Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Author: Julie C. Dao
Published: October 10, 2017 by Philomel Books (Penguin Group)

Synopsis: An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Why I'm Waiting:

You had me at Evil Queen retelling. Seriously guys, villain retellings are one of my favorite things. I especially really enjoy villain origin stories because I love when you can symapthize with the person only to see them descend into madness while at the same time you understand their motivations (I'm looking at you Adelina Amouteru). So the fact that this is a retelling about the infamous Evil Queen makes me very excited.

Plus I am super excited because this version because it is inspired by Asian culture and mythology. In the past year I have been reading a lot of books with Asian main characters and with Asian influences and especially when it comes to high fantasy it's really great setting. It makes for really gorgeous locations and lush descriptions. I am expecting this for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.

I have seen a few early reviews of this or thoughts from people who have read it and it is definitely getting rave reviews. People are really enjoying it. It sounds like this may be one of my favorite debuts of the year.

I was really hoping that there would be copies of this at ALA and I was so glad to hear that it was there. I of course picked up a copy and I am so excited to read it!

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Forest of a Thousand Lanterns along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is back! Who's excited! Me. I'm excited. It's been so long since we had a Top Ten Tuesday prompt. I almost forgot how to do these. Honestly, it took me forever to come up with an idea.I was originally going to do something with superheroes because this is superhero month, but I did that like a year ago and the answers would basically be the  But after talking to Michelle I get an idea.

AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER! I'm a huge fan of Avatar The Last Airbender (and The Legend of Korra of course). It's one of my favorite shows and one of my all-time favorite magical systems. I judge most magical systems against this one. SO here are some of the ones I would recommend to people who are also fans of the series.

1.) Truthwitch by Susan Dennard - My Review / Goodreads
This one is probably one of the most obvious. There are a lot of Avatar vibes to this series. First of all you have the magical system which is basically elemental magic but with a few other different types of powers thrown in. Then you have the different kingdoms and the fact that there is some history and mythology to the magic.

2.) Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh - My Review / Goodreads
I read this shortly after it came out and I definitely felt like there was a lot of The Last Airbender vibes to it. Both of these stories are high fantasies influenced by Asian culture and Asian mythology. There is also a lot of political intrigue and some elemental magic

3.) Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch - My Review / Goodreads
This is the other pretty obvious choice for this list. Maybe the most obvious. But here it's mostly because of the setting and world. This is a book where there are a handful of kingdoms where people look very similar and a lot of political stuff.

4.) The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace - My Review / Goodreads
I'm a really big fan of this series and I don't think enough people talk about it. It's a super creative YA fantasy and definitely gives me the same vibes as Avatar the Last Airbender. For one thing there is a return of magical person/people who everyone thought was gone or a myth.

5.) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - My Review / Goodreads
So I feel like I can't talk about why this is similar to Avatar the Last Airbender without spoiling things for you. But like really, do people not know the big reveal in this series? Okay, I'll keep it vague. There's magic. Someone's basically a firebender.

6.) Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab - My Review / Goodreads
There is some really fantastic magic in this series and a little bit of it is elemental magic similar to that of Avatar The Last Airbender. I definitely felt the ATLA vibes from the second book in the series because it brought in people from different countries and there was a tournament that was super Legend of Korra-esque.

7.) Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo - My Review / Goodreads
This is a book that has a magical system that is basically elemental magic. And it's similar to Avatar The Last Airbender in that there are really only a few different types of bending, I mean Grisha powers that you can have. Plus there's some political stuff too.

8.) The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas - My Review / Goodreads
I have only read the first book in this series but I imagine the other books are similar and that the magical system is the same. Because this is a magical system with elemental magic that is really interesting and similar. Plus there is one moment that is very Azula like and I freaking love Azula.

9.) Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake - My Review / Goodreads
I really enjoyed this book for many different reasons. One, I thought the magic was fantastic and it felt really similar to ATLA, especially because one of the main characters is an elemental magician who is trying to control all the elements.

10.) The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski - My Review / Goodreads
And finally, another book that is on the list because of its world. This is a world with different kingdoms including one which is more militaristic that has overtaken the other. But the people in the conquered kingdom are fighting back and I feel the ATLA vibes in that.

11.) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson  - My Review / Goodreads
I wasn't going to include this one but it definitely has some Avatar vibes to it. A lot of the book revolves around a prophesied savior and whether or not they have been found. Plus the magic, while not elemental is similar and has the same structure/is tied to an innate ability.

