CBevents's blog

Join Jess Walter and Sarah Vowell for a special virtual event

One of the most anticipated books of 2020 - From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins comes another "literary miracle" (NPR)--a propulsive, richly entertaining novel about two brothers swept up in the turbulent class warfare of the early twentieth century. 

Books in Common NW is proud to offer a special conversation with NYT #1 Bestselling author Jess Walters, author of Beautiful Ruins, and writer Sarah Vowell. Tickets includes a signed book plated copy of The Cold Millions - Walter's newest book. An intimate story of brotherhood, love, sacrifice, and betrayal set against the panoramic backdrop of an early twentieth-century America that eerily echoes our own time, The Cold Millions offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams. Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers, The Cold Millions is a tour de force from a "writer who has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors" (Boston Globe). 

Country Bookshelf owner Ariana says "The gorgeous writing, vivid setting, compelling characters, and engrossing story aren't even the best part of this novel. instead I just keep marveling at how Jess Walter takes events from history to illuminate our present while keeping them rooted in their own time., from the labor movement to class, race, and gender equality and civil rights issues, to protests and freedom of speech. The northwest in 1909 has never been so relevant. Beautiful Ruins was a hard act to follow but, amazingly, Walter manages it with aplomb."

Praise of for the Cold Millions

 

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Virtual Lunch Date with John Grisham

Country Bookshelf and Books in Common NW is so excited to spend our lunch hour with New York Times bestselling author John Grisham discussing his newest legal thriller A Time For Mercy. Jake Brigance is back! The hero of A Time to Kill, one of the most popular novels of our time, returns in a courtroom drama that showcases #1 New York Times bestselling author John Grisham at the height of his storytelling powers.

Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/books-in-common-nw-john-grisham-tickets-125213241175 to register today, and add a copy of A TIME FOR MERCY when you do! We have signed copies available so be sure to purchase your copy while supplies last!

Books: 
A Time for Mercy (Jake Brigance #3) Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780385545969
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Doubleday - October 13th, 2020

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A Note About the Holidays

Dear Country Bookshelf Readers,

Thank you for your continued support through this chaotic year. 2020 has been unprecedented in many ways, including this note about the holidays -- which may seem out of season but stick with us. In short, we are highly encouraging folks to shop early for holiday gifts. 

We’ve never been one to rush the holiday season, but 3 primary factors this year have coalesced to make this necessary.

Printing issues

Shipping issues

COVID safety and capacity issues

When the country shut down back in March, many spring book releases were postponed or canceled because manufacturers, warehouses, and shipping companies had to abide by local lockdown mandates and social distancing guidelines. Those postponed releases are all happening now -- along with those already scheduled for this fall. This has led to paper shortages and backlogs at the two (yes, only two) book printers in the US. 

We expect this year’s hottest titles to sell out FAST. If the publishers run out and can’t reprint, we may not be able to restock. So, if you see something you like, don’t wait, as it might not be available later. This also goes for our nonbook merchandise like puzzles, cards, calendars, and other gift items. Most of those we will not be able to reorder again before the holidays.

Shipping is taking longer than usual -- to us from our suppliers and to you. All the major shipping companies are working extra hard while having an extra heavy load, and this will likely only get worse as the season progresses. 

Country Bookshelf may be large, but we still must limit our capacity for everyone’s safety. Our first priority is people: customers and staff. Shopping early avoids crowds and gives everyone time to select special holiday gifts. We don’t want you to suffer waiting outside in wintry Montana weather. 

So what should you do?

SHOP EARLY: Usually a last-minuter but have specific titles in mind? Shop in October and November for the best selection or to allow time for us to get in your special requests.

PREORDER: If you already know you want new books such as The Promised Land by Barack Obama, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 15: The Deep End by Jeff Kinney, or The Best of Me by David Sedaris, preordering now will guarantee your copy. This also helps us know how many to order and keeps you from being disappointed.

SHOP ONLINE: The safest way to shop is at countrybookshelf.com. Not quite sure what you’re looking for? Call or email and our booksellers will personally shop for you. And yes, we still gift wrap for free. Just leave a note in the comments section. We offer easy in-store pick up, local delivery, and nationwide shipping.

