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!