I received a free advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Language of Flowers, Diffenbaugh's other noveI received a free advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Language of Flowers, Diffenbaugh's other novel, netted a rare 4.5/5 star review from me. So it should come as no surprise that I jumped on the chance to read an advanced copy of her new book, out next month.
We Never Asked for Wings is similar to The Language of Flowers in that it deals with a troubled soul finally learning to cope. And it again has beautiful language and great storytelling. But that's where the similarities end. Wings tells the story of Letty Espinosa, a young single mother struggling to make ends meet. Until now, she's relied on her mother to raise her two kids (Alex and Luna). But with her parents' decision to move back to Mexico, Letty finds herself suddenly in charge, in a way she's never had to be before. A good portion of the book focuses on her struggles to learn how to be a responsible adult, then how to be a good parent, all while working, tentatively stepping back into the dating pool, and trying to realize the potential cut short when she got pregnant as a teenager. It's understandably a lot to handle, and there are some missteps. I'll admit I didn't really like Letty as a character at first, because she was just so clueless about really simply parenting things. But she grew on me.
The other parts of the book focus on her teenage son, Alex, as he navigates high school, his first real crush, learning about his father, and helping take care of his little sister. He's skeptical of his mother's ability to actually be a parent, with good reason at first. But then she comes up with a plan to get them out of their bad neighborhood, and her kids into a better school. It's a risky plan, but if it works it would life-changing for them all.
The balance of perspectives between Letty and Alex is nice, and gives an unvarnished look at what it's like to be smart but poor in America. The picture Diffenbaugh paints of this drab stretch of land and bad neighborhood where they live is very vivid, and a bit depressing. There are some pretty great supporting characters- particularly a small family of undocumented immigrants who become very important to the Espinosas. It's an emotionally charged book, but not so rough that it'll make you cry.
This book officially comes out on August 18th. If you like strong contemporary fiction that doesn't shy away from social issues, give this a try....more
I received a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
First things first, if you are new to Robin Hobb'I received a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
First things first, if you are new to Robin Hobb's Realms of the Elderlings books, stop reading this immediately and go pick up Assassin's Apprentice. Then make your way through the rest of the Farseer trilogy, the Liveship traders trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy, the Rain Wild Chronicles, and then the first book of this trilogy. Yes, that's 14 books before the events of this book, and even though that's a serious long haul of a series, I promise you it is worth it. This is, I think, my all-time favorite fantasy series, just as good at book 15 as book 1. And if you know me at all, you know it's a Big F'in Deal for me to say that. The world building is solid and amazing, and the characters... this is just hands-down, absolute top-notch character writing. These books will give you all of the feels. You will both laugh out loud, need Kleenex, whoop, and need to set the book down momentarily because of dread. I wish I could go into some of the details, but doing so and remaining spoiler-free across 14 books is impossible. So go read so we can geek out about these, please, before I burst at the seams!
Ahem. So, back to this newest book at hand. This series sees us back in Fitz's life in the Six Duchies, after the detour of the Rain Wild Chronicles. Book 1 saw Fitz's quiet retirement upset by some unexpected and violent happenings. Book 2 is much more intense and action-packed, since we are already past the overview/build-up establishing his quiet life. Robin Hobb had said on Twitter while writing this that she had waited 10 years to write a certain line, and I knew exactly which one it was. You will, too, if you're a fan of the series. It's been a long time coming. There were tears.
This book in general is where ALL the different storylines and characters and plot points from the previous 14 books really start to converge. AND IT IS SO SATISFYING. I don't know if I can convey how satisfying if you haven't read all of the books. The Fool is back, as is Lady Amber and a new character called Mage Grey. Malta and Reyn, Tats and Thymara all show up. Paragon is obliquely mentioned, which made me smile. We get a look at how the Farseer royals have matured. And none of the interactions are quite what you expect, especially with a pretty major political shift that happens midway through.
This book also threw a few surprises my way. The first book I knew exactly where it was going; this one I did not, which I like. Fitz is the main narrator, but the secondary narrator from book 1 also has some page time in this book. It did end on a double-cliffhanger, but all in all it was a good place to end this book. The pacing was right, and after the emotional intensity of this one it's probably good that the rest is deferred to book 3. Book 3 is going to be EPIC, though.
In case you can't tell, I highly recommend this book. It officially comes out on August 11th, so get crackin' if you're not caught up on the series!...more
A Darker Shade of Magic is the tale of many Londons. In each of several parallel universes, there exists a version of the city oI give it 3.5/5 stars.
A Darker Shade of Magic is the tale of many Londons. In each of several parallel universes, there exists a version of the city of London. Travel and commerce and magic used to flow between them unhindered. Now Gray London is magicless, White London is gripped by cruelty and power struggles, and only Red London remains a haven of life and magic. No one speaks about the downfall of Black London, and travel between the realms has been cut-off, except for a very select few who have the power to travel between.
Kell, from Red London, is one of only two of his kind of magician who can make the crossing. Officially, he carries correspondence between the monarchs of the neighboring Londons. Unofficially, he smuggles artifacts between the worlds. As one might expect, eventually he carries something he shouldn’t, and finds himself neck-deep in a plot full of treachery and magic that was supposed to have been lost with the fall of Black London. Chance leads him to cross paths with Delilah Bard, a pickpocket from Gray London dreaming of larger adventures- like magic. They form a tenuous alliance, working to stay alive and unravel the plot before the remaining Londons fall the way of Black.
This was a fun read! The world setup was unique, and the distinct atmosphere of each London really seeps through in the writing. Kell and Delilah are engaging characters, if not the most complex. And for once the book doesn’t get bogged down in predictable romance. The plot was a tad obvious in places, and certain things hinted at for subsequent books were also a bit heavy-handed. But overall I found the world and happenings interesting, and enjoyed the read. I will probably pick up the next book, just because this was refreshingly different from your normal fantasy read. And I’m curious to see if I’m right about how certain plot elements will develop. ...more
I'm a big fan of Maas' Throne of Glass series, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on her newest venture. This latest book from Ms. Maas is one paI'm a big fan of Maas' Throne of Glass series, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on her newest venture. This latest book from Ms. Maas is one part fantasy romance, one part Old English lore, one part Beauty & the Beast, and just a hint of the tale of Persephone. In other words, almost all the things I like best. Ok, so there weren't any dragons, but I suppose one book can't have EVERYTHING.
ACOTAR (as it's abbreviated on Twitter) is the story of Feyre, a downtrodden mortal struggling to support her seemingly ungrateful family with her hunting skills. One day she kills a strange wolf, and suddenly a faerie lord shoes up at her door, demanding her life in repayment for the (surprise) faerie she killed. Instead of death, however, he demands that she accompany him to the neighboring (and by all accounts luxurious) feylands, there to live the remainder of her life. There are worst things, right? Except the notoriously dangerous world of faerie is even more unstable than usual, with a magical blight slowly seeping over the land. And her host, Tamlin, is not the wicked, cruel fae lord the stories make out all of his kind to be, even if he is suffering under the enchantment of the blight.
The good: This is a mix of so many things I like, and is done well. Feyre is an engaging narrator and protagonist. Tamlin is a nice mix of gruff and considerate, and bad-ass warrior (Feyre is no slouch at the fighting herself). There's a wit-slinging sidekick, and a harrowing quest, and a slow-growth love story. The writing is well done and paints a picture of the faerie world nicely. And most minor characters (like Feyre's family) have a bit of depth, which is always nice. All ingredients for awesomeness.
The meh: The not-so-subtle setup for a love triangle. *sigh* I'm kind of sick of those, but it seems inevitable in YA books. It wasn't grown quite to fruition yet in this first book, but the direction things are heading is clear. Also, the big villain of this book got only a very slim backstory and as a result felt like evil-for-the-sake-of-evil instead of some actual motivation. I didn't really understand what the villain was aiming for, I guess, or exactly how they'd ended up where they were, which is always unsatisfying.
But the good far outweighs the meh. This was a captivating read, and I look forward to the next book in the series. If you like fantasy romance, you'll definitely want to pick this up....more
I was given a free copy of this book for review by NetGalley.
This was an interesting mix of fantasy and alternate reality. As a re-telling3.5/5 stars.
I was given a free copy of this book for review by NetGalley.
