Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

We’re almost finished with my challenge, “Beyond the Story,” at this point! After this post, we only have one more week to go. I know that, in general, the challenge was not the biggest success but I loved that I was able to read a lot of books I probably wouldn’t have gotten to on my tbr otherwise. If you’ve stumbled upon this blog in the time since I posted about this challenge and think it sounds interesting, I’d love to hear about it! I’ll consider doing another one after a bit of a break because writing these book reviews on such short notice is, I’ll admit, exhausting.

Summary:
Elisabeth has lived in one of the Great Libraries of Austermeer her whole life. Training as an apprentice, she hopes to one day become a warden, protecting the magical books–grimoires–and the kingdom from their powers.
When an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire, Elisabeth is determined to stop it from destroying the nearby village. However, her intervention has labeled her as the saboteur and she must be transported to the capital to face justice. She realizes that only a sorcerer, Nathaniel Thorn, can help her as she becomes entangled in a conspiracy from centuries ago that threatens to kill hundreds of people. As she gets deeper into the conspiracy, she must question everything she’s been taught–about sorcerers, whom she’s told are evil, about libraries and about even herself. She, with the help of a few allies, is the only one who can stop all six of the great libraries from going up in flames with countless people among them.

The characters:
Elisabeth: Elisabeth has lived in a library her entire life. And not just any library, a library where books talk to her and secret passages are her main way of getting around. Just…stop and imagine that for a second. Living in a magic library. Surrounded by books your entire life. How I wish. However, it seems that living in this library has made her very naive to the outside world. She believes that sorcerers are evil. And she knows next to nothing about the demons that are bound to them. Elisabeth was a very interesting character. She was determined and she was extremely good with a sword. She was a very strong female character. Other than that….I don’t have much to say. I feel like, despite the fact that she had a sword, was basically friends with books and, well, was the main character of this book, she wasn’t very memorable (I know, I’m going against what I said before, but I really cannot think of something right now. I may think of something later…)
Nathaniel: Shockingly enough, Nathaniel, the male character, was my favorite character in the book. I think, mostly, it was his sense of humor. He also…reminded me of someone, but I’m not sure who. He’s had a traumatizing few years before Eliza came into his life and he relies on his demon for most everything. But despite the complicated relationship between Silas, the demon, and Nathaniel, you can see how much they care and trust each other.
Silas: The demon. But Silas is the most obedient, amazing, trustworthy, loving demon there is. Yes, he’s under a contract sort of thing with Nathaniel but you can tell that he really, truly cares. He’s gone through so much with Nathaniel. I don’t care what anyone else says about Silas but he is my favorite (well okay, maybe second favorite but like…I’m not sure. He may be up there as my favorite) and you cannot convince me otherwise.

The plot: This plot was very…twisty. It seems like at first it was one thing and then suddenly it was another. It was interesting, overall, but I feel like there were just some parts that were too convenient and some parts that just…weren’t needed. For example: Elisabeth needs to get a job at the Royal Library or whatever it’s called (I forget and that’s not good, given that I finished reading this less than an hour ago) to pull off part of her plan. Well, lucky her, turns out there’s a spot open because a maid resigned the day before. And the part with the fiends, when they arrive in the city or whatever…what was the point of that? It was just for Elisabeth to show off her awesome fighting skills and get in the paper or whatever. Why were there even fiends there and why did they target Elisabeth? She was with a sorcerer, wouldn’t they know to go for an easier-to-beat person?

The world building:
Pretty good! I was never confused as to where something was and there was never an info dump. I didn’t get to see much of the world…there was that time when Nathaniel and Elisabeth were traveling and Nathaniel talked a bit about it, but it wasn’t described as fully in detail as other books. I wasn’t sure exactly where things were, other than the fact that the Great Libraries formed a pentagon around the Royal Library (the sixth Great Library) but since they didn’t do much traveling, that wasn’t strictly necessary.

The romance:
Guys. This is…a shocker. I actually sorta shipped a straight couple. Sorta. I think I just felt like they got along well together and I liked Nathaniel a lot. But then….we get to the actual romance, that is, when they were kissing, and I didn’t like it much. I guess I only liked the idea of them together? I’m not sure. But all in all, the romance was…not awful in this book. Also; when Nathaniel finally admitted that he liked Elisabeth: ‘Silas has been rolling his eyes at me for weeks.’

