Friday, January 12, 2018

Shadow Rise (Shadow Fall #2) by Audrey Grey


Shadow Rise (Shadow Fall #2)
Terrorist. Rebel. Traitor. 
One rash decision during the Shadow Trials led to unspeakable horrors that left innocents dead, friends injured and hunted by the Empire, and Maia Graystone imprisoned in the Toward at the Archduchess's mercy. 
Unsure if Riser Thornbrook survived, Maia must find a way to battle the Empire from within its own walls and escape so she can fulfill the promise to her father and stop the asteroid. But when she breaks free and joins Nicolai's Rebel army, she discovers she's been branded a traitor. With war between the Rebels and the Empire looming, old alliances shifting, and suspicion hanging over her head, she must fight in the Rebel Blood Courts - and win command - to regain their trust. 
Only problem is, first she has to defeat the reigning champion, someone she knows all too well. Will Maia's emotions lead to her defeat, or will she rise up and claim her victory?

Review

This book picks up where Shadow Fall left off. Maia had been captured after the botched attempt to murder the Emperor. 

There were little things that irked me about this book (mostly plot holes), but it still had me sucked in and I couldn't put it down.

I thought the surprise ending was a little odd, or maybe a bit rushed? I definitely wasn't expecting it, though!

This book was great! I think I liked this book better than the first, but there are certain things from the first book that I liked better.

As with the first book, Maia still bothered me at times, but I still ♥ ♥ ♥ Riser! (I know this is a small spoiler from the first book. Sorry!)

I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


       
       

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Shadow Fall (Shadow Fall #1) by Audrey Grey

Shadow Fall (Shadow Fall, #1)
The asteroid hurtling toward the earth will kill billions. 
The Emperor and his Gold Court will be safe in their space station, watching from the stars. The Silvers will be protected underground. But the Bronzes must fight it out at the Shadow Trials for the few remaining spots left on the space station. 
When an enigmatic benefactor hands Maia Graystone a spot in the Trials, she won't just get a chance at salvation for her and her baby brother, Max: She gets to confront the mother who abandoned her in prison, the mad Emperor who murdered her father, and the Gold prince who once loved her. But it's the dark bastard prince she's partnered with that will make her question everything, including her own heart. With the asteroid racing closer every day, Maia must trust someone to survive.
The question is who?

Review

I found Shadow Rise on NetGalley, and it looked so good that I decided to actually buy this book when I couldn't find it at the library or anywhere else online for free.

If you have read some of my previous posts, you may know how cheap I am. This is only the second book I've actually bought in years... like a lot of years.

Just to emphasize how significant it is for me to BUY a book, here an excerpt from my post about the one other book I've bought in the past at least 7 to 10 years:
I have not actually purchased a book in years. Anything that I can't get from the library or request to read and review, I usually just wait until I can. To emphasize my point, let me give you an example, a few of the best series I've read in the past couple of years, I was literally DYING to read the next book in the series. Even after being super upset at having to wait 6 months to a year for the next book to be released, I waited until I could download a copy through the library, even though there were a ton of people that had it on hold in front of me, and it ended up taking at least another couple of months. 
Now that I have given you a little insight into just how cheap I am when it comes to reading, let me reiterate it for you: I BOUGHT this book!!

When I started this book, I still had a little bit of a book hangover after reading the Graceling series, and I was looking for another book that would help cure it. This was a good choice!

As some of the other reviews on GoodReads pointed out, this book does have some similarities to The Hunger Games. However, it is definitely not a complete replica.

This book has a very unique concept: there is an asteroid that is weeks away from destroying the world, which has turned into a dystopia in anticipation of Pandora (the asteroid), with an evil Emperor leading them all to their doom in "Uploaders" that look like caskets. In there, people will upload to the consciousness of the Chosen 100.

The Chosen and the Goles, the elite, or at least the ones that aren't suspected of sympathizing with the rebels or using banned technology, all get to ride out the end of the world on a space station.

I really liked this book, but I also felt like the author could have added more explanation into some places. It was still great, though!

I ♥ ♥ ♥ Riser! He was my favorite.

I'm glad I have the next book on hand (thanks again, NetGalley!) and don't have to wait to see what happens next!

I will post my review of the sequel to this book, Shadow Rise, in a few days. 

