Friday, July 31, 2015

July Wrap Up and August TBR

Read in July: Historical Mysteries
July was a really great reading month for me. I read over a dozen books, partially because three of them were audiobooks, but still. I also read some books that really blew me away including some surprises and at least one that I know will make my favorites of the year list. Although it was historical mystery month and that's one of my favorite subgenres so it shouldn't be much of a surprise.

As far as challenges go, once again I am absolutely killing it. For the Netgalley/Edelweiss Challenge I have already completed my goal of 25 books so now I need to set a new goal. I'm going with 40 but that's a little optimistic at this point. I'm up to 16 on my TBR Pile Challenge which is on track for my goal of reading 21 by the end of the year, I just need to make sure I read at least one a month from now on. And I am at 14, which is on track for my Debut Author Challenge to meet my personal goal of 20 debuts. And for my Goodreads challenge, I am at 78 which is also on track for my goal of reading 120 books this year.

The Books:
1.) Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine Rating: 9.5 out of 10 [My Review]
2.) Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George Rating: 7.5 out of 10 [My Review]
3.) A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
Rating: 8.5 out of 10 [My Review]
4.) Armada by Ernest Cline Rating: 9 out of 10 [My Review]
5.) Tangled Webs by Lee Bross Rating: 7.5 out of 10 [My Review]
6.) Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Rating: 9.5 out of 10 [My Review]
7.) Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld Rating: 9 out of 10 [My Review]
8.) Goliath by Scott Westefeld Rating: 9.5 out of 10 [My Review]
9.) The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig Rating: 8.5 out of 10 [My Rating]
10.) The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth Rating: 9.5 out of 10 [My Review]
11.) Hoodoo by Robert L. Smith Rating: 7.5 out of 10 [My Review]
12.) The Diviners by Libba Bray Rating: 9.5 out of 10 [My Review]
13.) Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson Rating: 8.5 out of 10 [My Review]

Other Posts:
Unpopular Opinions Tag
Discussion Post: Five Stages of Bookish Grief - Solving Twists
Crossing Over: Historical Fiction Set in WWII

To Be Read in August: ARC August
The lovely ladies at Read Sleep Repeat host this great event every August where they challenge us to get a handle on our TBRs and review books. I participated last year and it was fantastic and with all my BEA books to read over the next few months I thought this would be perfect. So I'm doing it again. This year, my goal is to read 10 ARCs, I may DNF one or two but let's set a high goal and hope my competitiveness gets the best of me.

The Books:

1.) Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine - Add to Goodreads
This is a book that has been on my TBR for a long time. For some reason I didn't know original it was a Phantom of the Opera retelling. But now I do and I'm excited. I read it and I love it.

2.) Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine  - Add to Goodreads
This is the sequel to the previous book and after loving it I need the next book. My bookish soul sister, Britt from Please Feed the Bookworm is sharing her ARC with me which is so sweet!

3.) Reawakened by Colleen Houck  - Add to Goodreads
I've heard great things about this fantasy influenced by Egyptian mythology. It sounds so creative and I'm excited to try something different.

4.) A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz  - Add to Goodreads
I've heard some mixed reviews but I'm interested to read this quirky fantasy. I'm not big on fairies but the combination of gnomes interests me a bit more.

5.) Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood  - Add to Goodreads
This sounds like an interesting contemporary read with a quirky main character and a coming-of-age story so I'm interested despite some mixed reviews.

6.) Hunter by Mercedes Lackey  - Add to Goodreads
I've heard great things about Mercedes Lackey and this sounds like a really cool fantasy novel that combines reality TV and crazy mythical creatures. Plus that cover is amazing!

7.) Court of Fives by Kate Elliot  - Add to Goodreads
This book has been on my list for awhile and with it being released in August I'm excited to finally get to reading it. It's been marketed as Little Women meets The Hunger Games so color me interested.

8.) Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman  - Add to Goodreads
A historical fantasy about Alexander the Great. That's all I really need to know. The author writes mostly non-fiction so I'm sure it will be really well-researched.

9.) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray  - Add to Goodreads
This is the sequel to The Diviners which I read recently and absolutely loved. I cannot wait for more Libba Bray, more spooky 1920's adventures and more supernatural mysteries.

10.) Dumplin by Julie Murphy  - Add to Goodreads
I tried to read this book in June but I had to bump it. I need to read it. I need this book in my life. I liked Julie's debut and I'm excited for Willowdean. She's the heroine we need in YA.

