Showing posts with label borrowed from the library. Show all posts
Showing posts with label borrowed from the library. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

26032825Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers; January 2, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe...

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
I have been a fan of Holly Black’s writing for a number of years. I've always particularly enjoyed her books about fairies including The Spiderwick Chronicles (which I read as a kid), the Modern Faerie Tales, and The Darkest Part of the Forest. So, you can imagine how excited I was for The Cruel Prince.

I enjoyed this book. The plot had me hooked from the very first page. One thing I particularly enjoyed about The Cruel Prince was how it expanded the world already established in other books—like Tithe—and some familiar faces appeared briefly in the story.

The Cruel Prince didn’t necessarily offer anything new in terms of fairies—especially if you’ve read books by this author before. It read like Black’s usual take on fey lore with the fairies being cruel tricksters, and their society dark and atmospheric full of magic, danger, and politics. But that’s what I was expecting and it was done so well. What I didn’t expect was how much I liked the majority of Jude’s perspective. For the most part she was okay. I didn’t necessarily like all the decisions she made, and parts of her personality reminded me a little of Hazel from The Darkest Part of the Forest. At some parts, their goals were kind of similar, particularly in the beginning of The Cruel Prince. That being said, their stories were vastly different. It was also interesting to see the courts from the viewpoint of a human forced to live among the nobility of the fey and what daily life would be like for Jude and her twin.

The prince implied in the title, well…I didn’t like his character for about 50% of the book. The title says it all: he was intentionally cruel to Jude to the point of endangering her life. And that crossed the line. However, the twists with his character were unexpected, and he went through some much needed development in book 2 (part 2). I wasn't exactly sympathetic to his character, but he was tolerable.

Overall, The Cruel Prince was everything I was hoping it would be. The last few chapters were amazing, and I look forward to what Holly Black has in-store for this story.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: The Unnatural World by David Biello

The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth's Newest AgeTitle: The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth's Newest Age
Author: David Biello
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Scribner; November 15, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...


With the historical perspective of The Song of the Dodo and the urgency of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, a brilliant young environmental journalist argues that we must innovate and adapt to save planet Earth...


Civilization is in crisis, facing disasters of our own making on the only planet known to bear life in the vast void of the universe. We have become unwitting gardeners of the Earth, not in control, but setting the conditions under which all of life flourishes—or not. Truly, it’s survival of the innovators. The Unnatural World chronicles a disparate band of unlikely heroes: an effervescent mad scientist who would fertilize the seas; a pigeon obsessive bent on bringing back the extinct; a low-level government functionary in China doing his best to clean up his city, and more. These scientists, billionaires, and ordinary people are all working toward saving the best home humanity is ever likely to have. What is the threat? It is us. In a time when a species dies out every ten minutes, when summers are getting hotter, winters colder, and oceans higher, some people still deny mankind’s effect on the Earth. But all of our impacts on the planet have ushered in what qualifies as a new geologic epoch, thanks to global warming, mass extinction, and such technologies as nuclear weapons or plastics. The Unnatural World examines the world we have created and analyzes the glimmers of hope emerging from the efforts of incredible individuals seeking to change our future. Instead of a world without us, this history of the future shows how to become good gardeners, helping people thrive along with an abundance of plants, animals, all the exuberant profusion of life on Earth—a better world with us. The current era of humans need not be the end of the world—it’s just the end of the world as we know it...
I’m pretty much on a nonfiction binge at this point, and I dove into my second nonfiction read, The Unnatural World, right after the Cosmic Web. This book focuses on the environment of the past, present, and hypothetical future. Often times asking the hard “what if” questions about what’s going on with the environment. The Unnatural World was a pretty good book. It presented a multitude of interesting arguments about what people unintentionally but inevitably do to the planet. It also exemplified how carelessness and ignorance about the environment causes damage, some of which cannot be undone (like the extinction of certain types of plant life and species of animals). I did like this book, but, at times, the writing seemed a little unfocused and that made some chapters a little slower than others. However, overall, The Unnatural World was still an interesting read that gave me a lot to think about.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review: The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe by J. Richard Gott

