Monday, August 31, 2015

ARC Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Title: Hunter
Series: Hunter #1
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Published: September 1, 2015 by Disney Hyperion
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks. 

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes. 

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why

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

 Mercedes Lackey has a great reputation within the fantasy community and I've been interested in picking up one of her books for a while now. So when I saw this one at BEA, I grabbed a copy excited to check one more fantasy author off my to-read list. And while there were some good things about this book, it ended up being just an okay read for me.

One thing I did really like about Hunter was the world and magical system. It's a dystopian fantasy kind of world, something that seems really popular in YA lately. The concept can be kind of hit or miss for me because you have to do both elements really well. And despite a few hiccups, here it was done well. We are post-apocalypse, but the end of civilization as we know it was caused when magical creatures have invaded. Our only hope are Hunters who can do magic. And that magic was another great thing. The magical system was a variation on the sword and sorcery model and I loved seeing it used throughout the book. I say a variation because it was like magic and technology combined. Lackey brilliantly took technology, both current and futuristic, and combined them with elements of magic. Technology was a big part of the world of this book and it made for a really good balance of science fiction and fantasy. All of that combined to create a great world and magical system.

But as interesting as the world was, the world-building didn't always work for me. Most of the first half of the book was basic exposition. I expect that in a new fantasy book, especially if it's the first in the series. It comes with the territory. But there was just entirely too much set up here. It felt a lot like most of the book was just showing off the vast array of monsters within the world. Which would have been okay if it hadn't been for the way it explained them. It went for a very literal tell style of world-building. The main character would break the forth wall sometimes and speak directly to the reader to explain the history of the world and the appearance of the monsters. There were just so many moments of info dumping and it all let to a very odd narrative style that I had a hard time with.

Plus the sheer amount of world-building and odd narrative style led to some very slow pacing and plot development. You probably know that I am a plot-driven reader. I'm engaged in a book by an interesting narrative that takes me for a ride. Unfortunately I didn't find that here, at least for most of the book. As much as I like action-packed monster-battling scenes it didn't feel like it was serving any sort of plot development. It was like a training montage. You know how I feel about anything that ends in montage (negatively, I feel negatively). Then about 250 pages in there started to be some context and cohesive development. The rest of the book was fantastic including a few surprises but it just took too long to get there. There did end up having a really good payoff but I would have liked it a lot more if the first two-thirds of the book was as good as the last third.

All in all, Hunter was a good read with some elements including an interesting science fantasy world and a thrilling ending. I'm glad I kept reading and powered through the first half but I do still wish the beginning had a little less exposition.

I give Hunter by Mercedes Lackey a 7 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/ Bypass: Borrow. If you are looking for a book with an interesting world and you don't mind a slower plot development and a little info dumping check it out. If this appeals to you give it a try but maybe see if you can power through it first.

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review: A Little Love by Susan E. Fletcher

Title: A Little Love
Author: Susan E. Fletcher
Published: August 25, 2015 by Chicken House (Scholastic)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Inspired by Victor Hugo's classic, Les Miserables, A Little in Love beautifully conveys the heartbreaking story of street girl Eponine. 

Paris, 1832 

A girl lies alone in the darkness, clutching a letter to her heart. 

Eponine remembers being a child: her swing and the peach tree, and the baby brother she loved. But mostly she remembers being miserable. Taught to lie and cheat, and to hate the one girl, Cosette, who might have been her friend. 

Now, at sixteen, the two girls meet again, and Eponine has one more chance. But what is the price of friendship--the love of a boy?

I learned about this book recently from Melissa of The Novelty Podcast. I couldn't believe that this book existed and I was only just learning about it. I mean this is a retelling about a classic I enjoy and about a character that I love. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have seen pictures of my cat. My cat who is named Eponine. My cat named after the MC in this book. So as soon as I learned about it I preordered this book and when I got to read it, I absolutely devoured it.

It is a fantastic retelling of a classic. The storyline from the original book is the blueprint and Susan Fletcher captures the sweeping drama, the political unrest, and tragic events of the original Les Miserables. And while that made for an engaging and interesting story, there were some moments within the book where the plot develop may have suffered because of the need to refer to things from the original. It didn't have a perfect narrative flow but it was a fantastic story. But one thing the author did really well is establish the world. You can also perfectly visualize the world around you. And just like the original, this is not a happy place. It's a place that is still recovering from a horrific civil war that left so many people poor and sick. The author adds those historical references to fill out the world but it's still really a character-driven story. And like all good retellings, that's one of the reasons it still felt fresh and interesting. Seeing the book from a different perspective, a character who is a minor role but has always left such an impression on readers.

