Rebel of the Sands

“They say she’ll always be more gun powder than girl. The desert has other plans.”

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Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.  Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead. Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew. Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

Was this book another cover buy? You bet it was. Is this a common theme with me? Absolutely.

I was expecting a lot of spaghetti western and a little splash of Arabian mythology and I’m so glad I was wrong. It was such a wonderful mixture of cultures and mythology, with a touch of badass spaghetti western.

Amani, our sharp-shooting gun powder girl, was so very human – stubborn, unrelenting in her goals and quick witted. Not to mention, her tendency for impulse decisions kept the plot alive. And Jin- wonderful yet slightly vague Jin. He was such a delight. Although he was the obvious love interest (among other things- totally called who he was in relation to the rebellion), there wasn’t the repulsive insta-love I’ve come to expect and hate in YA. Their relationship started as one of convenience and turned from mild reluctance, to mutual respect, to friendship, to something much bigger than Amani ever expected. It was really enjoyable to read. The classic rom-com back and forth was just what I needed.

“Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand”

This was not a character driven book for me (although the secondary characters were fabulous as well). The most vivid part of the book for me was the mythology and atmosphere created. It’s not every day I come out of a YA novel being more jazzed about the mythology than I am about the character driven relationships. I find dijinn mythology fascinating and Hamilton did a fantastic job mixing it into the culture as both fact and fiction to the characters. To Amani, it had always just been old stories of immortals long gone, despite the occasional run in with ghouls and buraqi. To Jin, it was his life and family history. It should have been obvious to me, in that case, that Amani was the one who had dijinn blood in her veins.

Between the unravelling of everything Amani thought she knew, the rebellion, and the epic sibling showdown to end the novel, I was enthralled through all 300 and some odd pages.

I would definitely recommend this debut novel. It does follow a classic fantasy novel arch-type but I found it comforting rather than boring. I can’t wait to see how Hamilton continues to spin the mythology and rebellion in the second book, Traitor to the Throne.

Until next time-

TheReadersigntransp

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Heir to the Sky

Because who can resist floating continents in the sky as a synopsis?

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Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits: by her duties as a member of the royal family, by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman, and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft. When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks and other terrifying creatures. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.

Let’s just start with this, the cover is stunning. I fell in love with it after seeing it on Harlequin Teen’s Instagram. What can I say? I’m a sucker for good cover art. Then I read the synopsis on NetGalley. An heir to a kingdom of floating continents? Phoenix mythology? Monster hunters? Ummmm…yes please.

This book and I have had our ups and downs. I was originally so excited for it but I received it right at the beginning of a major reading slump. It spent a couple months being moved around my TBR pile and thrown into different travel bags all summer. I finally started it two nights ago and i’m sorry to say but the floating continents…not that interesting (with pretty cliche/vague political plot).

The good stuff came after the fall.

Monsters, Griffin -our rugged hero- and Kali’s determination to be a badass kept me reading. Despite her constant naivety (I mean…come on, who doesn’t realize that they’ve been the target of two assassination attempts?) I have to admire Kali’s refusal to be helpless in any situation she was placed in. Griffin’s story was probably the most interesting part of the book. Other than the obvious discovery that he was one of the fallen, his Benu familial history and life on earth after the fall was a thrilling addition to an otherwise flat, hobbit like, march to the top of a mountain.

And the insta-love. Ohhhhh the insta-love. I realize the plot on earth was meant to be over a month or so but it was a lot for me. Perhaps they follow apocalypse rules? You know, the whole – they’re the right gender for me and don’t appear to be attached so I call dibs because most of humanity is dead- approach? In a world full of chimeras, dragons and leviathans… I would probably hop on that train too.

The ending had its share of excitement though and left me feeling rather content. Overall, it’s a fun and easy read in a world full of some really gut wrenching YA fiction. The concept: flawless. But it could have been so much more than it was. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I read a sequel? Probably not.

Until next time –

TheReadersigntransp