Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review: How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger

How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger
How to Marry a Werewolf (Claw & Courtship #1)
By Gail Carriger
Publisher:
Gail Carriger
Format: eBook
Source: Author

To Sum It Up: Following a scandal back home in Boston, Faith Wigglesworth's parents send her off to England to find a werewolf husband, believing that only a werewolf will marry their daughter despite her tarnished reputation. Almost immediately upon setting foot in London, Faith garners the attention of Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings, Gamma of the London werewolf pack and renowned for his steely demeanor. Faith is not the type to wilt easily, however, and each subsequent encounter between the two has London society buzzing over whether or not Channing has finally met his match, in more ways than one.

Review: Gail Carriger continues to awe with yet another stellar novella set in the paranormal Victorian steampunk world of her Parasol Protectorate novels. Carriger's deft storytelling provides just the right amount of background on characters who've previously appeared in her works for both newcomers and longtime fans alike. These novellas are also perfectly paced; the story never feels rushed despite the shorter page count. You have plenty of time to get to know the characters (more in depth if you're already acquainted) and become invested in what happens to them.

Each novella has focused on a secondary character from the original Parasol Protectorate series, and in How to Marry a Werewolf, the brusque Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings gets his turn in the spotlight. Channing has always been a fascinating character to me; I wondered what lurked beneath that famously (or infamously) icy demeanor of his, and here we finally get a look inside the mind behind the man/wolf.

Sharing Channing's duties as protagonist is new addition to the Parasolverse Faith Wigglesworth. Faith hails from Boston, and a recent scandal finds her sent away by her anti-supernatural parents to England to land a werewolf husband. In their warped view, only a werewolf would accept their ruined daughter now. Crossing the Atlantic actually improves Faith's circumstances, though. Her cousins the Iftercasts welcome Faith wholeheartedly and show her all the love that her own parents do not. Despite the adversity she's faced, Faith's winning personality shines through. I loved her keen mind and her love of rocks of the geological kind. Faith also doesn't back down easily in the face of a challenge, which is very handy when dealing with Channing, a living definition of the word "challenge."

I never thought I'd use the words "sweet" and "Channing" in the same sentence, but the romance that develops here is very sweet indeed. The road leading up to it is a bit bumpy at times, but readers will be thoroughly entertained by all of the witty verbal sparring that has an Elizabeth Bennet/Mr. Darcy-esque charm to it. I enjoyed How to Marry a Werewolf immensely and eagerly await the next Parasolverse novella.

All in All: Even for readers unfamiliar with Channing's character, How to Marry a Werewolf delivers an extremely satisfying story. Longtime Parasolverse fans will be thrilled as well by the appearance of some old friends. Don't hesitate to snap this one up!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Review: Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
Orphan Monster Spy
By Matt Killeen
Publisher:
Viking
Format: Print ARC
Source: YALLFest

To Sum It Up: Sarah is a newly orphaned, Jewish fifteen-year-old in Nazi Germany. After encountering a mysterious man who turns out to be a spy working against the Nazis, Sarah undertakes a crucial mission. She must collect information on a lethal weapon created by a Nazi scientist. To complete her mission, Sarah must go undercover at a Nazi boarding school where she will become friendly with the scientist’s daughter. Sarah endeavors to save the Germany that has been turned against her as well as becoming the hero she desperately needs.

Review: Orphan Monster Spy reminded me of some sort of really cool spy movie. The pacing was excellent, making the story feel action movie-esque. The story was thoroughly researched, making the setting feel authentic without feeling too vague. Matt Killeen did an excellent job of balancing the bigger picture of WWII without sacrificing the relatability of his main character.

I absolutely adored Sarah as a character because she was so enjoyably complex. Sarah’s complexity and growth as a character propelled this book into greatness. Sarah was an incredible heroine with a skill set that reminded me of Black Widow. Put into incredibly stressful situations, Sarah’s decisions were always intelligently made. There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than reading a book where you find yourself mentally screaming at the main character for their pathetic decisions. I was constantly in awe of Sarah’s maturity and sense of purpose. Additionally, I was astounded by Sarah’s perceptiveness and her profound interpretations of her experiences. Despite Sarah’s complexity, she remains relatable with thoughts and emotions the reader can empathize with.

The reader is also occasionally reminded that Sarah is indeed still a child. I was really hoping that Sarah would find some sort of paternal comfort in the Captain. I would have really enjoyed seeing him grow into that role. However, I understand that Sarah’s isolation from others forced her to become stronger and better equipped to deal with the challenges she faced. Sarah was able to become her own hero.

