Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 15, 2015

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she’s tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called “Tonight the Streets Are Ours,” the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

ACOTARWhen nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

So when I decided to re-read the Throne of Glass series when I was on vacation, I should have taken A Court of Thorns and Roses with me too.  I’ve had this book since it was released back at the beginning of May but for some reason put off reading it until this past week! I never said I was the smartest.

Anyway, I’m so glad I finally picked up this book and read it.  Fair warning to those who are picking up this novel, there is a lot of exposition.  However, I do not think this is a drawback in any way, because it really puts you in the middle of the story immediately.  There is so much detail that Maas puts into her world-building that makes everything so wonderfully realistic.  I actually felt like I was actually apart of the scenery when reading this, and her descriptions make everything come alive.  I don’t know about anyone else, but world building is my number one love in fantasy novels.  It is something that I think Maas has improved upon since the first Throne of Glass novel, although even that novel was seriously strong.

Feyre, at first glance, is definitely more approachable as a character than Celaena.  Feyre is pretty beaten down by her life supporting her ungrateful family.  She is uneducated and had to work for everything she had or did, whether it be a small rabbit to feed her family, or the paints she couldn’t afford to feed her passion.  She willingly accepts her fate when she is forced to atone and still manages to be unbeaten by those circumstances that took her away from her family.

Tamlin, oh my.  He certainly has his hands full with Feyre, who is full of fire and spits insults at him almost constantly.  It’s easy to see in his actions that he is trying to make this whole experience bearable for her, but she continually shuts him down.  It’s pretty entertaining to read.  But he definitely grows on you as a character just as much as Feyre begins to see what a good man he is.  Now, there has been some debate that I’ve seen about Tamlin’s actions during the Fire Night ceremony, when he sleeps with another Faerie within a few hours of coming and expressing his desire for Feyre.  I will say that yes, it does seem like something sketchy to do.  However, this is a fictional world where these Faerie practices are considered the norm.  In addition, it is mentioned that the Faerie women wait to be chosen, so they are willing participants in this.  If anything, I really thought that Tamlin desiring Feyre so much that he searched for her instead of choosing one of the Faeries at first really shows where his heart lies.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox.  Now, the secondary characters in A Court of Thorns and Roses are just as strongly written as the others.  I adored Lucien, for his undying loyalty to his best friend, for his rapier wit, and even for the times he decided to trick Feyre into doing something stupid.  Alis for being so loyal to Tamlin, her nephews, and to Feyre in the end.  Rhysand I haven’t decided on yet.  He obviously has some devious motives, but he also saved Fayre’s life more than once.  What is his angle?

I’m extremely excited about the second installment, which has (for now) just been named A Court of Thorns and Roses #2, but will have to wait until 2016.  It’s a good thing the fourth Throne of Glass novel comes out in a little over a month, because I will have to get my Maas fix!

5 Bards.

fivebards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

thetroubleinme

Release Date: September 1, 2015

This fierce black comedy from the master of turning his own true story into semi-fictional gold charts the summer at age fourteen that his alter-ego’s life starts to go off the rails. In his family’s new rental home on a down-at-the heels street in sun-beaten Miami—with dog-eating alligators in the canal out back, a dangerously attractive girl across the road, and the unhinged Pagoda family next door—teen Jack is adrift, losing a sense of who he is and what he’s all about. Which is why he ends up trying to morph himself into someone he’s not, that someone being sixteen-year-old Gary Pagoda, a.k.a. Scary Gary, just back from juvie for car theft. Following Gary’s lead that first time is just the start of Jack’s series of bad decisions. It goes shockingly, hilariously downhill from there.

Book Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

You can check out Jessica’s review of the first novel, Seraphina, too!

First, I would like to say thank you to Rachel Hartman for including a summary of Seraphina at the opening of Shadow Scale. It has been at least a year, if not more, since I read book one, and having a reminder of the major plot points and characters made it much easier to slip back into the world of Goredd. I wish more authors did this.

I wanted to just LOVE this book, and it quite upsets me that this review isn’t going to be glowing. I loved Seraphina and had been really looking forward to seeing how Seraphina developed in the second book and if and how war between the dragons and the humans would be averted. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I loved it. I liked it, yes. Maybe I even really liked it, but I most definitely didn’t love it.

Let me start with the parts of the story I did like. I enjoyed Seraphina’s journeys – both the physical journey to all of Goredd’s neighbouring countries and her internal journey to learn more about herself. Seraphina has found herself in the middle of a diplomatic crisis, and this crisis gives her the opportunity to travel to a number of different countries where she learns that Goredd’s way of doing things is not the only way, or even the best way. This physical journey corresponds with her internal journey. Seraphina has always felt different (being half dragon will do that to a girl) and now that she has embraced her existence as half dragon and half human, she is learning what that means. It was heartbreaking to me when Seraphina realized that all of the other half dragons could see what they called mind-fire – an internal light that all half dragons have – and she couldn’t. Much of the first book was taken up with Seraphina’s search for others like her, and now that she has found them, she is still different.

I also found the love triangle between Seraphina, Prince Lucien Kiggs and Princess Glisselda very well done. All three characters love each other deeply, and none of them want to see either of the others hurt in any way. This leads to them taking great care with the emotions of the others.  These are characters who are not selfish; who realize that there is more to the world than their wants, or even their needs. It was refreshing to see this. Unfortunately, this also led to a part of the story that I did not like. Throughout all of the first book, and about 80% of the second book, the characters have behaved in one way. Suddenly, near the end of the second book, there is a massive change that has come out of nowhere. I don’t mind plot twists, but this particular twist didn’t seem to serve any function; especially given how the love triangle is eventually resolved. It seemed to me to be pandering to a specific demographic, and I did not see how it added to the story in any way.