That's part of what I loved about this book is the character of Eponine. We all know how things end for her right? If you don't the prologue makes things very clear. This is not a happy story. She is one of the most tragic characters in literature in my opinion. The best thing Eponine ever got is the song On My Own. Throughout most of Les Mis she is a poor street urchin who is used by her family to steal. The man she loves doesn't feel the same way and she is convinced to help him woo the girl he does love, someone from Eponine's past who she has basically swapped situations with. In this book, Eponine's character arc mirrors that of Jean Valjean's in the original novel. She is someone who is trying to make a better life for herself by doing good things for others while trying to escape her past. But unlike Valjean, we all know how Eponine's story ends and it's not happily. You can't help but empathize with this character who is treated with such disdain and still has kindness in her heart. I just want to be her friend, to show her the love that she so desperately wants.

But Eponine is not the only familiar character who we see in this book. Even Javert and Enjolras make quick appearances. And of course the Thenardiers make a big appearance in this book. If you are only familiar with the musical you may be surprised by some of their attributes. They're not the fun comic relief characters that you're used to. They're gruff and brutal in their treatment of others. They're the villains here and it makes Eponine more likable and sympathetic. We also have of course, Marius and Cosette. There has been some conversations recently within the bookish community about love triangles (check out this article) and here is one that always breaks my heart. And seeing this book from the perspective of the one who isn't chosen proved that even more.

But I think my favorite thing about this book was Susan Fletcher's writing. It reminded me so much of Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. It had the same kind of tone and lyricism. It is this heavy and emotional read but it also has the beauty to it. To get into the head of a character who is sort of an observer of the world around her while desiring something she never really achieves makes it's beautiful and tragic at the same time. She captures the sense of desire that Eponine has for a better life and to find someone or somewhere that she fits in and feels love. It's told in first person perspective but you almost have this out of book experience while reading it.

I loved this book so much. It is a beautiful and emotional story of a young woman who you can't help but want to see succeed but in the back of your mind you know that's not possible. It's a short and engaging read that will appeal to fans of the original novel as well as the musical adaptation.

I give A Little Love by Susan E. Fletcher 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I may be a little biased, this is a book about one of my favorite characters but it's just fantastic. If you are a fan of the original novel or are just looking for a retelling, a character-driven book full of feels, or historical fiction novel full of beautiful writing and emotion then pick this book up. It's tragic and gorgeous at the same time and I just adored it.

Have you read A Little Love? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and happy reading.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

On Rereads: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

As the month is winding to a close (it's almost September. This year is almost 2/3rds over. I'm not freaking out, YOU'RE freaking out!) I was looking at my TBR pile and realizing that I am quite behind in this month's reading. I was hoping to have the two books I am currently reading finished by now and I only just started them both. But I'm trying not to stress out about that. I mean it's not the end of the world if I don't read all the books I wanted to, right? *hyperventilates*

But then I realized why I'm behind. Rereads. Before this month I really didn't do many rereads. I wanted to read new books and not spend my reading time focused on a book I had already experienced. But with so many series enders and series continuations happening this fall and winter I decided I needed some refreshers. For the foreseeable future I will be doing one reread a week so I thought I would do a new feature I'm calling On Rereads. They will be mini reviews where I talk about the books I reread and any different impressions I may have had after reading them a second time. Up first..

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin's Blade -  (Amazon / Goodreads / AudibleMy Review)

I was strongly urged to read The Assassin's Blade when starting this series and I still think that is was the right call. It just really develops Celaena's character in a way that makes her incredibly sympathetic. I'm just such a fan of her as a character. She's tough and badass but she's also vulnerable and with this moral compass you wouldn't expect in an assassin.

But what really struck me during my reread is how much stuff from the novellas comes into play during the rest of the series. I'm not sure when the novellas were originally published but they show a lot of foresight on the part of the author. It gives a lot of context to many things in the series. Plus people and situations come up throughout the rest of the books that were mentioned in sometimes a small way in this one. If you haven't read the novellas, get on that! I'm not a huge fan of novellas but with these ones they really do add a lot to the series and the five of them together reads like a novel.

