Soul of the Sword

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2) by Julie Kagawa       

My rating: five stars

Genre: YA Fantasy

Edition: Hardback

Goodreads Summary: One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

Shadow of the Fox left at such a cliffhanger I wanted to start Soul of the Sword as soon as possible, I just needed to know what happens! Especially since the last book just recently came out in hardback, it would be great to read the whole series this year.

Likes: In this book Yumeko seems to have matured and grown from the events that took place in Shadow of the Fox. I like seeing this change in her, it shows how seriously she is taking this quest she is on, and how seriously she is taking what happened to Tatsumi. She is not only more mature outwardly, she is also trying to look inward and come to terms with who she is. I love that we see this internal struggle and how she is trying to become more comfortable with who she is. That was a beautiful aspect to the story. Another thing that I liked was how much was shown of the other character’s backstories and thoughts. Relationships form and growth happens in these side characters and I love that. This book has continuous world building and goes more in-depth about the history and magic of the land. The new creatures that are shown are awesome, I loved that we got to see more!

Dislikes: In this book there is a character that is shown every once and a while and this character is a complete mystery. They were a mystery in the first book and still are throughout this second book. I like that we get to learn more about them, however, I wish that more would have been shown. This is just a personal preference that I feel like there was a lot left out that should have been added about this character, however, I am guessing that this character will become more prevalent in the last book which is why I am not that upset about it.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a ton. The characters are so much fun, and I love that this story has a lot of growth and self-reflection for each character. I love the new creatures that we see, and I like how we get different POVs that weren’t shown previously. I do wish that a certain character would have been flushed out more, but I am hoping that they are in the next book.

March 2020| Reading Wrap Up

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: YA, Mystery
Rating: ★★★★★

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is a YA mystery about a highschooler named Pip. In her town a high school senior, Andie, was murdered and the whole town believes it was Andie’s boyfriend Sal – who ended up committing suicide – who killed her. Pip, however, does not believe that Sal killed Andie and is determined to find who really did. One of the biggest things that surprised me about this book was how wrong I was the entire time. I was so sure that I knew who did it and I was hating the book because I thought it was so easy, and it turns out I was wrong! I love those type of surprises and that was one of the main reasons I loved it. I also really liked the characters in this story. Pip was so determined, and I really respected that. I won’t talk about any other characters because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I liked a lot of them too. The central thing that I disliked was that I felt like the Pip wasn’t as thorough in her investigation as I would have liked. There were so many events and people that I thought she should have checked out but she didn’t. However, since I guessed wrong, maybe it is a good thing no one investigated what I thought they should have.

Pros: well laid out mystery, fun characters.
Cons: investigation didn’t feel thorough.
Full Review:

Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: ★★★★★

Artemis is a story about Jazz, a smuggler and porter, who lives in the only city on the Moon – Artemis. She is hired to commit a seemingly impossible crime, but accepts because of how huge the reward is. This story is full of conspiracies, political intrigue, drama, and supposedly impossible tasks. I loved that this story went in depth into the science of things, while at the same time keeping it easy to understand. The story also continuously gets more and more complex, which kept me wanting to read more. I liked Jazz, but I found her relationship with an ex-friend to be confusing and annoying. This best friend had betrayed her and yet acted like he didn’t do anything wrong and like it was outrageous that she didn’t want to be friends with him anymore. This seemed unrealistic and unnecessary.

Pros: The story went more in-depth scientifically than I am used to seeing, Jazz was an interesting main character, the story was complex, and the political aspect was fascinating.
Cons: Unrealistic relationship with ex-friend in my opinion. It seemed not only unrealistic but also unnecessary.
Full Review:

The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Rating: ★★★★★

The Hunger Games is about a girl named Katniss Everdeen who has to participate in The Hunger Games – a fight to the death between one girl and one boy from each of the 12 districts that make up their nation Panem. I think the government in this world is fascinating. The Capitol is so strange, and how all the people act and treat the districts is horrible, but I still like reading about it because I want to know what made them that way. Katniss is inspiring, she goes to so many lengths to keep her family alive and safe even though she is only sixteen. I liked that the Games wasn’t just kids killing each other, there was a lot that went on beforehand in terms of training, interviews, and such. This shows how truly horrid the Capitol is because the Games are a show to them, a form of entertainment. This aspect just goes deep into the differences between the Capitol and the Districts. The thing that I did not like about this book was the love story. Katniss was just so cruel to Peeta at points, and this seemed unrealistic for her character. I understand that she would do whatever she could to save her family and herself, but at the same time I don’t believe she would keep so many secrets from Peeta. I believe she would have talked to him more about the plans and so this aspect just exhibited a side of her that was difficult to believe because it seemed to go against her core personality.

