Wednesday, August 1, 2018

July 2018 Recap

Goodbye July, hello August! I actually read 2 books and 1 novella in July! Woohoo! It's been quite a while since I got that much reading done in a month; it helped that the 2 books were both very enjoyable: Gail Carriger's Competence and Tahereh Mafi's Restore Me. The novella, however, was a bit of a different story. I was quite disappointed with Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Frost and Starlight. Sorta ranty review posting next week.

I also wrote my 300th review. When I started blogging 6 six years ago, I probably wouldn't have pictured myself having the dedication to write that number of reviews. Or still be blogging after 6 years, lol.

I hope you all enjoy the waning days of summer! The temps here in Florida won't get cooler for a while yet, but I'm totally ready for some sweater weather and fall Bath and Body Works scents! XD

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi
Restore Me (Shatter Me #4)
By Tahereh Mafi
Publisher:
Harper
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Juliette is now supreme commander of The Reestablishment, ruling over all of the sectors of North America. She quickly finds, however, that the position entails so many more responsibilities than she ever imagined. Juliette also faces a possible threat from the other supreme commanders around the world for all of the upheaval she’s brought upon The Reestablishment, which seems determined to never release its hold on her.

Review: The continuation of series after they officially conclude makes me a bit apprehensive, especially when it’s a series that I absolutely loved, like Shatter Me. While what was then the final book, Ignite Me, left a few things unresolved, I was still satisfied with how the series ended. The news that there would be three new Shatter Me books gave me mixed feelings. I would never, ever say no to more Warner, but what if the new trilogy wasn’t as good as the original?

My skepticism was completely unwarranted because Restore Me turned out to be the Shatter Me book I didn’t know I needed. Reading this made me realize how much I’ve missed Tahereh Mafi’s gorgeous prose, Kenji’s hilarious snark, and Warner’s—well, everything about Warner. Since we’re discussing my favorite character in the series, both Warner and Juliette have POVs in Restore Me. EEK.

Reading the first page of Restore Me was like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. I devoured this book, which is a very, very rare occurrence these days. Restore Me was that good. “Good” doesn’t do adequate justice here, not even close. This was an absolute page-turner that I flew through.

While reading the original trilogy, some aspects of the world-building didn’t fully materialize for me, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the series. Restore Me fills in some of those gaps, particularly regarding The Reestablishment. The rest of the world’s supreme commanders play a significant role here.

We also get a bit of backstory for Kenji and see Warner the most vulnerable he’s ever been. Restore Me is full of revelations that test Juliette and Warner’s still fairly new relationship. I felt for all three of them at various times, but the excerpts from Juliette’s journals that she kept while locked up in the asylum were thoroughly gut-wrenching.

Although Restore Me was an intense, chilling read that destroyed me in its final pages, I’m beyond elated that the series is back. Mafi brilliantly and seamlessly picks up her story where she left it in Ignite Me. It’s as though the series never ended, and we’re watching Juliette cope with the aftermath of the events in book three. If you’re at all wondering if Restore Me is worth a read, the answer is an unequivocal Y-E-S.

All in All: My favorite read of 2018 so far! Everything and everyone I loved about the previous Shatter Me books return, but Restore Me is in no way a rehash. The world expands, the characters continue to grow, and the Kenji one-liners are priceless.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray
Defy the Worlds (Constellation #2)
By Claudia Gray
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: YALLFest

To Sum It Up: Noemi has returned to her home planet, but despite all that she’s done to try and defend Genesis as its battle with Earth continues, she hardly receives a heroine’s welcome. Instead she’s treated as an outcast for seeing so much more than a machine in Abel, the prized creation of the legendary scientist Burton Mansfield. Abel is still traveling the galaxy and has even assembled his own crew, but when Mansfield uses Noemi to lure Abel to fulfill his purpose, Abel doesn’t think twice about the sacrifice he will have to make to save Noemi.

Review: Defy the Stars was one of my favorite reads of 2017, so I was very, very much anticipating diving into the sequel, Defy the Worlds. The first book blew me away with the story of Noemi Vidal, a fighter pilot whose home planet, Genesis, is locked in a battle with Earth, and Abel, a mech whose programming is so sophisticated, sometimes it’s difficult to believe he’s not human. Mechs are a huge part of Earth’s strategy to defeat Genesis, and so Noemi’s first impression of Abel was less than favorable. Book one saw Noemi’s attitude toward Abel shift significantly, as they traveled from planet to planet trying to find a way to help Genesis.

