Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Lived Up to the Hype

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
This is probably one of the most hyped books currently. When it came out a few months ago, everyone was talking about it. And I get it now because this book was amazing.

2.) These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
When this book first came out, I saw it everywhere. Or maybe that was because the cover is so eye-catching. Either way, there was a lot of well-deserved hype/

3.) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
When I first started blogging, this was one of the series that every blogger and their mother was talking about. It was so freaking popular, and for good reason. I quickly became just as obsessed as everyone else.

4.) The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
This is another series that everyone was talking about when I first started blogging. I ended up reading it shortly before the final book in the series came out and I am so glad I did because it was worth all the hype.

5.) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
This is a series that isn't universally hyped up, but in the right crowd people will not stop talking about how great it is. And I tend to run in that crowd and pile on the praise because it is really amazing and one of my favorite magical systems ever.

6.) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
I feel like Patrick Ness is a pretty popular author but there is so much hype around this book in particular. And after having read it, I can totally see why. It's beautiful and amazing and completely wrecked me.

7.) The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak
Speaking of books that completely wrecked me. This book is so popular that my brother who almost never reads fiction loves it. He bought me a copy Christmas and I was definitely regretting waiting to read it because it is that good.

8.) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This is probably the other most hyped book at the moment. But this book deserves all the hype. It definitely deserves to be on the NYT Bestseller List for as long as it has been on the list and super hyped up movie too.

9.) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This is another book that was insanely popular when I first started blogging. I ended up reading Fangirl first and really loving it so I had to read this one and was surprised to find it even better and worth every once of hype.

10.) Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
This is one of the rare books that had a lot of hype and I read early. But I won and advance copy and I read it and loved it. It is still one of my all-time favorite contemporary romances.

11.) The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
This book was so hyped when it came out that it was called "the next Harry Potter." And while I do not think it is that level of amazing, it is definitely a series that is worth a lot of the hype it received.

12.) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I know a lot of people are over this series, and I cannot blame them for that, but I am not one of those people. I love this series a lot. But you have to admit, when the first few books came out, this series was beloved within the community.

There you have it, all the hyped books that I think are totally worth all the attention they get or did get when they first came out. What books made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Book Review: Competence by Gail Carriger

Title: Competence
Series: Custard Protocol #3
Written by: Gail Carriger
Published: July 17, 2018 by Orbit

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes the delightful sequel to Imprudence

Accidentally abandoned! 

All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail. 

When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life's most challenging questions: 
Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul? 
Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez? 
And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species?

I adore Gail Carriger and her books. They are always such a pleasure to read and I need a fast and fun book to read this summer. Of course a Gail Carriger book is a great choice for that. This book, like all her previous were full of adventure, humor, and amazing characters.

I absolutely love the characters in all of Carriger's series and in three books I have come to love these characters so much. In this book the focus shifts a little bit to be less about Prudence and more about some of the other characters in the series. Rue of course was as fabulous and fiesty as ever. But it was nice to get a little bit more of a focus on the other characters, especially Prim and Percy. I absolutely love the Tunstell twins so getting this book from their perspective was so fantastic. Prim is really the one who gets the cover and the majority of play though. She has really great development here. The characters are really the foundation of this series. Their quirky, complex, and incredibly likable.

One of the things that I have to say about the characters, because it is one of the things I love about this series and Carriger's books in general is the LGBTQIA representation. It's great to see a book, with a historical setting no less, not shy away from those kinds of characters and embrace them in a really great way. You really connect with these characters and their desire for love. And I really appreciated the fact that Carriger had Prim at the center of this dealing with how society would view her for the person that she loves. It added a good dimension to the relationship and made it all the more satisfying.

But this is not just a book with good character development, it is also a book with great plot development. Carriger's books are always full of action and adventure and Competence was no exception. There are daring escapes and thrilling fight scenes that keep a plot driven reader like me on their toes. One thing I will say however, is that the adventure story aspect really did feel like a bit of an afterthought. This was more a quieter and character-focused narrative. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, it's just different.

The other thing that I really loved about this book was the setting. This series is one that feels like a globe trotting adventure. It takes you all around the world and in this book it took the reader from Asia to South America. I loved being able to explore the two different places, especially Peru. Peru is one of those places that I have always wanted to visit and after reading this book I want to do that even more now. The country really came alive along with it's history and culture. I also really liked the way that Carriger incorporated a specific supernatural creature that is rooted in the culture of Peru into the story. The combination of history, supernatural fantasy, and steampunk has always been the hallmark of Carriger's books and I love the way she is further developing the world with this book.

