Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Title: The Valiant
Series: The Valiant #1
Written by: Lesley Livingston
Published: February 21, 2017 by Razorbill (Penguin)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha's legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.  

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father's royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon's worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.  
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.

I am a big fan of historical fiction, as I'm sure many of you who have been around are aware. But I think sometimes we see the same kind of stories and the same kind of settings when you read a lot of historical fiction. I'm always looking for something different which is why I was so excited for The Valiant. Female gladiator? Sign me up!

And as historical fiction, this was a great book. I love my historical fiction to take real events and real people and then intertwine their own character and plot around that. That's what The Valiant did. It took the setting of Ancient Rome under Julius Caesar and the gladiators and worked a story around that. It was so interesting to run across Caesar and some of the other Senators and even get a little bit of the political intrigue of the time. Although if I'm being entirely honest, my politics loving self would have liked a bit more of that but I do understand that wasn't the focus. The actual setting of Rome was just a jumping off point but it still felt like an interesting and I could visualize what it might have been like as the center of the world.

The actual focus of this book was the gladiators. So much of the "world" here was exploring what life was like for gladiators and especially gladiators in training. It looked at every aspect of how someone could have become a gladiator, from the capture and selling into slavery to the earning your spot in the arena. It seems like the author did her research into what it was probably like for the gladiators. And the reason I say this is because to be entirely honest, it wasn't super exciting. It was interesting and engaging but it wasn't all gory fight scenes and heroic battles. In that respect it felt realist and much more historical.

But that being said, the plot did kind of suffer from that realism. It's a silly thing to say that a book wasn't exciting because it was realistic but that's kind of how I felt. When you go into a book about gladiators you expect there to be some epic fight scenes and some unexpected deaths. And don't get me wrong, there was but it took it's sweet time to get there. The first third of the book was all a travel montage, and you guys know I hate a travel montage. Then the second half of the book was a training montage, which was interesting but I kept waiting to get to the good stuff. It was only in the last third of the book did I get what I came here for. But I do think that because there wasn't a ton of action scenes when there was a big fight I appreciated it a little bit more because I wasn't being desensitized to it. And I know it's good that there was a slow build up to a thrilling conclusion but it was definitely a slowly paced book and didn't have the action and adventure as I was expecting.

What I think redeemed this book a lot was the characters. I really enjoyed the main character of Fallon. She was complex and interesting in a way that I really appreciated. In one respect, Fallon is a warrior, she wants to fight and be tough just like the men. But she is also vulnerable and feels an incredible amount of guilt for what she does. It seems like a contradiction to say that I wanted more fighting but I respected the main character for not being all about the blood and death but it's true. She was a balanced and complex character and those are the best ones. I also really enjoyed Fallon because everything she was doing, she was doing for herself. She was completely herself and I liked that. Plus much of the story was about freedom. Even before she became a slave and a gladiator Fallon wanted to be who she wanted to be and that didn't go away throughout the book, it got stronger. That made it easy to connect with her and to root for her throughout the book. Plus it's a little bit of a character driven story too. It had a good balance.

On the whole I enjoyed The Valiant. It's not the kickass blood and guts gladiator story I was expecting. It's more of a subtle look at what gladiators endured and the story of a young woman fighting for herself and her freedom.

I give The Valiant by Lesely Livingston 9 out of 10 stars

But/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. Fans of historical fiction should check this out. If you are looking for a unique setting and an interesting story then pick up a copy of this book. If you want something with a ton of action and fighting, this might not be the book for you.

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

ARC Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Title: Gilded Cage
Series: Dark Gifts #1
Written by: Vic James
Published: February 14, 2017 by Del Ray Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved. 

 Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. 

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge. 

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price? 

A boy dreams of revolution. 

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. 

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts. 

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

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

I really wanted to like this book. It sounds totally up my alley, a dystopian fantasy with political intrigue and magic. But unfortunately it did not work for me. There were some okay elements, and parts of the book that I did enjoy, but for the most part it just felt basic and underwhelming. It could have been a great read and it didn't for me.

