Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review: Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: Undying
Series: Unearthed #1
Written by: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Published: January 22, 2019 by Disney Hyperion

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Trapped aboard the Undying's ancient spaceship and reeling from what they've learned there, scavenger Mia and academic Jules are plunged into a desperate race to warn their home planet of the danger humanity's greed has unleashed. From the mountains of Spain to the streets of Prague, the sequel to Unearthed is a white-knuckle ride that will send readers hurtling back to earth, and leave them breathless until the last page. 

 The earth's fate rests in Mia and Jules's hands in the epic conclusion to New York Times best-selling authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's tomb-raiding sci-fi duology.

From their very first book together I have been in love with Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's science fiction reads. When I was read Unearthed last winter I was instantly obsessed. It was creative and enthralling. I couldn't wait for the sequel so I grabbed this audiobook the same day it came out to find out what happened. And I was not disappointed.

With every book I am becoming even more impressed with the plot development of these authors. This book had a very different feel to it. It was more of a classic save the world kind of science fiction story, but it was no less exciting. It took what happened in the first book and raised the stakes in a way that had me on the edge of my seat and worried about what would be happening next. And while there wasn't much of a mystery here, there were some great elements from first book that came back in a big way in this one. The ending particular had me incredibly stressed. The last few chapters were a roller coaster ride of emotions that had me shocked, excited, angry, and so entertained.

However, the plot wasn't perfect. While I love the fact that this was a duology, I almost think it would have worked a little better as a trilogy. There were two concepts in this book that I don't think got their dues because this story needed to resolve everything. With two books they would have had some more breathing room.

That being said, I loved the world of this book. Amie and Megan do a great job creating science fiction worlds, combing science with fantastical ideas of the future. There is so much detail and depth to this world. I don't want to give too much away from the first book in the series but if you read it you know how this book ended and why learning more about the world of this book is so fascinating. I loved being able to learn more about The Undying, like who they are and where they came from. But the cool thing about this book too is that we are brought to earth. We get to see what things are like back on our planet and explore the political dynamics there are as well. Like the plot there was more to learn that we weren't able to get to because everything wrapped up, but what we did have was great.

What surprised me most about this book was the characters. In this one we have the two perspectives of Mia and Jules again. In the first book in the series I wasn't super impressed by either of them and I didn't love the romance. However in this book I did actually connect with them a lot more. Being back on Earth you were really able to feel their motivation and therefore their actions made more sense and had more weight. And because their personal relationship had more time it worked better for me. Plus I like the fact that Mia doubted it and wondered whether or not their romance had longevity, which is something I always think about so this helped me respect it more. Plus I think some additional secondary characters added a needed layer to the book. Dex and Atlanta were great complex antagonists which I appreciated. And the addition of Neil, Jules' cousin, was a much needed addition for both comic relief and as a foil for Jules. 

The thing that probably helped the most with me enjoying the characters, however, was the fact that I listened to the audiobook. This was such a fantastic audiobook. The thrilling plot and engaging world translated really well to an audio format, which already had me interested. Then you add the fact that each perspective had a different narrator which is something I am definitely a fan of. Plus, Jules was narrated by Steve West who is one of my all-time favorite narrator. I can't help but fall in love with a character who is narrated by Steve West, it's just not possible.

While I don't think Undying was as good as the first book in this series it was a great read. And lately I have been totally loving science fiction so this was the perfect book to read to satisfy that desire.

I give Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you read and liked the first book in this series you should definitely check out the newest book. It's a great science fiction series and amazing audiobook that is worth a listen for fans.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Skyward
Series: Skyward #1
Written by: Brandon Sanderson
Published: November 6, 2018 by Delacorte Press (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Spensa's world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what's left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa's dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with that of her father's—a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none. 

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.

Many of you probably know that I am a huge Brandon Sanderson fan. I was late to the game with him but when I fell, I fell hard. He's one of my favorite authors and he is a total auto-buy for me. So when I heard he was coming out with a new YA science fiction I had to read it. But surprisingly I didn't read it as soon as it came out. And honestly, I wish I had because this book was amazing.

