Waiting on Wednesday: Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

New WoW

This week’s WoW book is Stone Field by Christy Lenzi!

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Stone Field is a historical fiction retelling of Wuthering Heights. Set right before the Civil War, it is a love story about Catrina and Stonefield.  They first meet when Catrina stumbles upon a man with no memory of who he is or what he was doing before they met each other.

Despite the war, the town’s opinion, or Stonefield’s amnesia, the two fall in love and want nothing more than to live by themselves and shut out the horrors that come with war.  However, the past doesn’t disappear, and with war approaching, events are set in motion that are out of Catrina and Stonefield’s hands.

This book seems to capture the spooky mystery of Wuthering Heights really well, and I can’t wait to see what has been adapted and imagined to make Stone Field it’s own intriguing read.

Stone Field comes out March 29th 2016, and is published by Roaring Books Press.

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#RockMyTBR Book Tag

Rock my TBR

Last Week I talked about the books I hope to read in 2016 that I already own through the #RockMyTBR reading challenge!  This week I am completing the book tag to go along with this! It was a lot of fun, a bit nostalgic, and helped me focus on the books I really want to make sure I get to next year.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) A contemporary I want to read

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I received What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler earlier this month, and am excited to get to it early next year!

“Shut Up and Dance” (Walk to the Moon) Most anticipated book I have

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin has intrigued me since I first read about its publication.  An alternate version of history where a girl sets out to kill the victorious Hitler…? This is one I definitely have high on my TBR list!

“Centuries” (Remix) (Fall Out Boy)  A Twist on a Classic or Fairytale

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Strands of Bronze and Gold is a twist on the BlueBeard myths, which is a retelling I have never come across before.  It’s one I purchased off Book Outlet after the synopsis caught my attention.

“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot” (The Flaming Lips) a science fiction book or a book set in the future

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Midwinterblood is one that time hops and involves some other than human characters.  I got a really strong Cloud Atlas vibe when I bought it a few years ago.  It will be nice to finally have this off my TBR!

“She Looks So Perfect” (5 Seconds of Summer) a book with a girl on the cover

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I fully anticipate needing some tissues for this one!  The Summer of Letting Go follows a girl work through her grief and guilt after the death of her younger sibling.

“Africa” (Toto) a book set in a foreign country

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Jellicoe Road is about a group of boarding school students set in Australia.  Although I have heard people say that they really like this book, I don’t know too much about it other than that 🙂

“Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen) a book or books that will complete a series

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After reading Never Fade I went a bit lukewarm with this series. Hopefully my excitement picks back up as I read the last book in the Darkest Minds Trilogy.

“Someone New” (Hozier) a book by an author you haven’t read yet

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I picked up The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides at a used book store in the early part of last year.  I feel like this is something of a YA classic that I should have gotten to by now.

“Hello” (Adele) a book DNF or weren’t in the m old for at the time

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I tried reading The Kingdom of Little Wounds right after finishing Queen of the Tearling which I think was my big mistake!  Hopefully I’ll be able to get more invested in this, now that I haven’t read anything like it in a few months.

“Love at First Sight” (Kylie Minogue) a book you bought because of the cover

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This is a book I stumbled across while I was browsing Book Outlet. I barely read the synopsis before adding it to my cart and checking out. 🙂

So there it is! I challenge anyone else who is doing the #RockMyTBR reading challenge to do this book tag!

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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“No Mourners.”

“No Funerals.”

Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5/5 stars

When renowned street lord, Kaz Brekker, is offered an impossible job, he assembles the most talented members from his gang to attempt the impossible.  Much like the Island of Misfit Toys, most of the six members of this heist, are castaways or runaways seeking refuge under Kaz’s protective umbrella.  While very few of them get along, they each have a specific skill that everybody recognizes is needed to pull off this task.

A fantastic start to this Duology! I was left excited for more through the entire novel 🙂

Review:

I don’t want to give much of the plot away because I read it not knowing much and think it was a better experience because of that.  I do want to talk about the characters and quotes though!  This was my first Leigh Bardugo read, and the quick banter and memorable passages sprinkled throughout this novel, made me hungry for so much more!  This book had many serious and stunning quotes that stuck with me long after I had put it down for the night. For example, when declaring undying love, these characters have a flair for it:

I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.

or there is:

“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”

But Bardugo also drops some hilarious interactions amongst the gang to show their antagonistic behavior as well.