11.) The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow  - Add to Goodreads
I wasn't much interested in this book and then I heard that it's darker than it looks and with much more political intrigue. Tha sounds like a me book.

12.) A Little Love by Susan Fletcher - Add to Goodreads
How did I just recently learn about this book that is a Les Miserables retelling about Eponine. I love Les Mis. I love Eponine. I named my cat after her. I need this book even though it will destroy me!

Audiobook Reread:

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas 
This is the first month that instead of listening to a new audiobook, I'm doing a reread to prepare for the upcoming release of a new book in a favorite series. So for August I'm listening to the Throne of Glass series to prepare for Queen of Shadows coming out on September 1st.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

ARC Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Author: Rae Carson
Published: September 22, 2015 by Greenwillow (Harper Collins) 
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America. 

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes. 

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

*** 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. ****

Fantasy fans absolutely rave about Rae Carson's work. The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy is one of those series that I hear over and over again that I need to read (it's on my TBR so stop hassling me!) but when I heard about Walk on Earth a Stranger I knew that I needed to read. It sounds like a book I would love. And while I wasn't blown away, it was a thrilling and entertaining ride.

One thing that did blow me away in Walk on Earth a Stranger was the historical setting. I have only read a few books set during the pioneer era but I am rarely disappointed by them. It's such a fascinating time period. But even better than that, this is books set on the California Trail (which is similar to it's better know cousin, the Oregon Train). I recently read Under a Painted Sky and I loved the way that Stacey Lee built the dangerous world of traveling west and Rae Carson did it even better here in this book. The stakes are incredibly high and you can tell that this is well-researched. It is the kind of book that fans of historical fiction will love. Throughout the book, we are taken to locations that come alive with vivid imagery and detailed explanations. Whether it's small town Georgia, the thriving town of Independence Missouri, or spots along the trail like Fort Laramie, Independence Rock, or the Platte River it all is so visually explained and vivid that you feel like you are right there. You also feel the hardships of the trail. It was a risky endeavor that many did not survive and Carson perfectly captures that within the setting of this book.

But despite a really great setting, portions of the world were kind of lacking for me. One of the things that I didn't enjoy as much as I was hoping was the magical system of the book. Now don't get me wrong, the ability to feel gold is a really interesting power and during the gold rush, it seems like it could be both useful and dangerous. Lee uses her powers for good instead of evil though and I liked all the opportunities she took to use them. But it just felt like this elephant in the room that no one was talking about. There was no explanation for and it was so much in the periphery that I would often forget that it existed. It just didn't feel fully-formed to me. And maybe as the series develops then we will get to see more of the power but at this stage, I just didn't fully connect with it.

The hardest thing for me to articulate about this book is my feelings on the characters. The book is told in first-person limited from Leah's perspective. Leah is the kind of female protagonist that I love. She's strong and determined but with weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Her father has taught her to be independent and not constrained by gender norms so her disguising herself as a boy makes a lot of sense. Gender-bending is another thing that I don't always love but here it worked. Even the reveal worked and the people's response to it was different from the norm which I found kind of refreshing. I also really liked Jefferson, Leah's best friend. He has a bit of a tortured past but he doesn't let it keep him from succeeding. They had a great relationship and I liked their friendship and how they would do anything for each other. But besides Leah and Jefferson, the rest of the characters blended together for me. There were a lot of different characters and most of them didn't feel fully-formed to me. They weren't bad but I would have liked to see a little more from the secondary characters. The only exception however was Therese, a young women on the trail with them, and Mrs. Joyner who Leah is working for. Therese may have been my favorite character besides Leah and she had great development. Her and Mrs. Joyner may have been the only ones with a really strong character arc. On the whole, the characters were likable enough but I would have liked to see a little more development.

Walk on Earth a Stranger is a fast read despite the plot and pacing being on the slower side. I say this because I just cruised through reading this book, easily plowing through 100 pages a day which is more than my average rate but it didn't feel like that was because it was a page turner until the last 100 pages. It pulled you in with enough moments of action (and a few gruesome injuries) to keep you reading but it was really just one big travel monologue with the character trying to get to a different location so that the rest of the series can happen. But I do feel like I'm warming up to travel as a plot point. If it's done well, it can be really interesting. Here it mostly worked. Despite moments where I felt like things were on the slower side, it pulled you in and took you on an exciting ride. I think a lot of my trepidation from this book is that it's the first in a series. I typical feel like first books suffer from First Book Syndrome for me. I understand that it has to spend a lot of time building the world and setting the scene for what will happen later, it's they don't always work for me. But I did like the fact that it was a full and complete story with likable characters, a fascinating and vivid setting, and an engaging plot.