The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the UniverseTitle: The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe
Author: J. Richard Gott
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Princeton University Press; February 9, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

J. Richard Gott was among the first cosmologists to propose that the structure of our universe is like a sponge made up of clusters of galaxies intricately connected by filaments of galaxies--a magnificent structure now called the "cosmic web" and mapped extensively by teams of astronomers. Here is his gripping insider's account of how a generation of undaunted theorists and observers solved the mystery of the architecture of our cosmos. "The Cosmic Web" begins with modern pioneers of extragalactic astronomy, such as Edwin Hubble and Fritz Zwicky. It goes on to describe how, during the Cold War, the American school of cosmology favored a model of the universe where galaxies resided in isolated clusters, whereas the Soviet school favored a honeycomb pattern of galaxies punctuated by giant, isolated voids. Gott tells the stories of how his own path to a solution began with a high-school science project when he was eighteen, and how he and astronomer Mario Juri? measured the Sloan Great Wall of Galaxies, a filament of galaxies that, at 1.37 billion light-years in length, is one of the largest structures in the universe. Drawing on Gott's own experiences working at the frontiers of science with many of today's leading cosmologists, "The Cosmic Web" shows how ambitious telescope surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are transforming our understanding of the cosmos, and how the cosmic web holds vital clues to the origins of the universe and the next trillion years that lie ahead...
The Cosmic Web was a challenging book and not something I could just sit down and read in one sitting. It took me at least a week to read it. Yet, it was time well spent, because this was the kind of book that really made me think about what I was reading. The Cosmic Web put a real focus on the hard science, which I personally enjoyed. There was a lot of technical terminology pertaining to everything from physics to astronomy. However, it’s a fascinating read about what makes the universe what it is—how it’s structured, how galaxies are formed, the Big Bang, and so on. I also like the fact that Gott talked about his experience in his profession and mentioned people like Vera Rubin, Edwin Hubble, and Einstein—as well as many others. I mean, it’s not every day that I come across a book that describes the structure of the universe as a “sponge,” and managed to accurately describe why that was so.

Now, I’m a little sad that I checked this one out from the library but hope to eventually purchase a copy to keep on my shelf.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Fire; March 7, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer...

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human. Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves...
Man, The Bone Witch was something else. Before diving into this book I read about it and came across some mixed reviews. I do agree that it was like Strange the Dreamer in that they’re both slower moving fantasy novels. Time is spent developing the characters, and establishing the world. But that’s reasonable since both books have a complex society and magic that stems from mythology—stories, traditions, beliefs, and such. That being said, I honestly enjoyed this story from start to finish.

The Bone Witch has a dual storyline told mainly from the perspective of Tea and that of another person. Both perspectives detailed Tea’s life from when she first discovered her abilities and everything that happened after that point in time. I was a total fan of the choice of narrative for The Bone Witch. The style of storytelling was fitting for the kind of story that Chupeco was trying to tell. This wasn’t the most action packed book, but the mysteries between the dual perspectives was more than interesting enough to keep the pages turning.

The world Chupeco created was steeped in tradition and dependent on magic. The society of the Asha was also interesting. There was a clear difference between the way things actually were and how the main character, Tea, initially thought them to be.

Oh yeah, then there was that end. It can’t just end that way. It can’t. But it did. I have to admit that this book has one heck of a clever ending with a cliffhanger that I never saw coming. I have too many questions.

The Bone Witch is one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2017. I know that Chupeco has written a couple other books unrelated to this series, and I might eventually check them out. Beyond that, I’m more than excited for the sequel to this book. I’m ready for it to be here already, and it’s only been a couple of weeks since I read The Bone Witch.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Constellation, #1)Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books For Young Readers; April 4, 2017
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.
I haven’t read a book by Claudia Gray in years. The last book I recall was Evernight, and I read that back before I started blogging. So I was eager to try Defy the Stars since science fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, and I’d heard a lot of good things about it. It took me a couple of days to read Defy the Stars, but I wasn’t disappointed by the story. Actually, Defy the Stars is now one of my favorite books.

You know, there are stories that deal with traveling from one place to another. Those types of stories can go either way for me. I’m specifically talking about ones that take place in space. Defy the Stars is one of the good ones. There was a lot of travel, but I kind of appreciated that because it gave the characters an adequate chance to get to know one another.

Defy the Stars was about an interstellar war with a daring plan. So there were battles, space ships, intelligent machines, and an interesting take on how technology would potentially advance in a future setting. I was expecting that. However, there were some things brought up in Defy the Stars that were almost like a mirror to current society. Especially how the stability of the environment is taken for granted. So, there was a moral conundrum going on that played into the philosophical element of the story. I wasn't expecting the philosophical aspects, but I liked how it actively challenged the characters and their way of thinking. It called their beliefs into question, and put them in situations where they had to take a second look at what they knew about the worlds they called home. It was an interesting direction to take the story, and it ultimately paid off.

I liked the main characters, Noemi and Abel. There was a clear difference between the two, and not just because of their respective allegiances. She was an ordinary person, and he was a Mech. Putting the two of them together in the same environment was entertaining, to say the least.

All that being said, the beginning was exceptionally good but my favorite part of the book didn’t happen until the later chapters. The end was phenomenal, and I’m excited to see where Gray takes the story in the sequel, Defy the Worlds.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart
Title:The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury US; May 30, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Aventurine is the fiercest, bravest dragon there is. And she's ready to prove it to her family by leaving the safety of their mountain cave and capturing the most dangerous prey of all: a human. But when the human she finds tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate, Aventurine is transformed into a puny human girl with tiny blunt teeth, no fire, and not one single claw. But she's still the fiercest creature in the mountains -- and now she's found her true passion: chocolate! All she has to do is get herself an apprenticeship (whatever that is) in a chocolate house (which sounds delicious), and she'll be conquering new territory in no time...won't she?
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is one book I’ve been waiting for since I first heard about it sometime last year—I can’t remember the exact date now, I just know that it was a long time ago. This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Stephanie Burgis, but it’s certainly one of my favorites. I sped through this book. I read it in almost one sitting and can say that The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart was such a cute story filled with magic, chocolate, and of course dragons.

I have to admit that I was looking forward to this book because of who Burgis choose to be the narrator of the story. I think it was a great decision because Aventurine was such an interesting character. She was a dragon who thought she knew everything there was to know, and set out to prove just that. However, it becomes quickly apparent that Aventurine still had a lot to learn about herself and the world outside her cavern home. The other dragons were a point of interest too. I loved all the scenes with Aventurine’s family, and it was interesting to see Burgis’ portrayal with what life was like for younger dragons—like, for example, what was expected of them, what they were supposed to learn, etc..

Chocolate—you can’t go wrong with something like that. I loved how chocolate was used in the story. It was my second-most favorite part of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, because it wasn’t just there. Instead, Burgis explored how chocolate—and other chocolaty desserts and drinks—were made, and I thought that was a pretty neat thing to include.

Yeah, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. And, now that I looked at the Goodreads page again, I noticed that there appears to be another book in the series. So, in light of that, I look forward to reading more of Stephanie Burgis’ books.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Review: The Screaming Statue by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester

The Screaming Statue (The Curiosity House, #2)
Title: The Screaming Statue
Author: Lauren Oliver; H.C. Chester
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: HarperCollins; May 3, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In this second book in the exceptional Curiosity House series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and shadowy recluse H. C. Chester, four extraordinary children must avenge their friend’s death, try to save their home, and unravel the secrets of their past . . . before their past unravels them. Pippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max are happy to be out of harm’s way now that the notorious villain Nicholas Rattigan is halfway across the country in Chicago. But unfortunately their home, Dumfreys’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, is in danger of closing its doors forever. But their troubles only get worse. The four friends are shocked when their beloved friend, famous sculptor Siegfried Eckleberger, is murdered. As they investigate, they find clues that his death may be tied to the murder of a rich and powerful New York heiress, as well as to their own pasts...
Oh man, lately I’ve just had a string of very average reads, and unfortunately The Screaming Statue by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester is another one of them. When I saw that The Screaming Statue was available at my local library I thought I would give it a try even though it was the second book in the series. I mainly picked this one up because it had Lauren Oliver’s name on it. Like with every average read I’ve had, there were things I liked and didn’t like about the story. Since I skipped the first book, I did kind of worry about the things I missed. However, I didn’t find that to be a problem because a lot of what happened in book one was mentioned by the main characters. The story was just alright, but despite that, The Screaming Statue was a quick read, and the setting was nice. I liked that the story mainly took place in a museum and the city surrounding it. The one thing I absolutely loved about The Screaming Statue was the characters. Sam, Pippa, Thomas, and Max were fantastic. It was clear to me why they felt the way they did, and it was easy to see the clues about how their past later affected them. I also liked how the character’s behaved around each other. While their situation and platonic and not platonic relationships weren’t perfect, it was nice to see that they still cared about one another. While The Screaming Statue was just an average read, that doesn’t deter me from reading another one of Lauren Oliver’s books. However, that being said, I don’t think I’ll specifically come back to this series.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)Title: A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Griffin; March 28, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire...
Last year, I read The Star-Touched Queen and it was magical. I was thoroughly enamored by the story, characters, and the world that Roshani Chokshi created. Obviously, A Crown of Wishes was one of my most anticipated 2017 book releases. And you know what? The wait was worth it. A crown of Wishes was fantastic. It surpassed all of my expectations in the best way possible. It also made a clear return to places like Bharata and took another look at the politics and continued conflict that have so thoroughly influenced the lives of the characters.

Honestly, this was just a great story. There was magic, myth, danger, and wishes—all things I happen to like reading about. I can’t forget about The Tournament of Wishes since it was one of my favorite parts of A Crown of Wishes. It was kind of amazing. There was magic, but there was also danger partially in the form of the trials and fellow guests. Chokshi was successful at portraying a vivid picture of the scenery that made up the tournament grounds, the challenges, and the guest who were present. But all of that was combined with characters that were at once charming, cunning, dangerous, and determined.

There are so many characters I could choose to talk about, but I’m just going to focus on the main two: Vikram and Gauri. Vikram was interesting, but I don’t want to say too much about him. What I will say is that he was intelligent and cunning, as promised by the synopsis, but there was more to him than that. What truly got me excited for this book was the fact that one particular character from The Star-Touched Queen was going to get her own story. I remember Gauri from the first book. I always liked her character. Even though her scenes were few they were meaningful to Maya, and more importantly, memorable. Gauri was such a layered and complex character. She went from being introduced back in the first book as just a child, to someone hardened by circumstances and experiences. She was strong but haunted by her past and also vulnerable. I particularly liked her determination to do right by the people of Bharata. I have to admit though that I preferred when Gauri and Vikram were together. Their banter and interactions with one another were priceless.

Well, I could just keep gushing about A Crown of Wishes all day. There were so many things I loved about this story, but I just don’t want to spoil anything. Needless to say, I will just be over here waiting for Roshani Chokshi’s next book.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review: The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

The GauntletTitle: The Gauntlet
Author: Karuna Raizi 
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Salaam Reads; March 28, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair...

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how. Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?
Whenever I see a book that has a dangerous board game of some kind mentioned in the synopsis, I only approach them with just one tiny expectation: Jumanji vibes. That’s it, that’s all I’m looking for. And The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi delivered all that in the best way possible. This book was a whole lot of fun.

Despite what happened to the characters and the challenges they faced, The Gauntlet was a quick-paced and very entertaining book. One big draw was the characters. Not much time was spent on the everyday life of the characters, but I loved all the details about Farah’s family. Since The Gauntlet takes place in a world contained inside of an unpredictable board game, it had a very Jumanji/Zathura feel to it—with the added bonus of a steampunk flare that I happened to like. All the bits of machinery mixed in with the rest of the scenery gave the story an eerie atmosphere. That brings me to another thing I liked: the scenery. The descriptions of the actual game were among my favorite paragraphs from this book. Riazi created a vivid picture of what the Gauntlet was, what it looked like, and how the rules of the game worked. The challenges were neat, and I liked how much of the story resembled an actual game.

There were just a couple of things that I felt mixed about, but talking about them here would spoil the story. But I will say that it wasn’t really a fault, more of a pet peeve of mine. Other than that, I loved everything else about the story.

The Gauntlet is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I’m really looking forward to what Karuna Riazi writes next. Actual rating 4.5 Birdcages.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers; March 28, 2017
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real? Welcome to Weep...
I still haven’t finished the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, but I was excited for Strange the Dreamer since it wasn’t a spin off. There was a lot to like about Strange the Dreamer, but I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. There was nothing fundamentally bad, but at times I did find myself checking out of the story. Still, the book was very readable with a sort or cliffhanger-ish ending.

The first chapter was an incredibly strong start to the story, because it set up the mystery surrounding the ultimate fate of the lost city known simply as Weep. Taylor certainly knows how to weave a layered story with rich scenery and myths brought to life by impressive prose. There was an almost lyrical and dream-like quality to the story, which is one of the things I liked about Strange the Dreamer. One of the reasons I kept reading was because I wanted to know more about the magic—what the limitations were, and how it worked. The abilities were creative and pretty cool even though some were slightly more morbid than others.

Some parts of the beginning didn’t necessarily grab me. I did like what I read. However, I kept setting the book aside because at times I did get a little bored while waiting for something to happen. A lot of time was devoted to developing Lazlo Strange’s character and the world around him. After a certain point the plot picked up, and I was able to get into the story and stay in that mindset long enough to get through the book. At times, I got a sense of déjà vu. Some of the details that turned out to be essential to the story almost felt like bits and pieces from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It wasn’t exactly the same, but the themes were almost too similar. I can’t really specify because it didn't come up until pretty late in the story. Some of the secondary characters bugged me. They were there, but mostly their story was viewed through Lazlo's eyes. This was mainly concerning the party that was traveling with Lazlo, and by the end of Strange the Dreamer, I still felt like I didn't know much about most of them.

The end is one of the things I was conflicted about. The last part of the book was, at some points, awesome with plenty of action and twists that were surprising. However, others parts were just okay—mainly because it lacked an element of surprise. Still, the end was the start of something new for some characters. There were a lot of questions left and some new ones that were presented at the very end, which was clearly setting up the story for the next book.

So, Strange the Dreamer was good, and it’s highly likely that I’ll read the sequel once it comes out. Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U GiveTitle: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Balzer + Bray; February 28, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I have so much to say about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Yet, I hesitate to say anything at all, because I really don’t want to accidently spoil this book. You have to read The Hate U Give to fully understand and grasp the story that Angie Thomas wrote, which is a much better option than if I tried to explain it in this review. The Hate U Give deals with a very contemporary and relevant topic, and that’s why I was excited to read this book.

The Hate U Give kept it real in the best way possible.

This was the kind of book I wish I’d gotten the chance to read back when I first started blogging—when I was still a teen. This book deals with its main themes—racism, prejudice, and police brutality—told from the perspective of a character who lives through that experience, a firsthand POV. There was something about the story that seemed authentic and honest. In that way, The Hate U Give more than lives up to the hype.

And I’m going to be honest, I almost never cry while reading. I can read about the demise of a favorite character—or characters—and have a case of extremely dry eyes. But, there was just something about The Hate U Give that made me tear up more than once. I can’t say that I’ve never encountered this kind of emotional depth before, but the circumstances, the characters, and Starr’s perspective is what ultimately got to me.

One of the highlights of this book was Starr Carter and her family. I’m not going to say too much about them, but just know that I absolutely loved them! I especially liked how Starr still had a life. While the above mentioned themes were the primary focus of the book, there was also time to examine the other parts of Starr’s life. And, I really liked how Thomas handled the emotional repercussions and how it directly affected Starr.

Okay, I could go on and on about how much I loved The Hate U Give, and why it was such an important read for me. However, I’m going to end the review here by saying that I’m looking forward to Angie Thomas’ next book.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell

The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners #1)Title: The Crooked Sixpence
Author: Jennifer Bell
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown Books For Young Readers; January 31, 2017
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems…

When their grandmother Sylvie is rushed to the hospital, Ivy Sparrow and her annoying big brother Seb cannot imagine what adventure lies in store. Soon their house is ransacked by unknown intruders, and a very strange policeman turns up on the scene, determined to apprehend them . . . with a toilet brush. Ivy and Seb make their escape only to find themselves in a completely uncommon world, a secret underground city called Lundinor where ordinary objects have amazing powers. There are belts that enable the wearer to fly, yo-yos that turn into weapons, buttons with healing properties, and other enchanted objects capable of very unusual feats. But the forces of evil are closing in fast, and when Ivy and Seb learn that their family is connected to one of the greatest uncommon treasures of all time, they must race to unearth the treasure and get to the bottom of a family secret . . . before it’s too late...
The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell was just one of those books that I don’t really have too much to say about. There are a couple of reasons for that. There’s a lot that goes on and much of it starts in the first couple of chapters. I’m going to quickly go over what I did and didn’t like about the story.

I’m going to start with what I didn’t like about The Crooked Sixpence. Some of the situations seemed almost too convenient and easily solved. These things and situations were supposed to be dangerous, but didn't quite get there.  Also there were a couple of offhand comments made by Ivy and Seb that I disliked. Since the character isn’t mentioned in the synopsis, I won’t give a name. However, I will say that there are more imaginative ways to describe brown skin than with a food analogy,

There were some things that I liked about The Crooked Sixpence, namely the plot and the magic. The story moved along pretty quickly, and the questions introduced at the beginning set up a relatively interesting conflict. The conflict is what kept me reading more than the interactions between the characters. The magic was pretty neat and I liked the idea surrounding ordinary objects that weren’t quite what they initially seemed to be. There was something fun and whimsical about them that was almost humorous but also kind of dangerous given what some of them could actually do.

While I did have a couple of problems with this one, the end left the characters at an interesting place. As such, I would still consider checking out the next book in the series.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn, #1)Title: The Wrath & the Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers; May 12, 2015
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

One Life to One Dawn...

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all. Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end...
Lately, I’ve had a string of books that I was really looking forward to, but they just ended up being okay for me. The same can be said about The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. There was nothing particularly bad about the story I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. 

After reading The Star-Touched Queen I was like “yes, give me more fantasy books that don’t clearly have medieval-like themes.” So, of course I was kind of excited to see what Ahdieh could do with a story like A Thousand and One Nights. I wanted to know what kinds of twists there would be, and how Shahrzad would be portrayed.

Hmm. I read this book relatively quickly, but had to take a couple of days before I decided on what rating I wanted to put up on even Goodreads. Like I stated above, The Wrath & The Dawn wasn’t a bad story. There were some things that I genuinely liked about the book, especially the stories that Shahrzad told to Khalid and Ahdieh’s writing. However, I felt like there was something missing from the whole reading experience. My main problem with this one was that as I was reading the story, I didn’t feel much. I didn’t have much of an emotional response to the story or the situations the characters happened to be in outside of a few scenes. That’s what made writing this kind of hard. Now that I’ve gone back and looked at the synopsis while setting up this blog post, I’ve kind of realized that it tells a lot about the actual story. I just wish that it didn’t do that, because as these things were actually happening in the book, I was already kind of unconsciously expecting them.

Okay, with that out of the way, I’m going to talk about some of the others things I liked. It mainly included the setting and a few of the side characters. The descriptions of the scenery were pretty close to amazing. While much of the story revolved around Shahrzad, the parts where more of the society outside of royal life was shown were some of my favorite scenes. Now, there were a handful of side characters that kind of made the story. At times, I was more interested in what they were doing instead of Shahrzad.

So, I don’t know. I might read the last book in this duology, but I don’t really know when that’ll actually happen.
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