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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rebel of the Sands + Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

It's been so long (like a week) but I'm back! I'm really swamped with school and (yet another) play. I was determined to finish at least two books over spring break and here is the first one.

This will be a joined review of the first two books in this series because I'm lazy... and tired...and swamped.

Rebel of the Sands: She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
Traitor to the Throne: Rebel by chance. Traitor by choice.

Gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.
My Review: 5 out of 5 stars
Let me start with Rebel of the Sands. It's amazing! We have our main protagonist, Amani, who is a sharpshooter. She's a strong female heroine in a sexist, gender role society. Which means she's underestimated a lot. She also pretends to be a boy fairly often so that she doesn't get killed or kidnapped. But my absolute favorite thing about her is her growth throughout the book. I think she has the best character growth that I've ever seen in a book! The author did an amazing job making it believable. She goes from a person that's all about saving herself no matter who else gets hurt to this person that doesn't leave people behind to save her own skin.
We also have Jin. How do I describe Jin without giving to much away... He's pretty good with a gun, not as good as Amani, but okay. He's the first person Amani ever really gets attached to after her mothers death. He's a foreigner, his mother was Xichan and his father is Miraji, the place where Amani lives. He was born in Miraji but left when he was little and traveled around with his brother and sister for awhile. There's another important fact about him but spoiler are the worst you guys, so you're going to have to read it for your self.
This book also has a really good story. I don't want to give anything away and the real plot doesn't come in till about halfway through the book but I will give you two words. Rebel Prince.
I love the world the author creates for this book. It's like a middle eastern western novel but with magic thrown into the mix.  It almost reminds me of Aladdin. Honestly! And Aladdin is one of my all time favorite Disney movies/Broadway musicals.
When I like books I get seriously attached and defensive. You know I've got it bad for a book when I'm getting mad a reviews saying this book was boring, because I'm protective over things I love, like Hamilton the American Musical. I absolutely adore this book and think it's a must read!
Plus Alwyn Hamilton is like the nicest person I've ever met! She's amazing, read her book!
Now Traitor to the Throne... *WARNING: May contain spoilers for book 1*
I have such a book hangover from this book!!!! I have one thing to say about the description before I go into the book. Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change. OMG this is like the most accurate description for any book ever!
So this book introduces some new characters like Sam. Our fake Blue-Eyed Bandit. It also brings back some old characters that I didn't really talk about in the review for the first book like Ahmed, Imin, Shazad, Delila, Hala and (drumroll) Shira and Tamid! If you don't remember them they are Amani's awful cousin and best friend that she abandoned. You can probably imagine how those reunions went down. 
This book goes even deeper into the plot line. They are trying to put the rebel prince Ahmed onto the throne. Only one slight problem. Jin has disappeared and Amani is trapped in the Castles haram as the Sultans little Demdji. And with a dozen pieces of iron under her skin and one piece of bronze with her true name on it the Sultan has her under his control.
It's been a really long time since I've cried over a book. It was long over due. I don't think I've ever cried this much over a book in my life (surprising because I'm a very emotional person.) I didn't cry once... I cried twice during the ending of the book. The end was one plot twist after another that you never saw coming. Not to brag but I've read a lot of books and I can usually guess at least a little of what's going to happen but not even I saw that ending coming. It's a good thing no one could see me because I was curled up on my couch practically sobbing over this book at 11 o'clock at night.
Now I'm not so patiently waiting the third book! I need it sooo bad!!!
Please read this book it's probably one of the best choices I've ever made.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Author Visit (Penguin Teen Tour)

This last week I had the amazing oppritunity to meet four incredible authors: Alwyn Hamilton, Renee Ahdieh, Lesley Livingston, and Natalie C. Anderson. I absolutly fell in love with their books! So first off is some of my favorite things said during the Penguin Teen Tour. The book reviews for these four books should be coming soon. I'm really busy right now but they should all be out in the next week or two. I was going to put the reviews on this post but then it would be really long and I don't want to torture you guys!

My favorite part of the author visit (and okay there's two things) was that all the authors were super incredibly nice! They joked around a lot and were a lot of fun to be around. The second, was that the common theme among the books seem to be "Things go Horribly Awry." The tour ended up being called the Things Go Horribly Awry Tour!  ;)

At one point the authors were asked what the inspirations for their books were. My favorite answer was from Alwyn Hamilton. She talked about a review that was posted about the Hunger Games saying that it was unrealistic because women "can't be that strong"... I don't know about you but that ticks me off. She said she wanted to write a book proving him wrong, and I think all the books there proved that guy wrong!

I loved the responses they gave when asked about things they wanted people to take away from their books. Here's what they said:
Natalie C. Anderson (author of City of Saint and Thieves): Don't underestimate anyone.
Renee Ahdieh (author of The Wrath and the Dawn): There is power in stories. (Yes!)
Lesley Livingston (author of The Valiant): Stand your ground and fight. Don't back down. (Fight like a girl!)
Alwyn Hamilton (author of Rebel in the Sands): There's power in being a part of something bigger than you.

I have also compiled a list of things the authors use to overcome writers block. (Guys, this was the question I got to ask!!)
  • Something you did before wasn't right so you need to find that mistake and fix it
  • Get something down, even if it sucks
  • Showers
  • Walks
  • Pushup
  • Go somewhere and listen to peoples conversations
  • Basically try to distract yourself in any way
  • COFFEE!!!!!
My favorite thing about it though (okay I lied, this really is my absolute favorite) was talking to Alwyn Hamilton. Okay, seriously though I love her name! I love anything Hamilton so it's no wonder I fell in love with her books! We also talked about The Darkest Minds trilogy. Is anyone else excited to hear they start filming soon! It's my all time favorite book series and I just hope they don't screw up the movie. Fingers crossed! We also talked about Percy Jackson and our mutual dislike of Jason Grace. It's an unpopular opinion so I was super relieved to hear I'm not the only one who doesn't like him. But Alwyn is seriously one of the nicest people I've ever met!

And the most exciting news from that night for me was... drum roll...
Lesley Livingston is writing a sequel to The Valiant called The Defiant!
You might've already known that but it was news to me and I'm so excited!!

You guys need to read the books written by these four authors! Look for the upcoming posts. Make sure to follow (by email or bloglovin) to get updates on posts!