Review: “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin” by Roseanne A. Brown

Title: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Series: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1
Author: Roseanne A. Brown
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2
Content warning: Anxiety, chronic pain, child abuse (implied)
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

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ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Destiny, magic, trickster deities, and vengeful spirits bring two young people on a collision course that’ll upend both their lives and the world as they know it in this debut YA Fantasy inspired by West African folklore.

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the cit, Malik strikes a fatal deal – kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has bee assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic… requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

Some stories start on a breakneck pace, hitting the ground running and taking off immediately right from page one. There are others, still, that go the opposite direction, gathering its bearings and doling out its bits and pieces before finally coalescing into something more solid.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is firmly in the second category, something that both works for and against it.

Debut author Roseanne A. Brown took care to lay down her story’s world. Taking inspiration from West African folklore, she transports readers to a world of elemental gods and goddesses, powerful beings, and ancient magic. Ziran, the desert city where the story takes place, is a vast place teeming with peoples from different Zirani territories and allied kingdoms. It was an intriguing and complex world brought to life by meticulous detail work. However, with the hefty amounts of information needed to be unloaded, worldbuilding took up most of the book’s first half and slowed down the pace significantly.

Unnecessary exposition, of which there were many, also didn’t help even out this story’s pace. It did more telling than showing, explaining ideas and situations rather than dramatizing them through effective use of dialogue and the characters’ unvoiced thoughts. Reading these bits felt a lot like going around in endless circles. It was pretty frustrating.

Its faulty pacing aside, this book gives readers interesting characters who are each other’s polar opposites. Karina, the reluctant crown princess of Ziran, is brash, reckless, impulsive, and a bit arrogant and self-centered. But she’s also insecure, and hurting from all her losses. Malik, an Eshran refugee, has only known hardship most of his life. He is meek, filled with so much self-doubt, and suffering from debilitating panic attacks brought about by his anxiety. But he also has the biggest heart, his love for his family becoming both a strength and weakness. It was interesting watching them together and seeing them learn from each other. Karina shows Malik that he can be someone strong, while Malik softens Karina’s edges.

The politics inside Ksar Alahari and Ziran was also one of the things that kept me reading. The oppression and discrimination the Eshrans experience depicted in the book could open discussions about race and equality, topics that are forever relevant but even more so in our world today.

Though it starts slow, the story finds its footing and hits its stride in its last quarter. The explosive ending is sure to make readers come back for the last half of this planned duology once it comes out next year.

Overall, even with its wonky pacing and info dump in its first half, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a satisfying read. YA fantasy readers, especially those who loved Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone will enjoy this book. Roseanne A. Brown is a promising author, and I’m definitely coming back for the sequel if only to know how Malik and Karina’s stories end.

ROSEANNE “ROSIE” A. BROWN was born in Kumasi, Ghana and immigrated to the wild jungles of central Maryland as a child. Writing was her first love, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to use the power of writing – creative and otherwise – to connect the different cultures she called home. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and was also a teaching assistant for the school’s Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House program. Her journalistic work has been featured by Voice of America among other outlets.

On the publishing side of thing, she has worked as an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. Rosie was a 2017 Pitch Wars mentee and 2018 Pitch Wars mentor. Never content to stay in any one place for too long, Rosie currently teaches in Japan, where in her free time she can usually be found exploring the local mountains, explaining memes to her students, or thinking about Star Wars.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Story Aesthetics: “A Thousand Fires” by Shannon Price

A Thousand FiresTitle: A Thousand Fires
Author: Shannon Price
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: TOR Teen
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

10 YEARS. 3 GANGS. 1 GIRL’S EPIC QUEST.

Valerie Simons knows the city’s gang wars are dangerous – her own brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway her from joining the elite and beautiful Herons to avenge his death – a death she feels responsible for.

But when Valeries is recruited by the mysterious Stags, their charismatic and volatile leader Jax promises to help her get revenge. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie fights to stay alive as she races across the streets of San Francisco to finish the mission that got her into the gangs.

