Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

the-library-of-fatesThe Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Published by: Penguin/Razorbill

Date of Publication: July 18th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy

Pages: 354

Format: eGalley

Rating:★★★★ 4 Stars

*HUGE thanks to Penguin/Razorbill & Aditi Khorana for the eGalley copy of The Library of Fates in exchange for an honest opinion

 

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A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

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The Library of Fates took me on a journey full of growing pains, sacrifice, friendship, and fated love against the backdrop of a vibrant colorful land full of hope. The introduction to this story starts with the very special bond between father and daughter. Princess Amrita is the daughter to the ruler of the country of Shalingar who loves his people and goes above & beyond to keep them safe, free, and prosperous. However, while on a visit the Emperor Sikander sets his sights on Shalingar, Amrita volunteers her own hand in marriage to keep the peace. Amrita’s father did not want this for his daughter & tried everything in his power to reverse his daughters fate. Although Amrita and her father have a tight bond, there are still many secrets he is keeping from her regarding her mother who he refuses to speak about. As a result of tragic events that take place during the Emperors visit, Amrita is forced to go on the run far from the palace walls & her beloved country of Shalingar. She does not go alone, as a true testament of her character & beliefs, she saves the oracle who was enslaved by the emperor. Thala has been mistreated since the age of 9 when she was first ripped away from her home by the emperor. She has been forced to take the drug Chamak to enhance her visions (Think Grishas/Six of Crows) & serve the Emperor. Although Amrita is forced to leave everything & everyone behind, she is focused on finding a way to defeat the emperor & warn her people of the dangers to come. Thala on the other hand is seeking for a way to reverse their fate by finding the Library of All Things. The only ones (besides the Emperor) in their way are themselves. Amrita is a non-believer of all things magic/fables and Thala believes whole-heartedly. This unlikely pairing embark on an adventure that will leave them changed forever…

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Although there are many characters along the way shaping Amrita’s fate, these are the ones that stood out the most for myself…

The Amrita we meet at the start of this story isn’t the one we see by the time we read the last sentence. She has been forced to run for her life leaving behind her home & all those she loved. She has no real destination in mind and we see her & Thala tough it out, really shedding her life as a princess. Also, she is having a hard time accepting the possibility that the fables her father imparted her with as a child may actually be closer to reality. She’s on a path that will challenge her to grow & make some tough decisions regarding her fate & those of her people. Amrita was the most fleshed out character we get in The Library of Fates and following her journey full of twists & turns was unpredictable and satisfying.

Amrita’s father ChandradevI am a sucker for father/daughter relationships and so I can’t speak about characters without showing Chandradev some love. A father who loved his country & his people but fought hard to not have to sacrifice his daughter to a tyrant. Chandradev also won my ❤ for being a lover of folklore/mythology, telling Amrita stories that always made her wonder. I’d love to see more father figures like Chandradev on the page seeing as they are scarcely written.

Thala was an interesting character to get to know, she has a lot of hurt and pain when she is gifted as a slave to Amrita by the Emperor. Shalingar did NOT believe in enslaving people & so when Thala arrived, Amrita and her father were immediately appalled at the offer. This set the tone for Tala’s journey beside Amrita, their friendship very unlikely yet  strengthening from the minute they set off. This friendship was slow building & met with many bumps on the road which made it more authentic.

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The first half of this book reads very differently than the second half. At first I really did think I was getting the same story we’ve all read before…you know? the one where the princess is forced to marry a megalomaniac while her true love comes to her rescue? YEAH that’s the one! Whelp, I can assure you the this was NOT that story! The Library of Fates took such an interesting turn at the midway point leaving me enamored with the way Khorana wove fate into this story. The belief that there are many different versions of ourselves living many different lives all at the same time following the threads of their own fate really intrigues me. I docked it one star only because I felt it didn’t really find its footing till after the half-way point which is about the time I started to really fall in love with this story. I also would’ve liked to have been given some answers regarding Amrita’s mother but won’t go into detail for fear of spoilers. Overall I really enjoyed this read & the world Khorana has created, lush with Persian influences & steeped in Indian folklore. I reccomend The Library of Fates to those who’ve ever wondered whether our fates are written for us or if it’s entirely within our control…& for those who believe in magic 😉

The Library of Fates will be out on shelves Tuesday July 18th. will you be picking up a copy? If you’ve already had the opportunity to read, what were some of your thoughts on this tale?

