Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Salvage

Today is the last day I have to finish my summer reading project, which means finishing three books. Can I do it? Probably not. But yesterday I finished off Salvage by Alexandra Duncan. I got this book a while ago, mostly because Beth Revis promoted it. Also, it has a pretty cover. Interesting note: I knew all of the authors who blurbed Salvage, and in fact have read at least three of each of their books. That was pretty cool!


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Ava was born to be a bride, given in trade to another trade ship in exchange for treaties and goods. But when she makes a mistake on the night before her wedding, she is cast out and sentenced to death. Instead, she escapes to Earth where she finds a world completely different from the one she left. A world where women can and do work, where the gravity drags at her bones, and somewhere there is the truth behind her family's origins.

Well, this book was absolutely nothing like I thought it would be. I thought, weirdly, that it would be like These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner. Starts in space and ends up on an abandoned planet. Nope, that's not it at all. Ava does live on a spaceship, and does end up on Earth, but Earth is absolutely populated. I will give this book one thing: it definitely develops its world, down to the smaller technology. Could I have lived with fewer descriptions of fixing tech that milks goats? Yeah, I could have. Once Ava gets to Earth the world development gets more interesting. Unfortunately, it's also when the plot seemingly disappears for a couple hundred pages. Actually, I'm not sure there was a plot. Ava heals, learns to read, and how to help Miyole and her mother, then ends up in Mumbai and gets her first job and stuff. She looks for her aunt. Some people don't like the new way of talking that Duncan employs here, but it didn't really bother me. Maybe because I listened to this as an audiobook. I was rather surprised that this was a standalone book, but considering the lack of plot, I'm not all that disappointed. There is a companion book about Miyole, which I might read just to see if Duncan's writing has evolved. 

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Splendor

I love audiobooks. They mean I can do things like wash the dishes and tidy my home while also getting some reading done. Of course, it means they can also produce days like yesterday, where I sat on the couch, alternating between listening to Splendor by Anna Godbersen and watching Madam Secretary. By the way, loving that show. It doesn't hit me in the gut like West Wing does, but I'm quite enjoying it! Well, I've been posting enough reviews lately I don't have much else to say about my life. On with the review.


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Elizabeth is married and pregnant with another man's child, and her sister Diana has run to Cuba to follow her love, Henry. His wife Penelope has her eye set on the Prince of Bavaria, and Carolina Broad is enjoying her inherited wealth while hiding her true origins from her beau Leland. It's summer in Manhattan, 1900, and the rich families of the island are ready to see the last chapter in the saga of these socialites.

Okay, I want to reiterate: I like these books because I like social intrigue and hearing about old-timey fashions. The plots of these books were really simple, but they were good fun. Spoilers follow. I found it completely believable that Diana didn't end up with Henry. I know a lot of people were annoyed by this, because she spent the last 2 books pining for him. However, I saw it as, as her horizons were broadened, she realized she wanted more from life than being with a guy. Could she have handled the situation with Henry better? Yes of course. I still found it believable. I liked what happened to Penelope. She has won every battle she put her mind to, but when faced with something she really wanted and someone who was just as manipulative as she was, she lost. She got a taste of her own medicine and I liked that it brought her back to earth a bit. Do I think it will stick? Probably not. I also like what happened with Carolina. She needed to see that lying was not the right way to start a marriage. Leland also nearly beat Tristan to death, so does she really want to marry him? Better she ends with her sister. The thing that did bother me was Elizabeth's story. I wanted to hear more about how Snowden was responsible for Will and her father's deaths. Also, she was only able to kill Snowden because she was "possessed" by Will's spirit? Yeah, no. Let her have her own agency. She can be mad at this guy on her own and kill him that way. So, overall I found this a nice end to the series. It's fluff and fun and I think I'll read Bright Young Things soon.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (More like 3.5)
Up Next: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Black Heart

We're down to the wire with my summer reading project! I have until the 30th to finish reading five more books. Can I do it? I don't know. But I'm sure as hell going to try. It's overcast in California today, which for this state is basically a storm, so I'm going to curl up with Splendor by Anna Godbersen today after telling you all about Black Heart by Holly Black. This is the last book in the Curse Workers series, so beware spoilers.


