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T5W: Books That Would Make Good Video Games

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Lainey of gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam of ThoughtsOnTomes. Every week, I will post my top 5 of that week’s theme. If you’d like to learn more about it or join in the fun, head over to the Goodreads group where all the discussions take place here.

This week’s topic is books that would make good video games. I’m not much of a gamer, but I’ve picked books that were filled with action and problem-solving from start to end. Here we go!

1. Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton

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There is so much travelling, running, fighting, and sneaking around in this book that it made me feel a little bit like I was in a video game! I felt like I was jumping off trains and trekking through the desert with Amani, and I really think the adrenaline of this book would translate well into a video game. The landscapes are great, and I can imagine little mini-games with the different magical creatures and powers.

2. Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas

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I think that the first book in this series would make such a great game because of the tournament that Celaena is a part of. The game would include her training so that she is the best of the other candidates, the tournament itself, as well as the underlying mysteries around the palace, like when she discovers the secret tunnel in her room. Celaena would make a great video game protagonist because she is smart, adventurous, and completely badass. The location of the palace would work so well in a video game as well, and I would love to be able to explore all its different corridors and rooms.

3. Maresi –  Maria Turtschaninoff 

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When I read this book, I loved reading about the simple lives of the women in the Red Abbey. I imagine that this came would be less action-packed than my previous two choices, and instead would be a chilled out simulation game. We would play the role of a new arrival, learning the ropes around the Abbey, helping with chores and tasks, with the harvest and learning new skills. Then, we would become a novice and even a sister. Maybe this sort of game isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it might sound a bit boring to some, but I grew up playing Sims and the Red Abbey sounded great to me, so I would love it!

4. Red Rising – Pierce Brown

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There is so much to this world that I would love a chance to really be a part of it. Maybe we could be young Golds at the Institute, or a rebel infiltrator like Darrow, leading warships in space.

5. A Song of Ice and Fire – George RR Martin

A Game of Thrones

Okay, this is a bit of a cop-out, because I actually played a ASOIAF game once on my phone but didn’t get very far because my phone was too crappy to handle it. The graphics were so great, and you got to decide what house you were in, whether you were rich or poor, and make different choices along the way. The world in these books is so diverse that it really would need to be a story that you craft yourself, whether you want to be leading an army into battle like Jaime or Robb Stark, a schemer like Littlefinger, royalty like Cersei or just someone trying to get by like Sansa.

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Book Reviews, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult

Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton Review

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Taken from @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

Rating:★★★★★

Why did I put this book off for so long? Was it the 500+ pages? Was it the possibility of Sagging Middle Syndrome? Did I just want to avoid having to wait so long for the next book? Probably a mix of the three. Whatever it was, I am so glad that I finally got around to reading Traitor to the Throne. I loved the first book (read my review here), and this one continued with the exciting plot and characters, and sets up the series for an explosive ending that I am already buzzing to read.

This book picks up some time after Rebel of the Sands. Amani has been with Prince Ahmed’s rebellion for a while now, but near the start of the book she is captured and taken to the Sultan’s palace where she is kept as a prisoner in his harem, bound to the Sultan who wants to use her Demji powers for himself. Amani decides to use her position to her advantage and begins spying on the Sultan, trying to learn as much as she can for the Rebellion, but this is a treacherous game. If it is discovered that she is a rebel, the punishment would be severe, not only for her but for her friends, and the Sultan knows exactly how to manipulate her.

The new setting means that the story takes a completely different tone. While Rebel of the Sands felt to me a bit like playing Temple Run – running and jumping and fighting at 100 mph – Traitor to the Throne is a much more slow burn story. It is politics and scheming and power plays. It is backstabbing and turncoats and disguises. Who is Amani’s ally and who is her enemy? We’re never quite sure. We see a different side to Amani in this novel because we get to see her planning her moves and making her own way. She no longer has a team of rebels at her side – she doesn’t even have Jin, and to make matters worse, the Sultan knows exactly how to control a Demji. With pieces of iron under her skin, Amani is cut off from her magic, and she can do nothing but obey all of the Sultan’s orders. She is bound to the very man who she is fighting to overthrow, and a slip of the tongue could reveal everything. While I found the first few chapters difficult to get into, once I remembered who all of the characters were and got used to the slight time jump between Rebel and Traitor, I got used to the harem setting and loved it.