For one thing this book had that classic Brandon Sanderson plot development. He's such a master at crafting a story that pulls you in and takes you for a ride and this book was no exception. For the word go this book was a thrilling adventure. I wouldn't say that it's necessarily a very creative story. The character with something to prove because of their parents so they go to a school to learn to be a pilot is a pretty common trope but in Brandon Sanderson's hands it was a non-stop thrill ride. I'm usually good at solving twists but with his books I am proven wrong time and time again. With this book, I thought I had everything all figured out and he threw another surprise at me. A surprise that has me excited for the next book in the series.

The other thing I love about Brandon Sanderson is the worlds he creates. Seeing his take on hard sci-fi was honestly amazing. I know he can write science fiction and this book certainly proved that. It had a classic science fiction feel to it. There was a colonized planet with people who had established their own civilization, technology, alien races you didn't know much about, and artificial intelligence. And it all worked together to craft an engaging world that I think we are only just learning about. Sanderson always puts a lot of details into his worlds and because of that they really come to life.

However, I think my favorite thing about this book was the characters. I instantly connected with Spensa. She's such an incredible sasspants. She's the kind of character who goes from zero to super dark and intimidating at the drop of a hat. But her taunts were so poetic I just couldn't help but love them and her. The thing with Spensa though is that you wanted her to succeed. You wanted her to overcome adversity and get the opportunity to prove herself. You rooted for her, at least I did. Plus she had really incredible development. The Spensa at the end of the book was much smarter but just as badass. And the secondary characters were just as good. The best is definitely M-Bot. I love a sentient AI with a sense of humor and he's up there with AIDAN.

Plus, there were some really great relationships in this book. So much of this book is about friendship, teamwork, and family. Spensa had a really interesting family dynamic. She idealized her father who was deemed a traitor by her community which made her and her mother an outcast. She doesn't have the best relationship with her mother but you can tell they love each other. But I think the most interesting dynamics were with her team of pilots. Being an outcast she is definitely trying to get them to accept her and treat her like one of them but at the same time she has to navigate the societal dynamics of their world. There is definitely a haves and havenots society here and Brandon did not shy away from showing that. He really explored the idea of privilege and what that means in the face of war. Which made the team coming together in the end all the more interesting. And I loved so many members of her team. Seeing the camaraderie that they establish was one of the best parts of this book. And I love that they gave their flight leader Jorgin aka Jerkface a lot of crap and he definitely deserved it. He and Spensa's dynamic was one of my favorites. I particularly loved it because he didn't feel the need to make it romantic. That's right you guys! This book didn't have any romance. It totally could have and maybe book two will but here all we had was some good old-fashioned teamwork and budding friendships.

Everything about this book made me so happy. It was a completely amazing read with a thrilling plot, fascinating world, and likable characters. It had everything I expect from a Brandon Sanderson book and everything that I look for in science fiction. I wish I had read it way sooner because it was so freaking good. I can already tell this is going to be one of my favorite books of the year.

I give Skyward by Brandon Sanderson 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you like science fiction or are looking for a fascinating new read full of action and adventure definitely check this one out. It's another great read by one of my all-time favorite authors.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My TBR

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) Tarnished Are Stars by Rosiee Thor - Add to Goodreads
I have a tendency to go through phases with my Goodreads. I'll add a bunch of books in a day and then go down a rabbit hole where I find new and interesting books. That's how I found this YA steampunk novel.

2.) The Fever King by Victoria Lee  - Add to Goodreads
This is a book that had been on my radar for quite awhile. I think I even follow the author on Twitter. But I only added it to my TBR recently for some reason.

3.) We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett  - Add to Goodreads
I like going to conferences because it is an opportunity to learn about new books. And even if I don't go personally I like looking at other people's hauls because I find new books. That's how I found this YA fantasy.

4.) Nocturna by Maya Motayne  - Add to Goodreads
This is another book that I learned about from someone's ALA haul. And like, how have I not learned about is sooner. It's a heist fantasy with magic and mobsters. It's got me written all over it.

