Friday, September 28, 2018

Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylore

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Written by: Laini Taylor
Published: November 6, 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war. 

This is not that world. 

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. 

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life. 

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

I know everyone loves this series and I wasn't really planning on reading it but I read the first book on a whim and totally getting the hype. Thus continues my marathon of the audiobooks in this series. I really loved this book, the series is getting so good.

One of the best things about this book is the world building and setting. If like me you were more of a fan of the second half of Daughter of Smoke and Bone then you are going to love the world of this book. Here we get to go to Eretz and learn much more about the chimera and the work of their resurrection. I was way more fascinated by the chimera in Daughter of Smoke and Bone so I really enjoyed learning more about them in this book. We got to explore where they are from including Loramendi and the Kirin Caves where Madrigal's people were from. Laini's amazing writing really did a great job in making these locations come to life with her descriptive and beautiful writing. I could completely visualize everything and usually for me everything is kind of just a blur when it comes to settings and characters.

Speaking of characters, the characters here were completely amazing. I am thoroughly impressed by the character developent in this series and it was very evident in this book. First and foremost you have Karou and Akiva. In the first book in the series I became really attached to them and their story. After Daughter of Smoke and Bone they have been separated and while their ultimate goals align they are also in conflict which made their personal development really interesting. Karou in particular is in a really dark place. It was easy to root for her and want her to succeed over the books antagonists. Who by the way are amazing. On both sides of the conflict you had some truly heinous characters. With the seraphim you had Jael, Akiva's uncle, and with the chimaera you had Thiago. Both are scheming and power hungry, doing truly terrible things to our main characters. And that was only the beginning of the amazing secondary characters. Zuzanna and Mik were amazing as always, and Liraz and Hazael were so good in this book. They are quickly becoming some of my favorite characters.

But I think the part I liked the most about this book was the plot development. I thought the first book in the series was a bit slow in the plot department but here that was not the case. There was so much action and adventure. The stakes were very high with the war between the seraph and chimaera and the threat of impending doom on Earth. There were tons of surprises and I was absolutely on the edge of my seat for a lot of the book. By the end of it I was so emotionally invested in the outcome which is really the best outcome yo could expect.

I really loved Days of Blood and Starlight. I felt like it had everything I loved about Daughter of Smoke and Bone with some of the things I was hoping that book would have. It had a fascinating world, amazing characters, and a thrilling plot.

I give Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I am really enjoying marathoning  this series and definitely recommend that if you like YA Fantasy and have not read this series you check it out. The audiobooks are fantastic and you should definitely listen to it.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Review: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Title: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
Series: Montague Siblings #2
Written by: Mackenzi Lee
Published: October 2, 2018 by Katherine Tegan Books (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Felicity Montague is through with pretending she prefers society parties to books about bone setting—or that she’s not smarter than most people she knows, or that she cares about anything more than her dream of becoming a doctor. 

 A year after an accidentally whirlwind tour of Europe, which she spent evading highwaymen and pirates with her brother Monty, Felicity has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of Callum Doyle, a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh; and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science. 

But then a small window of hope opens. Doctor Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician that Felicity idolizes, is looking for research assistants, and Felicity is sure that someone as forward thinking as her hero would be willing to take her on. However, Platt is in Germany, preparing to wed Felicity’s estranged childhood friend Johanna. Not only is Felicity reluctant to opening old wounds, she also has no money to make the trip. 

Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that will lead her from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

I absolutely loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue so when I heard Mackenzi was writing a companion sequel about Felicity I was over the moon. I was so excited to return to these characters and learn what would happen to her. And I thoroughly enjoyed this feminist piece of historical fiction.

One of the things that I loved about this book was the characters. In Gentleman’s Guide, Felicity is just a small part of the narrative but she still made a good impression. Here she gets the focus and it I really enjoyed unpacking her. The thing about Felicity though is that she is far less charming in the traditional sense but very charming in the figurative sense. She’s exactly what you think of when you consider an “unlikable female character.” She’s prickly and judgmental, ambitious and determined. But that’s part of her charm. She’s still the kind of character you root for and want to see achieve her goals. She’s fierce and fiery and I loved being in her head.

