Monday, September 12, 2016

99 Days by Katie Cotugno | Review

99 Days by Katie Cotugno | Review99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
Goodreads
2 Stars

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

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I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wanted to love this book.  Katie Cotugno’s debut novel, How To Love, is on my favorites shelf.  I adored everything about it.  I put off reading 99 Days because I was saving it for a day when I needed a really good book to read.  I definitely set my expectations way too high for this one.

Pros:

  • Pacing: I read this book in just over two sittings.  While there may not have been many things I liked about it, at least I was able to power through it.  It’s an extremely quick read that is paced just right.  The book takes place over 99 days (I bet you never would have guessed that) and those 99 days seem to fly by for both the reader and Molly.  A lot happens throughout the course of the book and I never felt like the story got too slow or lagged.  I also liked that the flashbacks Molly had from her relationship with Patrick were woven into the story.  I feel like it would have bogged things down if the chapters alternated between past and present so I appreciated that.
  • Romance: The romance between Molly and Gabe was super cute and I loved Gabe.  Yes, even at the end when things came out about him, I still liked him.  I felt like he was good to Molly and good for her.  He wasn’t always an angel but he was never really a bad person.  He was sweet and super hung up on Molly.  He made her happy and he looked out for her.  The start to their relationship may not have been the best thing but I didn’t think it was all that bad.  I wanted to see him and Molly get a happy ending together.
  • Characters: 99 Days had a pretty even mix of characters that I loved and characters that I hated.  Gabe was on the list right in the middle since I liked him but had issues with him too.  My list of characters that I loved contained two awesome females, Imogen and Tess.  Imogen was Molly’s friend before everything went down and she would have been Molly’s friend after, if Molly hadn’t run away.  She wasn’t willing to just overlook things when Molly came back but she was willing to move past them and let Molly earn her forgiveness.  Then there was Tess.  Tess was Patrick’s new girlfriend.  She didn’t know Molly before everything happened but she wasn’t willing to judge her without getting to know her.  They became friends and Tess was always there for Molly.  Tess and Imogen knew what it was to be a good friend.

Cons:

  • Characters: The list of characters that I hated makes me want to rant.  Let’s start with Molly.  That girl had some serious issues.  She was so extremely selfish.  I don’t blame her for what she did with Gabe when Patrick broke up with her.  Patrick broke up with her!  They were not together when she slept with his brother.  Yeah, it wasn’t really classy but as I read more about Molly and Gabe, I could see that they really cared for each other and I could get over that.  It was everything else Molly did that bothered me.  She was jealous of Tess even though she was the one who ruined things with Patrick and was dating his brother.  She clearly wanted what she couldn’t have and she was willing to do whatever it took to get it.  She threw Tess under the bus and took what she wanted from Patrick.  She didn’t even think about Gabe while she screwed him over and yet she claimed to be falling in love with him.  Then there was Patrick.  He was a jerk and I honestly couldn’t see what Molly ever saw in him.  He treated her like crap and she kept crawling back to him.  Oh and don’t let me forget Patrick’s twin, Julia.  Julia was supposedly Molly’s best friend but she was the first to slut shame Molly for what she did with Gabe.  I understand that family comes first but that’s no reason to act like Julia did.  And then there is Molly’s mom who was the one who outed Molly’s night with Gabe, not just to Patrick but to the whole world.  Her mom wrote a bestselling novel based on Molly’s love life torn between Patrick and Gabe.  Then she went and told everyone that it was based on her daughter.  Who does that?
  • Cheating: I can sometimes look past cheating in books and still be able to enjoy the book but not this time around.  Molly had no sense of morals when it came to cheating.  She just kept doing it, over and over again.  Sure she’d feel bad about it later but that didn’t do anybody any good then.  Too little, too late.  I don’t want to get into this too much because it is very much a spoiler but just know that it was really bad.
  • Ending: The ending is very similar to Katie Cotugno’s debut, How To Love, in that it’s up in the air.  It’s pretty much up to the reader to decide what comes next for Molly and the boys in her life.  I wanted some concrete answers and I know Katie Cotugno has said there is always the possibility of a sequel but that’s not what I want.  I just want to know exactly how things ended for Molly and all of the Donnellys and it doesn’t look like I’ll get that.

Overall, 99 Days is not one I recommend reading.  Check out Katie Cotugno’s debut, How To Love, for sure, but let’s just pretend like this one didn’t happen.  I’m waiting on her third book so I can see if it will redeem her!

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about 99 Days:

The Perpetual Page-Turner’s review: “While on the surface this book might just seem like a romance with a love triangle between two brothers but it is SO much more than that.”

The Novel Hermit’s review: “99 Days seemed promising at first, but with a snap of a finger, the story turned boring and didn’t really resolve anything.”