I give Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. Fans of historical fiction should definitely pick this book up and be ready for a vivid setting and well-researched plot that takes you on a trip down the Oregon Trail with all the high stakes action. If you are more of a plot-driven reader like me you probably enjoy this a little more than if you want a strong character-driven story.

Have you read Walk on Earth a Stranger? What did you think? Do you plan on reading it? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Title: The Diviners
Series: The Diviners #1
Author: Libba Bray
Published: September 8, 2012 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers 
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. 

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. 

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I have never met a Libba Bray book that I have not loved. It doesn't matter if it's contemporary, historical fiction, or fantasy she is seriously an autobuy author for me. That being said, I waited entirely too long to read this book. I heard about it a few years ago and for some reason I never picked it up. I picked up her other books. And after finally reading it, I am definitely wondering why it took so long for me to read it because it was just absolutely brilliant.

What I adored most about this book is the historical fiction aspect of the story. Libba Bray is able to perfectly transport you into the world of New York City in the 1920's. She of course combines real people, ideas, and events of the period with fictional people and events. The setting comes alive with gorgeous detail as We're taken to the seedy prohibition era clubs, the jazz music, the vaudeville shows, and meet flappers and Bright Young Things out for a good time. I read a lot of historical fiction and never before have I found such an immersive experience, so much so that I found my manner of speech changing to adopt the slang of the time (but this is the second book set in the 20's I read in the past two weeks so take my opinion with a grain of salt). It's such a great representation of the era that I think the manner of speech and slang may annoy some readers, it does feel a little bit like jargon at times, but for me it felt all the more authentic and interesting. Not to mention that this is a period that I love reading about. It's a time of change and excitement that leads to a lot of really interesting and adventurous stories.

And that is exactly what the plot of this book was, interesting and adventurous. Sure, it's an immerse historical fiction novel but it's also a fantastic supernatural mystery. There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the book that warns the reader to keep the lights on and they are not kidding. This book is incredibly spooky. It's a fantastic ghost story that will forever change the way I view whistling when I'm walking down the street alone at night. But it's also an intricate murder mystery about the hunt for a serial killer. You know me and mysteries, I like solving them and I'm pretty good at it. I thought I had the mystery here figured out and I had a few elements of it solved but it still managed to surprise me and build to an amazing conclusion that had me on the edge of my seat completely riveted.

But the mystery plot and the ghost story were not the only supernatural elements of the story. The book also had a fascinating magical system that was a lot like the superpower stories that I love. Many of the characters in this book have powers that they are trying to keep secret, powers that connect them to a dark past, powers that get them into or sometimes out of trouble. I love characters with secrets and what Libba Bray does so well here with them is the dramatic irony of their secrets and their connections. The book is told in a third-person perspective from a lot of different perspectives and is intricately well-written. We slowly get to know each character and watch them interact with one another in positive and negative ways as their stories intertwine with the many different plot points of the book. Books with so many perspectives can be hit or miss for me and there were times where it felt a little too vast sometimes but it really did work.

The fact that I enjoyed the alternating perspectives so much may have been because each and every character here was fascinating and complex. No matter which character we are following at the time you are engaged and invested in their success. I particularly loved our main character Evie and her fun-loving spirit and plucky personality but I also loved that she's smart and probably the best detective in the bunch. But the book also had an amazing and dark antagonist. Naughty John may have just become one of my favorite villains, he is terrifying! Did I mention the whistling? Because, the whistling! Libba Bray is a master at characterization and The Diviners definitely proves it. But even so I feel like we have only begun to learn about each of them, their histories, and their powers. I can't wait to learn more. Maybe I should push Lair of Dreams up on the TBR.

The Diviners is a beast (if you've read it, you may laugh at this) of a book weighing in at almost 600 pages but it doesn't really feel that way. It's a book you will not want to put down as you hunt for clues about the supernatural mystery and the characters. Libba Bray further proves why she is one of my favorite authors.

I give The Diviners by Libba Bray 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! Whether you are a fan of historical fiction, horror, mysteries, and/or fantasies this book is worth the read. It has a vivid historical setting, complex and engaging characters, a thrilling plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat and up all night. It was dark and spooky and wonderful!

