Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Burning Sky

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas has been on my radar for quite some time. Partially because, well, have you seen that cover? It's awesome! But it looked like one of those books that I'd passively enjoy while waiting for the next Sarah J. Maas book to come out. So I waited until it went on deep sale, purchased it, and then stared at it sitting on my Kindle for a couple years. Until this summer when I finally picked it up and read it.

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Iolanthe is the greatest elemental mage of her generation, prophesied to be the savior of The Realm. But that's only if she can survive. Guided by his mother's visions, Prince Titus swears to protect and train her so she can save his people. They hide out at his boarding school in England, where Iolanthe must pass as a boy to remain undetected.

I must admit, I didn't think I would enjoy this book as much as I did. It looked like yet another book with elemental magic and a Super Special Heroine who is destined to be a Savior. And yeah, there are elements of that, and I definitely could have done with some more internal dialogue from Iolanthe. But somewhere along the way, I started to enjoy Titus and Iolanthe. He's a prince committed to saving his people, even if it means tricking Iolanthe into doing what he wants. Her hiding as a boy at their boarding school turned out to be cooler than I anticipated. But the crowning achievement of this book? The book inside the book. In order to train Iolanthe in magic when they live in a world where it doesn't exist, they go inside his book and fight in fairy tales. It's very interesting, and leads to a very cool mirroring journey (I swear this phrase makes more sense when you read it) in the climax. The story wrapped up in a very Harry Potter way, with the Big Bad taking a seat for the summer so our characters can relax on their vacation (or so I assume. I haven't read the second book yet). I hope the main characters and villain get more fleshed out in the next book, and if they do, I'm sure I'll enjoy this story even more.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Crown's Game

It's pouring down rain and this is my first summer Friday that I'm not spending on a plane. So I thought I'd take some time and write down my thoughts on Evelyn Sky's YA fantasy novel, The Crown's Game. Here's something you probably didn't know about me--I wrote my senior thesis for my history degree on the city of St. Petersburg (also known at other times as Petrograd and Leningrad). So I'll admit that the big draw for me was to read about one of the cities I absolutely want to see in my lifetime. How did it stack up?

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Vika Andreyeva is an enchanter. Every country has one person who is destined to wield the magic of the land. Except, she's not the only one in Russia. Nikolai Karamov also  has power, and tradition decrees that the two must compete for the title of Royal Enchanter. The winner will have power and influence beyond imagining. The loser will die. Vika and Nikolai have trained their entire lives to serve the tsar, but when they meet, the thought of the other dying quickly becomes repugnant.

Okay, things I liked: 1) The setting. Skye does manage to make St. Petersburg its own setting, describing the architecture and landmarks in ways that made me want to see them. It could have been more immersive, but perhaps that's because I really really want to visit the city. 2) The magic the two perform. It was a little weird to me that the magic wasn't more deadly toward the other contestant, but there were some cool little traps at the beginning there. I loved the water shows and the island with the magic benches that showed you other places. It was very different from the magic I've seen in other books, partially because its purpose was to aid Russia 3) Pasha. I honestly liked him more than Nikolai. He was born to privilege but attempted to understand his people. Does he always succeed? Absolutely not, because he's a bit clueless. But he's sweet and he tries and I liked how complex his family dynamic was. I want him and Vika to end up together rather than her and Nikolai. All right, on to the things I liked less: 1) How the romance took over what could have been an awesome story. One of these enchanters has to end up dead. But they look at each other all moon-eyed for a little bit and decide they can't live without the other person? Blech, they don't even know each other. Pasha's infatuation makes sense because he can afford to have silly dreams. He has power and money and he's not supposed to be the tsar for some time. But Nikolai's purpose is to kill Vika. And they barely try. 2) Nikolai's mom. So random. Just a way to get Pasha on the throne and cause more conflict. Strange zombie woman. Meh. 3) The ending. I do not believe for one second that Nikolai is gone. He'll be back to cause trouble in the next book, because we've gotta have that love V. Overall, I was very mixed on this book and I'm looking for the sequel to change my mind.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Frost Like Night

I've had a fraught relationship with this book series. I want to love it so much, but it definitely suffered from Middle Book Syndrome, and then from a Super Special Heroine (something, unfortunately, that the book I'm currently reading also has). But I had already read the first two books and the novellas so I didn't really feel like I could leave the plot hanging out there. So I picked up Frost Like Night for one final foray into the world of the Rhythms and Seasons.

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Angra is alive, and it's up to Meira to stop him. But first she has to learn to control her powers. As Meira and her people struggle to save people, Angra uses the Decay to turn more people against them.

Aaand that's all you really need to know about the plot. It's mostly people talking about how amazing Meira is and her feeling bad that she can't save everyone. There's some stuff about romance between Mather and Meira, and a nice romance for Ceridwen, but other than that this book was a snore. The magic never grabbed me, and the ending was sort of obvious. The fake-out of "is the main character dead?!" has never really worked for me. So, I'm sad to say, overall this book left me cold. I've read some really great fantasy books, and while I loved the concept of the different realms themed after seasons, it never really stuck the landing. Maybe if the story had centered on Ceridwen, who was fiery and had passion and didn't whine when things got tough for her. But sadly, she was relegated to the side to have her romance and kick some occasional butt. Luckily for those of you out there who like my more positive reviews, the next one will be a bit better.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars (more like 2.5)
Up Next: The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sabriel

Sabriel by Garth Nix has been on my radar for quite some time. It pops up on a bunch of lists for people who enjoy Tamora Pierce books, and if you are a fantasy lover and look at its Goodreads page, how could you not want to give it a go? When it went on sale on Amazon, I thought I had to read it. Tamora Pierce is the author that got me into reading and writing with earnest, so how could I not read Sabriel?

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Sabriel has been living at a boarding school in Ancelstierre since she was a child. Her father is the Abhorsen, a person for whom the line between life and death is pliable, but now he's gone missing. Sabriel goes on a journey to find him, and along the way discovers that not all those that are dead wish to stay that way, and they are not so easily vanquished.

Hm. What to say about this book. I think I'll go pros then cons, to try to keep my thoughts straight. Pros: Mogget the talking cat was probably my favorite part of the book. I'm a huge fan of Faithful/Pounce from the aforementioned Piercce's books, so seeing another similar creature was great fun. I also liked the conflict in the character who is charmed out of his wooden state (not a metaphor, and I'm sorry I can't remember his name at the moment). What else? Uhh there is some good banter between Sabriel and the soldiers at the border of Ancelstierre. Okay, now cons: Sabriel has basically no internal dialogue. We have no idea how she knows things, who trained her, what she's thinking or feeling. How can I become invested in a character if all I know about her is that she wants to find her father? Also, the entire book felt like a series of travelling between different experiences that are independent of each other rather than a quest to find her father. She takes the time to work a huge magic on someone when she has basically no magic and it would put her in danger because she's being tracked? I dunno, call me heartless, but I'd have left him and come back later. Overall, my biggest issue was that I didn't feel invested in the characters. When the whole plot is "find dad and hopefully this evil dude won't wake up," I need to care about who is doing the questing. I'm going to try out the second book because the climax was pretty cool, but I'm not holding my breath for this series to eclipse Tamora Pierce's place in my heart.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Defy the Stars

Hey, remember that review of Hourglass not too many days ago? Well, I told you I read a lot of Claudia Gray books, and this one is unique in that I received an ARC for it through the Young to Publishing Group that has events and networking and booklists for those younger people who work in the publishing industry. It's pretty cool, and if you're someone who works in publishing who isn't signed up for the newsletter, I'd totally recommend it. Anywho, Defy the Stars is the latest Claudia Gray book I've read and, as a preview, it shot right up there to be one of my favorites of hers.

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Noemi is a pilot sworn to protect her planet Genesis. She will die to protect her people from the onslaught of mechs--robots who are sent to war in the place of people. Abel is the most advanced mech of all, but he's been stranded on an abandoned spacecraft for years, waiting for his creator to return to him. When the two meet, Noemi and Abel must put aside their prejudices to work together to get what they want.

Yay! A robot with suspicious levels of humanity? Earth as the bad planet? Planets with distinct cultures and some funny banter about humans? Yes please, sign me up! Abel's voice is hilarious, and I loved his burgeoning humanity and inability to understand sarcasm at first. Noemi is a bit more of a struggle, as she is the war-weary hero out to save her planet (why is it that these characters are inevitably less interesting?). But the two of them together become quite the team, and the slow build of the maybe possibly romance between the two is sweet. And when Abel does meet his creator, instantly every alarm started going off in my head, that's how sad and creepy it was. I had to dock the book a star because the cast of secondary characters didn't interest me all that much, and I guessed the twist from chapter two or something. Now, that's not to say it was poorly written. I think it was just a little obvious of a route to go. But I will absolutely be reading book two.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Morning Star

As you'll know if you've been reading this blog for a while, the genres I tend to read in are fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal. Of course, there's romance, dystopian, historical fiction, middle grade, and I've even dipped my toe in thrillers. But those are the three primary genres. So it should come as a surprise to no one that I picked up Red Rising back when it came out. Mythology combined with sci-fi competitions for supremacy? Sign me up. But I ended up feeling only lukewarm about the series. That is, until this final installment.

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Darrow has fallen into the hands of his enemies. The rising of the low colors seems poised on the brink of collapse. It will take all of his Gold experience and Red instincts to maneuver through the rebellion. And even then, he knows he'll leave a path of corpses in his wake.

Oh man, it's really hard to write a description of this book. But really, that's what it is. Darrow, riding high on his own importance in Golden Son, is now laid low. There is so much death and destruction and subtle political manipulation that it's almost hard to keep track of. It's sad, and it's well written. But it's the secondary characters that sold this story for me. Specifically, Victra and Sevro. Previously I'd been meh about these characters. But oh ho ho, put the two together and who get some hilarity of the highest order. You get crushed ego on the part of Sevro, who had power thrust upon him when Darrow was taken and absolutely bungles it. You have loyal Victra who is torn apart for believing in Darrow. You have Mustang, cool and aloof and unbelievably smart. You have Kavax, who somehow reminds of a mix of Hagrid and a rabid bear. Honestly, this book somehow managed to make me laugh and break my heart. While it did get redundant with the violence, and Darrow's romance with Mustang frankly annoyed me half the time, I closed this book with that sigh you get when your body settles after a frantic pace. In the end, Darrow got to me, despite his Gary Sue-ness.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hourglass

My last review was of a book by an author who I'm really familiar with. This review will be much the same! To date, I've read nine of Gray's books, and I've got at least three more on my shelves at this moment. Her books tend to be quick, romantic reads, which is right up my alley. I've been reading her first series for quite a while now, but I'm two books short of being done! To give a little preview, my favorite series by Gray so far has been her Spellcaster trilogy.

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Bianca has fled Evernight Academy with Lucas, but they can't build a life together just yet. Bianca's urge to drink blood grows every day, and in the heart of the Black Cross, it's difficult to stay hidden. Bianca and Lucas hide the truth of their relationship from everyone, but it may not be enough to keep her alive. Her parents made a deal with ghosts to give birth to her, and now they've come of collect on that bargain.

This read is so quick that you might not even notice you've finished. Honestly, I wonder if this could have been packaged as three slightly beefier books. Bianca hides her vampirism which is growing stronger, and Lucas tries to get them out of there. This continues for the majority of the book until something quite spectacular happens (SPOILERS AHEAD): Bianca dies. Not only that, she becomes a ghost. Honestly, I was feeling pretty bored with the whole book until this happened. Bianca instantly became ten times more interesting as a ghost than she ever was as a vampire, and now I'm really looking forward to how this all plays out in the (technically) final book of the series. Bianca's parents don't know she's dead, and the Black Cross is still out for Lucas, and so is a ticked off vampire clan. Well done, Claudia Gray, I honestly didn't think you could surprise me with this series! Does that totally make up for the 3/4 of the book that came before it? Not entirely, but still, nice!

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Sword of Summer

The number of Rick Riordan books that I've read sometimes staggers me. Between the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and now Norse mythology, I've devoured a whopping fourteen of his books. So when The Sword of Summer hit shelves, it was pretty much a given that I would read it. So what did I think of this latest jaunt into the world of alternate mythology? Keep reading...

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Magnus Chase has been homeless ever since his mom died. But then he dies too, and gets brought to Valhalla by a Valkyrie. Now he's dodging manic squirrels and building fashionable armor with a dwarf. Because it turns out Magnus is the son of a Norse god, and the gods are preparing for war--Ragnarok specifically. And Magnus might either prevent it, or cause the end of the world.

This is the first time I've ever not loved one of Riordan's books. What makes his books fun is the quirky twist on classic mythical creatures. Iris, goddess of rainbows, owning a health food store? Yes please! But the god of thunder being obsessed with TV shows? Meh. And therein lies my biggest issue with this book. Everything felt just shy of clever. Nothing really made me laugh out loud, though the book certainly tried its hardest. But killing an entire giant family that's big and bumbling? Meh. A contest of wits where the winner made a bullet proof tie? Meh. I just didn't care. Maybe it's because most of the characters in the story weren't young, or maybe it's because they all felt like they were checking off boxes. But Magnus didn't really seem to have a struggle I could identify with. He died, which sucks, and he misses his mom. But that plot only comes up when required to move the plot, so basing the entire climax around it felt unearned. And even at the end, I couldn't really make myself care about whether they started Ragnarok or prevented it. Maybe book two will get it better. I hope it does. I've loved the worlds Riordan has created, and I'd hate for that well to run dry.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Hourglass by Claudia Gray

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Perfect Ruin

One of my favorite people on Twitter is Lauren DeStefano. In fact, I have been known to whip out my phone at social gatherings to read some of her delightful tweets. My favorite? "Give someone a book, they'll read for a day. Teach someone how to write a book, they'll experience a lifetime of paralyzing self doubt." Speaking as someone who has written 6 books, 1 of which was published, I still experience this every time I sit at a keyboard. So, loving DeStefano's online presence, I dove into the second series by her that I've read.


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Morgan lives in a floating city where everything is perfect--except until someone is murdered. There have been tragedies in the city before. People approach the edge of the city and jump, and every time that person loses some part of the themselves. Morgan's own brother lost his sight to the edge. But with the first murder in a generation wreaking havoc around the city, Morgan can't stop herself from investigating. The dead girl's fiance, Judas, is being blamed, but Morgan isn't convinced.

I had much the same issue with this book as I did with DeStefano's last series (The Chemical Garden). There's not much action, there's a lot of description, and there's some instalove. That being said, I really did love how DeStefano portrayed how a murder could mess with someone's head when it's never happened in their lifetime. There's some exploration of censorship that also works, and a desire to fly that I felt in my marrow. Now, this probably won't resonate as much with other readers, but to this day when asked "what do you want your superpower to be?" I answer with "flight." I'm going to read the sequel, Burning Kingdoms, because the ending of this book is truly intriguing and opens up the world much like the end of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Friday, August 4, 2017

Faking Normal

A cursory glance at the sidebar will show you that I don't read a ton of contemporary YA. It's certainly represented, but it's more difficult for jacket copy to grab me when it's contemporary. But I saw a lot of great things about this book, and I've been meaning to expand my repertoire in this subgenre, so I gave it ago. Spoiler alert: I was pleasantly surprised!

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Alexi hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Most days she just tries to put on a happy face for her family and hide the raw patch at the back of her neck. But then she meets Bodee, a quiet boy with his own story, and she starts to think maybe she can begin dealing with the past.

Okay, that's a really short description, but I'm tired and it's really hot and I don't have an air conditioner. But really, this book is about the characters, not the action. Alexi was raped over the summer by someone she knows, and she hasn't told anyone. She sits in her closet and scratches the back of her neck until it bleeds, and she can't stop. Then Bodee moves in with her family after his mom is murdered, and she slowly starts to have a friend, and then maybe something more. The relationship between Alexi and Bodee is beautiful and flawed, and he honestly tries to help her without having an agenda of his own. Honestly...this is a scary book. It's scary for every woman who has dealt with anything even remotely close to what Alexi endures. It's uncomfortable to think about, and you are so so so sad for Alexi. And that's what made it great. The trauma in her past was revealed slowly, as she had repressed the memories. That resonated with me, as it wasn't done in a way that was meant to be convenient, and instead was natural. There was some casual slut-shaming which I always detest, but other than that I really enjoyed (is that the right term? No, I think appreciated is more correct) this book.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Yeah yeah, I fell off the wagon with posting again. So let's dive right back into it. This book has been sitting on my Kindle for several years. It seemed to have everything I would love: a boarding school in England, a cast of female characters, fantasy, and some romance. But it just kept getting bumped lower and lower on my pile of books to read. This summer I was determined to read it, and I finally did! I do apologize in advance if my review is brief--it has now been over a month since I read this book, and the details are a bit foggier.

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Gemma was raised in India, but when a sudden tragedy leaves her without a stable guardian, she is shipped off to a boarding school in England. Instantly she makes enemies of the powerful clique of girls, Pippa and Felicity. But Gemma has bigger worries--whatever killed her mother wasn't natural, and it might be coming for her next. As she navigates the school, she encounters strange magic and a mystery that haunts its residents to this very day.

For all that this book had going for it, by the end I was rather meh about it. The setting in India is quickly discarded, and I'm never a fan of Mean Girl tropes with no real background. Gemma is not a particularly sympathetic character, and even when the girls group is developed out of the ashes of a feud, it doesn't seem real. A girl is hated for being overweight and poor...yay. I mean, maybe it was the times, but ick. There's also some instalove thrown in for good measure, and the magic system didn't really draw me in. What was cool was the slow fall of the main characters into the same trap as those who wielded magic before them. When it came to the end of the book, I really was on the edge of my seat, and was mostly impressed with how the climax was handled. I wouldn't put this on a shelf with my favorite books, but I think I enjoyed it enough to try the second book.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Walk on Earth a Stranger

My apologies for falling off the grid there! But I swear I do have a legitimate reason--my laptop broke and had to get fixed. And as much as I love my phone, I hate writing a lot on it. And then I moved, and I couldn't get internet for a while. But now I'm settled in, and this new place is starting to feel like a home. So I can get back to our regularly scheduled programming, and catch up on many many blog posts. Without further ado, my review of Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson.

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Lee Westfall is an orphan, and it's her fault. Ever since she was little, she could sense gold, and it was that luck that got her parents killed. Her only hope of not falling into the hands of her uncle is to go west to California, where she can put her skills to good use. But her uncle isn't the only danger out there, and the perils of the road lead her to disguise herself as a boy in order to survive. Lee just needs to find her friend and make it to California alive. But nothing is guaranteed in the gold rush.

The series of books that cemented my love of reading was Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet. A key feature of the first two books of that series is that the main character is disguised as a boy in order to make it in a man's world. That plays heavily here, with Lee having to hide herself as a boy so she can make it on the road to California and shake off her creepy uncle. Some of the struggles may seem a bit tired, given the prevalence of the trope, but what really sells it in the first third of this book is the constant tension of Lee being constantly on the edge of discovery. I'll admit, it got my heart racing on more than one occasion. The people Lee meets are interesting and painted with a good, albeit sometimes broad, brush. I'll admit, for most of the story, it doesn't matter that Lee can sense gold, and once she gets further away from her hometown, the threat of her uncle becomes more amorphous. But Carson's writing is solid, and it's the reason I enjoyed her last series as much as I did. The tension slowly ramps higher, and she is not afraid to kill off her characters. In the end, I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to, and I look forward to reading Like a River Glorious.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (More like 3.5)
Up Next: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Unearthly

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand has been sitting on my Kindle for many years. I bought it at a discount, and thought that maybe  I'd crack it open when I was in the mood for yet another paranormal romance. Even though there were thousands of positive reviews of it, even though it seemed like it would be a quick read, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was burned out on paranormal romance (much like I am now burned out on dystopian). But when I was putting together this year's summer reading project, I really wanted to read those books which have been sitting on my shelves for a long time. So here we go!

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Clara Gardner is part angel, and that means she has a purpose in life. She just doesn't know what it is. All she knows is that one day soon there will be a boy standing in the woods as a forest fire bears down on them. So her family packs up their life and moves to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where she meets Christian, the boy from her vision. She is instantly drawn to him, but he has a girlfriend and doesn't seem to want to get closer to her. Clara is determined to save his life. In the process she makes friends, learns more about her angel heritage, and discovers that destiny isn't as easy as she thought.

I am honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It is very readable, with each sentence flowing into the next one with few clunky bits. I enjoyed the presence of angels as the only paranormal entity in the world, with a fleshed out mythology that clearly has room to grow. To be honest, the first half of the book moves very slowly, setting up its cast and moving everyone into position. But the writing is strong enough to support the slow movement, and the last quarter of the book moves very quickly, revealing its twists in rapid fire. And, honestly, I only guessed half of them. I won't reveal more about what happens, because that would ruin the plot, but when I turned the last page I actually said out loud: "Wait, but what happens next?" So, suffice it to say, I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series, Hallowed.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Friday, June 9, 2017

Strange the Dreamer

Yay! This is the first review of one of the books from my Summer Reading Project for this year. And what a way to kick off the summer. Laini Taylor won my heart with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It was sharp, witty, heartbreaking, and had a fascinating world. So as soon as I found out she was writing a new series, I preordered it. How could I not, with a title like Stranger the Dreamer. I didn't even look at the description before ordering it. And there are very few authors I do that with (others include Marissa Meyer, Marie Lu, Leigh Bardugo, and Maggie Stiefvater). So it was a surprise when I discovered the title not to be some poetic allusion to a pretty line in the book, but rather a name and their title: Lazlo Strange, a man who dreams. Let's dive right in.

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Lazlo Strange remembers very clearly the name of a magical city was ripped from his mind to be replaced by one word--Weep. He becomes obsessed with the forgotten city, combing records of one of the best libraries in the world for mentions of the now-mythic city. He dreams of one day seeing Weep, and discovering what could possibly cause the name of a city to disappear from everyone's mind. He knows he'll have to search out his dream eventually. Until one day his dream turns up on his doorstep.

Oh, man, it was hard to write that description. You see, it barely scratches the surface of this beautiful world with its intricate characters and prose so pink it's nearly, but not quite, purple. You get lost in Taylor's sentences, they're so beautiful. Where the prose in The Girls dripped with over-wrought images, Taylor's sentences gleam. Lazlo is instantly compelling as an orphan of a pointless war who lives with his head in books. His nose is crooked from being broken, not because of some mysterious fight, but because a book of fairytales fell on it. It is so utterly charming. And when a representative of Weep comes to the library and declares that he's seeking the best in the lands to help solve a "problem" in his city, Lazlo signs on immediately. Not as an important person, but as someone who truly wants to experience the fabled city. He's not important in some grand way, like the other people that are recruited. He's important in little ways like banter and friendship and dreams. The other main character in this story is Sarai, a "resident" of Weep. I won't say anymore here, because I truly believe this is a story you have to discover on your own. It will take your breath away. The ending is beautiful and tragic and the main characters are romantics in the best possible ways. It's original and gorgeous and...nevermind all that, JUST GO BUY IT NOW.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Girls

I don't often review adult fiction, but since this was one of the big books of last summer (and my roommate gave it to me before selling some of her books) I thought I'd give it a try. Sometimes I have a bit of a weird interest in the macabre, and I thought it would be interesting to see what would drive people to kill in the name of a cult.

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At the end of the 1960s, Evie Boyd is still figuring out who she is. Her parents are divorced and her mother is more interested in her new boyfriend than in raising her daughter. It's then that Evie sees a group of girls in a park who are carefree and everything she wishes she could be. Soon, she is in the thrall of Suzanne, who takes Evie to meet Russell, the leader of a group out on a farm. Evie starts spending all her time there, loving the atmosphere, not noticing how its souring.

It's very hard for me to write this review because I hate giving books bad ratings. Let's just say that if I'd read the Goodreads reviews before cracking this book open, I wouldn't have. The prose is so purple it broke my brain, and the story doesn't delve into what would make it interesting--the psychological ramifications of having been part of a cult, as well as what would drive people to commit horrific murders in the name of another person. Instead, it focuses on sex. Almost every page has references to sex in some way or another. Now, I have no issue with sex in books. Absolutely none. Back when I was an editor, I edited romance and erotica, and I've been known to open a Nora Roberts book on a plane ride. But the sex/sex acts/sexuality in this book was so omnipresent and superfluous that I found myself rolling my eyes whenever anything happened. Additionally, Evie doesn't even end up being part of the eventual murders. No, she's dropped off on the side of the road right before anything happens, which felt like a cop out, a way to not have to explain how someone innocent could be driven to murder. And I even could have gotten on board with that if the scenes in the present were not mind numbingly dull. They reveal almost nothing about the character, and nothing really happens in them. Overall, I would not recommend reading this book. And I'm really sorry about that because I feel like this could have been a great book.

Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars
Up Next: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Froi of the Exiles

The Lumatere Chronicles is a series that I don't remember how much I enjoy it until I'm reading it. For instance, it has been a long time since I read Finnikin of the Rock, and although I enjoyed it, I didn't pick up its sequel until this week. And...I couldn't tell you why. But here we are! I'm ensconced in a hotel room after eating reheated leftovers, and I'm putting off going to the gym. So before I heave myself out of the room to try being active, here's what I thought of Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta.

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It's been three years since the curse around Lumetere was broken. Froi has been elevated beyond his imaginings, but still he doesn't quite fit with the other Lumaterans. When he is picked for a dangerous undercover mission in the enemy country of Charyn, it's a chance to prove himself to those he cares about. But upon arriving in Charyn, he realizes that his mission isn't as straightforward as he believed, and that home can be found in unexpected places.

Wow, this book is sprawling. I was expecting the entire plot to be centered around Froi's mission to kill the king of Charyn and his mad daughter, Quintana. But instead what I got was a book about exiles. Each of the main characters is an outcast in their own way, and within their own borders. There's a curse which has left every woman barren and every man sterile, and Quintana has proclaimed that she alone can break the curse. But it hasn't been broken yet. Froi was a character I heartily disliked in Finnikin, but he became something more here. By the end, even though I still didn't feel like I knew him as well as I would have liked, I understood and respected him. His love for Quintana isn't rushed, and it isn't perfect. His relationships with the other main characters aren't perfect. And I think that's what made me like this book all the more. That, and the several moments where I laughed out loud. The banter could be excellent, and Quintana silently begging for a puppy struck a very deep chord in me. But I've forbidden myself from getting a dog for at least a couple more years. Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and look forward to reading Quintana of Charyn. If I can just make myself remember how much I enjoy this series, perhaps I'll read it within the next year.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: The Girls by Emma Cline

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Last Star

So, while this year's Summer Reading Project has already kicked off, I had a couple more reviews in the pipeline from two weeks of really intense reading. This summer is shaping up to be another SRP focused on finishing a bunch of series. So it's rather appropriate that this review is of the last book in the 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey.


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Planet Earth only has a few days left before the Others launch bombs to decimate its cities and send the human population back to the neolithic age. Cassie, Evan Walker, Ringer, Zombie, and Sam are all fighting for survival while Vosch searches for them--Ringer, because he made her in his image, and Walker because he overcame the 12th system that made him believe he was an alien. They may be humanity's last chance at survival, but first they must survive themselves.

Eh. I've had issues with this series from the start. But what pulled it all through was the tone that Yancey was able to convey. There was a layer of fear and mistrust over every interaction that made it really spooky. And that was mostly missing here. The only things that got a reaction out of me were the mentions of museums being destroyed and that no one would ever go to Disneyland again. But that's because I'm a huge history and Disney nerd. Other than that...this book fell flat for me. Cassie has some painfully awkward scenes with Walker that I think were supposed to sound sexy. The rest of the time she is whiny and rather slut shame-y. Walker is boring as hell. Zombie and Ringer are slightly better, but I wasn't really interested in where their stories were going. I found myself skimming the last 50 pages or so because I was so bored. And this is not a very long book. And the ending did not do anything for me. I was not afraid for any of the characters, and did not care if they lived or died. And when I don't care after three books, something is wrong.

Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars
Up Next: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Summer Reading Project 2017

It's that time of year again! You know, that time of year where I pick a whole bunch of books and then read them over the course of the summer and then review them for you here. You know that drill. Now, this year is a special year because I'm changing up the dates. In the past, I would start these projects the day after school ended, and then finish up the day before classes began again. But now I'm officially, totally out of school (whoa, crazy thought). I work at a publishing house, which comes with a lot of cool perks. A lot of publishing houses have this thing called Summer Fridays, so I'm going to use those dates instead.

Now this summer has a lot of cool books in store. There's fantasy, romance, dystopian, sci-fi, and much much more. I'm really excited to review these books for you, and to make up for my dismal showing last year of only twelve books. I mean, yeesh, that was bad.

Now. On your marks, get set, READ!

Talking as Fast as I Can

When I was in high school, I spent my summers working with my aunt and uncle who owned a little shop. I stayed with them in their city a long way away from home. And it was fun and formative, and I got to know my relatives very well. They also introduced me to this little show called Gilmore Girls. I had never heard of it, never seen it. But I was instantly intrigued by the banter and the cheerfulness and the drama. I have since watched Gilmore Girls many, many times, binge-watched my way through the reboot, and have started watching Parenthood. So when a copy of Lauren Graham's memoir showed up at my desk courtesy of Young to Publishing, I was delighted. I have never been one for memoir, but after reading Yes Please, I thought it was worth a try. And I'm so glad I did. I won't include a description because you can guess what it's about.

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If you love Lauren Graham and want to hear more about her life, I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook of Talking as Fast as I Can. Graham narrates it herself and it's an experience that's not to be missed. She talks about her childhood, and how she got into acting. She reflects on the recent trend of using our hands to make a heart shape. She talks about dating and Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. It's everything you could ask for if you're a fan of her work. I wouldn't say there is anything really revelatory about this slim volume. It's entertaining to read about her experience watching Gilmore Girls so many years later and lamenting the hairstyles she went through. I teared up hearing about how emotional it was to film the reboot, and awwwed at the story of how she met and began dating her partner Peter Krause. This is a fun, quick read that will make you laugh and maybe (if you're a a hardcore Gilmore Girls fan like I am) make you tear up when Lauren can't find her jacket. Yes, I know that's a weird thing to tear up at but, trust me, it'll get you too.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: The Last Star by Rick Yancey

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Last of August

I think I've previously detailed my love of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I checked the books out from my elementary and junior high schools. I watched the Robert Downey Jr. remakes and tried to watch Elementary and did watch the BBC Sherlock. I've been to 221B Baker Street and have stood outside the building which served as the BBC's 221B. I analyzed some of the stories in college and debated the merits of The Speckled Band. So, while I don't know every Sherlock story by heart, I have a fair understanding of Doyle's work, both original and remade. Not to mention, I have a soft spot for the stories. So I enjoyed A Study in Charlotte much more than others seemed to. I found the banter delightful, as well as the references to stories I'd read before. The Last of August was received more poorly than the first in the series, but that did not deter me.


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After barely making it through school alive, Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are spending winter break in Europe with each other's families. But what starts as a tense holiday turns into a dangerous case of art fraud and kidnapping. Jamie and Charlotte race to discover the culprit before someone turns up dead, teaming up with some former enemies along the way.

I'll admit to not following the particulars of the investigation all that closely. This book was read on audiobook while I cleaned and cooked and went about my day. But art fraud is always a good story in my book, having watched every episode of White Collar. The banter between Charlotte and Jamie was back, though in a less interesting setting in my opinion. Jamie is seething with emotions for Charlotte that she does not understand or reciprocate in a way he wants. He lashes out by being stupid but also heroic. Charlotte hides things and is self-destructive and brilliant. They clearly have a loving, toxic relationship that I found interesting to watch unfold. The scenes from Charlotte's point of view were a particular joy, and a nice break from Jamie's unrelenting whining. My favorite parts with Jamie were when he was trying to be someone else, trying to think like Charlotte and never quite getting there. I did not love the ending, because it lacked the Holmes monologue on how everything fit together. Maybe it's a cheap ploy, but I always loved the debunking of the case with Holmes's of course attitude. I also did not love how Charlotte's rape was dealt with. Jamie whines about how the emotional toll of the rape is affecting him, but doesn't really seem to understand that in this case he should bugger off with his annoyance. But while these things bugged me, I still enjoyed Jamie and Charlotte's bickering, and will be reading the last book in the series.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (more like 3.75)
Up Next: Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lady Midnight

I have read many of Cassandra Clare's books. All of the Mortal Instruments, all of the Infernal Devices. I just can't keep up with it all. I haven't read the Bane Chronicles, and I'm sure there are some graphic novels out there. I did see the City of Bones movie, but I haven't watched the TV series. I have read some of the novellas, but not all of them. In fact, I wasn't even sure I'd read the Dark Artifices books. I hadn't loved the last few books in the Mortal Instruments series. But I thought, hey, I'll give it a shot. If I don't like it, then that's a sign I should stop reading Clare's books.

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It's been five years since the Dark War ended, bringing Shadowhunters to the brink of extinction. Against the odds, Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn survived. Their parents did not. Now Emma lives at the Blackthorn institute in Los Angeles with her parabatai, and Julian is the guardian of his four younger siblings. Emma never gave up her quest to figure out who killed her parents. The Clave thinks they were casualties of the Dark War, but Emma disagrees. When a series of murders happen around LA that bear a striking resemblance to her parents', she thinks she's finally found the lead that will take her to their killer.

Not bad! I mean, Clare's books are, at their base, very readable. There's lots of fun, specific detail, there's good banter, and a very fleshed out world. There are always some laughs and some twists, and some tortured forbidden love. I'm down with all of this! What bothered me about the Mortal Instruments was that there were only so many ways to keep Jace and Clary apart, and by the back half of the series they were getting ridiculous. Lady Midnight corrects that a bit, and understands that its readers are older now and can handle some more mature content (you can guess what some of it is). My favorite part was how Julian became a parents to his siblings. I think that portion of the book was very well written, and I felt his frustration at not having a childhood, at having to be a parent all the time when sometimes he just wanted someone to lift a bit of the burden. But also that fierce protectiveness at the thought of anyone hurting his siblings. There are some quibbles though. This book did not have to be as long as it did. Now, if this were a Sarah J. Maas book, I'd be saying bring it on. But since I'm not a devoted Clare fan, the length here felt excessive. I also felt that the conflict with Julian and Emma falling in love while being parabatai was interesting, but how Emma chose to mitigate the disaster was forced. The instances of Julian being jealous of his brother flirting with Emma felt like they were done specifically to force the conflict at the end of the book rather than because there was any reason for Julian to feel jealous, or for Mark to flirt with Emma. Other than that, it was a fun read! I think I'll grab a copy of Lord of Shadows when it comes out in paperback.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

Monday, May 29, 2017

Rites of Passage

Now here's a book that infuriated me on levels completely separate than those I detailed in yesterday's review of How to Love. I mean, whoa, I have rarely felt such rage while reading a book that I actually have to walk away from it for a while to cool down. But we'll get to that. My family is a military one. Cousins, grandparents, aunts, my dad, all have served in some branch of the armed services. My general lack of physical prowess and the presence of exercise-induced asthma closed that door for me before it ever really opened. I'm much more of a starry-eyed bookworm. I would last ten minutes in boot camp before running home and curling up in a soft blanket with hot chocolate. So while I couldn't empathize with Sam on that level, oh boy did I end up empathizing with her.

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Sam McKenna is an army brat and has never been able to turn down a bet. And it was a bet that led her to become part of the first class of female recruits at Denmark Military Academy. She knows it's going to be hard, that her fellow recruits won't like the idea of a female being at the academy. But what she didn't expect was a concentrated effort to make her and every other female recruit quit. She needs to uncover the conspiracy before she's forced out of the DMA. Or worse.

It's a pretty simple premise. Girl in new environment struggles to survive. But oh my word does it work. From day one, Sam is subject to horrific hazing ranging from subtle to outright torture. And she takes it and takes it, never breaking where people can see her. There is such a rich understanding of military dynamics, and so many different angles that are deployed in Hensley's book. Family, grief, friendship, loss, camaraderie. And over everything there is a sense of tension, of fear. Very few contemporary YA novels have had my heart racing at the climax. But this book had me so tense I had to take shallow breaths. And the rage, oh the rage I felt reading every single sexist, discriminatory thing that Sam had to endure. She couldn't slip even once without ten people pointing at it as a reason she didn't deserve to be at the academy. She couldn't do too well without it making her a target. She could not win, and she could never show weakness. It was horrific and I felt it all. There were only a few minor things about this book that made me knock it down a star. I did not like how the romance portion of the book wrapped up, although the book was never about the romance. It still bugged me how it was basically a throw-away paragraph. And I wanted to get a bit more inside Sam's head. I wanted to know more things about her that went beyond the DMA. She never mentioned friends, or many experiences of being an army brat. And I wanted that element to flesh her out even more. Overall, I loved this book, and I'm sad to see Hensley hasn't had anything else publish since its release.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Sunday, May 28, 2017

How to Love

I'm a sucker for a nice romantic story. I like fluff and sweetness and first kisses and final declarations of love as the sun sets in the background. But. I like romantic stories if they're done well. I don't like forced romance, or rote romance or boring romance. And when I saw How to Love had such a great rating on Goodreads and was on sale? I thought I'd hit the jackpot.

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Before it happened, Reena was a girl in love with a boy who didn't know what he wanted. He was the bad boy and she was the good girl and that was how life had always been and always would be. After it happened, Reena became a single mother whose dreams and been put on hold. She wasn't going to college. She wasn't with the boy of her dreams. And she wasn't going to travel the world. And then one day Sawyer waltzed back into town and those dreams began to stir.

This book. Honestly, if it hadn't been for the fact that I listened to the audiobook, I don't think I would have been able to finish it because my eyes would have rolled out of my head. I'll give credit where credit is due though--How to Love is easy to read. The writing style is quick, and the jumping back and forth between Before and After sections is well done. But that's where my praise ends. I really hate giving books bad reviews because I know, intimately, how hard it is to write a book. But I had fundamental problems with the characters. Reena is awful. She cheats to be with Sawyer. Twice. Twice! And then acts shocked when people get mad at her about it. She also has no spine. Sawyer treats her like crap and she blames herself. Now, this could be an interesting part of her character. But the books treats it like it's adorable. Reena treats her friends like crap as well. And when Sawyer waltzes back into her life after disappearing without a word to anyone, she immediately falls in puppy love with him because...honestly, I don't know. Sawyer may have been the bad boy type, but usually that masks a tortured sweetie. Here, he's just a jerk. He gets mad that Reena hasn't forgiven him for skipping town without saying goodbye...after he's been in town less than a week. He treats her horribly in the Before section as well, and I see basically zero reason why these two characters should be together except that they're both horrible to each other and everyone in their lives. The only thing that redeemed Reena for me was how she stood up to her quasi mother-in-law when she pretends she's been involved in her granddaughter's life. Other than that, I did not like this book.

Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars
Up Next: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dreamology

After the sadness of Between Shades of Gray, it was time for something a little lighter. I chose Dreamology by Lucy Keating as my palate cleanser. Now, this was a book that I went back and forth on before buying. I generally trust Goodreads ratings when picking out books, and while it had a so-so average rating, the top reviews seemed incredibly positive! I thought I'd give it a shot. What's the worst that could happen?

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Alice always has wonderful dreams where she explores the world with Max. But that's all they were--dreams. That is, until she starts going to a new school and discovers that there's a real Max, and he's almost nothing like Dream Max. Suddenly, life gets very confusing, and the dream world is bleeding into her real world in more ways than one. Not only does Alice want to discover why she's been dreaming about Max and how much of it was real, but she needs to before she can't discern reality from fiction any longer.

I'll admit--awesome premise. Seriously, for someone who has incredibly vivid dreams, there's something so cool about the idea that you could meet someone in your dreams that turns out to be real. I really enjoyed the dream aspects of this book, particularly when it went in a direction I wasn't expecting. I was thinking this was going to be a mild urban fantasy, but when it stayed incredibly contemporary it was a pleasant surprise. Now, did it stick the landing? No. The driving conflict of the story is that the dream world is bleeding into Alice and Max's reality as a result of their being part of experimental sleep treatments when they were children. And the resolution sort of sucked. It was nowhere near as explained as I'd have liked. And Max...I went back and forth on whether or not I liked Max. And I'm still not sure. He essentially cheated on his girlfriend with Alice, which I am never okay with. And the stuff about Alice's absent mom? I don't know, but I wanted Alice to realize that she was not required to have a relationship with her just because they share DNA. This is a plot thread that increasingly annoys me as I get older. Just because someone is biologically related to you does not mean you have to forgive them for the horrible things they do. This was something that really bugged me in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. But I digress. The banter has some great moments, and I really enjoyed the sleep treatment portion up until the resolution. And the story gets an A+ for premise.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (more like 3.5)
Up Next: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Friday, May 26, 2017

Between Shades of Gray

You'd think someone with a bachelor's degree in history would read more historical fiction. I'm not really sure why I don't read more of it. Whenever I do, I quite enjoy it. But more often than not, my hand strays to the sci-fi/fantasy shelves. However, when I do read historical fiction, it is usually set in World War II. So it should be of no surprise that I've had my eye on Between Shades of Gray for a long time. I read Sepetys's books in reverse order, starting with Salt to the Sea. Luckily, this didn't make much of a difference since they are standalones!

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Lina was a normal girl with a normal family until the NKVD arrived in the night. Now she's a prisoner in Stalin's work camps in Siberia, struggling each day just to survive. Through years of hardship, Lina protects her family and tries to live to the next day through her art and desire to see her father again.

Sepetys's books are well researched and focus on details of World War II that are often overlooked. While most of the world knows about the Holocaust, fewer people know of the atrocities Stalin perpetrated on the people of the USSR. In that respect, I commend Sepetys. Lina's story is one of sorrow and never ending drudgery laced with terror. Her family slowly leaks away from her, as does her innocence. She is accused of being a pig for living in conditions she is forced into. And through it all, she tries to document the atrocities so that one day they will be uncovered. I felt genuine horror when Lina and her mother were forced to stand in a hole they dug while an NKVD officer shot at the walls around them until they were nearly drowning in dirt. But at the same time, I never truly felt like I was in Lina's mind. It felt slightly distant. I also noted how similar the ending was to the one in Salt to the Sea. It didn't feel like a true resolution. But then, how can there be a resolution for something so terrible? I do enjoy Sepetys's books, but they don't hit me in the gut as much as they probably should.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars (More like 3.5)
Up Next: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Yes Please

We're taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming for a review of Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I'm not usually a memoir person. In fact, I think this is the second memoir I've ever read. But I'm a huge Parks and Rec fan, and several coworkers and friends have told me how hilarious this book was. I also want to note that I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by Poehler herself and probably had a big influence on how I perceived it. Since this is a memoir, I'm not going to do a description of the contents because...well...you can probably guess what it's about.

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This book was really quite enjoyable. It was funny and sharp, and kind. There's a lot of talk about how you just need to be you, as long as you aren't a jerk. Poehler does talk about her time on Parks and Rec and SNL, which were the only couple things I knew her from. There were some laugh out loud moments, and some really funny parts where Poehler talks about how writing is the worst and she doesn't know why she agreed to do this book and can't someone else write it for her? Speaking as a writer, I totally get it. I have been in a horrific writing slump and have been trying to make up for it by reading copiously. Writing does suck. But it's also pretty cool. On the whole, I really enjoyed learning more about Poehler's life, though she doesn't let you in on any huge secrets. She fully admits that she doesn't like telling strangers about her personal life, which I also understand. Other reviews pointed out how scattered the book is, jumping from topic to topic without much connection between them. If I had read the physical book rather than listening to the audiobook, I think I would agree. But Poehler's conversational tone and style made the experience a wonderful one. Can I have another season of Parks and Rec please?

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Siren

I have read all of Kiera Cass's books. I enjoyed The Selection for the fluffy beauty pageant it was, and lamented when it tried to get into deeper themes in its dystopian setting. I even gave the extension of the series, The Heir and The Crown a try. Much like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight which I reviewed a few days ago, I went into this book with expectations that were, if not low, then not exceptionally high. I wanted a quick, fluffy romance in a different setting. And that's what I got!

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Kahlen is a Siren, bound to do the Ocean's bidding for one hundred years. She uses her voice to lure ships to their doom, and she hates the death she causes. She must never use her voice around humans, for it will bewitch them to their deaths. And she was resigned to her fate until she met Akinli, a kind boy who isn't scared away by Kahlen's silence. But how can they ever be together when Kahlen is an ageless Siren with a voice of death, and Akinli is human?

For a book that touted its romance, Kahlen and Akinli spend a grand total of a little over a day together. They make cake, and they walk around town. But they are soulmates, apparently. I must admit, I became much less interested in Kahlen and Akinli, and much more invested in Kahlen's relationship with her sisters and the Ocean. How the different sirens dealt with their ageless, silent lives was fascinating. There was some disturbingly blasé murdering, which left me with a bad taste in my mouth. But the love between the sisters, and the love of the timeless Ocean for her daughters was very nice. The ending...eh. Maybe if this book were longer, and if Kahlen and Akinli had spent more time together, would I have bought that they were basically dying of heartache. And poison. But mostly heartache. So I had to knock this book down a star for how it wrapped up, particularly since Kahlen wasn't very active in the decision. But overall, a quick fluffy read that was like a digestif after A Court of Wings and Ruin.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin

I have loved Sarah J. Maas's books ever since I read Crown of Midnight. I did enjoy Throne of Glass, but in a tentative way. It felt a little like a fledgling bird, still trying to get the wind under its wings. Crown of Midnight solved that problem and had me glued to the page. And with every book that followed, I became more and more invested in Maas's characters. Aelin, Elide, Chaol, and more. And then I saw that she was writing a new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Initially, I was upset. Did this mean the release dates for the next TOG book would be pushed out? How could this be happening? But at this point I was such a Maas fan that I couldn't be too sad. So I dove into ACOTAR, and then ACOMAF, and fell in love with a whole new cast of characters. But then another problem presented itself. Although I had read eight of Maas's books, she had yet to finish a series. What if she sucked at wrapping it up? That is a lot of time invested in one person's books that could end up being disappointing. Well, how did Maas fare?


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Feyre has rejoined the Spring Court, intent on bringing it down from the inside. Her old love, Tamlin, sold out her family and his court to Hybern to get her back, and now the king has a foothold from which to take down the entire world Feyre has come to love. With the help of her mate, Rhysand, friends Amren, Cassian, Azriel, and Mor, Feyre must gather any support they can in order to defeat Hybern and the darkness that threatens to consume Prythian.

This book. Wow. I mean...wow. Did it stall in some places? Yes. Was I a teeny tiny bit disappointed by how nicely it wrapped up? Yes. But did I adore every single character and were my eyes glued to the page? Absolutely. Several former plot threads are picked up again and tied into the main story. Feyre and Rhys are so damn good for each other, though the message of choice is a little like a battering ram. There are so many different representations of sexuality without judgment. They don't all stick the landing perfectly, but it is so good to see those representations presented as a fact of life rather than a huge revelation that there might be something different than one guy and one girl who kiss once and end up together forever. Oh, and Feyre's sisters end up being delightful additions to the large cast. Nesta and Elain, so distinct from each other and so obviously related. The building up of each character as having a distinct past, a different thing to gain/lose from the outcome of the war, and a different style of speaking...it blew me away. And then it all comes together in the end with some badass fighting, mythology, and heartbreak. Well done, Maas, well done. It might not be a perfect book, but I don't think I would want it to be. If there's one thing this book shows you, it's that trying to be exactly what other people want is no way to live your life.

Now where is Tower of Dawn?

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: The Siren by Kiera Cass