Friday, February 21, 2020

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal


We Hunt the Flame
by Hafsah Faizal
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
 May 14, 2019
472 pages

Plot: Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine. (2020, Goodreads.com)


Review:  On a quest to save her people from the Arz, a magical forest that is slowly taking over the land, Zafira journeys to the dangerous island of Sharr in order to find the missing Jarawat, a book believed to be able to stop the Arz from spreading.  But, Zafira is not the only one looking for the book.  

Also known as the Prince of Death, Nasir is on a never-ending mission to please his father, the King.  He has done and will do the unthinkable in order to fulfill his father's orders.  But, finding out the Hunter is a woman makes Nasir second guess his orders, and after spending time with Zafira he starts to question whether or not he deserves a second chance to be the leader his kingdom desperately needs.

I really enjoyed We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal.  The writing is excellent and really draws you into the story.  I usually don't like slow-start stories, but this one just hooks you anyway!  The writing is that good!  Faizal does a great job with the character development of Zafira, Nasir, and Altair.  The grit and perseverance of Zafira, the internal conflicts of Nasir, and the mystery and humor of Altair help the reader to connect with these characters.

Lots of plot twists, especially in Act III.  Overall, a great read and I absolutely cannot wait until book two!  If you enjoy great character development, slow but satisfying world-building, and enemy's to lovers romance than We Hunt the Flame is a must-read! Great for fans of The Wrath and the Dawn duology and The Star-Touched Queen series.  Recommended for 14 and up!

Book Two: We Free the Stars (July 2020)

Rating:  5 Hearts!
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Monday, February 17, 2020

Lone Star Book Blog Tour: FINDING ESME by Suzanne Crowley ***REVIEW & GIVEAWAY***

FINDING ESME
by
SUZANNE CROWLEY
   Genre: Middle Grade (3-7) / Magical Realism / Family & Loss
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date of Publication: August 14, 2018
Number of Pages: 288


***Scroll down for the giveaway!***




After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme's been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor. The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away. Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.
PRAISE & HONORS FOR FINDING ESME:
“Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her… Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review) “Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to...A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.” -- School Library Journal “Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.” -- Booklist
Texas Library Association 2019 Spirit of Texas (SPOT) reading program selection

Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley is a heartfelt story about a 12-year old girl who struggles to find the balance in her life amidst the loss of her grandfather, her heartbroken mother, and her absentee father.  Keeping her grounded is her grandmother Bee, whose no-nonsense love is just what Esme needs to keep her going, even if she doesn't realize it.  

Esme's life is not easy as she navigates pre-teen emotions, the drama of friendships, and the hope that one day her father will come home. But, the story becomes even more complex and intriguing as Esme discovers she has the same extraordinary gift of intuition for finding things just like her grandmother.  And that gift is what helps her to find dinosaur bones up on Solace Hill.  The place where her grandfather died suddenly, and where her grandmother doesn't want her to go.  There is a mystery surrounding that hill, and it's more than just bones.  

I love the way this story is written through the eyes of Esme and the growth of her character throughout the story.  Crowley does an excellent job giving us the perspective of a pre-teen girl as she faces complicated friendships and the transition towards becoming a young woman.  All the characters had a lot of depth that was distinctly their own, and you could certainly feel a connection to them as a reader.  The sadness in Esme's mother's eyes, the grit of Bee, and the innocence of little Bo was truly palpable throughout the story.  

The author does a wonderful job bringing us into the life of a small-town Texas girl whose struggles with the pain of losing a loved one, living with the heartbreak of a broken family, and dealing with the stress of possibly losing your home due to financial difficulties.  Readers dealing with similar emotions or situations will relate to Esme and her broken family.

Finding Esme is a beautiful coming-of-age story that will keep you hooked until the last satisfying page.  A perfect book for your middle-grade child or library!  

5 Hearts!
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Suzanne Crowley is the author of two acclaimed novels for young readers, The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous and The Stolen One. The author, who is also a miniaturist and dollhouse collector whose work has graced the covers of magazines worldwide, was born in a small town in Texas and lives in Southlake, Texas. When not hugging her dog or imbibing in chocolate, she can often be found taking a nap.


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***GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!***

TWO READERS EACH WIN A SIGNED COPY OF FINDING ESME, TWO CANDLES, BOOKMARKS, FUN FACT CARDS, AND A PEN!

February 11-21, 2020
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