Showing posts with label five birdcages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label five birdcages. Show all posts

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thoughts on the Imperial Radch Trilogy: Review of Ancillary Sword & Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

About the books...

20706284Title: Ancillary Sword
Author: Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch #2
Source/Format: Gift; paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Orbit; October 7, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

What if you once had thousands of bodies and near god-like technology at your disposal?

And what if all of it were ripped away?

The Lord of the Radch has given Breq command of the ship Mercy of Kalr and sent her to the only place she would have agreed to go—to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn's sister works in Horticulture. Athoek was annexed some six hundred years ago, and by now everyone is fully civilized—or should be. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. Old divisions are still troublesome, Athoek Station's AI is unhappy with the situation, and it looks like the alien Presger might have taken an interest in what's going on. With no guarantees that interest is benevolent...

23533039
Title: Ancillary Mercy
Author: Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch #3 
Source/Format: Gift; paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Orbit; October 6, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The conclusion to the trilogy that began with Ancillary Justice...

For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist, and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself. Breq refuses to flee with her ship and crew, because that would leave the people of Athoek in terrible danger. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before...


Just a quick note: I will be discussing the second and third book of the trilogy. I will try to be as vague as possible, but there may be minor spoilers. So, if you haven’t read the first book, Ancillary Justice or Ancillary Sword, then stop reading now.

No, seriously, look away.

Well then, you've been warned.

Still here? Alright then, read on... 
During my break from blogging, I planned to get a lot of reading done. And while I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, I did binge the rest of the Imperial Radch trilogy—Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy—because I got the books as Christmas gifts.

As a whole, I enjoyed this series for its core themes and characters. In particular, my favorite part of the both books was the character Breq. I also enjoyed the politics—there was a lot of it—and other parts of Radachaai society outside of the palaces. And, I liked Leckie’s use of technology, and what she did with the AIs prominently featured throughout the trilogy.

Ancillary Sword…

I liked Ancillary Sword, but it was a little weaker than Ancillary Justice. I think the main issue I had was that some of the excitement of the first book was missing in the sequel. Sometimes, the stakes didn’t seem as high despite the danger posed to Breq and crew.

The political side of Radch has always been a focal point of the series, and it was one of the things I was looking forward to. In Ancillary Sword, Breq—former troop carrier, Justice of Torren, and current ancillary—is in a new role: fleet captain, a position given to her by one faction of Anaander Mianaai. However, while the civil war between the differing factions of Mianaai is made mention of, it seemed a little detached from the story because much of the fighting takes place off page rather than seeing parts of the conflict directly through the eyes of Breq—as was the case in Ancillary Justice. There was action in Ancillary sword, but not as much as in Ancillary Justice. But, I didn’t really expect it, given that from early on the narrative tended more toward Radch politics—although localized—and tea. And I mean lots and lots of tea.

But, it was kind of interesting to learn more about the AIs—ships and stations—as well as what different parts of the Radch was like. And Ancillary Sword was still a necessary read, because it set up the plot that continued into the next book.

Ancillary Mercy…


Now, by comparison, I enjoyed Ancillary Mercy more than Sword because the stakes were higher—the danger and conflict were more direct. During some parts, I was actually nervous for my favorite characters, and that only heightened how much of a page-turner Ancillary Mercy ended up being. It was an epic finish to the trilogy. It had all the elements I was missing from Ancillary Justice. There was a perfect blend of character development on all fronts—AI and people—politics, actions, mention of tea, and the conflict between Anaander Mianaai and herself.

One thing I enjoyed about Ancillary Mercy was how vivid the characters were—both familiar and new to the trilogy. Even the AIs had distinct personalities and habits despite being viewed by some as just equipment. I appreciated those little quirks.

The end, while not neat or overly happily ever after—and it certainly didn’t solve everything about the situation with Mianaai and Radch—was still a satisfying conclusion for the characters. And that made the whole series worth it.

