December 20, 2016

All I Want for Christmas 2016 Is... (6)

It's that time of the year again... when I share the books that have made it onto my Christmas wishlist! I'll probably share one or two a week until Christmas. Feel free to link up your own book picks in the comments!

A pre-order of Gilded Cage by Vic James


This one's set in a fantasy world in which those that are magically gifted are aristocrats, and they are served by the non-magically-talented commoners. From the blurb, it sounds like there's star-crossed romance (a commoner falling in love with an aristocrat), and revolution, and a mysterious aristocrat with dark powers...

So yeah, SIGN ME UP.

What books are you wishing for this Christmas?

December 16, 2016

All I Want for Christmas 2016 Is... (5)

It's that time of the year again... when I share the books that have made it onto my Christmas wishlist! I'll probably share one or two a week until Christmas. Feel free to link up your own book picks in the comments!

The Architect of Song
by A. G. Howard


The main character is deaf, and it's set in Gothicky Victorian England, and it's New Adult. This book sounds like it ticks several of my boxes, and I seriously want to get my hands on it.

What books are you hoping to find under the tree this Christmas?

December 12, 2016

All I Want for Christmas 2016 Is... (4)

It's that time of the year again... when I share the books that have made it onto my Christmas wishlist! I'll probably share one or two a week until Christmas. Feel free to link up your own book picks in the comments!

Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult


It's been a while since I've read a Jodi Picoult book, and her latest sounds so very timely given everything that's been happening in the US. 

What books are you hoping Santa brings this Christmas?

December 4, 2016

All I Want for Christmas 2016 Is... (3)

It's that time of the year again... when I share the books that have made it onto my Christmas wishlist! I'll probably share one or two a week until Christmas. Feel free to link up your own book picks in the comments!

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


I'm not normally big on sci-fi, but I have to admit Illuminae totally sucked me in and I was glued to its pages! I'm hoping the same is true for Gemina. I do love the ingenuity in formatting, both in the style of the storytelling and the book jacket design.

What books are you wishing for this Christmas?

November 29, 2016

All I Want for Christmas 2016 Is... (2)

It's that time of the year again... when I share the books that have made it onto my Christmas wishlist! I'll probably share one or two a week until Christmas. Feel free to link up your own book picks in the comments!

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study
is an old favourite of mine, but I only kind of skim-read the other two in the series. From what I've read on Goodreads, though, Shadow Study captures the same kind of feeling that the original did. I hope that's the case and I'm certainly looking forward to revisiting my favourite characters of Yelena and Valek!

What books are you hoping to find under the tree?


November 20, 2016

All I Want for Christmas 2016 Is... (1)

It's that time of the year again... when I share the books that have made it onto my Christmas wishlist! I'll probably share one or two a week until Christmas. Feel free to link up your own book picks in the comments!

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski


Since this is the third and final book in the series, I won't post the book blurb here so those readers who haven't read the first two won't be spoiled. I've enjoyed the first two books (with a few reservations) and I'm looking forward to seeing how everything turns out!

What books are on your Christmas wishlist?

November 6, 2016

The Winner's Crime: A Rambling Review

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I polished this one off in just a couple days. It's quite readable and compelling, despite the fact that for most of the book I just wanted to shake some sense into the two main leads and get them to TALK to each other and get everything out into the open. Of course, if they'd done that, the book would have been a whole lot shorter, but I did feel that all the drama between the two of them was kinda trumped-up, due to Kestrel's insistence not to tell Arin the truth, and Arin's (willful?) obtuseness in ignoring what seemed (at least to me, the reader) to be rather blatantly obvious (spoilers, highlight to read: the reason behind Kestrel's engagement to the prince, and also Kestrel's suggestion to poison the horses instead of burning the eastern plains).

This idiotic behaviour not only caused major problems for their relationship/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, but it also impacted the other stuff going on in the plot. Whereas the first book in the series had a fair bit of action, this one involves less action and more intrigue/secrecy. Unfortunately, as sequels are often wont to do, I felt that this book did not have the same kind of internal story arc that the first did. The plot had less direction and momentum, and there was a chunk in the middle that lagged. It felt sort of like the relationship drama was being used to stretch things out from book 1 to book 3. Of course, along the way we met some new characters and some more plot points happened, but a lot of the difficulties encountered probably could have been avoided if Arin and Kestrel had just sat down and had a long talk.