Reading Lark’s review: “Overall, I loved watching Molly work through the ghosts of her past and start to make plans for a better future.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1) by Ryan Graudin | Review

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1) by Ryan Graudin | ReviewWolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #1
on October 20th 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 388
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

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I am pretty much the biggest history buff ever.  I have a very weird fascination with anything Nazi Germany related (probably something to do with my History minor) so Wolf by Wolf was added to my TBR as soon as I heard about it.  Ryan Graudin had been on my radar since I heard about her debut novel, The Walled City, so I had pretty high expectations for this one.  I’m happy to say that this definitely met my expectations and left me dying for more.

Pros:

  • Writing:  Ryan Graudin’s writing is seriously beautiful.  You have to know going into the story that it’s going to be depressing.  Yael is a Jew who watched everyone she loved die because of Hitler.  Some of the chapters take place in the concentration camp that she is imprisoned in and it’s extremely hard to read.  Ryan Graudin’s writing honestly adds to the depressing air but also shows the beauty in everything Yael goes through.
  • Characters: Yael is obviously the main focus of this story but there are many more characters who fill the pages with her.  The depth that went into each character was pretty fantastic.  Yael is this badass who was raised in a terrible situation.  She spent time in a concentration camp and had to see most of the people she loved die.  Even when she left the concentration camp, she couldn’t escape death.  It seemed like that was a big reason for why she chose to take on the task of killing Hitler.  Having lost so much, she didn’t want to see anyone else suffer like that.  She also wasn’t afraid to die.  She knew it was a strong possibility when she took on Adele’s life.  I had some mixed feelings towards the people who put her in that situation though.  Everyone in the resistance wanted one thing and that was to rid the world of Hitler.  They knew that they would lose people to the cause and they were willing to take that chance with Yael’s life.  I truly think they loved her but they were more concerned with the world than with just one person.  It was hard for me to think of it that way but I understood why they were willing to put her life so at risk.
  • Romance: The romance in Wolf by Wolf is really subtle and I loved that about it.  Yael is posing as someone who has a history with Luka so of course there has to be something there.  However, it’s hard to tell where things are going to go with them.  Luka and Adele have a history (that no one knows all the details about, including the reader) so Yael has to figure out that history and guess how she needs to act with Luka.  Luka doesn’t make any of these things easy for Yael.  He’s kind of an ass but I have a feeling that has something to do with Adele’s actions in the past.  Their interactions with each other were really pretty great.  They had some serious chemistry and the banter between the two of them was perfect.  I really thought it helped lighten the mood at times.
  • Family: I have to mention how much I loved Felix.  I know he was trying to stop Adele and bring her home to their family but it was because he loved her and feared for her safety.  He was a good brother and he always meant well.  That wasn’t the only family in the book though.  I have to say that while Yael lost her real family, the resistance pretty much adopted her.  She created a family within in the resistance and even though they were willing to risk her safety, they loved her.  Family doesn’t always have to be about the ones who share your blood.

Con:

  • Unanswered Questions: I really only have one complaint about Wolf by Wolf and it’s the mystery surrounding Adele and Luka’s history.  I know that it will eventually be explained (in the novella or sequel) but I really think it would have added to this story.  I just kept wondering what could have led up to their end of the first race.  I think I’m just being nitpicky now because I truly did love this book.

Overall, I can’t recommend Wolf by Wolf enough.  I know it’s been getting a lot of praise and it deserves every bit of it.  Even if historical fiction isn’t really your thing, you should give this one a chance.  I don’t think you will regret it one bit.

What others are saying about Wolf by Wolf:

Prettybooks’ review: “Wolf By Wolf is a clever and impressive combination of alternate history and fantasy.”

Please Feed the Bookworm’s review: “I was on the edge of my seat for this entire read!”

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard | Review

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard | ReviewTruthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #1
Published by Tor Teen on January 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

picadillyblueI contemplated writing a one sentence review for Truthwitch. Basically, I was just going to say ‘go buy the book.’  At this point it seems like that is the only coherent thing I have to say about Truthwitch.  I figured you guys might not appreciate that though so here goes nothing.

Truthwitch is your typical fantasy novel, at first.  It takes some to build up the world and it took me some time to figure out what all the words meant and how to pronounce things.  However, after that, it’s completely unique.  Susan Dennard has crafted a story full of wonderful new characters, creative abilities, and there are even clever curse words.  How can I start using ‘goat tits’ on a regular basis?