Throne of Glass (Amazon / Goodreads / AudibleMy Review)

So the biggest change for me while reading Throne of Glass is that this time I listened to the audiobook. I had listened to the audio for The Assassin's Blade so I knew the general tone of the narrator but I was interesting to see how she would do the rest of the series. I had heard from a few people that they didn't really like some of her choices but for me it worked. She makes the characters a little cocky and conceited but I felt like it made sense for their characterization.

What I also really liked about the audio in this case is that it didn't make the multiple perspectives so frustrating. I still didn't love the narrative style and found there still to be a lot going on in terms of the plot development but it was all really good. I was kind of surprised by how much of the plot I did remember in Throne of Glass. And maybe it's because now I'm really invested in the series or maybe because the audio format just suited the book better to me, but I liked it more the second time around.

Crown of Midnight(Amazon / Goodreads / AudibleMy Review)

With Crown of Midnight I was surprised by how much of the plot I had forgotten. I of course remembered all the major plot points but that was about it. I remembered the big reveal at the end and the big sad thing that happens around the middle but other than that it was mostly like I was reading it for the first time. Which actually is kind of cool. With favorite series there is often this desire to want to experience it for the first time all over again and I feel a little bit like I got to do that. And of course things came flooding back to me as I kept reading but I had forgotten so much.

But the other great thing about Crown of Midnight, and this series in general, is the amount of foreshadowing there is. Knowing where the larger story is going, I can pick up the subtle little clues that I may have missed the first time. It really made for a deeper reading experience which is one of the reasons that I like doing rereads. I am the kind of person who prides themselves on being able to solve twists and after this reread I was kind of kicking myself for not solving this one.

Heir of Fire(Amazon / Goodreads / AudibleMy Review)

Heir of Fire was and still is my favorite book in the series so far. I love it because the world is mostly developed so we can spend time developing the characters a lot more. Celaena's arc in this book is amazing. But then there are all the new characters. Manon Blackbeak is one of my all-time favorite secondary characters and Aedion is so interesting as well. I know a lot of people are huge fans of Rowan but he just doesn't do much for me. Although this time around I can understand more why people like him.

I also really loved the audio for this book despite some of the names being pronounced in ways very different to how I originally pronounced them (like Manon). I liked it because there is also so much going on plot wise in this book and for me the audio translates better to that kind of storytelling. And it was also just as memorable and emotional story. I try to compartmentalize my feels for what happens in this book (DORIAAAAAN!) and when I reread all of them came flooding back and I was left feeling just as emotionally drained.

But now I am so ready for Queen of Shadows! It comes out next Tuesday so I just have to get through the next five days and then my e-book will magically get delivered to my kindle so I can start reading. And because I liked the audiobooks so much I think I'm going to grab the one for Queen of Shadows as well.

Have you done any rereads lately? What books? Do you like doing rereads or not? Tell me why. I hope you like this new feature. I'm hoping to do it once a month or when I finish a reread of a series. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Truthwitch
Series: The Witchlands #1
Author: Susan Dennard
Published: January 6, 2016 by Tor Teen

Synopsis: 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.

Why I'm Waiting 

Because I read YA? Seriously this is one of the most talked about books within the blogging community right now. I feel like everyone and their mother is waiting for Truthwitch. And I mean for good reason, right? It sounds absolutely brilliant. That's one of the main reasons I did things at BEA that I am not proud of to get an ARC of this book. I need it in my life and I would and did go all Veruca Salt to get it!

But, more specifics. Well for one thing I love Susan Dennard's writing. I read the Something Strange and Deadly series a year ago and I am seriously still not over the ending. It was shocking but made total sense and that's what made it so hard. Anyway, I'm psyched to see Susan write something a little bit more tradition fantasy.

But mostly, look at that synopsis. Elemental magic can be hit or miss for me but everything I learn about the magical system has me really interested. I know Susan is also a big fan of The Last Airbender so that bodes well. Plus the characters sound really amazing. I've read the first few chapters as part of the Misfits and Daydreamers newsletter and it's really good so far.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting for Truthwitch with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Shocking Plot Twists 101

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

You guys know that I often talk about how good I am at solving plot twists and mysteries in the books I read. I talk about it so much that I probably sound a bit like a conceited little jerk but I don't really care. If I don't toot my own horn who will? Anyway I though if there were a literature class I would want to take it would be one where they read and discuss books who do shocking plot twists really well. So here are the books I would include.