Pros: Descriptive writing, interesting government and affect the war had on the Capitol and the Districts, the Games seemed well thought out in terms of the events surrounding it.
Cons: Love story seemed to have unrealistic drama surrounding it because of a lack of communication that seemed to go against Katniss’ character.
Full Review:

Shadow of the Fox
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

Shadow of the Fox is a book about the quest to find all three parts of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, for whoever gets all three parts can summon the Kami dragon and have a wish granted. Yumeko is a half human, half kitsune (nine tailed fox) who was raised by monks. Suddenly her home is burned down and she is forced to flee with one part of the scroll. The other main character is Tatsumi, a samurai of the Shadow Clan, who is tasked with finding all parts of the scroll. I found the world in this book to be fascinating because it is so like our own except with mythical creatures. I loved the main character Yumeko. Even though she was really naive because of how she grew up, I still loved seeing how easily she made friends and convinced people to help her because of how nice she was. I found all of the other characters who Yumeko came to meet and travel with interesting as well. Their backgrounds were usually kept a mystery at first and it made me more intrigued by them and wanting to know more. The storyline seems like a simple one – Yumeko needs to protect this scroll and take it to another temple – and yet there were so many different antagonists and “side quests”, that it made for a full story. I did not really have anything that I disliked. One thing that confused me though is why Tatsumi couldn’t see that Yumeko was part nine tailed fox even though some other people could.

Pros: I loved all the characters, the story was full of adventures, and the magical creatures were fun to learn about.
Cons: I’m just confused at why Tatsuki couldn’t see Yumeko’s ears and tail.
Full Review:

Forest of Secrets
Author: Erin Hunter
Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: ★★★★★

Forest of Secrets is the third book in the original Warriors series, so this will have spoilers for the first two books.

This book is about Fireheart trying to figure out and prove what happened to Redtail – a Thunderclan deputy who was killed. This book had significantly more happening than the first two books which was nice. There were a lot of secrets that came out, not only about Redtail but about other warriors as well. I liked delving into the backstory of some of the other cats, it shed some light as to why they acted the way they did. I also liked that the relationship between Greystripe and Fireheart mended pretty well. The ending was upsetting but at the same time, I understand why a certain cat made the choices they did. I also liked the themes of this book, the story really went into clan loyalties versus blood loyalties and I appreciated that. The main thing that I disliked was that Bluestar had such a closed mind. She wasn’t willing to accept anything Fireheart was telling her and this seemed to go against her personality.

Pros: The themes of the book were nice, more backstory for events and characters, mended relationships, there were several sub-plots, and the ending was believable.
Cons: Bluestar was more close-minded than I believe her character is usually.
Full Review:

The Assassin’s Blade
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

The Assassin’s Blade is the prequel to the Throne of Glass series, and contains five novellas, each one following a different adventure that Celaena – the most feared assassin in her country Ardarlan – goes on. I read this book after reading Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight (because I decided to read it in the publishing order), and so this book gave a lot of insight into why Celaena acts the way she does in the Throne of Glass books. I loved seeing more into her background, and these books really opened my eyes to her personality and even to why she uses some of the expressions that she does. There are wonderful characters in this book. I did not expect to get attached to any since these were short stories, but I ended up loving a large portion of the characters. This book eliticted so much emotion from me. I was amazed by the different adventures that it had, heartbroken at times, and joyous at others. I honestly can’t think anything that I did not like.

Pros: full of incredible adventures, great cast of characters, eye opening to what made Celaena the way she is in Throne of Glass, great world building, and the writing style really pulled the emotions out of me.
Cons: Not a single thing I can think of. I love this book!
Full Review:

Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★

Siege and Storm is the second book in the Grisha Trilogy, so this will have spoilers for the first book.

