Waiting on Wednesday: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

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 🙂

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Paper and Fire is the second installment of the Great Library Series, that imagines a world where the Library of Alexandria has survived and now rules the world.  In the first of of this fantasy world, we were introduced to Jess whose excitement about the opportunity to work for the  Great Library was erased after seeing the inner turmoil and corruption.  Paper and Fire continues telling his story, in which he is not just trying to save those he is close to from the Great Library but he is also fighting time as the Welsh army comes to invade his home.

I loved Ink and Bone! I thought is was creative and unexpected, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for Jess and the allies he has made along the way.

Paper and Fire comes out July 5th, 2016, and is published by NAL.

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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 3/5 stars

Feyre carries the survival of her family entirely on her shoulders.  After a series of misfortunes has left them destitute, Feyre has spent years cultivating the skills needed for survival to keep her family fed.  While out hunting for the day, Feyre intentionally kills a wolf, whom she suspects might be one of the Fae that has plagued their country for years.

According to an unknown treaty, because Feyre killed a Fae in an unprovoked attack, she is now indentured to Tamlin, a Fae beast who has come seeking retribution.  After moving to his Spring Court, Feyre continues to uncover mysteries of the Fae and also learns that Tamlin, is not the beast like creature he initially revealed himself to be.

Review:

I was a bit disappointed when I read this book.  I love Beauty and the Beast retellings, but for me, ACOTAR fell short of being one.  When I think of Beauty and the Beast, I think of a story where the beast has personally wronged the beauty and overtime she learns to forgive him and see past his outer flaws, while also showing him the path to a better future.  In A Court of Thorns and Roses however, Feyre is in the wrong.  She killed a Fae and Tamlin is seeking justice. But that isn’t really what bothers me most.  For me this story lacked the traditional conflict that needs to be overcome before they can be together.  Feyre had no personal grudge against the Fae besides the legends that she had been told since childhood, which were quickly forgotten.  Also, she never had to get past the way he looked, because almost upon immediate arrival to his home, Tamlin transforms into a very attractive human aside from having pointy ears.  I guess there just wasn’t the tension between the two characters I was expecting with this story.

One aspect of this story I did find interesting though, was kinda presented as if Feyre was the beast.  She caused the initial wrong in the story and she is the more uncivilized person, having grown up in the woods and being illiterate.  I’m not sure if it was meant to be interpreted that way, but for me that was the parallel I began drawing between Beauty and the Beast and A Court of Thorns and Roses.  While an entertaining read, I don’t think I will be continuing this series.

Top 10 Books of 2015

The books I listed as my Top 10 are just some of many amazing books that I read this year.  The books I selected for my Top 10 are the ones that I am most likely to recommend to someone, or re-read myself in the future.  I tried to get a solid mix of genres into this list as well.

These aren’t listed in any kind of particular order:

The Winner’s Curse

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I loved Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse and can’t wait to continue reading this serious.  Kestrel is a wonderful and unique female protagonist.  I love that her weaknesses are often the strengths of protagonists in similar books.  The antagonistic relationship between Kestrel and Arin is not only super entertaining to read about, but it also is a great way to personalize the larger political unrest that is occurring throughout the book.

You can read my full review here.

None of the Above

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None of the Above is a novel that had me embarrassingly weeping in front of my family while I was on vacation.  It is such a heart-wrenching and necessary book.  Kristin’s tumultuous feelings after discovering she is intersex and the additional loss of control she faces when this information is shared with the community by someone other than herself, is written in a way that is intimate and immediately makes the reader sympathize with Kristin.  I applaud Gregorio on her handling of the facts, and the lack of embellishment or confusion in the story.  She manages this, while also boldly displaying the prejudice and discrimination that can occur to someone who is already trying to work through a very difficult issue.  If you like contemporary and haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it.

The Game of Love and Death

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The personification of Love and Death in an epic never-ending challenge was what initially drew me to this story.  In this way, it is really similar to The Night Circus, which is one of my favorite novels.  The scenes when Love and Death interacted with each other were some of my favorite and helped tie a much larger story to the brief one depicted in Brockenbrough’s novel.  I feel like this is a book that didn’t get much attention this year, and I wish more people would read it.

You can read my full review here

Falling Kingdoms

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I am so glad I picked up this series after hearing about it from Lainey over at Gingerreadslainey Booktube channel! It is a great starter series for someone whose looking to begin reading fantasy.  Falling Kingdoms was a fantastic opener to this six book series.  Although I am excited to find out what happens next, I am definitely taking my time to get through these books because the fourth book has only just been released.

You can read my full review here.

Second Chance Summer

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This was another recommendation I found on Booktube. Shannon from Leaning Lights did a video about her favorite family depictions in YA literature and couldn’t get through this recommendation without tearing up.  I’m a bit of a sucker for a good tear jerker, and Second Chance Summer did not disappoint.  Although there is a romantic aspect to this book, you really read it for the family.  This one I managed to read right towards the end of the year and it was a great way to round things out.

Legacy of Kings

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I really appreciate when an author takes the time to research and really understand the world they are writing about, and Eleanor Herman excelled at this in Legacy of Kings.  The attention to detail was astounding in this book about Alexander the Great.  I am very ready to read the next installment from this series, that is set to be published in the Fall of 2016.

You can read my full review here.

Name of the Wind

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What a wonderful but super chunky book!  Although my copy of this book is upwards of 800 pages, it never felt bogged down and I was always caught up in Kvothe’s story.  I loved the storyteller narration in this novel, and appreciated the lyrical style of some of Rothfuss’ passages.  Like Falling Kingdoms, this is another unfinished series, so while I am very excited to dive back into Kvothe’s world, I’m taking my time getting to The Wise Man’s Fear.

