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Book Review: A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night.jpgTitle:  A Torch Against the Night

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: August 30th, 2016

Elias and Laia are running for their lives.

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf – the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison – to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene – Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own – one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape… and kill them both.

Summary from Goodreads.com

My Review:  I was really looking forward to this book after reading its predecessor, An Ember in the Ashes, and getting back to this brutal yet beautiful world.  We pick up right where we left Elias and Laia and hit the ground running from there.  So much so that I actually had to go back and re-read the first book in a couple of places just to refresh my memory because I could not recall all of the details I needed to be full ingrained into this world again.

Elias, despite all his faults, is my favorite character in this series.  Blackcliff tried to beat the good out of him, but he strives so hard to atone for his past sins and I love that about him.  He is still struggling in this book with his issues and that does lead him to some choices that might not have been the best, but they made sense for his character.  Laia on the other hand, drove me a little crazy in this book.  I know she is still finding her way, but I thought by the end of Ember in the Ashes she had transformed into a stronger person.  She lost some of that in A Torch against the Night, which led her to make some decisions that I wanted to throttle her for making.  I did not think they made sense for her mindset to be the way it was in some places, and I am hoping that whenever the next book does come out, she comes back to the girl we saw at the end of Ember in the Ashes.

The book was very well written though and the pace was pretty good for 90% of the book.  I did feel like it could have been 50 pages shorter and that would have moved the plot along a little better, but that could be me just nitpicking.  The world Tahir has created is absolutely amazing.  The characters, places and action just leap off the page and when I am reading it, I am completely immersed in it and soak up all of the incredible details that are woven throughout.

While the world is amazing, it is also heartbreakingly brutal and I really, really want the Commandant to die (I know that might be spoilery but there are going to be four books, you know she is not going to get what is coming to her in book two).  Seriously, I am not sure if I have seen many villains as truly evil as she is and she continues to surprise me with more ways of tormenting the people around her.  I was literally in tears at two points of the book and she was at the root of both of those incidents.  I don’t normally cry in books, I get sad sure, but tears are not a normal occurrence for me which just shows how powerful a connection Tahir has created for me and these characters.

I know there are supposed to be four books (as of now), but at this point, I feel like Tahir could wrap it up in just three, so I will be interested to see how she continues on in this world from here.  That being said, I will still read these books no matter how many come out because they are just great books.  They are not light reading, they will grab hold of you, make you pay attention to every word and suck you in so you forget the world around you, which to me that is the mark of a good book.  I cannot wait for the next book, whenever it is being released so I can get back to this world and see how the plot continues to unfold.

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Book Review of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

passengerTitle:  Passenger

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Release Date:  January 5th, 2016

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

-Summary from Goodreads.com

My Review:  I have been in a book slump for a while, not really finding anything I liked, until now. I will say that the first 50 pages did drag a little, which I later realized were setup for everything that was going to happen later, but I did have to really push to get through the first few chapters to get to the meat of the story. Once I got there though, I could not put this book down. I was reading and listening to it on audiobook on the way to work because I had to know what was going to happen next.

Passenger explores the idea of time travel, no not a Doc Brown kind of way, in a way that actually sounds pretty plausible. There are wrinkles in the timeline scattered throughout the world that “travelers” can use to be transported to a different time. That is just a basic quick summary, Bracken does an excellent job of spelling it out much more clearly in the book so it makes complete sense. I found the whole concept very intriguing and better than many of the time travel books that I have read in the past.

As for the characters, we switch POV between Etta and Nicholas as the story progresses which I loved. I always enjoy getting into multiple characters heads because I think it tells a more well-rounded story. Poor Etta, has no idea what is going on half the time and is playing catch up with this new world, but she takes it in stride and was a strong character. Nicholas, was an interesting puzzle to put together, his life has not been easy, but he has come out of it resilient and with a good moral compass. I loved both of them, especially the slow burn of the romance that blossomed between them that was not rushed and was extremely sweet.

The action and suspenseful elements were also fantastic and I was flipping pages and reading frantically to find out what was going to happen next. Passenger is one of those books that while it is categorized as YA, it would appeal to older audiences as well I think. It has a little bit of everything, is very well written and will keep you reading well into the night to finish it.

The ending is not really a cliffhanger, but it does leave a lot of questions that you are going to want answers too. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel which I think comes out in January. I will also be looking into Bracken’s other books as well since I love her writing style. Overall, fantastic book that I loved so much, I know it will be one I will be re-reading in the future just so I can go back and visit this world again and again.

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Guess who’s back?

So back in December of 2012, I said I was going to take a break for a couple of months…here were are almost four years later and I have decided to pick back up with blogging again.  I was so burnt out and had so many books to review and felt the pressure to get things done, I lost my love of reading somewhere along the way.  So, this time around I am just going to keep it casual.  I am not really going to run a lot of contests or have a number of posts I have to have up in a certain amount of time, I am just going to review books once I get to them and share them up here with whoever wants to come to my blog and read them.  I am reading books more regularly now, and will be putting up reviews soon, even if only about ten people read my blog, lol.  It does not matter to me though, I love books and I love sharing my thoughts and that is the point of this blog.  So I am back, I will be putting reviews up soon and I am looking forward to getting back in touch with others in the blogging/book world. 🙂