Read this if you enjoyed:
The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Miss Peregrine's School for Unusual Children by Ranson Riggs
The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1.) Cath Avery in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - My Review
Clearly the most obvious choice. Cath Avery loves books and reading so much that she writes fanfiction and studies creative writing in college. And I love Cath almost as much as that.

2.) Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I imagine that Hermione is on basically every list today. I mean she is the ultimate bookworm but she is also the brains of the operation. Where would the "Golden trio" be without Hermione? Well, Ron would be stuck in Devil's Snare and Harry would have no idea who Nicholas Flammel.

3.) Celaena Sardothian in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas - My Review
Celeana is another easy choice for this list for me. I absolutely adore her as a character. I'm not the biggest fan of the kickass female protagonist but Celeana's love of books, chocolate, and pretty dresses makes her much more complex.

4.) Samwell Tarly in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin - My Review
Tyrion is probably the obvious character if you are looking for a bookish person in this series. And yes, I like Tyrion but I LOVE Sam. One of the things I love about Sam is that he's reverse Celaena. He seems all bookish but he's super brave.

6.) Jo March in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott My Review
You may know that Little Women is my favorite classic. It makes me cry and cheer every time I read it. I love the story of the sisters and I have always related to Jo and her hot temper and love of books. Classics are full of bookish women and Jo is my personal favorite.

5.) Elend Venture in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson - My Review
I love this series so much because of the amazing characters that Sanderson created. I don't often had "book boyfriends" but Elend Venture comes damn close to one. He is the son of a lord but spends parties reading and plotting coups. Plus other stuff!

7.) Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak - My Review
I read this book pretty recently and one of the things I loved was Liesel and her love of books. I mean she loves them so much that she steals them, even before she knows how to read. This list would not be complete without her on it.

8.) Quentin Coldwater in The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman - My Review
Unlike most people I don't hate Quentin. I know he's a whiny little pessimist who is never satisfied even when he gets his heart's desire but I can kind of relate to his ennui. Did I mention that his heart's desire involves magic and a fictional world based a children's book?

9.) Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - My Review
I read this book last summer and totally loved it. It's an emotional modern classic about a young girl growing up in Brooklyn. She has a tough life but the thing that gets her through it is books and the library.

10.) Chubs in The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken - My Review
When we first meet Chubs in The Darkest Minds he has a very battered copy of Watership Down that he is reading at the time. He also has a really creative use for books and book reviews which I love. Plus Chubs is just amazing!

And a few bonus characters from new reads:

11.) Dortchen Wild in The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth - My Review
Dortchen was one of my favorite things about this book. She is incredibly vulnerable but she's still strong. One of the things I like about her is her love of stories and her use of stories to make her life better.

12.) Jess Brightwell in Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine - My Review
Jess lives in a world where knowledge is power and is guarded by a brutal government entity that is actually The Library of Alexandria. He may not be particularly bookish but books are so much a part of his life and I love him so I'm adding him to the list.

What bookish characters made your list? Do we share any of the same favorite characters? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, July 27, 2015

ARC Review: Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

Title: Hoodoo
Author: Ronald L. Smith
Published: September 1, 2015 by Clarion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Set amidst the red soil and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, HOODOO tells the story of twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher, who is born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic, or Hoodoo, as most people call it. 

They use foot-track powder that can go up through your foot to make you sick, a black hen’s egg for getting rid of evil spirits, nutmeg seeds for good luck at gambling and all kinds of other things. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell. 

When a mysterious man called the Stranger shows up in town—all wrapped in black like some kind of holy roller preacher—Hoodoo starts having dreams of a dead man rising from the grave. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. 

Can he summon the magic to save his town and family?

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

I don't read a lot of Middle Grade. Despite reading a bit of everything, and a few exceptions, I find that typically middle grade novels just don't have enough complexities for me. But I was immediately attracted to this book and it's synopsis. And while I did like the plot and world of this book, I never really connected with it completely.

One thing that I really liked about Hoodoo and the reason that I kept reading is the plot of it. This is a pretty quick but engaging Middle Grade read that would be perfect for the Halloween season. It's got an atmospheric world that was quite spooky at times. If I were to categorize the plot of this book as anything I would call it a mystery and that mystery was definitely engaging. There was a hunt for clues and some moments of real suspense. I really enjoyed the mystery. I thought I had it figured out but it kept me wondering from beginning to end. Fans of Middle Grade mysteries will enjoy this one as well.

