I finally, finally got around to this book. With above a 4-star average on GoodReads and nearly 205,000 ratings,~*Full review on The Bent Bookworm!*~
I finally, finally got around to this book. With above a 4-star average on GoodReads and nearly 205,000 ratings, I thought for sure I couldn’t lose! Well. Erm. Behold my rather sad panda negative review of Red Queen. I honestly have NO CLUE how this book is so popular and I’m really kind of angry about that. I feel robbed.
This world is Silver, but it is also gray. There is no black-and-white.
I really expected to like this book more than I did. I saw SO MANY glowing reviews (which I avoided reading in their entirety because reasons), I loved the idea of silver blood vs. red blood + some unexplained combination of the two. And then…and then…and then this was me:
Actually, until the last couple of chapters I was more like:
Main characters are Mare Barrow (a.k.a., Mareena Titanos), Kilorn (her best friend since childhood), Prince Cal, and Prince Maven. Also a cast of side characters who honestly sound much more interesting. Julian, anyone? Colonel Ellyn Macanthos? Farley?? Anyway.
Our heroine, Mare, was a very hard person for me to connect with and mostly I just wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled. She reminds us at least a few times that she is trying to “save” people, yet she seems to be incredibly good at getting them in more trouble than they were in to start with (Kilorn might be the exception there). She’s completely out of control of her emotions. I know, she’s a teenage girl under an extreme amount of stress – I got it, really. But geez Louise, a girl with as much street smart as she supposedly has should know better than to trust to appearances as much as she does. She’s so extremely childish it’s disheartening. Like when her best friend/crush Kilorn joins up with the rebels against her wishes, because she’s trying to keep him safe.
“Mare,” he calls after me. “At least say good-bye.” But I’m already walking, Maven by my side…I won’t look back, not now when he’s betrayed all I’ve ever done for him.
Yeesh. Control issues much?
Kilorn, I put in with the main characters because even though the role he plays in the actual story is small, his part in the back story is huge and I suspect (hope?) he will be more in the forefront of the next books. I like his stubbornness, though I’m a little less enthusiastic about his collapse in the face of conscripting. Like everyone in this book is a fucking drama king/queen. Give me a break.
The princes. Well. They are about as different as night and day, and yet they are both so perfectly predictable. Yawn. Had them pegged as good guy/bad guy from the second scene they appear in together. Which isn’t necessarily bad…except neither of them do anything unexpected, ever. They are literally just good guy/bad guy. I see the character development there, and I have some question if Prince Bad Guy could maybe, just maybe possibly, be redeemed down the road (maybe after his brainwave controlling mother is out of the picture). I liked Prince Good Guy. I think what he went through in the last couple of chapters will (or should) have a MAJOR effect on him and his actions in the future, which could also be interesting.
“You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution, on some teenaged love story? I can’t believe this.”
Oh, Farley, I couldn’t have said it better. Because yes. Best line of the book. That’s exactly what this is – and not only that, but trope after trope after trope. Love triangle? Check – only because more is obviously better let’s make it a fucking LOVE SQUARE. Special snowflake? Check – and she is oh-so-special let us count the ways she is the ONLY ONE who can fix this.
“For hundreds of years the Silvers have walked the earth as living gods and the Reds have been slaves at their feet, until you.”
Insta-love? Check – because as soon as certain characters set foot on the page, I went “Oh, yep, there’s one…two…three…wtf?!?”
The plot – obviously the oppressed Reds versus the godlike Silvers – has a decent start. But so many of the parts surrounding Mare are just extremely farfetched and had me squinting at the pages and saying “Really?” out loud. Like the fact that, the very first day Mare starts her job, she’s sent to the biggest Silver event in decades. Where she conveniently produces powers she never had even an inkling that she had. Suspicious much, I am. The queen, who has the power to read people’s thoughts and memories – why does she never catch on to the secret attacks? It just doesn’t make sense.
Also, there is way, way way way way WAY too much romance in this book. Has Mare never even seen a man before? Seriously? I nearly rage quit when I realized that yes, indeed, the Love Square was a thing. Also WHY are all these guys in love with her? What do they see that I don't?
The setting here is X-men meets Lord of the Rings, which was actually pretty cool. Just…I need a map! Haha. Also more names. The descriptions are good, but I need names and big pictures to orient myself, even in a book, and that felt lacking. The world, to me at least, seemed like a combined setting of fantasy and dystopian, what with all the fancy clothes and crazy magical power yet also video cameras and other technology.
Final Rating and Thoughts:
2.5 stars. I tried, folks, I really did. But all the tropes, the sheer predictability, and my extreme dislike for Mare have me giving this one a no-go. I was considering a 3 star rating, but for me the shift to the better side of the middle of the road is whether or not I will read the sequel, and for this one I have to say no. I’m somewhat curious about a few things, but not enough to put up with Mare’s stupid self-centeredness for an longer.
The Girl in the Tower continues the story of Vasya, the child called a witch and shunned by her own rural village. This time it takes place mostly inThe Girl in the Tower continues the story of Vasya, the child called a witch and shunned by her own rural village. This time it takes place mostly in Moscow, and at last we are able to continue the stories of some of Vasya’s other family members as well. A great evil is stealing across the land, stealing the daughters of the people, and someone must do something about it. The lords are growing restless and angry with the tzar for not keeping their people safe.
The detail and atmosphere in the story have once again managed to amaze and enthrall me. Arden manages to blur the line between fantasy and fiction in such a way that, while the mind “knows” that these things could not happen as written, perhaps…perhaps…perhaps they might have, or could. Taking old stories, and superstitions and tales that are Russian in origin, but often familiar in some form across the globe, the tale told is one that resonates on a deep level and often sends chills down the spine.
Vasya is still my sister from another mother, with spunk and intelligence far beyond her age. She refuses to be discouraged or held down by societal expectations, choosing instead to carve her own path in the world. It’s a difficult way, but one that sets her soul on fire. She is growing older in this part of the story, coming into womanhood with all of its medieval troubles, which typically far outweigh its charms.
The plot does seem to be a little slow, but that only occurred to me later after I finished reading. While I was reading I was so immersed and entranced by the Vasya’s world that I did not care. There is action, emotion, and worldbuilding in this book and all are artfully done. Highly recommend.
Many thanks to Del Ray for providing an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
The narrators for this Audible Editions version were fabulous. Each character has their own narrator~*Full review on The Bent Bookworm!*~ Narration:
The narrators for this Audible Editions version were fabulous. Each character has their own narrator for their various journal entries, letters, etc., and they were all easily distinguished from each other. I listened at 1.25% speed, which helped with the 15 hour, 28 minute length.
I was mostly just very intrigued the whole way through! It was so very different than anything I’ve ever read. I was invested in the characters but not terribly attached, if that makes sense. I felt like I learned a lot from this novel, even though it was fiction. I learned a lot about British/European culture at that time, how they looked at the supernatural, and how they looked at women.
First of all, let’s get this Count Dracula straight. Dracula is not something out of True Blood or Twilight. He is not sexy. He does not sparkle. He is not emo or hurt and in need of someone to comfort and heal him. He is evil, cruel, barbaric, and intent on taking over the world. Ok, maybe just England, but still. He is imposing and has a certain ability to manipulate people even without his supernatural powers, something that I think must have been a part of even his regular-human personality.
Then you have the other main characters, which starts off with Jonathan Harker and his fiancee’ (later wife) Mina. They are just normal people trying to live a happy life, and suddenly they are thrown into this mess of Dracula’s creating. Jonathan actually travels to Dracula’s castle, never realizing until much later that the Count is much more than a normal man. Mina doesn’t actually meet Dracula until much later, but she has quite an experience with him due to his involvement with her dearest friend, Lucy.
Lucy is the person who actually brings all the other characters together. She is the typical Victorian blushing virgin, and somehow manages to attract marriage proposals from several men all at once. When she becomes a target for some unknown horror, they all come together – not without some awkwardness – to try to help her.
The plot can be summed up in two words: vampire slayers. Because while this book takes AGES to get to the point, in the end that’s what it’s about. Vanquishing the evil that is Count Dracula and his minions, preventing him from further colonization. There are a couple of sub-plots, but they really don’t add a whole lot to the story, in my opinion. Like many books of this era, Dracula is very wordy and goes on and on and on about points that most modern readers really don’t care about.
The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests. Stoker does a marvelous job of making us see, here, feel, and even smell the setting of Transylvania, the seaside, London. I have absolutely no complaints. I never once felt as though I couldn’t picture the world of the characters. To him of course, the world was HIS world.
Let me get to these other thoughts before I give my rating.
First of all, the religious atmosphere of this book. It really took me by surprise, but I guess, given that the main characters are British during the 1890s (Queen Victoria’s reign). I was disappointed that the only things (other than garlic) to repel the vampires are relics of the Christian church. I was extremely disappointed by how many pages were devoted to the characters musing on their rightness with God, on whether or not they would go to heaven or hell, and other similar topics. All very accurate to how people thought and believed during that time.
Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him. He has allowed us to redeem one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to redeem more. Like them we shall travel toward sunrise; and like them, if we fall, we fall in good cause. Secondly, the treatment of women. Again it’s very accurate to how women in Victorian England were expected to behave, how they were looked at by men and the world at large. Mina Harker, at least, does not entirely accept the traditional role of the fainting female even if she is very willing to accept being the weaker sex. Accurate or not, I find the subservience the female characters demonstrate disturbing. Also disturbing is that Jonathan Harker objects to the female vampire who come to him based solely on the fact that they appear sexually attractive and do not behave like Victoria’s shrinking violet female model. He is attracted to them by their beauty and their open admission of their desire, and yet he feels he sins in the attraction.
I realize that this is all my perspective through a 21st century lens. The points that strike me as repression and bigotry were completely normal and accepted in society at that time. Does that make them right? Of course not. It does explain how and why characters reacted the way they did, however inexplicable their actions seem to a modern reader.