But some of the best character here were the secondary characters. I particularly enjoyed Johanna. What I liked about Johanna was that she is everything Felicity is not. She’s girly and sweet, caring about what society would expect a young woman to care about like fashion and appearances. But she’s also interested in science, animals, and exploration. Johanna is the character that most books would make the protagonist but here she is just part of the team and I almost liked that more. She’s a great foil for Felicity and ultimately a great example of different kinds of amazing and fierce women. But she wasn’t the only great secondary character. Dr. Alexander Platt was very complex and Sim was a really engaging female pirate character. Plus if you were hoping some good moments with Monty and Percy you are definitely in luck. Overall, I think the characters in this book were great.

I also really loved the historical setting. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and I am sometimes overly critical because I think a book really needs to be grounded in the time period. Mackenzi did exactly that while still making the book relevant for a modern reader. Here the focus is on women of the period, ambition women who want to do something that the patriarchy just doesn’t want them to do. I loved the way she explored these concepts with three very different women. But this was also a little bit about medicine in the 18th century. You can tell the author did her research into the techniques, however strange, at the time.

The only thing I didn’t totally live is the plot development. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t interesting. Because I did enjoy it. It wasn’t quite the globe trotting mystery and adventure that I was hoping for but it was complex and engaging and unfolded in a way that kept me reading and interested from beginning to end. The thing is, it had a what felt like a fantasy element element just added on to built interest and it felt weird and forced. I think the book would have just as good if that part had been a little more grounded in reality. Or maybe it was and it just wasn’t explained well enough. Either way, it felt like a strange addition to an otherwise great read.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had great characters that were complex and interesting, an immersive historical setting, and a plot that kept me reading and engaged.

I give The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you liked the first book in the series, check this one out and fall in love with Felicity and Johanna. Or if you are looking for a good historical fiction novel that is grounded in reality that still feels modern and interesting definitely get to know the Montague Siblings.

Have you read The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books from My Favorite Authors I Have Not Read

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson
I have read a lot of Sanderson books and even though I really want to read this series and I have the first two on audiobook I have not read it yet. I think because they are so long and it feels like such an investment.

2.) Going Bovine by Libba Bray
I absolutely love Libba Bray and I have read all her books, except her debut. I do have a copy of the e-book but I still haven't read it.

3.) Second Chance Summer and Amy + Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
I started reading Morgan Matson with Since You've Been Gone. It was the main reason I decided that I don't hate contemporary but I still haven't read her first two books.

4.) The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Steifvater
My first Maggie book was The Scorpio Races which I loved and then I read The Raven Cycle which was amazing, but I have not read this series.

5.) Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
This is another case where I haven't read the author's debut. In my defense, I think this one is out of print so it's hard to find.

6.) Lost by Gregory Maguire
I love (most of) Gregory Maguire's retellings but I have not read this one which is much more of a mystery. It seems like a book I would enjoy and yet I haven't read it.

7.) The Archived series by Victoria Schwab
I absolutely love Victoria Schwab and I have read most of her books. I've read everything from Vicious on but I haven't read her books that came before it. I just bought a copy of the new bind up so I can finally read it.

8.) Heist Society by Ally Carter
Originally I was going to list the last two books in the Gallagher Girls series because I still haven't finished it despite owning them. But I changed it to this series because despite loving this author and heist novels, I have not read this series.

9.) Supernatural Society by Gail Carriger
I have read a lot of Gail Carriger books. A LOT. But not these novellas even though the characters that they are about (Genvieve Lefoux and Professor Lyall) I have not read these two books.

10.) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
I have read most of Jane Austen's books but I have not read Manfield Park. I have seen the movie though. Does that count?

