BookTube: Spines With Wines: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

For our January book club, Cassie, Melissa and I chose to read Truthwitch by Susan Dennard which is the first book in the Witchlands series and it was indeed the BEST choice.  After HATING our last book Winterspell, it was a nice change of pace to spend time gushing about a new favorite of all of ours!  You can also find all of the links to Cassie and Melissa’s social media and blogs in the YouTube description bar and I highly recommend following them because they’re pretty top notch people and I consider them to be my Threadsisters<3!

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BookTube: My Book Buying Habits

Today’s video is my first discussion post! I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about book buying lately (because I’m moving and anyone who loves books knows that moving is HARD).  I’m not going to have an unlimited amount of space and I really want to make sure that the books I give shelf space to are the ones I completely love and which represent me as a reader.  What are some of your book buying habits?

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BookTube: Books I Want to Re-Read in 2016

I swear I am going to be sticking to my re-read goal this year after failing once again in 2015 (BUT I did re-read more than I usually do which is not at all so I suppose that’s winning on some kind of scale!).  I’m not planning on starting any of my re-reads in January because I feel like there are too many backlist books I wanted to read in 2015 that I haven’t gotten to yet and I’m really pleased with what I’ve been reading this month.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter.  The story is inspired by the Russian fairytale Vassilissa the Beautiful so immediately count me in!  Vassa sounds like Cinderella (“she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters”)  and the local owner of a convenience store is Baba Yaga which is pretty BA.  Vassa lives in Brooklyn and her entire neighborhood is under a curse which she’s trying to break and it sounds like she’ll have help from a wooden doll that her deceased mother left her.  This one sound like it could go either way.  The general premise sounds fascinating to me but the first paragraph of the synopsis is a bit cheesy.

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In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yaga, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students, Vassa in the Night weaves a dark yet hopeful tale about a young girl’s search for home, love, and belonging. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (The Witchlands #1)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is the first book in a new series called The Witchlands and along with Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger it was tied for my most anticipated 2016 new release.   I’m so happy to say that Truthwitch definitely lived up to the hype surrounding it.  Dennard newest is only the beginning of an epic fantasy in the making and I’m already wishing I had a copy of Windwitch in my hands!  The story follows Safiya and Iseult, a pair of best friends, who are on the run from Safi’s kingdom.  They’re being pursued by numerous parties because of Safi’s ability and they end up aboard a ship captained by Prince Merik.  They’re also attempting to evade an impending war that’s about to break out once the peace treaty expires.  Truthwitch is largely non-stop action from beginning to end.

My favorite part of Truthwitch is definitely the characters.  I love Safi and Iseult’s friendship (they’re referred to as Threadsisters) and I appreciate that their bond is such a central part of the novel.  They continuously rely on each other and even when they’re apart, they’re making decisions with the other girl in mind (although Safi is much more impulsive than Iseult).  The girls are also very diverse from one another and despite Safi’s races prejudice toward Iseult’s people, Safi is always there to defend her.  Throughout the course of the book, the girls are being hunted by Aeduan, a Bloodwitch who is hell bent on revenge.  He is definitely a morally grey character and I loved reading from his perspective.  And then there’s Prince Merik who wants to do what’s best for his people.  I really fell in love with him more and more with each page I read and I completely ship his slow burn romance with Safi.  Their witty banter is to die for!  The best part is that the romance in no way detracts from the Threadsister friendship being the focal point of the story.

Truthwitch

Then we have the world-building, *swoon.*  Admittedly, it took a little bit for me to get really into the world (maybe about 100 pages or so) and it’s only because there is so much information to try to keep track of in the beginning.  While I love that Susan didn’t use the human discovering a fantasy world for the first time to make it easier for the reader trope, it definitely required concentration and re-reading some sections to get a clear picture of how many different type of witches there are.  I’m already anticipating re-reading Truthwitch because I will definitely have to brush up on the world before starting the second book (also it’s amazing and worthy of a re-read anyway).  Safi is a Truthwitch which means that she can tell when someone is lying and her Threadsister Iseult is a Threadwitch which allows her to see the relationships between people.  They’re being hunted by a Bloodwitch which is pretty scary.  He can smell blood and follow it’s scent, but he also has the ability to take control of someone’s blood.  There are a bunch of other types of witches introduced in the story but these are the main ones for now.  Also, I loved / was scared of the Sea Foxes! They sound like they could be cute despite how destructive they are but that was one of my favorite scenes in the book, along with the Lighthouse scene.  (Side note: I also love that it was obvious how influenced Dennard was by Avatar: The Last Airbender).

Final Thoughts: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is a must read for an fantasy fan.  The epic female friendship, incredibly intricate world-building, fascinating magic system, and political intrigue will definitely hook you.  We need more female friendships like Safi and Iseult’s in the world and I cannot wait to continue this series.  Plus, it was influenced by Avatar: The Last Airbender so I needn’t say more!

Rating 6

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: 2016 Reading Challenges

I’ve already written a blog post about the reading challenges I’ve signed up for in 2016 but I wanted to make a video version as well since some people prefer YouTube to reading a blog!