       

Friday, January 5, 2018

Ludlow Lost (Osgoode Odyssey #1) by Kate Robinson Dunne

Ludlow Lost (Osgoode Odyssey #1)
From GoodReads:
If you're reading this, you've probably never had the bad fortune to be kidnapped and held captive by creatures human beings don't believe in. 
Ludlow Osgoode has not been as lucky as you.
A Kirkus Indie Book of the Month (August 2017)
From Amazon:
This first book in Kate Robinson Dunne's Osgoode Odyssey introduces readers to Ludlow Osgoode and an assortment of creatures human beings don't believe in.
A few interesting facts about these creatures...
  1. Banshees are not known for their ability to nurse children back ot health and are definitely not qualified to prescribe medication.
  2. Goblins have terrible memories and are known to hold grudges, although they usually can't remember why.
  3. Fairies are not known for kidnapping human children, nor for having their hearts broken by them, but both of these things have happened - this is the story of it.

Review

Although this book wasn't at all what I expected, I really enjoyed it!

I'm curious to see what the author does with the sequel. She didn't leave this book with a big cliffhanger, and there are so many different ways she could go with the story. I have a few ideas from the way the last few pages, but there are so many different possibilities. 

I am quite disappointed that the sequel (according to a note in the back of the book) will not be released until Spring 2019! Why so long?

I loved the humor in this book! There are some very silly parts. ☺

The goblins were definitely my favorite! They were hilarious!

This book reminded me a little bit of Coraline (the book, not the movie. I haven't seen the movie, but I would like to.). It was a little dar

I really don't know what else to say about this book without giving away spoilers...

Overall, this was a great book! I definitely recommend it for all ages! 

My only problem is how long I'm going to have to wait to read the sequel! 

I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 


Monday, January 1, 2018

Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly


Shadow Weaver (Shadow Weaver #1)
The shadows that surround us aren't always as they seem...

Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby, she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar, who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble's mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees, but the next morning, the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble's guard on her trail, Emmeline's only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline's not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it's hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

The first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology, MarcyKate Connolly weaves a tale filled with shadows, danger, and magic that has the feel of a new classic. 

Review

I loved this book! It was awesome!

I started reading Middle Grade books last year. I have read several now, and I have been pleasantly surprised by them. So far, I think The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding was my favorite, then this book and Ludlow Lost probably tie for second place with the MG books I've read so far. From the description and reviews, I was expecting something kind of along the same lines of Coraline. There were definitely some similarities in the feel of the story, and think it was just as good as Coraline (the book, not the movie. Well, I haven't seen the movie, so maybe the movie...)!

This book has an interesting concept. Emmeline can manipulate shadows, and her only friend is her shadow. When a man comes to offer a parents a chance to cure her of her magic, she runs away with her best friend, her shadow named Dar.

That is the main plot, but there are lots of twists and turns. Like Coraline, it is a little dark for a children's book (definitely not a bad thing). It almost reminded me of Miss Peregrine a little, too.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone, especially if you like YA books that are a little dark.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in this series! My only complaint is that I have to wait so long to see what happens next!

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2)
The magical adventyre begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent, and instead flees her home - but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege. 
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya's options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cur off form the vast world she longs to explore. So instead, she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good grades - even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

Review

I couldn't have asked for a better sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale

TB&TN was a wonderful, unique introduction to the world the way it was in Russia back in the day, and the fairytales of the time. The first book left off with Vasya deciding to leave home and travel around the world, rather than being sent to a convent. This book tells of her travels, which are awesome and crazy and exciting. 

This book made me ♥ Vasya even more! She defied all the social norms of the time and proved everyone wrong when they insisted that she must succumb to "the lot of women" and either get married for her dowry and become chattel locked in a tower or be locked in a convent.

I also grew fonder of the fairy tales and house spirits in this book. 

I wasn't really sure what to expect when reading these books, but I was delighted with them! These books are an excellent change from the other YA books I've been reading and a pleasant change from other retellings.

Again, the author included a note at the end of the book about her use of the Russian language (See my review of TB&TN for more info on the note at the end of the first book), stating that she tried to stay as accurate as possible and "at least hint at complex depths of personality and of politics- when I could not delve into them more deeply." She also apologized for any inaccuracies or shortcomings and even refers readers to two other books (non-fiction) that will help others learn more about Russia during that time period and the fairy tales of the time. 