Safi and Iseult have a special relationship.  They are ‘threadsisters’ meaning they might as well be actual sisters.  They have a bond that is tested constantly but never breaks.  Safi would give up her life for Iseult and Iseult would do the same for Safi.  They couldn’t be more different though.  Safi is hot-headed and a smartass.  She was born into a powerful family but she wants nothing to do with them or her legacy.  Iseult ran from her tribe and Safi, Mathew, and Habim are her family now.  She’s quiet and methodical but she has a tendency to panic when Safi isn’t by her side.  Together, they make one great team.  They are strong apart but they are unstoppable together.  They also manage to get into a ton of trouble together.

Safi and Iseult spend much of their time on the run.  From the start of the book you know that they are in serious trouble and it only gets worse.  They have a vindictive Bloodwitch out to get them and he’s not the only one trying to find them.  They are on the run from tons of people and it’s up to the people on their getaway ship to keep them safe.  That’s not the ship crew’s only priority though.  Prince Merik, the captain of the ship they are on, as well as the Prince of Nubrevna, is out to save his people.  Safi is not his first priority and Iseult is even further down his list of people to worry about.  He’s not a bad guy, by any means, but he has a lot of worries without having to deal with Safi and Iseult.  That doesn’t mean he doesn’t come to care about the two of them though.  Let me just say, Safi and Merik have two very crazy tempers between the two of them and it makes for some explosive encounters.  Their first meeting is very memorable and they only get better from there.

The abilities that some of the characters are gifted with also help make this a completely unique book to read.  Not all people have a gift and some have gifts that are more rare than others.  Safi, for example, is  a Truthwitch.  She can tell truth from lie and she is one of the only (if not the only) Truthwitch.  Merik is a Windwitch which is more common.  Not only do the abilities differ by person but so do the powers that come with their abilities.  Some are much stronger than others.  It all depends on the person.  I look forward to finding out a lot more about the abilities of each character and exactly what they can do with those abilities.

The relationships in Truthwitch are varied and complicated.  Safi and Iseult have one of the easiest relationships of the book.  They’d do anything for each other and that’s all that matters.  Then there is Iseult and Evrane.  Evrane saves her life more than once and there is some kind of tie there that I hope will be expanded upon in future books.  Then there is Evrane and Merik.  They are family but they have a very strained relationship.  There is history there that I look forward to finding out about.  Then there is Merik and Safi.  Holy sexual tension, you guys! Like I said, they are kind of explosive and I meant that in more ways than one.  There is also Merik and his first mate, Kullen.  They have a bond very similar to Safi and Iseult’s.  They love each other like brothers and I think it hurts Merik more to see Kullen hurt than it would for him to deal with his own pain.  My heart broke for their struggles.  And don’t even get me started on how the Bloodwitch Aeduan ties into everything.  I didn’t think Susan Dennard could surprise me any more by the end of this book but she totally did.

Overall, Truthwitch has everything I could have wanted and more.  It’s a story featuring strong female and male characters, romance, magic, and secrets.  I’ll stop gushing now but guys, read this book.  Seriously.  It’s an epic start to what promises to be a unique and captivating series.

What others are saying about Truthwitch:

The Soul Sisters’ review: “You will not know what to expect with Truthwitch and when you finally dive into it and devour its words, sentences, and pages, it will blow out every expectation you have with its quickly paced and smooth story-telling, amazing, amazing characters and freaking out of this world magic-filled fight scenes, you will seriously be left begging for more.”

Vilma’s Book Blog’s review: “It’s a tale rife with magic, action, conflict and political intrigue, but at it’s core,  it’s a story of unshakeable friendship.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | Review

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | ReviewFairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 222
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

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Oh gosh where do I even begin with this review?  I’m a huge fan of the whole Lunar Chronicles series and I will say that I’m also a fan of Fairest but it’s really hard for me to put it into words.  Whereas I adored the rest of the series for the amazing characters and fast paced storyline full of twists and turns, I loved Fairest for the depth it gave to such a terrifying villain.  I’m still quite horrified by what I just read and I don’t think that will go away for quite some time.

Levana is the evil queen of Luna.  From the time I first read Cinder, I knew I would never like her.  Unlike with other villains (think The Darkling), Levana really has nothing to endear her to readers.  She’s just plain nuts and she has been from the start.  Sure she went through some horrifying things in her childhood but I have a feeling she was messed up even before all those things went down.  I admit that I read Winter before reading Fairest so some things that maybe would have been revealed for the first time in Fairest were actually already revealed to me in Winter.  I didn’t mind that at all though because those things were shown with more detail in Fairest than in Winter.

