Sometimes, it takes a well organized guide (like the one you’ll find in this post) to prepare you for gearing up to read a book so you can experience the full glory of a novel. Other times, you just dive into it.
For instance, take Harry Potter. It’s great to read, but isn’t it even better when you’ve got some every flavored beans on hand or a chocolate frog (though don’t let it hop away as you turn the pages!).
I’ve prepared for you a little preparation guide on what you should do before embarking on the journey that is Isle of Blood and Stone! But a little about the book before we begin:
Elias is a royal explorer, skilled mapmaker, and a friend of the new king. Soon he will embark on an adventure of a lifetime into uncharted waters, braving the ocean blue, and nothing can stop him.
That is, until an old tragedy creeps back into the light and threatens all Elias holds dear. The kingdom’s boy princes were kidnapped eighteen years ago and are presumed to be dead, at least, until two mysterious maps emerge with the same hidden riddle. These maps hold more than just a riddle, though, and more questions begin to come up about Elias’ own history and what truly happened, all while an unknown enemy stalks his every move.
A Reader’s Map to Embarking on an Adventure in Isle of Blood and Stone
So, without further ado, I present what I think you need to have on hand when beginning to read Makiia Lucier’s Isle of Blood and Stone!
This may sound like an odd request, especially because some readers are more amenable to their surroundings and are able to read in even the most busy of situations, but this is going to make your reading experience so much better, I guarantee it.
The prologue is so intense. Seriously. Lots of very intense ~things~ that I don’t want to spoil happen. People die. People get kidnapped. People regret. It is intense. And sure, lots of chattering voices on the subway is a nice background (not really), but I definitely suggest just absorbing yourself into the story. That being said…
I personally think this book is best read while bingeing. It’s got a lot of mysterious elements to it with the riddle, and sure, you may want to take the time to try and figure where everything has gone, but it’s so much more fun if you just gobble it up.
Now, I do respect if you’re someone who really wants to savor it, but you could, alternatively, just read it again and savor the story all over again! It’s just a story that was so engrossing to me yet also so un-mediocre or un-cringey.
3. A Pillow
This is probably the biggest multitasker on the list, but a pillow would be really helpful. Or even pillows. Not only do they provide good support for whatever you’re reading the book on, but they can also be used for a variety of other things.
Such as, squeezing in anticipation to get the feels out or throwing at the wall (instead of something easily damaged, like your phone) when you get frustrated or insulted (in a good way). But cuddling and squeezing out the feels is one of the primary reasons why a pillow would help with reading Isle of Blood and Stone because there are all the feels!
4. Something Sea-Like
This book definitely has such a rich setting and honestly it makes you want to go somewhere sea-side. I’m a Floridian and I’m not gonna lie, I definitely wanted to walk to the beach and read it there (except I was reading this at like 10 pm and mosquitos are vicious creatures), but something sea-like is so nostalgic.
For instance, having a shell on hand to look at and sigh to as you think about how you wish you were in St. John de Mar is definitely a viable option. They mention things like sea shells and it all makes me very nostalgic for the beach (I like the beach, just not the ocean. Weird.). So a memento would definitely help set the mood, if you know what I mean.
5. A Snack
Besides the fact that staying fed and hydrated is very important, it’s also something that can definitely improve the reading experience, especially if you have the right things on hand.
They mention everything from coconut to lobster to fish eggs and giant crab legs and oh am I salivating! Just imagine all the seafood you could indulge in! It’s all so tempting to me and also unfortunate because I get puffy if I eat too much shrimp, but I would totally do it anyway because the saliva is gathering in my mouth as I think of the crab legs. Mmm…
I hope these suggestions helped properly prepare you to get settled in to read Isle of Blood and Stone which comes out tomorrow! You can read more of my thoughts below.
This book is just what I needed.
I know I’ve mentioned I’ve had a pretty ehh fantasy year so far and Ace of Shades was one of the first books to pull me out of that slump. But this is a book that’s actually similar to all those books I’ve been trying (princes and mapmakers and all sorts of mystery) that is slaying!
Besides just loving the writing style–it’s simple yet descriptive and makes everything clear in third person–I found it to just be really enjoyable in general to read.
The story has a very nice balance, in the different plots and in the characters. Elias is nice enough that you actually like him, but he does have some flaws and not too much of a tortured past–just enough of one to keep you intrigued. He is a little more heroic and less tortured, although it was refreshing than all those dominating males because he was courteous and nice and we need more of that.
What I really loved about the character dynamics with Elias is how he had such a great relationship with is family. He and his stepfather interact in such a cute way and I love how Elias has managed to form this heathy stepfather bond and is actively concerned about his family’s well-being without it being the entire motivator of the plot. Even throughout the whole story, he respects both his actual father (that is, if he finds him) and his step father, and this was something that just came off as really cool in a fantasy novel.
I also really liked how Lucier showed how he was a nice person and didn’t just tell it *cough*Everless*cough*. He’s considerate and an enjoyable male main character that we honestly need more of in books narrated by MMCs.
I enjoyed some of the historical part of this fantasy novel as Lucier references different places but also twists some things to let her add more diversity and potential with the story. There’s definitely some twisting of history as there’s a huge emphasis on the importance of maps, but I like the references to places like the Pyrenees.
The whole thing was very entertaining to read and engrossing–I wanted to see what’s going to happen next and I was invested in the story and the riddles and the maps and the world. Nothing is super slow or boring and there’s all sorts of cool things like sea serpents and a whole ton of mystery.
There’s definitely a little conspiracy going on and although the issue isn’t the most complicated plot ever, I definitely found it enjoyable. Where I took off the half star really rested in how I felt like if Lucier tried, she could have turned this into more books with more intrigue and issues and I actually think I would have wanted to read all of them (aka my problem was that I wish there were more books). But it’s also always nice to see fantasy standalones which are kind of a breath of fresh air in this series clogged world.
The only other thing I wanted to touch on was the transitions in the story. I’m pretty sure in the actual book (when I see a physical, I’ll check inside to confirm) there are line breaks or something to indicate a shift in the third person POV, but in the DRC I read there weren’t any and it immediately went to another point of view in the next paragraph and was very disconcerting. I’m pretty sure this was a formatting issue, but it’s always good to check.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this novel and found it to be a refreshing fantasy read! I’d definitely recommend to someone looking for something similar to popular fantasy novels topic-wise, but without some of the more aggravating points to it.
More About the Book
Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Ulises asked, “How can I look at these maps, see this riddle, and do nothing? They are my brothers.”
Elias reached across the table and flicked aside two shells with a fingertip. The map curled into itself. “It’s bound to be a goose chase. You know that?”
“Or a treasure hunt,” Ulises countered, “and you’ve always been good at those.”
Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.
The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side-whether he wants her there or not-Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.
More About the Author
Makiia is the author of historical fiction and historical fantasy for young adults. She grew up on the Pacific Island of Guam (not too far from the equator), and has degrees in journalism and library science from the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Her debut novel, A Death-Struck Year, was called a “powerful and disturbing reading experience” by Publishers Weekly. It was a finalist for Germany’s top book prize for children, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, as well as Japan’s Sakura Medal, and was named an ABC Best Books for Children Selection by the American Booksellers Association.
Her second novel, Isle of Blood and Stone, will be available in Spring 2018.
Want to try your luck at winning a copy of Isle of Blood and Stone? Check out the giveaway in the Rafflecopter button below where one lucky winner will receive a copy of Isle of Blood and Stone (US only)! Or, check out the buy links in “More About the Book”!
Thank you so much to HMH Teen and The Fantastic Flying Book Tours for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour! They are all live!