5.) Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson - Add to Goodreads
This is another book that was on my radar for awhile but I only added it recently. To be honest, I think I assumed it was about fae and I don't usually like books about fae so I have stopped reading them.

6.) The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson - Add to Goodreads
I can't remember when I learned about this book. Maybe when the cover came out. But I added it pretty recently because of ALA hauls and because it's pitched as Eragon meets And I Darken which I assume means a badass girl taking back her kingdom. Plus I watched a documentary about crows recently and they are facinating!

7.) Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly  - Add to Goodreads
I saw this cover recently and totally added it to my TBR. I have a few of Donnelly's books I have been meaning to read. And this is pitched as a feminist Cinderella retelling which is usually the kind of book I lovel

8.) The Candle and the Flame by Nafia Azad  - Add to Goodreads
This is another book that had been on my radar for awhile. Iremember seeing the cover months ago and thinking it's totally gorgeous but I never added it to my TBR until I saw it on some ALA hauls.

9.) There's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon  - Add to Goodreads
I recently read From Twinkle, with Love and loved it. This book was one that I was thinking about reading but now am even more interested.

10.) Once and Future by Amy Rose Cepetta and Cori McCarthy - Add to Goodreads
A female King Arthur legend set in space. Yeah, that is all I needed to add this book to my list too.

11.) Middlegame by Seanan McGuire  - Add to Goodreads
Last year I marathoned the Wayward Children series and seriously loved it. Since then I have wanted to read more Seanan McGuire but most f her books are too romance-centric for my taste. This one however sounds brilliant.

12.) Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey - Add to Goodreads
I have heard good things about Sarah Gailey's debut series but I haven't read it. This however sounds really interesting and like the kind of adult fantasy I enjoy.

There you have it, all the books I recently added to my TBR. What books have you added to your TBR recently? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Schotle

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Four Dead Queens
Written by: Astrid Schotle
Published: February 26, 2019 by Putnam (Penguin Group)

Synopsis: A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them. ​

Get in quick, get out quicker.

These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:

Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition
Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment
Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature
Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community

When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.
Why I'm Waiting:

First of all, is this a standalone YA fantasy? How freaking rare are those? Honestly, as a rule most new YA fantasies I want to read. I am a huge fan of the genre and so if a new one is coming I out I probably want to read it. But I love that this one is a standalone. We need more of those.

That being said, one of things I am most excited about this book is that looking at the synopsis it looks like a book full of political intrigue. I love my fantasies to have a lot of political scheming and revolutions and this seems like that kind of read.

I also love that the main character of this book is a thief. Thieves, pickpockets, assassins... those are the type of morally grey main characters I like to read about and Keralie seems like she is going to be that kind of character. Someone doing the wrong things for the right reasons. I feel like she will become a little tropey, but we shall see.

I am very excited to read this book. I can't wait to get a copy when it comes out next month. It is one of my most anticipated debuts. Depending on the narrator I may end up listening to the audio but either way, I can't wait to read it.

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2018

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
This is one of the rare instances where I didn't read a Brandon Sanderson book as soon as it came out. I had hoped to read this over the holidays but I didn't. However I just started it and it's really good. I should have started it sooner.

2.) Realm of Ruins by Hannah West
I loved the first book in this series so I was excited to get a copy of this at ALA. However, I never read this one. I still want to read it though so maybe soon.

3.) When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen
I loved The Luxe series and I was very excited to read this after meeting Anna at an event in November. But I put off reading this for like three months. I still want to read this but I don't know when.

4.) Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
I received a copy of this one from Netgalley and I planned to read it but for some reason I never did. I think because at the time I wasn't really reading e-books for most of the year.

5.) Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn
This is another book that I probably didn't read because I was having a hard time with e-books. I tried reading it twice but never got through more than the first few chapters despite loving the series.

6.) The Curses by Laure Eve
Another book where I liked the series but wasn't reading e-books so I never read this one. I also was a maybe on this one because I didn't love the first book.