SHIP EARLY: To guarantee delivery in time, we recommend shipping gifts no later than October 25 for Hanukkah and November 15 for Christmas and Kwanzaa.

We are working our hardest to make this a safe, fun, memorable holiday season for everyone. We hope to see you downtown soon!

 

Be safe and be well, 

Country Bookshelf Staff

 

Books: 
Pre-Order Now Badge
A Promised Land Cover Image
$45.00
ISBN: 9781524763169
Availability: Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Crown - November 17th, 2020

The Deep End (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 15) Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781419748684
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Amulet Books - October 27th, 2020

Pre-Order Now Badge
The Best of Me Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780316628242
Availability: Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - November 3rd, 2020

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Get your Tickets! Senator Jon Tester Shares His New Book Grounded

Join Senator Jon Tester for a virtual discussion of his new book Grounded: A Senator's Lessons on Winning Back Rural America. An inspiring and eye-opening memoir showing how Democrats can reconnect with rural and red-state voters, from Montana’s three-term democratic senator.

 Your ticket includes a copy of Grounded  with signed book plate, and a unique link to join this virtual conversation.

Senator Jon Tester is a rare voice in Congress. He is the only United States senator who manages a full-time job outside of the Senate—as a farmer. But what has really come to distinguish Tester in the Senate is his commitment to accountability, his ability to stand up to Donald Trump, and his success in, time and again, winning red state voters back to the Democratic Party.

In Grounded, Tester shares his early life, his rise in the Democratic party, his vision for helping rural America, and his strategies for reaching red state voters. Leaning deeply into lessons on the value of authenticity and hard work that he learned growing up on his family’s 1,800-acre farm near the small town of Big Sandy, Montana—the same farm he continues to work today with his wife, Sharla—Tester has made his political career a testament to crossing the divides of class and geography. The media and Democrats too often discount rural people as Trump supporters; Tester knows better. His voice is vital to the public discourse as we seek to understand the issues that are important to rural and working-class America in not just the 2020 election but also for years to come.

A heartfelt and inspiring memoir from a courageous voice, Grounded shows us that the biggest threat to our democracy isn’t a president who has no moral compass. It’s politicians who don’t understand the value of accountability and hard work. Tester demonstrates that if American democracy is to survive, we must put our trust in the values that keep us grounded.

Tester will be joined in conversation by author Sarah Vowell.

Sarah Vowell is the New York Times’ bestselling author of seven nonfiction books on American history and culture. Her most recent book is entitled Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

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Books in Common NW -- Virtual Events Every Week

We’ve partnered with some of our indie bookstore friends - Paulina Springs Books in Sisters, Oregon and Madison Books in Seattle, Washington - to offer Books in Common NW: A Regional Literary Event Series. From literary fiction to mystery and fantasy, from nature writing to memoir and history and all the spaces in between, we’re packing the calendar with authors to inform and delight. You'll find interesting authors, engaging discussion, and maybe even your next great read. Enjoy world-class authors brought to your living room each Thursday, all while staying safely socially distant and supporting your favorite local bookstore!

We kicked things off on Thursday, July 7th with mystery mavens Elizabeth George and Iona Whishaw. If you missed it, you can still watch it here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/vkitbcc8. Don’t forget to grab copies of their books while you’re here.

And there’s even more where that came from with a great lineup for July, August - AND September! When you attend live you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions of the authors, and interact with other attendees in the live chat. If you can't make it in real time, still sign up for the event to get the link to watch later. 