There you have it. All the books by my favorite authors that I haven't read. What books made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: The Agony House by Cherie Priest

Title: The Agony House
Written by: Cherie Priest and Tara O'Connor
Published: Septemebr 25, 2018 by Scholastic

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family's money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn't seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. 

But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it's clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. 

Denise isn't budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive...

This book was amazing! Everything I wanted it to be and more. I loved I Am Princess X and I was really excited to hear that she had a new book coming out in a similar format. I saw copies available at ALA and I picked it up without even reading the synopsis. Then I read the synopsis and was even more excited.

It was incredibly apropos that I received a copy of this book at ALA in New Orleans because this is a book set in New Orleans, which is just one great thing about it. And the mystery and history of New Orleans definitely comes alive in The Agony House. It’s a city full of stories of ghosts and haunted houses. That seems to be the basis for this story and I really loved that. I love books that are set in mysterious old houses because I always wonder what happened in a place years ago. And seriously, this House was so creepy and fascinating. I'm not a huge fan of horror and I don't like being scared and this book had the perfect amount of creepy and mysterious that had me curious and freaked out in the best possible way. It definitely had this great horror movie vibe. It was compelling and cinematic made all the more interesting with the comics that were dispersed throughout.

But the house was only the start when it came to establishing the setting of this book. It takes place in the present day so the book has to deal with Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. I really liked why Cherie Priest did with this aspect of the story. She didn’t shy away from talking about some of the terrible things that happened to the city of New Orleans and the people who lived there. She also really addressed the idea of gentrification and people coming into a blighted neighborhood and wanting to make it better at the expense of the people who had been there for generations. It’s such an interesting concept and I loved that she talked about it here. It gave the book a lot of depth and also grounded it in reality.

And that reality was shown in sharp contrast to the amazing supernatural elements in this book. I’m not a big fan of horror but I like a creepy book that makes me look over my shoulder and question things about old houses which is exactly what this book did. The ghost elements were really well done and had me really thinking that this house could certainly be a stop on a New Orleans ghost tour if it existed. And the ghost tour I went on was one of the highlights of my trip so that made me incredibly happy.

The other thing about this book that made me very happy was the mystery. I really loved the way it all unfolded. Like I Am Princess X this one had a comic that was dispersed throughout the story which gave clues that lead to the big reveal at the end (and in this case also showed what run ins with the resident ghost would be like). But unlike Princess X, I felt like this mystery was a little less obvious. It still was solvable and there were hints but it felt like a more mysterious and complex narrative which I appreciated. It was also an incredibly addicting read. It’s a short book and therefore it’a not too surprising that I finished it in two days but I also could not put it down. I keep telling myself “just one more chapter” and before I knew it I had read another forty pages. It had that much of my attention.

All in all, this was an amazing read. It is the perfect combination of supernatural thriller and historical mystery plus there is the comic thrown in for even more amazingness.

I give The Agony House by Cherie Priest 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I really loved and definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fast and compelling Halloween read. If you liked I Am Princess X then definitely get this one, or even if you didn't read it and we want a creepy and fast read for fall get it.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Written by: Laini Taylor
Published: September 27, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. 

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. 

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war. 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. 

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I'll be honest, I never really planned to read this series. I know so many people love it but I just didn't think it was my thing. But I loved Strange the Dreamer and I heard this audio was really good so I decided to pick it up on an Audible sale ages ago. And finally this month I decided to give it a try (in secret in case I hated it) and I am so glad I did because it was amazing.

One thing I really loved about this book was the world-building. Laini Taylor is definitely the master of building a world that draws you in. Her writing is beautiful in the way it establishing a mysterious and atmospheric setting. In this series you first have the backdrop of Prague which in and of itself is unique and compelling, but then you add the underground of the magical creatures. I am not usually a fan of books about angels however I think here it worked. I think because I often forget that we were talking about angels. The seraphim just felt like one more magical creature that this world was built about. Speaking of magical creatures, the more interesting ones were the chimera. I was fascinated by characters like Brimstone and Issa, then eventually Madrigal in the flashback. It gave the book a really subtle Urban Fantasy feel to it which I really enjoyed.

