Overall this was a sweet, charming book full of some great stories, some good ones, and one that I was sort of "meh" about. For my rating for each stoOverall this was a sweet, charming book full of some great stories, some good ones, and one that I was sort of "meh" about. For my rating for each story included in this book, please see my status updates!
Upon finishing The Raven Boys, I immediately began listening to The Dream Thieves. While I think I could have easily made it through reading this instUpon finishing The Raven Boys, I immediately began listening to The Dream Thieves. While I think I could have easily made it through reading this installment, I loved the audio version of the first book so much that I decided to listen to the second one as well. And I once again was not disappointed. Will Patton does an amazing job with the audiobooks for this series, which is strong praise coming from me because I am not really an audiobook kind of gal. But I can definitely say that I think listening to the audio version of The Dream Thieves actually improved my overall enjoyment, and considering how much I loved the story itself that’s really saying something. If you are curious about this series, I’d highly recommend checking it out in its audio format. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
As someone who basically devoured Cinder and loved every single second of it, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Scarlet. I was expecting more of theAs someone who basically devoured Cinder and loved every single second of it, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Scarlet. I was expecting more of the same: awesome characters, nonstop action, and a pulse-pounding pace of events that kept me thoroughly engaged in the story. However, while I ultimately came away from Scarlet liking it quite a lot, I didn't love it as much as Cinder. There were a number of reasons for this, I think, but it got to the point where I started thinking of this as the read-along that wouldn't end, which wasn't what I (or Lauren) was really going for. While I wouldn't call Scarlet a disappointment, I do wish I weren't the black sheep; it seems like nearly everyone else loved this book more than the first!
I think my biggest problem with Scarlet was that the focus wasn't simply on Cinder, but instead on a whole new cast of characters. I know, the title should have clued me in, but I had really grown to love Cinder, and really didn't like sharing her "screen time" with someone else. This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy Scarlet - I liked her stubbornness, her love for her grandmother, and the way she refused to give up - but I wasn't drawn to her like I was to Cinder. This is probably because Scarlet's upbringing was quite a bit different from Cinder's, in that she mostly had a safe, stable home, and grew up with someone who loved her. The letumosis likewise wasn't a constant threat to Scarlet as it was to Cinder and those around her, which just gave the town of Rieux a much different feel than New Beijing. All in all, it just took me longer to warm up to her and really become invested in her story.
There were also SO many different viewpoints in this book! We had Cinder, Scarlet, Kai, and even a chapter from Levana's point of view at the end. That made the book really busy, at least to me personally; just as I'd get interested in one storyline we'd switch to another. This gave the book a sort of jerky feel to it, as if the author were tugging the reader in more than one direction at a time. This is the biggest reason I was able to set it down for so long without any desire to get back to it; with so many loose plot threads, I ended up feeling ambivalent to pretty much everything (except Kai).
Even though it took me most of the book to warm up to some of the new characters, I did ultimately come away from Scarlet liking everyone we'd met. Thorne was hilarious, and provided some much-needed comic relief, and I couldn't help but love Wolf, particularly his conversation with Scarlet at the end ("mushy stuff in the galley", aww ♥). I loved that Scarlet wasn't at all a damsel in distress, and also seemed to have unending faith in people, even when they didn't necessarily deserve it. I was also happy to see Iko back in a fabulous new form, and my heart broke time and time again for Kai, who is just really having a terrible time of it. I can't wait to see how Cinder's going to get him out of the mess he's in!
While Scarlet wasn't a favorite like Cinder was, I did still very much enjoy the story. I love how Ms. Meyer has combined the two fairy tales, and can't wait to see how she's going to add Rapunzel into the mix. I do worry about adding even MORE characters, since that was my biggest complaint with this book, but am hopeful that - since I did eventually get used to it in Scarlet - it won't bother me as much the next time. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what will happen next in Cress!
The Distance Between Us has been sitting in my to-read pile since it was released in 2013. I had really enjoyed Kasie West’s paranormal book, Pivot PoThe Distance Between Us has been sitting in my to-read pile since it was released in 2013. I had really enjoyed Kasie West’s paranormal book, Pivot Point, so was excited to see how she tackled a contemporary romance. And while this book wasn’t mind-blowingly good or anything, it was a really cute, fun read that also had some depth to it. I enjoyed the characters – particularly our love interest, Xander – and the setting, and especially the way everyone had to reevaluate a few things. I always like books that feature character growth!
As someone who loves a well-done historical novel, I was really looking forward to In the Shadow of Blackbirds. I haven't read too many books set duriAs someone who loves a well-done historical novel, I was really looking forward to In the Shadow of Blackbirds. I haven't read too many books set during World War I, although the one I've read most recently - A Very Long Engagement by Sébastien Japrisot - was extremely well done and quite emotional, so I was hoping this book would be in that same vein. I'm happy to report that it definitely was. Not only does In the Shadow of Blackbirds take place during the war, but it also includes even more historical occurrences, from the 1918 flu pandemic to seances and spiritualism. The amount of research the author must have done to write this novel is astounding, and the fact she spent so much time making her book as realistic as possible really stands out in the writing and the reader's enjoyment. This was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Mary Shelley Black is an amazing main character. I loved her wit, her love of science, and the fact that she wasn't at all like other sixteen-year-old girls growing up in 1918. Mary Shelley has her own way of doing things and her own beliefs, which I found quite refreshing to read about. I loved how she started out skeptical about ghosts and spirits, only to have to re-think her position. She was very analytical about things, and I loved how she continued to do what she thought was right, even when she was told by her aunt or others to leave things alone and just worry about keeping herself safe.
The atmosphere of this book, however, was what really tipped this into five-star territory. The descriptions of the streets, from the people moving about with gauze masks on (which in the end did little to help anyone escape the flu), to the seances, to the mourners wanting their relatives to return to them, everything was just written about in a way that the reader could really see what was happening. While sometimes there can be too much description, with Blackbirds I really felt like those depictions were necessary to help set the mood and develop the suspenseful feel of the book. The air of mystery and confusion that reigns through much of the book as Mary Shelley tries to figure out what Stephen's spirit wants from her really helped drive the plot and keep the reader engaged. I found this book to be pretty much unputdownable.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds is easily the best debut I've read this year. The historical flourishes, the air of mystery, and the headstrong main character all combined to create a book I devoured and loved from start to finish. If you haven't yet had a chance to read this amazing book, you definitely need to do so soon! You won't be disappointed.
ARC provided via DAC ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review.