Unit 1: The Ones Where Your Mind = Blown

1.) Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson - My Review
When I think of crazy reveals I think Brandon Sanderson. I even refer to it as the "Sanderson twist." This was my first book by this author and the twist blew my mind. I immediately needed to talk about it. And let's not even get started on Firefight.

2.) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson - My Review
I usually don't like including multiple books by the same author but I have to with Brandon Sanderson. With each book the reveals and mysteries got bigger and better. Some were solvable but most of them were mind-blowing. Plus a year later I'm still not over the ending in Hero of Ages.

3.) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas - My Review
Did I know what was going to be revealed at the end of Crown of Midnight? No I did not. I just finished my reread of this series and there are so many clues along the way but I didn't see them the first time around. Also we'd have to read the rest of the series and that wouldn't be so bad, right?

4.) These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - My Review
So this one is a little different because it's not a mystery. Okay, so there is a mystery that is incredible and blew my mind. I need to reread this series before the last book comes out because I need it. But there is also a really crazy twist that was a serious gut punch in the feels that I'm still not over

Unit 2: The Ones That Are Solvable

5.) The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma - My Review
If I were teaching in a class that talked about crazy plot twists I would definitely want books where the twists are solvable but the mystery is still pretty killer. In The Walls Around Us that's definitely how I felt. It was a mindblowing twist but it was purposeful and interesting. 

6.) The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater - My Review
There are two big reveals in this series that I solved but were still done so well. There were lots of great clues that helped  me figure it out but it was still a crazy reveal. I remember with at least one of them being so proud of myself for figuring it out.

Unit 3: The Twists The Hit You Right in the Feels

7.) The Young Elites by Marie Lu - My Review
I've compartmentalized my feels from this book because it destroyed me so much. But with The Rose Society coming out in a little over a month I need to reread and think about what happened. Again, this blew my mind and hit me right in the feels.

8.) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - Goodreads
You want to talk about a series where you need to expect the unexpected. There were so many crazy twists that happened within this series that you could probably reach a whole class on it. And then you could also talk all about the crazy fan theories many of which I assume to be canon.

9.) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - My Review
Oh man, so many great twists and mysteries in this book that really just destroy your feels. The first have of the book had me question so much and then the reveal and then the ending and just... Excuse me I'm going to need a moment.

The Left Field Reveals Done Right

10.) The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon - My Review
The ending of this book had a big reveal that shocked me so much. It seemed a little out of the blue but it made so much sense at the same time. If there were a class about crazy twists, then this would be an example of the left field reveal done right.

11.) All Fall Down by Ally Carter - My Review
Just like The Mime Order, the ending of All Fall Down came out of nowhere and made me question everything I thought was true. I saw Ally Carter on Twitter refer to it not as a cliffhanger but a "gamechanger."

12.) Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth - My Review
So it wouldn't be a top ten if I didn't include Butter Greens, amiright. No but seriously folks, this was another crazy twist ending hat caught me totally off guard and had me reeling. It was a bit out of nowhere but it also made sense. 

PLOT TWIST: There are more than ten books listed. No one is surprised by this right? I usually go over ten. What books would be on your list for a class about shocking plot twists? Have you read any of these books? What did you think about the twists?

Monday, August 24, 2015

ARC Review: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Title: Lair of Dreams
Series: The Diviners #2
Author: Libba Bray
Published: August 25, 2015 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers 
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities... 

 Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

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

*** This is the second book in a series and may contain spoilers for book 1. If you haven't read The Diviners, do that and come back. ***

Lair of Dreans is a posi-tute-ly fantastic sequel that once again proves why Libba Bray is one of my favorite authors. It once again takes the reader on a captivating ride through 1920's New York with complex characters, atmospheric supernatural elements and tons of mystery.

To me this one felt much more like a supernatural mystery and less like historical fiction. I loved the emphasis on the history and ideology of the 1920's in The Diviners. It balanced real life events and figures with fantasy elements so brilliantly. And yes, Lair of Dreams does that too. It takes the reader into the world of flappers, jazz, and chorus girls. But it's a little bit in Lair of Dreams it's toned down a lot. I can see this one being more appealing to readers who may not necessarily read or love historical fiction. But for me, who loves that genre, I wanted a little bit more of the history. But I also kind of wanted a little more of the little things that set the scene in the first book. For example, the slang. Maybe that was because I'm more used to it or maybe because it was toned down. But despite it not feeling quite so immersive, Lair of Dreams takes the readers to a fantastic historical setting.

But the toned down history gave more credence to the mystery elements. For one thing, Lair of Dreams is just as atmospheric and spooky as the first book. Libba's writing is fantastic and lyrical. Whether she's explaining the plot or setting the scene it all has a dark beauty that keeps you questioning. The mystery was probably my favorite part. This book was so intricate with lots of different plot lines and mysterious elements that didn't seem connected at all but they were incredibly purposeful and important to both the larger story of the series and the specific plot of this book. It had me on the edge of my seat and I loved watching the mystery unfold in a slow and deliberate way that had me guessing until the very end.

I also really loved the supernatural elements of the story. I wouldn't go so far as to call it horror but there are definitely some spooky and dark ghosts that had me very nervous both while reading and after I finished. What The Diviners did for whistling, this book does for the song Beautiful Dreamer is all I'm saying. But the antagonist wasn't quite so scary as Naughty John but they definitely had me worried for the characters. Thankfully they have their Diviners powers to help them out. I loved seeing them explore the powers even more in this book. We of course see more of the powers of the characters who were the center of the first book like Evie, Sam, and Memphis. But in this book, Henry takes center stage. We get to learn so much more about his Diviners power, dreamwalking. We also get to meet a new Diviner, Ling Chen who is also a dreamwalker. The dream world was both interesting and atmospheric. Frankly I'm glad I don't really remember my dreams otherwise I may have been more scared by this book.

And I can't talk about the supernatural elements of this book without talking about these characters. This is a book where there are so many perspectives but it works so well. I think honestly it worked even better in Lair of Dreams. Maybe that's because I have grown so attached to all of them in the course of this book. Their all so complex and captivating. What Libba Bray does so well is balance between the fun and fancy atmosphere of 1920's New York and the dark atmosphere of the supernatural mysteries. This is mirrored in the characters and their arcs throughout the book. Sure they are fun and silly with great banter that had me laughing out loud and cute romantic moments but there is more to them then that. They also all have these complicated pasts that we are slowly learning about. I'm excited to learn more about a few of them like Theta and Sam as the book develops more. We've only got hints of them so far. But the more time I can spend with these characters, the better. They're fantastic and I'm such a fan.

But I'm a fan of this book in general. It's a hulking mass of a book but it's still a fast-paced read that I couldn't put down. It had me on the edge of my seat needing to find out not only what happens with the plot but to these characters. I can't wait to see what happens next. This book is the berries!

I give Lair of Dream by Libba Bray 9.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you loved the first book and you have been anxiously awaiting it's sequel you will not be disappointed. It takes you back into the world of The Diviners with an even more mysterious storyline and you get to learn more about those characters you know and love. If you like supernatural mysteries or are looking for a spooky story that will have you on the edge of your seat then check this series out.

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

DNF Mini Reviews: July & August

I did a post like this in the winter and decided I should maybe do one again. I don't normally post reviews for books that I don't finish reading but with all the books in my TBR this summer and fall I have been DNFing a bit more than I usually do. There's so many books and so little time so I'm trying to prioritize the ones that are capturing my interest. But a part of me thinks that if I don't mention my thoughts it's a loose end I need to tie up/

So I decided to to a few quick posts to explain my thoughts on the two books I shelved as "DNF" this summer. Writing DNF reviews is a tricky subject. I didn't want to do full reviews on the book because I don't really have a well-rounded enough view on it. But I also wanted to explain why I didn't quite like the books because I try to be really honest here. So I based this post on Nikki at There Were Books Involved's DNF Q+As. This allows me to explain why the book didn't quite work for me without giving a full review. So here you go, my DNF Reviews

Title: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Author: Natasha Pulley
Published: July 14, 2015 by Bloosmbury
Source: Netgalley
(Amazon / Goodreads)                                                                                          

Synopsis: 1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties. 

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.

Why it Didn't Work For Me:
I'm really not sure why this didn't work for me, it really should have. It had all the trappings of a book that I would normally love. It's historical fantasy set during the 19th century and it's steampunk. But for some reason it didn't capture my interest in the two weeks I tried to read it. It may have been the writing style. I'm a really plot-driven reader so if it doesn't hook me on the plot in the first 20% I'm probably going to struggle through the rest of it. But I think it was honestly a case of bad timing. I have a lot of review books to read around the same time and I couldn't give this the attention it deserved. I also think that I had been reading a lot of steampunk books before I started this and I really just needed something totally different.

How Much I Read:
22% of the e-ARC

Will I Go Back to It:
Maybe. I do just think it is a case of bad timing. Maybe if I am looking for an e-book or something steampunk I will pick this one up again. Maybe if I give it a little more time, the plot will kick in and I will be more interested.

Title: A History of Blood and Salt
Author: Sarah Moskowitz
Published: July 28, 2015 by 
Source: NetGalley
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies. 

But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. 

This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

Why It Didn't Work For Me:
This one really pained me to DNF. I put so much time into it. I read this for a good month. I usually give books a week before I DNF them, two weeks tops. I kind of had to talk myself into DNFing this just because I felt like I would have wasted my time if I stopped reading. But that's not the way to think about it and with all the books I have for review I had to just admit it wouldn't work for me. Honestly, it's probably because this is just a really weird book. I don't mean that in a bad way, it's just true. The narrative structure is unique, the characters are unique, the plot is unique. I'm not a big fan of books about fairies and I think this was just one of the ones that didn't work for me.

How Much I Read:
55% of the e-ARC

Will I Go Back to It:
Probably not. I mean I want to finish it. I put in so much work to it. But I know now that I have decided to not finish it, I'll stop reading it an then not really want to pick it up again.

Have you read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street or A History of Glitter and Blood? What did you think? What makes you DNF a book and do you ever go back to it after you put it down for an extended period of time? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and happy reading.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

ARC Review: Dumplin by Julie Murphy

Title: Dumplin
Author: Julie Murphy
Published: September 15, 2015 by Balthazar & Bray (HarperCollins) 
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart

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

This book was everything I wanted it to be and more. I'm not a huge fan of YA contemporaries but Julie Murphy has yet to disappoint me. I really enjoyed her debut Side Effects May Vary, which I found to be a complex and creative story. And that is how Dumplin' was as well. It hit all the right notes for me. From the complex but likable heroine, to the relationships, to the plot development, it was all brilliant.

For one thing, Willowdean is the most perfect heroine and one that we need to see more of in YA. She totally breaks the mold and I mean that in more ways than one. She is a self-proclaimed fat girl who generally loves herself despite not being what others see as beautiful. As a plus size woman myself I could totally relate to Willowdean. It's not often to see a young woman like that take the starring role and do it in such an honest and relateable way. Because despite a sassy attitude and a lot of bravado she's still vulnerable and trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be both physically and emotionally. She makes mistakes and is vulnerable just as often as she is confident. It was fantastic. A lot of this book is about body image and I love that Julie didn't shy away from those insecurities with Willowdean. It made her a much more complex heroine that you could really empathize with. My sincerest hope is that young women reading this book can relate to the character and see themselves mirrored in the struggle and that Willowdean be a motivating force of self-love. I know she will be for me.

I also really loved the relationships in Dumplin'. First and foremost, the friendships. When we first meet Willowdean she has her best friend Ellen who she does everything with. But throughout the book their relationship hits some bumps. I found it really refreshing to see them kind of fight and drift apart but ultimately come back together. It wasn't perfect but it was so real. Same thing with the new friends she made. They were such a fun group of misfits and seeing them interact was amazing. Julie also did a great job with the familial relationship. There is a lot of criticism in YA about the absent part. For Willowdean her mom was around but they didn't have a great relationship. It too felt very real to see them fight but you could also tell there was a lot of love there. And finally, there was the romance. Julie Murphy knows how to do love triangles right (although you could argue that this wasn't a serious triangle). She provided Willowdean with two amazing and sweet guys who liked her the way she is and it made deciding between them all the more difficult. Every single relationship in this book felt so realistic and honest.