I wish that had been my only disappointment in the story, but it wasn’t. Sadly, Rachel Hartman used one of my least favourite plot devices to end the problem – she invoked Deus ex machine. The entire story has been about Seraphina learning to accept who she is, along with all that goes with that, and in the climactic moment, when Seraphina is faced with her nemesis, a supernatural being comes along and walks off with that nemesis. Wait, what? Why couldn’t Seraphina have defeated Jannoula on her own? Why did we need an external force to come in? Seraphina has just discovered her abilities, and is learning to use them, and suddenly the need is gone. It was such a letdown for me. I wanted Seraphina to embrace herself, to accept that she has abilities beyond those of humans, and learn how to use those abilities.

This leads me to my biggest problem with the story – the unequal power between Seraphina and her nemesis, Jannoula. Jannoula was mentioned briefly in the first book, but in this book, she takes centre stage. She has the ability to take over the minds of others – and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many other minds she can control. How does one fight against this? I understand that to create drama, and a build up to a strong climax, the reader needs to feel the hero’s pain, but t his just went too far; so far, in fact, that Seraphina couldn’t defeat Jannoula – it required the last minute intervention of a godlike figure. I wanted Seraphina to learn how strong she really was, and to be able to defeat Jannoula on her own, but that didn’t happen.

For all these reasons, I can only give Shadow Scale 3 bards.

threebards

 

 

 

 

 

This review was submitted to A Midsummer Night’s Read by Sarah. 

Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

Can you imagine a world where all the knowledge in the world is available to you at the touch of your hand on a iPad?  It seems pretty awesome, especially since in Caine’s world all of the lost texts by philosophers and scientists from the past still exist.  But conversely, the majority of the population living within the story world of Ink and Bone would never actually hold a physical book in their hands.  I don’t know about you, but as much as I love e-readers and tablets, there is nothing that can replace the feeling of a physical book in your hands and the rough touch of the pages.  So, basically, this is the world where I would want to be part of a black market.

I will admit that before Ink and Bone, I’d not read any of Caine’s other novels, but I will say that she creates the story world of The Great Library with ease and precision.  Be aware that since this is the first novel in a planned series that there is a lot of exposition setting up the main events of narrative.  But don’t give up! It’s all important information and it still moves quickly and is paced well.  There are a number of really well developed characters that you will grow to love and loathe.

There are so many turbulent things going on in this book and you will have to pay attention or you’ll miss some vital plot points.  There’s a war going on between Wales and England.  There’s a huge black market underground that focuses on dealing rare original books.  There’s a special library army that pretty much kills anyone who is caught dealing in that black market.  There’s a group of people who take pleasure in eating (yes, literally eating) those original books.  There are alchemists!  I adore the fact that Caine left the narrative with little romance, but chose to focus it on the action and inner struggles of the main character, Jess.

You should definitely go check out this book.  If you are a fan of her other novels, or if you are just looking for a new series to start, Ink and Bone is your novel.

4 Bards.

fourbards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 1, 2015

“You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified.”

Lily is back in her own universe, and she’s ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Book Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.
 
In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

I certainly do love reading North Carolina authors and I am especially partial to Carrie Ryan after she came and spoke to one of my Master’s classes back in the day, and because I run into her at book events all over the Charlotte area.  (Charlotteans for the win!)  I am a huge fan of her zombie trilogy, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I will argue with anyone that she was the first author to really bring the zombie apocalypse to the forefront in Young Adult Literature.  But enough about that, let’s get back to Daughter of Deep Silence.

When I saw Ryan at an event where she introduced this novel, she said that the storyline originated back when she had a falling out with a former friend.  That the seeds of Frances’ story were sownthrough her desire to exact revenge somehow against this person who hurt her so deeply.  What is that saying people mention when making friends with a writer? “Be careful or you’ll end up in my book!” (Just saying!) Anyway, I feel that the narrative Ryan weaves, while has some pretty extraordinary circumstances, is still extremely relateable for anyone who has felt the urge to make someone else feel the pain you have.  Whether you have wanted to seek revenge on a bully, an ex, or anyone who has hurt you, then  you can relate to that innate urge that Frances struggles with and focuses on throughout this novel.

I think that its very important for readers to remember that this story is based specifically on Frances’ revenge.  Sure she does some fairly questionable and dangerous things, but she also believes she had no other choice or option left in the world.  She is lucky enough to have fairly unlimited cash, and is surrounded by street smart “family” and has a pretty well thought out plan.  One thing that I love about Ryan’s story telling is how developed the world is.  Now, it’s not like this is a fantasy world that has to be carefully crafted and completely original, but it is set in reality and it takes a certain finesse to be able to make the events of this novel as believeable as they are.  Kudos to Ryan for that.

I flew through this book in a matter of hours, as the story very much keeps you on your toes.  There are a lot of questions still to be answered by the end of the novel, but not enough to convince me that a sequel would be needed.  Frances’ story is complete, but it does leave you to draw your own conclusions, which is always something exciting to have as a reader.

Go pick up a copy of this book ASAP and let me know what you think!

4 Bards

fourbards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

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