The one thing that I did like about this book was the world. It wasn't a particularly creative world but it was solid and interesting. For one thing you had the setting or actual world, which I did enjoy. It's kind of an alternate history, dystopia, and fantasy all rolled into one. You have an England that still has slavery and the aristocrats and ones in power use magic to keep it that way. I'm a sucker for these sorts of stories because I love the themes about opression and power that they deal with. Gilded Cage had some good elements of that but it didn't quite make good on my expectations. It explored this theme a little bit but it didn't really come into the plot until the very end. I wish it had explored it a little more a little earlier.

I also think that part of the problem a I had with this books is that it also didn't spend a lot of time focusing on the world building. I thought for a while that this is a book that was very heavy on the exposition. If you are a blog follower you know how I feel about exposition, not very favorable. I get that it's needed but less is more. But this is a book that had less and it still didn't work. Looking back on it I realize that maybe it didn't explain much. I liked the magical system, I found it super interesting. I love magic where people have what is essentially a super power and this was like that, so any time someone would use their magic I was all for it. But I wanted to know more and I wanted to learn more about it.

The one thing this book did have a lot of was characters and character perspectives. The characters were interesting enough and complex but there were seriously so many of them.  I knew going into this that there were going to be a lot of perspectives, I mean the synopsis mentions three perspectives right there. And three would have been okay, But no, this book had six or seven. I don't even know. Because honestly every voice sounded the same. I had such a hard time keeping track of who was who and who was speaking. It was overwhelming. When the book began it changed perspectives so many times with every chapter that it was hard to connect with anyone or even their story. I wish it had a bit of a narrower character perspective and focused more on other aspects.

And unfortunately the increased character perspectives and my inability to focus on one aspect of the story also impacted my enjoyment of the plot. I'm such a plot-driven reader and I need to be able to connect with the plot of a book. It doesn't have to be full of action but it does have to capture my interest. Unfortunately, the plot of this book didn't capture my interest because I wasn't exactly sure where it was going until the very end. Maybe it was just very slowly paced, because it definitely was. It took it's sweet time to get to the good stuff for me. In a lot of cases like that it means that the book drags and reads slow, but this book didn't. I breezed through it but it still didn't feel like it had much substance. It felt a little basic in terms of the plot and that felt like a detriment to me.

On the whole Gilded Cage had a lot of promise but it didn't quite take things to the next level for me. It had an interesting world and magical system but it didn't explore it as much as I would have like, it had complex characters but there were too many perspectives, and it had a plot that took a really long time to kick in. Despite being excited to read it, it wasn't my kind of read.

I give Gilded Cage by Vic James 7 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Bypass. I think if you are a more character-driven reader you may like this book a little bit more. It's not an exciting or thrilling read for plot-driven readers but it does have an interesting world and complex characters.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Discussion Post: Is Hype a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

So lately I have been reading a lot of super hyped books that I haven't been loving and it's got me thinking, is hype good or bad?

One thing I learned being withing the blogosphere almost right away is the fact that there is always going to be some super popular book that everyone seems to be talking about. It doesn't matter if it's a book that just came out, one that's coming out soon, or one that has been out forever there is always going to be a book that is almost universally loved that you feel left out if you haven't read it. The hype is real with so many books. But, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

On the one hand I have found some absolutely amazing books because of the recommendation from bloggers and because of the hype surrounding them. I probably never would have found Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, Rainbow Rowell, or Brandon Sanderson if it wasn't for the hype around their books. I had heard basically everyone talking about the Throne of Glass series, the Grisha trilogy, Eleanor and Park, and Mistborn when I first started blogging. These are now books I consider to be favorites and I never would have found them if it wasn't for the hype.

Even more than that, I feel like hype around upcoming releases like debuts can definitely help me diversify my reading. When I first started blogging and even up until a few years ago I had a much narrow focus on my reading. I read pretty much only genre fiction and was even picky about that. Then I started to see the hype around other books and ended up deciding to try some books I wouldn't have read if they weren't super popular. I definitely think hype can be good in that it causes people to break out of their comfort zone.

