Book Review

Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult fantasy/dystopian, no language, little kissing, some violence
Length: 354 pages
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: New American Library
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

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BOOK TWO SYNDROME.

I wasn’t as mesmerized by this installment. It was good, don’t get me wrong. I’ll definitely be checking out the third one, but I feel a little…deflated.

The story is strong and I appreciate the focus on the plot. There’s a goal, I know where it’s going, and we’re not diving off left and right. While the rescue mission is underway I wanted more drama to unfold.

It’s the beginnings of a war and while everyone is running around for this one mission, we’re missing a lot of what else is happening. I felt some character back stories could’ve been further enhanced to really grip what fuels their decisions. Some characters would pop in, say their peace, then die. Like, wait what?

I still love Jess. He’s a great protagonist. I love that, in general, he owns being from a criminal family and uses that to his advantage. I hope his brother, Brendan plays a bigger role soon. In my mind he’s super complex and I think it would be fun if he had a bigger spotlight.

There’s touches of romance here and there between characters. Nothing intense, sweet tiny moments that were cute and added some flair. This gang is really bonding together and their devotion is starting to show more and more. I like the diversity of the group and can notice the differences in their personalities and choices based off of them.

It ended on an odd note with the addition of a new character crew, and a new landscape. I’m definitely interested in what will play out next!

Overall audience notes:
– Young adult fantasy & dystopia
– No language
– Kiss scenes are minor
– Gun violence

Book Review

Review: Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #1) by Mary E. Pearson

Dance of Thieves_FINAL 9.18

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy romance, kiss scenes, violence, very little language
Length: 508 pages
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

BRB, STILL SWOONING.

This was everything I’ve been wanting to read lately. A fantasy romance that kept me on my toes, made me laugh and flip out all at the same time.

It single-handedly had one of my favorite boy meets girl intros:

“…”Move along, boy,” I ordered. “This doesn’t concern you.”
  His eyes went from bloodshot to flaming. “Boy?” He stepped closer, and in one swift movement, I brought him to his knees and slammed him up against the apothecary wall, a knife to his throat.”

Copy of C.R. (1)

I mean, is that not great? Go Kazi. She was strong, capable and loyal to her kingdom. I think she and Jase could have both been more open with each other and there would have been less issues, but that’s neither here nor there because I still love this book.

The romance totally made me weak. Jase was an enjoyable male protagonist and love interest that so fiercely loves his family. This attribute rolled over into how he cared for Kazi and I was smitten. Their moments and interactions were everything, and watching them both find ways to help each other be at peace was tender.

I love that we got to stay in the same world and see some of the same characters!! The Remnant Chronicles is a fav of mine I highly suggest reading it before this if you don’t want anything spoiled.

The plot was thick with intrigue. Took awhile (while developing the romance and other connections) to swing back around to it. I couldn’t put the book down though because I could feel from the moment it started I was going to be torn apart before being put back together. There’s plenty of action and family just hanging out scenes that balance each other. I came to care for all of the characters based off of how they interacted with one another.

The evil in this book is hard to pin point. This guy is bad over here, this one os doing nefarious things over there. I think it will definitely be playing a part in the next book. There was a lot of story still there to work with. Overall, it was great to be mysteriously led to the ending…

WHICH WAS EVERYTHING. “swoons again*

Seriously. I needed the book to end this way. I got allllll I could ask for (because I’m a huge “happy ending” sap). Then you’re left on a huge cliff-hanger that had me immediately searching for the release date of book two.

Overall audience notes:
– YA fantasy romance
– very little language
– kiss scenes, mildly descriptive at most
– violence, torture, a bit bloody

Book Review

Review: Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy/dystopia, no language, violence, a few kisses
Length: 355 pages
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: NAL
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time…

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 his friend 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… 

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BURNERS, UNITE.

First…unpopular book opinion alert: I have only read the first 4 books of HP, seen all the movies, and have no current plans to finish reading the books.

That being said, I still felt HP vibes and I wasn’t mad. Essentially a group of students are in a class designed to determine if they are fit to be a Librarian (in many capacities). They’re multiple side characters, a teacher, etc. So you see, a little HP adjacent.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the characters. They were fun, each was unique in background, and personality. Caine took time to let you get a better understanding of each character along with Jess. My favs by far were Wolfe and Santi. Love them. Love their dynamic. Want more of their story.

This is one of the those books where the friendship dynamics mean everything. They are a group that slowly knits together through experiences. The love angle isn’t heavily present (and this book is totally cool without it).

I am also currently trying to hold back some tears, BECAUSE WHY. WHY. WHY. WHY. My great faith in the goddess of books would have me believe the ending is false, and I shall hold onto that glimmer.

