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.

New ‘Heist Society’ Book by Ally Carter!

I have been waiting for this day for the past three years, and I am SO excited to announce that Ally Carter is finally coming out with another “Heist Society” book!

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I’m terribly depressed that it is just going to be a novella and only available in e-book, but honestly, I’ll take anything that I can get when it comes to the characters in Ally’s “Heist Society” series. My only wish is that her new novella doesn’t sign the end of this series, because I desperately need just one more full-length novel with Hale, Kat, and Gabrielle.

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Okay, on to the novella!

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“The Gift of the Magi” by Ally Carter

(Heist Society #4)

Release Date: November 15th

Format: e-book

Summary:

“Katarina Bishop is a thief. To many it wouldn’t matter that she now uses her considerable skills to resteal valuable works of art and return them to their rightful homes. She’s still a thief.

So that’s why Kat’s surprised when an Interpol agent comes to her one snowy evening, asking for her help.

The Magi Miracle Network was set to auction off a very rare, very valuable Fabergé egg two days before Christmas, but the egg’s been stolen and now the charity’s reputation—and their future—is on the line.

Kat’s family and Interpol might be on opposite sides of most jobs, but someone just stole Christmas.

Now it’s up to Kat and her crew to steal it back.”

I am super excited to read another book by Ally Carter, especially a Christmas themed story, and I just hope that this isn’t the last time we get to see these wonderful characters!

Happy reading to my fellow Ally Carter fans!

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Les Petits Bonheurs #29…

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These Latin quotes always remind me of Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” trilogy, and it’s about that time when I do my annual rereads. ;-D

Fangirl Friday #19…I’m in Love, and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

So, I know that this is technically old news, but I am extremely excited about Renée Ahdieh’s upcoming book, which is slated for May of 2017. I love Renée’s style of writing and storytelling, and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for her next series, especially since it is supposed to be a retelling of one of my favorite stories and Disney movies of all time. Oh, did I not mention yet that Renée is writing a YA retelling of “Mulan”?

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I heard the news from my sister and I was overjoyed that not only was Mulan going to get the time of day that she has always deserved, but also because Renée Ahdieh is the best author to retell her amazing story. This whole situation is LEGIT, and I already pre-ordered Renée Ahdieh’s amazing sounding book. Alright, time for the title and summary!

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Amazon summary:

“From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Tamora Pierce.
 
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.”

After reading this summary, I feel like all that I am missing in my life book-wise now is a “Pocahontas” retelling from one of my favorite authors…*sighs* I’m not sure what to do with my life until “Flame in the Mist” comes out. *sits and waits 8 months for book’s release.*

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Les Petits Bonheurs #26…

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“Lire, c’est toujours une bonne idée.”

(Reading is always a good idea.)

This is my goal for the weekend: a delightful book with some powerful coffee in hand, and no school books or work to be dealt with. Crossing our fingers…

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Monsters of Verity #1)

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 “This Savage Song” by Victoria Schwab

3 ½-4 out of 5 stars.

 Goodreads summary:

“There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?”

“This Savage Song” ended up being a very enjoyable and conceptually unique YA read, and I liked the fact that it was a dystopian novel, but it also felt like it could belong to the fantasy genre because of it strangeness at times. The concept of Schwab’s novel felt fairly unique to me, though I can imagine that there have probably been other novels before it that took hold of the idea that humankind’s wicked actions had the ability to bring to life real monsters. But for me personally, I had yet to read a book with that concept as the main theme until I picked Victoria Schwab’s latest novel, and that made my reading experience a lot more enjoyable. Oh, and did I also mention that this was my first Victoria Schwab book?

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I know, I call myself a YA book blogger and I only just got around to one of its up-and-coming authors. I have personally never felt the need to read a Victoria Schwab novel beyond wanting to be up-to-date with the rising authors and their successful books, but I still did not get around to reading Victoria’s novel “Vicious” or her “A Darker Shade of Magic” series before this book was released. With “This Savage Song,” however, I was thoroughly intrigued by its concept, and when amazon.com dropped the hardcover price to just under $8, I knew that I had to give at least one Victoria Schwab books a try to see if I liked her writing style.

I liked the depths that Victoria’s writing reached toward in “This Savage Song,” and I found her concept of monstrous actions awakening various kinds of monstrous creatures to be quite fascinating; it made for a darker reading experience, but it almost felt brutally honest to how such crimes awaken ugly things like hate and fear in the hearts of people. I liked how in August, though, Victoria displayed the changing force of hope that comes along with the desire to do better, to be more than our former selves, which created a silver lining to her novel’s darker tone. Victoria Schwab’s writing style also added a haunting atmosphere that made her story and its concept fit quite well together.

A lot of bloggers and readers of Victoria’s most recent novel complained about the pacing, but I was actually quite happy with it. I never felt like the pacing of “This Savage Song” was too fast or too slow while I was reading it, and I enjoyed the progression of this book’s plot and how Victoria Schwab slowly revealed little details about the world that her protagonists lived in. Schwab is fantastic of writing impacting and/or slow reveals of certain places or events that have taken place, and I like that her style has the ability to create an atmosphere of mystery to surround its readers, even as they are making guesses as to what is happening. Although some of the events and surprises in this book felt a little predictable to me, I still enjoyed the atmosphere that those plot twists created in “This Savage Song.”

Despite finding the story held inside of this dark book to be interesting and Victoria’s writing to be quite good, I don’t feel like I fell completely in love with “This Savage Song.” It was well-written and fairly unique, but I just felt like there was a slight disconnect from me and the story and its characters.

August was a sweet and compelling character, but I did not fall in love with him. I was always interested in “This Savage Song” when August was present, and his struggle between embracing what he was and who he wanted to be was very compelling in my opinion, but there was just a distance between either me and this book or its characters that could not be bridged. I though that August was a sweet, interesting character, and I liked the moments where he reminded me of Jem from Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series with his gifted violin playing, but my heart was not completely invested in him as a character.

I had expected to dislike Kate because of her desperate need to do terrible things in order to have her father notice her, but instead I just felt bad for her. I felt the same disconnect with Kate’s character that was present with August in this book, but I still enjoyed reading about her character. The little glimpses of her past were quite interesting, and the dynamic between her and August definitely kept me reading, despite the fact that I was not particularly emotionally invested in them. Neither of Victoria Schwab’s characters were under develop or lacking in dynamic, but there was a slight distance between the characters and me and that might have just been the time in my life when I read “This Savage Song.”

Victoria Schwab is a very good writer, and I can see why people like her writing so much, even though I was not deliriously in love with the first book of hers that I read. “This Savage Song” was an interesting book with a unique premise, and I am very curious as to how Victoria will continue August and Kate’s story in “Our Dark Duet.” If you are looking for a dark, dynamic dystopian novel that has streaks of fantasy in it, you should give “This Savage Song” a try.

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Les Petits Bonheurs #25…

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This will be my last les petits bonheurs post before college recommences, which is pretty crazy! Summer break went SO fast, and although I kept busy, I feel like my attempt at blogging more consistently went down the proverbial toilette one week into my summer resolution. I did a fair amount of rereading books, but there were not a lot of new releases that caught my attention this summer, so I have been severely lacking in creativity and inspiration to write a review. This fall, however, seems to hold some promising up-coming releases like “Crooked Kingdoms” by Leigh Bardugo and “The Lovely Reckless” by Kami Garcia among others, and I am looking forward to just finding another book and world to get lost in. Until then, I bid you all adieu!

P.S. I do have two reviews that are in the works, so hopefully I will have one up for you by the end of this week or the start of next week.

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