I also love her explanation of Russian names and nicknames in this book (and transliteration in TB&TN). Before reading these books, I had no idea that Russian names often give rise to so many nicknames. I know in the book, the main character's name is Vasilisa, or Vasya and several other nicknames. The author gives the example: Yekaterina, which can be shortened into Katerina, Katya, Katyusha, or Katenka, among other nicknames. "Variations are often used interchangeably to refer to a single individual, according to the speaker's degree of familiarity and the whims of the moment." This is kind of what I assumed when I read the book, or at least that the nicknames were terms of endearment, such as Aleksandr's family calling him Sasha all the time of Sasha calling Prince Dmitri Mitya when he was worried for him. 

Sorry, if you can't tell, I ♥ writing and words and languages (almost as much as I love reading).

Back to the book... Again, the author has not only enchanted and entertained me with Vasya's story, but she also taught me a lot about Russian history, language, and fairy tales. I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Katherine Arden! 

I definitely recommend this book and The Bear and the Nightingale to anyone looking to read something a little different. 

I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


    

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy #1)
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year, and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind - she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. 
And indeed, crops begin to fail, even creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows even harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. 
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed - this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales. 

Review

Truthfully, I had a total book hangover after finishing A Court of Wings and Ruin. It was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, and I had no idea how any book was going to be able to follow it.


I was worried that I wouldn't be able to enjoy whatever book I tried to read after finishing ACOWAR, because I would try to compare the two and not many books can live up to any of SJM's books. I think this was one of the best book si could have read to "cleanse my palette" before moving on to any other YA fantasy books.

I have been wanting to read this book for a while now, and I think this was an excellent choice to help get rid of my book hangover! It was like nothing I have ever read before! The author draws from Russian folklore, something I' had absolutely no knowledge of before reading this book. I loved the dark fairy tales and the story that the author weaved around them.

Also, I have to thank the author for her note at the end of this book. She starts it with,
Students and speaker sof Russian will surely note, and possibly deplore, my wildly unsystematic approach to transliteration. 
While I know absolutely nothing about the Russian language, I know that I without a doubt would have been one of those frustrated readers if I did and would have greatly appreciated her note that explains her thinking behind her translations and transliteration.


I ♥ Vasya! I love her spirit!
her headstrong spirit and defiance. It didn't matter that everyone told her that she must either get married or go to a convent, simply because that was the "lot of women." She refused to be a captive in a convent or be anyone's chattel, and even though people in her town whispered about her being a witch and plotted against her, she still gave everything to save them.

I loved the ending, and I am curious to see what happens in the next book. I am happy that I have the next book on hand and do not have to wait until the sequel is released (Thank you, NetGalley!). However, the author doesn't leave this book with a huge cliffhanger. If I had to wait to read the sequel angry. I might be a little sad, but not angry.

I definitely recommend this book! It was a nice change from other YA-retellings that I've read.

Stay tuned for my review of the sequel to this book, The Girl in the Tower! I will post it on Wednesday. 


    

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Happy Jolabokaflod!

Meet your favorite new holiday tradition!

Related image


Last year, I wrote a post about Jolabokaflod, Iceland's "Christmas Book Flood." Sorry for the repetition, but I just had to share about this AWESOME tradition again this year! I wish everyone did this in the US.

Image result for Jolabokaflod

According to a decades-old Icelandic tradition, books are the standard Christmas gift. NPR reports:
"The culture of giving books as present is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday," says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. "Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it's the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland."

In the months before Christmas, publishers compete for the attention of Icelanders in a season known as Jolabokaflod, the "Christmas Book Flood." According to NPR, "The Flood begins with the release of Bokatidindi, a catalog of new publications from the Iceland Publishers Association distributed free to ever Icelandic home."

The tradition is especially fitting for Iceland, as it's famous for being a highly literary culture. As the BBC pointed out in 2013, "This island nation of just over 300,000 people has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world." Las month, the New York Times reported that "At least 90% of Icelanders age 16 or older read at least one book a year just for pleasure." In comparison, only 72% of American adults read a single book last year.

Check out this article by an Icelandic author to see what Jolabokaflod means to her.

