Desert, Guns, & Magic: “Rebel of the Sands”

24934065Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Penguin: March 8, 2016
Genre: Historical Fantasy; Young Adult
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with Rebel of the Sands. Basically, the whole idea of a YA novel being set in the desert hooked me as did a gun-toting young heroine. I was not disappointed.

Sixteen-year-old Amani is out of options. After overhearing her aunt and uncle discuss their marriage plans for her, Amani desperation transforms into action. When she inadvertently teams up with a handsome foreigner, Jin, Amani finds herself on the adventure of a lifetime and swept up into a rebellion. (more…)

Adventures in Desert Climes: A Reader’s Map

While the desert is not my first thought when I’m wishing to get away from the winter and cold, reading a book set in a desert is almost as good as being warm again. If your imagination’s good enough, you might even feel the sun’s heat… That’s what this reader’s map is for. Click through and scroll down to read the descriptions under the images. As always, if you have suggestions for additions to the map, share in the comments!

Too Much Going on in “Oathbreaker’s Shadow”

oathbreakersshadowOathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCullouch
Random House Children’s Publishers (UK): June 2013

The plane was delayed, the luggage lost, and the museums closed vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

In the beginning, I thought I would like this one. I guess it always starts out that way, doesn’t it? Because unless you were coerced, bribed, or manipulated into reading a particular book, if you didn’t think you’d like it, well, you probably wouldn’t crack the cover, would you?

My overarching impression of this book is one of size and pieces. The scope, the setting, the plot … they’re all really big. Too big, I think, for the writing. Lots of disparate pieces never came together in this. In order to set the stage, the description of the environment and the culture meant that the story took a very long time to get going. The story felt split into multiple parts, with the first describing the main character Raim’s childhood and his place within society. While the plot relied on Raim unintentionally breaking a promise symbolized in a piece of string wrapped around his wrist since childhood, it takes almost half the book to get to the promise-breaking point. The second half felt like taking the scenic route to another city that could have been the setting of its own book. Instead, it played a cameo role that felt displaced from the rest of the story.


Sand of Bone: Desert Adventure and Intrigue

sandofboneSand of Bone by Blair MacGregor Sudden Moxie Press: August 14th, 2014 (Fantasy)*

I’d go there again! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

The Velshaan are divine rulers of the desert, raised above the rest of humankind by their magical powers. Magical powers that have been lost since the last great civil war, when Velshaan fought Velshaan and the magical battles reshaped the land. The ruling family believes there is a way back to that power, and they’ll scheme and betray to get it. Syrina, princess and younger sister to Raskah, has been persuaded to marry him, because the legends say the magic only manifests in the union of two siblings. Yet, the brother she once loved has become terrifying and hateful (reader’s warning: explicitly violent scenes explain how). For her refusal to accept her family’s plans for her, she has been sent to the dreaded salt mines, where troublemakers are sent to fade into obscurity, drudgery, and starvation. (more…)