It's no surprise that I just adored this book. After 13 books Gail Carriger continues to delight and entertain me. The characters are amazing and likable, the plot is character-driven and engaging, and the setting is fantastic.

I give Competence by Gail Carriger 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you are a fan of Carriger, I'm sure I don't need to tell you to read this book. The Custard Protocol is an amazing series and I definitely recommend it to fans of steam punk, supernatural fantasies, or anyone looking for a fun and entertaining read.

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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Out of the Easy
Written by: Ruta Sepetys
Published: February 23, 2013 by Philomel (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. 

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test. 

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

I'm apparently reading Ruta's books backwards. I read Salt to the the Sea a few years ago when it came out and I loved it so much that I wanted to read her other books. But even though I've had copies for awhile now, I only just got around to reading this one. But either way, I really liked this one. It's a great piece of historical fiction wit fantastic characters.

One of the things that first struck me about this book is the characters. Ruta definitely knows how to create characters that are easy to root for. For one thing, they are the kind of people who are strong in the face of adversity. Josie is definitely that kind of person. She has not had an easy life and has had to fight for everything that she has but it has made her strong, resilient, and kind. But I think where this book really shines is with the secondary characters. There are so many fantastic characters from all different walks of life. There are other similar characters to Josie who are kind and supportive friends like Cokie and James. Then there are characters who were more like antagonists like Josie's mother and Mr. Lockwell who were really terrible people who I wanted to get their comeuppance. But that's what made them so interesting. They were the kind of characters you love to hate. There were also characters who walked more of a grey area like Willie. You wouldn't expect a brothel madame to be sympathetic but she was.

One reason that I think the characters were so compelling is that so much of this book was really about found family. It's not an uncommon concept to find in books, the idea that you can find love and support from the people you choose rather than the people who you are thrust in with. This was most obvious with the relationship Josie had with her mother. We joke about absent parents in YA all the time but that was completely true here. Josie's mom was almost never around and when she was, she was ruining her daughter's life. Their interactions were heartbreaking and compelling. In contrast, Willie was much more of a mother figure to Josie. It made for an engaging read and added a lot to the characterizations.

Another thing I really loved about this book was the setting. This book takes you to New Orleans in the 1950's and I ate up every second of it. One thing I really liked about the setting is that it didn't shy away from some of the more tawdry elements of the time. It was a pretty gritty setting to be in a brothel and the book handled that with care and subtly while still addressing it head on. It also dealt with the seedy underworld but in a beautiful city. Having just visited New Orleans I loved being able to read a book that took place there. I could perfectly visualize the French Quarter and it's architecture and the sprawling mansions of the Garden District. The city definitely came alive with her writing and I was glad to revisit a place I loved visiting.

But there was also a lot to love when it came t the historical aspect of this story. What I really enjoyed about this book is that it addressed some popular themes about books set in the 1950's but it did it in a more subtle and obscure way. I was a time of change for a lot of different social groups, especially women and you really see Josie grappling with that as she struggles to get out of New Orleans and attend college. But there was also a lot of old-fashioned ideas that the book dealt with that seem just as topical today when it comes to the treatment of women. It was interesting to read and added a unique layer to the story that I really enjoyed.

My only criticism is with the pacing of the book. There was a lot that happened throughout the book. A lot really terrible things, and things that had me completely on the edge of my seat worried about what was going to happen next. I felt like it was really building to something and then it just kind of fizzled out. Now don't get me wrong, there was a conclusion, it just didn't feel like the appropriately sized conclusion for the rising action. Not to mention there was almost no falling action. Plus there was something that felt like an epilogue just shoved into the last chapter. I felt like there was just something missing at the end. But maybe that's just me.

All in all, Out of the Easy was a great read. A fantastic piece of historical fiction that is solidifying my enjoyment of Ruta Sepetys as a writer. She does what I love about the genre and takes uncommon events in popular time periods and brings them to life with compelling characters. That is exactly what this book did.

I give Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are a fan of historical fiction or want to read a book that deals with the changing role for women in the mid-20th century then definitely check this book out. If you are fan of Ruta's work and haven't read this one then change that immediately.

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Muse of Nightmares
Series: Strange the Dreamer #2
Written by: Laini Taylor
Published: October 2, 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Synopsis: In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
Why I'm Waiting:

I have to admit that I was a bit late to the party when it came to Laini Taylor. I had heard really good things about her first series but I wasn't super interested in it. But then I saw this series and that the audiobook was narrated by Steve West. Anyways, I listened to the audio and I seriously loved it and not just because Steve West makes me feel things I shouldn't feel just by hearing a voice.