But what is so brilliant about this book is that it effortlessly walks the line between lighthearted humor and serious commentary on society. It dealt with some heavy topics like bullying and body image, and it did it in a way that made you think. I mentioned this a bit when I was talking about Willowdean but there is a fantastic theme throughout this book about self-love. It's a really poignant and empowering story in that way. Julie doesn't shy away for those hard topics and the truth that we all have moments where we don't love ourselves because maybe we are comparing ourselves to others but in the end, you being different is what makes you special. Wow, I sound like an after school special (a term that has me showing my age) but it's true. The themes and sentiments throughout Dumplin' do feel that poignant but they're not overdone and schmaltzy. But it also was a funny and sometimes silly look at high school and beauty pageants.  It perfectly walked that line between lighthearted and serious.

On the whole this was a brilliant and adorable read. My only criticism is that I felt like the ending was just a little too rushed. It felt like everything was really building towards the pageant and I felt like it was over a little too quickly. But that may have just been my feelings as a reader who prefers more of a plot-driven storyline. There is sort of two different plot points but they flowed together really well. It's a pretty character-driven story but it was still really well-paced and was a pretty fast read for me. I honestly stayed up way too late reading a few days and when I was finished I wanted to start it all over again because it is seriously that good.

I give Dumplin by Julie Murphy 9.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! This is a must read for all fans of YA or anyone looking for a unique story with a strong female protagonist that isn't like your average heroine. If you are a fan of  contemporaries or you're just looking for something different pick this book up and fall in love with Willowdean Dickson.

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Their Fractured Light
Series: Starbound #3
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Published: December 1, 2015 by Disney Hyperion

Synopsis: A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze. 

Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch. 

Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost. 

When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.

Why I'm Waiting 

Wow, my last three WoWs have been for conclusions to series that I absolutely love. I mean obviously those are some of my most anticipated books so it makes sense. Their Fractured Light is definitely on the list of highly anticipated releases. I read These Broken Stars a little after the hype died down and I had my mind absolutely blown by it. Not only was it an amazing science fiction novel but it had a mystery that took me completely by surprise, characters that I loved, and a serious punch to the feels. Then I read This Shattered World and was blown away again. New characters, new world, and just as much mystery and romance.

So this is the conclusion to the series and I know that it is going to be epic. I'm so excited to fall for another couple of starcrossed lovers, explore another new world, and learn all about the things that have been building with the first two books. But I also know it's probably going to destroy my feels. Although in all fairness, if it didn't I would be kind of upset.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting for Their Fractured Light with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Auto Buy Authors

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1.) Brandon Sanderson
I haven't read everything he's written but there is no doubt in my mind that they're all great. Everyone I have read has been amazing and anything he comes out with I will read. When I hear there is a new Sanderson book is coming out I will probably buy it.

2.) Rainbow Rowell
I've read every book Rainbow has written and loved them all. I'm not a big contemp fan but Rainbow is my favorite. It doesn't matter what it is, I see Rainbow Rowell and I will read it. I can't wait to read Carry On and see her take on fantasy.

3.) Libba Bray
I have a few more Libba Bray book to read but I have loved everything I've read. No matter the genre they're all fantastic. My very next read is actually Lair of Dreams so I'm excited.

4.) Kate Forsyth
I've read two of Kate's books so far and have really loved them. Her dark historical retellings are my weakness. They're so amazing. I need to read some of her fantasy but I don't doubt their brilliance.

5.) Gregory Maguire
I also love his retellings. I'm a huge fan of The Wicked Years and have read a few more of his books. I have his Alice in Wonderland retelling in my fall TBR and I know it will be great.

6.) Ernest Cline
I picked up Armada at BEA knowing very little about it because it's Ernest Cline. And then I read it and loved it despite it being the kind of book I wouldn't normally read, but it's Ernest Cline.

7.) Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass is so fantastic and A Courtbof Thorns and Roses was really good. Anything else Sarah writes I will pick up and I'm sure I will love it.

8.) Alexandra Bracken
I love The Darkest Minds trilogy so when I heard Alex was coming out with a new series and I was like "I WILL BUY THAT" and then I heard that it's a time travel series where the MC gets sent back to a naval battle during the American Revolution. Even better!

9.) Leigh Bardugo
I loved the Grishaverse so when I heard Leigh was coming out with a new series set in the same Grishaverse I was so freaking excited. Plus it's a heist story with complex and interesting characters. Shut up and take my money!

10.) Susan Dennard
I love the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy so when I heard Susan was coming out with a new series I knew I needed it. Plus it's a fantasy with elemental magic. I NEED IT NOW!

Those are the authors on my auto-buy list? Do you have any of the same authors on your list? What authors are on your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!