This was an interesting mix of fantasy and alternate reality. As a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, it gets bonus points for originality. I really enjoyed the unique world that Davis envisioned, but I wish we had gotten a more in-depth backstory on how the magic works, and how the worlds collided. We got just a smidgen- just enough to function as a bare-bones explanation for the characters, but not enough to satisfy me as a reader. Maybe this will be explored more in further books, since the end clearly set it up for a sequel. Overall, it was an entertaining read, though at times a bit predictable (hard to avoid when you're retelling a famous story)....more
I was given a free copy of this book for review by NetGalley.
It was refreshing to see a romance genre heroine with some actual book smarts - and she eI was given a free copy of this book for review by NetGalley.
It was refreshing to see a romance genre heroine with some actual book smarts - and she even occasionally wears glasses, gasp! Aside from that, this was a pretty standard historical romance - fun, escapist, some good sexy times. I haven't read the other 2 books in the series, so I may have missed some character nuances. But overall this was still an enjoyable read without the added backstory....more
3.5/5 stars. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Young love has barely gotten off the ground for balle3.5/5 stars. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Young love has barely gotten off the ground for ballet dancers Aly and Zed when a tragic car accident changes everything. Formerly inseparable, the accident causes a rift, and they find themselves on separate, solitary paths headed in opposite directions. Four years pass. Zed has struggled to find a new life and career for himself outside of ballet. Aly, still the in-demand principal ballerina, finds herself spiraling further into a mental breakdown. When a chance meeting brings them back together, it's a second chance to work through the fallout of their accident and see what's on the other side.
This is a contemporary New Adult romance. Not my usual review-fodder, but worth talking about, because it's not your usual romance setup. Zed is an amputee, and Aly struggles with an eating disorder. Dancing used to be what brought them together, how they connected. Now he can't dance, and everyone thinks dance is what drove her to her disorder and breakdown. Their journey as they navigate this very fraught and complicated dynamic makes for very interesting reading. And it rings true, from a psychological perspective - the characters feel real and believable while dealing with all of this. My favorite parts in the book were actually the dialogue-only scenes between Aly and her therapist. Not because the romance storyline was lacking, but because the therapy scenes were just so well written. And important. Fiction, especially romantic fiction, doesn't often give readers lead characters who have to directly face down these particular demons.
The downside is that every scene with Aly & Zed together is very, very angsty. Understandable, as they have a lot to work through, but sometimes I wanted them both to just chill and relax and not react so very strongly to everything. That part did get a little old for me.
But overall, this was a good read, and a nice departure from the normal romance genre tropes....more
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Salt & Storm is the story of Avery Roe, latest in a long lineI received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Salt & Storm is the story of Avery Roe, latest in a long line of witches inhabiting Prince Island. They have helped keep the island's sailors safe for generations, and are both feared and respected. While Avery has the ability to interpret dreams, she has yet to come into her full power as a witch. Her grandmother is waiting for her to take over and willing to teach her, but her mother has left that life behind and forbids Avery from communicating with her. When Avery has a dream that foretells her own murder, desperation drivers her to somehow reach her grandmother and finally learn how to become a full witch. With the help of an old friend and an unexpected new ally, she sets out to escape her mother's clutches and fulfill her destiny as the next Roe witch.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked how the author conveyed the atmosphere of the island, and Avery as the main protagonist is engaging. And I liked the core idea of an island with a lineage of witches who never marry and never leave, and their connection to the place. The romance plot line was pretty typical for YA - namely, they go from strangers to so-in-love ridiculously quick. Part of it is the age of the characters, and part the YA genre expectations/tropes. It annoys me a bit as an adult, but I understand it and can for the most part just shrug it off.
The pace of the book felt off, though; it was such a slow build for much of it, and then wham everything happens at once. There was no in-between. Also, when it's finally revealed how Avery can become a witch and the details of the curse on the Roe women, the latter seemed to come out of nowhere. It was never explained how or why they were cursed in the first place. And the end was really unsatisfying. I won't say any more about it, to avoid spoilers, but I was really shocked when I looked here on Goodreads and saw that no, this isn't part of a series, it's a standalone. That really was The End.
So, overall... I don't know. I liked it more than I disliked it, and it did pull me in and keep me reading. But I was also left vexed and dissatisfied with how it wrapped up (or lack thereof). So I guess my advice would be Read At Your Own Risk, if you like YA historical fiction with fantasy elements....more