The second book finds Noemi back on Genesis, where she’s become an outsider for seeing Abel as so much more than a mech. Abel, meanwhile, has assembled a tiny crew and is once again traversing the planets of the Loop, albeit with caution as he continues to try to evade his creator, Burton Mansfield. Mansfield built Abel for a sole purpose—to house the scientist’s brain after his death. With Mansfield ever closer to that point and desperate to find his “son,” Abel must always stay one step ahead of a man whose genius makes that task seemingly impossible.

Defy the Worlds wastes no time plunging Noemi and Abel into intense action. Earth deploys the deadly Cobweb virus, which Noemi survived in the previous book, against Genesis, and Noemi’s attempt to get help ends up in her capture—by Mansfield and his daughter, Dr. Gillian Shearer. They use Noemi as bait to draw Abel out, knowing that he’ll do anything to save her.

I happened to be watching the first season of HBO’s Westworld while reading Defy the Stars, and by another stroke of coincidence, I read Defy the Worlds during season 2 of Westworld. I’m fascinated by how both the books and the TV series examine how close a machine can come to being human and all of the ethical issues that question raises. Defy the Worlds takes mech tech even further, with Mansfield’s latest iteration offering potential immortality. That is, only to a very select few in comparison to the size of the galaxy’s population. I love how deep this series is, exploring the possibility that a mech might have more humanity than an actual human being.

Although I very much enjoyed reading about Noemi and Abel again, I did feel that this was slower paced than book one. Defy the Worlds was still an excellent read, though, with plenty to love, including some fantastic character development for our two protagonists. The book left off on a hell of a whopper, which makes me all the more eager to get my hands on book three.

All in All: Defy the Worlds was a very solid follow-up to Defy the Stars and definitely worth the wait. I didn’t find it as fast paced as the first book, but otherwise it was awesome to be back with Noemi and Abel once more.

Monday, July 16, 2018

ARC Review: Competence by Gail Carriger

Competence by Gail Carriger
Competence (The Custard Protocol #3)
By Gail Carriger
Publisher:
Orbit
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Publication Date: July 17, 2018

To Sum It Up: The Spotted Custard is off on another adventure, this time in search of vampires in Peru. The airship’s crew must first, however, solve the rather pesky problem of a helium leak. It’s up to the Spotted Custard’s always dependable purser Primrose Tunstell to help find a way to save the day. Meanwhile, back on board the airship, Prim’s twin Percy just wants to be left alone with his books instead of dealing with the mayhem that typically follows wherever the Spotted Custard goes.

Review: It’s been a while since we last checked in with the motley crew of the Spotted Custard, but the newest installment in Gail Carriger’s The Custard Protocol series was absolutely worth the wait! I didn’t realize how much I missed this group of adorably quirky characters until I started reading Competence.

The title is very fitting here, as the novel focuses on Primrose Tunstell, probably the most reliable member of Captain Prudence Akeldama’s crew. Prim is practical where Rue is whimsical, and so the two best friends balance each other out very well. Prim is also like a mother to practically everyone on the airship, and you truly get the sense that the crew is one big family. It wouldn’t be a family without some dysfunction, of course, but even with so many different personalities on board that are often at odds with one another, they’re at odds in an endearing way.

Competence also puts Prim’s brother, Percy, in the spotlight. The Tunstell twins could not be any less identical, with Prim the epitome of etiquette and Percy happiest in the company of his books. I have to say, I found Percy’s pedantry and aversion to human interaction quite amusing. There were many laugh out loud moments involving just about everybody aboard the Spotted Custard, and the riotous humor is one of the reasons why I love Gail Carriger’s books so much. She has such a knack for writing witty phrases. The banter between the characters is especially scintillating.

While there is a story line centered around a hive of endangered vampires in the Andes, the novel belongs to Prim as she tries to sort out where her heart seems to be leading her versus what society expects of her regarding marriage and family. Fortunately for Prim, she’s surrounded by a family that loves her for whoever she is and will always welcome her home on board the Spotted Custard.

I can’t rave enough about how brilliantly the characters in this series have grown. They’re the backbone of the books, and Competence was another delightful escapade with this lovable bunch.

All in All: Competence was such a fun read! Prim’s character development is the standout here. The view from Percy’s perspective is also a blast. The ending sets up the final Custard Protocol book perfectly, and I eagerly await its release!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Book Loot (32)

Even though I've been barely reading, as painfully chronicled in my mid-year rewind post, lol, I've somehow managed to accumulate new books. I went a little 1-click happy with some eBook deals, and I also had some Amazon rewards points to use.

I read a sample of My Plain Jane through the Epic Reads newsletter and HAD to get it, even though I still have to read The Lady Janies' previous collaboration, My Lady Jane.

