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

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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.

A New Book for You and Me…

You might have been wondering if I still roamed this earth (or blogerverse, depending on how you want to look at it), since it has taken me nearly four months to get back to my blog. *sighs* Well, I got lost to life, work, and college, but I was reading that entire time, and I hope to start writing on this blog again soon.

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Although, I am not back writing a review on my blog today, I did want to remind you all that “Blacksouls” by Nicole Castroman came out yesterday, and that you all should read “Blackhearts” as soon as you can so that you can be prepared for Nicole’s latest book. Here’s my review of “Blackhearts” by Nicole Castroman, in case your on the edge about reading it. I am very excited to read “Blacksouls” despite wishing that it was a one novel story, and I am anxious for my copy to come in the mail to see what is going to happen to Anne and Teach!

*waiting for my mail to come*

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If you like historical fiction with a twist, I definitely recommend “Blackhearts,” and if that does not tempt you to read Nicole’s books, I also heard that some piracy is about to make an appearance in “Blacksouls”…

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Les Petits Bonheurs #34…

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Christmas is coming…

In my family, the minute the calendars are flipped to November 1st, it’s Christmas time in our house. Holiday baking commences, Christmas albums come out of storage, and the decorating soon follows. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite time of the year, and every year I am determined to make them last as long as possible, which is why I have already begun purchasing holiday clothing (AKA the ugly Christmas sweaters) this month.

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Everything about the this winter season makes me super nostalgic and happy, and I can’t wait until it’s time to go see Christmas lights.

How about you? What are some of your family traditions?

Les Petits Bonheurs #32…

ed7a8fc26f21a06c8b58e9fd2212069f(I found this fanart on: https://readatmidnight.com/2016/01/07/read-at-midnight-designs-six-of-crows/)

So, I’m late again this week with a post, but, hey, at least I’m here! So I just wanted to post this lovely fanart, which was created by a fellow blogger (readatmidnight), in celebration of having enough time to read “Crooked Kingdom” by Leigh Bardugo! I adored “Six of Crows” when it came out, and I have been anxious to find out what will happen to Leigh’s characters ever since finishing it. It has been a mild form of torture to look at that gorgeous book on my shelf for the last three weeks and to not have enough time to pick it up. But today that changes, and I am super excited to do a quick read of “Six of Crows” to freshen my memory of the events leading up to Leigh Bardugo’s explosive finale!

Thanks for visiting today! Bonne journée, tout le monde!

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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“The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman

4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

“Elegantly rendered…heart-wrenching…beautifully drawn” (USA TODAY), The Light Between Oceans is a gorgeous debut novel, not soon to be forgotten.'”

So, I know it’s the cardinal sin of an avid reading to decide to read a book because its movie trailer looks really good, but that is what happened in my case. I had seen a commercial for the film adaption of this novel, and when I saw that Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender were going to play the main characters, I was very curious to pick up M.L. Stedman’s novel. Normally adult novels are not on my radar, especially since I dwell in the YA community, but now and then a unique and quality book will pop up within the adult genre for me to read, and “The Light Between Oceans” was one of those exceptions to the generally formulaic genre.

“The Light Between Oceans” was a wonderful book. It took me a very short amount of time to become invested in the story and its characters despite the slightly choppy narration by M.L. Stedman. Normally I would not enjoy her particular type of writing style, but for this novel it completely worked. Besides being extremely invested in the characters, especially Tom, I really appreciated M.L. Stedman’s boldness in which she portrayed the consequences of peoples’ actions, even when they are done with good intentions. Stedman did not shy away from displaying how one action made by an individual in their in sorrow and desperation could destroy the lives of people that they had never even met, and in consequence, they could also destroy their own family. The decision in this book was not made in malice nor had anyone intended to ruin the life of someone else, but it was a choice that had massive consequences, which began to wreak havoc on everyone.