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Cassel's mom is on the run after working a governor who hates her kind. Barron has reluctantly joined the FBI after his brother gave him no choice, and Cassel is supposed to join him after he graduates from Wallingford. If he graduates. Between Sam and Daneca fighting, Mina Lange asking for his help, and his home life being the joke it is, Cassel barely any brain power to devote to school. And now the feds and Zacharov need him to work for him. It's amazing Cassel's survived this long.

These books have something sort of odd about them: they are very self-contained. Like, there's not really a plot that carries over from one book to the next. Mina Lange is really important to this story, but you don't see her in the other books. There are lots of things like this in this series. And I do enjoy this series. The dialogue is snappy and the world is nicely rounded. The cons have many twists and turns and there is character development across the book. There were a few things that bothered me, though. I didn't really understand why Cassel loved Lila so much. I wish I could have seen more of that. Also, the ending. One of the plot points is sort of thrown away as unimportant when the reader is made to believe throughout the story that it is important. Also, overall the ending left too much up in the air for my taste. I know a lot of writers like to leave things ambiguous (looking at you, Lauren Oliver) but I want at least the majority of things to get wrapped up. I don't want it tied with a neat little bow, but closure is nice on a series. The readers stuck it out to get to that point, they deserve to know what happens to the characters.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Splendor by Anna Godbersen

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sever

Another day, another book. I have now finished Lauren DeStefano's Chemical Garden trilogy! Before getting to my review, I'd like to make an observation about setting up a home for the first time after graduating from college: it's amazing how much fun you have have for so much money. Maybe I'm just weird, but I did get really happy when I found a pretty soap dispenser for the bathroom, and when I figured out how to fit everything in the closet with my new hangers. Of course there are some pressing issues to resolve...like not having a dining room table. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against eating on the couch, but one day I'm going to tip my plate with marinara sauce the wrong way and then I won't be able to enjoy bingeing on Parks and Rec because the couch looks like a murder scene.


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Housemaster Vaughn has finally alienated the most important person in his world: his son Linden. When Rhine ends up in the hospital and Cecily joins her soon after, Linden must choose between the father who's been his whole world, and the women who are and were wives. Rhine finally has allies in tracking down her brother, who's bombing research hospitals in her name. But when she finds him she might stumble on a truth that's too much for her to handle, a secret that's tied to her heterochromatic eyes.

I'll say this right up front: I liked this book much more than Fever. Where I had to struggle through Fever because nothing was happening and there didn't seem to be a plot, this one had stuff happen! Some of it I didn't understand why it got the page space it did, but that's better than nothing. I now firmly believe this could have been a two book series. Fever (and the character of Maddie) was pretty unnecessary. You could have taken the beginning and ending and put them in Wither or Sever and had a much tighter series. Anyway, my suspicions about Housemaster Vaughn were proved right, and you actually get to see him be evil. DeStefano still did that thing where she refers to something from a past book that was summarized instead of shown, but it didn't bother me as much because there was more action happening in the present. Characters talked a lot more and I really liked Reed. There were some downsides to this story though. One: I didn't believe Rhine's quick turn around on Vaughn. I know she didn't make a complete 180, but even the amount she did begin to believe him seemed too quick. And the switch to a focus on the cure was jarring after two books focused on escape. And Gabriel vanished from this book. And that's all I can think of right now.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Black Heart by Holly Black

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fever

I thought I'd put the sweltering heat behind me in July in the PNW. I guess I didn't realize California is in a perpetual state of PNW summer. Since it's so unbelievably hot, I haven't had much energy to anything besides laze on the couch in front of the hurricane fan and read. Did I mention that I got copies of Fever and Sever a few months ago on deep discount? I love discounts.


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Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion and are on their way to New York to find her brother. But Rhine can't escape her past, or what the world has become. From prostitution in a broken down circus to crazy tarot readers and first generation people destroyed by their children dying so young, to her father-in-law haunting her every move, Rhine doesn't feel like she's escaped at all. But she has to go forward, because her time is running out and she wants her brother.