Overall, I’m giving 4 stars. The story, for all its faults, is still gripping even over a hundred years later. Dracula has given rise to countless spin-off tales, even if most modern day readers consider vampires (and werewolves) more sexy than terrifying. Vampires, with their super-human powers of shape changing and manipulation, have enthralled people’s imaginations for decades. I don’t see Dracula leaving the classics list any time soon.
There was a time, not long ago When flowers grew all year When days were long And nights star-strewn And men lived free from fear
Just to clarify: The Bear and the Nightingale (TBATN) is NOT a YA book. I’ve seen it pop up on several lists as such, but it is not. It’s also NOT historical fiction, though it is heavily inspired by historical, medieval Russia. It is adult fantasy that reads almost entirely like historical fiction until Part II, where it starts to feel like magical realism historical fiction…so let’s just keep it simple and say fantasy. Could some teenagers read it and appreciate it? Yes, but the style is very different from most YA, and some of the content is definitely adult (marital rape and a little graphic violence). This obviously didn’t deter me from ADORING it, but I thought the slight genre-confusion I’ve been noticing was worth a mention.
In Russian, Frost was called Morocco, the demon of winter. But long ago, the people called him Karachun, the death-god. Under that name, he was king of black midwinter who came for bad children and froze them in the night.
I am in love. With everything. With the world, with the characters, with the woods, the village. With Vasya. A little bit with Alyosha. I wept with Vasya and her family. I saw the spirits as Vasya did. I felt the fear of the villagers. I felt the pain and confusion of a young child with a wild, free spirit in a world that didn’t accept her. The writing in TBATN is astounding. Lyrical, whimsical, and utterly entrancing.
“I am only a country girl,” said Vasya. “I have never seen Tsargrad, or angels, or heard the voice of God. But I think you should be careful, Batyushka, that God does not speak in the voice of your own wishing. We have never needed saving before.”
Vasya, the main character, is my sister from another mother. I swear. Her love of nature, her stubborn refusal to accept the fate others wish to push on her, her refusal to be broken. I already said I love her but it bears repeating. The story spans from right before her birth to the time she is 14 years old. She doesn’t have an easy life, but she has to be one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. Bent, at times, but never broken.
“All my life I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing.”
Now no joke, there are quite a few characters in this story. However, they are all so clear and distinct I was never confused. Not once. Not even with the Russian names. I did have to realize in the beginning that everyone had a given (fancy) name and a called (shorter, plainer) name, but since Arden stuck mostly to the called names it wasn’t hard. Also, each character experiences a growth arc in the book. No matter how minor, they show some growth and change – sometimes for good, sometimes for bad! That is an incredible feat and after reading so many books with such flat minor characters – amazing.
Romance – guess what? There is none. None. None, none, none, NONE! It’s such a beautiful breath of fresh air. There IS marriage. There’s also sex – and by sex I mean marital rape. It’s not graphic, but it’s obvious. I feel it’s treated as well as such a thing CAN be – these are medieval times, and in those times women were no more than property, no matter how highly valued that property. The women themselves often never questioned the right of their fathers and husbands to barter with them and then use their bodies for their own pleasure – it was a husband’s right and a wife’s duty! *insert much sarcasm* It definitely effects the entire dynamic of the story.
TBATN is not a fast-paced book. It’s a slow burn building up to more and more – and it’s TOTALLY worth the read. All the details are beautiful and intriguing, and they really add to the mystery and overall atmosphere. The characters are really the driving force, and all the drama and suspense are very slow to build but after spending several chapters getting to know the people and the country I was already so invested I already knew I was in for the haul. Things really start to pick up with the arrival of a new priest in Vasya’s village. There is a struggle between the new Catholic church and the old spirits of the land and as things start to happen at first NOTHING is explained. Everything just kept building and building and there’s even a little mini-climax at one point (which was EXTREMELY satisfying), but things just keep going! Not only did it keep going, it picked up speed and I was completely wrapped up in the story.
As previously stated, there is no actual romance in TBATN. It doesn’t need it. There’s also not an entirely happy ending. It is…heartrending, yet hopeful at the same time. There’s no actual cliffhanger, but so much room for additional stories, and Vasya’s fate and path seem far from decided.
Phenomenal. It truly has a historical feel to it. I’m not all that well-versed in Russian history or mythology, but the detailed notes on language and history at the end, as well as the comments I’ve read from people native to that part of the world seem to bear out that thought as well. The descriptions allow you to fall through the pages into the story, and it really feels like a full sensory experience. When the mythological creatures begin to appear, it feels so amazingly right.
5 stars. I don’t have any more words for how beautifully savage this book is. I can’t wait to see what Katherine Arden comes up with next. I’ve heard rumors this is the first of a trilogy, but in her author Q&A page I only see mention of a sequel. I’ll be buying whatever she comes up with!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Everyone has read this book already. Everyone, except me. Therefore, I’m departing from my usual format for m~*Full review here on The Bent Bookworm!*
Everyone has read this book already. Everyone, except me. Therefore, I’m departing from my usual format for my Crown of Midnight review. This is a play-by-play of my reactions as I read the book – yes, I kept very detailed notes, down to the page number! I probably could have finished it a lot faster without…but I just couldn’t stop. I also took a lot MORE of these notes in the last half of the book than the first, hehe. It probably goes without saying, but, um…
******SPOILER ALERT!!! For ToG, Books 1 & 2*******
Beginning: Well, hopefully a few people will have become actual adults this time…(you can see my rather unimpressed review of Throne of Glass here)
6 – Ewwwww…glad to see Celaena hasn’t lost her love of the dramatic, I guess?
15 – “Plans” seem a little overrated.
25 – Why is Chaol still so worried about the king? The king is evil. Chaol is not. I don’t understand this loyalty.
29 – I don’t like this Roland person.
31 – WHY SO MANY CLOTHES AND SHOES?!? I don’t understand.
Unlike Celaena’s [bookshelf], which housed every title she got her hands on, whether she liked the book or not.
THERE’S my girl.
43 – I want a necklace that glows when danger is near, damn it.
74 – And now I miss MY best friend, damn it. Nehemia is the best.
89 – Chaol, you overprotective ASS…you better watch yourself.
91 – Ugh. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of courtiers/courtesans, male or female (not in this context, anyway). I get that sometimes it’s a lifestyle choice, but in this case it’s pure slavery and…UGH.
92 – I’m a little disturbed that so far the only same sex relationships in this series are portrayed as a taboo thing, something to hide and keep behind closed doors. I get that maybe that’s how Adarlan’s society IS, buuuuut…it seems like it never occurs to anyone, even our heroine, to look at it differently.
111 – Aaaaahhh secret passageways and tunnels!! Or rather, more of them.
138 – Phew. There for a minute I thought we were headed for a love SQUARE. At least now we’re back to love triangle that IS NOT a triangle, according to Dorian. Just keep believing that there, little buddy.
192 – Ok. I love Chaol, as much as he’s flawed and torn by his idea of loyalty. And I feel like my heart is going to be broken by it somewhere along the line…
223 – Now there’s the assassin I’ve been waiting to see!
229 – WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING OMG NO NO NO NO.
230 – THIS IS ALL WRONG. SO WRONG. WHAT EVEN.
Death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.
246 – I’m so sad I don’t even know if I can keep reading this.
(puts book down for about a day)
Then Celaena and the King of Adarlan smiled at each other, and it was the most terrifying thing Dorian had ever seen.
291 – I love how everyone gets upset and distraught and…runs to the library for their happy place.
294 – Are you kidding me, Chaol?? You’re STILL having twinges of conscience about this bloody tyrant of a king? Or is it Dorian you’re actually worried about? Because that’s slightly more acceptable even if it doesn’t make you any less stupid.
296 – Ooooh is the battle hungry rebel guard a woman?
297 – LOL JK
“Then you will always have a place here.”
Oh, god, Dorian. Come on now.
309 – Well, that doesn’t reek of LotR AT ALL.
313 – OH MY GOD CHAOL. Just because she’ll never trust you again doesn’t make her a threat to one of her best friends.
328 – Hold on – does it occur to anyone that she’s going to have to walk/climb/run back up ALL THOSE STAIRS? That’s a lot of freakin’ stairs…
339 – Haha. Ok well, glad someone addressed that problem.
The world didn’t need an assassin with a coward’s heart. It needed someone like Nehemia.
366 – Archer =
373 – Yes, yes beg ALL the gods that will listen.
374 – NOT FLEETFOOT!!!
378 – Okay, any man that will risk his life to save her dog…
379 – Well I knew SOMETHING was coming I just didn’t expect THAT SOMETHING.
Am I the only one that was just…not expecting that AT ALL??
389 – That’s right, call her a good woman. Probably not the best thing you could have said right there.
393 - WAIT WHAT?!?!? SHE KNEW ALL ALONG?????? WTF?!?
398 – “Her” kind, clever prince? WHA?
“Knowing the truth, whatever it may be, will not change what you must do tomorrow – where you must go.”
Why have I not seen THIS quote on a t-shirt?
Never forgive, never forget.
Yeah, ok. So. That was one big puddle of feelings and some confusion. I have many mixed…thoughts. I felt this one was much better written than the first (thank you, SJM, for sparing us the many repeated descriptions of just.how.beautiful. Celaena is), and it was overall much more interesting. We learned a lot more about the world, about Celaena’s background (OBviously), as well as Chaol’s, and some new, very interesting characters were introduced (Baba Yellowlegs?? I was so disappointed that she had such a brief part).
I’m so bummed that Nehemia died. And in such a truly SENSELESS way. Actually, bummed doesn’t even begin to describe it. The book itself even states that it was a catalyst, an instigator, that she sacrificed herself in order to goad Celaena into action…WTF?!? That is so wrong and sad on so many levels. I’m extremely disappointed in that aspect. I’ve seen a few different bloggers talk about how in some very popular books, POC are used as plot devices…and I’m guessing that this is one of the chief offenders. No matter how much of an amazing character Nehemia was, the fact is that her death was used as a tool is just beyond sad.