The proof of how influential one choice can be in a person’s life was displayed in full effect in “The Light Between Oceans,” and even though I instinctively knew what was going to happen to Tom and Isabel and little Lucy, I was still anxiously reading this novel. M.L. Stedman did a wonderful job of making a historical romance novel feel more like a suspense novel at times. Not only was a crying towards the end, but my heart was also racing in dread at what I knew would come next. Maybe that only happened for me, but I was kind of a wreck once I got to the halfway point in “The Light Between Oceans.”

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The situation that was the driving force of this book’s plot was intensely emotional; the concept of love, family, and the choices we make influencing both of those things made for an emotional reading experience, especially with the kinds of characters that M.L. Stedman wrote.

Tom Sherbourne was a seriously compelling character, his past with his family and his experiences in WWI making him an extremely dynamic character to read about. He was a strong, quiet, and thoughtful individual, and he was completely dedicated to his job as the light keeper, as well as being a husband. “The Light between Oceans” was a small book, but I felt that M.L. Stedman made every scene and word count concerning this character, and everything that happened to Tom in this book struck my heart. The choices that he willingly and unwillingly made during this novel were decisions that I think anyone can understand the reasoning behind, and his strong moral compass made him stand out as a character, not only in this book, but it also set him apart from other male characters in the literary world. I can’t say much else about Tom other than that without spoiling this story, but he was a truly amazing and moving character, and I completely understood the convictions and fears that drove him to make certain choices, especially the ones concerning his wife.

Isabel started out as being a feisty, vivacious young woman in the first third of this novel, and then her personality changed quite a bit. Her and Tom’s relationship was really sweet and charming to see develop, and I was happy to get a little bit of happiness and joy from their relationship before the young couple was thrown into the heart of this heavier story. The young, happy Isabel slipped away quickly after she lost two of her children, and some of the choices that she made, though I strongly disagree with them, were understandable considering everything that she and Tom had been through. What I didn’t like, though, was how she treated Tom; no matter how broken you feel or are from your experiences, you should never treat someone you love that way. (I know we all do it at times to our lovedones, but I still did not like it!) I understood the choices that Isabel made, I understand her motivation, but I think that she made some very selfish choices from the beginning of this book, and then kept making the wrong choices afterward. She mentally justified what she had done, but there was a right way to go about things, whether she wanted to see it or not. Because of the decisions that she made and how she treated Tom, I pittied her and her circumstances, but I was not a fan of her as a character.

“The Light Between Oceans” was full of many characters who all made choices that affected others, as well as themselves, but I don’t really want to talk about them because this novel was really about Tom. The heart of this story was about Tom Sherbourne and the sacrifices he made, the love he had for his family, and his view of right and wrong. “The Light Between Oceans” was an extremely moving story, and I definitely found myself struggling to read through my tears a few times, especially toward the end.

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Overall, I really enjoyed reading “The Light Between Oceans.” It was a surprisingly emotional story for me, and I loved all of the historical and geographically touches that M.L. Stedman used to make her book come to life. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good historical fiction novel or an emotionally gripping read, and I think that fans of “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers would really enjoy “The Light Between Oceans.” Now I just have to wait until the film adaption comes out so that I can watch it…

P.S. If my review did not convince you to give this book a try, here are all of the reasons why you should read “The Light Between Oceans” in bullit points:

  • Amazing historical setting,
  • Vivid detailing of Australia,
  • Gripping plot,
  • It’s a wonderfully introspective novel,
  • Makes you think about your own views of personal and societal morality.

And the most important reason of all: Tom Sherbourne who was:

  • Quiet,
  • Thoughtful,
  • Had an intensely strong conscience,
  • Made me cry multiple time,
  • Il était magnifique dans ce livre!
  • Part of the rare species of male characters with a strong moral compass and undying love for his wife and daughter,
  • All of the above equaled a super hot male character with an insanely moving story.

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Do yourself a favor, and give this book a try.