I’m not sure why I thought Fairest was going to make me feel sympathy towards Levana but it definitely did not do that.  In fact, it actually made me dislike her even more which I wasn’t sure was possible.  Levana suffered at the hands of her sister, Channary, and from what little I saw of their parents, they didn’t seem to be much better.  She never knew love from anyone in her family and when it came to romantic love, she didn’t have a clue what it entailed.  She was more obsessed with Evret Hayle than in love with him and she was never able to see that.  She was so delusional.  Everything she did, she did for herself.  She wanted adoration from her subjects but she went about obtaining that adoration in all the wrong ways.

I think the only thing I got joy out of in Fairest were the interactions between Celene and Winter.  There is mention in Winter of them being friends as young children and I really liked seeing that friendship in Fairest.  Obviously Selene was very young when Levana attempted to kill her so she and Winter didn’t have a ton of time to become friends but since they were pretty much raised together, they became fast friends.  They were adorable together and it broke my heart knowing that they didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together or grow up together like they should have.

Also, Levana’s husband, Evret Hayle, is mentioned in the other books in the series and from those few mentions, I expected some great romance and a man that could see past her craziness to the woman underneath.  Early on in Fairest I realized that was totally not the case.  Levana had no qualms manipulating Kai because she didn’t know love and she wasn’t looking for it.  That’s made pretty obvious early on in Fairest.

Overall, Fairest is just plain crazy and I loved it.  Marissa Meyer has been a favorite author of mine for quite some time but she really impressed me with this addition to the Lunar Chronicles.  It takes talent to get inside the mind of a person like Levana and I feel like she didn’t take away from the rest of the series.  Levana is still the villain and that’s pretty clear in Fairest.  It’s just a more in depth look at the villain we’ve come to know and hate.

What others are saying about Fairest:

Butterflies of the Imagination’s review: “Seriously. It’s only further proof that Marissa Meyer has a way with words that can’t be beat.”

Nice Girls Read Books’ review: “Fairest added so much more depth to Luna, Levana, Winter and even Cinder (we get to see baby Selene!) and I can’t wait to read the final instalment in this series now!”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | Review

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | ReviewVicious (Vicious, #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Vicious #1
Published by Tor on September 24th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability.

Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

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I’ve been a fan of Victoria Schwab’s since I read her debut, The Near Witch.  Her writing style just spoke to me and seriously impressed me.  I admit that I haven’t stayed up to date with all her new releases but I am trying to work on that and I figured Vicious would be the perfect place to start.  This is her first book writing as V.E. Schwab for adult readers and I loved it as much as I thought I would.

Victor and Eli’s stories fascinated me from the first page.  The prologue just grabbed me and did not let go.  I knew from the synopsis that Victor and Eli used to be friends but that’s about all I knew until I started reading.  From the prologue, you know that that is no longer the case.  Instead of the best friends that they used to be, now Eli and Victor are sworn enemies.  They have vowed to kill each other and they will do whatever it takes, including putting innocent others in the line of fire.

It’s hard to tell at first glance who is the typical “villain.”  Victor definitely has a darker side and he’s spent some time in prison that’s only made that dark side more prominent.  Eli, on the other hand, gets away with pretty much anything and, at first glance, appears to be a great guy.  In this case, appearances are definitely deceiving.  However, Victor and Eli do have something in common and it’s that one thing that tore apart their friendship.  Both Victor and Eli are ExtraOrdinaries (EOs) with special powers that came to them after some experimenting while they were in college (not that kind of college experimenting!).  Each person who is gifted with these abilities is given a unique power that some don’t even know they have.  Victor and Eli definitely know that they have these powers and both of them are searching for others like them, for very different reasons.

Victor may appear to be the bad guy but he has friends from his time in prison and one that he’s just met.  Sydney and Mitch don’t know everything about Victor but they know they are drawn to him and that they can trust him.  Sydney is a young girl who has a very special ability of her own and it’s that ability that makes Eli want to kill her very much.  Mitch was drawn to Victor from the moment he saw him in prison.  They didn’t start out as friends exactly but they do seem to be some sort of friends now.  Victor himself was a very confusing guy.  Like I said, he doesn’t exactly appear to be a good guy and his actions would sometimes appear to be not so great but he’s not like Eli.  Eli’s goal in life is to rid the world of the EOs (excluding himself) and he’s willing to do some pretty outrageous things to achieve that goal.  Eli was just nuts.  Clearly he wasn’t all right to begin with but the gift of his powers really screwed him up.  There was really nothing that endeared him to me and I really wanted to see Victor succeed in getting his revenge against Eli.

The story itself was a little slow but the writing made up for that.  Victoria Schwab just has a way with words that means she could write practically anything and make it come to life.  Vicious is a story that worked perfectly with the way she writes.  It’s dark and slightly creepy and just plain awesome.  And while some of the story might be a little slow, by the end, everything has built up and it’s impossible to stop reading!