“It’s not natural for women to fight.”

“It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.”

I could quote this book for days, but for now, I will leave just one more.  Kaz is a really interesting and morally dubious character.  But for all the uncertainty of whether I really like him or not, there were several times in the book I couldn’t help but respect him.  Raised on the streets, and only 17 years old, there are several times when Kaz has to interact and confront men much older and much more experienced than himself.  And each time, he is able to hold his own.  This quote from the beginning of the novel, was one of the first time’s when I was reading and realized that Six of Crows was going to something pretty epic!  This interaction occurs as another street lord is commenting on the lack of commitment Kaz’s benefactor has to taking over other areas of the city.

“Quit flexing, boy,” Geels said. “We all know the old man doesn’t have the stomach for a real brawl.”

Kaz’s laugh was dry as the rustle of dead leaves. “But I’m the one at you table, Geels, and I’m not here for a taste. You want a war, I’ll make sure you eat your fill.”

I can’t recommend this book enough, and can easily say it deserves all of the hype it has received.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

New WoW

This week’s WoW book is The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan!

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Middie is finding the strength to make it happily through the next year while her boyfriend, Nate, spends the year after graduation volunteering in Central America.  This becomes much more difficult for Middie after a tragic accident leaves her reeling. Feeling isolated in her grief, Middie turns to solace in the most unlikely of places, Nate’s best friend, Lee.

Though the two haven’t gotten along in the past, Lee and Middie find they can lean on each other in order to find their way forward again.

I am interested to see how Cat Jordan portrays Lee and Middie’s grief in The Leaving Season.  I feel like this is a common time in life when people experience and process loss for the first time and there are so many different outlets that people use to express their emotions.  I could easily see this being a very heartbreaking and healing story.

The Leaving Season comes out March 1st 2016, and is published by Harper Teen.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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Uprooted

by Naomi Novik

Rating: 5/5 stars

     A unique Beauty and the Beast retelling, Uprooted primarily takes place in a magical valley that is overseen and protected by a Lord known to the villagers as the Dragon.  On the border of the valley is a mystical Wood that is full of evil power.  In exchange for the Dragon’s protection, the villagers must sacrifice one of their girls to work in his servitude for 10 years.  After which, she will be released and a new girl will take her place.

     By the time Agnieszka is 17 years old and now eligible to be the Dragon’s next servant the rumors of what happens to these girls has spread and grown throughout the valley.  With none of these rumors being positive, the only thing dampening Agnieszka’s fear is the fact that everyone knows her best friend Kasia is the girl who will be chosen.  With Kasia being the most beautiful and accomplished girl in their valley, there is little doubt that the Dragon won’t look at the other girls.  He does however, and when he sees Agnieszka, he sees something that none of the other girls have and he has little choice but to take her back with him as the chosen girl.

Review:  I loved so many things about this story!!!  First, I love Fairytale retellings, but what is especially great about Uprooted is that is has shades of Beauty and the  Beast but is still unique enough to be its own story. Novik still inputs plenty of her own creativity to really bring this story to life.

I also loved the gender equality in this novel.  I don’t want to give much away because I think it is story that is more enjoyable with less knowledge, but there is some fighting and such that goes on, and the female characters are just as active in the fighting as the men.  Also I applaud Novik on the amount of principal female characters in this novel.  Aside from the Dragon, the rest of the main characters are women in positions of power, which was really awesome to see.

Finally, I really enjoyed the romance aspect.  This story wasn’t about falling in love with the Dragon and trying to change him or Agnieszka being attracted to the “bad boy”/abusive aspects of the Dragon’s character.  When she first goes to his home and his treatment of her is awful, she can’t stand him and wants to leave more than anything.  It isn’t until he begins making changes on his own and Agnieszka notices them that their relationship begins to take shape.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine book blog!

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This week I can’t wait to read The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig!!

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This book follows a girl, Nix, who can travel to any time and place with her father and his ship.  Although she loves her life, this ability may put everything in jeopardy when her father goes back in time to try and save her mother from dying in childbirth.  No one knows what will happen to Nix with her father trying to change history so close to her birth, but ending her father’s heartbreak may cost Nix everything.

This sounds like a totally unique and interesting story.  I can’t wait to read about all the interesting time periods that are visited in this novel and how Heilig has the people aboard the ship interact with those that are stuck in their own time and place.  There are so many cool directions that this book could go and I’m excited to see what happens and what kind of help Nix discovers along the way.