There you have it, the ten books I would recommend to fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Are you a fan of Avatar (the original and best Avatar!)? What books would you recommend? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, August 14, 2017

ARC Review: Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

Title: Heroine Worship
Series: Heroine Complex #2
Written by: Sarah Kuhn
Published: July 4, 2017 by DAW (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

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

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

All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter. 

In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis. 

When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

This is a really fun superhero story. It's full of action and adventure, complex characters, and an interesting science fiction world. However I didn't love it as much as the first book for some reason.

One thing that I do really love about this book is the characters. I'm really enjoying getting to know them over the course of these two books. They are definitely complex and interesting characters. In Heroine Worship we switched perspectives and got to go inside of Aveda/Annie's head. At first I wasn't sure how I would feel about that but I really liked it. She has such a distinctive voice and it added to the fun element of the book. It also helped us get to know here so much better. Hearing and seeing directly from their perspectives always helps empathizing and making a character more complex. That is absolutely what happened here. In the beginning of the book she's a pretty unlikable character but she has really great growth throughout the book and I totally loved her by the end.

But the heart of this book is the connections with the characters. First we have the fantastic friendship between Aveda/Annie and Evie. A lot of this book is about Aveda/Annie trying to be a good friend. I love seeing how strong their friendship is and that they care and support one another no matter what. There is also romantic relationships. Evie and Nate should be the focus here but because Evie isn't our narrator that was replaced by Aveda/Annie and Scott. They had a fantastic slowburn throughout the book and I enjoyed the way it developed. But I will say, I missed some of the other secondary characters. I would have liked more from Bea and more from Lucy in this book. I get that without Evie as the MC we lost some of Bea but I felt like her and Lucy were not involved at all. I really missed Bea. But I have a feeling she'll be our MC for the third book and I am definitely excited about that.

As far as the plot goes, this was definitely a book full of action and adventure. Just like everything that involves superheroes there are all kinds of action scenes and crazy fights. But this has always been a series that doesn't take these sorts of things to seriously. It's much more on the silly side. Sure they are fighting demons and saving the world but it's cupcakes and bridezillas. I love this about the series and I liked it about this book. There's also a pretty decent mystery to it. Although there wasn't enough clues for my liking. It's wasn't super predictable but it also wasn't very solvable.

But I will say, I didn't totally love the pacing with this book. I think I had much of the same issues with this one as I did with the first book. It always starts with a bang and then comes crashing down. From there it's a slow start until it builds to a strong conclusion. It's not a particularly long read for an Adult SciFi/Fantasy coming in at just under 400 pages. But I have read longer books in less time. I think it's just a series that is more on the slow side. That isn't a bad thing but it also isn't what I usually prefer.

On the whole, this was a good read. I really enjoyed the character and the superhero story full of adventure. I which the pacing was a little but more exciting but I think it's a fun and engaging read. I didn't love it as much as the first book in the series but I am definitely invested in what is coming next.

I give Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. This was a good read. If you read the first book and enjoyed it check this one out. I would definitely recommend to fans of superhero stories, especially if you are looking for one with diverse female heroes and strong friendship themes.

Have you read Heroine Worship? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Crossing Over: Recommending Comics

Hey all. It's time for this month's Crossing Over! I think this is the first time I have done two months in a row for awhile. Let's try to keep this up, huh. If you're not familiar with Crossing Over it's a feature that stemmed from my desire to recommend an adult book with crossover appeal based on a YA or sometimes Middle Grade book that are similar. I hate that we pigeonhole books into a specific age range and so I try to combat that. Plus it's basically an if you liked, then try but for crossover books. It runs once a month (usually) here and I pick the books based on the theme of what I'm reading.

So this month my theme is superheroes. I would normally just recommend two books that have superheroes, or superpowers, or whatever but been there, done that. So instead I decided to do things a little differently and take this opportunity to recommend yo you some of my favorite comics based on books that I think are similar.

If You Like: 
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Then Try:
Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

There is one obvious comparison here and it's that both books are set during World War II. But I think with these two, it goes deeper than that. For one thing they are both about women who are serving during the war. For another thing they both involve fighter pilots and spies in some way. But the other thing too is that there are a lot of themes of female empowerment and some great friendships in both books.

If You Like: 
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Then Try:
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Weibe Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Honestly, Rat Queens was surprisingly one of the hardest one to come up with for me. It's one of my favorite comics but I just couldn't find the right book. And then it hit me, Truthwitch. Both books have this great sword and sorcery vibe and involve a bunch of different kinds of magic, even pulling a little religion into it. But books also have kickass female characters who are pretty complex. But both books are also grounded in the friendships of the female main characters.