But unfortunately one of the things that didn't really work for me was the characters. I am a plot-driven reader so I don't really need great characters to like a book, but here they just lacked the complexity that I usually enjoy. The main character of Hoodoo was likable enough and his struggle for the truth was something that I should have been on board for and I'm not sure why but I never totally connected. He and the rest of the secondary characters didn't really jump off the page for me. Well, all expect the antagonist. The Stranger is quite devious and gives Voldemort a run for his money at times. Usually a great antagonist helps me connect with the MC and it did a little but still something kept that from happening.

The thing that didn't work most for me was the world-building. Which is such an odd thing to say because  I really did enjoy the world a lot. The folk magic or hoodoo was complex and interesting and added a lot to the mystery of the book. The setting also was lush and unique and added a lot to the atmosphere and mystery of the books. But there was a little too much tell instead of show when it came to the creation of the world. And I mean the MC would literally tell you what something meant. That may have been one of the reasons I didn't fully connect with him. But it would also take me out of the world completely. I don't mind a "breaking the fourth wall" from time to time but it got a little frustrating. But this style of world-building might be okay for a younger audience however.

Despite a few things that didn't really work, on the whole was an engaging read that I think young readers of scary stories and/or mysteries will love. The world is atmospheric and spooky with a plot full of mystery.

I give Hoodoo by Robert L. Smith 7.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I am not the target audience for this book and that may have gotten in the way of my enjoyment, but a think young readers will devour this book. The world and plot is full of mystery and an atmosphere that would be perfect for the Halloween season.

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

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

Title: The Wild Girl
Author: Kate Forsyth
Published: July 7, 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Dortchen Wild fell in love with Wilhelm Grimm the first time she saw him. 

Growing up in the small German kingdom of Hessen-Cassel in early Nineteenth century, Dortchen Wild is irresistibly drawn to the boy next door, the young and handsome fairy tale scholar Wilhelm Grimm. 

It is a time of War, tyranny and terror. Napoleon Bonaparte wants to conquer all of Europe, and Hessen-Cassel is one of the first kingdoms to fall. Forced to live under oppressive French rule, the Grimm brothers decide to save old tales that had once been told by the firesides of houses grand and small all over the land. 

 Dortchen knows many beautiful old stories, such as 'Hansel and Gretel', 'The Frog King' and 'Six Swans'. As she tells them to Wilhelm, their love blossoms. Yet the Grimm family is desperately poor, and Dortchen's father has other plans for his daughter. Marriage is an impossible dream. Dortchen can only hope that happy endings are not just the stuff of fairy tales.

You probably know that I love the Kate Forsyth book I read last summer, Bitter Greens. I haven't stopped talking about it since. So I was so excited to read The Wild Girl, and experience more of Forsyth's beautiful historical retellings. And while it didn't quite get to that same level, I really enjoyed this book. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, the plot is heartbreaking and romantic, the characters are complex and likable, and the setting is engaging and dark.

The Wild Girl has Kate Forsyth's trademark writing style. This being the second book from her I have read, I can say that I am always struck by how lyrical her writing is. In The Wild Girl she continued to blow me away with her prose that is both atmospheric and dynamic. It pulls you in and immerses you into the world that she has created. It's beautiful and dark at the same time. But that also describes the plot of this book. It's not for the faint of heart. It's exceedingly depressing but I mean that in the best possible way. At times it's hard to read with some pretty graphic scenes about abuse. But just when you think it can't get any worse, Forsyth brings the story back up to a place that makes you know that hope is on the horizon. It's gritty and dark but it also has a realism that is both historically accurate and engaging.

That historical realism is another thing that struck me about this book and Forsyth's writing. In The Wild Girl, history comes alive in this incredibly well-researched book about Germany during and after the Napoleonic Wars. Forsyth perfectly captures the fear and struggle that citizens on the homefront face during the war. It does not glamorize the situation showing the harsh reality for the people who have their live upended by the war whether they are fighting or not. But the historical fiction elements go deeper than that. I love historical fiction that takes real people and reimagines their lives or allows for fictional characters to interact with real people. The Wild Girl was the former. It's also a book about the Grimm Brothers, but more importantly the women who told the brothers the stories they eventually published. I feel like I learned so much about the Grimm Brothers. Like all good historical fiction it made me question what is fact and what is fiction. Forsyth takes some liberties with the history (so she informs us in the afterword) but it all seemed so realistic and engaging at the same time. 