7/9/20 - Phillip Margolin
7/16/20- Kendra Atleework
7/23/20 - Erica C Barnett and David Schmader in conversation
7/30/20 - Steve Olson and Sharma Shields in conversation
8/6/20 - Larry Watson
8/13/20 - Sarah Smith and Bookstore Romance Day
8/20/20 - Catherynne M Valente and Jeff VanderMeer in conversation
8/25/20 - Keith McCafferty and Craig Johnson
8/27/20- Daniel Mathews and Valerie Trouet in conversation
9/1/20 - Vanessa Veselka & Peter Geye
9/3/20 - Jane Kirkpatrick & Greg Nokes
9/8/20 - Geraldine Woods
9/10/20 - Janet Fox & Rosanne Parry in conversation
9/15/20 - Chuck Palahniuk & Grady Hendrix
9/17/20 - Jason Diamond & Andi Zeisler
9/24/20 - Ginger Gaffney and Pam Houston in conversation

 

And this is just the beginning. We’re adding more authors and dates all the time - so keep watching our calendar for more special virtual events.

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Russell Rowland and Cold Country

We checked in with local author Russell Rowland about his newest book Cold Country

He was kind enough to answer some fan questions for our blog! 

Mike Penfold asks: I love Cold Country. The characters you developed in Cold Country seemed real. Did you have in mind specific people you know as you developed these people? 

Russell Rowland: Thank you, Mike! This book is very loosely based on a period in my life, when I was ten years old and my father took a job managing a ranch near Ranchester, Wyoming. So yes, many of these characters are based on people from that small ranching community. Which is why I moved the story to Paradise Valley and obviously changed the names.

LuAnne Halligan Carbaugh: Do you have different strategies when approaching writing your books? You’ve written both fiction and non-fiction, so I was just wondering if the process was different as you worked through your writing.

RR: Hello LuAnne! Yes, each book does seem to require a slightly different approach. And of course that's especially true in the case of nonfiction vs. fiction. I was kind of surprised when I started writing Fifty-Six Counties, how hard it was for me to stick to facts. It's so much more fun to make shit up. But in the case of my novels, the story really dictates what's different about how I tell the story. In the case of Cold Country, the more times I edited this book (I was working on it for more than 15 years), the more I realized I needed to pull back on the drama. I think the initial tendency in writing a story that has action in it is to go overboard with the action. But understatement has always been way more effective, in my opinion. Plus it's closer to real life. And it's more my style. Great question!

Patricia Calaghan: A reviewer found the opening scene shocking. I found it powerfully real and moving, maybe because I grew up on a farm. Were you surprised at her reaction and have you heard that reaction from others? 

RR: Hey Pat - I'm not sure what review you're referring to, but I suppose it might be shocking to someone who hasn't grown up around that kind of thing. That opening scene is lifted directly from an incident that happened when I was ten, and accompanied my dad as he checked on the pregnant cattle on the ranch where we lived. It obviously made a huge impression on me, and I thought it provided a nice metaphor for much of what happens later in the book.

Sarie Mackay: Why did you write the book, and how does it fit into your growth as an author?

RR: Hey Sarie! Thanks for this excellent question. My main goal with this story was to explore how tragedy impacts a small, tight-knit community. And one of the secondary themes was how pretty much everyone in a community like this ends up feeling like a bit of an outsider, depending on how secure they are in themselves. So you have a couple like Junior and Angie, who are pretty comfortable in their own skin, and are thus less affected by the events around them. But people like Babe and Tom, or even the Logans, because they are fighting with some demons of their own, always feel a little out of step with what's happening around them, no matter how popular they are. The murder is really a secondary event in this story. It's much more about community dynamics. How Cold Country fits into my growth as a writer is harder to answer, but one thing this book allowed me to explore more is branching out into a new narrative approach. I've always stuck pretty closely to one point of view in my novels, but this one demanded more than one narrative POV in order to tell the story. It was harder than I expected to tell a story that way, but once it clicked, it was very satisfying to learn this new approach.

Don’t miss this great small town mystery- be sure to pick up your copy of Cold Country from Country Bookshelf today!

 
Books: 
Cold Country Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781945814921
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Dzanc Books - November 12th, 2019

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An interview With Author Grady Hendrix

Bookseller Harry is back with a review of Grady Hendrix’s new release The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. “We’re a book club. What are we supposed to do? Read him to death?” A group of tired and unappreciated moms get together to read true crime, drink wine, and form meaningful friendships when a vampire moves to town. We've all been there, right? I honestly can't tell you how much I loved this book. This book kept me up many a sleepless night as I finished just one more chapter, got actually frustrated at antagonists, and cheered for the protagonists. I feel like Grady gets better and better with each new book, and I never wanted this story to end. I was able to ask him a few questions about The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Check it out!