I also found the writing overused metaphors, and as with the first book, could have provided more description of settings and characters to help me visualize them.

Despite these complaints, I quite enjoyed it! Kestrel and Arin both make mistakes and pay for them, and yet you root for them all the same. The transformation in how Arin views Kestrel as the book progresses is striking (spoiler: he becomes very bitter towards her). Kestrel's gradual change in attitude/perspective regarding slavery, war, and military might that began in the first book progresses in book two, in a way that feels quite organic, rather than being rushed. Her relationship with her father is complicated (boy, is it ever!) and is something I hope book three will delve into more.

September 30, 2016

Short & Sweet: The Rosie Project and The Mime Order (Adult)

17302192The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I tried a couple times to get into this one and didn't get past the first few chapters, but finally this time I was successful! Don's character was a challenge to relate to (he's not your average Joe) but I found myself warming to him more as the story progressed (while at the same time wanting to *headdesk* a lot over things that he said and did). The plotline involving the genetic search for Rosie's biological father was fun (not very realistic, but fun!), and I also generally enjoyed seeing Don try new things and break some rules.

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Seriously, I could not put this book down! So gripping. A tad violent and graphic for my tastes in some parts, but I just had to keep turning the pages to find out what would happen. This sequel really fleshed out the criminal world of Scion London (and the various players involved in it), while still connecting to the bigger picture of the storyline involving the Rephaim. I was occasionally confused by references that weren't explained properly (spoiler, highlight to read: Like the whole thing with the amaranth blooming again...what was all that about? And the poltergeist at the end, is that supposed to be the one that originally scarred Warden?) and I could have used a bit more development of the romance side of things (they are so busy fighting or getting over injuries they never have time for it!). But overall, a very strong sequel that has me wanting to read the next one!

August 20, 2016

Short & Sweet: The Bone Season (Adult)

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

17199504It took a few tries to get into this one, and I wasn't really hooked until about halfway through, but once I became immersed in the world and more familiar with the characters, I was riveted to the page! The world-building is confusing (seriously, there are so many different types of clairvoyants) and it was hard to keep track of who was on what side (especially because there are tons of characters and I kept forgetting who was who — a character list would have been helpful), but I really enjoyed the main characters of Warden and Paige, and the progression of their relationship dynamic. The pacing was slow to start with, but then picked up and really didn't drop off for the 2nd half of the book. Looking forward to continuing with the second in the series.

Oh, and I just discovered a glossary at the back of the book for all of the slang terms. Huh, well, that would have been good to know while I was reading it, lol.

July 28, 2016

If You Find Me: A Panoramic Review

15793231 "There are some things you can’t leave behind… A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down." (from Goodreads)

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch 

My reaction: I can't say I liked this book, because it's not an enjoyable one. The mother in If You Find Me is without a doubt one of the most disgusting, deplorable parents I've ever read about. She is absolutely despicable. I can't think of enough awful adjectives to describe her. It's unbelievable what she puts her daughters through, especially Carey (spoiler, highlight to read: forcing her to be sexually abused for money, to pay for the mom's drug addiction). It's the most pathetic, morally devoid thing for her to do.

Spoilers about the end: I actually would have been interested to know how the mom turned out. But I guess that's realistic, that they probably didn't hear from the mom again...I wouldn't be surprised if she went back to her problems.

I wasn't crazy about Carey's voice, but it is very distinctive. She uses a lot of metaphors to life in the woods and nature (everything that's familiar to her). I liked this at first, since it was different, and then I got tired of it partway through, until when I encountered one I'd be thinking, 'oh no, not another metaphor!' But Carey's a likeable narrator — emotionally tough, extremely loyal to her sister (she has a really strong bond with Jenessa and puts her sister first and foremost above everything, which is admirable and really wonderful to see), and very resourceful. She's totally awkward and has trouble trusting people, but that is understandable. Now, there is some crucial information that Carey does not share with the reader until the very end, but since she obviously has psychological issues, I can more or less let this slide (normally I am not a fan of narrators keeping things from the reader).