In a rare venture outside of fiction, I've recently added not one but TWO nonfiction titles to my shelves. I'm a Simpsons fangirl, so Springfield Confidential is a must-read. Having grown up reading the Little House books and watching the TV show, I'm very eager to read Caroline Fraser's Prairie Fires, which I'd seen some rave reviews for.

For Review:

Competence by Gail Carriger
Many thanks to Gail Carriger!

Won:

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
I absolutely LOVE the cover for this!



Bought:

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, & Brodi Ashton
Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss with Matthew Klickstein
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

Monday, July 9, 2018

2018 Mid-Year Rewind

At very long last, I've gotten around to writing my mid-year rewind post! Not that there's much to look back on—eek!

So far, 2018 has been a year of lots of intent to read/blog but almost no actual reading/blogging. I can barely stand to look at my Goodreads reading challenge progress because there's barely been any progress.

A few months ago, what I thought was a really bad reading/blogging slump was starting to turn into an overall life slump. Not only did I have zero motivation to pick up a book or write a blog post, but I had zero or almost no motivation to do any things that I once enjoyed. That raised a pretty big red flag, and it was time to seek some help.

Going to the doctor gives me extreme anxiety, but I was more frustrated with how I felt and how I was living—or not really living—than I was fearful of the doctor's visit. I ended up being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, of which one of the symptoms is depression. Another is feeling tired, which I absolutely was almost all of the time. Most nights I was falling asleep on the couch the minute I sat down, so forget about trying to read a few pages. Being exhausted didn't strike me as odd, though. I figured it was just part of getting older, allergy-related, etc.

I've been taking medication for about a month now, and while I've been slowly finding enjoyment in reading again, I haven't yet noticed a significant improvement in my energy level. From what I've researched, it can take some time 1) for the medication to take full effect and 2) to find the optimal dosage. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very patient with . . . being a patient, lol, and remaining calm in the face of being at the mercy of how I feel day-to-day has been a huge challenge.

I've really, really missed hanging out in the book blogosphere and am trying to pop in whenever I can. I hope you've all been enjoying some great books this year and that you have a fantastic rest of 2018! ♥

Sunday, June 3, 2018

May 2018 Recap

Happy June, friends—ALREADY. I don't know about all of you, but 2018 is leaving me in the dust!

May was super busy with non-bookish stuff, which is what I feel I've said about every month for like the past 2 years, lol. I usually have 2 minutes before I need to get out of my car to walk into work, and I've been spending those 2 minutes reading. That's how desperate I am to squeeze in a page or two during the day.

At least May was a really good month for collectible popcorn tins going to the movies. I saw Avengers: Infinity War again and also saw Deadpool 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

While I thought the first Deadpool film was OK, I absolutely loved the sequel! The theater we were in wasn't all that crowded, which was good because I howled with laughter throughout most of the movie.

I went into Solo kinda nervous because: it's Han Solo. Plus there were all of the headlines about the production woes, soooo . . . yeah. I didn't know what to expect from this film, but I tried to keep an open mind going in. I was a little worried when things started off slow, but I left the theater satisfied. I don't think any future Star Wars movie will ever touch the original trilogy because that's what I grew up with (and Harrison Ford will ALWAYS be my Han), but Solo was solid.

I also broke down at last in May and invested in a laptop to replace my 10-year-old desktop. I spent many hours working on this blog on that desktop, lol, but it was finally time, especially since I kept getting warning messages about Windows Vista (yes, Vista) not being supported for just about every app installed on the computer. XD

I hope everyone has a fantastic June—time to get out the summer reads!

Reviews Posted:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green
The Smoke Thieves (The Smoke Thieves #1)
By Sally Green
Publisher:
Viking
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read

To Sum It Up: Catherine, Ambrose, Tash, Edyon, and March could not lead more different lives, but they are all about to be affected by the looming war that Catherine’s ruthless father, the King of Brigant, seems to be preparing to wage. In a kingdom where women have no power, Catherine is a political pawn, about to enter in to a marriage arranged by her father. Meanwhile, Ambrose, one of Catherine’s guards, has just witnessed the execution of one of his family members for treason and knows that he could be targeted next. Thief Edyon is wandering through a fairly aimless life until he suddenly becomes of great importance to some very interested parties, one of whom is royal servant March. All demon hunter Tash is concerned about is collecting very valuable—and illegal—demon smoke with her partner Gravell, but it appears that even Tash cannot avoid the turmoil that is about to sweep across multiple lands.

Review: Having enjoyed Sally Green’s Half Bad and Half Wild, I was excited to see that she was venturing into fantasy with her new novel, The Smoke Thieves. My curiosity was particularly piqued by the comparisons being made between The Smoke Thieves and George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Like Martin’s ubiquitous tome, Green’s book is set in a medieval world with multiple POVs. There’s even a bastard!

