Thursday, October 24, 2019

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Ninth House
Series: Alex Stern #1
Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Published: October 15, 2019 by Flatiron Books (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her? 

 Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. 

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

If you were not aware, I am a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo’s books. I have read, and loved, every single one of them. So I was extra excited when I heard she was coming out with a new Adult book that was about secret societies and ghosts. And seriously, you guys, this book did not disappoint. Ninth House was everything I wanted it to be and more.

First and foremost, I absolutely loved the plot development of this book. There were so many elements to this story and they all worked together to create something truly fascinating. This was one of those books with a complex and intriguing mystery which elements that slowly unfold throughout the story. I usually consider myself really good at figuring out mysteries but this one truly stumped me. I had no idea what was happening until the big reveal. And it’s not that there weren’t clues, there was just so many elements that you needed to know them all first. Leigh masterfully unraveled the mystery here and it truly had me on the edge of my seat.

Another fantastic thing about this book was the world. This is the perfect book to read during the Halloween and fall season because it really had amazing atmosphere. The main character of Alex can see ghosts so of course they were a huge element of the story but the magic and supernatural elements does not stop there. Each secret society has their own magic which is tied to their house. We only got the barest hint of each of their powers but I was fascinated by them. But we also only got a little of Alex’s powers as well. I don’t want to give too much away but there is so much more to explore in the next book.

Part of what made to world fantastic was the setting. I absolutely loved the New Haven and Yale setting. As a New Englander, I love books set in New England. But honestly, you don’t really see many books about New Haven. And after this book, I don’t really understand why. There is so much to this city and it made for the perfect setting for this book. First of all, there is the real ghost stories and unexplained phenomena of the city. I wonder how much research Leigh did into these elements. I know she went to Yale and was a part of a secret society but it is the actual history of the city that interested me most. I wonder how much of these are real those stories from New Haven. It for sure makes me want to go on a ghost tour the next time I am there. But the other thing that made this city a good setting for this book is the dichotomy between the haves and have nots. Most New England cities with Ivy League colleges have an element of that and I love the way it was explored in this book. It made for one more complex and engaging element of the book.

As far as the characters, this is one more example as to how good Leigh is at doing dark and odious characters. So many of the secondary characters were terrible people doing terrible things, which honestly was something I love. Then you have the main character Alex, who is one of those unlikable female protagonists that I love so much. She is prickly and sullen with a tortured past that she is still trying to get over. She’s not the kind of person you really want to relate to, but you can’t help but do it. I was definitely rooting for her, even when she was making stupid and sometimes self-destructive choices. Darlington, however, was easy to like. He’s charming and intelligent. My friend Pili pointed out that he has Gansey vibes and she is totally right. He is the kind of person who wants there to be magic in the world and is looking for it. They were great fools for one another and therefore made a great team. And honestly, I’m so glad there wasn’t a romantic element to their relationship. It didn’t need it, and I didn’t miss it. The characters here really were fantastic and complex.

Seriously, this book was so amazing. I have heard nothing but great things and I am not at all surprised I loved it. Leigh is a master storyteller and she did just as amazing job with an Adult paranormal mystery as does with YA high fantasy. This book was brilliant, dark, and complex.

I give Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! Definitely get this book. If you are a fan of Leigh's or not you should read this book. It is unlike anything she has previously written but still has all the elements of why she is one of my favorite authors. It is atmospheric and dark and is the perfect read for fall. You must pick it up!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor Blog Tour: Review and Favorite Quotes

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

Title: Tarnished Are the Stars
Written by: Rosiee Thor
Published: October 15, 2019 by Scholastic Press

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The Lunar Chronicles meets Rook in this queer #OwnVoices science-fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sharon Cameron. 

A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher's chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog -- donning the moniker Technician -- to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner's tyrannical laws. 

Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner's son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father's respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father's elusive affection is worth chasing at all. 

Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner's secrets at any cost -- even if it means betraying her own heart.  
When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic -- before the Commissioner ends them first.

There needs to be more standalone science fiction novels and I was really excited to read this one. It seemed like it was totally up my alley so I was glad to be a part of the blog tour for it. It was an engaging story with great characters and an interesting world.

My favorite thing about this book was the characters and character development. This is one of those books which alternates perspectives. Those can be incredibly tricky because often I like one character more than others, and feel like the multiple narrators make things complex. But that was not the case with Tarnished Are The Stars. Each character added to the story and offered a unique perspective. I never felt like a section was unnecessary or that I wanted to go back to someone else. However, I did have a favorite character. While I liked Anna and Nathaniel, it was Eliza who I loved. She was a kickass female who is trying and often succeeding at being the smartest person in the room. I found myself rooting for her and loved her development throughout the book as she discovered who she wanted to be and then became that person. But that was the case for each of the characters. They were all easy to root for and had great development.

One of the other things I liked about these characters was the LGBTQIA representation. Because seriously, this book is super queer. Not only is there a good f/f relationship that develops throughout the book but we also had asexual and aromantic representation. I firmly believe there needs to be more ark and ace rep in books. I’m constantly feeling like a romance is unnecessary and having a character who states on the page that they are not only not interested in a relationship but not even attracted to anyone was so amazing. Having Nathaniel come to terms with his own identity was part of what I liked about him and the book.

I also liked the world of this book. It is one of those books that reminds you that dystopia is a subgenre of science fiction. It had subtle sci-if vibes with the use of technology to impact the lives of the people, but it also had dystopia feels with a new planet being colonized because of the fact that earth was negatively affected years ago. There was also that ever present shady government adding to the drama and a disease impacting the you people like our main characters. However, as interesting as the world was, I did feel like we weren’t given a lot of information about it. I felt like some of the big reveals were not as impactful as they could have been because there was so much going on and the pacing was so fast. If it had scaled back a little bit and given more information I think I would have liked the world even more.

But my biggest frustration with this book was with the fact that it was so fast paced. I usually like a quick read that moves quickly from element to elements but here it was just jarring. I had no sense of how much time had passed and things just moved on with or without me. Instead of what I assumed was the desired effect of keeping me connected to the story, it actually pulled me out. I kept wondering to myself how much time had passed and whether they had actually spent time making this plan or if they were just winging it. And it even affected the character development at times because I was asking myself how they had gone from enemies to friends so quickly. This is about average length for a YA novel but I honestly wish it had been a little bit longer and was fleshed out a bit more. It was a very engaging story with tons of twists and turns but that was negatively impacted by the breakneck speed.

On the whole, Tarnished Are the Stars was an interesting read and a good debut novel. It had great characters, an interesting world, a fat-paced plot. But I wish the story had been fleshed out a little more.

I give Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor 7 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are looking for a standalone dystopia with queer characters and a fast-paced plot then I would suggest checking this one out.

Have you read Tarnished Are the Stars?  What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stooping by and HAPPY READING!


"A good weapon, she found, needn't draw blood to be effective. A controlled target was better than a dead one."

"Murder comes in many shapes... You don't always have to look someone in the eye and watch them die to be their killer."

"But that was the thing about loss: Death could rip love from life, but those memories stayed behind, burning a hole through the heart."

"I don't give much credence to regret. I can't go back and change what's done. All I can do is take what I learned and do better next time."

"It matters because this is who you are - but it is not all you are. It does not make you weak, nor does it make you strong. You make yourself one or the other through the choices that you make."

"Power is not the same as strength... Some days strength is control, and some days strength is release. Perhaps today strength is understanding that being like your father isn't inherently bad, and two men can be alike and still make different choices."



Rosiee Thor began her career as a storyteller by demanding that her mother listen as Rosiee told bedtime stories instead of the other way around. She lives in Oregon with a dog, two cats, and four complete sets of Harry Potter, which she loves so much, she once moved her mattress into the closet and slept there until she came out as queer.

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook


GIVEAWAY Prize: Win a signed hardcopy of TARNISHED ARE THE STARS by Rosiee Thor (US Only) Stars: 15th October 2019 Ends: 29th October 2019