Book Review: Daughter of the Sun

A book about Egyptian Gods, cats and magic (and it’s released on my birthday?) … I think Daughter of the Sun was meant for me! I am so thankful to Xpresso Book Tours for the chance to review this debut novel by Zoe Kalo.

28934536Daughter of the Sun
by Zoe Kalo
Release Date: May 2016
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Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew.
But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities.
Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.

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As a self identifying egyptophile, I get so excited when authors choose Ancient Egyptian mythology / culture / history / religion as a base for a new book. As a practicing Pagan, I’m always a little leery about books involving the Gods of Egypt. Of course there were some artistic license when it came to facts about the Gods (eg, Apep is technically not a God and Ammit did not work for him.) However, Daughter of the Sun was a pleasing read on all accounts.

I’ll admit that it took me a while to get “into” Trinity, our heroine. After around the 30% mark I was completely won over and couldn’t put the book down. I loved her chemistry with Seth, and while there was some teenage crushing and hormones flying, I was happy that this book is insta-love free!

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It is also worth noting that Zoe Kalo is presumably a great lover of cats (and if you doubt me feel free to check out all the adorable kitten photos on her twitter). She way she writes cats into the book is astounding. Every little quirk, mew and lick is incredibly authentic. I love it when a writer is skilled at writing about the animals in the character’s story, it makes it more warm and fuzzy, no pun intended.

However, Daughter of the Sun was not without its faults. The plot moved along a bit too quickly for my liking, falling into the “telling not showing” trap that I as a reader and a writer am all to familiar with. I would have like to see things slowed down a bit so I could get to know Trinity better before her life was turned upside down. As the story went on the narration of pacing did improved a lot.

I hope as the series goes on, Trinity stops being afraid of witchcraft and magic and accepts her powers for what they are. It bums me out when magic doers are instantly labeled bad or cast as villains.

Wrapping up, this was a quick read by a new author who shows much promise. The story was wonderfully imaginative and I hope to see more authors taking inspiration from Ancient Egypt. I can’t wait to read the second installment in the trilogy – but sadly there is no indication on the author’s Goodreads page when that will be.

A free copy of this book was provided for an honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours!

*************a Rafflecopter giveaway*************

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Book Review: Golden Son

To be brutally honest, when I read Red Rising last year, I liked it. 50% into Golden Son, I was seriously going down the meh slope. Upon finishing Golden Son, my emotions were on a roller coaster and became impossible to explain in words or animated gifs. I have never read a book that can be so uplifting and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy #2)
by Pierce Brown
Release Date: January 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:
With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart,Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

First off, I just want to say how much I hate that this book is often compared to The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games trilogy isn’t even in the same league as Red Rising. Breathe in, breathe out. Now put your pitchforks away so I can continue.

If your heart beats like a drum,
and your leg’s a little wet,
it’s ’cause the Reaper’s come
to collect a little debt.

I read Red Rising back in the fall of 2015. And while I liked it, it didn’t consume me like Golden Son did. That’s why I wasn’t in a hurry to read it. When I finally got around to Golden son, it had been several months since reading the first book and it took my a while to get back in the groove. After finishing Golden Son, I really want to go back and read them together in case I missed anything.

What do I love about this series? I love the world building. I love the history. I love the culture. I love the resistance. I love Darrow. I love Jackal. I love Mustang. I love Sevro. I love the Howlers. I love Ares. I love the action. I love the struggles. I love the hate. I love the loyalty. I love the betrayals. I love the love. I love literally everything about it.

Because of this, it makes it really hard to write a review that isn’t just a list of the things I loved and try to keep it spoiler free.

Ultimately, I think what really makes this a bloodydamn good series is that every single part has been carefully thought out. All aspects of the culture, down to the swearwords is consistent. The nods to our time period are amusing and insightful. The cast system is well defined and essential to the plot line, not just an afterthought. Darrow’s narration is pretty amazing, because it includes lots of information without seeming like a dump. Everything just flows together perfectly and I wish I could visit this world.

When it comes to Darrow, I appreciate how raw his emotions are. A lot of dystopian/sci-fi/etc. heroes miss the mark on this point. Darrow is a real person with real emotions. Heck, he was just a teen when his world turned upside down and he was thrust into this revolution. It only makes sense that he’s confused or moody sometimes. But when it comes down to it, he knows what his duty is and he (and the Howlers) kicks some serious butt!

I’m torn with the Team Darrow vs Team Sevro. I really love Sevro (and all the plot twists he’s involved in). I love him because in this crazy world, I know he’s the only one that Darrow can count on. He’s spunky, wicked and fiercely loyal. He reminds me a lot of one of my close friends. So much of why I love him is riddled with huge spoilers, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Also need to give a shout out to the designed, cohesive covers. They will look beautiful all in a row on my book shelf.

That ending though. (Don’t worry, I promised no spoilers) That ending will kill you like it killed me. Morning Star isn’t out until January of 2016, which is sooner than the Spring 2016 date that was first announced. It can’t come soon enough.

Book Review: The False Princess

I really loved The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal. I think it’s one of those books that never gets the attention it truly deserves. I’ll be honest, this book sat in my “to-read list” on my Overdrive app for months. When a book doesn’t have a hold list in the library, I always think that maybe it’s not that great of a read. However, the premise sounded intriguing and when the rest of my holds weren’t coming through (the joy of Toronto Public Library, sometimes you’re #100 for a book that has less than 5 copies) I decided to check it out.

The official blurb is:

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia’s led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it’s revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she’s ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins – long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control – she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history, forever.
A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

So after reading it, I don’t have much criticism for this book at all. I’ve been reading a lot of YA Paranormal lately and it was nice to dive into some light fantasy. What I loved the most was that it was 1 book. The YA genre has been plagued with drawn-out, money grabbing series that water down an already “meh” story line. (I’m looking at you House of Night) Most series coming out now are at least three novels that can easily be edited or condensed. The False Princess could have fallen into that trap, but it didn’t.

Eilis O’Neal provided a well structured, well written single volume story. The plot was fairly straight forward and simple, but that enough twists and turns to keep me interested. The world building was decent, set in a magical re-imagining of the 1100s in a fictional kingdom. I liked the was magic was depicted. The main character Nalia/Sinda was believable. No Mary Sues here! She was determined to over come challenges and while she might have had her own interests in mind for some of the story, she ended up being successful. She really had a uphill battle after living in the lap of luxury for 16 years and she made it work for her. It was refreshing to read about a main character struggling with their powers and making due with what she had in order to save the day.  There was no insta-love between her and Keirnan, but a slow build up to a relationship years in the making.

This was Eilis O’Neal’s first book and sadly her next book Charmed Deception isn’t expected to be released until October 2015. The cover art seems to be similar to The False Princess and based on the blurb, it might be set in a comparable world. There isn’t much detail available yet, but I can say without a doubt that I will be on the waiting list as soon as possible.