But everything about Strange the Dreamer was amazing, The world was fantastic and thrilling, the writing was beautiful and lyrical, the characters were likeable and complex. It was one of my favorite books of last year. I would definitely be excited about this be excited about this book anyway, but the way that the last book ended was so heartbreaking and just knowing the title of this books makes me want to read it even more.

I got an advanced copy of this at ALA and I was so excited to meet Laini and to talk to her about how much I loved the audiobook for Strange the Dreamer. I am hoping to read it but if I am being entirely honest I may end up waiting and listening to the audiobook.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Sensory Memory

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This is such a hard category. For one thing I am notorious for not remembering what happens in a book after finishing it so how am I supposed to have a sense memory. But I ended up finding a few that make me think of a particular thing about when I read it.

1.) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I read this book about seven years ago when I moved into a new apartment. That in and of itself isn't the sense memory but I vividly remember reading it on a mattress of the floor because I was too lazy to put my bed together the first night.

2.) The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The memory this book gives me is sitting on an airplane reading it. I remember that in fact because it was when I was flying to Europe to study abroad and I left the book in the pocket of the seat on the airplane. Then 10 years later I found the exact copy at a used bookstore to replace it.

3.) The Lost World by Michael Crichton
I remember sitting in the back seat of my parents' minivan and reading this book. We were on our way to pick up our new puppy when I was in middle school. This book always makes me think of that.

4.) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I read most of these books while sitting on a train, well listened to the audiobooks. So these books always make me think about being on the train and awkwardly laughing.

5.) Rumors by Anna Godbersen 
I bought this book when I was traveling for work and I saw this at a Border's closeout sale.So now every time I look at this book I think about that trip to Baltimore and also Borders, may it rest in peace,

6.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I absolutely adore Little Women. It is one of my all-time favorite books. I had read it a few times and then I started canvassing in Massachusetts and went to Concord and saw Orchard house where Alcott grew up. Now I think of that when I see this book.

7.) The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart because I was reading books during very pivotal moments in my life. Goblet of Fire during my cousin's funeral, Order of the Phoenix on my high school graduation, Half-Blood Prince when I was Italy, and The Deathly Hollows before I first moved to Providence.

8.) Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzie Lee 
This book will always make me think of the fact that I drove in a bomb cyclone up to Boston to attend Mackenzi's signing in Boston. That was not a fun drive but I met Mackenzi and that was worth it.

What books made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Book Review: Puddin by Julie Murhy

Title: Puddin'
Series: Dumplin' #2
Written by: Julie Murphy
Published: May 8, 2018 by Balzar + Bray (Harper Collins)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: It is a companion novel to Dumplin', which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean's star turn in the Clover City pageant.

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

I always really love Julie's contemporary novels. I have read all three of her previous novels and really enjoyed them all. They are the contemporaries that I love because they combine fun and lighthearted with more serious moments. Puddin was no exception. Plus it was so great to dive back into the world of Dumplin.

On of the things that I really liked about this book was the characters. Julie definitely knows how to write complex and likeable characters. Our two main characters could not be more different. Millie is perpetually optimist and hopeful. She is sweet and cares a lot about other people. For that reason, Millie is so easy to like and root for. She's the kind of person who never lets anything get her down for too long and she has a lot of inner strength. Being in Millie's head and hearing her voice was amazing. It was a breathe of fresh air and I really felt the joy of Millie's perspective. Callie on the other hand was totally opposite. She was a complete pessimist and totally sassy. Callie is the kind of protagonist that I usually enjoy though. She's kind of unlikable in that she's a bit of a jerk but she also has really great development throughout the book. I loved seeing Callie grow and evolve.

Each of the characters also had a romance throughout the book. I'm usually sort of picky when it comes to my romances but I really liked both of these. For Millie it was a friends to more sort of thing. She had a crush on this guy who she didn't realize also liked her. It was such a sweet and cute romance. The moments they had together were a really great part of the story. Callie also had a really great relationship in this book. It was with a character who was introduced in Dumplin' and I was glad to see that they found love as well. What I really liked too is that it's not two characters who you would normally put together but it worked so well.