7.) Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soira
I tried to read this book as well when I was looking for a new e-book but I only got through a few chapters before I switched to another book. But I loved her debut so I do want to read this one.

8.) When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
I love Mary Kubica's mysteries and so I was excited to get a copy of this on Netgalley. But again, I wasn't really reading e-books this year. Maybe I'll get this one on audio. Mary Kubica's books tend to be good as audios.

9.) Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie
I loved The Abyss Surrounds and I tried reading this book but I didn't really like it. It sounded so amazing but it just didn't work for me.

10.) Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
I wanted to read this book because it sounds like a great YA fantasy that would be completely up my alley but I never actually started reading it. I know the second book comes out soon so I maybe I will read them both together.

11.) Space Opera by Cathrynne M. Valente
This book seriously sounded so fun and I even got a copy when the e-book was on sale. But again, not really reading e-books in 2018 made it so I didn't read this one.

12.) Pacifica by Kristen Simmons
Kristen Simmons has been on my list for awhile now but I still haven't read any of her books, despite getting this one at ALA in 2017 and trying to read it a few times last year.

There you have it, the books I wanted to read in 2018 despite having a copy of the book. Have you read any of these? Should I prioritize them on my TBR? What book made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Review: From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Title: From Twinkle, with Love
Written by: Sandhya Menon
Published: May 22, 2018 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: An aspiring teen filmmaker finds her voice and falls in love in this delightful romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy-a.k.a. Sahil's twin brother? Dream come true x 2. 

 When mystery man N begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it's Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she's fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil. Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she's got is not the one she's scripted. But will it be enough? Told through the letters 

Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

I loved When Dimple Met Rishi, and I am picky about contemporary romances, so when I saw she had a knew book I instantly added it to me TBR. So when I was looking for a new audiobook from the library I saw this one and snagged it. And I am really glad I did because this was a fantastic contemporary romance.

What surprised me most about this book was the romance. You guys know me, I am a cold-hearted romancephobe who is really hard to win over in the ship department. But this book won me over. For one thing it's a fantastic slowburn. The relationship between Twinkle and Sahil takes the entire book to really develop. When it starts , all it is is a crush from Sahil but the more time they spend together the more you can see how much Twinkle likes him. And honestly I just wanted to shake her and make her realizes that the guy she is looking for is right there. But the best part for me is that it wasn't perfect. They both make mistakes and end up screwing things up, which made the relationship feel even more realistic and enjoyable for me.

But so much of this book was about relationships and that expended beyond the romance. Both characters had interesting family dynamics where they felt like they weren't seen an appreciated by their family which connected them even more to one another and to each other. I could completely relate to Sahil in particular and the fact that he felt like he was living in his brother's shadow. I know Sahil isn't a middle child but he definitely had that feel. And for Twinkle, the struggle with her friendships was the most relateable. For her, a lot of what she is doing is because she's trying to win back her former best friend who is now much more popular that here. She wants to be cool but at the same time, I like she didn't sacrifice her identity and interests to do that. She felt very realistic and that is what made me like her.

While I wouldn't really call this a coming-of-age story, I do feel like there were some really good elements of that to this book. For both Twinkle and Sahil they want to be seen and appreciated for who they are and what they are interested in. Twinkle definitely has good character development throughout the book though. In the course of creating this film and working with people who she thinks look down on her she realizes that she is the one not giving them a chance. Twinkle is like that episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon goes to her 20 year reunion only to find out she was a bully and not the sassy unpopular girl she thought she was. But unlike Liz Lemon, she realizes the error of her ways and grows from it.

The only thing I didn't love about this book, however, was the format. It sounded like a fun concept at first, to be writing diary entries to the female directors that she admires, but overtime I just became frustrated with it. Each chapter starting with "Dear Ava DuVernay" or "Dear Sophia Coppola" became a distraction for me. It would pull me out of the book sometimes even making me wonder who the person was she was writing to. Maybe it wasn't that much of a big deal if you read the book but with the audio, it was kind of an issue for me. But honestly, that was just a small personal complaint.