Best aspect: The first part of the book was really interesting, when they're living in the woods as well as right after they're found, and how Carey's whole life changes and she has to adapt. She misses aspects of life in the woods, which I thought gave her character and the story more depth and complexity, because obviously not everything about the woods was terrible, and not everything about her new life is fantastic.

I also found the end riveting, because Carey finally goes through her whole memory of what happened during the "white-star night" (on a sidenote, I found it annoying how she kept referring to the "white-star night" which was obviously an event in her past that was a big secret, and yet it took the entire book to reveal what it was), and she and her dad have a heart-to-heart talk. I thought their conversation was done quite realistically; it was pretty pitch-perfect in the authenticity of the dialogue, not heading into sappy sweet or melodramatic territory. Spoilers: I thought it was very interesting that she confides all this in her dad; this is sexual abuse, so it might have been something she would have preferred to confide to a woman, like Melissa (a good maternal role model). But her dad is the one that she needs to repair her relationship with, the one she doesn't entirely trust and has been told bad things aboutso of course it's really important that they have it out and understand each other better. It was very rewarding as a reader to see that. 
If I could change something... I would liven up the middle section, as it felt kind of pointless. For me, it plodded and was boring compared to the rest, dealing with themes/storylines you'd find in a typical YA contemporary read. There was a subplot involving Carey adapting to high school, including tension with stepsister Delaney and a "cool girl bullies" storyline, and there was a romantic interest as well. The romantic relationship read like a teen girl's fantasy, just too good to be true. Their interactions just didn't seem that believable, especially his dialogue. 

Although there's an incident with him that really drives home the impact that her life in the woods has had on her concept of relationships (spoilers: where she tries to get him to touch her in a sexual way, and it's just horrible that because of the way she's been brought up, this is her instinctual move to get a guy to like her.)

If you haven't read it: be warned, this is a depressing book. It's really horrifying what both of the girls go through. There are parts of it that are lighter and less serious, but unfortunately a lot of the "happy" plot points felt a bit unrealistic in the context of the dark, gritty stuff that felt so believable.

If you have read it: what age group would you recommend it for? The protagonist is 14 years old, and the writing style felt to me as though it were MG/young YA-ish. But the maturity of the content and the way it is presented is more suitable for an older audience. And yet I feel like older readers would find some of the storylines (such as the romance) not sophisticated enough, and might get bored in the middle as I did. Since Carey's voice comes off as young sometimes and much older other times, the book seems to be a sort of awkward fit for either age group.

Just one more thing I wanted to mention: I wish we'd had more resolution in the storyline involving Carey's sister. We didn't get to see Jenessa's thoughts/emotions about what she went through. I also wish the plot involving Delaney had been resolved — we never find out what happened!

Final verdict: 3 shooting stars. 

Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher.

Note: There is some mature (sexual and violent) content in this book.

June 11, 2016

Short & Sweet: Uprooted (Adult)

Back with another "short & sweet" review!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

225447644.5 stars. I really got into this one — it reminded me a lot of the kinds of fantasy books I'd read as a teen. In particular I liked the characters of Agnieszka and the Dragon; Agnieszka was one of those relatable, sometimes self-deprecating protagonists who comes into her own as the story progresses, and the Dragon reminded me of Howl from Howl's Moving Castle and North from Brightly Woven — a crotchety wizard who doesn't like anyone to know how he really feels.

I also enjoyed the use of magic in this one — it was confusing at times, but creative, and I thought it was rather funny how ticked off the Dragon got that Agnieszka had such a different, and more intuitive, approach to magic than he did. Their connection was a very slow-burn, and to be honest, I could have used a little more of the romantic side of things (since the Dragon was SO prickly and unwilling to reveal his emotions).

I did find portions of the plot repetitive, and for a while there it seemed like they just kept fighting problem after problem and never catching a break (and I kept thinking, okay this is the climax, and then it wasn't, because something even bigger was happening).

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