The Girl from Everywhere comes out February 16th, 2016 and is published by Greenwillow Books!

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

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Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals Book 1)

by Eleanor Herman

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

     Legacy of Kings is a multiple perspective YA novel that takes place in the years leading up to Alexander the Great’s rule.  At the age of 16, Alex is finally taking the reins and using the political atmosphere surrounding Macedonia to prove his capabilities as a leader.  Unseen complications arise however, when other characters goals and motivations are also beginning to take shape.

Two teenagers from a small village have also come to the city to fulfill their destiny.  Jacob has come to compete in an annual tournament of warriors, in the hopes of gaining enough notoriety and wealth to support his childhood friend and first love, Katerina.  While Katerina has come to not only support Jacob, but also avenge her mother by killing the queen.  Her plans are set in motion after Alex takes her under his wing and brings her to the castle, but his best friend Hephaestion is not so quick to trust this unknown villager.  This is a novel where everyone is fighting for their own agenda, and many aren’t afraid to use any means necessary to accomplish their goals.

Review:  I would categorize this novel as part fantasy/part historical fiction and Herman does a great job striking a balance.  It is clear that Herman did tireless research when describing the details of everyday life of the Macedonians.  From her writing she provides a very clear picture of what each character looks like, how they should act given where they are from and their station in life, and what the city of Macedonia looks like.  She also is very detailed about the religions of the time period and how greatly they influenced many people’s lives.

Despite their being 6 different perspectives to this narrative, Herman did a great job of giving everyone a very distinct voice.  I never had to be concerned with getting characters confused with one another.  With the great introduction that Herman has provided in this first installment of the Blood of Gods and Royals Series she has plenty of material to continue to provide a thrilling and intriguing story in the remaining 3 books.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

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Throne of Glass

By Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 1/5 stars

Throne of Glass is a fantasy novel about Calaena Sardothien, an assassin who has just spent a year sentenced to working in Salt Mines after being caught.  The Crown Prince, Dorian, has had her released on the condition that she will compete in a competition to find the King of Erilea’s next Champion, or assassin.  Calaena agrees on the condition that if she wins, after 4 years of service she will be free.  As the competitors begin completing tasks and slowly being eliminated, they soon have additional concerns as someone has started to kill competitors outside of the specific tasks.  Calaena now has to find a way to survive these attacks while also building her strength to succeed in the tournaments.  Also distracting her is a new friendship with the Princess of a neighboring nation that is being threatened by Erilea, as well as the romantic feelings she has for her guard Chaol and the Crown Prince.  Trying to overcome all of these factors, Calaena must put other thoughts aside if she hopes for a chance for her freedom in the foreseeable future.

Review:  So I will put a disclaimer out right in the beginning of this review stating I might be a little more harsh on this book than normal because of all the hype that is surrounding it.  Because Queen of Shadows,  the 4th book in this series, came out this month I have been seeing a lot of raves about it and thought I should finally get this series read.

It was almost painful at times trying to get through this book.  I think the main problem I had with trying to get into this novel is it is completely inconsistent.  Calaena is supposedly the greatest assassin in Erilea, however her characterization and the way other characters in the novel treat her don’t align with this at all.  This is supposed to be a character that broke her own wrist when she was still a preteen in order to become a stronger fighter in her less dominant hand, however, throughout the whole novel there were constant complaints about blisters, uncomfortable high heels, having to walk in wet shoes.  I found the amount she whined made any of her previous claims and experiences unbelievable.  Also the way the male characters treat her also undermine her claim to greatness.  Her tendency to become a Damsel in Distress around Chaol, was really at odds with her background and it kept me from being pulled into the story.

I also felt a lot of plot decisions were made because they were necessary for moving the story forward but did not make sense with the setting the author had created.  Having guards constantly around the Princess and Calaena for protection, and then having them just randomly be out of sight the one time somebody approaches them and makes a threat just does not make sense.

I have heard that the next novels in this series do get better as they continue, but because of the awful experience I had reading this book, I really have no interest in learning what happens to these characters or seeing how their stories resolve.