Overall, Vicious is another stunner from V.E. Schwab.  If you’re looking to maybe check out something other than YA, this is a great place to start.  I think it can also definitely be enjoyed by YA readers even though it is a little bit more mature.  I just have to recommend it because, in my eyes, V.E. Schwab can do no wrong.

What others are saying about Vicious:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “Here’s what you need to know: READ VICIOUS.”

The Blank Page’s review: “Despite a couple of places where I had to suspend my disbelief farther than I would have liked, Vicious quickly grew into its place as one of the best books I’ve read this year.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | Review

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | ReviewSix of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Published by Henry Holt and Company on September 29th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 465
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

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Leigh Bardugo has done it again.  She made me fall in love with the world, the characters, the story, everything, and then she ripped it all away!  Six of Crows proved to me that I will love everything she does.  If you were a fan of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, then Six of Crows is definitely for you.

Let me start off by saying, yes, there are references to the Shadow and Bone trilogy but to be completely honest, I feel that I would have been okay even without reading those books first.  That’s not to say I don’t recommend those books (very very much) but if you haven’t read them and you’re dying to start Six of Crows, I say go for it.  The references were mainly names and some incidents and sure they might spoil your experience with the Shadow and Bone trilogy but to each his own.  It’s up to you to decide which you read first.

When I started Six of Crows, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like it.  It took me a long time to really get into the story.  The book is told from six different points of view and it made it harder for me to really get to know the characters and fall in love with them.  That’s not to say that that didn’t happen eventually, it just took about 150 pages.  I really had to spend some time with this book and push through the beginning to get to the good parts.  And when I say good, I really mean great.  When things get going, they really get going.  Kaz and his crew do not mess around.

Kaz is the leader of the Dregs, a gang located in the Barrel, the lowest place in Kerch.  He’s in charge of the group that’s meant to take on the biggest heist possibly ever.  It’s an almost impossible job and it requires a very skilled crew.  Kaz (nicknamed Dirtyhands) brings everyone together and his skill set is wide.  He’s great at coming up with crazy plans and he’s willing to do anything it takes to get what he wants.  Hence his nickname.  He’s also got a past that haunts him and influences everything he does.  He’s got secrets and my heart broke for him every time a new one was revealed.  Then there is Inej.  She’s his Wraith, his righthand woman.  She is sneaky and brave and cunning and just plain badass.  She’s also got a past that is pretty much the only reason she’s stuck doing what she’s doing.  But she’s also got plans for a future and nothing is going to stop her from reaching it.  Jesper is another of Kaz’s crew, also part of the Dregs.  He’s got a serious gambling problem and a love for guns.  I feel that there’s more to him than meets the eye and I look forward to finding out more about him in the coming books.  Also, he’s pretty dang funny.  Nina is the Grisha in their crew.  She’s a Heartrender who is stuck doing things she doesn’t want to do because Grisha are totally taken advantage of everywhere now.  She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get back to Ravka but she has some wrongs to right first.  Matthias is one of those wrongs.  He’s not part of the Dregs but he doesn’t really have much of a choice when it comes to this heist.  He took a lot of work but he wasn’t all bad.  Last but not least, there was Wylan.  A relatively new member of the Dregs (and I’m not even sure if he was a full member) but he had other uses.  He was smart and funny and willing to put up with all of Jesper’s crap.  The two of them together might have been my favorites.

The heist is totally crazy.  I had no clue how Kaz and the crew were planning on pulling it off and even if I thought I knew, I would have been wrong.  Things were popping up every other page that put a damper on their plans.  Like I said, Kaz was great at coming up with plans which was good because they needed a new one practically every other page.  Once the Dregs really start in on their heist, the book never slowed down.  I was hooked and I wanted to do nothing but read.  It was pretty much perfect from that point on.

Oh and there may have been some romance.  It was more of a slow burn and there wasn’t a whole lot of payoff this time around.  I’m definitely hoping for some of that in the next book.  I don’t want to give anything away but I honestly don’t know who my favorite couple would be at this point.  They all have their moments.

Overall, Six of Crows has solidified my love of all things Leigh Bardugo.  Take your time with this one.  Don’t let the beginning fool you.  It’s a fabulous book that deserves every bit of praise it has been getting.  I’m already dying to get my hands on the sequel.

What others are saying about Six of Crows:

The Book Addict’s Guide’s review: “I found myself thinking about the book when I wasn’t reading it and wanted to read more.”

Reading Books Like A Boss’ review: “Set in the same imaginative world as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, this action-packed spin-off left me in an abyss of despair because I need more of these characters!”