If You Like: 
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Then Try:
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona  Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

What I love about both of these books is that there is a very strong family element to it. They are both really about women of immigrant parents who want their daughters to follow the cultural expectations of their heritage. And both books have main characters who want to be themselves even if that doesn't totally align with what their parents want for them. And in the end it all comes together. Plus both characters are super smart, and tough, and snarky. And there are some fun and lighthearted moments blended with the more serious.

If You Like: 
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Then Try:
Gotham Academy by Becky Kloonan, Karl Kersch, and Brendan Fletcher Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

So the obvious comparisson is that both of these books take place in boarding schools. Their schools have a lot of history and secrets to unfold throughout the course of the series. Both of these books also have a fantastic gothic kind of feeling to them. They combine all these fantastic elements like supernatural and mystery together really well. They both also have great casts of characters. I only wish maps could have gone to Mme Geraldine's. Or maybe to...

If You Like: 
The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Then Try:
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Alexandra Bracken Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Squirrel Girl was another difficult one to compare. You honestly can't compare Squirrel Girl to anything. She is one of a kind and that's why this comic is amazing. But I did my best. I think the reason I ended up deciding on these two is that they are both really fun books. They both had me laughing out loud while reading. They both also have really amazing heroines who are constantly underestimated but it never stops them from kicking ass and saving the day.

If You Like: 
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Then Try:
Saga by Bran K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Both of these books have fantastic science fiction worlds, which is one of my favorite things about both of them. They both also have a lot of characters and a lot of different moving parts. But in the end they come together in a way that makes you root for the main characters. their relationships, and their survival. Because honestly, both of these books are about the characters trying to survive in the face of a ton of adversity.

If You Like:
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Then Try:
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Both of these books have amazing surprises that I don't want to tell you about because then you will not be very surprised when you read them, which is the best part of these books and the first similarities. The other similarities is that the world of them. They both have subtle elements that are similar but different. Vague comparison is vague.

If You Like:
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Then Try:
Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, Jared K. Fletcher, and Babs Tarr Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

So Batgirl was the actual hardest to come up with a comparison for. I know, I know, I keep saying that. But with this book it is absolutely true. I love Batgirl of Burnside so much and I didn't want to not include it but this is not the best comparison. I will say though, both are obviously superhero stories but there is also an exploration of good and evil throughout the book. Plus there is some technology and subtle sci-fi elements to both books. And they are both really fun too!

Alright, there you go. Eight comics that I would recommend based on eight books. These are also some of my favorite comics so even if you haven't read the books, check out these comics.

Have you read any of these comics? Wha did you think? Do you have any recommendations? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Title: Shadowshaper
Series: Shadowshaper #1
Written by: Daniel Jose Older
Published: June 30, 2015 by Scholastic

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent. 

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra's near-comatose abuelo begins to say "Lo siento" over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep.... Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.  

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order's secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick's supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family's past, present, and future.

Add this to the list of books I am kicking myself for not having read sooner. I wanted to read it when it first came out but for some reason I never got a copy until very recently. And I wish I had read it ages ago because I really loved this book.

For one thing, this is an totally brilliant and unique magical system. If you know me you know that I am constantly looking for a fantasy with a unique magical system, and not just the same old same old elemental magic or spellcasting. Shadowshaper had something totally it's own. It was part magical realism, part Urban Fantasy, even a little bit of superhero vibes. It all worked together to create something thoroughly compelling. Plus it is a magical system either a history and mythology to it that slowly unfolded as the book developed and I'm sure will do that even more in the second book in the series. I'm really hooked on the world and I can't wait to see where it goes.

I also really enjoyed the characters in this book, they were all really engaging and likable. I particularly enjoyed the main character of Sierra. She is one of my favorite kind of main characters. She's spunky and snarky with a tough exterior protecting of soft interior. She with do anything to protect the people she cares about and sometimes it makes her reckless. But that totally made her feel realistic and complex. I also really enjoyed her friends and family. I like that her parents were around and engaged in their daughter's life. I liked the way she fought with her brother but they came to each other's aid more than once. And I really liked her friends. So many of them were hilarious and tough. I could have done without the romance but that's me for like all books. On the whole I felt like this had some great characterizations.

Much of that I think was helped by the audiobook. The narrator, Anika Nono Rose (yup, the voice of Princess Tiana), did a great job. She varied her voice enough where each character felt different and totally their own. Plus she had Sierra's voice down. You could feel the fire and the passion behind her and everything she did. Not to mention that this was a book that translated so well to the audiobook format. There is a lot of musicality to this book that I don't think would have come across had I just read it. Plus Anika has an amazing singing voice and she did a great job with those elements.

As far as the plot goes, this was a really action-packed book. So much happened within the course of this book. It had a really cinematic quality to it. There were bright colors and lush descriptions to go along with daring escapes and high stakes battles of good versus evil. I could absolutely visualize it and was invested in finding out what happened next. It really built to a big finish that had me on the edge of my seat.

I do however feel like the mysteries could have been a little bit better. I wasn't really shocked by any of the big twists here. Some of them felt super obvious to me, and at one point it made the characters feel a little obtuse. Plus I did think there was a lot of tension and I was waiting for some big surprise or treachery from one of the characters and it never happened. Everything was honestly very black and white when you come right down to it and I like my stories with more grey to them.

On the whole this was definitely a great and unique YA fantasy. It had a unique and compelling world, complex and engaging characters, and a plot full of action and adventure. I'm really interested in finding out what happens next because I really loved this book.

I give Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you, like me, have been interested in reading this book and have not yet read it stop wasting your time and pick it up. I would also totally recommend the audiobook to fans of that format. It works so well in that format.

Have you read Shadowshaper? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, August 7, 2017

ARC Review: League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis

Title: League of American Traitors
Written by: Matthew Landus
Published: August 8, 2017 by Sky Pony

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: National Treasure meets Hamilton in a breathless history-based thriller from an outstanding new voice.

Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. . . .

When seventeen year-old Jasper is approached at the funeral of his deadbeat father by a man claiming to be an associate of his deceased parents, he’s thrust into a world of secrets tied to America’s history—and he’s right at the heart of it.

First, Jasper finds out he is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American history. Then he learns that his father’s death was no accident. Jasper is at the center of a war that has been going on for centuries, in which the descendants of the heroes and traitors of the American Revolution still duel to the death for the sake of their honor.

His only hope to escape his dangerous fate on his eighteenth birthday? Take up the research his father was pursuing at the time of his death, to clear Arnold’s name.

Whisked off to a boarding school populated by other descendants of notorious American traitors, it’s a race to discover the truth. But if Jasper doesn’t find a way to uncover the evidence his father was hunting for, he may end up paying for the sins of his forefathers with his own life.

Like a mash-up of National Treasure and Hamilton, Matthew Landis’s debut spins the what-ifs of American history into a heart-pounding thriller steeped in conspiracy, clue hunting, and danger.

This book combined so many things that I absolutely love and I couldn't help but be excited about reading it. I am such a fan of historical mysteries and one involving traitors and the American Revolution is so completely up my alley. And this was definitely a good read but it didn't totally blow me away.

One thing I really liked about League of American Traitors is that it is an extremely plot-driven book. It's a much more thrilling and action-packed book than I expected. There is a lot of tension and drama throughout the book with plenty of narrow escapes, thrilling heroics, and twists and turns along the way. In this way it definitely lives up to the National Treasure comparison. At times it read way more like an action movie than anything else. And honestly, I'm totally cool with that. I am a plot-driven reader. I like my books to slowly build to a thrilling conclusion and that's what this one did.

However, the extreme plot-driven nature of this book was at the detriment of the character development. There was definitely the opportunity here for some coming-of-age heroes journey type plot points but it didn't really quite hit those notes. Or if they did, it was much later in the book than I would have liked it. I think for the most part the characters just didn't jump off the page. I liked the main character of Jasper well enough. I think he was interesting and I definitely connected with him and his sarcastic demeanor. I just felt like his development could have been more pronounced. As for the rest of the characters, they honestly all blended together. I will say, Nora was super interesting. I wanted to know more about her. But all the other characters I kept getting confused by. I couldn't tell who was who and if they should matter. They all just sort of blended together. I did like the references to their historical ancestors though.

Because that was another thing that was really great about this book, the historical references. You can tell this book is written by someone who loves American History, particularly someone who loves the American Revolution. There were all kinds of great and somewhat obscure references to historical figures and even more information about people who we think we know so well. You can tell that the author did his research into the period and the figures he was using. But he also took that and made it into an interesting piece of historical fiction. That is what I love about historical fiction and that is one of the things I really enjoyed here.

I will say however that I think this book is a little bit on the simpler side. That's not a bad thing, it's just not a very complex read. I read it over the course of two days on a family camping trip where I couldn't devote more than a few hours a day to reading. I think if you wanted to, you could easily finish this 240 page read in a day. I would probably say that it's more on the younger side of YA. Middle Grade readers would probably enjoy it a lot as well. But if you are looking for a really complex and intricate YA historical mystery this may not do it for you.

