I suspect Our Lady of the Ice will be a great read for the right sort of reader. The sci fi premise lured me in, and I'd heard such gooPages read: 125
I suspect Our Lady of the Ice will be a great read for the right sort of reader. The sci fi premise lured me in, and I'd heard such good things about Clarke's prior novels. Unfortunately, it's not character-driven enough for me.
Our Lady of the Ice very much has a traditional noir feel, just set in a sci fi Antarctica. As such, the characters exist to move the story along; it's not as much about their development as the plot. Objectively, the four perspectives are interesting, but I don't care about what they're facing because I don't get a real sense of personality off of any of them.
The writing is strong otherwise, though, so I will be trying at least one more Clarke novel....more
One thing that’s been true about me as a reader for a few years now is that I’m willing to try a lot of different sorts of books. There are s4.5 stars
One thing that’s been true about me as a reader for a few years now is that I’m willing to try a lot of different sorts of books. There are some things that straight up don’t sound like Christina books that I’ll avoid, but I try bunches that I’m skeptical about. Often, this results in a DNF or a middling rating, but I’m glad I do step outside the books that are obviously me books because I would miss out on books like Truest. I don’t think Truest was even on my radar really, but it arrived bundled up with a Harper ARC I’d requested. The synopsis didn’t super excite me, but it didn’t make me go nope nope nope either. Plus, there were books on the cover. Truest was one of those rare surprises, a book I had no expectations of that immediately captured my heart and punched me in the feels.
From the blurb, I sort of thought Truest was going to be love triangle melodrama. That’s sort of true and sort of not. Yes, there is a love triangle and, yes, there is a lot of drama, though calling it melodrama feels a bit pejorative. Though the novel starts out pretty fluffy, there’s serious stuff at work here and I don’t know that it was really overdramatic. In fact, Sommers resolves a lot of things in a much less dramatic way than I would have anticipated, playing against some common tropes. This is a book that will make you laugh, smile, and cry, at least if it gets to your heart like it did to mine.
Westlin Beck is a PK, and she’s not very excited about her summer. Her best friend has gone to work at an adventuring camp as a counselor without her, leaving West behind to run their car detailing business alone, which is especially confusing since she thought she and Trudy were both not outdoorsy, adventuring people. West’s hot Filipino boyfriend, Elliot, will be too busy working the family farm and going to football practice to spend too much time with her. Not to mention the fact that West’s dad spends more time aiding his flock than his family. West feels lonely and abandoned.
Enter the Hart family. West goes along with her dad when he visits them; he’s doing communion for the younger sister, for mysterious reasons that will be revealed in time. Silas Hart answers the door and looks at West with great disdain. Then, they’re told to go hang out while the dad does his thing, and she finds out that he has awesome taste in books. Despite the awkward beginning, which is one of the few things I side-eye about the book because it’s a bit Edwardy to be like “I liked you too much immediately so I made a grossed out face,” the two have an immediate, intense connection. Plus, her dad enlists West to help her with the car detailing.
Truest does the whole cheating thing right. West has a boyfriend and Silas has a girlfriend. You all know how much I hate books about infidelity and Truest was obviously headed there. I’m not going to give details except to say that there was a bit, but that it worked for me. The thing is that Sommers really made me feel West’s dilemma. Elliot is a truly good guy. He’s not turned into some sort of villain to make Silas the clear choice; West just doesn’t have the same mental or physical chemistry with him that she does with Silas. She and Silas share a love of fiction, philosophy, and trivia. They have the nerdiest conversations and despite the awfulness I knew would probably be coming, I shipped it SO FUCKING HARD. Tbh, Silas is a new book boyfriend of mine (I saw him FIRST, guys) and was from the first nerdy t-shirt. Really, though, despite my shipping it massively, I do think Sommers handled the situation really well and minimized the associated drama, but not in an unrealistic way where everyone’s totally cool with it.
Then there’s the big, heartbreaking plot line that introduced me to some things I did not know before. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that there’s something going down with Silas’ sister, Laurel, which is obvious from that first scene. It was really interesting. What makes everything work so well for me is that Laurel isn’t just THE THING. I came to truly care for Laurel, and her struggles, while odd and like nothing I’ve encountered before, gave me great pain. View Spoiler » It’s beautiful and honestly risky, because I’m not sure what readers are going to make of Laurel’s secret. I’ll be curious to see the reaction.