You can also get these awesome Jolabokaflod pajama sets from Out of Print! I think they are sold out for the holidays though, because I can't find them any more. :( Maybe next year...



Happy holidays everyone!

Image result for happy Jolabokaflod

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Unblinking (The Shuttered Lands Trilogy, #1) by Kira Carter

Unblinking (The Shuttered Lands Trilogy, #1)
Everyone is watching.
Minka Stanis just wants to be left alone - impossible since the Eyes record and broadcast every momeny of her day. Then, a humiliating incident in the high school cafeteria makes her the laughingstock of her tower city, and life behind the glass walls becomes unbearable. When the intriging new boy at school tells her about a place away from the gaze of the cameras, Minka plots her escape from the towers. But the Shuttered Lands are across the desert, and going there will mean leaving everything she's ever known behind. 
Fresh out of tower training, Zedd Fincher is settling into his dream job. When he gets assigned to edit Minka Stanis' Stream footage, he spins her every misstep into a string of hit clips. As Minka's fame grows, so do Zedd's feelings for her. But a crisis at home brings the darker side of his work into focus. And Zedd soon learns editing other people's lives has consequences. 
As Minka is thrust unwillingly into the spotlight and Zedd's life begins to unravel, only one thing is certain:
The Eyes are always watching. 

Review

It took me a while to get into this book. That could have something to do with the fact that I was re-reading the Throne of Glass series at the same time. I NEVER read more than one book at a time, but I made an exception. I have several books to read and review before the end of the year, but I have been on hold for a copy of Tower of Dawn from the library, since it came out a couple of months ago. Since I was starting to get close to the front of the line, I decided to start re-reading the ToG series as a refresher, after I had already started reading this book. 

I got through all of book one and started book two, then I got an email saying that the hold was up and I could download a copy. So, I clicked the link and went to the library's website on my phone. I selected Kindle format and clicked download, or so I thought. Then, a notification popped up that said "Your hold has been cancelled." I seriously almost cried. The download button is directly on top of the cancel button, and I don't know if my phone glitched or I just clicked the wrong button on accident, but I cancelled the hold. I immediately went back and placed a new hold. When the book was first released a couple of months ago, I started out as #25 of of 25 in the hold line. Now, I am #31 out of 31... I was so upset, because I have been waiting SO LONG to read this book and was psyching myself up by re-reading the series. I figured I would go ahead and finish re-reading the first 5 books then just by Tower of Dawn so that I don't have to wait so long. 

Then, I thought about it... I could but Tower of Dawn and go ahead and read it quickly, before getting back to the books I have scheduled to read and review. But the next book in the ToG series isn't scheduled to be released until next September. That would leave me Maas-less for almost a whole year... So, I decided to just wait a few months to get a copy from the library. I have lots of good books to read in the mean-time. Then, I won't have to wait as long to read book #7 after finishing Tower of Dawn.

Once I decided to wait and finished book #5, Empire of Storms, it was much easier to get into this book, and I really want to see what happens next.

I have mixed feelings about Minka in this book. I hate how gullible she is and how easy it is to convince her to leave everything she has ever known and do something that is unheard of and considered impossible. However, when you consider where she lives and her upbringing, the way she acts is more understandable.

The author did a good job at world building, and the story's concept was interesting and not much of stretch from what could happen in the near future. Basically, the Eyes are everywhere. Every minute of everyone's day is recorded to their Stream. The only placed with no Eyes are in restrooms, and each person has a "Reserved Room." However, spending too much time in your reserved room is suspicious. 

Everyone in the Towers has a job. It is the editors' job to sift through everyone's daily streams and edit clips for different channels, which are similar to what we all watch on YouTube today, like "fail" clips, giggling babies, and embarrassing moments caught on camera. And just like today, having clips that get lots of views can make you famous, and lots of people in the Towers want to be Stream Stars. Like I said, not a stretch from what could happen in the near future. 

The only difference in the book is everyone lives in a a circle of towers, and they never leave. Outside is a sweltering desert with dangerous sandstorms, and they have their food-like cubes brought in from the Fertile Lands. 

Although this book took a while to get into, I did get really into it by the end, and I think the author did a great job at setting up for an action-packed sequel. I can't wait to see what happens next!

I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.