Finally…

As a whole, the Imperial Radch trilogy was something else. I like to describe it simply as awesome. There were a lot of interesting ideas about technology, politics, justice, and the limits of an empire. And Leckie did a good job exploring them.
Would you read The Imperial Radch trilogy?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

ARC Review: Don't Live For Your Obituary by John Scalzi

36471758Title: Don't Live For Your Obituary: Advice, Commentary and Personal Observations on Writing, 2008-2017
Author: John Scalzi
Series: n/a
Source/Format: Subterranean Press via Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Nonfiction; Writing
Publisher/Publication Date: Subterranean Press; December 31, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...


Between 2008 and 2017, author John Scalzi wrote fifteen books, became a New York Times bestselling author, and won numerous awards, including the Hugo, the Locus and the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. He also had book deals crater, lost more awards than he won, worried about his mortgage and health insurance, flubbed a few deadlines, tried to be a decent parent and husband, and got into some arguments on the Internet, because, after all, that’s what the Internet is for. Scalzi wrote about it all—the highs and lows in the life of a working writer—and gave his readers, and other writers, a glimpse of the day-to-day business of navigating a writing life in today’s world. Sometimes these essays offered advice. Sometimes they commented on the practical business of publishing and selling books. Sometimes they focused on the writing issues, arguments and personalities of the day. And sometimes, Scalzi reflected on his own writing life and career, and what both meant in the larger scheme of things. Don’t Live for Your Obituary is a curated selection of that decade of advice, commentary and observations on the writing life, from one of the best-known science fiction authors working today. But more than that, it’s a portrait of an era—ten years of drama, controversy and change in writing, speculative fiction and the world in general—from someone who was there when it happened… and who had opinions about it all...
Considering that this book was written by John Scalzi, I’m honestly not surprised that I liked it. I’ve been following Scalzi since I read his book, Old Man’s War, in 2015. I was late to the series, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it. So, I was excited when I first learned that he would be releasing a book on writing, mostly comprised of posts that have appeared on his blog between 2008 and 2017.

I liked Don’t Live For Your Obituary partly because I don’t have to go back through all of Scalzi’s blog posts to find the ones included in the book, and he has a lot of insightful commentary on his experience as a published author and on publishing in general. This book covered a myriad of topics. There was one topic I particularly liked and that was the focus on the business side of publishing—including taxes, money, and day jobs—which is something I often look for in writing books but never usually get.

Don’t Live For Your Obituary is a good book to read if you’re thinking about getting involved in anything publishing related, or are just looking for something interesting to read. It doesn’t sugarcoat or feed into lofty expectations, and often focuses on the reality of publishing. So, if you’re a fan of Scalzi then I recommend this book. And, if you’ve read the vast majority of the blog posts on his blog, Whatever, then, I still recommend Don’t Live For Your Obituary.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided  Subterranean Press via Netgalley for this review.

Monday, November 20, 2017

ARC Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

34189556Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Source/Format: Bookish First (St. Martin's Press); Bound ARC
More Details: Thriller; Suspense; Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Press; January 9, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love...

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement. You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves. You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her. You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships. Assume nothing...
I don’t typically read thrillers, but The Wife Between Us seemed too good to pass on. And let me tell you, this book surprised me in a good way. It was a thriller from start to finish, and I ended up loving it.

The back of the ARC states that “you will make assumptions,” and that’s true. I had several conflicting theories about how it all went down. I was right about some of it, but others aspects I was wrong about. Untangling the mass of lies rooted in the relationships between the characters, is part of what made The Wife Between Us such a great book. There was a lot of intentional misdirection—due in part to the narrative style, a combination of third and first person. There was always a foreboding sense that something has already happened. As well as the fact that something would happen, based off the context. So, in that way, the authors succeeded at maintaining tension throughout the entire story.

My favorite part of this book was Vanessa. She was an unreliable narrator, but her bitterness, hurt, and anger were as loud and clear as her fear. She was haunted by the events of her past—from the time she was in college all the way to the end of her marriage with Richard. In many ways, this book wasn’t only a mystery and thriller. It was also a thorough exploration of her character.

Overall, The Wife Between Us was a fantastic thriller that kept me guessing right up to the second to last page. It’s officially one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I look forward to seeing what Hendricks and Pekkanen write next.
 Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Bookish First & St. Martin's Press for this review.
About Greer Hendricks...

Greer Hendricks spent over two decades as an editor. Her writing has been published in The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. The Wife Between Us is her first novel.

About Sarah Pekkanen...

Internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen's newest book is THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS. She is also the co-author of the upcoming THE WIFE BETWEEN US (out in January 2018). Her prior novels are: THINGS YOU WON'T SAY, CATCHING AIR, THE BEST OF US, THE OPPOSITE OF ME, SKIPPING A BEAT, and THESE GIRLS....

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

ARC Review: Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay

Death in the Stacks (Library Lover's Mystery, #8)Title: Death in the Stacks
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Mystery; Cozy-Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; November 14, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In the latest Library Lover's Mystery from the New York Timesbestselling author of Better Late Than Never, the library's big fund-raiser leaves director Lindsey Norris booked for trouble . . .

Lindsey Norris and her staff are gearing up for the Briar Creek Library's annual Dinner in the Stacks fund-raiser. The night of dinner and dancing is not only a booklover's dream--it's the library's biggest moneymaker of the year. But instead of raising funds, the new library board president is busy raising a stink and making the staff miserable. Although Olive Boyle acts like a storybook villain, Lindsey is determined to work with her and make the event a success. But when Olive publicly threatens the library's newest hire, Paula, Lindsey cracks like an old book spine and throws Olive out of the library. The night of the fund-raiser, Lindsey dreads another altercation with Olive--but instead finds Paula crouched over Olive's dead body. Paula may have secrets, but Lindsey and the rest of the crafternooners know she's not the one who took Olive out of circulation. As the plot thickens, Lindsey must catch the real killer before the book closes on Paula's future . . .
Last year, I got the chance to read the previous book in the Library Lover’s Mystery series, Better Late Than Never. I adored that book and was excited to read the latest release in the series, Death in the Stacks. It was a quick read and fairly typical for a cozy mystery—amateur sleuth, small town setting. That being said, I honestly enjoyed Death in the Stacks because, at the end of the day, it was still an interesting mystery. And, it gets a couple of bonus points for being set in a library with librarians as main characters.

The gist of the story is that Lindsey Norris is entangled in another mystery, this time involving Olive Boyle—the troublemaking and manipulative new president of the library board. Olive had a lot of enemies, and that’s what made the mystery so good—I never knew who the culprit was because so many characters did have a clear motive. Also, another thing worth mentioning is the balance between the mystery and the personal lives of the main characters—such as the continued development of relationships established in previous—which added an extra layer of depth to the story. It also led to some interesting scenes between the mystery and subsequent investigation.

All in all, Death in the Stacks was a good book and I look forward to Jenn McKinlay’s next book.


This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review.

About the author...

Jenn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several mystery series and will be debuting a new women's fiction series in June 2017, starting with the title About a Dog. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets and her husband's guitars.


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.

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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thought Corner: Power Rangers (2017)

Title: Power Rangers (2017)
Produced by: Haim Saban; Brian Casentini; Marty Bowen; Wyck Godfrey
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Story by: Matt Sazama; Burk Sharpless; Michele Mulroney; Kieran Mulroney 
US Release Date: March 24, 2017
Viewing Format: Redbox DVD Rental
Going into Power Rangers (2017), I honestly didn’t know what to expect. All I remember of it was the old series I used to watch when I was a kid during—or was it after? Before?—the Saturday morning cartoon block. Still, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the film and was excited to watch it. And you know what? Power Rangers was actually really good. I was surprised by how much I liked the film.

I was prepared for a certain level of cheesiness. Instead, what I got was a well-thought out movie with aliens, superpowers, and Zords (cause you can’t forget about the Zords). But that wasn’t all. This movie also explored the complicated and often messy side of life from the perspectives of characters from different and diverse backgrounds. I liked how this film was made, and the action sequences and training scenes were interesting to watch. The characters are worth making mention of because they were my favorite part of the movie. They weren’t perfect, squeaky clean hero characters who never did or got anything wrong. No, they were allowed to make mistakes and grow from them, all the while learning how to be Power Rangers. The individual and collective character development was spot on. They were great individually, but I liked when they worked together as a team.

I didn’t think I’d say it, but this movie was pretty awesome. I’ve come to one conclusion: I need a sequel. I don’t know if there will be one, but hey, you never know.

What about you? Have you seen Power Rangers? If so, tell me what you thought about the movie in the comments down below.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight (Starflight, #1)Title: Starflight
Author: Melissa Landers
Source/Format: Purchased; eBook
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Disney Hyperion; February 2, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith. When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
Melissa Landers is one of those authors who has been on my radar for a while. So, back when Starflight was on sale I went ahead and bought a copy with every intention to read it. Well, I have finally accomplished that, and let me tell you, this story surprised me in a good way. I’m going to be honest. The first couple of chapters of Starflight were just okay. I didn’t have the easiest time getting into the book, but once everything was set up and the characters were introduced, the story got really interesting.

Before starting Starflight, I never really read the full synopsis. What I knew about it came from the praise I saw around the time of the books initial release. The fact that it was set in space was enough to get my attention, because I haven’t read enough young adult science fiction outside of the Illuminae Files series. So, I was looking forward to Starflight.

The space travel aspect was a lot of fun to read about. Part of Starflight’s charm is the characters, especially the mc, Solara Brooks. Her backstory was a point of interest, and her POV was a definite highlight. I liked the fact that she was willing to take risks to protect herself. She made mistakes, but was given the capacity to own up to them. Then there was Doran Spaulding. Doran started off as a stereotypical rich guy who also happened to be a conceited jerk. He was intentionally mean and the friction between him and Solara wasn’t easily solved, but that’s what made the story interesting. The crew of the Banshee was amazing. They were kind of eccentric and kept their secrets, but it was hard not to like them and the dynamics aboard the Banshee.

Starflight was really good, and I look forward to reading more works by Melissa Landers.

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, April 26, 2017

Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)Title: Labyrinth Lost
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Source/Format: FIREreads; ibooks eBook
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy 
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Fire; September 6, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives...

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...
Labyrinth Lost is one of those books I’ve been looking forward to reading since it came out in September of last year. I have finally read the book, and oh man, I’m glad that I did because it was an amazing story. From the magic and its ties to traditions, I loved everything about the book. Labyrinth Lost was very much a story about self-discovery and told from the perspective of Alejandra (Alex) Mortiz. Zoraida Córdova created a truly lovely story about magic, family, and the consequences of one’s actions.

From the start, Labyrinth Lost had a premise that seemed kind of awesome. I mean, come on, we’ve got Deathdays, Brujas, and Brujos. Luckily Córdova takes full advantage of the themes that influenced the core plot. There was something about the story that seemed so vibrant, and the characters came alive on the page because of it. Parts of the story had a wonderland vibe, but Córdova created a darkly enchanting atmosphere that was full of danger and magic—it made the story wholly unique.

There were lessons to be learned, and Alex learned them the hard way…

Alex was a tough character to like at the beginning of the story. She was rough around the edges, and her mindset was relatively unreasonable. She did a lot of things that were against better judgment and acted kind of bratty. However, the gradual character development she went through was noticeable because of where she started out. So, I did like the friendships/relationships between the characters. Then there was Nova. Even though I didn’t like his character that much, he had an air of mystery to him that did make his backstory interesting.

Los Lagos—oh man, it’s been a while since I read a fantasy novel that had such a cool and highly imaginative setting. The only other book that really comes to mind is Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. Still, Las Lagos is definitely one of my favorites.

Labyrinth Lost is one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2017—right up there on the list with The Hate U Give. Now, I’m really looking forward to the sequel.

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.

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