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Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

25895524Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence

Published by: Ace

Publication Date: April 4th 2017

Genre: Adult Fantasy/LGBTQ

Pages: 432 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★

HUGE thanks to Ace, Netgalley, and Mark Lawrence for the eGalley of Red Sister in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

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I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

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My very 1st Mark Lawrence read & boy was it something! nothing could’ve prepared me for what lay ahead but the first few pages in the first chapter did manage to leave me wide eyed. Right off the bat we are introduced to a 8 year old Nona & the harsh reality of the world she lives in. The opening scene had me asking strangers on the train “oh! so no man, woman, or CHILD is safe under Mark’s pen huh?!?!” well the answer to that is NO! no one is safe & plenty are hungry enough to sell their children to avoid starvation. Nona is literally saved from the noose at the very last second by a Nun from Sweet Mercy Convent which is by no means your typical convent. This also won’t be my typically styled review, I finished this book days ago & have gone above & beyond to avoid a book hangover. I will try my best not to fangirl all over this review, back to the Plot…

Sweet Mercy Convent gave me Hogwarts mixed with a Ludus (like in Spartacus) vibes. The nuns at Sweet Mercy all specialize in one skill or another ranging from fighting to magic. Everyone in this world is a descendant from of the following four tribes:

Hunska: Speed (faster than your average human)

Gerrant: Physically large & strong

Marjal: ability to do magic on a smaller scale

Quantal: ability to walk the path & more complex magic

The students who enter are sorted by the abilities they’ve shown a inherent skill towards or in the case of Gerrant & Hunska, are visibly on display. The girls also attend classes in various subjects pertaining to each skill and go through ranks in the following order: Red Class, Gray Class, Mystic Class, and Holy Class. Nona will have 10 years of education in the convent in order to become a Red Sister. During her time & training in the convent there are outside forces at work seeking retribution for old wounds. Nona has secrets, ones that she doesn’t want her peers to ever find out for fear they will see the darkness within her. Nona has a bloody violent history leading up to the noose where she would be hung for her crime. We follow her progress in Sweet Mercy Convent as she learns to hone her skills all the while dealing with inside & outside threats.

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We follow Nona from age 8 to about age 11 in this first installment in the Book of the Ancestor series. She has only known violence & the need to survive when she is brought to Sweet Mercy Convent. She is shrouded in mystery & likes it that way, often times making up stories for her past. Perhaps Nona’s biggest weakness is her unquestioning loyalty to those that call her “friend”. In Sweet Mercy we are introduced to the Abess & sisters who run the convent & teach the classes. I found myself enjoying some of these characters like Sister Apple for her specialty which I won’t reveal since it is spoilery. Also, Sister Kettle who watches over the library, won me over with her threat to anyone caught folding pages in books. Besides the vast array of sisters, there were three other girls in Nona’s class we get to follow closely. There’s Clera who has a love/hate relationship with Nona, Arabella who fiercely watches over Nona, and Hessa who is connected to Nona & often plays the voice of reason. Friendships play a center focus in Red Sister, we see Nona learning the highs & lows all the while living in a competitive setting. Arabella was hands down my favorite & seeing their friendship unfold was awesome since as a reader of Young Adult, I don’t often see positive F/F friendships. This was a change of pace & there were definitely betrayals & double crossings in the mix but that’s to be expected in this world where violence is the law of the land. I like my characters flawed & complex and Lawrence delivers with Nona as well as her friends. No one is wholly “good” or “evil” & therefore nothing is ever black or white in this world, we get a ton of gray til the very last page.

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I finished reading Red Sister some time last week & was left speechless…so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to write this review. I needed to digest what was my first ever Mark Lawrence book & gather my thoughts. From start to finish, Red Sister held me in its grip for various reasons including the no holds barred violence that follows our main protagonist. The world building at first seemed like it would overwhelm me but Lawrence weaves in the ranks & paths so well, that there really was no need to refer to the glossary. About the glossary LOL! MAJOR points for placing the glossary at the very beginning of the book as opposed to the very end where no one ever thinks to look haha! although as previously mentioned, it wasn’t necessary other than as back-up info to this world. The writing is very detailed but in a useful way if that makes sense, it wasn’t overkill. The fighting/training scenes were the most detailed & I was able to get a vivid picture almost as if I were watching a movie. Told in third person POV, Red Sister’s opening pages starts you off with a glimpse of events taking place in the future. This alone was a HUGE motivator for me as far as page turning goes, I needed to find out what that whole scene was about & how everyone managed to get to that point…WHAT WENT WRONG?!?!?! to say that I loved my 1st Mark Lawrence book is a HUGE understatement, I’m in it for the long haul my bookish peeps! If you’re a mostly Young Adult Fantasy reader & are considering taking the leap into Adult Fantasy, this may be a great place to start. For fans of bad a** female heroines, vivid  fight scenes, positive female friendships, positive LGBTQIA representation and elements of the Potterverse…this book is for YOU! 😉

Some of my closest book blogging buddies have already read Red Sister & I will spend Monday visiting their reviews to finally read their thoughts & complain about the wait til’ book 2 haha! Is anyone else reading Red Sister? If you have a review up, please drop that link in the box below & I’ll gladly swing by for a chat 🙂