I also loved all of the new characters that we got to meet in the harem. The characters in the rebellion are all very bold and bright, with magical powers and/or strong personalities that clash and make themselves known. In the harem, everything is more subtle, and I loved this shift. In Rebel, it was easy for Amani to know who she could be herself around, but in the harem she doesn’t have that luxury. I loved the atmosphere of the harem as this sort of miniature realm ruled by the politics of the Sultim’s wives. I also loved the Sultan’s character and found him a lot of fun. I’m glad that he wasn’t obviously evil, and even Amani begins to question her alliance. She spends time with him and listens to the reasons behind his decisions, his motivations and goals, and begins to doubt whether Ahmed, for all his good intentions, can really be a ruler. I always enjoy seeing this sort of moral ambiguity and find it so much more interesting than a villain who shows no humanity. I also loved the changes we see in Amani over the course of this novel. She begins to make her own decisions, plotting her own moves, and stepping up to take the lead when it seems like the rebellion may crumble. I actually felt a surge of pride at  her becoming a leader in her own right, and I can’t wait to see what other changes we see in her in the final instalment of the trilogy.

Traitor to the Throne isn’t just an interesting setting though, there was a great plot as well. As I said, this novel’s plot is a lot more slow burn than the first, and for much of the novel, you are just getting bits and pieces of information without really knowing where it’s going, but Hamilton’s writing, the setting and characters mean that you don’t get bored or feel lost. There is a real sense of mystery and suspense, and you know that something is building. When the action finally does kick off towards the end of the novel, it is intense. I loved the clashing of the rebellion with the harem, and the rebellion finally becoming ‘mainstream’ so that it poses a direct threat to the Sultan. Without spoiling the end of the novel, the final chapters of Traitor to the Throne are filled with so much action, plot twists and shocks that I didn’t really know what to do with myself  by the time I finished.

I wasn’t sure quite how I would feel about the change of tone and setting in Traitor to the Throne. I had enjoyed the action of Rebel so much that I wasn’t sure if Amani and the story would feel the same in the more political setting, but there was nothing to fear. I had so much fun reading Traitor to the Throne, and Hamilton has really set up the series for an exciting ending.

 

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T5W: Favourite Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Welcome to the first instalment of the Top 5 Wednesday book meme that I’ve decided to take part in! This is a weekly meme that was created by Lainey of gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam of ThoughtsOnTomes. Every week, I will post my top 5 of that week’s theme. If you’d like to learn more about it or join in the fun, head over to the Goodreads group where all the discussions take place here.

This week’s theme is Favourite Science Fiction and Fantasy Books. I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi, but I am a massive fantasy fan, so it has been a huge challenge narrowing down my favourites to 5, but here we go!

1. Harry Potter – JK Rowling

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I don’t really think that this choice needs an explanation, but I’ll give you one anyway. The Harry Potter books were a defining series for me in terms of my reading habits. I remember being completely swept up by the world, the characters, the magic, the story, everything about it. It was the first book that made me genuinely wish that the world I was reading about was magic, even over a decade later, I have never stopped imagining what life at Hogwarts would be like, and every time I’ve gone back to it, the magic hasn’t worn off. It’s thanks to this book that I always return to fantasy, and this will always hold a special place in my heart.

2. Red Rising Trilogy – Pierce Brown

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This is the first sci-fi book I series I had ever read, and wow. This trilogy is truly epic. Everything is so well thought out, from the world, the politics, the social structure, family backgrounds, and then the story itself is unbelievable. I would have to put the book down after almost every chapter because I would be hyperventilating at the latest plot twist! I love how Brown takes the world and makes it bigger, brighter, and louder with every book, and I’ve never read battle scenes that are so vividly described so that I can see everything unfolding in my mind, and almost feel like I’m right there with the characters.

Also, it’s set on Mars.

3. Caraval – Stephanie Garber

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I loved the setting of Caraval and all of the magical aspects of the world, like the dress that changes to reflect the mood of the wearer, the potion that helps you to see more clearly, the mystery behind Legend. Garber is really excellent at intertwining the feeling of wonder with the feeling of fear and apprehension, so all the while, you are having fun reading about this world and the plot, and also terrified that it might all be a trick.

You can read my full review for this book here.

4. Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton

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This book was so much fun to read! I love the setting, a mix between Arabian Nights and the Wild West, which basically means you have deserts and dunes interrupted by train tracks, and a main character who is a sharpshooter. As if this setting on its own wouldn’t have satisfied me, I really enjoyed the inclusion of mythical creatures like Djinni, horses made of sand, nightmare monsters, all great fun to read. This book has both an interesting setting, exciting plot, and characters that come to life on the page. I could read about Amani endlessly.

