Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult historical fiction
Length: 512 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain.

QUEEN OF HISTORICAL FICTION.

I had a friend gracious enough to let me borrow this book and Y’ALL. It was amazing and I loved it.

I absolutely love the way that Sepetys puts together her stories. I own all of her books, but have only read two and clearly I need to up the rest on my TBR. The chapters are written in a fast, short, rotating POV way that keeps you flipping faster and faster. It’s so easy to read this book and keep you interested at the same time.

THE ROMANCE WAS PRECIOUS. Incredibly cute. It was slow and sweet and was exactly what this book needed. I loved watching Daniel and Ana interact and grow to be each other’s confidante. I think they both helped one another see the world from another perspective. I literally SHOUTED at my book when we had a date change in the book because I needed a happy ending for Ana. NEEDED IT. (And Daniel, but really, Ana).

I didn’t love Rafa and Puri’s point of views as much as the others. That is why I took off half a star. By the end, their contributions really made sense though and I do appreciate that. It absolutely broke my heart reading about the deception of the nuns and doctors in Spain during the 1950s-80s. I can’t put into words how that must have felt to be a mother in that time.

The work that went into this novel is clearly seen and I loved having all of the tidbits from speeches and publications that were layered throughout the book. It really brought the history to life and reminded me that things like this really did happen.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, a not detailed love scene where you do know they spent the night together
  • Violence: guns, torture, imprisonment, murder, physical
  • Trigger warnings: mentions of miscarriage, kidnapping of babies and children

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Book Review

Book Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy (retelling)
Length: 416 pages
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

SO CREEPY.

I did this as a buddy read with some friends on Instagram and it was so much fun! It really made this book even better being able to discuss it with everyone.

I thought it was incredibly creepy. The descriptions of what Annaleigh was seeing would flat out make me full body CRINGE. And nobody would believe her! It was the perfect dose of eerie and disturbing that I’m comfortable with (which is low, I don’t love horror-ish stuff).

The mystery itself kept me busy the entire book. I never knew where to point my finger! The author was able to draw attention to character after character that could be the murderer and wow, I was impressed. By the end though (and the reason I gave it 4 stars) was because the ending was a little cliche. I did appreciate that it wasn’t clear and that truthfully, they weren’t inherently evil.

The ball scenes were beautiful and descriptive but I wanted more of them! I love ball scenes and since this is based off of Twelve Dancing Princesses I was hoping for even more dancing. It was amazing to see how this was woven into the murder mystery though. It brought out a very macabre side to the story that I was all over.

I did ship Annaleigh’s endgame from the beginning, but I also don’t know that the romance was entirely necessary. It did give her a chance for a romantic happy ending. They didn’t get a lot of chances to connect on screen, leaving me wanting more of them or not at all.

All of the death left me shocked. I only flipped pages faster and faster wondering who was going to die next. SO MANY DEAD. I mean whoa. No wonder there had to be twelve princesses for this story to work out. It was unpleasant and occasionally gruesome. Definitely a great read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little (maybe one word?)
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: murder, possession, drownings, falling from buildings, fire, freezing to death; fairly detailed and cringe-worthy

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Book Review

Book Review: Vow of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #2) by Mary E. Pearson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 480 pages
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor’s Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last.

But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor’s Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell.

Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits.

I CAN’T GET ENOUGH.

I really loved Pearson’s trilogy, The Remnant Chronicles. I’m pretty sure I love this duology more.

This book was an epic conclusion. My heart was was in my throat the entire time. I never can quite pick out how things are going to happen next. Pearson keeps many options open and comes up with amazing and clever way to get characters about of dicey situations (but without hurting them first). I love it. I am always kept guessing and it only makes me turn the pages faster.

I am TOTALLY IN LOVE with Kazi & Jase. Oh goodness, OTP ALERT. I could read many more books with these lovebirds at the forefront. They have precious banter and soft moments. They also are great on their own. Full of ideas and plans that would make me run in the other direction. Kazi and Jase have the ability to execute these plans with grace, pizzazz, and maybe a few scratches.

The story, plot, characters and everything else made the perfect young adult fantasy romance. I can’t even form all of my love into words. I love that this involved a lot of close family bonds as well as romance. The Ballenger family are tightly knit and actually don’t mind being around each other (most of the time). They had a lot of great little sub-plots with them that I loved seeing. There’s more books about them right?! I need more!

I love this world that Pearson has created and it only gets more diverse and unique as she has expounded upon it. The cameos by previous characters is a lot of fun and it’s nice seeing them. Makes me want to reread The Remnant Chronicles all over again. While I was maddened at times by the situations at hand, it was ultimately an amazing conclusion and satisfying ending.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (some focus on the romance)
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, a basically no-detailed fade to black love scene
  • Violence: poison, hangings, swords, animal attacks, torture, skirmishes

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Book Review

Book Review: Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Sci-fi + Fantasy
Length: 757 pages
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: July 30th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place?

Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile, has returned to the Core. Determined to bring peace back to mankind at the edge of his sword, he must overcome or unite the treacherous Gold families of the Core and face down Darrow over the skies of war-torn Mercury. 

But theirs are not the only fates hanging in the balance.

On Luna, Mustang, Sovereign of the Republic, campaigns to unite the Republic behind her husband. Beset by political and criminal enemies, can she outwit her opponents in time to save him? 

Once a Red refugee, young Lyria now stands accused of treason, and her only hope is a desperate escape with unlikely new allies.

Abducted by a new threat to the Republic, Pax and Electra, the children of Darrow and Sevro, must trust in Ephraim, a thief, for their salvation—and Ephraim must look to them for his chance at redemption.

As alliances shift, break, and re-form—and power is seized, lost, and reclaimed—every player is at risk in a game of conquest that could turn the Rising into a new Dark Age.

LIVED UP TO ITS NAME.

It’s not often that I read a book where I can clearly see that it was named appropriately. HOLY COW Y’ALL. I can’t even begin to cover the darkness, and amazingness of this book.

My notes for this book were allllll over the place. I have so many caps sections of me shouting WHAT IS HAPPENING. All of my characters were [okay, still are] strewn across planets and in various disarrays of maybe dead, definitely captured, hope they’re alive, scenarios. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT? I need a dose of happiness before this is all over or I’ll cry. I want my babes to be happy. They gosh dang DESERVE IT.

This without a doubt, kept me on my toes. It took me about 100ish pages to really get into it because I was having a hard time remembering who everyone was, and some specifics of what happened in previous books. It is insane how much work clearly goes into making these sci-fi masterpieces. I am astounded at the writing (though I do wish it wasn’t so vulgar at times – you win some you lose some), and how easily captivating it is to keep flipping pages. I am deeply invested in everyone’s lives at this point. There’s barely a moment to catch your breath as the bombardment of action hits you over and over.

I want to rattle off a hundred reasons I love MY main characters (those being: Virginia, Darrow, Victra & Sevro). These original four are so flawed and so full of strength that I cheer for them at every turn. I love that they make mistakes, love deeply and care a great deal about what happens in their world. Everyone has occasions of boldness, passionate monologues and lethal how are they that good at killing moments. Even better, characters like Lysander had me questioning who’s side I was on (only for a little bit y’all, he’s a great villain).

All of this sounds great right? Well, the reason I gave it 4 1/2 stars vs. 5 is because of one scene. It was way too dark for me personally and I haven’t seen the purpose of it other than to be realllll cruel. I actually put the book down for a few when it happened. I will mention it with a spoiler warning prior in my Overall audience notes section!

Can’t get enough of this series regardless. I am in awe at the behemoth of a book this was. Absolutely amazing and I highly recommend catching up with this series! I’m not a huge sci-fi lover, but these have really become a winner.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult sci-fi
  • Language: a lot of strong language and often crude/vulgar in nature
  • Romance: a few kisses, towards the end a few little detailed fade to black love scenes
  • Violence: okay, I have no way of conveying all of the violence that happened literally every page so a small breakdown would be: explosions, war, battle scenes, swords, poison, storms, mobs, torture [all scenes are very bloody, gory & very detailed]
  • Trigger warnings: a lot of mentions of off screen rape, now: SPOILER ALERT (from what I mentioned in my review): the scene that I thought was too much was that of Victra’s murdered NEW-BORN nailed to a tree; NAILED.

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Book Review

Book Review: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Sci-fi + Fantasy
Length: 320 pages
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

DEFINITELY INTERESTING.

This was great as an audiobook! There’s a whole cast that really brings the book to life. I honestly think it influenced how much I like it. The book itself is also short, so it was quick and easy to get through in no time.