The representation:
Hmm…it wasn’t great? But at least it wasn’t all straight people. Unfortunately, all three of our main characters are white, however there is a side character who is not physically there for most of the book but is mentioned quite a few times who is described as having brown skin. The same character is aro/ace and Nathaniel is bi, though each of these things are mentioned exactly once in the book. The main relationship is, however, m/f.

The ending:
This happens to me often, and it may be because I don’t read the most carefully. But I was confused. I didn’t exactly understand what was happening. (except for…for….Silasssssssssssssssssssss! *breaks down in tears*)
I also felt like the ending of this book ended rather abruptly. The last chapter we have is right when the action finishes, literally directly after. Then we have the prologue that spans over about one day but describes what happened in the past week or so. I don’t want to hear what happened, I want to read it as it happens. If you have that much explaining left to do, just add a few more chapters onto the end.
The last thing about the ending was that it was fairly open ended. One of those books that what happens next is pretty obvious but it doesn’t actually tell you. It annoys me when they do that, because does it hurt to write a few extra sentences, just to make it an actual confirmed happy ending?

Final ratings: (out of five stars)
Characters: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Plot: 🌟🌟🌟
World building: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Romance: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Diversity: 🌟🌟
Final rating: 3.6 stars

Book info:
Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books on June 4, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young adult, Paranormal
Pages: 453

Have you read “Sorcery of Thorns”? What did you think about it? Do you want to read it? Have you read Margaret Rogerson’s other book, “An Enchantment of Ravens”? What did you think about this review? I’d love to hear your opinion on my opinion as long as you’re respectful! I’m always open to having a bookish discussion with you! And make sure to check out some of the other posts I have to offer!
As always, thanks for reading. It means the world to me that you would take the time out of your day to read this small and insignificant blog. Stay safe and keep on reading!

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The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Alright everyone, it’s week one of the “Beyond the Story” challenge! For the first challenge, “Judge a book by its cover,” I chose to read “The Sound of Stars” by Alechia Dow. This cover is one of the most amazing that I’ve ever seen. I mean, look at it!

Want a closer look? Here:

I hope that was close enough for you! Anyways, you can probably see why I chose this book for the challenge I did! But what did I think of what lies beneath this beautiful cover?

First impression: When I read this synopsis, not even having started this book, I thought it sounded rather…odd. On the cover it literally says, “Can their love of books and pop music save the world?” To me, that didn’t sound like a young adult novel. Another reason I was hesitant with this book is because it’s sci-fi. Not saying that I don’t read sci-fi, I just don’t read it very often and I just enjoy fantasy so much more. Science fiction and dystopian novels, I feel like, can get really down into all the ‘government-y’ stuff which I don’t like reading that much.

The beginning: This book started out a bit slowly. We meet Ellie and learn about her secret library. We then get to know MoRr1S and understand his love for music. All in all, the actual adventure doesn’t start till about 100 pages in and I’m not sure some of the things before that were needed.

The middle: The middle is where the actual adventure happened! I probably enjoyed this part most of all. Our main characters traveled across the country together, sometimes encountering Ilori, or humans, all of whom really wanted to capture Ellie and Morris.

The ending: The ending was…weird. I’m not going to pretend that I understood all of it? But it was interesting. There were definitely several plot twists especially THAT ONE PLOT TWIST that if that happened to me EEEEE and AAAAAH

On the characters:
Ellie: I enjoyed reading about Ellie a lot. She’s a fun protagonist and extremely relatable. She loves reading books so much that she is willing to risk her life just to run an illegal library! She was a strong female character and it seemed like everyone liked her–I mean, an alien of a species trying to take over earth fell in love with her! She also cared about her family so much which I really liked. When she was traveling across the country, she was constantly thinking about them, wondering if they were safe, feeling bad because she felt like she left them behind. 

