Memories of Ash
by: Intisar Khanani
The Sunbolt Chronicles #2
Publication Date: May 30th, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.
If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
My rating: 5 stars
Memories of Ashes takes place a year after Sunbolt – Hitomi has been learning under Brigit Stormwind. Until one day a rogue mage hunter visits to escort Stormwind to the Council for a trial. Knowing Blackflame is behind the charges Hitomi decides to break Stromwind free.
MoA is one of the best books I’ve read this year; I am still on a high from it. I cannot even begin to describe my love for it. This high fantasy is nothing like I’ve read before – it probably has to do with romance usually playing a major role – but in this there was hardly any. A full length novel about a girl travelling the land with the help of allies.
Hitomi is a really likeable protagonist – she’s strong, witty, loyal, intelligent, and flawed. Hitomi has a habit of getting into situations without much planning, and while that may usually seem annoying it isn’t with Hitomi – she acknowledges that it is a flaw – and to do the right thing is more important to her. Despite regaining some of her memories she was still haunted with the deaths she caused and refuse to take anymore; it was very humane of her.
The political plot was quite interesting as well, usually I steer clear of politics but Khanani’s writing made it really fascinating. The fight for power, the will to save one’s own skin even if it means losing one’s soul, the deception and manipulation, were really well immersed with the story. There was so much to learn – if something is not fully unveiled it is best to trust one’s gut.
While this was not heavy on the romance, this did have some really beautiful bonds – whether they’re familial, friendships, or alliances. This was a breath of fresh air from the usual fantasy books I’ve read. The bond between Hitomi and Stromwind gave me some paternal feels, and it was nice for Hitomi to have someone to guide her after being alone so long. I didn’t realise how much I missed Kenta until he showed up; I loved their relationship in Sunbolt and I love it even more after MoA. Val and Hitomi’s relationship is so unique and special – the trust between the two is beautiful.
I know I said I’m happy that this barely had any romance, but I’m a romantic at heart and I need to share my opinion. In Sunbolt we were introduced to the Ghost, and I feel in love with them after reading their first scene. Hitomi and Ghost give me so many Kaz and Inej feels. Though there was only mentions of the Ghost I’m hoping we’ll meet him again in the next book. I’m definitely rooting for these two, and I hope we get like a secondary/tertiary romance plot with them.
Khanani’s writing is remarkable; she kept me on the edge of my seat, fully immersed in the story, without a care of what was going around me. She has the perfect mixture of plot, world building, and character development. We were introduced to many new characters and they weren’t without reason, everything tied up. I am in awe with her writing.
I received an arc of this from the author in exchange of an honest review.
About the Author
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters.
Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar’s current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, following the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles, an epic series following a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, a dark mage intent on taking over the Eleven Kingdoms.
Rebel of the Sands
by: Alwyn Hamilton
Rebel of the Sands #1
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
My rating: 4.5 stars
Rebel of the Sands follows Amani, an orphan stuck living with her aunt and uncle. Dustwalk, her hometown, is a dead place and she finds herself suffocating in it; she’s dreamt of running away to Izman for a long time. Soon she finds herself in an unexpected journey with an unexpected companion. Without realising her plans change and so does she.
I LOVED AMANI! She is a kickass protagonist; when everything was crumbling she didn’t whine or cry, she took it in her hands to find a solution. Reading about her dressing up as a guy to earn her way out of Dustwalk was some of my favourite parts. Ahh, my blue eye bandit won me over from the start. And, I loved how she wasn’t one of those sacrificial lambs who always thought about how the outcome of their decisions would affect others. She was selfish, tough, and somewhat naïve, to watch her grow was truly amazing. Even though watching her leave some people behind made me churn a bit, I loved how she didn’t continue to do so in the future – I just really love her development.
The world building was alright, I felt it was a mixture of Middle East and Wild Wild West, not entirely Middle Eastern. Also, the world building could have been executed better – something was missing. (Maybe a map like Six of Crows could have helped.) The magical aspect was interesting as well, it doesn’t come into play until the second half of the book, but when it shows up it does not disappoint at all.
I loved the comrade between Amani and Jin, but I felt the romance on and off. The fact their relationship was built on lies didn’t help. However, I did enjoy their friendship. I kind of felt their feelings for one another were kind of rushed, but they haven’t exchanged I love you’s or made unreasonable/rash decisions for one another, so that was a plus point. I’m hoping in the next book their relationship develops more before they get together. I just really want a slow burn.
The secondary characters were fabulous and I’m eager to see more of them in the future. Shazad is also a strong female character I grew quite fond of rather quickly. Hala was a sweetie pie and I wanted to keep her protected (just like Ahmed). Bahi and the twins were cute as well. I enjoyed Ahmed’s character as well, I’m hoping he as a bigger role in the next book. I loved how Hamilton was able to execute an amazing development with them – they tied perfectly with the story.
And, I almost forgot, the writing is glorious. Hamilton sucked me in with her captivating plot and beautiful writing. I need the second book soon, I really don’t know how I’m supposed to wait. (This is why I like reading series that are complete.)