I also think hype can be a good way to build community. The book blogging community is surprisingly big. I am constantly finding new blogs because people are just starting out or I just never interacted with them before. And sometimes it can be hard to start up a conversation. But if everyone is talking about the same book and you loved it, it makes it easy to gush along with them. In that same vein, if you do a review of a super hyped book it brings people to your site because they want to see your thoughts. It can definitely brings people together.

But it can also be a bad thing. I've gone into books with super high expectations because a book was so hyped up and popular that I thought it was going to be the next great American novel and then been disappointed in the book. If everyone is raving about a book you can't help but assume that it is going to be mind-blowing. I have been burned many times by books that everyone was raving about, which I didn't love. Sometimes they were good but not as good as I expected, and sometimes they were just not good and I didn't get the hype at all. And in cases like this you feel like such a black sheep and don't want to talk about the book at all because everyone seems to love it but you. You wonder if it's you or the book.

And if I am being entirely honest, sometimes I wonder if the hype surrounding a book is actually genuine. It could very well be just that a book has really good marketing. You know what I mean, right? There are just some books the publishers are doing a great job hyping up. You see the cover all over Twitter and there are blurbs and previews, people are talking about it in their WoW posts, and even a few early reviews are coming in. I can't help but wonder in those cases if the book is really worth the hype or I'm just seeing the book everywhere. These are instances where I wait for more reviews, especially ones from trusted reviewers.

But after all of this, do I think hype is good? Yes. And do I think hype is bad? Yes. There are definite benefits to the hype. It helps you find books that are amazing, it helps you diversify your reads, and it builds community. But there are also downfalls like you can have really high expectations, you can feel like a black sheep, and it can be disingenuous. I think the key thing is to just be aware that hype doesn't always mean that the book is right for you. Try and suspend your expectations and like every other book you will love it or not like it.

What do you think? Is hype a good thing or a bad thing? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

*** This contains Code Name Verity spoilers so if you haven't read that proceed with caution. But also FREAKING READ THAT BOOK... It's amazing and everyone should read it. Here's my review. ***

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Pearl Theif
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Published: May 2, 2017 by Elizabeth Wein

Synopsis: Before Verity . . . there was Julie.

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scots Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

In the prequel to Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this exhilarating coming-of-age story returns to a beloved character just before she learned to fly.

Why I'm Waiting:

CODE NAME VERITY PREQUEL... Hyperventilates. Fly the plane, Maddie. Holds back tears.

I loved Code Name Verity so much! It absolutely wrecked me but in the best possible way. It's such a fantastic historical fiction book and I love that it's set during WWII but shows a little bit of a different take on the period. But even if you don't like historical fiction you should check that book out because it really is so good. Okay, now that that is out of the way you all know why exactly I am so excited for this book. It's a prequel to a book that I seriously loved.

One of the things that I loved so much about that book is the characters. I fell in love with the complex and interesting the characters in Code Name Verity and I am so freaking excited to have more about them. Especially Julie. I am so excited to learn about why and how Julie got involved in the war and everything. But honestly I think I may miss seeing Maddie because I loved the friendship between them. But more Julie!

But honestly, it doesn't matter at all what this book about because it's a Code Name Verity prequel and I will read and I'm sure I will probably love it. I'm sure a lot of you are just as excited about this because I know so many of you love Code Name Verity as much as I do. I mean it's one of my book club's favorite books. I know that and I didn't even read it with them. I just preordered a copy of this and I can't wait to read it in May when it comes out.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With a Good Slowburn Romance

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I'm pretty hard on the romances in the books I read. I mean last week I mentioned ten books I wish had less romance. So today is Valentine's Day and as much as I want to go on a rant about how it's a made up holiday to sell cards and candy (both things that I love), I feel like maybe I should give in. So instead here are some romances I did like, because they are slow burns.

1.) Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo - My Review
This book is full of great ships and most of them are good slowburns. But oh the burn on one is so slow that even the characters holding hands overwhelmed me with shipping feels. Throughout most of this series I wanted to smoosh them together so much.