The story continually takes twists and turns, no holy mackerel PLOT TWIST moments, but you’re spurned on none-the-less. It’s a shorter book, perfect for a quick read that I devoured during nap time.

A lot of open ending lines have been cast as this is the first book in the series. I’m super excited to follow along and delve into all of the secrets of the Great Library. I think this is such a fun plot and I haven’t read anything directly like it. It really follows its own story.

Overall audience notes:
— No language
— Violence, somewhat detailed
— Kiss scenes that are definitely safe for work
— A fantasy / dystopian YA
— Friendships > Romance

Book Review

Review: Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #2) by Laini Taylor

Muse of Nightmares

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, violence, innuendo and some sexual content
Length: 528 pages
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

GODDESS OF DREAMS.

Yes, yes, yes. This is how you end a duology (series, etc.). All the necessary pieces were there. Action, romance, friendship, family, heroes and villains (and plenty of others). YES.

The addition of Nova and Kora’s story was intense and heartbreaking. My initial inklings (of thinking Kora was Lazlo’s mom) were very wrong indeed. This story line really enhanced what was happening in the citadel and made the ending feel like it really did come full circle. It was placed in the book at just the right times that kept everything moving.

There was plenty of action, violence, and romance. Though, some of the love scenes were full of cheesy lines. While that made me laugh…and cringe…they were still sweet. The fact that Sarai was a ghost the entire time still blows my mind. I personally haven’t read any other books that are like that so it’s nice to come across a new flavor every now and then!

I didn’t love so much that Minya wasn’t in the middle of the story. That girl needs some love. She needs a hug, a nap, and a friend. Her arc did come around, but I felt she could have been utilized more.

The chapter pieces with Thyon, Ruza, Calixte and Tzara were nice, but seemingly random. They unfortunately didn’t play as big a part as I thought (til like seriously the end, and only kinda). It caused me to forget they were there and then not even get to enjoy them. I really like their relationships and sassy convos and thought they needed more spotlight.

What angered me so is that Skathis never had a villianous backstory. Why is he this horrid? It only made me hate him more (probably the author’s intention), but also not be able to understand the villiany. He was an awful (doesn’t even begin to cover it) “god” and should have died long ago.

Nova at least, had this back-story. I got her. My heart bled with her and I was worried for her. The connection with her made the whole group aspect hit home.

The ending is everything you want and expect. I felt satisfied closing the book and am excited to see what comes next for Taylor.

Overall audiences notes:
— No language (WHOOP!)
— Love scenes range from glossed over to lightly detailed, including innuendo
— Detailed violence that is bloody
— Trigger potential: depression and suicide

Book Review

Review: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Boys in the Boat

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: YA+, no language, no violence
Length: 416 pages
Author: Daniel James Brown
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

A HEARTWARMING BOOK.

My star rating may not reflect the fact that I truly did enjoy this book. There was some fundamental things for me personally that caused me to lower the rating.

The not so good juju first. The author writes really beautiful prose. I truly could picture exactly what it was like in the 30’s. This was also an issue for me. There was so so so much description and side-winding that I found myself skimming quickly to get to the actual story.

This caused me to get frustrated occasionally wanting to continue the story, but having to fly through things and I think a lot of the extra fluff could have been removed. I didn’t need such exact descriptions of a town, or a boat to get the whole picture. I would’ve liked more history on the boys (rather than just Joe) though I do realize that may be because he was the longest living of the group. There could be limitations I am not aware of.

What I did love was the story itself. It was heartfelt and Brown did a lot of research to make this book what it is. They’re multiple sides to the tale as he mostly writes from Joe’s angle, but also describes what is happening in Germany and with other team members / coaches, etc. He builds a unique sphere of realizing so many other things are happening in the world, while the world is also heading towards a war, all without each other acknowledging the moves.

Joe’s story is one of heartbreak, and ultimately finding himself whole again through rowing. I was just as angry as Joyce (his love) hearing what he had to go through at such a young age and the unfairness of his world.

I was riveted reading the paragraphs of the races. On the edge of my seat (even when you know who wins) because the author scripts it, that well. Those boys rowing together were the best portions, and the epilogue referring to the fact they met every 10 years to do it again? Oh, my heart. The bond this team had to accomplish what they did is powerful.

Overall audience notes:
— A clean book that younger to older audiences would enjoy
— No language
— Descriptions of war-time Germany

Book Review

ARC Review: Evenfall (Shadowfire #1) by Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos

Evenfall

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, language, some violence, kissing scenes
Author: Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos
Publisher: Boris Kos
Expected Release Date: October 30th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A monster does not deserve the intimacy of a name

As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.

Hunted by the Crescent Prince and his lethal shadows, she accepts a young Mage’s help to navigate the land of blood magic and its many illusions. But where Ada sees the good in her power, Ember discovers something else.

