Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mini Reviews: January Reads

Hi Everyone, It has been a rough winter for me in terms of blogging. You may not have noticed that I barely posted in December, but I basically didn't post anything. I mean I used to post four times a week and in December I only posted four times. And honestly, January was not most better. If you saw my January wrap up you know that I was reading a lot but not doing much blogging. What that means is that I have this massive backlog of books I have not reviewed yet.

It kind of feels like I will never be able to catch up with everything I want to review, but I do have the desire to catch up. So with that in mind, I wanted to post the books I read last month that I didn't review. But full reviews would just get me further behind so instead I thought I would post mini reviews. I usually only do this when I DNF a book but let's try it for books I finished. Here we go...

Title: The Girl King
Series: The Girl King #1
Author: Mimi Yu
Published: January 8, 2018 by Bloomsbury YA
(Amazon / Goodreads)                                                                                          

Synopsis: Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this sweeping tale of ambition, sacrifice and betrayal for readers of Sabaa Tahir and Alwyn Hamilton. 

All hail the Girl King. 

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty's first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths. 

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved… 

Alone in the volatile court, Min's hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set's reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

My Thoughts:

I was super excited to read an Asian-inspired fantasy about two sisters with political intrigue. I picked up a copy of this one at ALA and I had heard some good reviews from blogger friends so I was excited to read this one. It was a good read but it didn't blow me away.

One of the best things about this book was the world. It is a world full of magical and political intrigue, two things that I love in my YA fantasy. The magical system was really cool and we only really scratched the surface with it. I think there is a lot more to learn. As far as the political intrigue I think this honestly was less about the sisters and more about the larger politics of the world, which I was fine with.

I do think however the characters were a little lacking. I enjoyed Lu was probably my favorite of the sisters, which is a surprise because Min is usually the type of female character I enjoy. But Lu just felt a little more flushed out. Min fell incredibly flat for me until the very end.

Speaking of the end, I think this book just had a little bit of first book syndrome. It built to an exciting conclusion with some surprising twists along the way but it took awhile to get interesting.

Title: Space Opera
Author: Cathrynne M. Valente
Published:  October 4, 2018 by Saga Press
(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)


A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented-something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding. 

Once every cycle, the civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix - part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Instead of competing in orbital combat, the powerful species that survived face off in a competition of song, dance, or whatever can be physically performed in an intergalactic talent show. The stakes are high for this new game, and everyone is forced to compete. 

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny - they must sing. 

A one-hit-wonder band of human musicians, dancers and roadies from London - Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes - have been chosen to represent Earth on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of their species lies in their ability to rock.

My Thoughts:

I actually bought this shortly after it came out last fall but I never read it. Then I was looking for a new audiobook I saw this one and thought it might be a good opportunity to read it. Especially because in January I was really loving science fiction books. So I bought the audio and am so glad I did because this was great.

For one thing, this is a weird little book. I feel like only a very specific reader will enjoy Space Opera. It's one of those strange irreverent books which doesn't take it self very seriously and for a reader who is looking for a book that is intense and gripping, they will find this one strange and frustrating. It also plays a lot with sci-fi tropes and pokes some fun at them which I really enjoyed. It was very reminiscent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It had that same kind of tone.

The other thing that I think made me enjoy this book so much is that I listened to the audio. It was the kind of book that worked so well in an audio format. The narrator did a great job selling some of the jokes that probably would have fallen flat in writing. He also really went for it with some of the accents which added a lot to the characters, who were one of the major things about this book that made it so quirky.

This is definitely my find of read. It's weird and strange but had lots of thrills and so much humor that I could help but laugh at how absurd it was. Definitely one of the strangest books I have read in awhile and I mean that in the best possible way.

Title: Dark Triumph
Series: His Fair Assassins #2
Author: Robin LaFevers
Published: April 2, 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers
(Amazon / Goodreads)                                                                                          

Synopsis: I lean forward, pushing my body out past the battlements. The wind plucks at my cloak, buffets against me, as if it would carry me off in flight, just like the birds or the knight's soul. Let go, it cries, I will take you far, far away. I want to laugh at the exhilarating feeling, I will catch you, it whistles seductively. 

The convent has returned Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

My Thoughts:

I technically read this book in December but I didn't feel like I could review Mortal Heart without also giving my thoughts on this one. I have been wanting to finish this series for quite awhile but with Courting Darkness coming out I finally had the kick in the pants I needed.

Sybella's story was probably the hardest to read of the three. She has a real tortured past and this book did not shy away from that. It showed the reader in heartbreaking detail what Sybella had been through before she arrived at the convent and then thrust her back into the clutches of those people. Because of this she was easy to root for and want to see get justice. But I love that she is still a caring and kind woman. Sybella has a lot of depth and that made this book all the more enjoyable.

This book is also a really great example of what I love in historical fiction. It takes a lesser known location and/or period of time and inhabits it with new and engaging characters. There is a ton of political intrigue and adventure, honestly more than I was expecting, which I loved. Not to mention this is a book that does a great job establishing it's time and place while still feeling important and modern.

I can understand why so many people love this series. It's a fantastic piece pf historical fiction with a subtle fantasy element and great characters. I am excited to see what is next for Sybella and Beast in Courting Darkness.

Title: Mortal Heart 
Series: His Fair Assassins #3
Author: Robin LaFevers
Published: November 4, 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers
(Amazon / Goodreads)                                                                                          

Synopsis: Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. 

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...

My Thoughts:

I already talked about my history with this book above, but I ended up getting the audio for my drive home from Christmas break and I didn't end up finishing it until later into January. Not because I wasn't enjoying it, just because of my reading slump and I wanted to enjoy it.

What was struck me about this book is that it had a lot more fantasy and religious elements than I was expecting. The first two books established the idea of Death and his handmaidens but this book really elaborated on that. We learned a lot more about Mortain and his convent. I found this incredibly interesting and it was a great addition to the final book in the series.

Annith was also a really interesting character. She's someone who has always excelled at everything she has done but never got much recognition for that. Usually I wouldn't like a character who is perfect because they can come off as a Mary Sue but Annith never did. I actually wanted her to get her dues and triumph over the Reverend Mother who was a complex antagonist that I kind of hated.

However, this was not my favorite book in the series. I think that is because I found it a little predictable. Some of the big twists in this book seemed incredibly obvious to me. They didn't have the desired effect on me because of that. Plus I found the ending a little rushed. Don't get me wrong, it was a good read I think I just liked the other two better.

There you have it, mini reviews on the books I didn't review in late December and January. I am not completely caught up with reviews but I am in a much better place. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and happy reading.

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