2.) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater - My Review
I mean we knew going in that this was going to have some rough but fantastic shipping feels. We are told from the beginning that Blue will kill her true love by kissing them. But let's be real here, the actual best slowburn romance is Pynch.

3.) Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley - My Review
I mean this slowburn was painful, so painful. I love when the relationships are part slowburn and part "we shouldn't be together" and this one had so much of both. It was a little unrequited love that became requited and it was risky on so many levels.

4.) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - My Review
I've said before that I felt like I was Cath in college but I didn't have Levi. Oh amazingly sweet was he with his patience and pumpkin mocha breve. I shipped them so hard and slowburn was perfectly painful.

5.) Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson - My Review
This was the book that really made me realize that I don't totally hate contemporaries and a lot of that had to do with the romance. I actually really liked how sweet and slowburny it was. Plus, how adorable is Frank Porter?

6.) The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie - My Review
This one is kind of subtle on the romance but it definitely gives the book a lot of heart. I like how the subtlety gives it this great slowburn and even the start of it is so subtle that it's perfect. I'm really hoping for more romantic moments in the sequel though.

7.) Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin - My Review
This is another book that's kind of light on the romance, which I like, but I did still kind of ship it. Partially because I love Luka Lowe so much and partially because it's another one of those slowburn, we shouldn't be together types. Plus I relate to the MC resisting the romance.

8.) I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios - My Review
This book was really good and honestly so much of it wrecked me, it was so emotional. Part of that was the romance. It was such a great slowburn of a relationship and I loved watching it develop. I am rarely happy with the moment the characters kiss for the first time and this time I was.

9.) The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkowski - My Review
And once again, a slowburn romance that is one of those "we shouldn't be together" kind of thing. I wasn't totally shipping it in the first book but the way it developed throughout the series I was into it. That is kind of the mark of a good slowburn for me.

10.) Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli  - My Review
This ship is so freaking cute! It's adorably fluffy and I love it. But the most interesting about it is that it's not really a slowburn but it kind of is. You get to see the people fall for each other before you even know who Blue is. It's so cute!

Honorable Mention
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer  - My Review
The Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger - My Review
Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - My Review

There you have it. All my favorite slowburns. What are your favorite books with slowburn romance? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, February 13, 2017

ARC Review: Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Title: Dreamland Burning
Written by: Jennifer Latham
Published: February 21, 2017 by Little, Brown Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Some bodies won’t stay buried. 
Some stories need to be told. 

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past... and the present. 

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns. 

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important question about the complex state of US race relations – both yesterday and today.

This book was fantastic, like seriously fantastic. I'm a huge fan of historical mysteries, books that have a fantastic mystery in the past that intertwined with something today and this book was just that. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

For one thing this is a book full of mystery. It is one of those mysteries that is solvable but you don't have all the clues until the end when it all comes together in a conclusion that is thrilling in it's revelations even though you knew it was coming. Plus along the way there were plenty o surprises that kept me guessing and reading. I'm sometimes hard on a mystery because they're often too complicated or not complicated enough and this one was the perfect balance. I really enjoyed it.

I also really enjoyed the historical setting. As a fan of historical fiction I enjoy a unique setting that takes you away to a different time and this book achieved that completely. Books set during the 1920's are a dime a dozen but they don't often deal with this subject matter. It explored a lesser known event at the time, and one that is complicated and interesting. I found the events of the Tulsa Race Riots incredibly interesting and the perfect backdrop for the mystery.

The setting of the book and the plot also lender it well to some really complex themes about history and humanity. At it's core this is a book about racism. It's about the way people are treated because of the color of their skin and the inherent injustice of that. It addresses the issue from a historical perspective but also from a modern standpoint. But unlike a lot of books with such heavy themes, it doesn't feel heavy. It doesn't come off preachy, instead it just makes you think and honestly those are the best kinds of books.