Morris: I have to admit, I liked Morris less than I liked Ellie. Maybe it was because we got Ellie POV and while it did follow Morris as well, it wasn’t from first person which might have made me feel less connected to him. I do admire his willingness to work against his entire species, work against a lot of what he grew up around. However, I almost feel like he cared about Ellie…too much? Well let me first say that this is not a thing, caring about someone too much. But, sorry Morris, there are only so many times that I can hear the words ‘I love you’. This may be a part that I admit I’m sort of glad the book wasn’t from Morris’s point of view because I have a feeling throughout most of the book I’d just be reading, “IloveyouIloveyouIloveyouEllieIloveyouIlovethisgirlsomuch.”

Avrola: I know that Avrola wasn’t a very major character but I liked them. They also didn’t have that much emotion, just like most Ilori, but I still sensed a deep admiration and willingness to do whatever for Morris in them. I’ll say it again, they weren’t a very major character but without them, none of Ellie’s family would be living. So in that sense, yes, they were very major.

Ooh wait. Did you guys want a synopsis before I just dug right into the book? Oops, sorry about that. Well, you can read my sort of horrible one right here:
The world has been taken over by aliens of the name Ilori. Humans have been tracked down all over the planet, either being killed or collected and kept together in centers where Ilori can control their every aspect of life. Janelle, better known as Ellie, lives in a center in New York City and every day has to watch her parents crumble under the Ilori rule. The only thing that keeps her going is the illegal library that she runs. Meanwhile, MoRr1S, or Morris, is an Ilori. Ilori are not supposed to feel emotions or enjoy any form of art but MoRr1S does. One day he finds Ellie’s secret stash. As an Ilori, he is duty bound to turn her in, but he finds himself drawn to art the same way that Ellie is. Desperate for more music to listen to, he strikes up a deal with Ellie–her and her parents’ safety as long as she finds more music for him. But humans are in big trouble as Ilori draw closer to the vaccine they need to control mankind once in for all. Morris has a solution–but it is thousands of miles away. Now every single person’s lives rest in the hands of him and Ellie as they try to make a near impossible adventure to overthrow the Ilori and save the future of humans.

The plot: This was a very interesting plot! I felt like there was almost always something happening, we didn’t get periods where the book went, “we drove. We passed a field. We drove some more. I wonder how those cows survived the aliens. Oh look another field. Watch out for that chicken crossing the road.” etc. There was enough action to get a 426 page book and it never felt drawn out or repeated or boring. One thing I do have to say about the plot, actually, was that it was fast. Well, not the plot, perhaps, but the traveling. Perhaps I missed something, but do Ilori cars move extra fast? Or do I just have a bad sense of distance (or maybe both)? Because they reached Illinois awfully fast. And Texas from Illinois. This also brings up the question of why on earth they were even in Texas. If you’re going from New York to California, I don’t think that Texas is exactly on the way. Especially if you’ve reached Illinois, why go down instead of across? 

The romance: Sorry. I didn’t like the romance. Perhaps this is just me with all (straight) romance but I just–didn’t like it. That’s all I have to say. I feel like Morris was just way too ‘IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou.” I don’t need to hear that he loves Ellie all the time, no matter how much it is true.

The ending (we’re covering it again): *Note: This is a spoiler-y part of the review. Do not read if you haven’t read the book*
Okay okay okay let’s see what I have to say about this ending.
First of all: I feel like the fact that Brixton was with the rebels would be more of a plot twist if we knew him better. Like he sort of just pops onto the scene after following Morris and Ellie across the continent, pretends to be on Orsa’s side for a bit and then suddenly, “Oh yeah I’m actually working with the rebels, bye Orsa.” Did even Morris know that Brixton was on his side? Because he seemed a little panicked that his brother was following him across the country. And then like…I dunno. It just seemed
Second: Imagine finding out that your favorite band wrote all their songs just for you. Like honestly I read that and just….wow, that wold be amazing. I wish.
Third: Did anyone ship Cecil and Alastor or was that me? I know, I know, it sounds weird. Cecil and Alastor only interacted about two times? And they were arguing one of those times. Also I’m pretty sure that Cecil and Rupert are dating. But still. Sorry, Rupert, but I think that Cecil and Alastor would be great together.
Fourth! I actually do not like books in which the book ends with the main characters leave earth. Yes, I have read a book in whihc this happens before. No, I will not tell you what it is, but it’s a pretty popular series. Anyways. I’m not entirely sure why I dislike it. It’s like…like the main characters are running away from their home? But not exactly that. I mean I think it’s just that they go through all this effort to save earth and then at the end of the book they just…leave. It’s extremely unsatisfying to me and it actually makes me like the book less.