On the whole, League of American Traitors was a good read. It was an action-packed plot driven read with great historical fiction elements. It was a little on the simpler side for YA and I didn't love the characterizations but it was a totally engaging read.

I give League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are a fan of historical mysteries, historical fiction, the American Revolution, and/or plot-driven reads you can breeze trough check this book out. I think that for the most part this book will appeal to a very specific audience. I am that audience.

Have you read League of American Traitors? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, August 4, 2017

ARC Review: The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

Title: The Rattled Bones
Written by: S.M. Parker
Published: August 22, 2017 by Simon Pulse

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Unearthing years of buried secrets, Rilla Brae is haunted by ghostly visions tied to the tainted history of a mysterious island in this haunting novel from the author of The Girl Who Fell. 

Maine-bred, independent Rilla Brae is no stranger to the deep. She knows the rhythms of hard work and harder seas. But when she experiences the sudden death of her father, the veil between the living and the dead blurs and she begins to be haunted by a girl on a nearby, uninhabited island. The girl floats a song over the waves, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Familiar and distant. 

Then Rilla meets Sam, a University of Southern Maine archeology student tasked with excavating the very island where the ghostly girl has appeared. Sam sifts the earth looking for the cultural remains of an island people who were forcibly evicted by the state nearly a hundred years ago. Sam tells Rilla the island has a history no locals talk about—if they know about it at all—due to the shame the events brought to the working waterfront community. All Rilla knows for sure is that the island has always been there—an eerie presence anchored in the stormy sea. Now Sam’s work and the ghostly girl’s song lure Rilla to the island’s shores. 

As Rilla helps Sam to unearth the island’s many secrets, Rilla’s visions grow—until the two discover a tragedy kept silent for years. And it’s a tragedy that has everything to do with Rilla’s past.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***
I was supper excited about this book. It's a total me book. It seemed like a totally interesting and atmospheric historical mystery. And while there were some good things about this book, it didn't quite live up to my hopes for this book.

One of the things that I did like about this book was the plot development and mystery. I was hoping for a book full of mystery, and that is really what I got. This is a book full of twists and turns as it slowly reveals what is going on and what happened in the past. I wouldn't say that it was completely surprising because the big reveal was kind of predicable but there was still a ton of drama and tension. There was also a ton of magic. It had a bit of magical realism vibe to it and I really appreciated that. It definitely captured my interest and built to an interesting conclusion.

I didn't however really enjoy the pacing of this book. It wasn't a very long book but it took me longer to read than I expected because throughout some of the book it really dragged. In the middle, it definitely dragged. I often read multpile books at once and I always know if I'm enjoying a book when I can't decide which book to read at any given point. But with this book I reached a point where I would much rather read the other book. In the end it did hook me again but it was a little hit or miss throughout the book.

I did however really liked the setting of this book. This is a book set in a small town of Maine and I really do feel that the town came alive in this book. I feel like I could hear the waves, and see the ships bobbing off the shore. It definitely made me miss New England and the ocean breezes and small town feel it can sometimes have. I don't know how accurate the fishing and lobstering stuff was but I do feel like we got the barest taste of what life is like for these fishermen and woman. It made for a unique setting and I really appreciated that.

But this was a historical mystery so I have to take a moment to talk about the history and how that affecting the setting of the book. But it's really hard to talk about that aspect because it just sort of felt like a means to an end. I like my historical fiction to be grounded in a specific time and place and I don't feel like this book did that. It explored a historical time period and how the people of that period were treated but it just felt kind of generic to me. It also felt a little heavy handed. Like it was trying a little hard to explore themes of humanity and how people are treated. And because of that I found myself more resistant to it's messages that I would be if it had been a little more subtle.

As far as the characters go, they were okay. They weren't super memorable but they weren't bad either. I liked the main character of Rilla well enough. I appreciated that she had a lot of vulnerability to her. It was easy to connect with her and her and her unsureity. Who hasn't been torn between wanting to move on from somewhere and feeling so connected to the people and place that you're scared and sad about leaving. But I feel like she was one of the only characters who had some depth to them. Most of the other characters just fell a little flat for me.

On the whole, The Rattles Bones was an okay read. It had an engaging plot despite a slightly muddled pacing, and a unique and descriptive setting. I just wish the historical setting felt more grounded, the themes were less heavy-handed, and the characters felt more complex.

I give The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker 7.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Bypass. If you like YA historical mysteries then maybe check this one out. It wasn't my favorite but it was pretty good.

Have you read The Rattled Bones? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!