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A Thousand Fires was one of my most anticipated titles this year and I couldn’t be happier that I was given a chance to participate in a blog tour promoting it. I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and a few story threads are still stuck in my head. ATF tackles a number of very heavy topics: grief – the anger it arouses and the acceptance of it, violence, and gentrification – how it affects people, communities and the culture of one place.

And, for my stop on the A Thousand Fires blog tour hosted by the Karlita of Tale Out Loud and Karina of Afire Pages, I made a little something (aka I scoured Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay yet again.) I had so much fun making this aesthetic for ATF! San Francisco, being the setting of the book, of course, inspired a lot of these photos. But the colors each gang claimed – grey and red for the Boars, all white for the Herons, and black for the Stags – also gave me a whole lot of brain candy.

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A Thousand Fires is already out in the world. If you’re looking for a fast-paced read with a bit The Iliad and The Outsiders vibes thrown in, this is the book for you.

about the authorShannon Price

SHANNON PRICE is a YA author living in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduating from Santa Clara University with a degree in English, she interned and later worked for Counterpoint Press in Berkely, California. As a publicist at Counterpoint, she garnered coverage for her clients’ books in media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and many more.

In 2014, she was accepted into the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School at the University of Edinburgh where she studied Creative Writing and Contemporary Literature under the tutelage of best-selling Irish writer Ruth Gilligan. In college, she worked as the Art Editor of the Santa Clara Review and represented Review at the AWP 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was a mentor in the second round of Author Mentor Match and regularly attends writing events around the Bay Area.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Follow the Tour

A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price Blog Tour Banner

The ATF blog tour is still going on. If you have the time, please do check out the rest of the tour stops – both blog tour and bookstagram stops.

A Thousand Fires Blog Tour Schedule

NOVEMBER 4
Karina — Afire Pages

NOVEMBER 5
Kate — Your Tita Kate
Mandy — Devouring Books

NOVEMBER 6
Caitlin — Caitlin Althea
Michelle — Love, Stars and Books

NOVEMBER 7
Gayatri Saikia — Bewitching Worlds
Nadège — Planète Diversité

NOVEMBER 8 
Danielle Micah — DMCIreadsblog
Carmel — Bookablereads

NOVEMBER 11
Camillea — Camillea Reads
Luci — Lunarlucibooks

NOVEMBER 12
Rachel — In Between Book Pages

NOVEMBER 13
Kath — The Last Reader
Jen — Jen D Bibliophile

NOVEMBER 14
Myta — Oro Plata Myta
Angela — Hiding Behind Books

NOVEMBER 15
Lori — Lori’s Bookshelf Reads
Bec — Bec & Books

NOVEMBER 16
Karlita — Tale Out Loud

A Thousand Fires Bookstagram Tour Schedule

NOVEMBER 4
Kate — Your Tita Kate

NOVEMBER 5
Rachel — In Between Book Pages

NOVEMBER 6
Jen — Jen D Bibliophile

NOVEMBER 7
Camillea — Camillea Reads

NOVEMBER 8
Carmel — Bookablereads

NOVEMBER 9
Angela — Hiding Behind Books

NOVEMBER 11
Myta — Oro Plata Myta

NOVEMBER 12
Mandy — Devouring Books

Giveaway

Win an ARC copy of Shannon Price’s A Thousand Fires. Giveaway ends 11/15. 

 

Author Q&A + Sneak Peek: Candace Ganger (Author of “Six Goodbyes We Never Said”)

I’ve always believed that stories are great vehicles to open discussions especially for topics and issues most people often shy away from. Mental health, a topic close to my heart, is one of those so any time a book that promises any representation of this issue comes out I make sure to pay attention.

Six Goodbyes We Never Said, which releases today, tackles death, grief, and mental illness in an introspective and sometimes heartbreaking way. Author Candace Ganger draws from her own experiences and creates a story that’s realistic yet still sensitive, never downplaying the everyday effects of mental illness. I was lucky enough to have had the chance to have her answer a few of my questions about her new book and to be able to give you a little preview of it in this post.