And the characters were just as good as everything else. This is one of those books that alternates perspective. In the present we have Rowan who is a rich African-American who still deals with a lot of prejudice. She becomes an amateur detective after a skeleton is found in her basement. Rowan was likable and realistic and I found a believable teen detective. But the characters in the past were even better. First we had out narrator, William. He is a white young man working in his father's shop. He doesn't have the prejudice a lot of other people do and I liked him a lot for his compassion and the way he sacrifices for the people he likes and the injustices he sees. Part of those injustices were at the hands of Joseph and Ruby, two African-Americans who are kind and complex. I really empathized with Joseph and Ruby's struggle and it made me really like William for how he treated them. Usually when books like these I prefer one perspective over the other and while I liked the present time, it was the past that was even more engaging.

In general, everything about the plot, the settings, and the characters of this book pulled me in and didn't let me go until the very end. I have been in a bit of a reading slump and this book may have cured me of that because I seriously couldn't stop reading it. I wanted to read it in one sitting and read three-quarters of it in one day and I cannot remember the last time I did that. But seriously, this book was so good!  It was a book full of mystery with a complex plot full of complex themes about humanity and great characters. I would absolutely recommend this book especially to fans of historical mysteries.

I give Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/BorrowBypass: Buy. Dreamland Burning was an amazing read. I couldn't put it down. If you like historical mysteries then definitely check this out. If you are looking for a unique historical fantasy or something with interesting themes about history and humanity then read this. Basically, I loved it and you should read it.

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Title: My Lady Jane
Written by: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Published: June 7, 2016 by HarperTeen
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.
I have heard nothing but good things about this book and it's totally something up my alley so I was really excited to finally read it this month when I saw it was my book club book this month. There was a lot of hype surrounding this and while I enjoyed it, I think the hype got the best of me again.

For one thing this is a very strange book. It is not your standard historical fiction. Now it does have elements of historical fiction. It does take place in a historical setting, the Tudor Court of the 1550's in England. I'm definitely a fan of this setting. I think there is a general fascination with the time period and it makes sense. There was a lot of political intrigue, court politics, and scheming. This particular incident, the ascension of Lady Jane Grey, is a very good example. I was very excited to dive into the history of it to learn more but that honestly didn't last long. I knew going in that there were going to not stick to closely to the actual history but to be honest I was a little annoyed by how little they did. It ended up righting itself a bit in the end but as someone who loves historical fiction I kind of wanted more history. If you are like me, go into this story knowing that what you think happens is not going to happen and then you will enjoy it much more.

But as I said, I knew I was getting historical fantasy so there was going to be fantastical elements. And I did like this element of the story. It was weird, don't get me wrong, it was very weird, but it was fun. It gave the book an interesting twist. I know a lot of people said this book is funny and full of laughs but I didn't necessarily get that. I think more than that, it's silly. It's a lighthearted romp with characters who can turn into animals and that leads to all kinds of hijinx. But from a fantasy standpoint I think the world was interesting and engaging. It had clear rules which all good magical systems do and it definitely felt unique and interesting. If this was set in it's own kingdom and world I think I would have been all about it.

And I did also really like the plot here. It definitely hooked me on the political and court politics aspects. I'm all about scheming to take the throne and the consequences of that. I'm also all about characters trying to take back their thrones. From a plot standpoint it was definitely engaging. Not to mention that it built to an exciting ending that kept me guessing. This was an aspect where I kind of liked that they threw the history out the window. Now sure, there could have been plenty of excitement with aftermath of Lady Jane's ascension and death (spoiler alert: IRL all the main characters die), but I really liked the direction they took this in. It had action, it had adventure, it had surprises. It was fun. There were some parts that I didn't care about but in general it was really engaging.

However, the thing that fell the most flat for me though was the characters. Maybe I was holding them at arms length because I went into this expecting all of them to die in the end, but I just never really connected with the characters. This is a book that changes perspectives with every chapter so we see the story from a bunch of different sides. That can be hit or miss for me and I think here it didn't work as well. I don't think I ever really connected with the characters because we kept seeing them from the other character's eyes. Jane was probably the most likable of the three. We are meant to enjoy Jane and her feminist tendencies and it worked. She was plucky and dedicated to those she cares about which I liked. G just didn't impress me, he just felt a little generic. But the character that I liked the least was Edward. He just fell so flat for me. The character I liked the most was actually Mary Queen of Scots. She was in the book for a total of like 20 pages and I found her fascinating. I want a Mary Queen of Scots prequel or sequel. She was great. But for the most part I wanted more from the characters.

