had a great story and well-developed characters for the genre, but for some odd and frustrating reason, I could not get into Sadie’s story.

Sadie was a great contemporary fiction heroine; she had secrets and had been through a lot, but she was not the kind of female character who grated on my nerves because of her more depressive inner thoughts. I was okay with her perspective because it was understandable considering what she had been through, and I did honestly want to see her break free of her fears and past hurts. I also thought that the emails between Max and her were very cute, and I liked that the two of them, who had been the most effected by the crash, were able to lean on one another and accept each other when they needed it most. I thought that Courtney Stevens did a good job of writing Sadie and the journey to self-acceptance that her character experience; it really was a lovely evolution, even though I did not feel super invested in this book.

Maxwell was also a good character, and the relationship that existed between him and Sadie because of the crash that took his brother’s life. One of the things that I loved seeing about both him and Sadie was how they accepted the “new” versions of each other, and where others might have seen flaws, they just saw a friend and someone who could understood them. I think that most people can relate, in one way or another, to the feeling that comes with finding a person who may or may not know every thought in your head, but they still understand you. While reading “The Lies About Truth,” I felt like Max and Sadie had that, which warmed my heart towards this book’s story and characters a bit more; I still didn’t feel attached or all that invested in the story, but I definitely appreciated that aspect of the it.

Overall, I thought that “The Lies About Truth” was a very good contemporary read. It was mature but clean, and I thought that Courtney C. Stevens handled the issues of self-image and self-acceptance quite well, despite not being that attached to her characters. This book was a bit predictable at times because the issues it dealt with are so commonly used now in young adult fiction, but isn’t that why we read certain contemporary novels, because we know how it will go and that it will end happily? “The Lies About Truth” was a good book, even though it was not necessarily my favorite contemporary story.