Saint Anything

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Saint Anything really snuck up and surprised me.  I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, because the only other Dessen book I had read before this was This Lullaby and for some reason it didn’t grab me as much as it seems to other people.  But Holy Smokes! I loved this story! I loved the attention Dessen gives to all of the characters, and the plot is something that had my attention from the beginning.  I don’t often reread stories, but this is definitely one I want to pick up again.

You can read my full review here.

Six of Crows

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I would re-read this book again just for the awesome quotes!! The banter Bardugo creates between the characters is my favorite I read all year.  I loved the way the six lead characters fit together in this awkward amalgamated clan that should never really work together but manage to through Kaz’s leadership.  Everyone in this story has a really murky, gray characterization that made it difficult for me to decide how I felt about them, but there is no doubt that I am going to be continuing this series to find out what happens next.

A Step Toward Falling

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I will read anything that Cammie McGovern writes and A Step Toward Falling only solidified that claim.  This was a powerful contemporary, that has some breathtaking quotes. I loved how McGovern depicted and did justice for all of her characters, especially those shown with disabilities.  She didn’t shy away from portraying reality, but remained respectful in each scene.  This book provides great insight into a population that is just beginning to be featured more in YA fiction, and I can’t wait to see what McGovern writes next.

 

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.

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!

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

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The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)

by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Demon King is a dual perspective fantasy that surrounds the city of Fellsmarch.  It alternates chapters between Hans Alister, a former streetlord, who is now reformed and Raisa, who is heir to the queendom.  As the story picks up, Hans now provides for his family as a runner between the people in the city and the clans and vagabonds who live in the surrounding lands. After taking a magical amulet from three young wizards in a confrontation, Hans spends the remainder of the novel, thrown into a polarized political war between wizards, royalty, and the clans that control magical objects.

Meanwhile, Raisa is at the center of this political strife.  She is about to celebrate her 16th birthday, which is also the time when she is eligible for marriage.  Trying to delay any proposed matches her mother would like to make used to be her primary concern.  However, several events reveal to Raisa how little she knows the people and queendom she will one day take over.  This spurs on a personal mission to become a more involved and knowlegdable queen than her mother.

Although from completely separate backgrounds Raisa’s and Hans’ paths interwine as they both fight to discover their destiny in this murky political uncertainty.

Review:  This novel was really enjoyable after getting through the first 75 pages or so.  It takes a while for the plot to reveal itself, and the reader has to be patient as all the pieces are put in place for the action to begin.  It was enjoyable reading from Hans’ perspective, especially once he took on his streetlord persona.  I found him to be charismatic and interesting.  I liked that the fantasy is set in a queendom, and I hope that before the series ends, I’m able to see a strong female character leading the country.  Overall, I do hope to continue this series but I’m not sure when that will be.

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.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutoski Playlist

Here is a playlist to go along with the Winner’s Curse. Enjoy!

Love Song – Sara Bareilles

Run to the Hills – The Town Pants

Monster – Mumford & Sons

Poison & Wine – The Civil Wars

Don’t Let It Get You Down – Johnnyswim

It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World – Young the Giant

I Need Some Sleep – the Eels

Winner’s Curse Spotify playlist

 

Top 5 Friday: YA I Can’t Wait to be Published

This Friday I’m talking about the 5 books I am most excited to read in the coming months.  These all sound really unique and interesting, I can’t wait to finally be able to read them!!

 

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A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis – released October 6th

A Madness so Discreet is about Grace Mae, a patient at an asylum at the turn of the 19th century.  While most people write Grace off because she is institutionalized, Dr. Thornhollow recognizes the intelligence under Grace’s madness.  After transferring her to a more humane institution, Grace works as his assistant in the crimes he investigates.  As Grace gains more hope about her future an unknown killer threatens to take it all away.  This looks like it will be dark and sure to keep me on my toes!

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A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern – released October 13th

I loved Say What You Will by McGovern and look forward to her second novel.  This book is about the consequences and lessons two high school seniors learn after witnessing a fellow student being attacked and not taking any action to help her.  They are assigned community service hours at an organization that serves teens with disabilities, in the hopes that they will learn more about people who are like the girl they were unwilling to help.  This is such an important topic that everyone needs more exposure to. I am excited to get McGovern’s take on it.

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Front Lines by Michael Grant – released January 26th

This is a alternative history of World War II where women are subject to the draft.  It follows three girls who have enlisted and describes their trials and they fight Germany in Europe.  This sounds really intriguing and I am interested to see how Grant approaches not just the difficulties of war but also the social judgement and discrimination these girls may face as a result of doing a job that does not fit the gender norm of the time period.

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Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto – released February 2nd

This novel takes on the Wild West in a steam punk style.  Westie is a young women who has grown up with a mechanical arm after losing hers in an attack on the Wagon Trail.  Revenge also has an aspect of magic to it, although I am not sure where it comes into play.  I’m excited to read about this protagonist who has an extremely tough exterior and seems very independent.

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The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine – released February 23rd

This is a fantasy retelling of Snow White.  Lorelai is an outlaw who must use magic to overthrow the queen and her stepmother.  The Huntsman in this retelling, is a prince from a neighboring kingdom, named Kol, who needs the queen’s magic in order to avenge his family’s death.  After meeting and realizing that neither is what they expected, Kol and Lorelai must figure out how to achieve their conflicting goals without the queen’s knowledge.