There Were Books Involved’s review: “There was so much potential for attachment and shipping (the ships! so much potential there) and feelings, but Six of Crows never crossed that line from “potential” into actual, full-blown attachment, for me.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | Review

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | ReviewIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 608
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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At this point I feel like I don’t even need to write a review for this book.  So many other bloggers have read it and reviewed it and I’m pretty sure they have all said everything that I am going to say in this review.  Oh well, you’ll get my review anyway.

Illuminae was one of the most buzzed about books at BEA this year and after reading it, I know why.  I’ve never been a fan of science fiction books and I didn’t think it would be any different with Illuminae.  Boy was I wrong.  I adored everything about this book, from start to finish.  If I had the time to reread it right now, I would.  If you’re like me and a bit skeptical, I understand.  Ignore your misgivings and read it anyway!

The format of Illuminae makes for a quick, easy read.  Although I have to admit, the blacking out of swear words didn’t really do anything except make me curious.  I kept trying to figure out what words would fit in the sentences.  I’m weird like that.  Other than that, the story is told through interviews, chats, schematics, journals, and other odd styles.  I loved everything about that!  I admit there were some parts that confused me a bit and I had to reread sections to make sense of everything but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I was powering through the book.  I just wanted to keep reading and I probably read a little too fast.  I guess that just means I’ll need to reread the book to see if I missed anything.

I was a little worried that because of the style of writing, I wouldn’t be able to connect to the characters.  That was not the case at all.  Kady and Ezra were really easy to like and I truly loved their relationship.  They definitely had their issues but they were so good together.  Even their arguments were cute.  There was actually very little physical interaction between the two but that didn’t bother me.  I’m all for romance and sexy times in my books but the build up in Illuminae might have been even better than actual sexy times between the two.  Together, the two were awesome.  Separate, they were also awesome.  They were strong and smart and funny.  I went through the spectrum of emotions while reading their stories.  I laughed, I squealed, and I definitely cried.  Boy did I cry.  Just goes to show that an amazing story can be told in many different ways.

The story itself is pulse pounding and full of surprises.  I really didn’t know what to expect with this story and I think that was a good thing.  I had no expectations for Illuminae but even if I had, it would have exceeded them.  The story is so unique and Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman did an amazing job with it.  And while things tie up pretty nicely at the end, there is clearly more to come.  I look forward to seeing what these two have in store for readers next.  I’m not sure anything can top Illuminae but I hope the rest of the series does.

Overall, Illuminae deserves every bit of praise it has received so far and I hope that it becomes a huge hit when it hits shelves soon.  Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman are two authors that are new to me but I’m definitely going to seek out more of their work now.  Add this to your TBR, if you haven’t already.  You won’t regret it.

What others are saying about Illuminae:

Cuddlebuggery’s review: “This is fresh and spectacular and clever.”

Book Blog Bake’s review: “There’s so much to love about it, I don’t know where to start.”

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “For real, this book took me on quite the journey and I do not know about you all, but when I come back from a particularly great trip, I have this disoriented feeling as I try to get back to business as usual.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewCrown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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You guys, why did I ever expect a happy ending from Sarah J. Maas?  I really should have known better but I was still completely unprepared to have my heart broken by this series for the billionth time!  Crown of Midnight was full of shocking twists, horrifying betrayals, and more secrets than I could possibly keep track of.

So Celaena became the King’s Champion and now she has to put her badass assassin skills to use for someone she absolutely hates. Not only that, the king has her killing people for really dumb reasons and Celaena can’t stand it.  She may be an assassin but she’s always been able to choose which contracts she takes and who she actually kills.  She no longer has that choice.  What’s even worse is that her friends now look at her differently because of what she is forced to do for the king.  Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian don’t like the person she has become but she’s really not different, she just acts like she is.  Celaena definitely puts on a front for the king, acting completely unaffected by what she does.  Underneath that facade she does have feelings though and she hates what she does.  She’s the same person she’s always been and she has one goal in mind: her freedom.  If that means she has to appear to be working for the king, she will do it and she won’t put her friends lives at risk by telling them what she’s really doing.  She may be selfish at times but Celaena is a loyal friend, that’s for sure.

Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian really tested my limits this time around.  Nehemia really bothered me at times.  I understood where she was coming from when she tried to get Celaena to stand up for what was right but she was downright mean about it sometimes.  Nehemia’s people were being tortured, enslaved, and killed so she definitely had a right to want to fight for them and to be upset but she took things a little too far when she called Celaena a coward.  Chaol didn’t  bother me all that much but he made some mistakes when he kept certain things from Celaena.  Things could have been prevented if he just bothered to talk to her.  I’m not saying everything that happened could have been prevented but definitely some things.  Dorian, on the other hand, really impressed me.  Dorian is a prince but he is so far from spoiled.  He is smart and talented and kind and if he is allowed, he will become a great ruler.  I still don’t necessarily think he should be with Celaena but she could do a lot worse.