On the whole, this was a really good book. It was a cute contemporary romance with a good relationship and realistic characters you wanted to see succeed. There was good character growth and complex relationships beyond just the romance. Which honestly is all I look for in a contemporary novel.

I give From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are a fan of contemporary romances and have not read Sandhya Menon you need to change that. And if you aren't a fan of the genre but are looking for one to read then I would still recommend it.

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi Blog Tour

Title: The Gilded Wolves
Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Written by: Roshani Chokshi
Published: January 15, 2019 by Wednesday Book (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure. 

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. 

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can't yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much. 

Together, they'll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

The Gilded Wolves was one of my most anticipated books of 2019. I mean, come on, it’s a total me book. Not only am I a huge fan of historical mysteries and heist novels, but I have been wanting to read a book about Belle Époque Paris for ages. This book seriously checked all the boxes and it is written by an author I have enjoyed in the past. It was a no brained for me. And while there is a lot to like about this book, it didn’t end up being a book I loved.

One thing I did love however is the setting. Belle Époque Paris was indeed the setting I was dreaming of for a book like this. Roshani did a great job of establishing the historical time and place. Starting of course with the backdrop of the Exposition Universelle and all the majesty and mechanics it brought Paris. This was the year the Eiffel Tower opened and I loved that Roshani showed how many Parisians hated it. But she also didn’t shy away from the more negative aspects of the Exposition and the time period including the “Negro Village” and the mistreatment of minorities and those deemed lesser. It gave the book a lot of depth and accuracy in terms of the period. The contrast wall the more obvious because of Roshani’s writing. She’s always done a great job describing the beauty of a setting and transporting the reader there and this book was no exception.

But the actually setting was only the beginning of the world in this book. There was also a really interesting magical system. The book is an alternative universe and what makes it that way is that this is a world where people have the ability to Forge which allows them to control a substance or a person. It was sort of similar to bending in Avatar: the Last Airbender. I liked the overall concept but it just didn’t feel fully-formed as a magical system. I like my magic to have rules, which this did, but those rules need to be explained. The reader needs to understand how the magic works. They need to see it in action. But I didn’t feel like we were able to see Forging as much as I would have liked. There were a few opportunities where we saw someone mention a Forged object or talking about how they could Forge but I would have liked to see it used in a bigger way. I think this was just a case of the author telling instead of showing when it came to the world-building.

The other thing I liked about this book was the characters. This is a book full of a diverse cast of characters including those of different races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations. Each of the characters had their own backstories and their own way they were trying to prove themselves. It was easy to root for them and want them to succeed so that they could overcome adversity. Although I do think that there was a lot of info-dumping in the beginning when it came to introducing the characters. Most of them had perspectives so it was a bit overwhelming to learn a ton about one and then switch to a different person. But the weird thing is, I don’t think one perspective was more interesting or engaging than the others. I think Laila might of been my favorite because she’s the one I want to know more about but all of them were compelling which is hard to do. That I think is a testament to how likable the characters were.

However, my biggest disappointment with this book was with the plot. I was so pumped to read a heist novel, especially one with a historical spin. And there was definitely a heist aspect to the story, and those were some of the best moments for me. I loved the puzzles and the near disasters that came with trying to steal something. However, it felt a little too easy. They knew every answer almost right away and then they would explain everything in such detail that it would take me out of the story giving the background of things like the Fibonacci sequence and the golden spiral. Heists are hard to do because you really need to have t all planned out walk a fine line between surprising your readers and giving them the knowledge to figure things out. This just didn’t do a great job of walking that line for me. Many of the reveals were not big surprises and I felt like some of them were too easy even for the characters. But I might just be hard to please when it comes to a heist. I tend to be good at solving things so maybe it was just me.

All in all, this was a good read, it just didn’t blow me away. It had an engaging setting and likable characters, I just wanted a little bit more surprises and magic.

I give The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are new to heist novels and you want to read a book with a subtle mystery and historical fiction with diverse characters then check this one out. But if you are looking for a thrilling adventure of a fantasy heist this book might not be the beat choice.

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) Beth Revis
I had been wanting to read the Across the Universe series and I even think I bought the first book from Book Outlet. But my first Beth Revis book was Give the Dark My Love which I really enjoyed.

2.) Courtney Summers
Don't tell my friend Michelle that my first Courtney Summers book was Sadie which I read this fall. Courtney is her favorite author. But I loved Sadie so maybe I should read more of her books. Michelle would like that.

3.) Marisha Pessl
Night Film had been on my list for awhile but I haven't read it (yet). I did however read Neverworld Wake and loved it. It was a fantastic mystery with fantasy elements and it makes me want to read Night Film even more.

4.) Martha Brockenborough
The Game of Love and Death had been on my list for awhile but I never read it until this year. And it was a really fantastic read, a great dark historical fantasy.

5.) Stephanie Oakes
The Arsonist is such a me book. A historical mystery about a book and set during the fall of the Berlin Wall. And it did not disappoint. I'm glad I read it (special thanks to Michelle for letting me borrow it), and want to read more of her books.

6.) Dhonielle Clayton
The Belles was one of my favorite books of the year and I am so glad it loved up to the hype. I had wanted to read Tiny Pretty Things and now I kind of want to read it more.

7.) Alex London
At ALA this year I picked up a copy of Black Wings Beating but I wasn't entirely sure when I would read it. But I read it last month and it was amazing and so enthralling. It makes me want to read more of Alex's books.

8.) Nathalie C. Parker 

I loved Seafire and think it is one of the most underrated books of the year. But this was my first Nathalie C. Parker book even though I think she is friends with some authors that I do love. 

9.) Seanan McGuire
In January I marathoned the Wayward Children series and really loved it. Most of McGuire's books aren't really my kind of read but this series is amazing and I am glad I read it.

There you have it. all the authors I read for the first time in 2018 who are not debuts. Some of them quickly became favorites and all of them make me want to read more of their books WHat authors made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

Title: In An Absent Dream
Series: Wayward Children #4
Written by: Seanan McGuire
Published: January 8, 2019 by Tor Books (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should. 

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she's found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well. 

For anyone . . .

Last January I marathoned the first three books in the Wayward Children series and fell in love with the concept, the characters, and the worlds. I was really excited to see a new novella was coming out and I snagged it almost as soon as it came out. And this book did not disappoint.

One of the things that I loved about this book was the world of the Goblin Market. All of the different worlds have been intriguing and fun to read about but this one is the one I found the most relatable. For one, it’s a logic world. There are clear rules and the rules have consequences both if you follow them or if you break them. As someone who reads a lot of fantasy that is one of the points I am always making, worlds need rules. But there was also some magic to the world. With the idea of fair value and people turning into birds for going into debt. I found this incredible fascinating. You wouldn’t think a world based on fairness and justice would be this compelling for for the right people it’s the most amazing. And honestly if I ever had a door open I think my world would be similar to this one.

Speaking of the world, this book was such a perfect exploration of the themes of belonging that this series explores. One of the things I liked most about Lundy is that she, more than any of the other characters in this series, is trapped between worlds. When her door opens she is intrigued by her world and falls in love with it but every time she returns to where she came from she ends up fitting back in. While she misses her The Market she doesn’t feel so out of place as some of the others. It actually made for an interesting read as she had to decide where she really belongs and where she wanted to stay. I felt for Lundy and that decision she had to made, and I get even more for her when she wasn’t able to decide for herself.

The other amazing themes of this book is about friendship and loyalty. Much of what connects Lundy to The Market is her connection to the people she meets there like Moon and The Archivist. She makes dear friends and she wants to stay with them and help them. She has created a found family. Back home she has her read family. Her father and mother and siblings, especially a sister who was young when Lundy left and doesn’t feel like she got fair value of having a sister. It added an interesting layer to this book about belonging and at the same time made Lundy likable and relateable.