As far as the plot goes, this definitely felt like it had some pretty serious first book syndrome. A lot of the book was just exposition. It seemed like it's main goal was to set up the future books. Which is fine for me because I decided to marathon the series but overall I think the book misses out on something because of that. I have heard some criticism from people about how they lost interest when the book began focusing on the flashbacks, but for me that was the best part. That was the part that interested me because that was the part that had plot implications for the series. But overall it did feel like two different stories, both of which were important but gave the book a disjointed feel.

But I think what redeemed things a bit for me was the characters. I really enjoyed the characters in this Book. First and foremost we had Karou. Karou is smart and quick-witted in the best possible way. She's tough and stands up for herself and the people she cares about in ways that will make you laugh and root for her at the same time. She's the kind of character that I always love reading about because she's so charming. But she's also mysterious. A lot of this book is about her figuring out who she is and how she fits into this world of chimera and seraphim. I was more than happy to figure that out with her.

The secondary characters however were maybe even more amazing. Karou's chimaera family were so interesting and I wanted to learn more about them which really drew me into the plot. I also really like Akiva. He's got a tortured past that could easily become cliche but it never does. And while I'm not fully committed to their relationship yet, I don't hate it. The idea of falling in love with an angel however star-crossed that love may be isn't something I usually enjoy but here I like the way it is developing at least. But the best character, without a doubt, is Zuzanna. Zuze is a tiny and fierce spitfire who is there for Karou no matter what and as a reader who is there as well she's very relatable. Plus she's just a total bright spot in what might otherwise be a pretty bleak book.

All in all, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a fantastic read. I can see why so many people love this series and I am glad I took the time to read it. It has all the things that I love about YA fantasy. There's a unique and compelling world, interesting and likable characters, and a good story of personal development. I do wish there had been less exposition though.

I give Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you have wanted to read this series and like me you have been dragging your feet, stop waiting and go read it. Also I would definitely recommend the audio if you are fans of audiobooks.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco Blog Tour: Review and Favorite Quotes

About the Book

Title: Escaping from Houdini
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3
Written by: Kerri Maniscalco
Published: June 6, 2018 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. . 

 Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly. 

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

My Review

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

I am a huge fan of this series. When I read the first book two years ago I fell completely in love witht he characters, the setting, the mystery, everything. I was so excited to see Kerri again at ALA and pick up a copy of this book. So excited in fact that I didn't wait to read it, something I almost never do. Yes, friends, I read this book three months ago and I waited to share my review.

My favorite part of this book and the series in general is the character. I absolutely adore Audrey Rose. She is such a fantastic protagonist and my favorite kind of female heroine. She's not perfect and while she is completely badass she is still feminine and vulnerable sometimes. But the best part of Audrey Rose is that she is entirely herself and who she wants to be despite what society might expect from her. This book is so much about trying to figure out exactly what she wants with her future. I loved seeing Audrey Rose figure that out even if I didn't totally agree with all the decisions that she made throughout the book.

But my favorite characters are probably the secondary characters. It seems strange to call Thomas a secondary character but I guess that's what he is. Who cares what he is, because Thomas is amazing and my absolute favorite. Thomas is in rare form in this book and is a hilarious and fantastic snark machine. He always makes me laugh especially at the magic shows. Some of my favorite quotes come from Thomas interacting with others. One of those people I love him interacting with is the ringmaster. I don't want to give too much away about him but he is the sort of over the top charming sort of person that I think a lot of people are going to like. I however am hardcore Team Thomas and was a annoyed at him for trying to come between my ship. But I will say, he was a complex and interesting character like a lot of the members of the circus.

Speaking of the circus, this setting was completely amazing. I am not usually a big fan of books set during circuses. I know so many people love fantasies in circuses but for me they always seem too over the top magical and not at all realistic. This however felt realistic. It was grounded in reality of actual circuses at the turn of the 20th Century. I felt the wonder and mystery that characters were feeling and I was just as fascinated with everything that was going on. But I think the characters in the circus also made it all the more interesting. I wanted to know about them and about the circus.