An icy darkness, designed to take lives, not save them.

The only thing worse than not being able to rely on her senses—or the reality she had once believed to be true—is knowing that she cannot trust her heart. Especially as it seems to draw her to the one person in whose hands she can never fall…

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

*Note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Boris Kos, for the opportunity to read Evenfall. Publication date, etc. subject to change.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

A TALE OF TWO BOOKS.

I was truly contemplating putting this book down through the first half. I felt like I was reading about Ada’s story rather than Ember’s and Ember was some kind of narrator for the entire saga.

Ember wasn’t doing anything for herself and was following Ada around agreeing to everything she said and not forming her own opinions about the plans to defeat the Crescent Prince. I was annoyed to no end about how everyone kept calling Ember a savior, the One, etc., but she herself had NO IDEA what anyone was talking about!!?

It was missing dialogue as well. I was tired of being in Ember’s head (since aforementioned, she wasn’t doing anything worthy of my time) and wished there was more time spent on conversation with others.

Then, I got to the half way point.

Then, I met Mordecai.

Then, things got SOOO much better. I mean really, I thought I was reading a different book altogether.

Ember grew a backbone (for the most part) and Mordecai gave me the answers I was craving. I finally had a world mostly built and understood the plot more deeply. At this point, my connection with Ember and Mordecai started to form.

The relationship borders on instant, but thankfully, some time is taken for true emotion to form. The push and pull is fun and gives more edge to Ember and humanity to Mordecai.

The story became increasingly darker. I enjoyed every second of nefarious characters showing some twisted benevolence.

Left on a cliffhanger at the end I’m not sure what to think. I really want more. I want the next story and to continue in this world. Truth be told, there needs to be more world AND character building. It took til literally the closing chapters to know how Ember showed up in a different world in the first place. That’s why I struggled to like her as a character. I wanted to understand her decisions more and hope to get more of her history (parentage, friendships, etc.) so I can really get behind her as a heroine. Same goes for all characters. The book is on the shorter side so not as much time was put into character back-stories. I have hope that the second book will deliver and fill in the hand-full of plot holes.

I had originally intended giving this book a two star rating, then three, but chose to go with four because the second half drew me in too well not to be acknowledged. I’ve been entranced enough by the Crescent Prince to need more of him.

Last note, this book was a total cover request. Merwild does AMAZING artwork and I’ve been a fan for awhile. This cover is absolutely gorgeous.

Overall audience notes:

— Young adult fantasy
— Language, often not necessary and sometimes jarring (to me personally)
— Deep kisses / make-outs, no love scenes, everything on the tasteful spectrum
— Language involving a sexual assault (Ember has a flashback)
— Minor violence; use of blood is spoken of a lot because that’s how the world’s magic is used

CROPPED

Book Review

Review: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

Girl in the Tower

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction fantasy, a little language, some violence, some kisses and lewd commentary
Length: 363 pages
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: December 5th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

OH THE ADVENTURE.

I read the first book in this series over a year ago and remembered enjoying it, but thinking, WHOA that was a lot of story. The Girl in the Tower exceeded my expectations for a middle novel. I was able to be even more immersed in the story because I understood the characters and plot much better after The Bear and the Nightingale.

Vasya is a strong heroine. Not letting her life be put into a box of marriage or a convent, she rides out for her own adventure. And what wanderlust she found! The prose and descriptions of vast Russia are beautiful. Arden interweaves world building and commentary so well you get swept away.

One of the few things I didn’t love was how much everything was Vasya’s fault. This death, that destruction, etc. She could’ve used a break, bless her heart. Vasilii the Brave is a heroine and deserved more praise under her guise.

The love tale woven throughout makes me giddy too. I look forward to more of Morozko and Vasya in the next book. This book isn’t heavy on the love either, and for a reader, I think that can sway them on way or another. I really appreciated the way it was set up. It stands apart from some novels too focused on the love. Vasya has so much loyalty and love for her family. It’s what makes the love with Morozko all the more sincere and tender.

Multiple POV helps you gain an understanding from many different characters. Vasya, Olya, and Sasha are a few on the group who get a momentary narrative. I always love when an author can handle so many characters at once because it enhances the story from all sides.

Can I almost mention MY LOVE FOR SOLOVEY? I want a magical horse that speaks to me. His fierce protection over Vasya gives me all the heart eyes.

I love the historical fiction aspect. Arden has degrees in Russian and tells the history and uses the aspects of names, times, and places to create a magic filled fantasy.

Overall audience notes:

  • A young adult fantasy book that could easily be enjoyed be an older audience
  • Sparse language, did not detract from the story
  • No love scenes, some kissing scenes (all safe for work)
  • Some lewd commentary about rape, and wanting to sleep with others
  • Some violence with minor gore