Re-Reading with Audiobooks

In June, Laurie Forest’s next book in The Black Witch Chronicles, The Shadow Wand, will be released. I look forward to its release and, in the meantime, decided to re-read the stories. Looking through my local library’s audiobook section, I noticed that the novels were available in mp3 format. I decided to give the performances a listen.

Listening to The Black Witch in audio format has increased the level of my appreciation for these novels. The book is expertly read and allows me to enjoy the story while working on creative projects, or while I am out walking.

I have listened to the first novel in the series as well as the two prequel novellas. The performances of all of these were excellent and I could not stop listening – the stories are just as good when reading them!

Now I am waiting for the next audiobook in the series – my hold will take a few months to get to me. The wait is tempting me to join Audible!

I give these audiobooks ⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 44th and 46th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: The Rebel Mages by Laurie Forest

Ever since I had finished the second novel in Laurie Forest’s series of The Black Witch Chronicles, I had been waiting for The Rebel Mages to come out. I pre-ordered the novel and, as soon as I received it, I opened the pages and read it.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fantasy

Blurb:

The novel contains two novellas which had been previously published as e-books. The book contains the back story to the characters found in The Black Witch: Elloren Gardner and Sagellyn Gaffney.

Wandfasted

Twenty years before Elloren Gardner enrolled at the illustrious Verpax University, Erthia was rent asunder during the devastating Realm War. When Tessla Harrow is driven from her home by the fighting, she discovers a depth of power she never knew she had…and an irresistible draw toward Vale Gardner, the son of the most powerful mage her people have ever known—the Black Witch.

Light Mage

Before Elloren came to possess the White Wand of myth, the Wand was drawn to another bearer: Sagellyn Gaffney. Sage’s affinity for light magery, a rare skill among Gardnerians, makes her the perfect protector for the one tool that can combat the shadows spreading across Erthia. But in order to keep the Wand safe from the dark forces hunting for it, Sage must abandon everything she once knew and forge a new path for herself…a dangerous course that could lead to either triumph or utter ruin.

My thoughts:

I loved delving into Laurie Forest’s world again. The images that she creates in my mind with her words are so beautiful. I adore her characters and enjoyed reading the back story to The Black Witch. The characterisations are on point, and the issues that she addresses run seamlessly throughout the story. There were a number of moments in both novellas when I got goosebumps – the author’s words pulled me in and then suddenly a sentence would take me back to the first book I read in the series – or to a moment in human life that is reflected in the scene.

Reading The Rebel Mages underscored, for me, what it is I enjoy about the fantasy known as The Black Witch Chronicles. The story is more than just a Fantasy set in a world of fantastical characters. Instead it is a critique on society, on oppression, on prejudice. It is also a story of hope and the dream that all peoples, no matter what race or culture, can live together in freedom. Forest is a writer who has woven her experiences of the world into a magical tale that has certainly captured – and held – my attention.

Now I wait impatiently for the third novel in the series. These novellas have only whet my appetite for more of Elloren’s story.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars with no reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 26th in my book pledge for 2019)

Favourite Read of the Month: September 2018

During the month of September, I  read 8 books for this year’s Book Pledge, bringing my total for read books this year to 66 books. According to the 50 Book Pledge website, I am ahead of my goal – which leads me to wonder whether I read more books than I think I do 😀

The titles I read in September are listed below. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title in the following list:

  1. The Black Witch by Laurie Forest – YA fiction, fantasy  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.
  2. The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest – YA fiction, fantasy ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.
  3. Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey – women’s fiction ⭐⭐ 2 stars.
  4. The Winters by Lisa Gabriele – thriller, suspense ⭐⭐⭐⭐  4 stars.
  5. Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – memoir, non-fiction ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.
  6. P. S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – YA fiction, romance ⭐⭐⭐⭐  4 stars.
  7. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – YA fiction, romance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.
  8. The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn – psychological thriller, mystery ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.

Reflecting on my choice of reads for the past month,I would say that I have chosen well. It is difficult to choose my favourite: the choice is between Laurie Forest’s Black Witch Chronicles and Trevor Noah’s memoir. I think I will settle for Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch as this novel not only introduced me to a new fiction writer, but also to a fantasy series that I have grown to love (so much so that I am eagerly waiting for her next novel to come out).