The only thing that I didn't love as much about this book was the mystery. I'll be honest, the mysteries in this book are not at all complicated. I have solved every single one of them and usually I solve them with a throw away comment that leads me directly to the killer who is only revealed. Their motivation is then revealed as the book develops. I am perfectly okay with that. I like solvable mysteries. The only problem however is that there needs to be a good explanation as to why they are doing what they are doing and how it is all connected. Here I didn't quite get that. Even when everything was all said and done there really wasn't much of that cohesion to the mystery. Plus there really was no connection to the overall narrative of the series. I know this series was only going to be three books but then it ended up being four. I think maybe this one just kind of felt like a companion that is connected to the series but indirectly. I wish it had added more to the larger story but maybe it will in the end.

Overall this was a really great read. I loved being able to reconnect with Audrey Rose and Thomas, and to go with them on another great adventure to a fascinating historical circus setting. I wish the mystery was a little more cohesive but I still really enjoyed it.

I give Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalso 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you liked the first two books in the series then you have to read the next book in then series. On the whole this is a truly brilliant historical mystery series and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction or crime novels.

About the Author

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.


Favorite Quotes

And now as part of the blog tour for this book I want to share some of my favorite quotes. I don't usually make a note of quotes while I am reading but when it came to this book I did do that. There are some overall amazing quotes that just resonated with me. Then there are some hilarious Thomas quotes that made me so happy.

Prize: One ARC of Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco (USA only)
 Starts: 9/12/18
 Ends: 9/26/18

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

The Rest of September:

1.) The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee  - Add to Goodreads
I loved Gentleman's Guide and am super excited for a Felicity book. I have heard some mixed reviews but I am still excited.

2.) Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor Add to Goodreads
September is Laini Taylor month for me. I am reading the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and soon the sequel to Strange the Dreamer.

3.) Vengeful by Victoria Schwab  - Add to Goodreads 
Sequel to Vicious! The sequel we didn't know we needed until we get it! I love Victoria and I can't wait for her next one.


4.) Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepard  - Add to Goodreads
So excited for Paris plus fantasy creatures. It's what I have been wanting to read for ages and I'm glad authors are writing historical Paris settings. Bring on all the historical Paris narratives!

5.) Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke  - Add to Goodreads
Also, bring on the assassins. I love a book about assassins and I think this one sounds amazing. Plus I have been wanting to read this author for ages so this is a good opportunity.

6.) Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore - Add to Goodreads
I love Anna-Marie's books. They are such amazing magical realism and this one sounds like it will be another great one. I can't wait to read it.

7.) Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak - Add to Goodreads
Another book by Marcus Zuzak! I was late to the party for The Book Thief but I got there and I am so glad I did. I'm excited for another one of his books.


8.) Pulp by Robin Tally - Add to Goodreads
Robin always writes really great historical novels with LGBT characters and her contemporary retelling was really good as well. I'm excited to see how she does with this dual narrative thing,

9.) Girls of Paper and Fire by Ntasha Ngan - Add to Goodreads
This book sounds like an amazing fantasy and I am super excited to read it. I have loved every Jimmy Books book I have read so I definitely have high hopes.

10.) Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - Add to Goodreads
JLB writing about badass debutantes. It's the book I didn't know my life was missing until I heard the synopsis. I'm also really excited to read more of JLB's books.

There you have it, all the books that made my list. What books are you planning to read this fall. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, September 17, 2018

ARC Review: Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Title: Strange Grace
Written by: Tessa Gratton
Published: September, 2018 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice. 

Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest. 

Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early. 

Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.

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

I was so excited to read this book because it sounded totally up my alley. A book about a witch, a strangle town, a creepy forest, and complex characters. And yes, it had all those things and yet somehow I didn't enjoy this book as much as I was expecting at all.