Harry J: Best Friend's Exorcism and Southern Book Club's Guide both have a strong theme of overcoming monsters with the power of female bonds. Is there a specific reason for this? 

Grady Hendrix: Unhappy endings always feel like you stopped telling the story too early, because life goes on and I always want to know what happens next. Unhappy endings just feel cheap and unrealistic to me. Cynicism is a sad and pointless way to look at the world. 

HJ: How much is the protagonist in The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires based off of your actual mother? 

GH: Every character I write is based on a real person, whether it’s someone I know or someone I see on the subway, but by the time they make it to the page, they’re virtually unrecognizable. Patricia has some things in common with my mom — they’re both former nurses, they both belong to book clubs, they’re both parents — but Patricia is a lot more naive than my mom. On the other hand, she’s also a lot more likely to try to kill a vampire than my mom.

HJ: You seem to favor strong female protagonists fighting against paranormal odds in your books. What inspired this? 

GH: I have no idea why I seem incapable of writing male characters. It’s clearly something I need to address with my therapist! Guys just don’t interest me as much.

HJ: What gave you the idea for The Southern Book Club's Guide? 

GH: I’ve always wanted to write a book about adult friendship and I’ve known the women in my mom’s book club since I was a kid. The longer I knew them the more interesting they became, but when I initially suggested this book to my editor they really pushed back against it, telling me that no one was interested in reading about a bunch of middle-aged housewives. That sealed the deal: I was going to write this book no matter what.

HJ: If Southern Book Club’s Guide became a movie or tv series, what would be your ideal casting? (Mine would be Winona Ryder for Patricia and Chris Sarandon for James Harris.)

GH: I like the Winona Ryder idea, but I have a hard time with these kinds of questions because I feel like I’ll jinx things. But if Patrick Wilson was younger, he’d be a great James Harris, and I’d love to see Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Greene. 

HJ: You've already covered a number of horrifying things; vampires, demons, Ikea. What's the next monster that you'd like to (forgive the pun) sink your teeth into?

GH: I actually already have a monster and their book is slated for publication in June 2021. So I’m not saying anything until closer to that date. But I will say that the one monster I really want to write and can’t find a way into: werewolves. I love werewolves but I just can’t seem to find that extra piece that makes them work for me. But maybe I’m just not inspired enough? I’m going to keep wandering around the moors at night and waiting to be bitten.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9781683691433
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Quirk Books - April 7th, 2020

The Booksellers of Country Bookshelf Recommend

We recently partnered with Harper Collins and went LIVE on Facebook with some of our booksellers favorite recommendations and books to handsell. If you missed it live, you can check out the video here.

We kicked things off with some important Bozeman books - including the One Book One Bozeman pick The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Montana Author Carrie La Seur. Keep an eye out for more events tied to this book and make sure you book club adds it to your rotation. We also highlighted one of our Children’s Festival of the Book authors, Brian Floca and his book Moonshot, since this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the lunar landing. Floca will be joined by Caldecott winner Sophia Blackall and Montana Author Susan Adrian. Visit the Children’s Festival of the Book website for more details. 

Our mystery maven Wendy jumped in with two of her favorite fall books - The Chestnut Man by Soren Sviestrup, which Wendy calls a great chilling Scandanavian thriller. Wendy also loved Tim Egan’s newest book A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith about his travels along the Via Francigena. 

Harry was prepared for “Spook-tober” with his recommendations - The Saturday Night Ghost Club, Undead Girl Gang, and The Cosmology of Monsters. He also had two graphic novel recommendations for you - Maestros and Fairlady. 

Non-fiction fan Kaycee took us to the True Crime section, recommending I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Chase Darkness With Me, Savage Appetites, and the new adult horror title from Stephen Chbosky Imaginary Friend. 

Not to be outdone, Kasey jumped in with some of her favorite recommendations, including Name of the Wind - a perennial staff favorite, and the work of Otessa Mosfegh - which she brought to our Book Club in July with My Year of Rest and Relaxation. 