What was your favourite read in July? Share your choice, or the link to your post, below.

Favourite Read of the Month:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Book Review: The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest

At the Frenzy Presents Event hosted by Harper Collins Canada to which I was invited, I received not only a copy of The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, but also an ARC of the second book in the fantasy tale – The Iron Flower. After reading the first volume of The Black Witch Chronicles, I was eager to read the second and dove right in. I had quickly become a fan of Laurie Forest and was eager to read more on the world she had created, and read the stories of the characters I had come to love.

Genre: young adult, fantasy

Release Date: 18 September 2018

Blurb:

Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

My Thoughts: 

I absolutely loved the first volume in this epic saga (The Black Witch)  and hoped that Forest would continue with all that I loved of her first novel in the second. I was not disappointed. The representations of the characters I had grown to love were just as rich; the attacks on society just as subtle. The germinating seeds of the Resistance in Elloren as described in the first novel in this series, begin to flower in the second. Our protagonist grows even more as a person in this volume in spite of – or because of – events out of her control.

I do not want to tell you too much of the story as I would not want to spoil it for you. What I will tell you is that Forest’s descriptions of those peopling Gardenia once again entranced me. I could see the detail in my mind as I was reading: the hair and colour of skin, the dress, the beauty enhancements. While reading, I held my breath with Elloren; and my heart raced for her as she worked towards the safety of her friends. I was invested in the story and hoped that the outcome for her and her friends would be a positive one.

I read book 2 of The Black Witch Chronicles in two days over the Labour Day weekend (and the tome is not short). I could not put the book down and immersed myself willingly in a fantasy world filled with dragons, selkies, and fae people. The grandeur of this world is an epic one and one which – when I turned the last page – left me wanting more.

The Iron Flower  by Laurie Forest is an excellent read and a perfect sequel to the first. If you are looking to start a new series, or you are looking for an epic read, I do suggest reading The Black Witch Chronicles – you will not be disappointed.

Review of Book 1: The Black Witch  by Laurie Forest

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 5 stars with no hesitation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 60th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the Frenzy Presents event organised by Harper Collins Canada publishing house. This is an event to which book bloggers are invited to be introduced to upcoming young adult fiction.

The guest author at the event was Laurie Forest, the writer of The Black Witch. I had not read her debut novel and was interested to hear her speak as she wrote my favourite genre, fantasy fiction. When she told us that social injustice had inspired her novel, I was eager to begin reading.

Genre: young adult fiction, fantasy

Blurb: 

Elloren Gardner is the splitting image of her famous grandmother, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces in the last Realm War. But while her people, the Gardnerians, believe she will follow Carnissa as the next Black Witch of the prophesy, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.

My thoughts: 

From the first page, I knew I would enjoy this fantasy tale. My introduction to Elloren, the protagonist, is immediate. Her relationships with other characters are described through authentic dialogue; and her environment is introduced to us not only through description but also through her reaction to it. The world of Gardenia is introduced to us slowly as we read the text. Not only are we introduced to the physical world, but the social world as well. We slowly come to understand the social hierarchy of Laurie Forest’s created world; as well as the customs (such as wandfasting).

The attention to detail in this novel is amazing and takes on an epic quality. The various characters are neatly interwoven within the story – everything connecting to Elloren, the lead of the story. As Elloren experiences a new life at the University, we see her grow in understanding of her environment and of the social injustices that exist in her world. The Black Witch is not only the story of a young girl experiencing education at a university – it is a story highlighting the prejudice and the injustices that are found in society. Forest refers to the subjugation of women, the inequality between races, the prejudice that exists against those who are homosexual.

I enjoyed reading The Black Witch  for so many reasons. It is well written. The story takes me into a fantasy land that allows me to use my imagination. The novel is a reflection of what we see in our present modern world and, while reading, my mind was constantly making connections and reflecting on what I was reading and what exists in the world. I felt I was an active reader. Lastly, I love stories that are epic tales – and The Black Witch is of this ilk

If you enjoy fantasy fiction and detailed sagas, The Black Witch by Laurie Forest is a must-read!

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 59th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)