But the real heart of this story was the friendships. First we have the unlikely girl gang that began in Dumplin'. I was so glad to see that Millie stayed close with Willowdean, Ellen, Hannah, and Amanda. Not only did I like the fact that we got to see them again but they are a great group and seeing their relationships grow throughout the book was fantastic. The bigger friendship of course was with Callie and Millie. They're definitely an unlikely duo which made their friendship all the more interesting and engaging. Plus the book dealt with more toxic friendships as well. It not only showed how you can become friends with people but also what it means to lose friends, whether because you drift apart or because you have a big falling out. I like the dichotomy of the two and how it showed the emotional toll that can take on a person. It was really relateable in that way.

But like all of Julie's books, it deals with some more serious concepts as well. One of the things that I liked the most is the way that it dealt with weight and perceptions of weight. If you read Dumplin' then you probably remember Millie as a fellow fat girl and the runner up in the pageant. I really love the way Millie's weight is handled in this book. They didn't shy away from addressing it and some of the misconceptions people have about fat people. As someone who is larger I really liked that. It improved on a lot of the ideas that Dumplin' introduced and I really liked the way it addressed these issues.

All in all, Puddin' was a fantastic contemporary read. It had great characters that were likable and interesting, it had an enjoyable romance, and a good story of friendship. Like all of Julie's books it perfectly balanced fun and sweet moments with serious issues.

I give Puddin' by Julie Murphy 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you liked Julie's previous books then you should definitely read this one, especially if you enjoyed Dumplin'. But even if you didn't, this is a good contempoary read and you should definitely check out Julie's books.

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Audiobook Review: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Title: Bright We Burn
Series: The Conquerors Saga #3 
Written by: Kiersten White
Published: July 10, 2018 by Delacorte (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it? 

Lada's rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won't rest until everyone knows that her country's borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed's peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince. 

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister's indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before--including her relationships--can Lada truly build the country she wants.  
Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

I immediately knew that this series was going to be right up my alley when I first learned about it. First of all, it’s about Vlad Tepes and every book I have read about Dracula, real or imagined, I have loved. But this is also a gender-swapped historical fiction with a badass female protagonist which, sign me up. And this last book in the series truly was amazing.

In three books I have become very attached to these characters and it’s become very easy to root for them. First there is Lada, the gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler. She was really everything I wanted her to be, especially in this book. She was absolutely brutal and did whatever it took to take back and keep her crown. But the best part about that is it wasn’t unfounded. I liked that there was a big picture to it. Lada was fighting in the name of progress and equality. For that I really loved her. And then there is Radu, her brother. Radu could not be any more different from Lada. He is sweet, good-natured, and thoughtful when it comes to his actions. The best part about Radu in this book is that you really get to see him shine when it comes to politics and it was exciting to see, especially as someone who loves books with political intrigue.

But what I think I liked most about these characters is the exploration of good and evil. This book is full of people who are doing bad things for the right reasons but their reasons are contradictory to one another which adds another great layer. Usually you don’t have two such different characters who are at odds like this. But when it happens, it is always on books that I love and this book was no exception. Throughout the series Kiersten really explores the idea of the sacrifices people are willing to make to achieve their goals and some of the impacts of war on not only the people but their rulers. Plus it was subtle. It didn’t hit you over the head with a message and I liked that.

The other very cool thing about this book is the historical setting. Most books set in the Middle Ages are very focused on a Western European setting. I liked that his had an Eastern European and Middle Eastern setting. It was cool to see the conflict of Christianity and Islam from both perspectives. Plus, again it was subtle. It wasn’t a story about religion and The Crusades, that was just a small part of it. No, this was a story of the Draculesti family, which I thoroughly enjoyed. You can tell that Kiersten did her research. She made some changes, you kind of have to when you’re gender-swapping, but it added to the story. It made me want to learn more about The read Vlad the Impaler and Radu cel Frumos which honestly is the mark of good historical fiction in my opinion.

All in all I really loved this book. It has fantastic characters, a thrilling plot, and a great historical setting. The whole series was amazing and I think it is one of those rare series where it gets better over time. This book is without a doubt my favorite and the one I wanted from the start.\

I give Bright We Burn by Kirsten White 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you like historical fiction or are looking for a book with a badass female ruler to root for definitely check this one out. Side note: if you like audiobooks, these ones are narrated by Fiona Hardingham and they are really amazing. I liked the last two so much better than the first and I think it's because I got the audio.

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Novella and Short Stories

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire
If you saw my list last week with my favorite books of the year so far then this will come as no surprise. Because I marathoned this series earlier of novellas this year and it was one of my favorites.