All in all: I know a majority of this review is praise for the main character, but I have no regrets. I love it when a character actively becomes the hero they need for themselves. Orphan Monster Spy was a riveting read that retained a profundity suitable for the setting. You should really give this one a try!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's topic is:
Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

1. The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin


With GRRM announcing that there will be no new A Song of Ice and Fire novel this year, I'm starting to think more and more that we'll never know the fates of the book characters. :/

2. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas


At least I'll have one highly, highly anticipated fantasy to read in 2018! STILL not over the ending of Empire of Storms.

3. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab


Super, super thrilled for this sequel to the absolutely fantastic Vicious.

4. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab


TWO new Schwab novels this year? YASSSSSSSSS.

5. The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken


Not only is the film adaptation of The Darkest Minds hitting theaters this summer, but we also have a NEW novel!

6. Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare


I put this on my list, even though I still need to read the second book, Lord of Shadows, lol.

7. The Dreamer Trilogy #1 by Maggie Stiefvater

This doesn't even have a title or release date yet, but all I needed to know was that it features Ronan Lynch from Stiefvater's Raven Cycle series as the MC.

What books would you love to be able to read early?

Monday, April 30, 2018

April 2018 Recap

It's a double miracle—not only is this month's recap post on time for a change, but there are actually posts to include in the recap! LOL. I've been feeling kinda down about my lame efforts to blog this year, so I definitely needed this little morale boost.

This was also probably my best reading month of 2018 so far, as in I didn't go long stretches without reading. Before I'd been finding it so easy to finish a book and not pick up a new one.

April 11 was our 6th blogoversary. It's crazy to think that 6 years have gone by already. Also, I was 6 years younger back then, hahaha!

I saw Infinity War on opening night, and my brain is still trying to process everything. Way to mess with my head, Marvel Studios! XD

So farewell, April. Hope everyone has a fantastic May!

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Reign of the Fallen (Reign of the Fallen #1)
By Sarah Glenn Marsh
Publisher:
Razorbill
Format: Print ARC
Source: YALLFest

To Sum It Up: In the kingdom of Karthia, the ruling nobles have maintained their positions with the help of necromancers who raise them from the dead. The Dead must, however, remain covered by a shroud or else risk becoming lethal monsters known as Shades. Necromancer Odessa’s dedication to her job has been unwavering, until a tragedy shatters her world, and grief envelops her. Meanwhile, Shade attacks are on the rise, and Karthia needs its most skilled necromancer to stop them.

Review: As much as I try not to make any assumptions about a book based on the cover alone, sometimes it’s really hard, especially when a cover is particularly eye-catching. When I first spotted Reign of the Fallen at YALLFest, its cover totally called to me, and after reading the blurb—necromancers, undead creatures called Shades, a kingdom in peril—this book sounded exactly like my thing. Unfortunately, it ended up falling way short of my expectations.

This is one of those cases where I should have DNFed but got too far into the book to put it aside. I was also reluctant to DNF this because I had just DNFed another book. I wasn’t too many pages into Reign of the Fallen when I started feeling iffy about it because the book repeatedly mentioned how special the main character, Odessa, was. Odessa’s awesomeness quickly became tiresome.

Reign of the Fallen employs a lot of telling vs. showing, and this affects so many aspects of the book, from the world-building to the character development. The world is never really fleshed out, and I couldn’t buy into it. The King of Karthia and his fellow royals have ruled for two hundred years because necromancers have raised them from the dead. Those who have been brought back must, however, remain completely covered by a shroud because if any part of them is seen by a living person, the dead individual turns into a zombie-like Shade. There’s no explanation for why this happens; it just does. The book also doesn’t go into any detail about the necromancers’ magic. For a fantasy read, Reign of the Fallen glosses over its fantasy elements.

All of the telling also undermines the emotional punch the novel tries to deliver. Odessa suffers a terrible loss early on, but the depth of her relationship with that character isn’t conveyed effectively. This in turn lessens the emotional impact of a chunk of the book, which follows Odessa’s grief-driven spiral into an addiction to calming potion. Both the book’s title and synopsis focus on the plotline involving an alarming increase in Shade attacks, but it takes a long time for that part of the novel to move to the forefront. Even when the story shifts to the threat posed by the Shades, there’s zero mystery as to who’s behind it. I’d hoped for some kind of twist because the clues were so obvious, but alas, there was none.

In the end, Reign of the Fallen was not at all the book I’d thought it would be. It barely explored any fantasy, which was disappointing because the premise had so much potential. Instead the story veered down a different path, which would have been fine if the book had dug deeper into the weighty subject matter as opposed to just describing it through telling. I’d hoped to like this as much as Garth Nix’s Sabriel, another fantasy with necromancy in it, but sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.

All in All: I should have listened to the part of my brain that said this book was not going to work out and given up after the first few chapters didn’t wow me.

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