I try especially hard NOT to keep a running side-by-side comparison in my head between AGoT and books billed as the next AGoT. Reading Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire (at least what’s been published so far, haha) has been one of those life-changing reading experiences for me. What I attempt to avoid is reading every subsequent fantasy through the lens of ASoIaF. So here goes with what I hope is an impartial-ish take on The Smoke Thieves.

The novel follows five characters: Princess Catherine of Brigant, her guard Sir Ambrose, thief Edyon, servant March, and demon hunter Tash. Green does a good job of keeping the storylines tidy and tying them together, but at the same time, the short chapters often seem . . . well, short. The frequent POV shifts give the pacing a choppy feel. I also think they inhibit character development; just when you’re on the brink of spending some quality time getting to know a character, bam—chapter over and it’s on to a different POV.

In general, I found the character development rather lacking. For example, while I love how Catherine tries to find any way she can to undermine a patriarchal society, overall her arc feels a bit too cliché. Along the same lines, Edyon plays the thief with a heart of gold a little too well. March was my least favorite of the MCs for not realizing how blatantly another character was manipulating him. Young Tash the demon hunter was the standout here, thanks to her mettle and sass.

The most disappointing aspect of The Smoke Thieves was how light it was on the fantasy. The titular smoke refers to the substance released by demons when they die. It’s usually inhaled as a drug, but our motley crew of protagonists discovers another effect that could endanger them all. That’s not until late in the book, though. In the meantime, the demon smoke (and the demons, for that matter) is just hanging around, waiting to come off the bench and step up to the plate as a major plot point. I was definitely expecting more of a role for the demons and the smoke, and I suppose that was my overall issue with the book: the need for more. More depth to the characters, more substance to the plot, more fantasy elements. This isn’t a bad story by any means, and Green is a solid storyteller. It just wasn’t my type of fantasy read.

All in All: I love reading fantasy for mythical creatures, complex and often morally ambiguous characters, and richly drawn worlds that completely immerse you. Unfortunately, The Smoke Thieves didn’t quite deliver on those things for me.

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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Six Years of Blogging!

It's hard to believe, but this little blog started six years ago today! So much has changed in six years. When the blog began way back in 2012, my cousins Ally and Melissa and I averaged reading probably 50 books a year each and posted on the blog at least three times a week, sometimes more. Those were the days! Now we're all busy with things like school and work and other adventures in adulting.

We don't read or post nearly as much as we used to, but I think we can give ourselves some credit for at least still being here, lol. Thanks to everyone who's stopped by to chat with us over the years. Getting to connect with you has been the absolute best, and we're going to keep on reading and blogging away, even if it's at our current snail's pace, lol.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
I Have Lost My Way
By Gayle Forman
Publisher:
Viking
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read

To Sum It Up: Freya, Harun, and Nathaniel are three very different people leading three very different lives, but they do have one thing in common. They have all reached turning points and know they are on the edge of something. A freak accident brings them all together, and in each other, they begin to find the intangible piece that’s been missing from each of their lives.

Review: On the rare occasion when I read contemporary, Gayle Forman is my go-to author for the genre, and she hasn’t disappointed me yet. Her latest novel, I Have Lost My Way, is another page-turner, centered around three strangers who meet by what seems like chance. Thanks to her magical storytelling, though, Forman convinces you that these three characters were absolutely meant to find each other.

I Have Lost My Way has a fairly simple premise that belies how deep the characters and the story are. I should say “stories,” because the book not only follows the development of the friendship between the three main characters—Freya, Harun, and Nathaniel—but it also explores their individual backstories. The book switches between third person omniscient and first person narration. Through the latter, we learn how the title applies to each character.

Freya is an up-and-coming singer who mysteriously loses her voice in the middle of recording her debut album. Harun is nursing a broken heart but can’t tell anyone, especially his traditional parents, because no one knows he’s gay. Nathaniel’s character poses a bit of an enigma, but as the puzzle pieces fall into place, what emerges is a story that will shatter your heart.

It’s been a while since a book captured my attention almost instantly and held it all the way to the last page. I devoted every spare second I had to reading this and was reluctant to put it down whenever real life called. Gayle Forman is so gifted at writing characters you feel compelled to read about and care about. I also loved her beautiful portrayal of the diversity that makes New York the greatest city in the world (in this native New Yorker’s not so humble opinion). If you enjoy exquisite storytelling with characters so authentic they could step right out of the pages, then this book is a must-read.

All in All: Another winning novel from Gayle Forman. Contemporary usually isn’t my cup of tea, but her books, including this one, are always compulsively readable.

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