I so wanted to like this book. I adore Lauren DeStefano. I think if you go through my twitter history you'll see that a ton of my favorites and retweets are of her. She understands social anxiety and is cuttingly witty about life. I just wish that had transferred to this book. My biggest problem with the first book in this series, Wither, was that a lot of the action was summarized and described after the fact. This is compounded in this book, not only summarizing things instead of showing them, but also referring to a lot of stuff that supposedly happened in the last book but the reader never got to see. So it's referring to a reference, which makes it even harder for me to connect with Rhine. I couldn't find her father-in-law creepy because I never really saw him do creepy stuff, just heard about it. I didn't get the romance with Gabriel because it only seemed to exist in summary rather than the present. And to be honest, I have no idea what the plot of this story is. Rhine's not trying to find a cure for the disease, and her desire to find her brother doesn't seem visceral. This book is entirely a hop from one place to the next while trying to run away, only to end up exactly where she started where she proceeds to do nothing. And I'd be okay with that if Rhine were a more developed character. Sigh. Yeah, I'm hating on this book, but it's mostly because I'm so disappointed because I wanted to love it. I'm going to read Sever, mostly because I already own it. But I don't think I'll be reading more of DeStefano's published works. Instead I'll stick to her Twitter.

Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars
Up Next: Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Monday, September 21, 2015

City of Heavenly Fire

Aaaand finally I am caught up with all of Cassandra Clare's books in the Mortal Instruments series. City of Lost Souls sat on my shelf for over a year before I finally just got the audiobook in order to get through it. City of Heavenly Fire is better than that in a couple ways, which I'll get into later. I also listened to the audiobook of this one because my eyes have been tired lately and I've been getting more headaches because of it. This way, I could do the dishes and unpack my stuff in my new (*squee!*) apartment while also getting through this monster of a book.


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Heavenly fire still burns through Jace's veins. Clary's evil brother Sebastian is Turning Shadowhunters into something horrific, and then sending them to fight the Clave. After several massacres, the Shadowhunters retreat to Idris to make a plan of attack, but the Downworlders now have no protection, and Sebastian is preying on them too. Jace, Clary, Alec, Isabelle, and their Downworlder friends Simon and Maia are the only ones who know more about Sebastian, but even that might not be enough to stop him.

So many characters in these books. Looking at that description it seems pretty incoherent, but this is the last book in a six-book series, so there are a lot of terms like Clave and Turning and Downworlders that just can't be explained again at this point. The plot's been in motion for so long it seems pretty...dull to describe it again. I'm just going to give my impression on the story lines instead. Jace and Clary: Got resolved in the last book so this book mostly just reaffirms again and again that they love each other. Sort of dull, sort of nice. Alec and Magnus: So sweet. Love them. Very real depictions of different people that have sass and vulnerabilities that complement each other. Isabelle and Simon: Since I recently read Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater I had a hard time divorcing Isabelle Lightwood and Isabel Culpeper. To be fair, they are surprisingly similar characters. But I liked Simon and Isabelle. They're a charming couple who aren't as dramatic as Jace and Clary are. Clary and Sebastian: I didn't care about this relationship until the last...two chapters of the book when it became more interesting. But I liked that it built over a couple books. Maia and Jordan: What? Just....what? Talk about a loose end that was just cut off so it didn't have to be complicated. I did not like the way it was resolved, plain and simple. Such a cop out. Let's see. Everything else: Like most of these books, the action is well written and the story gets dragged out for too long (*cough* 725 pages *cough*). But I still like the dialogue and Magnus and Isabelle, and the epilogue had a lot of Harry Potter epilogue-esque fun to it. I might try the Dark Artifices, I might not. We'll see.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars (Might be generous and say 3.5)
Up Next: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sweet Temptation

California is beautiful. I wonder how long it will be before I'm tired of perpetual good weather and used to living in a place with palm trees. Anyway, you don't want to hear about that. You want to know whether or not Sweet Temptation, a companion novel to the Sweet Trilogy, is worth reading! This isn't a standalone. You can't read it if you haven't read the entire trilogy. It just won't make sense. But that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable to read!