On the whole, this was an enjoyable read. It is a fast and fun historical fantasy with an interesting setting, a thrilling plot, and a unique fantasy world. But if you are looking for a good historical fiction novel you will need to look elsewhere.

I give My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Asthon, and Jodi Meadows 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are looking for something fun and silly to weird then check this out. It'd make a great palatte cleanser especially if you tend to read a lot of fantasy and want to read something similar but different or if you read contemporary and want something light and more on the fantasy side. But if you're looking for something historical this is not the book for you.

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

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Blog Tour: Excerpt of Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I am so excited to share an excerpt of Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones with you all today. If you missed my review on Monday (HERE IT IS) then you may not know that I loved the writing of this book. I was super impressed with the lyrical prose and how this read like a classic fairy tale while still feeling creative and interesting. That is why I want to share this excerpt with you all, so you can experience this beautiful writing.

About the Book: 

Already one of the most anticipated young adult debuts of 2017, WINTERSONG (Thomas Dunne Books; February 7, 2017) is an enrapturing journey through a 19th century fairytale. A talented debut by S. Jae-Jones, WINTERSONG was inspired by the film Labyrinth and spun together on the threads of song, in a time when young upstart composers like Beethoven were forever altering the sound of music. A story about sisterly devotion and coming of age, Liesl and the Goblin King come alive within the depths of this masterful composition.

Title: Wintersong
Written by: S. Jae-Jones
Published: February 7, 2017 by St. Martin's (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world

The Excerpt:

If you have not yet had the chance to read this book and want to know whether or not you will like it, here are the first two chapters for you. Take a gander and check out the beautiful writing...

Gorgeous, right? I hope you enjoyed that. Definitely get your hands on a copy if you haven't done that yet. I enjoyed it despite the fact that there were some elements that I didn't love. I know a ton of people really loved it so I think it appeals to a broad audience.

Thanks so much to St. Martin's for including me on the blog tour and providing the excerpt for me and my readers. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Crossing Over: Historical Fantasies With Atmospheric Settings

Hey all. It's been awhile Crossing Over post. 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 focus is historical fantasy or historical mystery. This is one of my favorite subgenres because it combines elements of my three favorite genres to make something totally fun.

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

I love this series. It seemed like the kind of book I would enjoy but it took me forever to read it and I kind of regret that. It's surprisingly complex and incredibly engaging. For one thing it combines basically everything that I love: magic, mystery, adventure, and a historical setting that pulls you in (more on that later). Plus the way that this book is written, it is full of this atmospheric tone that borders on spooky. I mean at times it is downright scary. Plus it's a book full of surprises and a mystery that will keep you guessing and reading from beginning to end.

This is also a book with great characters. It changes perspectives many many times giving you a well rounded look at the what is happening and it's surprsingly easy to relate to every character. Many of them are kind of dubious and a few are super villainous in the best possible way. It's definitely got some unlikable main characters but I kind of like that.  You still totally root for them especially when they go through terrible things because the antagonists are so sinister.

But I think my favorite thing about this book is the setting. Libba Bray was able to perfectly take a familiar historical setting and show it to you in an interesting way. She takes real people and real things and then puts her own spin on them. And that spin is an amazing supernatural elements and an amazing magical system. It was incredibly complex and so engrossing. It all shouldn't work but it totally does,

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

I loved this book. It seemed like the kind of book I would enjoy but it took me forever to read it and I kind of regret that. It's surprisingly complex and incredibly engaging. For one thing it combines basically everything that I love: magic, mystery, adventure, and a historical setting that pulls you in (more on that later). Plus the way that this book is written, it is full of this atmospheric tone that is so emotional and beautiful. I mean at times it is downright sad. Plus it's a book full of surprises and a mystery that will keep you guessing and reading from beginning to end.