Final ratings: (Out of five stars)
Characters: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Plot: 🌟 🌟 🌟🌟
Romance: 🌟 🌟
Diversity: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Final rating: 3.75 stars

Book Info:
Title: The Sound of Stars
Author: Alechia Dow
Published by: Inkyard Press on February 25, 2020
Genre: YA, science fiction, romance, LGBTQIAP+
Pages: 426 pages (depends on edition)

Have you read “The Sound of Stars”? Do you want to read it? What did you think of my review? I’d love to hear your opinion on the book, on my opinion and on the book’s opinion (wait. That doesn’t make sense…). Please put anything you want to say in the comments and I’m always happy to conduct a bookish discussion! Plus, make sure to check out some other blog posts that I offer!

TBR for Beyond the Story Challenge

Some of you may have seen my Beyond the Story challenge post a few days ago. I will post my TBR here!

Week one: Judge a book by its cover

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, in fact I own it, but I have never read it. I’ve heard a lot of people tell me it’s good, but it has a rather odd summary so that may be part of the reason that I didn’t want to pick it up. This book has both the word star in the title and an AMAZING cover but I’m reading it for its cover because seriously, its cover is the best I’ve ever seen.

Week two: Star of the story

Scavange the Stars by Tara Sim

I have also heard really great things about this book! In fact, I’ve been meaning to read it for a while but I never got around to it so I’ll be reading it now. There are extremely mixed reviews and it only has a 3.58 average star rating but it sounds very good.

Week three: You Name It

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Well, the character’s name starts with E (Elisabeth) just like mine (a name that I won’t reveal) so here we go! It’s been on my tbr for a while but never near the top, sorta just hovering near the bottom so we’ll see how I like it.

Week Four: Great Minds Think Alike

Forest of Souls, by Lori M. Lee

Alright, so I may be stretching just a liiiittle bit for this one. Here’s why: I haven’t read the book that the author who is reading Forest of Souls wrote. In fact, the author’s book hasn’t even come out yet! But I fell in love with Ashley Shuttleworth’s book as soon as I read the first sentence of the premise. I mean seriously, go here, read this, tell me that you don’t think that’s right up my alley. So I am proclaiming this author my favorite author in advance and their book better not disappoint.

And that’s my tbr for this challenge! Want to share your own tbr? Make a blog post about it and shout out my blog, or just put a comment on either this post or the original post about the challenge! I hope you enjoy!

Beyond the Story Challenge

Hey everyone! Welcome to the very first “Beyond the Story” challenge! Now, this is my first time ever doing any sort of challenge so please bear with me if things don’t go quite as planned–I am trying my best to make this fun and enjoyable.

Now, you’re probably wondering what the heck the “Beyond the Story” challenge even is, given that I made it up and so you’ve never heard of it before. Here are the short answers for that:

  • What: A reading challenge designed to help you read different books
  • Who: I, Phoenix at Books With Wings, am hosting this challenge
  • When: This challenge will begin on October 25, 2020, and you will post your first post on November 1, 2020
  • Why: I hope this challenge will encourage you to go out of the genre you are used to and explore books that you never thought would be good–but turn out to be!

Now, that probably wasn’t very useful, so here is the longer and more detailed description of this challenge:

The contest is split into four weeks and everyone will read one book per week. Each week there will be prompts that you need to read the book from. But here’s the thing. The prompts won’t be having you look at the actual story….they’ll have you look at things like the cover and the title and the character names. Of course you can look at the summary as well but the main point of this challenge is to get you to read books that you may not normally pick up, just having read the summary, but that you will give a try because of another element. 

Your first post should be posted by Sunday, November 1. Given that you have around a week to read each book, you should begin reading your first book, for the “Judge a book by its cover” challenge, on Sunday, October 25, give or take. This should hopefully give you enough time to plan your reads for this challenge and acquire the books.