The faith aspect of Truest made me super nervous, but I thought it was handled beautifully. There’s a lot of stuff about God and belief, and pretty much all of the main characters are devout Christians. Normally, this sort of thing would have me running for the hills, but Truest doesn’t come across as preachy and most of the discussion of god is of a more theological/philosophical bent, and I love those things.
Tied up in West’s views of religion obviously is her home life. Her dad used to be wonderful and involved, but, as she’s grown, he’s spent more time ministering. He’s a huge help to the community and a great man, as everyone tells her, but the family almost never sees him. Whenever he’s home he’s exhausted and generally in his room trying to get past a migraine. The portrayal hits on how hard it can be to have a parent who is a good person but gives too much of themselves outside of the home. I really liked though that the father wasn’t some sort of villain and how things were handled with that.
Truest is a beautiful, nerdy, heartbreaking, shippy book, and I hope you guys also give it a chance. I can’t wait for more books by Sommers because this debut is sensational....more
I've never read an Alex Flinn novel before, so that could be a factor here. Still, I liked the cover well enough and I'm all about fairyPages read: 87
I've never read an Alex Flinn novel before, so that could be a factor here. Still, I liked the cover well enough and I'm all about fairy tales (which has been betraying me today).
Thus far, Mirrored feels like being whacked over the head with the messages that changing your looks won't change your looks won't change your personality and that magic can't fix everything.
Violet has been bullied all her life because she's ugly. As a child, she saves a bird from a psychopathic boy. She makes a friend, Greg, who she falls "in love" with. Then he goes off to camp one summer, hits his growth spurt and becomes popular, after which he will no longer talk to Violet. He starts dating the hot bitchy girl, Jennifer.
Violet, even more of an outcast, is approached by Kendra (who I know from book knowledge is in the other Flinn books) and told that she has magical powers. This did nothing for me but might be better if you've read the others, which is why I generally don't read companions out of order.
The writing has some weaknesses, like the fact that the bitchy mean girl says "Anything she does is total poop.” That's TOTALLY realistic teen mean girl dialog, right? Isn't that how the cool kids at your high school talk(ed)?
Violet uses her magic solely in pursuit of Greg. She can't magic him into having feelings for her, so she makes herself into an impossible ideal, but that's not enough. Even though this guy dumped her friendship proving he's an asshole, she's still determined to win him from her evil rival.
I'm quitting because Violet is a fucking monster and I hate her so much she probably can't be redeemed in my eyes. Why?
Well, after mean girl puts ants all over Violet's clothes during dance practice, Violet decides to retaliate. By magicking a dog into attacking Jennifer. There is just no fucking way I can ever like anyone who does this to a dog. I wouldn't be surprised if the dog gets away scot free in the book, but irl it would definitely get put down for sinking its teeth into this girl's cheek when there's no way the dog would have done this without Violet's interaction.
Violet's clearly meant to be flawed, but I still suspect I'm supposed to feel sympathy for her and dear Gansey do I not.
Since I own at least one more Flinn book, I'll probably give her another chance but no to this....more
I was holding out hope for this one because I've been desperately craving some shippy contemporary novels. Unfortunately, I can no longePages read: 31
I was holding out hope for this one because I've been desperately craving some shippy contemporary novels. Unfortunately, I can no longer deny that this book is not what I've been waiting for.
Undeniable tries so hard to be voicey and hilarious, but the problem is that I'm rolling my eyes and groaning rather than laughing. Gabi is awkward to a degree even I can't relate to. In one of the first scenes, she gets off a train in the underground, fails to mind the gap and lands next to the tracks. The cute boy love interest lifts her back up by her armpits. Like, what even is that? Everything she does is a level of awkward the word awkward doesn't really prepare you for. I've known a lot of awkward people in my life but holy shit.
Contemporaries are so voice-driven, so when it's off like this for me, it's just not going to work....more
Pretending to Be Erica has a fabulous, vibrant narrative voice, and I really churned right through it. It’s a mystery thriller that’s very mu3.5 stars
Pretending to Be Erica has a fabulous, vibrant narrative voice, and I really churned right through it. It’s a mystery thriller that’s very much character driven, so it worked for me. It didn’t reach that level where it came alive and I cared so intensely, but it was fun.
Though I did like the ship, I feel like it could have used more establishment. I really liked that Violet was a criminal, not just a good girl in a bad situation or something; she owns her own guilt. The psychological elements of the novel were fabulous too, and I liked how she tried to balance her two selves. Mostly, I feel like this novel was a bit rushed. It’s under 300 pages, and I honestly wish there was more. If there were a sequel about what Erica gets up to next, I would most definitely read it....more
It's not a good sign when I'm already skimming before I finish the second chapter. I really want to love Dreamstrider, and I want to lovPages read: 38
It's not a good sign when I'm already skimming before I finish the second chapter. I really want to love Dreamstrider, and I want to love Lindsay Smith's books. The concepts are amazing, but something about her writing just doesn't work for me. Once again, the voice really isn't clicking, and I'm bored and confused. I don't think I'll end up enjoying this one, so I'm moving on. :(...more
Despite my loathing for the name Pram (which is apparently short for Pragmatic) and DeStefano’s previous work, I couldn’t resist. I had a feeling thatDespite my loathing for the name Pram (which is apparently short for Pragmatic) and DeStefano’s previous work, I couldn’t resist. I had a feeling that DeStefano might do a good job with dark, creepy middle grade, given her lovely lyrical prose. Turns out, I was right. A Curious Tale of the In-Between has great atmosphere and I quite enjoyed it, so much so that I’ll be reading the second.
Though it’s not the most character-focused book I’ve ever read, the middle grade “love triangle” is pretty freaking adorable. Don’t freak out, because it’s not really romance; it’s more like they would have crushes if they were ever so slightly older and right now things are just sort of awkward. I don’t know why but I am a total sucker for that. So cute.
Doesn’t hurt at all that Pram’s halfway between life and death, since she was born dead and then rescued by the doctors, and raised by her two kooky aunts, which of course meant that the novel looked technicolor like Pushing Daisies in my mind. Anything that reminds me of a Bryan Fuller show is probably a good thing. I’d like to see more characterization in the next one, but the writing and story were enough to keep me interested so far....more
Add this to the list of middle grade novels that I find perfectly acceptable but not particularly interesting to me. For middle grade readers2.5 stars
Add this to the list of middle grade novels that I find perfectly acceptable but not particularly interesting to me. For middle grade readers who are into chemistry and explosions, The Blackthorn Key will be a fast-paced romp.
For me, who’s not much into those things and reads for strong characters, The Blackthorn Key fell a bit flat. The fast pace and mini cliffhangers at the end of many of the chapters made it a quick enough read, but it wasn’t a total hit for me. The historical setting was nice, though not thoroughly convincing. My main reaction to this book is a shrug....more
Reminds me a lot of Watership Down with foxes. Given that Iserles is one of the Erin Hunter authors, The Taken will be a hit with readerPages read: 67
Reminds me a lot of Watership Down with foxes. Given that Iserles is one of the Erin Hunter authors, The Taken will be a hit with readers of the Survivors series. I like it okay, but I'm behind on review books and not in love with this....more
Lately, I’ve switched almost entirely over to mini-reviews. It’s sort of overwhelming how many reviews there are for most things, and I didn’t want toLately, I’ve switched almost entirely over to mini-reviews. It’s sort of overwhelming how many reviews there are for most things, and I didn’t want to add more to the noise than felt right. Edgewater gets a full review because a) it was a great surprise and b) I’ve not heard any hype about it all. So this is my announcement: Edgewater is good, and, if it wasn’t on your to-read list, maybe it should be.
From the blurb, I wasn’t really that interested in Edgewater. If you’re wondering why I picked it up at BEA, it was partly because it was there and partly because I like to allow for surprises like this one. There’s something really lovely about going into a book with zero expectations and finding a diamond in the rough.
Edgewater reminds me most of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, a classic YA fans should definitely read. And then they should watch the movie. Both feature girls in messed up families living in a once-marvelous home. Lorrie’s home, Edgewater, used to be the nicest home in an area of mansions, but now it’s more disgusting than many of the homes you’d see on Hoarders. Seriously, during the first scene, a cat pees in the stairwell because that’s just how things are there. And, no, that doesn’t get cleaned up.
Lorrie dealt with her fucked up home life by running away from it: to boarding school and horseback-riding camp. The money left for the daughters by her mother before she ran off to Europe with her lover, leaving them with flighty Aunt Gigi as a guardian, was enough for Lorrie to keep up appearances. It was not enough to keep Edgewater from crumbling into disrepair and lbr biohazard status.
When Aunt Gigi fails to transfer the month’s money into her account, Lorrie finds herself summarily kicked out of horseback riding camp. She has to borrow money from her best friend Lennox to even get a flight home, and she has to leave her precious horse Orion behind until she finds money to pay for his shipment.
Edgewater could easily have felt like a poor little rich kid book, but it really didn’t. Lorrie’s home life is so completely fucked up, with the sanity of both her sister and aunt seeming a bit questionable. I don’t want to delve into the plot stuff too much, but I really liked the way Sheinmel resolved things; things are less black and white than I expected, which was really refreshing.
Obviously I love Orion a lot. The scenes where Lorrie was with Orion were the most emotional ones for me. Like Lorrie, I’ve always been obsessed with horses, though I never had my own. As with the dilapidated home, Sheinmel’s descriptions really bring the scene to vibrant life. She even manages to make mucking out stalls not sound that terrible, because to Lorrie it isn’t; it’s part of having and loving a horse.
The romance was a bit on the meh side, coming a bit too fast for my taste, though I wouldn’t call it instalove. There just wasn’t enough of a connection for me to care about it too much. I do, however, really appreciate Lorrie’s friendship with Lennox. Lorrie’s keeping a lot of secrets and does a lot of bad friend things, but their friendship is a strong one. In YA, there’s often a dearth of these solid friendships, so it’s nice to see. I also liked that they did fight and work through things, because friends do fight and a friendship is only strong if you can work through those times.
Sitting at home on the couch on Labor Day, I read through Edgewater in just a couple of hours. There was something so compelling about it that kept me from putting it down....more
You know, I always thought of western as one of the genres I didn’t like. If you asked me what genres I avoid, I probably would have told you mysterieYou know, I always thought of western as one of the genres I didn’t like. If you asked me what genres I avoid, I probably would have told you mysteries, religious, and western. Well spit on my neck and call me Pardner because apparently I DO like westerns. Who knew! The problem apparently isn’t so much the genre itself but what westerns generally entail. A bunch of dudes duding it up on a ranch dudely is so not my jam, unless maybe the dudes also fall in love, but even then I don’t know. However, give me a badass heroine, some romance, and some genderbending, and I adore westerns. Vengeance Road proved to be a delightful surprise that I couldn’t put down.
At the start, Vengeance Road reminded me heavily of Walk on Earth a Stranger. The heroine’s father is murdered for gold, leaving her alone. Then she dresses like a boy and heads out on the road. From that point on though, everything else was different, which I very much appreciated. See, all Kate wants is vengeance, which shouldn’t really surprise you based on the title. Kate’s going to kill every single one of the men who strung up her daddy, even if they are some of the scariest outlaws in the west. You don’t fuck with Kate.
Kate’s one of those heroines who doesn’t really have interest in most of the ladylike qualities. She works hard. She’s skilled with a rifle and not afraid of pain. Also, she’s sassy as hell and doesn’t let anyone boss her around. She’s also fiercely independent. Basically, I loved her because duh. Underneath her gruffness, though, there’s a softer side to Kate, and she’s a good person to anyone who doesn’t wrong her.
Often books about vengeance have this really huge moral: vengeance doesn’t help. Well, one thing I love about Vengeance Road a lot is that it’s not that kind of moral, preachy book. Kate wants vengeance and the whole book is about her trying to get it, without wavering. Sure, vengeance won’t solve the problem of her dad being dead, but also it’s not like she had anything else to do after being left alone. The journey’s good for her, even if her motive is a dark one.
Vengeance Road doesn’t shy away from the darkness or the death at all actually. Kate actually does kill a bunch of men in this book. And, you know what? She doesn’t feel guilty at all. Except about the one man she’d hoped to scare off and not kill. But any man in the crew that killed her dad, she murders with a free conscience. Generally women aren’t portrayed so hardened in fiction, and I love that Kate’s able to go out and shoot em up like this.
As you might expect, Vengeance Road is a fast-paced adventure, and I raced through it. There are a lot of shoot outs and attacks and also some sexy swims and abs. So yeah. It’s some pleasant reading time all around. As always with genderbending, there’s also a lot about being a woman in the past and how it sucked. Bowman includes diversity as well, with a positive Apache character and Kate herself being half-Mexican. I am all for this trend of historical fiction centered on women and minorities. More of this stuff please.
The romance is super excellent and a nice contrast to the intensity of the rest of the story. For those who aren’t romance fans, it’s not overwhelming to the plot at all, so don’t worry about that. Kate’s actually super hilarious with a crush, because she’s sort of like wtf is my body even doing STAHP. She and Jesse don’t hit it off from the get go and do a lot of fighting before admitting their feelings. I’m a big fan of them. It’s hard not to ship it when it’s hate to love in a historical and the dude is supportive of the girl’s quest for murder. I mean.
So yeah, Vengeance Road is awesome. You should totally read it....more
This narration isn't jiving for me at all. The MC's judgmental in a way that's not coming across as any kind of fun and the whole letterPages read: 32
This narration isn't jiving for me at all. The MC's judgmental in a way that's not coming across as any kind of fun and the whole letter to an anonymous friend thing isn't working for me either. It's sort of like if Jessica Darling lacked the verve and was working on a ghost hunters tv show, which makes it sound great. I'm not hugely into horror anyway, and I'm already bored with this one....more
Blood and Salt was a really quick read, just a couple of hours, and I had a lot of fun with it. The pace was fast and the writing engaging. That said,Blood and Salt was a really quick read, just a couple of hours, and I had a lot of fun with it. The pace was fast and the writing engaging. That said, I had some issues with it.
What I expected to have problems with was the instalove, but that didn’t really bother me. For one thing, I think it helps I was warned by the comparison to Romeo and Juliet. For another, I think it was dealt with, rather than being a half-assed attempt at writing romance.
Blood and Salt didn’t turn out to be as creepy as I’d expected and one of the big twists was very much telegraphed. I also didn’t understand what the culture was supposed to be. The people of Quivira refer to themselves as a tribe sometimes, but they don’t seem to be Native American at all. There’s a Mexican family perhaps and the rest seem to be white, which is weird. I didn’t particularly bond to the characters. My favorite was actually Rhys, her brother who wants no part of anything Quivira.
Bless whoever put the series info on Goodreads or I would have been really pissed when I got to the end. Still, it does feel like this story could have been wrapped up in one book. I’ll probably read the sequel but on some level it doesn’t feel needed to me. There’s still plot for it, mind you, but I just don’t know that drawing it out to a series was the best way to tell the story. Maybe I’m wrong though; only the sequel will tell....more
In general, I’ve been reviewing all the books that really move me in full. Obviously, I’m not doing that for Symphony for the City of the Dead, mostlyIn general, I’ve been reviewing all the books that really move me in full. Obviously, I’m not doing that for Symphony for the City of the Dead, mostly because I’ve never really been sure how to write a comprehensive review for nonfiction, since that seems to come down in large measure more on the accuracy of the information which I can’t really speak to.
In all my years studying history, I’ve always been most fascinated by the World War II era. One of my other favorite bits of history to study was that of Russia. Clearly, Symphony for the City of the Dead was up my alley. What added to its appeal and success is that M.T. Anderson is a writer of fictions, so he tells history in a way that’s not dry like so many nonfiction tomes can be. It’s alive and made me cry quite a bit.
I’ve not actually studied the Siege of Leningrad much, so I learned a lot here. I’m also now tempted to dive into that incredibly long history of the siege that’s been on my to-read list since college. I probably won’t do it soon, but someday....more