This is also a book with great characters. It changes perspectives a few times giving you a well rounded look at the what is happening and it's surprising easy to relate to every character. . It's definitely got some unlikable main characters but I kind of like that.  You still totally root for them especially when they go through terrible things because the antagonists are so sinister.

But I think my favorite thing about this book is the setting. Libba Bray was able to perfectly take a familiar historical setting and show it to you in an interesting way. She takes real people and real things and then puts her own spin on them. And that spin is an amazing supernatural elements and an amazing magical system. It was incredibly complex and so engrossing. It all shouldn't work but it totally does,

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone. It has something for everyone. If you like fantasy, horror, historical fiction, mystery, doesn't matter. They combine all the things that I love to create an amazing novel. These are both good examples of books I think can combine genres really well. It combines fantasy and mystery in a way that is thrilling and interesting on it's own but then you add an atmospheric historical setting and things are taking to the next level. If you have read one of things I think you would really like the other.

Have you read The Diviners and/or The Golem and the Jinni? What did you think? What steampunk novels with crossover appeal do you like? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Had Less Romance

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

If you have been a blog follower you know that I am pretty romancephobic. I don't often like the romance in the books I read. I often want less romance and more plot. Or less romance and more character development. Usually I just want less romance. So of course I had to use this topic to mention some of the books I wish had less romance. And please don't hate me for any of these. I am such a black sheep when it comes to shipping so if you love this romance I don't blame you. I just didn't and wanted less of it.

1.) Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh - My Review
You may notice a trend as this list goes on but I'll start right here by saying, I didn't love this book. I liked a lot of different elements but so much of the plot was based on the romance and the romance did not work for me which was problematic.

2.) Salt and Storm by Kendal Kulper - My Review
I went into this book expecting it to be a historical fantasy with a lot of magic and a lot of mystery. I got a historical romance with insta-love. I actually DNF'd this the first time because I was so disappointed. I ended up going back to it but my thoughts didn't change much.

3.) Glitter by Aprilynne Pike - My Review
Oh, this romance. This romance was so infuriating for me. All of my comments about this book while reading was how much I disliked the romance. It was cliche, insta-love, and made me roll my eyes so furiously I'm surprised they didn't stay that way.

4.) The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi - My Review
I did like this book, but like a lot of these I thought there was so much of a focus on the romance. The Beauty and the Beast/Hades and Persephone style romances are not my favorites. It's just so hard to do well in my opinion and I didn't connect with this one.

5.) A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess - My Review
I wasn't blown away by this book but it did have some good elements. It also had some elements that totally didn't work for me. And the reason I am including this is that people have ships for this series and I am like "really? There's a ship? I remember monsters but no ship."

6.) How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather - My Review
This romance. This is another one that makes me roll my eyes so much. I honestly disliked it so much that I blocked it out. Then talking to someone else who had read it I was like "oh yeah, that romance was awful and confusing."

7.) Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman - My Review
This is another book that was not what I was expecting. I went into it thinking that it was historical fiction about real life pirates and it ended up being a historical romance about two people who eventually became pirates. I wanted less romance and more pirates.

8.) The Sin-Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury - My Review
I love this book and this series. But the problem with this romance is that it was a love triangle and I absolutely did not like or trust the character that the MC so obviously prefered. And you know what, I was right and he was and is awful.

9.) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - My Review
The problem with this romance is that there were two love triangles. It was like a ridiculous love square. Each MC had two potential romantic partners and they were all kind of terrible options. Plus then one of them went in a super awful direction.

10.) Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios - My Review
The problem here was also in the love triangle but one of them was kind of abusive, okay really abusive, and the other one felt like insta-lovey. And this is a book that had some more mature themes and I just didn't feel the heat.

Honorable Mention...
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones - My Review
I reviewed this yesterday and the more I think about it, the less I like the romance. It was so sudden and the main character just fell too hard too quickly and her actions were kind of icky.

There you have it. The books I wish had less romance. What books do you want to have less romance? What list did you do today? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!