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #1)

Oh Red Queen you are a challenging review to write.  It took me quite a while to feel ready to read my copy ofRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard despite having picked it up on it’s release date in 2015.  There was so much pre-release hype surrounding Red Queen that I was really excited for it but once the reviews started coming in the general consensus was very mixed.  Then I stopped hearing about it for a while and it kind of fell off of my radar but with the release of Glass Sword (the second book in the Red Queen trilogy) rapidly approaching my interest level sparked again.  I ended up really enjoying Red Queen and I will definitely be picking up the sequel but I do recognize the flaws that are present in the story.  Red Queen is a fantasy novel set in a dystopian world about a girl named Mare who was born into a society where people are discriminated against based on the color of their blood.  Mare is a Red which is the low class but she soon discovers that she has an ability, something only seen in Silver bloods.

First of all, Victoria Aveyard can write.  The story Aveyard tells is exciting, the characters are compelling, the pacing is on point and the worldbuilding is all encompassing.  Red Queen is a book that hooked me from the start and I genuinely enjoyed all of my time spent in the world of the Reds and the Silvers.  There are plenty of action packed scenes and there are plot twists and turns that’ll keep you on your toes.  Plus, the characters are what had me invested.  I like the main character, Mare, who’s your typical YA heroine complete with sass and the hope that she can change the world for the better.  Mare is family oriented and makes the best choices she can in the society she was born into.  We get a good feel for her home life but it isn’t until later on that we meet my favorite characters, the royals.  There’s Prince Tiberias who will be the successor to the King, Prince Maven, the often overlooked younger brother, Queen Elara, the wicked stepmother with the ability to read minds, and the King himself who honestly doesn’t play too huge of a role.  I also appreciated that the story is not romance heavy (at least not yet).

Red Queen

My main issue with Red Queen is that while I really enjoyed reading the book, I couldn’t help feeling like I had already read the same story as told by other authors.  The two big series Red Queen mimics are The Hunger Games and The Selection series.  There’s an event in the beginning of the book where women are competing to be the Prince’s bride which felt a heck of a lot like a condensed version of The Selection.  There are several other direct parallels between each series but some of them may be argued away since they’re all dystopian so some elements (oppressive governments spewing propaganda, rebel groups looking to overturn a corrupt society, ie) are to be expected.  I listened to a podcast which interviewed Victoria Aveyard after finishing the book and I learned that the world was supposed to mirror Ancient Rome which I didn’t totally get while I was reading.  The only indicator were the one on one battles between Silvers where the rest of the population would spectate and I wish it had been more clear than that.  I’m also hoping that Glass Sword will include a map.

Final Thoughts:  Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is an entertaining and action packed story that reads like a film.  There are constant plot twists, the writing is beautiful and the characters will capture your heart.  There’s no doubt that the story is derivative of other popular YA dystopians such as The Hunger Games and The Selection but it is enjoyable nonetheless.  If you’re looking for a fast paced story featuring a outspoken female heroine in a well developed dystopian world you should pick up Red Queen.

Rating 4

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart … (via Goodreads)

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Bookstagram Wrap Up: January 1-15

One of my Bookish Resolutions for 2016 is to be more active on Bookstagram.  I think I did a pretty okay job of keeping up for the first half of the month and I’m looking forward to continuously challenging myself every day to take better photos and be more creative in the process.  I thought posting a bi-monthly recap would be a nice way of looking back on the photos I took and it’ll also help me hold myself accountable for actually posting on a consistent basis.  I’ve always had so much fun taking, editing and posting photos in the past and I’m trying to take some pressure off myself and make being active a habit again. So far, so good!  If any of you know of any February Bookstagram photo a day challenges please tell me about them because I’ve been trying to find one to join in on! I’m really looking forward to Kristin from My Life as a Teacup’s next challenge!

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Waiting on Wednesday: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.  Last week, Bloomsbury treated us to the long awaited ACOMAF cover reveal and I and completely thrilled with the new design.  We get to see a bit more of Feyre’s face, but it’s her intricate outfit, the gorgeous shade of blue and of course the hand tattoo (which if you’ve read A Court of Thorns and Roses you’ll know how that got there!).  This is probably the first time that I’ve ever loved a U.S. cover more than a U.K. cover which is also a huge deal.  The U.S. cover has some of the buildings from the court in the distance, the stone archway and visible mist while the U.K. cover is more plain but it does keep the thorns instead of mist.  A Court of Mist and Fury is definitely in my top 3 most anticipated releases of 2016 and I’m dying to find out what’s next for the characters I fell in love with last May.  I’m also really excited that ACOMAF is 624 pages.  I would honestly love if it were thousands of pages long!

A Court of Mist and Fury

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights. (via Goodreads)

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BookTube: Villain Squad Tag

Today I’m here with a video I filmed a couple of months ago! I filmed it the week Riley tagged me but I’ve just had so many other videos I’ve wanted to post that this one sat in the bank for a longer than I planned.  I really like the premise of this tag because instead of just answering some questions, there is an overall purpose and that purpose is to create the ultimate Villain Squad.  While it was fun to create a hypothetical super-villain team, I don’t think I could actually work with these characters under any circumstance!

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