The ending was awesome, though. I love that Celaena is strong enough to say goodbye, even when she knows it is probably goodbye forever, or at least goodbye to the happiness she had. I still love Chaol even if he’s a complete dunderhead, and I have hopes that he will come around. He doesn’t seem to be an ENTIRELY lost cause. And Dorian…I can’t even begin to figure out what’s going on with Dorian. He’s such an utterly nice person, and it kind of makes him boring but I want him to be happy. Oh, and whatever happened to Roland?? Like he was there, and vaguely creepy and unsettling and then he was just…nothing. So confused.
This is such a popular series I’m sure most people who read my blog have read it, so (WITHOUT spoiling the next books, please!), tell me what you think! I’d love to talk about it some more.
I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. LOVE. I’m slightly obsessed with that particular story arc/plo~*Review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*~
I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. LOVE. I’m slightly obsessed with that particular story arc/plot and love seeing the different spins authors put on it. I think part of it is because I absolutely adore castles, and COME ON who hasn’t been obsessed with the Beast’s library?
When I first read the blurb for this one, I got super excited – and then read a very negative review (by a reviewer I usually agree with and whom I really respect), which made my toes curl…butbutbutbut it was Beauty and the Beast! So I decided to give it a shot anyway, and lo and behold I was approved for an ARC. I’m so glad now that I didn’t let one review decide whether or not I would read the book. While of course no two people are going to feel exactly the same and the reviewer was perfectly professional and within rights to feel as they did, I personally felt the book was lovely!
^This is pretty much EXACTLY how I picture the Beast’s castle as written in this book! – photo from Boredom Therapy
This book surprised me by how closely it follows the original. Of course it is not exact, but it has many more similarities than most of the adaptations I’ve read. It is set in old France, in the 18th-ish century. Isabeau i.e., Belle, is the youngest daughter of a merchant with three daughters. The beast, cursed for an undetermined amount of time, has spent years wandering the woods around his cursed castle and later within the castle itself, attempting to claw his way back to some guise of humanity.
I looked down at my hideous, beastly paws. Thickly furred on the back; black, leathery palms; and those terrible claws I could not sheate. I was overcome with shame. Who am I to love such a one as her? Just as quickly, my shame turned to anger. My talons sunk into the back of the chair. My heart is human! I cried in my mind.
The magic of the story is rather different, as there are no talking candlesticks or clocks and no Mrs. Potts (so sad), but the Beast’s house definitely has a mind and life of its own and is indeed very magical…more on that later.
First of all, the Beast. He’s a very sympathetic character, though a flawed one. He was cursed by a faery who had a long history with his family, and cursed NOT for being evil, but for another reason that you’ll have to read to find out. He is very…well, mopey. Which is really quite understandable given the circumstances, but sometimes I did want to shake him. He recognizes, too, that his manipulation and threatening of Isabeau’s father was wrong and cruel, and he is sorry for it, but as Isabeau later tells him,
“Desperate men do desperate things.”
The Beast definitely grows and changes throughout the story, as he does in the original and most retellings. His woe-is-me attitude sometimes crept in and made him annoying, but overall I liked him.
Isabeau is your typical Belle, except – and I can’t quite forgive this – she is NOT as obsessed with books as my idea of Belle always is! In fact, she declares that she doesn’t quite know what she is good at or what she really enjoys, as her last few years have been spent just trying to make ends meet and help her sisters and father out of the deep depression they collectively fell into after the demise of their father’s fortune. Oy. She remains mostly the same through the book, except of course she comes to see the Beast in a very different light by the end.
Isabeau’s father and sisters were rather different than any portrayal of them that I’ve read, as well. I didn’t particularly like any of them except the oldest sister, but they provided a nice contrast.
The Iffy Stuff
The negative review I read said the Beast was essentially a voyeur and that was a large part of the reviewer’s problem with the book. So, I went into this expecting him to basically be a peeping Tom, mainly on Isabeau. Which wasn’t really what happened at all. Again, YMMV and of course if it bothers someone they should say so! However…the so-called voyeurism occurs at the behest of the Beast’s magic mirror, which is part of his house’s magic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – and not always when he wants it to. The book DOES use the mirror A LOT to let the reader see perspectives other than the Beast’s, which is effective but given that he is seeing everything that we are, is kind of…odd. But then, what exactly is normal about his circumstances? He’s much, much older than anyone else still living. His house magically manifests food and clothes. His lands are in all four seasons at once. What’s a magic mirror added to all that? Also, the fact that sometimes it just shuts him off made a difference to me. Sometimes, even when he desperately wants to see something, the mirror says no.
Overall, 4/5 stars. I wish I had been a little more invested in Isabeau and the Beast’s romance, but it was still very sweet and they are both very likeable characters. I loved the descriptions of the old, crumbling yet magical castle and grounds. I especially loved how the Fairy’s relationship to the Beast’s family, particularly his grandmother, was revealed. I’ll definitely be getting a copy of this for my shelf!
------------------------------------ I have so many thoughts about this book. Also I'm conflicted about whether to count this as a 2018 or 2019 release because I got a copy of the ARC for the US version, which releases this month, but it came out in the UK last year...anyway, full RTC!...more
Molly is a mess. A shy, self-conscious, boy-obsessed mess. She’s seventeen, has never had a boyfriend or eve~*Full review here on The Bent Bookworm!*~
Molly is a mess. A shy, self-conscious, boy-obsessed mess. She’s seventeen, has never had a boyfriend or even kissed a boy, and she hates it. She has had twenty-six crushes, none of which panned out for her. She thinks and worries (and people often comment along the same lines) that she is fat, too fat to be attractive to any boys.
First of all – geez louise! I know I was definitely more relationship and (in my case) boy obsessed when I was sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen years old than I am now or have ever been since, but DEAR GOD ALMIGHTY it is literally all this girl thinks about. She has a couple of other interests, but appears to have never given even a slight thought to what she wants to do with those interests after high school. College is mentioned, but only as an annoyance, because of adults asking what colleges she has applied to. Goals? What are goals? It seems so odd to have little to no interest in one’s future. I also remember that four years felt like an eternity at seventeen, or even at twenty-two. So I get some of that – but not all. Molly just seems so extremely focused on boys, their attractiveness, their potential to be boyfriend or hookup material…it seems excessive and concerned me. If she was a friend of mine I would be staging an intervention, not trying to goad her on or set her up with whatever eligible guy I could find.
That said, of course most people want to be a relationship of some kind, with another person or people. There are many different kinds of relationships – MANY of which are modeled in this book, hurray! Everyone deserves to be happy and to be loved. However, I think it’s very unhealthy to look to a relationship for one’s happiness. Another person can never make you happy if you are unhappy with yourself – as Molly definitely seems to be, despite her moms and other friends constantly trying to build up her self worth. However, Molly tends to be very selfish and focused inward, only looking at situations from the point of view of how they effect HER.
Molly especially struggles with her twin sister’s new relationship. She becomes jealous of Cassie’s girlfriend and all the time they spend together. Just like we have all had the friend who started dating someone new and fell off the face of the earth. Eventually she does realize that this is a season, and that things will change throughout their lives, and she comes more to terms with her sister having a life separate from her.
We might see each other every day. We might see each other once a year. Maybe it will ebb and flow and change with the decades. Maybe we’ll never pin it down. I think every relationship is actually a million relationships.
^Best quote of the book, there. Not that Cassie is an angel, by any means. While Molly clearly adores her twin, Cassie also takes advantage of her in a lot of ways and is rather insensitive to her feelings.
GOOD STUFF: Lots, and lots of diverse representation – LOTS! Molly has two moms, one of which is bisexual, there are gay, lesbian, and pansexual characters, as well as people of all different ethnic backgrounds. It made my heart happy.
Mental health treatment - Molly takes medication for her mental health. It’s not made a big deal of, it is just NORMAL, and I think that is so important.
Excellent writing – the style was entertaining and easy to read. I read this in less than 3 hours, not counting breaks. Will definitely pick up another of Albertalli’s books.
I just could not get on board with Molly, even while I did understand that some of what seemed to be selfishness was really anxiety. Anxiety can sometimes makes people appear to be selfish when really what they’re worried about is taking care of someone, or worried they will offend or hurt someone. I felt bad for her, but I was horrified by the implications of the conclusion, even if it was sweet and made me say “Awwwww!” for a few seconds. The content and conclusion are what really made me lower my rating, the writing itself was quite excellent. So, I’ll give the author another try and see.
Well, I just found another auto-buy author. This book destroyed me. It's amazing. EVERYONE needs to read it. ETA: I loved it so much I ordered a copyWell, I just found another auto-buy author. This book destroyed me. It's amazing. EVERYONE needs to read it. ETA: I loved it so much I ordered a copy and had it shipped to my parents just IN HOPES they will read it (they probably read 10 books a year put together). Full review to come!...more
The Iron King is a fun, fluffy read with a little danger, a little romance, and a lot of faeries. Also a little Alice in Wonderland - that part left mThe Iron King is a fun, fluffy read with a little danger, a little romance, and a lot of faeries. Also a little Alice in Wonderland - that part left me a bit flabbergasted...exactly how does the Cheshire cat fit into the faery world of redcaps and chimeras? But ok. It was definitely interesting. The hands down BEST part of this book is all the descriptions of the various fae, the Winter, Summer, and Iron Courts. I haven't read many books based around the fae, so to me at least the Iron Court construct was entirely new and OMG IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. Holy shit balls batman. Consider me successfully creeped out and a little sad.
The characters...well, the MC is actually not that compelling. I was not a real Meghan fan, but I definitely didn't hate her. Her motivations I could understand though, and her love for her little brother melted my heart. Her loyalty was also something I could relate to...Meghan is incapable of putting any goal or end result before the people she cares about, even when the result would be the greater good. Now Robbie, I loved. I hope we see a LOT more of him in the next books! Ash was...ooooh, look, tall-dark-handsome-brooding-powerful-hero = instalove. SIGH. He had some cool powers though. The romance was meh. Meghan is very young and naïve and...well, maybe that's my almost-30-year-old self being jaded but I just wasn't feeling it AT ALL.
3.5/5 stars overall. I'm looking forward to the next book and can't wait to see how this Iron Court thing plays out! It wasn't a true hangover ending but it's SO wide open for more possibilities... ------------------------------------------ I won an e-book of this from a blog giveaway ages ago, and finally got around to reading it! Sadly I don't remember which blog....more
Cogheart is a tale with many moving pieces, not unlike the steam-punk mechanicals that Lily's father builds. Unfortunately I think it's a bit flat, asCogheart is a tale with many moving pieces, not unlike the steam-punk mechanicals that Lily's father builds. Unfortunately I think it's a bit flat, as I never felt very attached to the characters. Also, for a middle grade novel, there is an awful lot of proverbializing and "lessons learned" sort of speeches, which I found annoying and am sure many of the target audience would as well. It also has a bit of a dark feel in some places, not unlike the Series of Unfortunate Events series - only these dark events don't seem to have much effect on the characters except as plot devices.
Despite these flaws, I did finish the book and found the mech aspect interesting. I just have doubts about the book's ability to hold the attention of a middle grade reader due to the issues I've mentioned. ...more
Usually, the desire to fangirl over a book turns me into a heart-flutterinTime for a re-read! -------- Full review and links found on The Bent Bookworm!
Usually, the desire to fangirl over a book turns me into a heart-fluttering, obsessive mess. However, the fangirl aroused by THIS book, was inspired by much deeper feelings. Feelings that just left me staring off into space and generally just trying to process. This book, you guys. This. Book. (WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK)
“I’ve been all over the world. More than one country for every year that I’m alive…I’m not saying that to show off. I’m just saying it because I’m trying to understand how I could have been so many places and yet this is the only place that feels like home. This is the only place I belong. And because I’m trying to understand how, if I belong here, it…” ” — hurts so much,” Blue finished.
And that is how I feel about my lovely home in Virginia (I swear Maggie Stiefvater patterned Henrietta after my adopted hometown). Because even though I don’t live there now, and won’t for who knows how long (if ever)…I’m pretty sure it will always, always feel like home. It hurts, because it doesn’t make the most sense for me to live there, because there are part of it that make me angry and sad, and yet…this. So much this. That someone understands all the deep, intense emotions I have about home is so rare, and then to find it in a book…I’m pretty sure that The Raven Cycle is going to be one of my all time favorites.
It was a massive old forest, oaks and sycamores pushing up through the cold mountains soil. Leaves skittered in the breeze. Ronan could feel the size of the mountain under his feet. The oldness of it. Far below there was a heartbeat that wrapped around the world, slower and stronger and more inexorable than Ronan’s own.
For beautiful, heartfelt, feel-it-in-your-blood prose like this.
Anywho. Gansey, who actually plays less a part in this one, nevertheless starts off with a bang as he spouts off one of the most hilariously quotable lines in the book (I’m practically stalking for an opening in a conversation so I can use it):
“So what you’re saying is you can’t explain it.” “I did explain it.” “No, you used nouns and verbs together in a pleasing but illogical format.”
The Dream Thieves continues the story of the Raven Boys and Blue Sargent as they search for the Glendower, the long lost king of Wales. This second of four books focuses more on Ronan Lynch than the first, and he is arguably the MC/POV but all the others still figure well into the story. For myself, I kept wishing we would see more of Maura and the Gray Man, but then the book would probably have been too long…ah well, maybe in the next one.
Ronan is still a complete and total dick. No worries, guys, your daredevil bad boy isn’t going anywhere. He just proves to a be a badass with a soft spot for home, and family, and the balls to go with his sharp tongue. He’s the emo, complicated boy type at its finest. With a couple of twists. Like the whole dreaming deal he has going on. I’m trying reeeeeeeally hard not to give actual spoilers but…yeah. Oh, and Ronan also has an extremely quotable line (I’ve already used this one, and I want the fucking t-shirt, damn it):
“I am being perfectly fucking civil.”
His depth of love and commitment to his family is his most redeeming quality. Ronan is so far from perfect…but the Raven Boys and Blue need him. They need him as the avenging angel that will sacrifice himself to do whatever is needed to protect them. Ronan has pretty much given up his right (and let’s be honest…he gets off on the thrill so it hasn’t been THAT hard for him) to an easy conscience. He still doesn’t do anything SO bad…but he will protect his own, no matter what it costs him. We still get to see a softer, more vulnerable side sometimes – with his brother Matthew, and with Chainsaw. Who knew a raven could be cute?
There’s a lot of development of the other characters as well, almost to the detriment of the overall plot. I suppose that’s a point against, but I didn’t actually mind it, I was so interested in seeing more of Ronan’s family, and Blue’s 300 Fox Way family.
For Blue, there was family – which had never been about blood relation at 300 Fox Way – and then there was everyone else.
I adore Blue…she’s some awesome combination of spunky and unsure and sweet…someone I’d want for a friend. Her killer kiss curse isn’t quite so much in the forefront in this book, which I liked. This one just overall felt less like high school. They were focused on more important things in general, even though there’s still a bit of tension of love/like between them. There’s one part in particular where Blue and Noah – Noah, of all people! – almost broke my face in half, I was grinning so hard at their awkward adorableness – totally non-romantic, but adorable. I loved that we saw more of Maura, and that she was more than just Blue’s mom. That’s something so often left out of YA novels, it was very refreshing. Especially as an older reader, I felt like I could relate to her.
The appetizers were delicious, not because of the kitchen, but because all food eaten in anticipation of a kiss is delicious.
^The waiting, yo, the waiting.
Last but not at all least, there is Adam. To me Adam has always been a sympathetic character and one I could identify with, for several reasons. I guess in the first book he sometimes seemed a bit whiny, but really…his backbone, ability to pick himself up again and again, and his work ethic won me over. His pride, which so often gets in the way of others helping him, is so much a part of him that no one really wants him to get rid of it. In this book he’s struggling with the parts of him he’s inherited from his father, struggling with being able to express himself without being cut down (either literally or figuratively) for it – and guess what? He’s a teenage boy. With issues. It’s hard. He makes mistakes. But he’s just…he’s such a sweetheart. And the fact that, of all the Raven Boys, he feels the most alone…it just breaks my little heart. I wanted to make him hot chocolate and tuck him in bed, to make him feel safe and cared for.
If he had no one to wrap their arms around him when he was sad, could he be forgiven for letting his anger lead him?
I really hope that Adam finds some real happiness in the next two books. If he doesn’t, I swear…I’ll be reduced to writing fanfic to give him some.
I gave this book 5/5 stars, which surprised me, especially since the first one was only 3.5/5! I just loved it so freaking much, for so many reasons. I really fell in love with all the characters in this one, much more than in the first. I’m still very intrigued in the Glendower part of the story (especially with the complete realization of Ronan’s ability to dream things into being), but right now I would follow these characters anywhere....more
SPOILER ALERT for the first two books of the series! You have been warned...
The Fallen Kingdom picks back up exactly where The Vanishing Throne left off – at least in Aileana’s mind. In reality quite a bit has happened and I was super confused for a few chapters. This would be a negative EXCEPT Aileana is just as confused as the hapless reader and so it’s perfect. She slowly pieces together what happened to her and everyone else and while she’s just as much a badass as ever (and still feels the need to remind us of that now and again), she is not as in control as she seemed before, despite having all the unnatural powers of the fae. Aileana is human, and humans imbued with fae powers…well, it’s not working out so well for her.
Kiaran…um. Well. Kiaran is just as dark and broody as ever. His day/night personality was more in evidence here, and it was more disconcerting than ever before. However…he still wasn’t as dark as I was expecting. Good thing…I guess? He’s the Unseelie King, he’s supposed to be evil and dark and twisted…and he was, but we don’t really see that directly. Also when Kam actually gets to him it was a little anticlimactic because he really didn’t seem all that different. The end though…be. still. my. bleeding. heart.
Aithinne as queen of the Seelie fae is just as amazing, hysterical, and badass as ever. I still adore her. I still want her to be my best friend.
She still has the best lines in the book but I unfortunately can’t quote any of them because my ePub file expired and my copy of the book hasn’t arrived yet. Bad book blogger.
I LOVED the way the legend of the Morrigan and her sister was woven into the story. I definitely need to brush up on my Scottish mythology/folklore, because I’m fairly certain I was missing some subtle nuances but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
As you can see, I had a few issues with the story, as characters weren’t quite what I expected or weren’t as developed as I hoped…but Elizabeth May managed to write such an amazing story with characters I was SO committed to, and also to not make it a happily-ever-after fairy tale. It has aspects of it, but…it’s not entirely, and that was part of what made me rate it 5 stars.
I can’t wait to see what Ms. May writes next! She’s definitely on my auto-buy list. Personally, I would love to see a book (or two or three) with Aithinne as the main character. Hint, hint, Ms. May. ;)
Many thanks to Chronicle Books and NetGalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review!
This book took all the good things from the previous 2 books and left out all the things I didn't enjoy so much. Phenomenal ending to the trilogy. Broke my heart. But so much love!! Full review closer to release date.
OMG I was just approved for a review copy of this and I'm just - ...more
I’ve been trying to write a review of The Hate U Give for weeks and weeks now. It’s difficult~*This review first appeared here on The Bent Bookworm!*~
I’ve been trying to write a review of The Hate U Give for weeks and weeks now. It’s difficult to put my thoughts about it into a cohesive form, so I’m just kind of going to put a few things out there. Also, I’m aware that this book is HUGE because of it’s subject matter and representation. I read it BECAUSE of that, because I know that I am in the majority and I want to understand what the minority goes through and feels. I realize a book will never give me a complete understanding, but I do think reading #ownvoices books can help. The entire point of reading is to learn and to travel and experience things in our mind that we can’t or don’t have the opportunity to experience in our place in the world.
THUG is an important book because it so thoroughly places the reader into another person’s shoes. Because it was written by someone who has been there. She didn’t have to do research to see how Starr and her friends and family would talk – she knew, because her family is Starr’s family, her town is Starr’s town. This isn’t someone from the outside looking in and writing about it, this is someone writing what they have seen right in front of them.
Read The Hate U Give to see the world outside your comfort zone. Read it to understand why people have and do react the way they do to words, implications, and events. READ. IT.
The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen—people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right. Maybe.
- Angie Carter does a fabulous job of giving her characters unique voices. I could hear each character distinctly and it was amazing. I felt like I was following Starr around, eavesdropping.
- I was completely immersed in the story. When the pivotal point of the story, the shooting, happened, I felt like I’d been sucker-punched. I felt sick. I had to put the book down and go compose myself. At first I tried reminding myself that it was just a book, but of course that didn’t work because OH YEAH STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENS PRETTY OFTEN and IN OUR WORLD and…yeah.
- This book helped me understand a lot of things. It helped me see a lot of things for the first time. Every town I’ve ever lived in (except in Korea, heh) had two sides and I never completely understood why it was that way, when segregation was a thing of the past decades ago…supposedly. Starr’s struggle to be more, her struggle with her feelings for Chris, and to bridge what seems to her (and to the reader) to be the two sides of her life, encapsulated everything I’ve ever been confused about or wondered why when it came to those two sides of town.
- FAMILY. I freaking love Starr’s family. Her parents’ relationship isn’t perfect but it’s there. Her entire family – her blended family, there are step and half brothers and sisters in there too – is there for each other. They pull together. They may picker and fight but in the end they are there and it’s amazing.
The Other Thing:
I, personally, was really disturbed by the wrecking of the town and the looting/destroying of property that went on during some parts of the book (mirroring, obviously, a lot of actual events as well). HOWEVER. What really came home to me was that while no, I didn’t agree with the characters doing it, I finally understood to some extent why. I understood that it was a form of expressing how angry and scared Starr and her friends and neighbors were, of the injustice and prejudice that seem to meet them at every turn. Did that make it right? No. Starr even says so later. But I finally had some sense of why things like that happen.
Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.
This book made me happy. Happy in the contented, yeeeeees this was good kind of way. I don’t read~*This review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*~
This book made me happy. Happy in the contented, yeeeeees this was good kind of way. I don’t read that many contemporaries (usually find them trite and boring), so I don’t think I’m easy to please – but this book. I pretty much clutched it to myself and gave it a hug when I finished. Also can I please have this quote on t-shirt:
I’m not easy. Never have been.
Julia is a tough cookie. A tough cookie with an artist’s heart and soul. I love her so much, even though I’m not sure she would like me, hehe. She has been hurt so many times in life that she just builds up walls against everyone, which is something I can definitely relate to – though not for the same reasons. I love her independence and how she embraces her Deafness, refusing to allow it to be a liability or anything negative in her life. Not to say she doesn’t struggle and hurt – she does. But she overcomes and she doesn’t wallow in her sadness.
I bury my face in the cushion of my beautiful armchair, my command center, and scream. Over and over, my throat vibrating and crackling with fire. Nobody comes to see what’s wrong. Nobody can hear me.
This was my first experience in the Deaf world. I have some older family members who are deaf, but they are far removed so I really don’t have any contact with anyone Deaf. While this is not an OwnVoices novel, the author appears to have THOROUGHLY done her research, as many people who either are deaf or have close deaf family members have reviewed this book and given it mad props for an accurate portrayal of the Deaf community. SO HAPPY about that! I was very intrigued by the fact that there are “Deaf” people and “deaf” people…I had no idea.
Julia does a lot of growing in this book. And in case anyone doesn’t remember from being a pre-teen or teenager…growing pains are real. Both the physical and mental kind. In this case Julia learns a lot about friendships, and letting people go. It HURTS, people…but she grows through it and it’s a beautiful thing.
Diversity is HUGE in this book, and (to me, a very NOT marginalized person) it seems to be presented as such a normal thing, no one bats an eye (except one teacher at some point in the narrative, but that’s only realistic I suppose).
- Julia is Indian American, and while it only occurs once in the book itself, she is often the target of racial slurs – many of which don’t even apply to her, but are due to people making ASSUMPTIONS based on her skin color. #RAGE - Julia has two moms. I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first book I’ve met with that kind of representation, but I really enjoyed seeing/reading it. It’s so completely normal, and they both play such huge roles in Julia’s life. The narrative spent just enough time explaining the relationship between the 3 of them to help the reader avoid having a constant “but how…?” in the back of the mind while reading. - Julia is Deaf, and her moms are both Deaf as well. See above comments. - Julia is a graffiti artist – this may not technically qualify under the diversity label, but come on – graffiti artists are DEFINITELY in the minority. I loved that pictures of her art were included in the book – I have troubling picturing things without pictures and finding out that the illustrations were included was one of the main reasons I bought a hard copy instead of an ebook!
I might be burning bridges, but they’re my bridges to burn.
Burn, baby, burn.
I loved pretty much everything about this book. Please go read. I’m super excited to have found another debut author that I absolutely love!
I went into this absolutely positive I would never feel anythin~*Full review notes on The Bent Bookworm!*~
“Love is a conquest. Love is a war.”
I went into this absolutely positive I would never feel anything remotely akin to sympathy for Levana. She’s such an unholy terror in the other books! And seemingly without reason. I felt like she just liked being evil and inflicting pain on others (which I guess is partially true but there’s so much more to it than that). However, about halfway through I changed my mind. Of course I already knew roughly how it would end, but it was just so tragic. I was so overwhelmingly sad. Levana as a young woman had so much potential, if she had just had someone to help her channel her emotions and teach her how to overcome.
She tried to brush away the sting of rejection, the knowledge that she was still not good enough…she pressed the feelings down, down, letting them turn hard and cold inside, while her face was smiling and pleasant.
Obviously, this is Levana’s story. However, we see characters familiar to us sprinkled throughout (especially if you’ve already read Winter, like I had), which was fun. Some of the characters that have already passed on in the other books are here and alive, too. We get to see some of the events that are only speculated on by Cinder and her friends. There are a couple of other characters that are new to this story, that really wrung my little heart out as well.
When we first meet Levana here she’s a relatively normal 15 year old girl! She’s been abused at the hands of her egotistical, cruel older sister, neglected by cold, distracted parents, and pushed and pulled into the image of a perfect princess (since, as the second born daughter, she’s only fit to be married off). Levana is gifted – or cursed – with a quick mind, intelligent and resourceful – the mind of a queen. She’s also terribly scarred, as much mentally and emotionally as physically. This combination has resulted in her being an entirely self-centered, self-absorbed person who quite literally never thinks of other people or their feelings except as they pertain to HER feelings or desires.
I think that in the end, selfishness was Levana’s true issue. She is one of the most selfish characters I’ve met in a long time. She becomes egotistical, but she didn’t start out that way. She reacts to pain by assuming that the world owes her something (not a hard conclusion to come to, when you’re a spoiled princess anyway). She comes to believe that she is entitled to whatever she wants, no matter what it takes to get it. No matter how much she might hurt other people, even the one person she actually cares about. She has no concept of true love for anyone. She hurts, but beyond that she knows almost no emotion.
This is a novella, so the plot is pretty straightforward. I.e., how Levana became queen and all the people she hurt in the process.
If you’re familiar with any of the other Lunar Chronicles books, you’re already familiar with Luna and her people. If you’re not, I strongly recommend starting with Cinder! This story is basically the backstory that we never see fully in the main 4 books. You could start with Fairest, as chronologically it is actually first, but I don’t think it’s very interesting without that prior knowledge. The setting is there, but it’s not explained as well.
3.5 stars. I’m struggling to give this one 4 because it really feels like a flashback that should have been somewhere in Cinder, also aside from Levana’s becoming a psycho it’s all focused on luuuuuuuv. And I just…I’m so tired of twu wuv being THE motivator of teen girls. I mean I know we were all there once. But come on! I’m stepping off my soapbox now…
“I called every power of this land to war, winter-king. It had to be done. We cannot fight amongst ourselves.”
The Winter of the Witch is the absolute
“I called every power of this land to war, winter-king. It had to be done. We cannot fight amongst ourselves.”
The Winter of the Witch is the absolute perfect ending to this trilogy. It shattered my heart, stitched it back together, then stomped on it. Just in case I had any hope of it ever healing properly.
The previous books in this trilogy are just as beautiful and just as compelling, as we first meet Vasya in The Bear and the Nightingale and see her growing into herself in The Girl in the Tower. In this final installment Vasya is still young and still growing, but she has come into herself as a woman and refuses (as she always has, in her way) to bend to societal expectations.
I was bawling within fifteen minutes of starting this book. And then I cried even harder at the end. I was wrung out, unspeakably sad, and yet there was an undercurrent of contentment and joy and hope that has made me recommend this beautiful trilogy to every. single. person. who would listen!
Vasya, of course. I would go to war with and for this girl. She hasn’t had an easy life but she refuses to be cowed and she embraces who and what she is, even if she doesn’t always understand it.
In her hands was the strength that had broken the bars of her cage in Moscow…”I may die tomorrow. Or live to sour old age. But you are only a wraith in a lake, and you will not command me.“
She has heart, and she loves so fiercely and completely, it completely breaks my soul. Unlike in the previous books, Vasya also explores her sexuality in this one – and while I sort of saw her love interest coming, I couldn’t see HOW exactly it would work out…and then it did, and it was fabulous. Vasya will not take being anything less than an equal, and I absolutely LOVED how her path in life was not something she was willing to give up (nor did she) for anyone, regardless of her feelings for them. So often, even strong female heroines fall in love and give up their plans/dreams for their partner. Not that this is always bad…but it’s so often that it’s almost expected, and it’s definitely still an expectation in our society. It was SO refreshing to see how things settled out for Vasya.
I really fell in love with Vasya’s brother, Sasha, in this one too. He was always a sympathetic character, but his devotion to being a monk sort of turned me off. He really came into his own in this book too, and it became obvious his devotion is really more to people and country than any god. He also stops treating Vasya like a child, and their relationship just blossomed into what I’ve always dreamed a brother/sister bond to be.
Vasya put a hand on her brother’s arm. “Then, if you come with me tonight -” Her grip tightened; their eyes met. “I warn you, the road leads through darkness.”
Sasha said, “Then we will go through darkness, sister.”
Then of course, there are the bad guys…Medved, the Frost-King’s brother, as always up to treachery and warmongering, and the priest Konstantin with his hatred of Vasya and all she represents, coupled with an unrelenting thirst for power. The evil radiates off the page…and yet it is not all so cut and dry. Just as life is not all black and white, no matter how much we may wish it.
A threat from outside will tear Russia apart, but the boyars seem incapable of anything but internal bickering. Moscow burns, and the people blame Vasya. The only way to unite Russia seems to be the road through midnight…
The plot, while it definitely moves the story along and provides the catalyst for the various characters’ actions, is really secondary to the character and relationship development. It proceeds at a rather breakneck pace (unlike in The Girl in the Tower, where it seemed to meander at times), hurtling us all along towards the final bloody conclusion.
While I can’t say I would want to live in Katherine Arden’s medieval Russia, it is certainly beautiful and captivating – while also be cold and cruel, especially to women. She weaves in folktales and pagan traditions with the new Church, and who is to say it wasn’t, actually, just like that?
I am planning to re-read this trilogy every year. I bought the US and the UK editions of all three books. They resonate in my heart and soul. If you ever listen to any recommendations I make, PLEASE GO READ THESE BOOKS.
I want to read this SOLELY BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SO MEAN SPIRITED about it already. Like, wtf? Are you that petty and hateful, or are you just boreI want to read this SOLELY BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SO MEAN SPIRITED about it already. Like, wtf? Are you that petty and hateful, or are you just bored and trolling? Either way...keep on haters...you're only garnering it more attention. The fear of ideas and differences will keep you small while the rest of the world soars. ...more
Rant ahead. You have been warned. If you liked this book, go ahead and stop reading.
This book was absolutely horrible. HORRIBLE. I usually love shifter stories, and stories with strong female leads. But the writing, the characters, the plot (lack thereof?) was just...omg. Such a train wreck. I only finished because I did receive a copy for a review.
Harper and Ian are the most perfectly perfect people you've ever met. Physically they're both a 15/10. Perfect bodies, perfect virgin sex (*gag*), and some of the most cringeworthy sex scenes I've ever read.
I guess the other reason Ian was protective was how "attractive" I'd become, according to others. Puberty hit me in the face at 14, and I went from 4'11 to 5'6 with the perfect set of breasts, hips, abs, and a "snatched" waist...I kept my brown hair nice and long, and it seemed to have the perfect shine that always caught the attention of the girls in town as to what shampoo, conditioner, and hair food I used on it daily...Now that I was sweet sixteen, I'd gained another four inches in height, and stood at 6'0. I doubted I'd get any taller at this point but I definitely didn't look sixteen to most people anymore.
^Stab me now.
Ian spoiled me with clothing that was similar to his. We'd essentially caused a new "trend in town; young couples left and right tried to wear matching outfits and look lovey-dovey.
^I just threw up a little.
Oh, the sex. Harper is a virgin at the beginning, and she is "claimed" as Ian's mate at the ripe old age of fourteen. She's eighteen by the time they get around to having sex, and while I definitely wasn't expecting any blushing-bride type scene, I do have SOME expectations and the writing for any of the sex scenes contained in this book just DID NOT DO IT FOR ME.
When he turned around though, my eyes immediately locked onto his length, and I kid you not, I could have fainted out of utter happiness. Ian was officially the whole package, right down to his damn length that I knew was longer than 6 inches.
Harper is also annoying AF, which is unfortunate since the book is mostly told from her first-person POV. For most of the book she's 21-ish, and she is so incredibly full of herself it's not even funny. I love confident female characters. But this went way beyond confidence into sheer arrogance and I really just wanted to slap her. Ian is just there for muscles and sex. He has the personality of a two by four.
What plot? Yes, there is this whole "wolf pack" thing going on at the rescue facility, and Harper has a strange bond with the wolves that stay there, as well as her own "internal wolf" that she won't tell anyone (except Ian, natch) about, but really it just goes in circles with breaks for sex until about the last 10% of the book. Then there is a MASSIVE explosion of an info-dump with ALL OF THIS STUFF that was supposed to have been going on in the background. I felt cheated. There was no lead up, there were no hints along the way (so that at least you could look back and have the "aha" moment), nothing. Just, "Oh, this is how we're going to explain all of this shit! And have some unicorns and glitter while you're at it!"
I still have no clue about how the paranormal is supposed to fit into the world of this book. Is it accepted by the world at large? What kind of governing body is there? Who makes the rules? WHY are there shifters? Why is this particular pack so important? Where did they come from? The only one that is even PARTLY explained is the last question, which sort of starts to be answered at the end but you know, cliffhanger. That I don't give one flying fuck about.
In the first few chapters, Harper is five years old and Ian is seven. They have full on adult style conversations that devolve into baby talk for a few minutes and then go right back to discussing how they're going to educate themselves for the greater good. It's ridiculous. Has the author ever even MET children?
1/5 stars because you can't give zero. Never, ever ever ever going back to this series or author.
“Nothing from the ocean is meant to survive on land forever.”
Satisfaction. I adored the resolution of this book. It’s not a perfect happily-ever-after (HEA) and that makes ME so very, very happy. I’m a disgruntled, hard-hearted porcupine when it comes to love, and while I like endings with hope, only rarely do I completely get behind a tidy little HEA. FtDD has a very hopeful ending, but one that could go several different ways. I loved that.
It took me awhile to warm up to Bridey, I’ll be honest. She is so defined by her fear of the sea that at first that is the only quality I saw in her. As the story goes on though, I came to genuinely like her. Lugh and Cat, her best friends, I wish we had seen a little more of. I felt sorry for them as she kind of abandoned them to go work with Morag and then in her absorption with Fynn.
Fynn is something of a mystery for most of the book. A lot of reviews I saw complained about the insta-love between him and Bridey, but to me it was believable BECAUSE from the very beginning, it’s obvious Fynn is not just a normal human boy. Because of that, I feel like the insta-love is understandable and realistic – even though I usually DESPISE it.
Morag was my favorite character. An odd choice, I guess – but I loved her. I love that she was old and crotchety and hurt – both physically and emotionally, yet she was such a wise woman and genuinely cared about people. She was like a gingerbread cookie…crunchy on the outside but soft and delicious on the inside (that IS how you make your gingerbread cookies, right?).
FtDD starts off kind of slow, not going to lie. It’s beautiful and haunting, but slow. The pace picks up about a third of the way through, and I was completely drawn into the Isle of Man world Sarah Marsh has created. I already wanted to visit but now I want to go even more!
At first I thought I had misjudged the cover blurb and this was a historical fiction YA with some mythology thrown in…but no. It soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems on the idyllic Isle, regardless of what the villagers want to believe. And of course no one wants to listen to the tales of old women or the vision of the young. No one wants to believe that maybe the faery stories are more than stories. Worldbuilding/Description:
Beautiful. Idyllic. Almost mystical and definitely slightly creepy. I loved it. It felt so real…next time I’m at the ocean I’m going to be on the lookout for creepy ghosts playing violins. I still want to visit the Isle of Man though.
4/5 stars. There were some things I felt were too easily explained away, like some things about Fynn. Some things I felt happened too easily…like once Bridey got over her fear, suddenly she was a grand rescuer…but they were small things, and adrenaline and love do give people almost superhuman strength sometimes.
Girls who run from what frightens them don’t get what they want.
The Cold is in Her Bones is a loose retelling of Medusa’s story. I was expecting a lot more Greek influence, to be honest, so I was a little disappointed. It feels much more like a fairy tale of the British/German type, and the setting is very obviously inspired by that era, not ancient Greece. Maybe it was just me! Oh, and I was expecting snakes of the creepy variety. Um, there’s ONE. Well, one at a time. And they’re CUTE, not creepy.
A specific place or time is never given, so it feels sort of like a historical and sort of like a fantasy world. The writing itself is intriguing, though it seems a little jerky at times. In the beginning we start off with one character, and then we never see her again until much, MUCH later. So that was a bit odd.
Overall, this is a story of a girl, Milla, growing into herself and not only accepting herself, but seizing her personhood with both hands and lighting up her world. She refuses to be a “good girl” – though not at first. At first she, like many of us, is sad that she cannot be the daughter her parents want and tries very hard to please them. I absolutely loved how she eventually realized her own power and potential and threw off all the societal expectations.
I really wasn’t sure what to make of the old woman, or Milla’s brother, or even what I was supposed to think of Milla’s parents! It was just all very…well, “floaty.” I felt very much like I was drifting along trying to puzzle the pieces together. I felt really sorry for Iris and, much like Milla, only wanted to help her.
I would read something by this author again. I just think this story needed a little more direction and polish. The writing was good and the tone was great. Just…needed a little more.
YES. THIS. This is the book I’ve been waiting for the entire month of October.
There will always be more dead, and the dead will always kill.
I actuallYES. THIS. This is the book I’ve been waiting for the entire month of October.
There will always be more dead, and the dead will always kill.
I actually wasn’t expecting much out of a YA horror book. My skeptical brain said, “How bad can it be?” Two nights afterwards, I was still jumping an embarrassing foot back from anything unexpected when the house is dark. The cat. A sock in the floor. The door. A fart.
Cas, our ghost-slayer, is a cynical piece of work who seems to rather enjoy his job. He was definitely HUGELY influenced by the death of his father in the line of this duty. The origins of said duty are never fully explained…but I guess that would have taken a lot longer than the span of this format. Still, I would have enjoyed finding out! Anyway. He’s not your typical 17 year old, but he doesn’t rub it in the face of his classmates…at least not most of them. He’s rather cold and uncaring in the beginning, but throughout the story he really grows and develops into a much more feeling person by the end. No thanks to coming up against more powerful ghosts, which he is grudgingly forced to admit, he can’t take down alone. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with any of the side characters, but I really liked that he had to reach out of his comfort zone and take the risk of trusting other people.
Anna – yes, the one dressed in blood – I love her. I feel horribly sorry for her. I practically shook in my chair when reading the flashback scenes. Like holy shit. No one deserves what she went through. I liked that she took personal responsibility for everything she did after she became a ghost, even if it wasn’t truly all her fault. She was influenced…but it was still her hands that did it. I could see the attraction between Cas and Anna, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. I mean…she’s a GHOST. Even if she really appears corporeal at times. Come on, Cas. And I didn’t want her suddenly returned to life to make a happy ending because…yeah no.
The plot moves along quickly. I was a little shocked when I realized that Anna was NOT the ghost that killed Cas’ father (not a spoiler, as if you read the blurb carefully, it DOES say that…I just somehow did the old 2+2=5). Kendare Blake does an AMAZING job of dropping ALL the hints that you just KNOW are leading up to something HUGE…and then smacking you in the face with the truth you didn’t see coming. I sat with my jaw hanging open even as I mentally ran back through all the foreshadowing. Yep. There it was. I just…didn’t realize…yep. Total awesomesauce.
“Don’t be afraid of the dark, Cas. But don’t let them tell you that everything that’s there in the dark is also there in the light. It isn’t.”
The descriptions were amazing. Gory at times, but um, if you weren’t expecting that by the title…well, maybe you should look at the cover again. Just saying. I had chillbumps. I curled into a little ball and pulled my hoodie as far over my head as possible while still being able to see the book.
I swear I could hear the blood dripping from Anna’s dress. I felt the wind, the chill in the air…oh, right. I was also reading this as the weather was getting decidedly colder. BUT THIS IS WHY IT WAS SO AWESOME!! I was looking for a book that could make me feel like I did as a little kid, like Halloween wasn’t just costumes, but maybe something darker…maybe the veil really does grow thin on October 31st. Well. Mission completely fucking accomplished. My almost-30-year-old self no longer wants to go to bed alone.
5/5 stars. I immediately ordered the second one and HIGHLY recommend this one if you like creepy and young adult books....more
Ok, prepare yourself. This review is not the most rational thing I’ve ever written, because I~*This review first appeared here on The Bent Bookworm!*~
Ok, prepare yourself. This review is not the most rational thing I’ve ever written, because I was left in an ooey-gooey pile of feels after finishing this book! I was not. prepared. Modern fiction isn’t generally my thing, but the blurb for WDMR was just too awesome and made me really excited so I had to pick it up. I’m SO GLAD I did!
First off: Dimple. I love her so much! She’s quirky, she’s nerdy, she’s spunky, she’s smart and not embarrassed by it (something I really struggle with). She’s not perfect, and she’s not cookie-cutter. I adored her reaction to Rishi’s first words to her – THAT was perfect. Appropriate? “Nice?” No. But no one is perfect, and we all have different ways of dealing with situations. I’ve seen a little of the mumbo-jumbo i.e., people getting their underpants in a wad over some of the things she does, and my opinion is still that NO, she is NOT perfect, and most readers will love her more for it.
So then, obviously: Rishi! He’s cute. He’s also SUPER traditional. Somehow he manages to be cute at the same time, and I’m still a little confused by that. Hehe. I think Rishi grows as a character the most in the course of the book. He becomes more of his own person, rather than the “good boy” who wants to please his parents so badly he will give up parts of himself to do it.
The story introduced me to Indian culture more and better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t have any friends or even acquaintances from that background, so I was a little lost in the beginning by some of the terms and traditions that were more alluded to than explained. Eventually I figured everything out, but I did end up Googling a couple of things.
I also bawled. At one particular point. I was just so crushed and I couldn’t BELIEVE I felt so strongly about “it” because at first I was all for Dimple just saying EFF THIS to everything…but as I read I realized that completely bucking her family’s traditions is not, actually, what will make her happiest. However she IS a modern American woman and as such…she totally does things her way.
Dimple and Rishi’s relationship and them growing into themselves is obviously the main focus of the story, but there are a couple of side plots as well. The first involves some of the other students at the camp they are attending and how disrespectful (to say the least) the rich, white students are to anyone who is “other,” as Dimple puts it. The second involves Rishi’s brother and Dimple’s roommate and I was intrigued enough to hope for a sequel with them as the major characters.
WDMR was one of the most satisfying books I’ve read this year. While of COURSE I would love to read more of Dimple and Rishi’s story, it is beautiful and amazing just as it is and I closed the book entirely happy. 5 stars!
“You fear you will fail at the very thing you were born for. And your fear torments you…instead of shunning your fear, you must let it speak and listen carefully to what it’s trying to tell you. It will give you good counsel.”
Well, to start off with I got a serious case of deja vu.
Thankfully it moves past that pretty quickly. There are some similarities throughout but I think that’s to be expected given the mermaid subject and the intended audience. I loved the emphasis on friendship and sisterhood that is this story. There is no prince on a white horse and these princesses have to save themselves. In the end that was what really increased the rating for me.
The main character is Serafina, the princess of one of several underwater merl realms. While I feel for her as she goes through the massive trauma that is the first several chapters…I never quite connected with her. Her best friend is Neela, the princess of another realm – and I adore Neela. She’s so funny, and warm, and her obsession with sweets is SO relatable. I mean who doesn’t try to distract people from hard things by giving them delicious food?
The other princesses that they collect in their quest aren’t drawn out as fully, but they’re interesting and I want to know more! Ling, Becca, Ava, even cranky Astrid – they all obviously have stories of their own and they are all so beautifully different in backgrounds, their skills, even their appearances. I really like the fact that the sisterhood between them all is the main emphasis of the story. While, yes, there is a prince, and at first it seems like a romance is going to be a main part of the book – it’s not. Several times I thanked all the stars that Sera was not one of those heroines who got completely distracted by her crush from the rest of the world.
The plot was all very dramatic…there’s a prophesy, there’s a dream, there’s magic…nothing all that new in the fantasy world. Again, at first I was about to throw the book across the room because it seemed all Little Mermaid-ish…but then people started dying and there was blood and spells and I was ok. Because every mermaid needs a little trauma to grow her up, am I right?
The romance completely takes a backseat after the first few chapters, and I have a couple of theories on what happens to Prince Mahdi. I’m really looking forward to seeing if I’m correct in the next book(s)!
Donnelly does an excellent job of creating an underwater world that we can almost see and touch. It sounds lovely and enchanting! Once all the explosions and stuff have died down, naturally. She has invented words and at least part of a language for these books, I believe. There are at least words in another language that I don’t recognize and that is only identified as an “age-old tongue.” So that’s AWESOME.
I didn’t enjoy the constant puns. I’m not entertained by puns in general, so maybe they’re really not that bad. But between the puns and just some awkward turns of phrase, I did a fair bit of eye-rolling.
Just stop. No one is going to forget that mermaids live underwater. Seriously. Also, there are several instances where we are told what the characters are feeling. Such as “Serafina was so excited, she was talking a million words a minute,” and “Serafina, frustrated by Astrid’s unwillingness to talk…” I find that style of writing extremely irritating, but it wasn’t so pervasive that I couldn’t skim over it.
Overall, 4 stars. Until the last chapter I was pretty sure it was going to be a 3.5 star book, but then that cliffhanger…I’m sold. I’m excited to see what happens in the next book!
Dark Arts and a Daiquiri picks up just a few weeks after the events of Three Mages and a Margarita, and we jum~*Follow my blog at The Bent Bookworm!*~
Dark Arts and a Daiquiri picks up just a few weeks after the events of Three Mages and a Margarita, and we jump right into the action as Tori and the guys set up an exorcism for a faery spirit haunting the apartment she wants to rent. Much hilarity ensues, and then sadly the apartment and the faery are abandoned while they all become involved in hunting down this big-huge-black-magic-bad-guy that is stealing magically inclined youngsters. And by hunting down, we mean using Tori as bait. Things do not go as planned. Things – and people – are not what they seem.
I loved this one just as much as the first, even if some things I was hoping for didn’t happen. I snickered and giggled my way all the way through, as well as having a few moments where I simply couldn’t read fast enough.
I planted my feet, hands clenched as I glared at him, silently daring him to blast me into Tori goo.
Tori is the same smart-mouthed chick we met in the first book. We learn a very little bit more about her past, but mostly the story was moving along so quickly there wasn’t a whole lot of time for reflection. There are some new characters, Nadine, Echo (I don’t care what anyone says, I am INTRIGUED), and perhaps most interestingly, Zac. Oh! And Harry. Can’t forget Harry. Yes, I am being intentionally vague because this book is VERY easy to spoil.
“Sorcery,” he interrupted irritably. “Not sorcerer-y.”
In Tori’s words:
“You are a supreme dickhead and I haven’t forgiven you for anything.”
Actually, you know what? I just want to be able to come up with this smart-mouthed retorts like Tori. My daily life would be so entertaining.
“I don’t think you’re as bad as you think you are.”
“I told you not to get the wrong idea.”
“Oh, sorry. What I meant to say was you’re an evil bastard and I can’t wait to see you burnt at the stake for your evil crimes of evil.”
I don’t know exactly why this particular exchange struck me as so funny, but I laughed until I had tears running down my cheeks.
Also, I am in awe of the author’s ability to make me care about ALL these characters. Usually when I read a book I’m only really invested in one or two. Not so with these. Which is why I was very disappointed that we didn’t see much of the three mages in this book. They were there, but just not nearly as much, and I reeeeeeally wanted to find out more about their backstories!
If you’re hoping for some resolution of previous things, forget it. This book is an entirely new can of worms, and we only barely see the house-haunting faery that appear in the very first chapter! It does seem like it will play a larger part maybe in a later book, but damn.
Also, there are now dragons – including baby dragons – and I want to see more of them.
“For the blood of my blood’s life, I will aid you again – but only once.”
With so many loose ends, this seems like it could be a fantastic series of at least five or six books. Can we please go back to Ezra’s story? I want to know why everyone seems to be afraid of him when he really seems like such a nice guy.
Oh, and Zac. I really want to know more about him too.
More sexual tension, but not as much as in the first. Come oooooon, girlfriend. Tori’s obviously got the hots for Aaron but I’m still Team Ezra.
As already mentioned, lack of screen time for the three mages. Also the unfair teasing with the house faery. Then…does Tori have to immediately get into a confrontation with every other woman she meets? I thought she and the witch from the first book were going to be friends, but she only appeared in passing in this one…does it have to be all guys?
4.5/5 stars. Great second book, can’t wait for more!
__________________________ OMG WTF...this is why it is SO HARD to start a series when it’s still being written, the wait is SO HARD. *ducks flying tomatoes from all the Game of Thrones fans* __________________________ *squee* Downloaded! _____________________ After the first one, I absolutely cannot WAIT for this one! And please don’t let that November 2018 publish date be a typo...!...more
“People have destructive impulses. Some of us want to see the world in ruins just for the fun of it…even if we’re ruined along with it.”
Feels I’ve only read one of Rick Riordan's other series, the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I actually read them back in 2014, at an extremely low point while I was away from home doing some rather strenuous training. Reading has always been my escape and those books – even though from a genre very different from what I was mostly reading at the time – were the absolute perfect thing for me. I think a re-read is in order soon.
Anyway, THIS book, brought back all the “falling into another world” feeling of those. Perfect slump-defeating read! I don’t remember laughing this hard during my Percy Jackson reads. From chapter titles like “I Do Mighty Combat with Eggs” and “Though Shalt Not Poop on the Head of Art,” to some of the most zany characters of Riordan’s creation I’ve met yet, it was a great mood lifter. It’s the dialogue in this story that really zings. It’s absolutely amazing and genius, even the minor characters. Like this little gem between Magnus and Valhalla Hotel’s manager.
“Then why don’t you just say A.D.?” “Because Anno Domini, in the Year of Our Lord, is fine for Christians, but Thor gets a little upset. He still holds a grudge that Jesus never showed up for that duel he challenged to.” “Say what now?”
[image error] I love Riordan’s blasphemy. LOVE IT. I love that he just takes shots at every religion and mythology out there, nothing is sacred – and yet he stops short of disrespecting the people who hold actual beliefs.
Magnus Chase is hilariously snarky, with the balls to talk back to both bad guys and gods – who are sometimes one and the same. His initial circumstances are horrifying, yet he never completely lets it snuff his desire for life. I loved Samirah al-Abbas (Sam), the Valkyrie – she has attitude for miles, spunk, and drive. And a sharp wit, which results in more hilarity.
“You named your tree.” “Most important things have names.” She frowned at me. “Who are you again?”
Blitz and Hearth, Magnus’ best friends on the streets, are such unique characters in their own right too. While they were frequent comic relief they also put SO MUCH heart into the story. There’s quite a slew of other minor characters, and I hope some of them show up in future books! I do have to say…the story doesn’t end happily for all of them. I was inordinately pleased with that (yes, I’m a horrible person), because I strongly believe even middle-grade YA books need to be somewhat realistic. Which yes, I also realize somewhat ironic to say about a fantasy book, but…it’s a GOOD ending.
Magnus is a clueless teenager in the beginning, propelled into events way above his pay grade by a series of crazy happenings including the death of his mother. After two years of hiding he is found and given a strange destiny that he can’t understand. Everything happens EXTREMELY fast in the beginning and in the whirlwind Magnus is suddenly thrown into the crazy world of the gods of Asgard. He isn’t the person he always thought he was, and he might just be the only person capable of coordinating all the necessary elements. Basically the world is about to end when the Fenris Wolf’s rope breaks. It starts off sounding fairly simple but gets convoluted rather quickly.
Magnus, Sam, Blitz, and Hearth go odd on several side quests that, while entertaining, seem to detract from the progress of the general story. I personally still enjoyed them, but I think the general age group that this book is aimed at might lose interest or get a little lost. Still, there were more awesome quotes, especially from the dwarves (because dwarves are always awesome).
“It is woven with the most powerful paradoxes in the Nine Worlds – Wi-Fi with no lag, a politician’s sincerity, a printer that prints, healthy deep-fried food, and an interesting grammar lecture!”
The world building is good, but it’s not the best part of this book. Like I said already, where Riordan really shines is in the snappy dialogue. The description and setting is exactly what this book needs but it’s not the standout here.
Overall I’m giving 4/5 stars. While I loved it, it definitely dragged a bit in all the world-hopping that they ended up doing and I think that it could possibly turn off a lot of its prospective audience. Not so much adults, but kids. When I was of that age I was already a voracious reader so it might not have bothered me but I think I might not have picked it up in the first place. Still, definitely worth reading and if you have an indefatigable young reader tell them to give it a try!
Front Lines is an alternate history of WWII. The big switch-up Grant has made is adding females to the draf~*Full review posted on The Bent Bookworm*~
Front Lines is an alternate history of WWII. The big switch-up Grant has made is adding females to the draft and using them in ALL roles across the United States military (other countries have not made such an enlightened choice). Other than that change, the book is pretty much true to history – including attitudes towards women, people of color, and people of Asian features. It is at times harsh and heartbreaking, but the main characters of Rio, Frangie, and Rainy are sympathetic and compelling as they grow and adapt to the war and their changing roles in the world. They are not only dealing with the hard reality of being females in a still very patriarchal world, but with their own coming of age, of loss and love on a personal level, and all while being swept along in the grand scheme of the war.
The rituals are different now. It has always been that the men went off and the women wept and waved. There is no blueprint for what is happening now. There is no easy reference point. People don’t know quite how to behave, and it’s worse for the men in the station who are staying behind and feel conspicuous and ashamed.
God knows the MODERN United States Army is having a hard enough time getting a grip on itself with females in the ranks, but add to that the expectations of the generation that would become the idealogical 50s housewife – the book ends in about 1943, so with a couple more years left in the war, I’m very interested to see how this shapes Grant’s version of the United States in the sequel coming next year, Silver Stars.
We spend the most time with Rio, a gutsy farm girl who finds herself in the awkward and unwanted position of being good at her army job while in her heart, just wanting to be a normal girl. Her growth is the most marked of the three main characters and I love her so much.
She [Rio] has just upended her entire life based on a diner conversation with her best friend and an awkward exchange with a boy she barely knows.
The other two girls – because really, they are all still girls when the books starts – are lovable as well, but I felt the most connection with Rio. There is also an unnamed first-person narrator that shows up in the beginning, middle, and end, and has some succinct insights on the war and the women in it.
Will you understand if I tell you that there are times when it is better to feel the pain yourself than to see it and hear it in another?
Michael Grant has, I think, either been in military service or he has done his research very, very well. His descriptions of Basic Training are spot on. His knowledge of the WWII era is commendable (I went and looked a few things up to see just how accurate he was, if it all, since sometimes historical fiction writers are VERY free with the facts) and he has altered as little as possible in his writing. He’s baldly honest with the racism and sexism of the time, enough to make me squirm in my chair. His descriptions of events are extremely accurate as we follow our heroines through their army journey from civilian to soldier.
The one thing that bothered me was the substitute of fug or fugging for fuck or fucking…it would be one thing if the entire book was censored that way, but the words dick (the male appendage, not the name) and goddamn are used without euphemisms sooooo…that was kind of annoying and pointless. And GOD KNOWS it’s every soldier’s right to swear. And grumble.
I loved how honest the portrayal of human nature was, and how emotions come so close to the surface during times of stress. Rio especially is torn between what she knows is waiting for her at home and what is happening in the right here right now.
Strand is there, close to her heart. Jack is there, close.
As a medic myself, I loved Frangie and her fighting spirit, even in the face of soldiers being SO VERY HORRIBLE to her because of her race and her gender. She just never quits. But she never stops feeling, either, she just learns to put it aside at the time. I can’t wait to see her further development.
Rainy, our little intelligence soldier, felt the least realistic to me. Some of her dialogue exchanges are stilted and left me with raised eyebrows. I mean, I know it was WWII and there were a lot of green soldiers thrown into positions that ordinarily they wouldn’t have been…her storyline just seemed far-fetched at times. Almost like, well, we need this group to be here and we need them to meet up with her so let’s throw in this over-the-top mission that makes no sense to anybody. But maybe I’m just overly skeptical.
Don’t go into this expecting a happily-ever-after, or an exceptionally fast paced story. The first half of the book is fairly slow as we are introduced to all the characters and how they came to be in the army. As for the ever-afters, one – the war isn’t over, so we’re going to have to wait and see how things turn out. For another – it’s war, and people die, even the characters we’ve become attached to. Overall, 4/5 stars.
At night we cry sometimes, and if you think that just applies to the females then you have never been in combat, because everyone cries sooner or later. Everyone cries.