Speaking of who Celaena should end up with… I’m truly torn here.  Chaol is a great guy and I loved seeing his relationship with Celaena evolve but there are just certain things about him that I dislike.  He has a problem accepting all aspects of Celaena and I hated that.  She is who she is and he should not want her to change in any way.  I felt that at least Dorian accepted all of her.  They still work better as friends to me but I could understand why she might fall for him, if that ever happens.

The story is so twisted and convoluted.  I powered through this book when I probably should have taken my time with it.  Sarah J. Maas layers so many things throughout her stories that sometimes it takes a second glance to realize what exactly is happening and what it could mean for the future books.  I continue to be impressed with her storytelling skills.

I feel like at this point I don’t even need to say this but I’m going to anyway; nothing and nobody is safe.  I knew from other peoples’ reviews and reactions to Crown of Midnight that something big was going to happen and it was going to affect the fate of one of the main characters.  I didn’t know which one and I truly did not expect what happened.  I was stunned.  Sarah J. Maas makes you fall in love with her characters and then completely destroy you when you least expect it.  I love her and hate her for that.

Overall, Crown of Midnight does not suffer from second book syndrome.  This series does not lose an ounce of momentum in this sequel.  It sets things up for an epic third book!

What others are saying about Crown of Midnight:

Book Rock Betty’s review: “Fantasy readers will love this series.”

Mostly YA Book Obsessed’s review: “It doesn’t get any better than Celaena Sardothien!”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Crown of Midnight is an action-packed, rollercoaster ride of a book that will make mincemeat of your emotions, and it is, I feel, an improvement on the already glorious Throne of Glass.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewThrone of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's on August 7th 2012
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 404
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

"Nothing is a coincidence. Everything has a purpose. You were meant to come to this castle, just as you were meant to be an assassin."When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King's Champion and be released from prison.Her name is Celaena Sardothien.The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she'd have again: a friend.But something evil dwells in the castle—and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival—and a desperate quest to root out the source of the evil before it destroys her world.

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Where do I even begin with this one?  I was going to do mini reviews for this series but there is just too much I want to say about each book.  I started with The Assassin’s Blade so I felt like I was already invested in Celaena’s story when I started this one.  Maybe that explains why I just devoured this book in less than a day.

Celaeana’s story picks up a year after the end of The Assassin’s Blade.  If you haven’t read the novellas, that’s okay too but I felt like it was a great introduction and they really set things up perfectly for Throne of Glass.  Celaena is approached by the crown prince of Adarlan.  He tells her she can stay in Endovier or she can go with him and compete to be the King’s Champion.  If she wins she will have to serve as his Champion for 4 years but then she will earn her freedom.  Needless to say, she goes with Dorian.

Characters are everything to me and the characters in Throne of Glass are epic.  Celaena Sardothien is a 17 year old girl who is trained as an assassin and has spent the past year as a slave in the salt mines of Endovier.  She’s fierce and badass but also very scarred and troubled.  Her past is somewhat of a mystery but what readers do know is that she has never had trouble killing people and she shouldn’t have any trouble becoming the King’s Champion.  I loved her cockiness and there were a few times when I just wanted to laugh at her antics.  She does not lack confidence, that’s for sure.  I can’t possibly go into detail about all the characters but I’ll mention Dorian and Chaol.  I mean, I have to.  There is a bit of a love triangle but who cares?  I’d be torn too if I had both of them as options.  Dorian is the Crown Prince but he’s nothing at all like his father.  He could truly do good on the throne.  He’s a kind person with a sense of humor and serious smarts.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s also described as being extremely handsome.  Chaol is not supposed to be as handsome as Dorian and his personality isn’t all that great at first but he definitely grew on me.  He was the only one who saw exactly what Celaena was capable of and yes he was a bit of an ass to her because of that but he had good reasons.  Oh and I can’t forget Nehemia.  She’s another badass female lead that was a perfect fit for Celaena.

The story is dark and twisted and while I definitely saw some things coming, I was taken by surprise a couple times.  There is something evil lurking in the castle and it’s taking care of some of the competition, that’s for sure.  The thing I really loved about Throne of Glass though was how everything, no matter how small something seemed, tied together in the end.  The thing lurking in the castle that’s taking out the Champions isn’t just a threat to the Champions.  It’s also somehow related to the king and his plans that really aren’t good for anyone, anywhere.

The history surrounding magic and Celaena and the kingdom was fascinating and something that definitely needs to be expanded on in the future books.  As the first book in the series though, Throne of Glass does a great job setting things up and showing what could come in the future for Celaena and everyone around her.  Maas hints at some things and she really does a great job getting you intrigued enough to keep reading.