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

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Exquisite Captive

By Heather Demetrios

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Exquisite Captive is the first book in the Dark Caravan Series and surrounds to myth of genies(jinnies) and their interactions with humans.  After years of political unrest, the jinnies homeland of Arjinna has been overtaken by the darkest group of Jinn who pull their power from fire, opposed to other jinn who pull from wind, water, and earth.  These jinnies have begun a slave trade between Earth and Arjinna called the Dark Caravan, where wealthy humans who seek to gain more influence in the world purchase jinnies to grant them three wishes.

Nalia is a jinni from the warrior class of jinn who has been sold to a wealthy man who has found a loophole in the three wish stipulation.  Instead of making three wishes, he instead has her grant wishes for his clients in return for favors and business transactions.  While searching for a way to become free from her shackles, Nalia begins working with a rebel leader named Raif, who seeks to right the injustices in Arjinna and end the slave trade.  They must work together despite their classes past conflict and find a way to help the jinn both on Earth and in their homeland.

Review:  I found Demetrios’ description of the different classes of jinn and their characteristics interesting.  I also thought portraying jinn granting wishes for humans as a form of slave trade was really effective.  However, other than that their wasn’t anything in this novel that really stuck out to me.  I felt like the major plot points in this book are all pieces I have read in other YA fantasy books and have been written more effectively.  This was especially true of the romantic relationship between Nalia and Raif.  Maybe its because of the amount of fantasy I have read recently, but I just didn’t find much chemistry between them.  The one part of this novel that I have a real issue with however, were the romantic/lustful feelings that Nalia felt for her master when he began to express an interest in pursuing her romantically.  He spent years imprisoning Nalia and torturing her by placing her in a container that would slowly suffocate and poison her for months on end.  I realize that her reciprocating his feelings had more to do with the effect of their souls interacting rather than her true feelings for him, this was still something I did not find okay.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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Falling Kingdoms

By Morgan Rhodes

Rating: 4/5 stars

Falling Kingdoms is a multiple point of view fantasy that follows the events and interactions between three kingdoms in Mytica.  This story is told primarily from the perspective of three characters. Cleo is the second born princess of the wealthy and bountiful kingdom Auranos, who spends a great deal of the novel coming of age and trying to understand her role in a murder that occurs in the beginning of the novel.  She also spends a great deal of her story making it her mission to try and find someone to save her ill sister, who is heir to the throne.

Jonas, is a wine-seller’s son from Paelsia.  He is from an impoverished kingdom and after tragedy befalls his family, he seeks revenge by working to support an uprising to overthrow their southern neighbors.  Paelsia has been living in squalor since a century old agreement with southern Auranos has gone bad, leaving Paelsia in an economic free fall, and agricultural hardship.

Prince Magnus of Limeros is the last character that the reader follows within this novel.  Son of a blood thirsty king, 17 year old Magnus has worked to create an air of indifference to survive his father’s cruelty and hide his dissension with his decisions.  Discord within Mytica, forces Magnus into the focus of his father’s attention, and he must confront the disharmony between his conscience and what his father is doing.  This is all occurring while he is also trying to guard a secret that could destroy his closest relationships and fill him with shame.

While all this is occurring, God-like figures called Watchers, take on the form of hawks and observe all that unfolds.  They are hoping to discover the powerful sorceress whom was prophesied to be born and could help them regain the powerful magic that has been taken from them.  All these characters collide as uncontrollable events much larger than them begin to unfold, causing loyalties to change and secrets to be revealed.  Cleo, Jonas, and Magnus are all put through this violent rite of passage that uncovers their true nature and how they react under pressure.

Review:  This was a really well-written fantasy.  I was concerned when first starting it because their is a large cast of primary and secondary characters and was worried that I would get bogged down in keeping everyone straight and not be able to pay much attention to the plot.  However, Rhodes does a phenomenal job of giving each character a very unique set of characteristics that painted a clear picture of them in my mind.  Falling Kingdoms had really great character development in this novel alone and it makes me very excited to see how these characters will be changed even more in future books.  A great example of this was Prince Magnus.  In the beginning of the novel, he was a favorite character of mine.  He had a really heart breaking childhood and although he worked hard to appear indifferent about his father and his discontent, it was clear that he was affected.  But because of very believable events and the more negative aspects of Magnus’ character he becomes less appealing as the novel moves forward.  He is an example of the complexity of people and the effect nature can have on them. Rhodes captures this in all of the characters really well.  I am excited to continue this series, and find out the future for Mytica.