Finally, Jessica closed us out with some of her favorites, including Lady Derring Takes a Lover from our new romance section, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Braiding Sweetgrass (which you won’t be able to get her to be quiet about), and her favorite book of the year, Gideon the Ninth.

Obviously we love talking about books, so we hope you’ll ask our staff for their recommendations on your next favorite read.

 

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
The Chestnut Man: A Novel Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062895363
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Harper - September 3rd, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780735225237
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - October 15th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
The Saturday Night Ghost Club: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143133933
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Penguin Books - July 9th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
Undead Girl Gang Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780451478245
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Razorbill - May 14th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
A Cosmology of Monsters: A Novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781524747671
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon - September 17th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
Maestros Volume 1 Cover Image
By Steve Skroce, Steve Skroce (Artist)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781534306738
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Image Comics - November 6th, 2018

Fairlady Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781534313316
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Image Comics - September 17th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer Cover Image
By Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Introduction by), Patton Oswalt (Afterword by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062319791
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Harper Perennial - February 26th, 2019

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Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders Cover Image
By Billy Jensen, Karen Kilgariff (Foreword by)
$25.99
ISBN: 9781492685852
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Sourcebooks - August 13th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501188886
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - August 20th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
Imaginary Friend Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781538731338
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - October 1st, 2019

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780756404741
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: DAW - April 1st, 2008

My Year of Rest and Relaxation: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525522133
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Penguin Books - June 25th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
Lady Derring Takes a Lover: The Palace of Rogues Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062867469
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Avon - February 26th, 2019

The Poet X Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062662804
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - March 6th, 2018

Staff Pick Badge
Braiding Sweetgrass Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781571313560
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 1st, 2014

Staff Pick Badge
Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy #1) Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250313195
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tordotcom - September 10th, 2019

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Romance Recommendations Halloween Edition

 Something Old 

Jeaniene Frost is one of the best paranormal authors out there. So let’s start at the beginning – her debut novel – with HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE – A Night Huntress Novel.

Cat is half vampire, half human, who hunts vampires. Bones is a vampire bounty hunter. When they team up it’s out of necessity, but neither of them can deny the chemistry between them. Bones helps Cat see that not all vampires are evil, and neither is she as they race to rescue innocent enslaved girls.

An entertaining, sexy, action-packed adventure into the darkness where everyone is neither all good nor evil.  

 

 Something New 

Start a new magical series with Ilona Andrews BURN FOR ME – the first book in their Hidden Legacy series.

Tough, determined, ready to take on any challenge, Nevada teams up with a seductive, dangerous man to find her next target to save her detective agency. Rogan knows how dangerous magic can be – and so can love.

A magical society, powerful families, a strong female lead, an enemies-to-lovers romance, and a compelling mystery kept me enthralled and turning the page.   

 

Something Borrowed

I was so excited – and star struck – when Jeaniene Frost emailed me with her favorite paranormal books…

The most recent paranormal romance I read and loved was SAPPHIRE FLAMES by Ilona Andrews. This is another continuation of her hugely popular Hidden Legacy series, this time featuring new leads, Catalina and Alessandro. With smoldering tension, non-stop action and laugh out loud humor, I loved everything about this book. 

I'm also a huge fan of Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series, most especially the books featuring Elena and Raphael. The most recent one is ARCHANGEL'S PROPHECY, but fans like me won't have long to wait until Elena and Raphael's next adventures in ARCHANGEL'S WAR.  If you haven't yet discovered this mesmerizing paranormal world of angels, vampires, vampire hunters and forbidden love, start with ANGEL'S BLOOD, book one in the series. Careful, though - Nalini's writing is addictive!

Check out Jeaniene’s new series! SHADES OF WICKED is out now!

 

Something Blue-ish

HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE VAMPIRE - I love this cover. It’s kind of creepy, but still has the promise of a happy-ever-after – literally in this case because vampires live forever!