Overall, Throne of Glass is pretty damn epic.  It’s got romance and magic and mystery and betrayal and friendships and really just everything I could have ever wanted.  Just read it already!

Also, forgive me for writing this review that is all over the place.   Let me just say, I’ve already read Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire and I’ve kinda gotten them all mixed up and don’t want to spoil things for anyone who hasn’t read them.

What others are saying about Throne of Glass:

Dawn of Books’ review: “I’d recommend Throne of Glass to readers who enjoy YA fantasy as well as to those who have been feeling hesitant to pick it up.”

Knite Writes’ review: “If you enjoy YA in general, you’ll probably like Throne of Glass, especially if you don’t mind a younger tone.”

Shanny Reads’ review: “I also thought the premise of the book was unique and captivating.”

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas | Review

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewThe Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-#0.5) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on March 13th 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 430
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Celaena Sardothien owes her reputation to Arobynn Hamel. He gave her a home at the Assassins' Guild and taught her the skills she needed to survive.

Arobynn's enemies stretch far and wide - from Adarlan's rooftops and its filthy dens, to remote islands and hostile deserts. Celaena is duty-bound to hunt them down. But behind her assignments lies a dark truth that will seal her fate - and cut her heart in two forever...

picadillyblueThe Assassin and the Pirate Lord (#0.1):

As a first introduction to Celaena Sardothien, this was a pretty good one.  She may be an assassin but she has morals.  The Assassin and the Pirate Lord showcased her skills as well as her softer side.  It also did a great job showing the relationship between Sam and Celaena.  While the synopsis of The Assassin’s Blade gave away the future of their relationship, I could definitely see it coming even without the hint.  They have a spark even with all the “hatred” they have for each other.  Their banter was adorable and they really worked well together.

The Assassin and the Healer (#0.2):

This one seemed a bit unnecessary to me.  There wasn’t a whole lot of content in The Assassin and the Healer, at least not really any that seemed super important to the story.  It really just seemed more like a bridge between Pirate Lord and Desert.  I liked the introduction of the healer and I’m kind of expecting her to make an appearance sometime later in the series.  I have no idea if that will actually happen but I’d love to know what happens to her after Celaena leaves.  Really this one just showed how badass Celaena is and that she has a temper.  Nothing new there.

The Assassin and the Desert (#0.3):

I loved The Assassin and the Desert.  It was the first time I really felt like I was getting to know Celaena.  This was one of the longer novellas and it really added depth to her character.  I saw a lot of good in her here but also her selfish side.  She was very cocky and I admit, there were times I wasn’t all that impressed with her.  I liked seeing her knocked down a peg or two but I hated seeing her hurt emotionally.  This is one girl who can take whatever you throw at her but emotions are difficult for her.  I could really see that here.

I’ll also go ahead and mention, I started the novellas before I read the rest of the series and this is one that I feel was good to have read first.  Events from this one come to play later on in the series, that’s for sure.

The Assassin and the Underworld (#0.4):

This is where things got interesting.  Things between Celaena and Sam are different after her return from the Red Desert and I both loved and hated it.  They were so strong willed and stubborn that neither wanted to admit that things had changed.  Seeing Celaena get jealous sucked but it forced her to realize what she felt for Sam.  Other than the relationship front though, things really changed here.  Celaena’s mission was challenging and from the start, I knew there was something going on with it.  I won’t give anything away, obviously, but let me just tell you, I was pissed at the end.  I have never hated someone as much as I hate Arobynn Hamel.

The Assassin and the Empire (#0.5):

Speaking of hatred for Arobynn Hamel… I didn’t think it was possible to hate him more than I did at the end of The Assassin and the Underworld but I was so wrong.  I knew something bad was going to happen in The Assassin and the Empire but I had no clue how bad it was going to be.  Prepare for tears with this one.  Just have a box of tissues on hand.  I sobbed like a baby and I couldn’t stop thinking about this one long after I finished it.  In fact, it still breaks my heart just thinking about it.  This one really changed everything for Celaena and if you didn’t love her before, you will now.

Overall, these novellas flow perfectly.  I honestly felt like The Assassin’s Blade read as a book rather than a collection of novellas.  It was a great introduction to Celaena Sardothien, her story, and the world of the Throne of Glass books.  I definitely recommend reading these before you get into the Throne of Glass series and don’t worry if things don’t seem super exciting at first.  They pick up really quickly.

What others are saying about The Assassin’s Blade:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “Sometimes novellas seem kind of pointless, but these are totally not.”

Utterly Bookish’s review: “That’s it, I can’t hold it back anymore: I am completely in love with Sarah J. Maas and her books.”

Readers in Wonderland’s review: “If you haven’t started this amazing series, you really should!”