My only criticism is with the plot. I felt like this story was a little disjointed because it kept going back and forth between worlds. And just like I’m sure by was for Lundy, it was a bit jarring for me as a reader. As soon as I connected with one place it would change and then plot elements would fall through the cracks. On the whole, this was a much more character-driven narrative so it didn’t have too much of an impact on the overall story it was just a little confusing from time to time.

But all in all, In An Absent Dream, is a short and sweet portal fantasy that is another great addition to the Wayward Children Series. I loved learning more about Lundy and now I just want to go back and reread the rest of the series.

I give In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are a fan of this series then you definitely need to pick up the most recent book. It's another great portal fantasy. And if you have not read this series and are a fan of world within a world fantasies then you need to check out Wayward Children.

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

Thursday, January 10, 2019

White Stag by Kara Barbieri Blog Tour and Review

Title: White Stag
Series: Permafrost #1
Written by: Kara Barbieri
Published: January 8, 2019 by Wednesday Books (Macmillan)

(Buy Links / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home. 

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren. 

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about. 

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

I love YA fantasy and I read a lot of it. So when I heard about White Stag it sounded like an interesting book and I was excited to read it. And while there were some good things about this book, I didn’t quite enjoy it in the way I was hoping.

One thing that I did really like about this book was the world. I’m not a huge fan about books with goblins, they are often too similar to fae for me, and I don’t always find them very interesting. But here, the author did a great job in creating goblins that were the perfect combination of dark, brutal, and compelling. There is a history and mythology to the world, complete with a frost-filled land of magic and a human world destroyed by the goblins. It pulled me in and captured my interested for what was today.

Unfortunately, what was to come was not very much. My biggest problem however is with the plot and pacing. Honestly, this felt like two different books. The first half of the book is a character-driven fantasy about a person trying to figure out their place and where they belong despite being torn between to two worlds who distrust here. While an interesting concept, that’s not often the kind of plot that I enjoy. Add to that romantic tension that I wanted nothing to do with and you have a book I think a lot of people will like, but I don’t. But then the last third of the book completely changed course and became more of an adventure. This was the part of the plot I enjoyed with a mission, and a goal, and daring escapes. But in terms of a cohesion, there really wasn’t much. It felt like two different stories, just with the same characters. Personally, I wish the plot lines from the second half were more detailed and took up the whole book. But I know this was originally written for Wattpad and so perhaps it is meant to be more serialized, which would explain this. But I just had to struggle through the exposition.

As far as the characters go, they were kind of hit or miss for me. One of the characters I did like was the main character of Janneke. She had some real strong Sansa Stark vibes as she is help captive in a court she doesn’t want to be in only to be abused by the the king. She was an easy character to empathize with and when she snapped and fought back you were completely on her side. But she was the only character whose side I was on. The main villain of the story was ruthless and terrible, the kind of character who you completely detest. But then there was Soren, who I know I was supposed to like but I didn’t. Even her kinder moments I felt myself not being very impressed. He just felt like a cliche fantasy live interest and I wasn’t interested.

Which about sums up my feelings on the romance in general. I am totally romancephobic and one of my biggest frustrations is when romance is shoehorned into the story without giving it enough build up. This book did exactly that. I knew going in that there was going to be this romance so it wasn’t a completely surprise but I still wasn’t shipping it at all. It just felt so sudden and like a complete flip for the character. I like a hate to love romance but it actually has to show me that there is mutual affection between the characters and not just a few moments where they talk casually and then suddenly they are deeply in love. Maybe people who are bigger fans of romance will enjoy this one but for me, it was a miss.

There were some good aspects of this book but it did not blow me away. It’s not the next great YA fantasy for me, just another okay read that wasn’t for me.

I give White Stag by Kara Barbieri 7 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I would recommend this book to fans of romance heavy fantasy like A Court of Thorns and Roses that is more character-driven. It wasn't my type of read but I feel like in the right hands this is going be a very loved book.

About the Author:

Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop.

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