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I think this time around I'll skip the description. In a nutshell, this book is a compilation of big or sizzly scenes from the Sweet Trilogy, but this time from Kaidan's perspective. I enjoyed this book quite a bit! I don't read a lot of straight romance these days so this book was a fun trek into the more romance-focused side of this paranormal series, and since I've journeyed into the realms of editing romance and erotica, I don't mind when things get hotter than your typical YA romance. In fact, sometimes it can be quite fun. And a British accent (yeah, I know it's a book, but you can totally tell!) is always a slam dunk. Seeing things from Kaidan's point of view is certainly interesting. It adds depth to his sometimes too brooding, mysterious image from Sweet Evil, and then shows nice character development through Sweet Peril and Reckoning. Since the second book doesn't really have Kaidan in it until I think halfway through, seeing what happens to him in that time is very interesting. Oh, and the epilogue made me tear up. And, as usual, kudos to a book that can make me have that reaction. *Especially* if they're happy tears. I'll definitely take a look at new books of Higgins' as they come out.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: City of Heavenly Fire

Friday, September 18, 2015

Envy

Yeah, I sorta forgot to post for a few days. In my defense, I did move to a different state in that time, so I've been rather busy. You know my story with the Luxe books: I never really wanted to read them, but it kept popping up in recommended lists, so I finally read the first one and ended up liking it. Now here we are at the third book, Envy.


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It's been two months since Elizabeth Holland returned to Manhattan, her heart broken. Two months since Penelope Hayes married Henry Schoonmaker. Carolina Broad is the ward of a rich bachelor and Diana Holland's love has abandoned her for a loveless marriage. With the who's who of Manhattan heading to Florida to escape the winter cold, passions ignite, secrets are revealed, and hearts are broken.

Mmmm social intrigue. It satisfies me so much. And pretty clothes. These are pleasant books, easy to consume and fun. This book was different because it moved the characters to Florida where they relaxed in even more luxury than before. That was certainly interesting, with the beach censors squawking any time a woman showed any skin on their legs, but women danced with busboys at night and no one cared. I felt so bad for Elizabeth in this book. Everyone is insisting she just get over her broken heart, and she can't. Diana is coming more into her own now. She's stronger, able to push aside her love of Henry more easily, although that doesn't stop her from falling into the trap of hope from time to time. Henry....I lost all respect for him in this book. He seemed so noble at the end of Rumors, sacrificing his happiness so Diana wouldn't be ruined. But he's just a coward. I'm not sure he deserves Diana when it comes down to it. Penelope got more layers in this book, which I appreciated. Yeah, overall another pleasant installment in the Luxe series. I just ordered the fourth and final book so we'll see how this all wraps up!

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Darkness Strange and Lovely

Yeah, I'm pretty late posting this. It's been a crazy week and I haven't really had the energy to write up a blog post. Today's a catch-up day for me, so expect a couple more posts to follow this one. I never got into the whole zombie craze, just like I sort of missed the slew of everything-vampire romance books. I dallied in the latter after the tide slowed to a trickle, and found some books that I really loved and others where I went "Really?" I'd heard great things about Susan Dennard (Sarah J. Maas seems to adore her, which is good enough for me) so I decided to give Something Strange and Deadly a try. This is the sequel, so beware of mild spoilers.


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Eleanor Fitt is alone. The Spirit-Hunters have fled from Philadelphia to Paris. Her mother is in a mental hospital and Clarence and Elijah are dead. Eleanor is an outcast, a necromancer, and she's missing her right hand. When Marcus comes back to town, Eleanor hops a steamer to Paris to find the Spirit-Hunters. But someone else is on board, someone who can sense necromancy like she can. Oliver is Elijah's demon, and now it seems he's bound to her. But worst of all, the Dead are stirring in Paris.