I started out wondering why in the world nobody was questioning this random interviewer who seems to be making some sort of record about the giant being assembled. Then, as the book went along he turned from what I thinking was a bad guy to a good guy? I honestly don’t know where he stands, but this transition alone has me really intrigued about his true role in the story.

The formatting was dynamite for this type of novel. Written in interviews, journal logs, etc. I really felt connected and invested in the characters. They all went through so much in the time span I got to see them. What happens next?!

It was really trippy putting this in a now day and age concept. Thinking that there’s some crazy massive pieces to a metal god underneath us? Whaaaaat. The politics of it all was well put in and didn’t overtake the story. A lot of worlds colliding and unknown allies and enemies.

Definitely ended on a cliff-hanger that had me questioning everything and quickly putting a hold on the next audiobook ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • Sci-fi + Fantasy
  • Language: some light language
  • Romance: some kisses, light description of a love scene; discussion of sleeping with others
  • Violence: explosions, car accident (with malicious intent), medical procedures done without consent, medical experimentation

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Book Review

Book Review: Water’s Wrath (Air Awakens #4) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy romance
Length: 362 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Expected Release Date: April 24th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.

The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.

DEAD.

I feel that is the only sentiment I can give this book. BECAUSE I’M DEAD. Kova? Not afraid to kill off characters. This isn’t the first one she killed in this series, and it probably won’t be the last. BUT STILL. My heart is broken. That entire section of the book was a moment. A gosh dang beautifully tragic moment.

Yet again, completely obsessed with Aldrik. This man is going on his own character turn around and I am HERE FOR IT. I also love that Vhalla doesn’t cut him any slack. They both pick up and encourage each other. And they hold each other to a higher standard. It’s amazing what this relationship has been turned into and I am so happy with the current outcomes. They are precious. I can literally not handle a single moment Vhalla and Aldrik spend together. I gush every dang time.

Vhalla. She is really becoming a top fav character of mine. She is resilient, and owns who she is. I love watching her learn to love herself. Vhalla has a lot of crap she deals with too and I’m curious where that will take us in book five. She treats those around her as best as she can and is passionate about bringing peace to her home.

I can’t keep up with the dangerous situations that are constantly being thrown out. Can no one catch a break?! I hurt for my team y’all. All of these characters have become so very precious to me and I can only cross my fingers that I get a happy ending. There’s been enough sadness! Though really, I feel a cementing of a top 5 favorite series every happening soon. Stay tuned.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: quite a bit and somewhat detailed; knives, elemental magic, descriptions of deaths off screen, torture, murder, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Epic fantasy
Length: 1007 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: August 31st, 2010
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths:

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again. 

EPIC FANTASY IS RIGHT.

I am once again kicking myself for not picking up Brandon Sanderson’s novels sooner. I HAVE LOVED THEM ALL (Current total: 5). I also listened to this as a FORTY FIVE AND A HALF HOUR audio book. It admittedly took me months to get through. But, now I want them as actual books because hot dang. I love his fantasy writing.

So much world building. And it’s clever to boot. The more intricacies that are woven into the daily life of everyone astounds me. I can’t even begin to imagine how he comes up with all of this to make anything coherent. I find it fascinating and entrancing to listen to how Sanderson’s world comes together for his characters.

Speaking of characters, Kaladin. KALADIN. I am here for the greatest that this man will command. He was fearless, lovable, and I would be in his bridge crew too (but not really because that sounds awful). Dalinar was amazing too. In audio books, I know it always takes me longer to get into them because I’m trying to remember who’s who and where people are. And after that point I was heavily invested in these lives colliding. They’re so many other characters I can point out and talk about, but trust me. Everyone is well thought out, serves a purpose and makes this book what it is.

I love how I can never quite figure out where Sanderson is taking us. It’s not until the last chapters of the book where you realize where everything has been building towards. I love being on my toes and being hooked by this kind of format. There’s enough teasers along the way that keep you flipping pages (or in my case listening, but either way you have to love it to do this for 1000+ pages).

Overall audience notes:

  • Epic fantasy
  • Language: bastard used a few times
  • Romance: a kiss, some hugs
  • Violence: war and battle scenes, swords, creature battles; all fairly detailed, a bit gory & bloody

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