One thing I do think this book did well is the setting. It crafted an interesting and atmospheric world that definitely had that modern fairy tale vibe to it. Like a lot of modern fairy tale stories it's the kind of book that feels almost timeless. It could be taking place today in a different world or a corner of our world even, or it could be set in Medieval times. I really enjoy that in my fantasy and I think this book did that very well. And the atmosphere. It was the perfect fall read with the creepy forest and the small town with a curse. The scenes in the woods were some of the very best in the book.

But that being said, this is another book which relied way too heavily on atmosphere. It wanted to make the world creepy and confusing which it did at the expense of the reader's understanding. There were so many moments where this book could have told us information it chose not to so it could wait until the end to reveal. As readers we shouldn't have to wait that long to find out that kind of information. And because it waited so long to build a certain atmosphere this was also at the expense of the plot and the pacing. This is a very slow read. It's not the kind of book that you want to devour in one sitting. It's the book that you have to sit with and take your time on. That's fine, but it kind of made me lose interest. I put it down for two days to read something else and then when I went back to it I should have finished it in a day and it took me three. If I am being completely honest, the only reason I did finish it is because I forced myself to because I had so little left. And I'm glad I did because those last 50 pages were great, they just came too little too late.

However, the thing about this book that you have to keep in mind is that it is a character-driven fantasy. This in and of itself is not a bad thing. I have loved some character-driven fantasies like The Raven Cycle which is one of my favorite series. Sometimes that can be a really good thing. But in the case of Strange Grace, it just didn't work for me. And it's not that I didn't like the characters or wasn't interested in their decisions moving the plot along, it just a really slow narrative and over time I kept losing focus and interest.

The characters, though, were really good. I felt interested in them and interested in their stories. Together they really cared about each other and their love and friendship was really the heart of this story. There was also a really good under current of them figuring out who they were and their place in the town. I think maybe the book could have played that aspect up a little more it would have made the character-driven narrative a little more enjoyable for me. And to be honest, I think it could have been more clear about the LGBT representation. There definitely was rep but you had to read between the lines to find it. The characters were great as a group however they could have been better as individuals.

All in all, I was a little disappointed by Strange Grace. It had a lot of promise and I was really excited to read it but it fell completely flat for me. The setting was atmospheric and interesting but took away from the overall plot of the story, and the characters were complex and likable but they could have been flushed out a little more. It was only okay in my opinion.

I give Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton 7 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Bypass. I hate to say it but I just don't think I would recommend this book. Maybe if you are a fan of modern fairy tales with a character-driven narrative and don't mind a slow pacing as long as there is an atmospheric world to fall into.

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Title: Sadie
Written by: Courtney Sommers
Published: September 4, 2018 by Wednesday Books (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. 

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him. 

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late. 

For the complete experience: The Girls Podcast

I was really interested in picking up a copy of this book at ALA because I have been wanting to read a Courtney Summers book for awhile. My friend Michelle is a huge fan of hers (her number 1 fan according to the signed ARC of this book she got at ALA), And I am so glad that I did read it because this book was really fantastic and totally the mystery I have been wanting to read.

Because seriously, this is a great mystery. It's one of those books with a lot of different layers and strylines all working together to create one over-arching mystery and it did that effortlessly. It's sometimes hard to do this because it's easy to make one more complicate which then pulls focus. But both of these were really interesting and engaging. I'm a bit of mystery snob. I like when a mystery is possible to solve but isn't too obvious. Here I felt like it wasn't at all obvious but it wasn't really solvable either and I still enjoyed it. As the book went on, elements of the mystery unfolded in ways that explained things but still left you wondering. It was so engrossing that I didn't want to put it down. I needed to keep reading to find out exactly what had happened.  I appreciated that in a way I don't always because when everything was said and done I was still thinking about it. If you read my Monday review then you know sometimes being vague can go horribly wrong, but other times it can go right. Here it went right.