Siege and Storm is about Alina trying to stay in hiding with Mal so that the Darkling can not find her. However, since their battle at the end of Shadow and Bone, the Darkling has gained a mysterious new power that makes escaping him harder than ever. I really like that this book takes place in a bunch of different areas that weren’t shown in the first book, so there is a lot of world building. I have always found the magic system and world interesting, and so I liked that there was more of that in this book. I also liked that there were new characters introduced in this story who I actually enjoyed. We meet a few bands of people who are fascinating and who I want to learn more about. Though I liked the new characters, I started to like Alina less and less. I understand the struggle that she was going through, however I believe she started doing things that went completely against who she is as a person and I don’t believe that she would have been capable of doing any of it. Also, I still don’t like the relationship that this book is trying to force between Alina and the Darkling. It just doesn’t make any sense that she would feel an attraction to him at all in a romantic way. They may be connected emotionally because they are similar, but that doesn’t mean that she has any reason to find him attractive romantically. It is just something that I don’t believe is realistic.

Pros: world building, magic system, fun new characters.
Cons: there were just a bunch of things I struggled to believe would have really happened.
Full Review:

Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Rating: ★★★★

Catching Fire is the second book of The Hunger Games series, so this will have spoilers for the first book.

It is difficult to explain this book without spoiling it, but it is basically about Katniss and Peeta going through the ramifications of them both winning the Hunger Games. There wasn’t supposed to be two winners so they have to prove that they are helplessly in love, or else they could be harmed. This book shows a lot of what happens after someone wins the Hunger Games, and I liked seeing a different aspect, rather than just seeing the Games again. The arena in this book was fascinating and I liked it more than the first one because of how dynamic it was. There are also many new characters in this book and I liked meeting them and learning about the different people that were in the Games. Similar to the first book, I did not like the romance in this book. There were so many secrets, and like in the first book, the secrets just hurt people. I also thought that the beginning of the book was slow. I liked that it showed some background to the Games, but it did seem to drag on.

Pros: new characters, shows a new side of the Games, and the arena was interesting.
Cons: beginning was slow and romance was annoying.
Full Review:

Shadow of the Fox

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1) by Julie Kagawa         

My rating: five stars

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Edition: Hardback

Goodreads Summary: One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

Shadow of the Fox was the pick for a book club that I am in, and I couldn’t have been happier. I have been interested in Japanese culture for most of my life, and so this book sounded so intriguing. I ended up really enjoying it and can’t wait to read the next two!

Likes: I love how Yumeko just connects with everyone that she comes across. She makes friendships so effortlessly and convinces people to help her easily. She is a truly likeable, though ignorant, character. I also liked all the other characters. They each had different personalities and backgrounds, and I loved learning about each and every one of them. The story itself was fun and adventurous. Yes, the reason that she must flee with the scroll is disturbing and sad, however, the adventure itself was fun for me to read about. Yumeko was sheltered in the temple her whole life, so to read about her experiencing all these new things was enjoyable. Not only were the main characters interesting, the villains were intriguing as well. There was so much mystery surrounding all of them, it left me wanting to keep reading to learn more.

Dislikes: There wasn’t really anything that I disliked. Yumeko’s ignorance could be annoying, however it was completely understandable since she had never stepped foot outside her temple. Another thing that didn’t make the most sense to me was why Tatsumi couldn’t see that Yumeko was a half kitsune. Some people could and it was explained why they could and that made sense. However, Tatsumi literally has a demon in him and is connected to that world quite literally, so I don’t understand why he wouldn’t have been able to see what she was.

Overall, I really liked this story. It takes place in a setting that I am extremely interested in, and a world that is so magical and yet seems like it could be real. I loved all the myths that the story delved in to, they were myths that I have read about in Japanese culture books, but to actually have them in a fantasy book fun. I loved all the characters, even the villains, and I loved the plot. The small couple dislikes I had with Yumeko’s ignorance and Tatsumi’s inability to see that Yumeko was a half kitsune were small annoyances and didn’t really take away from my love of this story. I gave it five stars and recommend it to everyone!