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What inspired you to write “Six Goodbye We Never Said”? 

I wanted to showcase the way my disorders present to help others understand. I’ve written about my struggle with identity and loss as long as I can remember so this novel was a way to finally say goodbye. I’m still struggling with loss, so this was a way to navigate my own grief. That aside, my brother was a U.S. Marine, I have close friends who have fostered and adopted their children, and Six Goodbyes felt like the best place to tell all of these stories at once.

As an author, how important is it to tackle mental health in YA? 

It’s not only important, it’s *the most* important. If we can’t develop empathy for those suffering in silence, are we even human? My teen years were rough because I kept so much of my pain hidden to, what I thought, protect myself. I didn’t want people getting inside my head–I didn’t want to be vulnerable, fear of my pain being used against me. Writing YA helps me tell teen me, “Hey, I see you, girl. You’re not as alone as you think you are so open up a little about what you’re going through to find out how much people care about you.” If I’d heard that then, I’d have endured far less pain, isolation, and loneliness, in the years to come.

What would you like readers to take away from your story after reading it? 

To treat others with kindness and compassion. Our first reaction is usually to anger when someone attacks us or hurts us (because they don’t understand), but nothing is ever solved in hurting others when we’re hurt. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors so take a mi finite to try and understand the reasons why someone is treating you a certain way on any particular day. Kindness matters. It really really does.

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Check out the link below to read the first chapter of Six Goodbyes We Never Said.

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Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said
Author: Candace Ganger
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

about the author

Candace Ganger AP_Credit Candace GangerCANDACE GANGER is the author of Six Goodbyes We Never Said and The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash as well as a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

 

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Special thanks go out to Sarah Bonamino and Wednesday Books for inviting me to this tour and giving me the chance to read Six Goodbyes We Never Said in advance.

Review: “All the Bad Apples” by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

p-3Title: All the Bad Apple
Author:
Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Publication Date: August 1, 2019 (UK) August 27 (US)
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content Warnings: Homophobia (challenged), suicide (supposed), rape (incestuous & of other minors), murder & arson (implied), institutionalization, forced labor, abuse (physical, mental & emotional), abortion, forced separation of mother & child
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

  ARC access provided by the publisher through NetGalley as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour. All opinions expressed are my own.

One teen-aged girl’s quest to find her missing sister uncovers more than she expects. Family secrets and curses, and a country’s unspoken history fuel this brutally emotional contemporary by Moïra Fowley-Doyle.

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

There are stories that just grip you and crush you into tiny little pieces. All the Bad Apples was one of those stories for me.

All the Bad Apples is a force of its own. Combining contemporary and magical realism, its story weaves together intergenerational stories of the women of the Rys family – a long history deeply rooted and intertwined with Ireland’s own unspoken history of Catholic fundamentalism, discrimination, and institutional abuse.

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Queer representation

Though there wasn’t much racial diversity in this story (Finn is the only black character in the book. The rest were white,) queer representation is not a problem for this standalone. The main character, Deena, and her possible love interest Cale are both lesbians. Finn, Deena’s best friend. Mary Ellen, Deena’s great-great-grandmother, and Ann, Cale’s great-great-great-great-aunt, were in a relationship. Before that, Mary Ellen was with Deena’s philandering great-great-grandfather.

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Nitty and gritty

All the Bad Apples tackles some of the toughest issues there is – homophobia, sexual abuse, and abortion to name a few – but it doesn’t pussyfoot. Fowley-Doyle addresses these issues in a very straightforward manner, her words sharply honed to get to the very core of things. This fitted the story and helped propel her narrative on the right ground.

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Rage, rage, rage

“This novel was, in part, fueled by rage,” Moïra Fowley-Doyle wrote in her author’s note, and, indeed, rage was a palpable and dominant emotion throughout the whole story. It was hard not to feel fist-clenchingly angry with what all the women – not just the Rys’ – went through in this story.

It was not just anger that I felt though.