You can read my full review for this book here.

5. Crown of Midnight – Sarah J Maas

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While I have read the whole of the Throne of Glass series, but I chose not to put in all the books because I have mixed feelings about the series as a whole. However, Crown of Midnight, the second book, blew my mind and I still think that it is the best book in the series. It really picked up the story from the first book and upped the ante so much! There was so much action in this book, character development, and also, magic and fae. Although I might not love the Throne of Glass series too much, this book remains one of my top fantasy reading experiences.

So, there is my first #T5W post! This list was so hard to compile, not only because I love so many fantasy books and series, but also because I know that I have so many fantasy and science fiction books in my TBR list that I’m sure I will love! I’d be quite interested to re-do this list in a year and see how much this list has changed.

Are you a big fan of science fiction and fantasy? Comment below and tell me what your top 5 books are!

Book Reviews, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton Review

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

Rating: ★★★★★

Rebel of the Sands is Alwyn Hamilton’s debut and the first in a trilogy that I cannot wait to finish. I already have the second book waiting at the top of my reading list, and I’m still riding a high from reading Rebel. If you’re looking for a thrilling, fantasy novel to transport you to a fantastic, original setting, this is definitely the book for you.

Rebel’s protagonist is Amani, a young girl who lives in a dead-end town in Miraji, where magical creatures made of sand roam the desert. She can’t wait to get out of Dustwalk, the town where she has grown up, and the opportunity presents itself when a mysterious foreigner shows up in her shop, on the run from the Sultan’s soldiers. Soon, she’s fleeing Dustwalk on a magical horse with a wanted criminal, but she can’t begin to imagine where her journey will take her.

Amani captures your heart from the beginning of the novel. She jumps right off the page. What I loved about her was that despite growing up in a place where she’s sure to end up either dead or married, neither of which she is particularly excited for, she still manages to be independent and fiercely ambitious. In the very first chapter, we see her sneak out of her home to a shooting competition, where she just about clears the floor with her brilliant shooting skills, and throughout the book, we see her putting herself and her goals first. At the same time, she isn’t a cruel character. She prioritises herself, but Hamilton manages to make her endearing all the same. Even if she is knocking people out and taking their money, you’re still rooting for her. Even better however, is the arc that we see Amani go through. She definitely isn’t the same girl at the end of the novel as she is at the start, and we see her begin to question herself quite early on. Without spoiling it for you, if you’re anything like me, there will be several points during the book where you will be fighting to keep yourself from cheering out loud for Amani.

The world that Alwyn Hamilton creates is one of the most fascinating settings I have ever read. It is so different from anything I had ever read before, and she crafts it perfectly. Hamilton herself describes it as a mixture between an ‘Arabian Nights’ desert, and a Wild West desert, and that is exactly how it comes across. I loved the mix between the historical feel of the setting with the much more modern additions like guns and trains, which made the setting feel unique. The magical creatures were also very original, with djinni, mythical horses (made of sand!), skinwalkers, demdjis… Every aspect of Alwyn Hamilton’s world is unique and fascinating, and I can’t wait to see what she does in the next two books! I hope we get to see more of the different locations in the world, and even more of the magic.

Now, some people might say that certain aspects of this are predictable, and even I might have said it if this book wasn’t so exciting and well-written, but I really don’t care about the predictable love story in Rebel, or other storylines that I won’t reveal. The chemistry between Amani and Jin was so intense that at one point I had to put down the book and take a breather! I loved the to and fro, even if I did know where it was going, and their dialogue was witty and easy to read. Even though it was predictable, I didn’t find it soppy or cheesy, and I hope that Alwyn develops and deepens the relationship in the later books. I’d love to see Jin and Amani not only get through crap situations together, but also face some crap between each other. I’m sure that she’ll make the love story in this series feel new, original, and exciting just like every other aspect of her book is.

Overall, I can’t really explain how much I enjoyed this book. Amani starts off as your typical ‘strong female character’, but throughout the book you see her soften and start to question herself. The central relationship, the world and the magic was all so much fun, and Alwyn Hamilton writes so well that I felt like I was watching an action movie unfold in my mind. I am racing towards the second book Traitor to the Throne like a buraqi in the desert, so look out for my review of that in the next few weeks!