Part of what made this book so hard to read but so good at the same time is the characters. The secondary characters are all complex and interesting. There are some that you love and some that you love to hate. But the real star of this book both literally and within my heart, is the main character Dortchen Wild. She, in particular, is an fantastically sympathetic character. Like Tyrion Lannister I have a soft-spot in my heart for "cripples, bastards, and broken things" and throughout this novel, Dortchen is broken. She has a very tough life. But through it all she is still sympathetic and self-sacrificing. She puts others needs before her own and will suffer the consequences for her actions if those she loves are safe and happy. She really carries this book on her strength of characters and it makes the parts where she is broken down and mistreated all the more difficult. You want Dortchen to have her happy ending.

And that happy ending for Dortchen is romance. You know me, I'm so picky on my romance. But here it really did work so well. It was realistic in the best possible way and honestly combined all my favorite romance elements. It started out as a crush but it wasn't instalove, it slowly developed into something more and by the time it got to a serious level it had me hook line and sinker. But even better than that it was forbidden love in the sense that her father didn't approve and despite their desire they couldn't marry. So it was all stolen kisses and midnight rendez-vous. Like everything else in this book, the romance was difficult and I just wanted to smoosh their faces together.

On the whole I absolutely loved The Wild Girl. It took me a little longer to get through and didn't have the same all-engrossing feeling that Bitter Greens gave me. It was definitely darker and didn't have the same magical quality but it had beautiful writing, a fantastic historical setting, great characters, and a wonderful romance.

I give The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth 9.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are looking for an adult historical retelling or historical fiction set during the Napoleonic Wars then check out this book. If you are a fan of the Grimm Brothers than I definitely recommend this book. If you read Bitter Greens and enjoyed Kate's dark and dramatic writing then pick this book up.

Have you read The Wild Girl? What did you think? Did you like it as much as Bitter Greens, more, or less? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Crossing Over: Historical Fiction Set in Workd War II

It's time for this month's edition of Crossing Over. If you're not familiar with Crossing Over it's a feature where I recommend an adult book with crossover appeal based on a YA book that is similar. It's basically a if you liked, then try but for crossover books. This month's theme is Historical Fiction/Fantasy which gives me the opportunity to recommend two books that I love and are so similar in that they both ripped my heart out among other reasons.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak  
Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Before reading The Book Thief I told myself that I didn't like historical fiction set during World War II. It tended to be the same thing over and over again and it also tended to be overly emotional, rightfully so. But everyone loves this books so I gave it a try and they were indeed not wrong. It was more of a refreshing take on the historical time period because it's more about what life is like on the homefront. It's beautifully written, a complex story of family and friendship, and with likable characters. Not to mention it's heartbreaking in the best possible way.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Read My Review / Add to Goodreads

Even after loving The Book Thief I was a little nervous about reading this book because I still had trepidation about historical fiction set during World War II. But it's critically acclaimed and I've heard great things and they were indeed not wrong. It was more of a refreshing take on the historical time period because it's more about what life is like on the homefront. It's beautifully written, a complex story of family and friendship, and with likable characters. Not to mention it's heartbreaking in the best possible way.

These are two really engaging and beautiful novels that have really stuck with me long after finishing them. If you are a fan of historical fiction, especially if you like books set during World War II I would definitely recommend them. Or if you are just looking for a really emotional read. They're great books in general.

Have you read The Book Thief and/or All the Light We Cannot See? What did you think? What historical fiction crossovers do you like? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Manners and Mutiny
Series: Finishing School #4
Author: Gail Carriger
Published: November 3, 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Synopsis: If one must flirt...flirt with danger. 

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine's floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia's sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she's not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster--in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course. 

What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? Find out in this highly anticipated and thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!

Why I'm Waiting 

This November is all about series conclusions, amiright? (cough cough Winter cough). But the ending of the Finishing School series also comes out then. I marathoned the first three books in this series last fall and was blown away by how creative the world building was. Nobody does steampunk like Gail Carriger (I say this having yet to read her first series even though it's been on my TBR list for ages). But it's also a really fun series that is full of quirky characters, humor, and tons of actions. I liked the first two books but by the time I got to the third book in the series I was so hooked that the book gave me unexpected feels.

And so after those feels, I knew I desperately needed the final book in the series. The synopsis doesn't give us much to go on but I know it's going to be just as fun and engaging. The Pickleman plot finally coming into fruition? Sophronia saving the day? Finding out about what happens to Soap? I cannot wait to read this book!

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