2.) The Collectors and Once Upon a Time in the North by Phillip Pullman
Most of the novellas and short stories that I read are those that are part of a larger series that I love. That was the case for these two. But I will say, they are both amazing and add to the series a lot.

3.) Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson
This is another book that is part of a larger series that I love. But also this is an audiobook that is short and sweet and narrated by MacLeod Andrews so obviously I loved it.

4.) Stars Above and Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Stars Above is a collection of short stories. Not all of them are great but as a collection they are awesome. And then there is Fairest, which is a really great origin story for Levana.

5.) The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Another collection of stories. But these are such good stories that are all Grisha spins on classic fairy tales. I couldn't just pick one, yes I can... When the Water Sang Fire.

6.) Iron to Iron by Ryan Graudin
This short story is about Luka Lowe and his race again Adele Wolfe. It's been awhile since I said it but you all should know that I am deeply in love with Luka Lowe.

7.) The Curious Case of the Wereworlf Who Wasn't by Gail Carriger
Another novella that is part of a larger series that I love. I really enjoy Gail and the Parasol Protectorate series. It was great having a book from Alexia's father too.

8.) Mistborn: Secret History by Brandon Sanderson 
Another novella that is a part of a larger series that I love so much I had to add this to my list. Plus it completely destroyed everything we thought we knew about this series. I mean it blew my freaking mind.

9.) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
There is a lot to love about Patrick Rothfuss and his The Kingkiller Chronicle series. One of those things is Auri. Auri who has her own gorgeous novella. Auri who is a precious cinnamon roll that I adore.

10.) Legion by Brandon Sanderson
One more Brandon Sanderson novella. Apparently I really like his novellas. But this is such a fun mystery and a good spin on books about super-powered people. He does that well.

There you have it, all the short stories and novellas that I love. I think I need to read more. I will be paying pretty close attention to everyone else's lists for recommendations. If you have any that you love leave me a comment below. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Book Review: Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Through the Dark
Series: The Darkest Minds #1.5, 2.5, and 3.5
Written by: Alexandra Bracken
Published: October 6, 2015 by Disney Hyperion

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Don't miss this breathtaking collection of stories set in the world of the best-selling Darkest Minds trilogy, now in paperback: 


A desperate young man is forced to make a terrible choice between his own survival and the future of a little girl who won't speak, but who changes his life in ways he could never imagine. 


 A spark of light brightens a brutal world when a girl named Sam encounters her childhood best friend at the government-run "rehabilitation" camp, Thurmond. Lucas and Sam form a risky escape plan, but sometimes even love isn't powerful enough to overcome unspeakable cruelty. 


The camps are closed. A tyrant president has been deposed. But for many Psi kids living rough, there is no home to return to, no place for them in a country devastated by the past and anxious about the future. Every day is a struggle for Sam, who knew all the rules at Thurmond and has been thrown into a terrifying and uncertain new life. But there's more at stake than Sam's own survival. She once made a promise to someone she loves, and the time has come to fulfill it. 

 From New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a collection of three hauntingly beautiful novellas set in the world of the Darkest Minds series. In the most harrowing of times, it takes a ferocious strength not only to survive, but to stand up for those who cannot fight their own battles. The characters in these stories-some new, some familiar-face impossible missions, and the hardest of all may be protecting the last flicker of hope in a seemingly endless night.

I love The Darkest Minds series, not only is it one of my favorite series but is among my all-time favorite dystopias. But as much as I love the series I have not read any of the novellas and therefore I hadn't read this book yet. So with The Darkest Legacy coming out I thought it would be the perfect time to read this one. And I was not at all disappointed. It was a great way to get back into the world and learn a little more about the the larger world of the series.

Surprisingly, I would say that In Time was probably my least favorite of the three novellas here. I mean, don't get me wrong, I loved seeing Zu and learning about what she was up to between The Darkest Minds and In the Afterlight. It was good to have a refresher on Zu as well before The Darkest Legacy. She was one of my favorite secondary characters in the original series so anything involving Zu I thought I would be interested in. But this wasn't about Zu, it was about Gabe and I didn't really enjoy Gabe. He had decent character development but I just didn't connect with him and that kind of prevented me from loving this story.