What’s a vampire to do when he loses a fang? Find a dentist to fix it before his natural healing abilities leaves him a one-fang vamp with only half a bite. Too bad Shanna has the Russian mob after her, making it even more difficult for Roman to get his chomp back. Lucky for Shana, she’s found the one man who has the power, strength, and determination to keep her alive – because he wants her for himself.

Action, humor, a millionaire vampire – Highlander vampires! – and a romance between an unlikely couple make this a really enjoyable read.

I hope you enjoy all of these recommendations.

 

 
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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Marly B from our Teen Advisory Corps reviewed We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. One of this summers buzzy titles heres whta Marly had to say. 

The only person who has ever been able to navigate the Arz is Zafira. Not only does she return from the magical forest, she returns with food and animal skins. Zafira has been feeding the villages closest to the Arz for years, becoming a hero to the locals and a legend beyond that, known widely as the Hunter. When returning from a successful hunt one day, she is stopped by a mystical witch who slips a letter into her bag. The letter invites her to help save all of Arawiya by venturing into the island of Sharr, known for being used as a prison and the last place besides the Arz that still holds magic. She is sent to retrieve the Jawarat, a book that will prevent the Arz from consuming Arawiya and return magic to the five caliphates. However, she quickly realizes that she isn’t alone on the island, and some of the people she shares the ground with aren’t unfamiliar with taking lives. 

    We Hunt the Flame is Hafsah Faizal’s debut novel, and there’s not a lot to complain about! The setting, characters, pacing and plot were all very well written. 

    We Hunt the Flame is a fantasy book based off of ancient Arabia. It adds elements I haven’t seen in many fantasy books before and makes it stand out against others. I personally enjoyed the incorporation of turbans into common garb and use of sandy settings, for no other reasons other than it was a nice change of scenery for a fantasy novel. The setup of the caliphates was also a nice bit of variety that I appreciated.

    This book also does a nice job of having characters with different personalities. Despite introducing tons of characters at the same time they were easy to keep track of because of how varied their traits were. They were described very consistently which was great for remembrance, but also helped to really be able to know and understand them. The only complaint I have in this area is Kifah. She didn’t seem distinct from the other characters, and I can’t remember anything important she did to advance the plot. I don’t think the book would have changed all that much if she wasn’t written into it. 

    The story itself moved at a reasonable pace. A large part of the book is traveling and camping out, and Faizal did a great job of keeping even mundane things readable. The characters were well written so even when nothing was happening it was entertaining. The interactions between the characters and learning more about the magic system and history of Arawiya was interesting. 

I actually didn’t mind the romantic subplot in this book, which shouldn’t be taken lightly because most of the time I would rather eat nails than subject myself to that sort of torture (that might be slightly dramatic but only slightly). First off, the relationship developed fairly naturally. Insta-love was avoided and the characters stayed true to how they were written even as they became more attached. Faizal also avoided pushing the main plot of the story to the side in favor of the romance. She didn’t slow down the plot to let the relationship develop and didn’t add in pointless scenes to progress the relationship. Basically, the romantic subplot was actually subplot and didn’t hinder the story which I don’t usually see in fantasy or YA. I don’t think I’ve read a book that does romantic subplot as well as We Hunt the Flame does. 

We Hunt the Flame is a pretty darn good book, I do have a couple minor complaints though. Faizal describes a plethora of magical creatures throughout the novel, but there were only three creatures I can remember the characters interacting with, and only one of those we heard of more than once. Faizal did an amazing job of creating interesting creatures, I just wish I was introduced to more of them. 

The magic in the book caused some issues for me. For a book centered around magic, we don’t actually see it used a whole lot. I would accept that if there was an explanation on why. Are some things harder to do than others? Is there time limits between uses? Does it sap energy from the user? More clear ideas of the limits of magic would have been nice. It was hard to be impressed with the idea of limitless magic when there really wasn’t any idea of what magic with limits would be like. 

    I would give We Hunt the Flame a 3.75/5. I don’t think I want to read the second book, but I would definitely read another book by Hafsah Faizal. Her writing style is already fantastic and I can only imagine it will get better in her future books. 

Books: 
We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780374311544
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - May 14th, 2019

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