This book dragged me through a whole range of emotions, back and forth several times over. I felt disgusted at the way men objectified and used women, treating them like objects that can be discarded at any time they pleased; felt sadness and betrayal when families turned their backs on daughters because they don’t conform to their notion of right and normal; shame at the righteousness of the people who deemed themselves the interpreters of God’s word and will – more so because, like them, I’m also Catholic.

But at the end of it all, hope.

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The ending definitely was a satisfying one, having gone through a rollercoaster of emotions to get to it. Fowley-Doyle definitely succeeded in making readers feel what her characters feel, using Deena as a touchpoint through which her audience experienced her fictional piece of the world.

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All the Bad Apples is a powerful story. Though the characters and places are fictional, the history peppered throughout the pages of this novel has happened to real people. This is one book that should be read by everyone.

about the author

p-4MOÏRA FOWLEY-DOYLE is half-French, half-Irish and made of equal parts feminism, whimsy, and Doc Martens. She lives in Dublin where she writes magic realism, reads tarot cards and raises witch babies.

Moïra’s first novel, The Accident Season, was shortlisted for the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize & the North East Teen Book Awards, nominated for the Carnegie Medal & won the inaugural School Library Association of Ireland Great Reads Award. It received two starred reviews & sold in ten territories. Her second novel, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, was published in summer 2017, received a starred review from School Library Journal and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

Giveaway

Win one (1) of three (3) copies of All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle. Open to UK/Ireland only.

Giveaway starts August 22nd and ends September 5th.

Follow the Tour

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AUGUST 21ST

AUGUST 22ND

The Book Bratz – Interview
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Review + Favourite Quotes
Bookish Looks – Promotional Post

AUGUST 23RD

The Clever Reader – Interview
Hauntedbybooks – Review + Favourite Quotes
L.M.Durand – Promotional Post

AUGUST 24TH

The Baroness of Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Story-eyed Reviews – Review
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Playlist + Dream Cast
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post

AUGUST 25TH

Downright Dystopian – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Life – Review + Favourite Quotes
Starry Sky Books – Review + Playlist
A Book Addict’s Bookshelves – Promotional Post

AUGUST 26TH

Utopia State of Mind – Review + Favourite Quotes
Dazzled by Books – Review
Portrait of a Book – Review
Book Rambler – Review

AUGUST 27TH

Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Playlist
Boook Beach Bunny – Review
Kait Plus Books – Promotional Post

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “How the Light Gets In” by Katy Upperman

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Hey everyone! Happy Wednesday!

Today I’m going to be sharing one of my anticipated August releases. This book is a sweet contemporary perfect for the summer (for those of you in the other half of the world, it’s already been raining a LOT here on my side.)

pTitle: How the Light Gets In
Author: Katy Upperman
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?

I’m almost through the ARC of this book, and I kid you not, I’m kinds of swooning over here. Tucker is just making me go all heart eyes with how sweet he is with Callie. Really, soft boys make me all gooey inside. I’m pretty sure he would make you melt, too.

Follow the Tour

I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for this book care of the great ladies at The Fantastic Flying Book Club. If you have the time and feel so inclined, please do check out the bloggers participating in this tour. The schedule is below:

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August 12th

August 13th

Flipping Through the Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes

August 14th

Phannie the ginger bookworm – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Favourite Quotes
Bemused Bibliophile – Promotional Post

August 15th

Wishful Endings – Interview
Books4Jessica  – Review
Bookishly Nerdy – Review
Bookish_Kali – Review + Favourite Quotes
Pages and Pugs – Review
TheBookNerdDiaries – Promotional Post

August 16th

The Reading Life  – Promotional Post

August 17th

The Clever Reader – Review + Favourite Quotes
Book Rambler – Review
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Playlist
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
A Dream Within A Dream – Promotional Post

August 18th

L.M. Durand – Interview
Cafeyre – Review + Favourite Quotes
Booked J – Review
Emily The Book Nerd – Review + Playlist
Hauntefbybooks – Review + Favourite Quotes
Til next time!

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

What book/s are you excited for this week?