In contrast, Sparks Rise is told from the perspective of a secondary character in the original series. Sparks Rise is about Sam. I feel like Sam is one of those characters who we needed more from. She is only in the first part of The Darkest Minds and the last part of In the Afterlight. I liked Sam but there was so much more to learn about her. In this story we get her backstory and more from her at Thurmond. I loved seeing Sam and how kind and caring she is to those who need her help. Her and Lucas had a nice relationship, although I don't necessarily ship it but I liked seeing them interact and the ending definitely broke my heart a little bit. This is also maybe the story that adds the most to the series. We learn more about the camps and more about the Reds. I enjoyed it and it was probably the story I finished the fastest. My only issue is that I feel like the escape plan could have gotten a little more attention. It's in the synopsis but it was only like 10% of the novella.

If Sparks Rise adds the most to the original series, then Beyond the Night adds the most to the future of the series. In that novella we get to see what the world is like of now that the camps are closed and IAAN has come to it's relative conclusion. It was really interesting to get a peak into what the world is like for these teens now that the resolution from the original series has been resolved. It's not all puppies and rainbows. There is still a lot of really tough things the characters are dealing with. It's something we don't get to experience a lot from our favorite series and I am glad I get to do it with this one. I also really liked getting to continue with Sam and to meet Mia. Mia was really interesting and likable. She's like a fun combination of Vida and Liam. Speaking of those two, I have good news, your favorite characters from the original series are featured in this story as well and it was a real treat to see them again and to add to the gang.

On the whole I think this a good collection of short stories. I think I read it at the right time because it prepared me well for The Darkest Legacy. There isn't really much of a through line with this collection without it really. Sparks Rise and Beyond the Dark do have a lot of connection and those two books probably could have been turned into their own book but In Time really doesn't have much connection to the other two stories. Obviously they all involve The Darkest Minds but it's not a very cohesive collection.

I give Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are a fan of The Darkest Minds then you should definitely buy and read this collection of stories. I think that now is the perfect time to read it as well. It's a great refresher before The Darkest Legacy.

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Book Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Title: Imaginary Girls
Written by: Nova Ren Suma
Published: June 14, 2011 by Dutton Juvenile (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby. 

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood. 

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

I read The Walls Around Us a few years back and I really loved it. Since then I have been wanting to read more of her books. I saw this one on Overdrive and decided to snag it and read this month before I read her new book this fall. And while it was an engaging read, I didn't quite love it as much as I was hoping.

One thing that I did love about this book was the atmosphere. Nova Ren Suma definitely knows how to draw you in with her writing. She is the kind of writer who pays a lot of attention to the atmosphere and the way the book makes you feel. And what it makes you feel is uncertain and uneasy. There is a lot of mystery and wonder in this book which adds to that as well. Her writing is beautiful and lyrical in a way that you don't usually see with YA thrillers, but Nova does it so well.

The best way she does this is with the setting. We start with a small town in Upstate New York. As someone who grew up in a lake town in Upstate New York I was really excited to read this book and find my hometown in it. And while it wasn't as far upstate as I was hoping, it was still a great setting. It's a place with a lot of history that adds to the mystery and suspense of the setting. I do however wish that we had learned more about the town of Olive and the people who lived there. This isn't a historical mystery but it very easily could have been. As someone who loves those kinds of stories I couldn't help but feel as if this was missing something because it didn't go there. But that is just a personal preference.

Instead of being a historical mystery this book read more like magical realism. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Nova likes to add these subtle magical elements to her books. This one of course was no exception. The magic of this book was just one more thing that added to the mysterious atmosphere of this book. And while I really enjoyed the magical elements of this book I wish they had some more explanation too. It was just something that existed and we never got much information about what was happening and why. I just have so many questions when it comes to the world and plot of this book.

However, one of the really interesting things about this book was the characters. I am going to assume that these are not the kind of characters most people will enjoy. But I really enjoyed them because Nova does unlikable characters so well. Because the characters here are truly terrible. The two main characters are Chloe and Ruby. Ruby for one is truly terrible. She's manipulative and does some completely heinous things throughout the book taking advantage of people who care about her. The only person she really cares about is Chloe who is unable to see how awful she really is. I went into this book expecting a good story of sisterhood and I got one that was about a crazy and codependent family. It was definitely really interesting and kept me guessing though. If you like books about terrible people then this is definitely the book for you.

On the whole I enjoyed this book but it wasn't as tight a book as I was hoping. The setting and world is really interesting and atmospheric but there just wasn't enough info or explanation to it, but it does have interesting and unlikable characters.

I give Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I picked this up from the library and I think this was the right call. It's an interesting read but it didn't blow me away like I was hoping. If you like any of the author's other books then I would pick this one up as well.

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