I liked the first book in this series. It didn't blow me away, but it was a nice read. This book was much the same. I really like how Dennard paints the world to show the social structures of the day, with some references to fashion and technological advances and architecture. She paints with a deft hand so I don't have to read really long descriptions of things that have very little importance to the story. I like that about her books. On the other hand, like with the last book, the Dead didn't frighten me one bit. This book has much more focus on Eleanor learning necromancy, like really simple necromancy, than the zombies. And (spoiler) I wish her hand had stayed gone. It would have made it much more interesting to see how she got through the world as an amputee. Oliver's character is fun, but there's a point where he completely contradicts something he previously said and Eleanor doesn't notice. I'm not sure if it was meant to show how unreliable he is or what, but to me it felt like something that should have been focused on more or corrected. So, once again a pleasant read, if not a book that blew me away. Although, to be fair, the last book I'd read was Queen of Shadows, and it's hard to follow that.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Envy by Anna Godbersen

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Queen of Shadows

Unless you're a first-time visitor to this blog, you know about my undying adoration for Sarah J. Maas. It was, I think, three years ago when I picked up Throne of Glass, not knowing my book world would be changed forever. Yes, I already adored epic fantasy, but there hadn't been one since Tamora Pierce's books that really floored me. Graceling was close, but not quite on the same level. Throne of Glass is the only book I've reread in the last four years. I don't have time to reread anymore. There are too many new books to discover. But Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, The Assassin's Blade, and now Queen of Shadows have stuck with me.


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Aelin Galathynius has returned to Rifthold for revenge. The prince is enslaved by a demon commanded by the king, and Chaol is on the run. The rebels in Adarlan are organizing, but evil walks the streets with black rings on their fingers. The King of Assassins pulls the strings of people who would rather see him dead. And somewhere in the mountains is Morath, where the witch covens train with their wyverns, waiting for glorious war.

This book is really hard to describe. It's the fourth book in an epic fantasy series, and you see old players and new ones appear. My ship of Chaolaena seems to have sunk, and while I am incredibly sad about that...it also made sense considering what happened in the last book. I read this book over three days because I had work, and when I did read it I don't think I blinked at all. It's exciting and sizzly and Manon gets way more developed in this story which is awesome and I love her wyvern. Lysandra is probably one of my new favorite characters in the entire series, and it was exciting to see Aelin and Arobynn meet again. There's action and devious plotting and I adored this book. One day I will sit down and rank these books to figure out which one I like best because I can't say right off the top of my head. If there was one thing that bothered me about this book, it was that we don't get to see as many of Aelin's fights as I would have liked. Oh, and I suppose is got a little wearing to hear how awesome she was. But honestly, I think she's amazing so these are tiny little things. I can't believe I have to wait another year for the next one! Ugh! At least the second ACOTAR book comes out sooner.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Friday, September 4, 2015

Red Glove

Okay, this review is a bit late. I actually finished this book on Monday, but I've had such a busy week, I've been too tired at the end of the day to write up a blog post. Also, I got my pre-ordered copy of Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas, so all my free time has been spent reading that. But anyway, as usual, this is a sequel so there will be mild spoilers if you haven't read the first one. Although, if you haven't read the first one I don't know why you'd be reading a review of the second one. Anywho, onward!


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A new school year is starting for Cassel Sharpe, and he's back at Wallingford where he's got his special effects guru Sam, and his activist friend Daneca and curseworked-to-love-him Lila, daughter of a mob boss. His brother has forgotten he was part of the plot to bring down Cassel, and his nutbag emotion worker of a mother is out of jail. And, perhaps worst of all, Cassel has discovered he's a worker, the rarest kind of worker, and that makes him valuable to the Feds and the crime families. When Cassel's brother Philip turns up dead, Cassel is put on the case to figure out who did it, while also navigating the cons everyone around him seems to be playing.

So, Holly Black is awesome at world building and details. It's great that all of her characters aren't just "jeans and t-shirt" people because honestly you can be an awesome person and still care about your appearance. Okay, getting off my soapbox now. So, this book has fun dialogue and an interesting world and good friendships. It's plot is plodding and sort of not there until the very end, but if you didn't mind it in White Cat, you won't mind it here. It's a short read with some good writing, and most of the time I'm willing to overlook a plodding plot if the characters are interesting. It's harder for me to read a book with zero character development and a really fast plot (looking at you, Lorien Legacies). The ending is a nice set up for the third book and I felt sad when I read it, which doesn't happen often. So, overall, a pleasant read. I'm giving this one 3.5 stars because of the world building.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (3.5 actually)
Up Next: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas