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. As war approaches, they 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 where 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 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

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Sometimes I'm in the mood for something light and fluffy. Don't get me wrong, I love me some dark fantasy with heart-shattering plot twists and brutal mysteries. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's what my next review will be about! But there are also days when I want a cheery little romance where the guy gets the girl and they all live happily ever after with swoon-worthy kisses. And fitting the bill? The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.

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Hadley is on her way to London to watch her dad marry someone who is not her mom. When she misses her flight, it turns out to be fate in more than one way. Because the flight she ends up on has Oliver, a British boy who makes her forget the horrible day she's about to have.

Really, there's no need for a longer description than that. Hadley meets Oliver, they flirt, get separated at the airport, and then they meet again. It's a very short book that's both cute and slightly annoying. It's cute because who doesn't want to meet a smart, kind British boy who lies about being your boyfriend so he can sit next to you on a transatlantic flight? It's cute because some of the banter is just plain adorable. It's cute because it's really trying to be British. It's cute because it took be back to the days when I would analyze every single thing a guy said, parsing it to see if he secretly liked me. Ah, youth. So this book does make you smile, and for us older folks, a little nostalgic. But it's also annoying. Because Hadley's dad is a jerk. Who marries someone that has never met his daughter? Who doesn't see his daughter for a year and basically ditches his family without even a "sorry"? Who forces his daughter to be a bridesmaid in said wedding? I don't know, but even the heartfelt talk between Hadley and her dad at the end did not make me at all sympathetic toward him. He was just having his cake, eating it too, and then making Hadley wash all the dishes. But at the same time, I squirmed a bit when Hadley basically forced the wedding party to put everything on hold so she could have a weepy talk with her dad. Eh. It couldn't wait until afterward? Overall, it was a light read that was nothing more than I expected. I knew it wasn't going to have Kristan Higgins levels of romance and character interactions. It didn't knock my socks off, but it did make me smile a bit. And at the end of the day, that's mostly what I'm after from contemporary romance novels.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Truthwitch

When I first saw Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly series, I was wary but also excited. I mean, zombies in the Civil War? I thought it would either be one of the best things I'd ever read, or the worst. And somewhat unfortunately, it hit somewhere in the middle. I wanted more Civil War, I wanted deeper character exploration...I wanted more of everything. I was left sort of disappointed and missing what made it a favorite for a lot of people. Nevertheless, when I saw the copy and cover of Truthwitch, I thought I'd give it a go. Maybe I couldn't get into her other series because I've never been a zombie person. Maybe having a fantasy focus instead of sort of fantasy/steampunk would appeal to me more.

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The young witches Safiya and Iseult have no interest in being linchpins in the coming war between countries. But it seems they'll be dragged into it nonetheless. Safi is a rare Truthwitch who can tell when people are lying. Her skills are coveted by the king, and when she is promised to him in marriage, she flees with the aid of her uncle. Chased by a Bloodwitch, the threadsisters put their fate in the hands of Prince Merik, whose nation's future depends on delivering them safely under order of Safi's uncle. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but with everyone after their abilities or their heads, that may not be possible.

I'll start by saying that I did like this book more than Something Strange and Deadly. Where those stories spanned weeks and didn't manage to make me feel the character relationships, this story sidesteps this problem by taking place over a grand total of maybe three days. No, I did not really care about Safi and Merik's romance. I did care much more about the friendship between Iseult and Safi. I never really bonded with the political intrigue going on, though I did love the concept of bargains being written on spelled paper where if one person doesn't fulfill their end of the deal, their name disappears. The deal that Safi be delivered without having spilled blood made for an interesting dynamic, though I wonder if the deal might have been more interesting if it included not letting her spill blood. It seems to me that interpretation still fits the wording and would have annoyed Safi even more. All in all, it was a mixed bag of interesting characters and a world with a lot of potential. I hope it gets expanded on in Windwitch.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Flamecaster

Hi, all! Sorry I dropped off the face of the earth there for a while. Once again, life got crazy. I mean, seriously, I have a whiteboard calendar on my wall and it is covered in things I have to do. But on the plus side, I've gotten into a good reading rhythm lately that's resulted in me having many many reviews to share with you! So let's get right to it with Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima.


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Ash is the son of the queen of the Fells. Forced into hiding after a series of murders shakes the queendom, he sets his sights on revenging his family. At the same time, Jenna Bandelow has lived a life of hardship. Forced to hide her gender to evade capture by people who want her dead for rebellion, Jenna is thrust into the world of political intrigue when a faraway queen demands her as payment for troops in support of the war. Eventually, Ash and Jenna's stories collide in the capital of Arden which has been waging war against the Fells for over a decade.

Oh this was such a hard choice for me. I had such mixed results with Chima's books. I adored her slow-building plots in the Seven Realms series. But I've been tepid about every book in her Heir Chronicles. So when I saw that the author was returning to the Seven Realms for a story following the children of Hans and Raisa, I near-on did a jig. The book starts with something so awful and sad that I dare not speak of it because I refuse to believe it's true. It was such an evil evil thing to do to the readers, which I commend, but still makes me very sad. From there...things get sporadic. There are several jumps in time which make things feel oddly rushed for such a long book. I felt like I was being told things were important and slow building, without actually getting to see it. Perhaps I am spoiled by Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, but I want to be shown how relationships build, not told about it. But, despite this odd rushed sense, I did enjoy the mystery surrounding Jenna. I suspected what her powers were long before they were revealed, but it was still enjoyable getting there. Her and Ash's relationship didn't make me swoon, but it was sweet. I know the next book in the series follows a different set of characters, so I understand the need to build the romance here faster than in the Seven Realms series. And just when I was thinking the book was moderately good, the ending put it squarely in the "good" column. So I will definitely be reading Shadowcaster.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (probably closer to 3.75)
Up Next: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Friday, May 19, 2017

6th Blogoversary

It's hard to believe that 6 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Back then I had just finished high school, had one book to my name, and thought this blog would be better focused on my clearly excellent writing advice. Since then, I've gone to university and graduated with degrees in history and English. I've written five more books, one of which was published briefly. I've worked a plethora of publishing jobs before settling down in my current job as a marketer at a publishing house. I adore my job and the people I work with and the books I get to help shepherd into the world.

This blog is now about reviews, a way to explain to myself (and obviously you all) why I do and do not like certain books. I used to only read young adult, and while that's still the primary genre I read,  more and more I'm branching into adult books as well.

I don't have much else to say here, but I want to thank everyone who reads this blog. I know I disappear for a while sometimes (like last month) but I really do enjoy coming here and talking about books.

Happy blogoversary!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Words of Radiance

It's rare that I review an adult book on this blog. Usually it's an honor reserved for Kristan Higgins books because they're so funny. But now I've got a book that is just so amazing it needs to be reviewed. Plus, the author also writes YA so I'm calling it close enough. Words of Radiance, the second book in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. And since I've already sort of given away my opinion, on with the review!


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With her powers revealed to Jasnah, Shallan and her mentor are headed to the Shattered Plains to alert Jasnah's uncle Dalinar to the potential threat of the Parshmen. But when tragedy strikes at sea, Shallan must make her way alone while grappling with her burgeoning powers of illusion. Meanwhile, Kaladin has been put in charge of the king's personal guard, a position never held by a darkeyes. With the Assassin in White killing leaders around the world and political machinations in the war camps, he struggles with keeping his charges safe. As these characters come to terms with their powers and try to stay alive, the Everstorm approaches, threatening to send the world into a Desolation from which it may not survive.

This series. I mean, talk about a slow burn. Each book clocks in at over a thousand pages with interludes between the parts and a wide range of fleshed out characters and a skillfully crafted, incredibly vast and complex world. The magic reveals itself slowly. Scholarship is not always correct. There are splinter groups within religions and different cultures within those. There is science and gender roles and magic and highstorms and spren and love and deceit and I could go on and on and on. You're really just in it for the ride. Because despite its massive length, there are many twists and turns, many of which surprised me. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into Oathbringer when it comes out in the fall. Because this is a world I think will stick with me. The characters are so real, and their struggles manage to be personal and impact the world on a grander scale. Bravo, Sanderson, bravo. (Also, Kaladin meeting Shallan is possibly my favorite meet-cute in the history of ever)

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Crooked Kingdom

My roommate and I are both severe bookworms. Like, we dream of sharing a three-bedroom apartment one day where the third bedroom can be the library. So it should come as no surprise that we sometimes read together. Separate books, but in the same room and we often stop reading to exclaim/complain about whatever is happening in that book. Most recently for me, that book was Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. It had been sitting on my shelf for many months because I was afraid of the story ending and being sad. Needless to say, I exclaimed a lot while reading this book.


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There are more troubles for Kaz Brekker and the team he took with him to break into the Ice Court in an impossible heist. Inej has been captured, and after being double crossed the team is looking for their money, and their revenge against Wylan's father. They have one last con to pull off, and it might be the craziest of them all.

This book...where to start. I adored every single page of it. The world is so rich and well thought out. The characters are all distinct with their own lives, worries, beliefs, and desires. There's a con kept me guessing, heartbreak, costumes, and kissing (squee!) There's magic and lore and Ketterdam is such a horrible, awesome city. I won't go on for too long because it would probably come across as sycophantic. If you have ever enjoyed reading fantasy, you NEED to pick up this series straight away. It is so good it's not even funny. The banter between all of the characters is sublime. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me cringe. Leigh Bardugo is now firmly in the camp of "I will read any napkin she ever writes on." This is a camp formerly only occupied by Maggie Stiefvater, so it's an exclusive club. Seriously....just read it.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Chaos of Stars

I've probably mentioned this before, but I read Kiersten White's blog for several years before picking up her books. Why would I be so committed to a blog about books when I hadn't read any of them? Because she was so freaking funny. And when I picked up the Paranormalcy series, I found myself chuckle-snorting through them, even if they didn't become some of my favorite books in the world. And that was okay. It is really freaking hard to write humor, and I love any book that can make me laugh. Her Mind Games series was darker, more complex, and less polished in my opinion. But I still picked up The Chaos of Stars because I adore mythology, particularly Egyptian mythology and...well, that cover is gorgeous.

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Isadora's family is majorly screwed up, as you'd expect when your mother is Isis and your father the king of the underworld and you're just the latest in a long line of human children born to two gods. But Isadora is sick of it. So as soon as she can, she flees to San Diego to live with her brother and his wife. But she quickly finds out that it's harder to escape family than you'd expect, and conflicts are brewing between the gods back in Egypt.

This book got a lot of hate, and honestly I can see why. It is really short, Isadora is written as being sort of perfect, the plot is simple, and if you didn't read the little short stories about the Gods (written from Isadora's POV), you would have no idea what the conflict was when the climax arrives. And honestly, it was that last part that bothered me the most. The cycle of gods repeating the same mistakes over and over again, and having your parents be part of it is enough to traumatize a kid and be very confusing. But I wanted to see that more in the active story, not the passive pre-chapter snippets. But, that being said, this was a quick, fun read in my book because I went in knowing that White wrote this book over a weekend. It's very short so how much can you really get in there? There's a lot of stuff that made me laugh (yay!) and some descriptions of food that had me reaching for a takeaway menu. Is it the best book of all time? No. But I still had a fun time reading it.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (Probably more like 3.5)
Up Next: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spinning Starlight

I love retellings. One of my favorites is Sarah J. Maas's ACOTAR series. The first book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the second a loose retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone. I loved Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles and their sci-fi take on classic tales. So when I saw R. C. Lewis's Stitching Snow a while back, I was excited to see what other ways these stories could change with a sci-fi lens.

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Liddi Jantzen is set to inherit an tech empire spearheaded by her eight brothers. Her parents died years ago, so it's just been the nine of them. Liddi hates all the attention and hides from media grubs on their family's estate, not understanding why she can't invent the way her brothers do. But then her brothers disappear, and Liddi will do anything to get them back. When she stumbles upon the secret of their disappearance, she finds her voice hobbled so she can't tell the secret, and narrowly escapes to another planet where humans are not the only species and the portals between worlds are thought to be alive. She must work quickly to save her brothers. But without her voice, how can she make people understand what she needs?

I'll say this--interesting premise. I liked the idea of tech being the reason this Little Mermaid lost her voice. And she's certainly a fish out of water on the new planet. She makes lots of cultural mistakes and nearly gets thrown in jail. There are warring factions and some cool science around the portals. And I liked the notion that her planet didn't have a written language anymore. As someone who has a degree in history and works with history books, it was a fun nod to the many cultures with oral rather than written traditions, particularly since Liddi's planet is advanced rather than the usual way of portraying these kinds of cultures as primitive. But. Where I got to know Marissa Meyer's characters very intimately, and the world was very fleshed out, I don't feel like I got to know much about Liddi beyond her love for her brothers and her inferiority complex. There's instalove which always makes me roll my eyes. And it was all resolved so quickly. I guess I had the same problem with this book as I did with Stitching Snow--I wanted it to be longer. When you have these amazing sci-fi worlds you owe it to them to give a ton of detail. So while I really enjoy the spin on classic stories that Lewis does, I want there to be more meat to each of her books.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Monday, February 20, 2017

On Second Thought

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a review of a romance book by one of my favorite authors. I've been reading Kristan Higgins books since high school and if there's one thing I can say about each and every one of them, it's this: they are hilarious. They may have their sad points and their awkward points, but all of them make me laugh out loud at least once or twice. And that is amazing. So many of the books I read are depressing, even if they're really good. It is hard to write humor, and Higgins succeeds every time.


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96 days ago, Kate got married. 96 days of marriage before she became a widow. Now she's living in a new town trying to work through her grief for a husband she'd known less than a year. Meanwhile, her half sister Ainsley has been with her boyfriend since college. Over ten years of the perfect relationship. And then he was diagnosed with cancer, and everything changed. He became insufferable. All she wants is to marry him and continue their perfect life. But then he dumps her. And blogs about it. And it goes viral. These sisters come together to figure out what to do with their lives and become closer in their shared pain, laughs, and wine.

I binge-read this 500-page book in two days by reading on the train, on my lunch breaks, and settling down with it as soon as I got home from work. There's something about Higgins' books that just flow so easily. The characters are vivid and funny, and there's always a spectacular secondary cast. Her last two books have fallen more in the chick-lit category than straight romance, but it's there in the background as these characters deal with their grief in different ways. And it's so realistic. They go through the stages without seeming to just be checking off the boxes. There are revelations and a scene in a douchey bar that is so satisfying I actually fist pumped while at my desk when it happened. There's hilarity and sadness and everything that is good about Higgins' books. It made me tear up, it made me laugh, it made me care for the characters. And there's delicious food and a cute puppy. I can't sing the praises of this book loud enough. Read it. Seriously. While you do that I'll be sitting in the corner rocking back and forth while waiting for her next book to come out.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Spinning Starlight by R. C. Lewis

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen is the final book in her Bright Young Things series set in the roaring 20s. Being the history nerd that I am, I always enjoy Godbersen's focus on slang and fashion and how different social customs were between eras. Flappers wore long straight dresses with fringe and glitter, and their hair was short and wavy and might be dyed blond. It's these kinds of details that I really enjoy in my historical fiction, things that remind me of how much the world has changed and will change again. I doubt anyone in the 20s would have foreseen the rise of skinny jeans. But enough of that. On with the review! [Also, of course, beware of spoilers]


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Astrid is married, Cordelia is in love with Max, and Lettie is now apprenticed to two of the biggest names in the movies. But beneath all the glitz and glamour, things are not perfect. If people find out the truth about Max, he could lose his career. Astrid's marriage is already fraying at the edges with Charlie becoming more and more erratic. And Lettie would never do anything to hurt the couple she's living with. But she finds herself more and more drawn to the husband. And it seems he might be drawn to her as well. As the summer of 1929 comes to a close, these three girls have to decide what they want with their lives and what they're willing to do to get it.

I think my favorite book in this series is the first one. While I still really enjoyed the threads coming together in this book, and it even got my heart pumping a couple times, some of the threads were sloppier than others. First and foremost: what happened to Good Egg on the night of the party!? And after all the decades of animosity, I couldn't believe that the Hales and the Grays put their feud aside just like that. It seemed too convenient in order to sweep in the new, more violent gang that Charlie was going up against. I think the fact that the Hales and the Grays had more of a gentleman's feud increased the shock to Cordelia and Astrid when the new bad guys turned up meaning business. I loved Max and Cordelia together, but was completely thrown by how that story ended up. Astrid's was better, I think. She was always more airy fairy, but the climax from the last book made her realize more how surface-level her life was. So when her story evolved into the romance I saw coming from book one, I was happy for her. She really matured and came to realize it's not money that makes happiness, but the people you spend your life with. And Lettie...poor Lettie. I wish there had been a scene with her confronting yet another man who used her to his own ends. I really was devastated for her. But luckily she was able to walk away with a promising career. All in all, a satisfying series that couldn't quite pull together everything in the end, but what an enjoyable ride getting there.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Beautiful Days

This Christmas I received the full Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen and I finished them off in quick succession. So I'll apologize right off if I can't quite remember exactly where one book left off and the other began. As soon as I finished off Beautiful Days I picked up The Lucky Ones, so the lines are a little blurry.


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Cordelia's father is dead and Lettie has been reunited with her friend after her disastrous attempts at love and making it big on the stage. Astrid is engaged to Charlie and moving in with him and her two best friends. And while they lounge by the pool and drink mimosas, it's easy to ignore all the bad things happening around them. Like Cordelia not knowing if Max the pilot ever wants to see her again. Or if Lettie will ever have the courage to audition again. Or if Charlie cheating on Astrid was a one-time thing. But in the meantime, Cordelia is put in charge of opening a new club in the city and the music and booze is always flowing. It's the summer of 1929 in New York City, and you never know what could happen.

Poor Astrid. Seriously. She lived such a privileged life and it made her so entitled and naive. But at the same time she's so loyal to Lettie and Cordelia and she doesn't deserve what happens to her in this book. Talk about shattering a world view. As for Lettie, she becomes a rising star and meets people she's only ever heard about in the papers and movies. She can be a bit insufferable, letting herself wallow in misery over the smallest things that could be fixed easily if she just expressed herself a little bit. That wore on my nerves a bit. As for Cordelia, her and Max were so sweet, and I liked how he mellowed her and gave her a different perspective on the life she had always dreamed of in NYC. Her competing loyalties between Charlie and Astrid really start to show in this book, and her thoughtlessness hurts people she cares about. I enjoyed this book a great deal, even though sometimes the naivete of the main characters was so acute it was rather painful. Still, an excellent segue into The Lucky Ones!

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Rose & the Dagger

I'll admit, I never thought of a retelling for One Thousand and One Nights. And it should have been obvious! What better retelling could there be than one where the main character tells stories to stay alive. It's a writer's dream. So when I read The Wrath and the Dawn, I loved it, though I had a few quibbles. But in the main I loved Shazi's relationship with Khalid and the revelation that it was a curse, not from someone who wanted to take over the world, but a grief-stricken father than brought Khorasan to the brink of revolt. So I was eager to pick up the sequel, The Rose & the Dagger. And I devoured it just as quickly as the first one.


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With Khorasan in flames, Shazi is forced to leave Khalid behind. She ends up in the desert camp of those who wish to take down Khalid's regime, led by her childhood love. Together with her sister, Shazi does the only thing she can do: act. She has a burgeoning magic she does not understand, but it might be the only way she can save Khalid from the curse. Meanwhile, Khalid is slowly going mad. He misses his wife and he might lose his throne. These star-crossed lovers will stop at nothing to save the kingdom, and each other.

Oh my. I can't believe I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed Ahdieh's writing style. It just flows from one sentence to the next to the point where it's 2am and I forgot to eat dinner but don't even care because I need to read just one more chapter. Now, I will say that the story is not perfect. I could have done with more content about the bordering kingdom trying to destabilize Khalid. But at the same time...I don't think this was supposed to be that kind of book. In the end it was the relationships between Shahrzad and her sister, Khalid, and Despina. And can we take a moment to talk about Despina? Because I adore her. I've read all the novellas that go along with this series, and I think Despina's was my favorite. She is such a good actress. Where Shazi is all fire and passion and fierce intelligence, Despina is the snake in the grass that you invite into your home because it promises not to bite you. And then somehow it's still surprising when it does. She was magnificent and was probably the one character that could put Shazi in her place. There's also some stuff in here about magic, but the true magic was the interactions between the characters. I will absolutely be picking up Ahdieh's next series.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (more like 4.5)
Up Next: Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen