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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review: Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

30955863Title: Heroine Worship
Series: Heroine Complex #2
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW; July 4, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka—who’s now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable.

It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior—and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron—the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade—is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission. All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter.

In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis.

When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever...
It hasn't been that long since I read Heroine Complex, so the memory of how much I loved the story is still fresh in my mind. Obviously, I was excited to read Heroine Worship. I’m happy to say that I loved this story as much as the first book in the series. It had everything I liked about Heroine Complex and more since it was told from Aveda’s perspective this time around. And I have to say that the Heroine Complex series just keeps getting better and better.

Heroine Worship was just a good story. I don’t have any other way to describe it. It’s also a great example of what can be done with superheroes in an urban setting (in this case, San Francisco). The supernatural elements are unique, the bad guys’ schemes/methods were out of the box, and the characters are awesome to the point where I couldn’t help but root for them to succeed. Kuhn knows how to write action as well as the daily aspects of the superheroes’ lives, and it’s the balance between the two that I really love about Heroine Worship.

One thing that continually works for these books is how Kuhn weaves the issue of relationships (platonic and romantic) in with the more supernatural and superhero aspects of the book. And if there was one character that encompassed those things, it was Aveda Jupiter. The first line of the book is “I love being a superhero.” And in Heroine Complex, Aveda was a larger than life superhero, someone who strived to portray a constant image of perfection. But she was a diva and not the greatest friend to Evie or anyone else. But there was so much more to her character than that. In Heroine Worship, there’s this whole other side to Aveda that I didn’t get to see last time. And somehow, I liked her even better now than before. I think that was because I got a better understanding of her as a character. One of the main storylines included Aveda was coming to terms with how Annie Chang and her Aveda Jupiter persona ultimately fit into her life going forward.

That’s pretty much all I have to say. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone looking to get into the series. All-in-all, Heroine Worship was a fun read and a fantastic installment to the series. The next book is probably going to be from the perspective of one of my favorite characters, Evie’s younger sister, Bea. And I’m looking forward to that...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

27209443Title: Heroine Complex
Series: Heroine Complex #1
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW; July 5, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder...

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants. Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea. But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion...
I’m being completely honest when I say that the cover is what initially drew me to Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. Then, once I started reading up about it, I knew that it was a book I eventually wanted to read. Well, I’ve read it, and I can say that I absolutely loved the story. I don't know why this hasn’t been made into a movie or TV show, because there’s a lot to love about this book.

I haven’t read anything with superheroes in a while, and I liked Kuhn’s approach. Her treatment of the story and characters took something like superheroines and demon villains and made it feel refreshingly new. There was a perfect balance between mystery, action, supernatural, and even a little romance. The story was just good. I also have to give Kuhn props for how she developed the platonic and romantic relationships. The characters talked to each other to work out issues even if the subject was a tough one, and it was glorious.

I liked that Kuhn decided to make the focus of the story the superheroines personal assistant, Evie Tanaka. Reading from Evie’s perspective showed a lot of the behind the scenes aspects of Aveda Jupiter’s crew for example the upkeep of the signature costume, support if an emotional crisis arose, and even something as simple as who’s going to buy the groceries. Evie was a wonderful character. She was good at her job, but I also liked the growth she went through once she reached her breaking point. There was also a day-to-day feel to parts of the story, and I liked those moments because it showed what life was like for Evie outside of working for Aveda.

There are more books to this series, and after the all the twists and that ending, I’m really looking forward to Heroine Worship....



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

26042767Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Series: Wayfarers #1
Author: Becky Chambers
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Voyager; August 18, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A rollicking space adventure with a lot of heart...

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past. And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer. From Sissix, the reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn't part of the job description. The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure, and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe… as long as you actually like them...
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one of those books I’ve been hearing about seemingly for forever—even though, in reality, it was only a few years, but you get the point. So, I’ve heard about it, seen a lot of praise for it, and now I’ve finally read it for myself. I adored this book. And it’s a little hard to accurately describe because it’s not the usual kind of science fiction/ space opera that I'm a huge fan of, but it also kind of is in a way. That’s not a very good way to say it, so let me at least try to explain what I mean...

If you pay close attention to the synopsis, it does an accurate job of describing how the book actually reads. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is very day-to-day and closely follows the life of the crew of the Wayfarer, a patchwork but stable ship. There was something about it that reminded me of how literary fiction feels when I read it, and might have something to do with how it was written or how character-driven the book was. There was a lot of travel, daily activity, and exploration of the characters (including backstory, current events, and relationships) that, at times, took over the story. The setup worked because the characters were awesome. Everyone from Rosemary to the rest of the crew was interesting in their respective ways. That’s one thing I have to note. Chambers’s did a spectacular job of creating truly alien races that didn’t mirror one another. There were distinguishable cultures and languages that went hand in hand with their unique appearances and differing societal norms. I thought it was creative and interesting to read about.

That brings me to my second point: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is definitely science fiction. It was a long (and dangerous) way to a small and angry planet. On one hand, this book featured many planets and cultures, giving an expansive feel to the setting. But it was also limited in the sense that the primary setting was the Wayfarer, which had obvious space constraints (it was a ship). Still, there was never a moment when the story seemed narrow. There was a sense of life to the characters and how they interacted and reacted to the things and places around them. There was always something that reminded me that, yeah, there was a broader world outside the Wayfarer. It was one of the things that made the book an engrossing read.

There was, of course, the technology. In particular, I thought it was cool to have ships that specialized in creating wormholes.

So, all that being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It was something a little different but a thoroughly interesting story. I have high hopes for the second book.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

30078567Title: The Collapsing Empire
Author: John Scalzi
Series: The Interdependency #1 
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Science Fiction 
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books; March 21, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The first novel of a new space-opera sequence set in an all-new universe by the Hugo Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Redshirts and Old Man's War...

Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible -- until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars. Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war -- and a system of control for the rulers of the empire. The Flow is eternal -- but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals -- a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency -- are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.
Going into The Collapsing Empire, I expected to like it based on what I already knew about Scalzi’s ability to tell a compelling story with interesting characters and even more interesting in-book universes. Even with that in mind, I was still surprised by The Collapsing Empire. And I mean that in a good way. It was a relatively quick read and a good story with a number of interesting components. One such detail was the quirky names of the ships. For example: Tell Me Another One and Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby, among others. I'm not kidding, and more than once I found myself thinking that the names sounded like the punchline to a joke when spoken aloud.

There’s a definite difference between Old Man’s War and The Collapsing Empire. The former had more military elements, while the latter focuses heavily on politics, and as the title suggests a collapsing empire. Even so, there was a substantial amount of action and nefarious plotting throughout the book, as well as political maneuvering done by the main characters and those around them.

This book is told from a couple of different perspectives. Each one had something to offer to the plot, which I appreciated. Having the alternating perspectives in different places around the Interdependency contributed to how expansive the story felt. The distances between the characters were sometimes vast, and it drove home the fact that the story took place in an “interstellar empire”. I expected nothing less.

So, the Flow is a thing. It’s integral to the way the Interdependency functions, and is the sole source of travel between the different systems. Yet, there wasn’t much of an explanation for the origins of the Flow, only how it was being used by the Interdependency. However, the mysterious and formerly static nature of the Flow kind of worked, especially when put into context with the events that took place in The Collapsing Empire.

All in all, this was a very good beginning to a new series. I recommend it to fans of space-opera and those who are already familiar with or want to read a book by Scalzi.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

30237061Title: Daughter of the Burning City
Series: N/A
Author: Amanda Foody
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Harlequin Teen; July 25, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show. But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered. Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear...
I’ve wanted to read Daughter of the Burning City for a while now. I freely admit that I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and premise, which promised a magical and dangerous circus-y type setting—which is a favorite trope/element of mine that I don’t read often enough. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. It was a deeply atmospheric story. There were so many things about it that were cool and unique that I almost wish I’d read it sooner, but it is what it is.

Overall, I liked the story. There was a lot going on between the mystery about who was killing Sorina’s illusion, and the broader conflicts surrounding Gomorrah’s travels through the Up-Mountains. There were a lot of unexpected twists. And the setting was sort of fun—it’s a festival after all—but it carried through on some darker themes. In that way, the burning city lived up to its name. And Foody succeeded at capturing the atmosphere of Gomorrah: the danger and mystery; how something of its nature moves from place to place, and what the way of life was like for the people who lived and worked there. The lore surrounding the smoke that clouds Gomorrah’s sky was as unexpected and cool as the scenery and members of Sorina’s show. There was, of course, a world outside of Gomorrah. There could have been…more to it, but there were clear hints of the landscape and brutal extremism in the Up-Mountain beliefs that often ended in violence.

Now the characters—for the most part, I liked them, particularly Sorina and her illusions. Sorina is a character I would best describe as somewhat naïve, but considering the story, her upbringing, and age, it ultimately worked because it fit with her personality. Now, Sorina is a character without eyes, and some of the expressions used to describe her emotional reactions were a little confusing. Such as when she was crying, but without eyes I wasn’t certain how it worked. I wish that her emotions had been better reflected in her illusion jynx-work. But otherwise, I thought her character and abilities were fine.

I don’t know. There was something about Daughter of the Burning City that I loved, a certain charm to the characters, story, and setting. And I liked the end. It was a satisfying conclusion for the characters, despite some lingering questions. Needless to say, I will definitely read more books by Amanda Foody...

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.
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