But I think what made the mystery so good was the format of this book. It was a completely unique and interesting format which I really enjoyed. Most of the book was about what happened to Mattie but it was told from the perspective of Sadie trying to hunt down her killing and get revenge and Wes McCray trying to find out what happened to Sadie. Wes' portion was probably the most unique part because it was told in a podcast format with interviews and his own interpretation. I really loved this aspect of the story. It had this fantastic True Crime feel in that way. I listened to the audiobook for this one because I saw that it had a full cast and the format was perfect for this book. It was like I was listening to the podcast and it really came alive with individual voices for the characters.

And as for those characters, these were really complex characters. What I liked most about them is that weren't perfect. The main character is obviously the titular one, Sadie. And Sadie was a really likable character who I empathized with pretty quickly. You are in her head for a lot of the book and she is very open about her rough childhood and how devastated she was by the loss of her sister. It made her easy to root for. But it wasn't a non-stop pity part with Sadie. She's tough and brash most of the time. The other interesting thing about Sadie is that she has a stutter. I loved the way her stutter was handled in the book. It was a part of her character and it made things challenging but she didn't let her stop her from doing what she set out to do. Courtney Summers is all abut the unlikable female protagonist and I feel like Sadie is a really good example on how a character who may otherwise be unlikable is a likable heroine.

Then there is the secondary characters. This book has some truly terrible characters. And I don't mean terrible in terms of how they are written. No, they are so well written that I hated them so much. Like a few characters in this book are the literal worst and it made the book all the more interesting. That being said, this is not the kind of book for the faint of heart. It is a book that deals with some really difficult and hard to read topics. It doesn't shy away from some of the more unsavory things that you can sometimes come across when it comes to True Crime. The secondary characters are terrible for a reason. If you don't like books that deal with abuse then this is not going to be the book for you, but if you want to read a difficult to read book which addresses issues in a sensitive way then you will like it.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. It was difficult to read at times but it was incredibly engrossing with a great mystery, complex characters, and a unique format. It was the YA mystery I have definitely been wanting to read all summer.

I give Sadie by Courtney Summers 95 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of mysteries and True Crime. If you are a fan of more serious and difficult to read books then definitely read this one.

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Fantasies that are Hidden Gems

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
Seriously, more YA fantasy fans should read this book. It is seriously brilliant. I know a few people who read it and everyone loved it. It's a great series and super unique.

2.) Kingdom of Ash and Briar by Hannah West
A friend who is a bookseller was picking this book up at BEA a few years ago and I am so glad I picked up a copy too because this book was so good!

3.) Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
The first book was on a lot of people's radar when it came out a few years ago but last year when the sequel came out I didn't hear anyone talking about it. And I wish more people had read it because I think it may have even been better.

4.) Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Truthwitch got a ton of hype but Susan's debut series didn't get as much as it should have. It's a historical fantasy and it's great. I love the characters and the world is very cool.

5.) Jackaby by William Ritter
There ids a small and devoted following of this book and I am among it's members. It's seriously one of my all-time favorite series. It's super creative and engaging and if you like supernatural creatures or mysteries with magic you need to read it.

6.) Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
I have not been super into Gregory Maguire's new books but this one was really cool. It's more of middle grade but it's still very good for YA fantasy fans.

7.) The Great Library by Rachel Caine
Another series that I am seriously obsessed with but no one else seems to be talking about. But this series is amazing. It's one of the most unique worlds and has a truly devious villain... The Library!

8.) The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
I am so glad Alyssa got me this book as part of TBTB Secret Santa. Why were more people not talking about this book. It's like The Book Thief  but with a magic twist and I loved it.

9.) Seafire by Nathalie C. Parker
This book just came out a few weeks ago and it definitely did not get the attention I think it deserved. It was the book I wanted to read all summer and everyone should read it.

10.) The Dark Days Club/Lady Helen series by Alison Goodman
I think a good amount of people read the first book in this series but now that the final book is coming out it seems like no one is talking about it. But I am very excited.

There you have it. My YA Fantasy hidden gems. What books would you recommend? What books made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!