Please note: As a teenager and someone who reads almost exclusively YA, the prompts for this challenge will be centered around YA books. However, this does not mean that you have to read exclusively YA. Middle grade, YA, NA and adult books can all be used in this challenge.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Read a book that corresponds to the week’s challenge
  2. Write a blog post about the book, why you chose that specific book for the challenge and what you’ve learned from the book
  3. Make sure to give a shoutout to me, Phoenix @Books With Wings
  4. HAVE FUN

Don’t have a blog but still want to participate? Read to the bottom to see how to do that.

Here are each of the four week’s challenges:

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Scratch that. This challenge is all about doing exactly that. Choose a book for this challenge because you like its cover. Maybe the cover is interesting, or beautiful or strange looking in a good way. Whatever it is, it’s the front that entices you, not what’s inside.

I couldn’t even name how many books there are with the word, ‘star’ in their titles. If you don’t believe me, take a look at any young adult shelf anywhere and you’ll probably find a book with a title that includes the word ‘star’. And so I ask you to read one of these books for challenge week 2. Need help? Check out this goodreads list* of 768 books with the word star in the title (*please note that not all of these books may be Young Adult).

This week we’ll focus on the character names. Read a book in which one of the central characters shares at least a first letter of the first name with you. Don’t want to share your name online? That’s alright, use your online name. Don’t have an online name/it starts with some absurd letter like ‘X’? Use the letter ‘A’. (why ‘A’? It was the first letter I could think of–and the first letter of the alphabet).

Look through the books that you’ve read this year and see what the authors of those books have been reading. Choose a book to read for this fourth challenge based on what your favorite authors have rated this year*. This challenge is a little more open-ended so I suggest you look for a book in a genre you don’t usually read but it is completely your choice. (*Note: If you read in the YA category, remember that not all authors also read in the YA category so be careful what you choose).

Questions I know will be asked if I don’t answer them now:

Q: What if I don’t have a blog?
A: That’s alright! You can participate through somewhere else, for example Instagram, goodreads, or even just commenting how it’s going in the comments of my blog! (please don’t do this in the comments of other people’s blogs unless they say it’s alright).

Q: What if I can’t/don’t want to do all four weeks of the challenge?
A: If you would prefer to only do one or two weeks of the challenge, that’s alright. Obviously it’s preferable to do all four weeks to expand on what you read even more but one or two weeks works as well.

Q: What’s the point of this challenge? Aren’t you supposed to choose books based on what’s inside?
A: That is true, usually. However, I find that oftentimes I won’t pick up a book because of its summary, actually. Here’s an example: The book “The Sound of Stars” has a really odd sounding summary, in my opinion. However, the cover of the book is one of the best covers I have ever seen. (Also it has the word ‘star’ in the title but I’ll be reading it for challenge 1)

Q: My blog is run by multiple people. Can we both participate or split the weeks we do it?
A: Yes to both those questions! You can either both participate and both post about your reads for this challenge or you could each do one week or you could each do two weeks, depending on how many people you have blogging on one blog.

Q: Am I allowed to reread a book for this challenge?
A: No. This challenge is all about discovering new books that you may not have chosen to read if not for this challenge. If you’ve already read the book, you know that it’s good already (or not good but you also cannot reread a book hoping it’s better the second time around)

Q: Can I read a book I’ve already started for a challenge?
A: It depends. If you’re halfway through the story or almost done and you’re super hooked then no, you cannot read it. However, if you’ve just started a book and are one, two, three chapters in and not entirely hooked, and the book fits the challenge, then yes you may read it.

Q: Can I read an ARC for this challenge?
A: If the ARC fits the prompt and you requested it because of this challenge–not because you thought it looked interesting beforehand–then yes, you may read it for the challenges.

Participating? Give this post a like! Plus, to spread the word about the challenge and let others know about what you’re doing ahead of time, put a post on your own blog about the challenge and who’s running it! Follow my blog, Books with Wings, to stay up to date on the contest and to see my book reviews for the contest as well. 

Questions? You’re probably not the only one who has them! Post them in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer!