“We must go to the Otherworld, of course. Not quite what it used to be. It dwindles with humanity’s imagination, so I suspect it is currently the size of a closet. Or perhaps a shoe box.”
I absolutely loved this book! I wish I had been able to read it when I was a kid. It would have opened my eyes to a mythology completely different from any others I knew (it still did, it would have just been…nice to have it earlier in life). Aru is completely relatable, even though her situation is far and away from my own in some respects. I got a real Percy Jackson vibe, but it didn’t feel at all like a copycat. Hopefully that makes sense to my fellow readers!
This book isn’t only educational but EXTREMELY entertaining. I found myself snickering quite a few times and laughing out loud at least once. I love the pot shots Roshani takes at current issues/politics.
“This is what we get for thinking that scaly orange skin and fake hair could keep that former demon out of elected office!”
It’s not all fun and games though, as Aru and her friends soon discover…the lives of everyone they care about really are at stake, and not all are as they seem…
“Villains could be heroic, and heroes could do evil…everyone has a bit of good and bad in them.”
Basically this whole book is quotable, and I want to scoop Aru up into a hug (that she probably wouldn’t appreciate). So eager to read the next one!
This book is brutal, compelling, and has left my heart both broken and full. There aren't even words right now. Hopefully I'll come back at some pointThis book is brutal, compelling, and has left my heart both broken and full. There aren't even words right now. Hopefully I'll come back at some point with a full review but for now all I can say is READ IT!
Warning: Possible spoilers for the first two books in this series (but not this one)!
A Treacherous Curse is the third book in the Veronica Speedwell series, and there is so much development and we learn so much more about the main characters. I absolutely loved it! This is a continuous series, so you definitely need to read the first book, A Curious Beginning, and the second, A Perilous Undertaking, to be able to jump into this one.
Our main squeezes are back, and in stellar form per usual. This time though, we are plunged headfirst into Stoker’s backstory. FINALLY!!! I have been absolutely dying to know what happened in Brazil to make him so bitter and so hurt and scarred…and we FINALLY get to find out. It was just as gritty and heartbreaking as I expected it to be…I was actually sitting on our couch reading, curled in a ball with one hand clamped over my mouth (my husband was slightly concerned). Veronica is still trying to get over what happened in the previous book…which she will not talk about, with anyone, but which bothers her VERY much. For those who need a refresher… (view spoiler)[…she and Stoker had finally made it to kissing (albeit while under the influence of opium, used for chasing a lead in their case, naturally), and IN THE MIDDLE of kissing her, he moaned his ex-wife’s name. Phew! Talk about a mood killer. But the next day, he acted like he didn’t remember anything at all happening and of course she was too mortified to mention it! (hide spoiler)]. Somehow they still manage to be friends and partners but it’s all been very tense.
The mystery here was interesting but to me secondary to the character development. I was intrigued to see how Deanna would handle the egyptology angle, as that is one aspect of the Victorian era that seems to be worked over A LOT in mysteries. I’m happy to say that it was quite well done! Nothing particularly novel, but again the character development really took control here as we were introduced to some of the archaeologists leading the expedition in question, along with their families. I didn’t figure out the culprit until near the actual end, which I loved. I hate it when I’ve figured a mystery out way before the characters!
5/5 stars. A Treacherous Curse is a solid continuation of the storyline in this series and I am so excited for the next book!
“Always remember who ye are,” Granny says. “Descended of the great bards of old. Honord by princes near and far they were. Sought out for music and for counsel. Keepers of history. Writers of songs.”
I was excited to read Last of the Name, being of partial descent from Irish immigrants myself. It’s not a topic I’ve often seen covered for this age group, and I was thrilled to see it done so well.
Last of the Name is a middle-grade book about the arrival of Irish immigrants to the United States during the time of the Civil War. 12-year-old Danny has lost everyone dear to him except for his sister Kathleen, either to war, famine (by hunger or in attempts to steal enough food for their family to survive), or the crossing to America. He rebels at dressing as a girl to be a maid alongside Kathleen, but since it seems their only hope of staying together and surviving in the bitter, angry stew that was New York City in 1863, he goes along with his sister’s plan.
Kathleen is the sort of believer who believes more the less evidence there is. She could be on her knees for days on end. I’m going to die of hunger while she prays to save me from a bountiful future…If only there was a patron saint of those afflicted by tyrannical sisters there’d be hope for me.
Despite his complaining, it’s clear Danny dearly loves his sister and will do anything for her. As the city grows more and more hateful, both towards free blacks and the Irish (coming to steal jobs, naturally), it becomes almost as dangerous for them as it was at home – except here, people appreciate Danny’s voice and his dancing feet, which maybe – just maybe – might be the key to their survival in New York City. But when the draft is initiated and the Irish immigrants of the city bear the brunt of it (so much for random!), the whole city looks to go up in flames.
I’m not going to lie, I teared up several times reading this story – and I’m not even sure why! It just felt so poignantly REAL. Danny was adorable and I loved Kathleen’s fire and backbone.
“You Irish,” says another [man], just as stern. “It’s your own out there doing the lynching and the burning. What do you have to fear from your own?”
“You fat old men!” Kathleen shrieks. “What do you know of fear, you with your broad shoulders and your full plates! We have to fear what every woman fears her whole life long. Ye heartless men! When have you ever been small or hungry? Would you send a German child out on the streets this night? Aren’t we Catholic like you? Don’t we sit side by side in church?”
As is historically accurate, Danny and Kathleen’s Catholic faith does play a part in the story – but never in a proselytizing way. The story really shows how much conflict was in the United States at this time, not only around color, but around religion, politics, even denominations. It’s rather disheartening to see that we’ve never really moved on, the names of the different factions have just changed. Despite all that, the story is one of beauty and hope and I’ll be adding it to my own library.
5/5 stars. Highly recommend, and it REALLY needs much more attention than it’s getting!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
"When she died, demons were going to torment her for eternity instead of letting her reincarnate. Or worse, they’d let her reincarnate, but she’d be a catfish who lived under a river outhouse."
The Bride Test is a companion novel to The Kiss Quotient, but it isn’t necessary to have read that one before this one (thankfully, unlike many novels marketed as “companion”).
So, somehow I avoided all the general hubbub that surrounded The Kiss Quotient, author Helen Hoang’s debut novel, when it came out last year. I was aware of it, but not being in a mood AT ALL for romance, I skipped it. I continued to hear people rave about it, and then this subsequent companion novel, so I decided to pick it up.
I loved so many things about this book. I loved Khai so much, and I liked Esme even if I didn’t entirely relate to her…and, since she is coming from SUCH a different background than, I imagine, almost anyone who will read this book, I doubt I am the only one. She is a strong woman who will do anything – ANYTHING! – for her family, even if it means sacrificing herself. She does eventually come to realize that it is not worth it to sacrifice her happiness, even if it means a better life for her daughter, but she plays such a dangerous game here. The author’s note at the end of the book actually talks a lot about this, which I really appreciated.
Autism definitely gets positive rep here, and it was such a refreshing breath of air. I did think it was a little odd that Esme – who researches EVERYTHING – just sort of blew off Khai’s statement about it. That seemed really out of character, but whatever, I guess. She was super sensitive to his need for a different kind of touch, to his need for order and routine…but I felt like part of that was her desperation to try to get him to like her, and it sat a little sour with me. I’m glad that she came into herself by the end, but still.
There are also definitely sexy times in this book – phew! The way Khai handles his sexual attraction to Esme is funny, cute, and sexy at the same time. There is clearly attraction between them, and I love that Esme was completely okay with having sex for sex’s sake – even if nothing else would come of it. We need more of that sort of sex-positive attitude in books. Enough with the slut shaming.
I also loved Khai’s big family. His mom – the whole reason Esme is in America – is hilarious but also so sweet because she clearly loves her kids so very much. The way Kwan and Khai interact completely melted my heart, too. I hope we get Kwan’s full story in the next book! Now I am definitely going back to read The Kiss Quotient and am really looking forward to the next installment as well.
TW: death, racial prejudice, rape, sexual assault.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a f~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
TW: death, racial prejudice, rape, sexual assault.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a fabulous book. It’s very narrow in focus, which I think is what gave the author the ability to drop her readers into 1920s backwoods Kentucky in such a believable way. The blue skinned people of Kentucky and the Pack Horse Librarian Project are both from real history and it was just a real treat to read about something so real and yet so unknown.
“I was to stay put, and exactly where they wanted to keep me put. Beneath them. Always and alone.”
I loved Cussy. She’s had the short end of the stick in life, but she hasn’t let it completely beat her down. She loves her books, and her father, and despite things really looking dim she refuses to give up hope of a better life. Cussy is nineteen years old, with blue skin, in a society that beats her down for both. Looked at as basically “worse than colored,” her father is desperate to get her married since he knows his own days are numbered, due to being a miner and afflicted with black lung. He fears for her and this is the only way he can (he thinks) be sure she is taken care of and provided for after he is gone. His plan does not work out well for Cussy, and only stirs things with the local people that already look at both of them as outcasts.
Despite all the odds against her, Cussy finds a huge solace in her job as a “book woman,” one of the several female librarians who take books to the VERY farflung mountain people. She is so passionate about literacy, and helping all her patrons better themselves. My heart hurt as she constantly ran up against prejudice, not just for her oddly-colored skin but for just being a woman. Even the local doctor (someone who is supposed to be about HELPING people) is more interested in her for his ulterior reasons of figuring out her blue skin – no matter what her thoughts on the matter.
I also really loved that eventually, Cussy meets someone who hasn’t always lived in the hollers. Just as her mind has been expanded by books even though she’s never been outside Kentucky, the stranger has both traveled (extensively, by local standards) and read, and he treats her as a person regardless of her skin or gender. There isn’t really a HEA, but there is hope, and to me that is even more important.
This book was SO important to me on a personal level. My family – on both sides – is from the hills and hollers of West Virginia. My parents were the first generation to move outside the same county for over a hundred years, outside the state EVER. I grew up all over the United States and the world but I am still extremely conscious of my Appalachian roots, and sadly very little has changed in many areas where my extended family still lives. They – we – need more people like Cussy.
5/5 stars for an adorable, realistic summer romance! I was not expecting to love this book as much as~*Review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*~
5/5 stars for an adorable, realistic summer romance! I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. But I was intrigued by the synopsis, being a small-town girl at heart myself, and while I’ve only visited Maine once it was gorgeous and picturesque and I would love to go back.
“The cardinal rule of every beach town is that locals do not get involved with tourists. They always leave.”
Babe is a bisexual baking barista (try saying that five times fast) who is struggling to let go and move on as her life – and her best friends – change around her. Her two bests friends are going on to college, and she’s not. Her choice, but she wants everyone she’s grown up with to stay the same right along with her. But is she really staying the same?
I absolutely loved the way Babe stuck to her guns about NOT going to college and staying in her home town. I think sometimes in all the narratives (and real life experiences) of people leaving home and never looking back, that we forget there are people who love their towns and what to stay there, build a life for themselves in the same place they grew up. On the other hand, I was glad that Babe realized she wasn’t entirely staying the same, she was growing and changing as a person too – even if she stayed in the same physical place.
Levi and Babe were adorable together. Even though their relationship is a little insta-y, it wasn’t insta-LOVE and I appreciated that. After all, insta-LIKE is pretty common and has a large variety of endings, haha. They had chemistry, but the author steered away from things like heavenly boy-sweat and sparks flying from the touches of fingertips. Thank you. I also loved that they both knew, pretty much from the start, that their relationship (whatever it was at the time) might not be permanent, and they were okay with that.
Babe’s issues with Elodie, her ex-girlfriend, were difficult to read about. Elodie is not out, and Babe has been for years, so that really threw a painful wrench into their relationship. After their breakup, Babe eventually – after a lot of tears and pain – moves on. When Elodie comes back to town after a year at college, Babe didn’t crumble. She had realized how much Elodie hurt her and how much she was a selfish person, and wasn’t going to let her do it again.
She was deflecting, trying to unload the responsibility of her decisions on me.
Having let people do this to me more times than I can count, I actually teared up that Babe found the strength within herself to call Elodie out on it. YES. Because it is damn difficult.
Also I desperately wanted some of Babe’s baking confections. OMG. I was EXTREMELY disappointed that there were not recipes for these…I mean, come on! That’s just cruel. Maybe someone will be inspired to come up with some? Because I know I’m not that talented…just page me if it happens. Kthx.
Highly recommend for a breezy summer read that still has some substance. I loved it and am very excited to see what debut author Lillie Vale comes out with next!
Many thanks to the publisher and author for a review copy in exchange for an honest review!
Maud is an engaging fictionalized account of the early life of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the creator of the Anne of Green Gables books beloved the world oMaud is an engaging fictionalized account of the early life of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the creator of the Anne of Green Gables books beloved the world over. While a work of historical fiction, the book encompasses many known facts and events of Montgomery's life. I was very surprised to see how very similar, in many ways, her growing up years were to those of her character Anne. It was also very sad to see how, unlike Anne, she never really seemed to have support or love from much of her family. I was very intrigued to say the least, and will be looking at a full length biography of her in the future.
I was struck by how hard Montgomery worked to be able to write her stories. In a time when women were expected only to marry and have children, and anything else was considered strange or even evil, she chose education over even her current happiness or in some cases relationships with her family. She seems to have been a feminist before the term was coined. Though she did of course later marry and have children, it was only after she was an established and successful author.
The author takes time to shed light on the condition of women's rights at this time in Canadian history, as well as the plight of some of the native people such as the Metis. There is also particular emphasis on the conflict between different denominations within the Christian church.
The author has included a brief historical biography in the back of the book, along with specifics about what happened to certain characters. This really helped to tie up the story, especially since this particular book ended before Montgomery was even eighteen.
4.5/5 stars. Highly recommend for anyone who has enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables story!
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
One Day in December was my local bookstore's book club pick for December (the meeting of which I did~*Check out more on my blog, The Bent Bookworm!*~
One Day in December was my local bookstore's book club pick for December (the meeting of which I did not get to attend, to much sadness). I was a bit dismayed, to be honest, as I don't typically read a lot of romance and often find myself too jaded and cynical to enjoy books with a heavy romantic focus. I am very happy to report that this book warmed even my crusty old heart!
While this book is, yes, a story of love, it is also a story of friendship. Laurie and Sarah have been best friends for years, and their friendship is really the glue that holds this book together. I loved them both, even if I definitely identified more with Laurie's feelings and experiences. I've never been glamorous or someone who shines in the spotlight, so I was right there with her! The story spans 10 years from the time Laurie first spots her Mr. Right at a bus stop, and while Laurie and Sarah have their disagreements and even fights at times, they stick together through it all. Even when thousands of miles separate them! Again, having many long distance friendships, this really struck a chord with me. They aren't all sunshine and roses, and Laurie really struggles sometimes with Sarah being in a relationship with Jack, but in the end she does the absolute best that a best friend could do and tries to be rational. After all, it's pure silliness to think that you could be destined for someone you took a fancy to through the window of a bus...right?
Whoever the hell is in charge of TV scheduling needs a bullet between their eyes. Surely they could work out that anyone who needs to resort to watching TV on Valentine’s night is single and potentially bitter, so why they thought The Notebook would make suitable viewing is beyond me.
Despite the somewhat serious tone of the book - three young people seeking their own path in life as well as seeking for someone to share it with - there are moments of humor sprinkled throughout. More than once I giggled to myself while reading.
The storyline does move relatively fast, skipping over large chunks of each year and only coming back to "big" events or conversations. I was leery of that concept too, but it really seemed to work well for this type of growth in relationships and characters. All of the main characters grow, and growth includes some "mistakes" that are rather painful and costly at times. Some of the choices they made had me gasping in horror and feeling pains in my own heart, as again I just found them SO relatable (and in a couple of cases I've even walked the exact same path and could see the impending danger).
Jack starts off as a classic nice guy, goes through some shit and turns into a complete asshole. Not because that's who he really is, but because he sinks into depression after a major accident and it completely changes his personality. He can see this, himself, but seems powerless to stop it. I found this to be a very accurate portrayal of how depression can wreck havoc on a person AND their relationships with other people - again, having been on both sides of that coin to some extent. Thankfully this was only temporary but it did leave his mark on him and the people around him.
I did have a couple little...bothers with this story. First of all, Jack lies to Laurie right from jump. It's a little white lie, but it affects her more than he could possibly know and it just felt...bleh. And then, there is a certain THING that happens, that results in lies of omission that (naturally) create problems further down the road. It bothered me, and yet I can't say what I would have done in the same circumstance would really have been any different. People make mistakes, and sometimes it is better for other people - people who might be hurt by the truth - to not find out. Sometimes. It's such a gray area, which I guess was the point here.
5/5 stars. Overall I loved this story because yes (as I have already said MANY times, I know), it was relatable for me, and because I felt it was so true to life. Life is messy. Sometimes life sucks. Relationships and love are EXTREMELY messy and often uncomfortable. But people and relationships ARE worth it! I loved that even after all the heartache and struggle, Laurie and Sarah and Jack all have hope and love in life, no matter how long they had to wait or look to find it. Sometimes the road to get to where we need to go is long, but life isn't just about the destination.
If you haven't read the first in the series, I highly recommend it and you can check out my review rig~*Check out my blog over at The Bent Bookworm!*~
If you haven't read the first in the series, I highly recommend it and you can check out my review right here. That review is spoiler free, but THIS review may contain spoilers for the first book!
Bind the Soul picks up right where Chase the Dark (Steel & Stone #1) left off. Piper is back home at the consulate, and Ash is gone. Lyle has spent weeks searching for him and only has the barest of information. Piper knows that Ash is a big boy and can take care of himself...but she also knows he sacrificed a lot for her, and that despite his own power seemed genuinely afraid of whoever - whatever - holds sway over him. To help him would mean defying her father AGAIN, risking her own safety (since she still has no idea how she managed to use the Sahar), and plunging into Hades itself...and the choice may not be hers to make.
"Death is easy. Living is difficult."
Phew! This book took a really dark turn. There are some torture scenes that left my heart racing. I was so very emotionally invested in these characters. I'm also Team Ash ALL THE WAY, I don't care what anyone says. I love anti-heroes in general, and as a love interest he is just so swoonworthy (is that a word? it should be).
There is SO MUCH going on here. The upper and lower daemons are still trying to get their hands on the Sahar, which has so very inconveniently become attached to Piper. Piper just wants to prevent world destruction, and get Ash back. And become a consul, which means never becoming involved with Ash, or Lyre, or any other daemon.
How's that working out for ya, my girl?
The pace of this book is fast and furious as our lovelies escape and re-escape and try to stay one step ahead of the Father of All Nasties, a.k.a. the very sadistic Samael. Every time I thought they might get a breather - whoops, just kidding! Here's another nasty punch to brighten your day. It just kept going and going and I absolutely loved it. There are also a couple of new characters introduced that I really hope will be in the rest of the books, as their stories seem like they would be absolutely fascinating. Also, ahem, can someone please introduce a love interest for Lyle so that I can stop fretting over it?
There are some absolutely heart-melting scenes spaced in between all the action. Ash and Piper have such incredible chemistry and yet they both seem convinced they can't be together (trope-y, yes, but it works). Rational thought never keeps sparks from flying though, and it doesn't keep traitorous hearts from caring when the mind would rather not.
She lifted her face, met his eyes - and saw his soul beneath the black. "Kill that bastard," she whispered.
One thing that really bothered me throughout the first half of this book was how Piper seemed to have regressed in maturity. This series is marketed as YA, I understand that. However, the first book was really not very YA in tone or content, at all. Piper is supposed to be seventeen, but she acts more like someone in their early twenties. So, I expected this one to be the same and it wasn't quite. The last half it was back to the old Piper. It was rather frustrating, but oh well. It was only mildly distracting.
Piper's parentage and inherited (or not) magic still isn't explained and I am absolutely dying of curiosity. I feel like there must be SOMETHING there or else she wouldn't have been able to connect with the Sahar the way she did, but that part wasn't delved into much at all in this book.
Overall 4/5 stars, highly, HIGHLY recommend! This is an awesome futuristic fantasy series with characters you can really get behind. I am SO READY to dive into the third book!
I am officially blown away. This little novella was amazing in both its detail and capacity for evokin~*Check out my blog over at The Bent Bookworm!*~
I am officially blown away. This little novella was amazing in both its detail and capacity for evoking emotions. I am absolutely stunned, and as a medical professional I am HARD to impress with books of this subject matter. Usually I find myself rolling my eyes so hard they hurt when reading books with doctors or nurses as the main characters, but not so with Kingdom of Needle and Bone!
While this is, technically, a science fiction/apocalyptic novel, it felt so close to what could or might happen that I found my heart pounding in my chest, my throat constricting with pain for the loss experienced by the characters. It is just close enough to the truth to be a truly uncomfortable read, and that makes it powerful. I loved Dr. Isabel, who truly cares about people and does everything in her power to help them, but who is also coldly logical to the very, very bitter end. How far is too far, to protect the ones we love? To protect the world? Somehow even in these few pages, Mira Grant manages to explore the age old question - do we act based on the greater good, or for the good of the few closest to us? Which makes us a monster?
I only wish this novella had been a full length book. I was not ready to leave any of the characters behind, I wanted more of their stories. I will definitely be reading more of Mira Grant's books, as well as looking out for her other books written under the name Seanan McGuire.
A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth in the amazing Veronica Speedwell mystery series by De~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth in the amazing Veronica Speedwell mystery series by Deanna Raybourn! This is definitely a series you need to start at the beginning with, so if you haven’t already be sure to go read the first three books – A Curious Beginning (#1), A Perilous Undertaking (#2), and A Treacherous Curse (#3).
Warning: Possible spoilers for the first three books of the series, but not for this one!
I was really startled when I began reading this book! It starts off with Veronica leaving England – and Stoker – and going off with Lady Cordelia for six months overseas. SAY WHAT?!? You separated my darlings, WHY?? Very little page time is given to this six months, other than to say both ladies fell ill on the trip (but not deathly ill), and Veronica spent much time thinking about Stoker and her feelings and wondering why he didn’t write even though she had told him not to.
Eventually they return, and she and Stoker are so stilted and awkward, it’s like they had taken one step forward and about ten back. Before they even BEGIN to work this out though, as friends or professionals, Stoker’s brother Tiberius (introduced in the first book, gradually getting more screen time as the series goes on) bursts in on them and asks Veronica to go with him to an old school friend’s gathering on a remote island (*dun dun dun DUN*)…posing as his fiancee’. Needless to say…they all three end up going, and shenanigans ensue.
The mystery on the island was the most engrossing one in the series so far, in my opinion. After floundering through the first few chapters (seriously, everyone had emotionally regressed…it was so disconcerting!) I really got into it once things moved to the island. As Veronica (and Stoker…and Tiberius…) try to solve the mystery of what happened to Tiberius’s friends bride, they uncover more and more secrets. It was DELICIOUS!
In the interest of NOT spoiling anything, I won’t give any details, but by the end of the book I was very satisfied with the character progression once more. However, now I want more of Tiberius. He has become a character of interest. I need to see more of his bruised heart and soul…and I would be VERY interested to see if a woman who could handle him and his…proclivities…could be found!
The Christmas Sisters hit me right in the feels. Hit so hard it hurt. About halfway through I put~*Be sure to check out my blog, The Bent Bookworm!*~
The Christmas Sisters hit me right in the feels. Hit so hard it hurt. About halfway through I put it down briefly, and considered not finishing it - not because it was bad, but because the sweetness of the sisters' relationships with each other and their family in general had me feeling very left out in the cold. My own immediate family is not close and it pains my heart, but after years of trying I had to take steps last year to protect my sanity and emotions from the manipulation. I would so LOVE to have family relationships like the ones in this book! They're not perfect either, and the story makes that clear, but they all truly love each other and accept each other as they are- even if they do bicker and carry on like most siblings, from time to time.
Despite my relationship-envy, the sisters haven't had entirely easy lives. Their real parents died in a tragic mountaineering accident when they were very young, and while they were adopted into this warm, nurturing family they understandably had some scars.
She found it impossible to read fairy stories where everyone lived happily ever after. She couldn't bring herself to perpetrate that lie. There was no Santa. There was no tooth fairy. Love couldn't be guaranteed...Hannah thought it was healthier if one's expectations of life were grounded in reality. If you didn't expect much, you didn't have as far to fall when you finally realized that no amount of planning could stop bad things happening.
I really identified with Hannah (the oldest sister) here. Right down to how she felt her birth parents had felt about her interests.
Even now there were days when she felt guilty for picking up a book, unable to shake the feeling that there was something more valuable she should be doing with her time.
So much this, even TO THIS DAY my mother takes jabs at my books and the time I spend reading.
Beth, the middle sister, and Posy, the youngest, have made something of their own lives in their own way. This particular Christmas though, all three sisters are at something of a crossroads in their lives. Coming home to Scotland is a chance to breathe and re-evaluate, for Beth and Hannah. For Posy, who has never left, their coming (along with that of a certain sexy newcomer to town) stirs a restlessness in her that she thought was long since controlled. What do they want out of life? What is most important? What is worth taking a risk for or on?
"Rocks you can see and touch and learn about. They're tangible things, but feelings -" he shook his head "-they're like the weather. They're the part you can't control. If you don't care about anything, then you're invulnerable, but once you care - well, you can be hurt. And people can disappoint and let you down."
There is SOME romance in this book, but it didn't really read like just a romance novel. The multi-faceted layers of all the relationships far exceeded my expectations and the romance was just a side story. The focus was really on the sisters and the family!
5/5 stars. Highly recommend! I don't understand why Sarah Morgan's books aren't more popular if they are all like this, I'm definitely going to be seeking out some of her others.
Chase the Dark seemed to be the logical place to jump in after Three Mages and a Margarita, while I was waiting NOT so patiently for the next in thatChase the Dark seemed to be the logical place to jump in after Three Mages and a Margarita, while I was waiting NOT so patiently for the next in that series (which I’ve since read, and a review is coming soon!). Also, the entire Steel & Stone series is available through Kindle Unlimited, which I happened to be trying for a free month. I hesitated slightly because in my experience, often an author’s first book or even first few books are not as good as their later works. I am thrilled to report that I was wrong, and I quite enjoyed the start to this storyline.
As with any fantasy, urban or otherwise, there’s a good deal of worldbuilding setup required in the initial book. Chase the Dark is set in a somewhat-future earth world that sees traffic from daemons of various “species,” most of which take on a humanoid form during the time they spend on earth. Piper, our main character, is in training to be a consul, a go-between for the daemon guests and earth’s diplomatic figures. It is, OF COURSE, frowned on for consuls to have any kind of personal relationships with daemons, regardless of their benevolent intentions…OF COURSE. *wink wink*
The story moves fast, as Piper, with Lyle – an on-so-alluring succubus – and Ash, an enigmatic draconian daemon (which is just as interesting as it sounds) – in tow has to make a run for her life and freedom after a horrifying attack on the human embassy erupts. Naturally, law enforcement jumps to conclusions about just who is behind the attack. Things snowball from there.
I love Piper. I love her backbone, her willingness to try ANYTHING to do what she perceives as her duty, and I love how she cares about people. She’s young, but not TOO young (I do think the YA label is somewhat misleading on this series…it felt more New Adult to me, but without some of the explicit sex scenes that a lot of NA books have). She has a lot of past hurts from her parents and relationship issues, but she keeps going, chasing her dream, despite the fact that she has a sizeable obstacle in her way. Piper is haemon – half human, half daemon – through a VERY interesting set of circumstances, and as such has none of the magical capabilities that haemons usually have. She hasn’t let this stop her though, instead training ten times harder than most in an effort to level the playing field. You. Go. Girl.
Somehow, Annette Marie has managed to avoid making this feel like a love triangle. I suppose it…sort of IS, regardless, but it just doesn’t feel like a typical one. Despite Lyle and Ash both being insanely hot and there being quite a few sexy scenes. The three of them are a team, and they work best when they are ALL together…it’s not only hot, it’s funny as hell. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. One of which involves spiders.
Piper went stiff as board. Ash crouched over her, a knee on either side of her as he craned to try and spot the insect. She bit her lip so hard she tasted blood…her muscles quivered. Give her minotaurs, sphinxes, anything but spiders.
I love that they do have weaknesses. Perfect characters are so unrealistic and unlikeable.
Though if you’re wondering, Ash was my favorite of the two guys. Because I love anti-heroes. He IS a real piece of work though…which is about all I can say without spoiling anything. Also, HE HAS A DRAGONET FOR A PET AND SHE IS THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER. Ahem. I need a Zwi in my life. Ash does seem a little too emo at the beginning, but once they start running his seeming immaturity sort of evaporates. Again also, his refusal to show his real form at ANY costs is very VERY intriguing. What can I say, curiosity killed the cat. Some of the events at the end of the book involve him in a way that pretty much had my jaw on the floor…who IS Ash, exactly? And why does he have to be my favorite? I feel like he might end up the bad guy and I would absolutely HATE that…
SO MUCH HAPPENING. I find this is usually the case in the first of a fantasy series, because as mentioned before the entire world, etc., has to be set up. I was just more and more intrigued the longer this went on, and while a few things were explained in the end, it is really just a gigantic cliffhanger that left me gasping for air. I desperately need to read the rest, and plan to do so hopefully over winter break. Piper learns a lot about herself and her family that she never knew, and basically entire pieces of her life have been a fake or a lie. Yay overprotective parents.
Oh, and there’s a freaking amazing fight scene (as in ring fight) – because Piper can kick just about anyone’s ass, be they human or daemon – that is hot. AF. Just saying.
The world is basically our current earth with some technological upgrades and the addition of daemons from both an underworld and overworld. Very fascinating, especially since the good and evil distinction does not necessarily follow the under and over bit. I loved it. I hope the next books maybe actually let us GO to these other worlds.
There isn’t any actual sex, or even any real clothing removal. Just load and loads of sexual tension and some hot kissing. And the fight scene.
5/5 stars. If you like urban fantasy AT ALL, I would definitely give it a try!
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
“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.
First of all. This cover. AND VIKING WARRIOR WOMEN. Just take all my money right now, why don’t you. Of~*Review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*~
First of all. This cover. AND VIKING WARRIOR WOMEN. Just take all my money right now, why don’t you. Of course, there’s also a huge danger in being completely taken by a cover and brief blurb…sometimes the copywriter is a better writer than the actual author. So I was sort of kind of worried that might have happened, but I am very happy to report that it most certainly did not disappoint!
Oh, and btw – I was reading my copy of this book in the bath, and my puppy knocked it out of my hand and INTO THE WATER. There was much shrieking and flailing but the book survived and so did the puppy. The book is now all ripple-y and much thicker than it should be, but still readable. *eyeroll*
FIRST OF ALL: Adrienne Young, can we pleeeeeeeease have a sequel where Eelyn and Fiske are a little older?? PLEASE??? Like maybe a NA type? Maybe where the enemy tribe resurges? I know there is a companion novel coming but it sounds like it might be more about someone else and I just need more of Eelyn. Please and thank you. Ok, now I will attempt to write something more coherent…there ARE some SMALL potential spoilers. You have been warned.
Characters: Obviously, Eelyn. Our fierce Viking shieldmaiden. When the book first started, I was slightly put off by just how ANGRY she seemed to be, as if she had no other emotion (other than feeling pain, I definitely got the sense that she was in pain, but her reaction to pain was MORE ANGER). Did she have reason? Yes, probably more than most of us reading. Life in this time was hard, even if women were treated more equally in this Viking world. Eelyn kicks ass, but beneath her strong soldier exterior she still has a heart, she loves her family and her village more than life itself…which is why it hurts her so deeply when she discovers what her brother, Iri, has done. Eelyn is also NOT one of these heroine who walks and talks like a badass but never quite manages to DO anything badass…nope. She is downright brutal at one point in the book, and I found myself quite literally gaping at the page.
I’d envied Iri my whole life for his open heart, and now mine had been pried open too.
Iri himself is quite…well, I liked him, but I didn’t feel that close to him. I went through about the first half of the books with my arms figuratively crossed on my chest, TOTALLY with Eelyn that nothingbutnothing should have kept him from returning to his family, but then…then things happen. Still, I wanted to KNOW Iri better, because he really seemed like he was a complex character that we just didn’t get to know that well. Eelyn knows him, or thinks she does, and it is from her viewpoint that we see him.
Fiske is something else. He really grew on me, because in the beginning I just thought he was a wuss. No joke. Then we see him interact not only with Eelyn and Iri, but his mother, his little brother…and oh wait, he’s not a wuss, he just thinks before he acts. I loved the slow-burn of his and Eelyn’s romance. I know enemies-to-lovers is one of the OLDEST romantic plots ever, but it’s repeated because it works, both in books and sometimes even in real life! I really wanted to see more of them as a couple, in the village and family dynamics…ah well. 2 flames, because while there are some couple scenes there’s nothing graphic or really all that descriptive.
Inge, the only real mother-figure in the entire book (as Eelyn and Iri’s mother died long ago), is the best. I loved her so much. She is a healer, not a warrior, and yet she is very clearly just as strong as Eelyn or any of the others. I pretty much want to be her, since I’m pretty sure I don’t have the reflexes to be Eelyn.
Halvard!! OMG, this little guy has more guts and spine than several adults put together. And he is so non-judgmental, sees the good in everyone…we all need a Halvard in our lives. I swear the moments when his life is in danger, I went all Mama Bear even just sitting on my couch. DON’T YOU DARE MESS WITH MY LITTLE MAN, YO. At one point I actually thought he was going to be killed off and when I finally got to the end of that passage, I realized I’d been sitting there with my free hand just plastered over my mouth and I had tears in my eyes. THE FEELS.
Plot The plot is pretty well encapsulated in the book blurb, making this story MUCH more character driven than action driven – despite having some really intense battle scenes in the first and last quarters of the book. The middle bit is really more about Eelyn and her internal struggles with being a captive, and of all the dynamics of the Riki village and Iri’s “new” people. It is heartbreaking, at times.
The words were small but they were true. ‘I’m thinking that I wish you’d died that day.’
Worldbuilding There isn’t a lot of detail given, which works quite well for this book. We know that the Aska live by the sea, and the Riki live in the mountains, and they have a generations old blood feud. Their culture is clearly based on ancient Vikings, but other than that…this was a book about people and relationships, not one to immerse you completely in a historically accurate time and place. It does immerse you, just…in a much more narrow way. It works much better than I could have imagined, and I was quite surprised that the lack of detail did not seem to hinder my enjoyment of the story at all.
5/5 stars. Highly recommend. My only “complaint” is that I really wanted more, I was very disappointed when it ended…but isn’t that how the best books always are?
I could still see a young Eelyn standing on the beach turned into the wind, a sword in one hand and an axe in the other. I hadn’t lost her. I hadn’t buried her. I’d only let her change into something new.
Wolves were everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds. They cut their teeth on history and grew fat on war.
My heart was both incredibly full and totally shattered when I finished this book. I immediately raced off to see when Book 2 is due out, and *gasp* there’s not even a DATE yet! How shall I survive? *melodramatic scream*
The Gilded Wolves is the story of friends. The most unlikely group of misfits who, despite their myriad differences, fit together and work together and love each other – even if they won’t come out and say it in so many words. I love this squad so much! Jury is out on whether it will be on par with my current favorite squads (a tie between the Lunar Chronicles gang and the Night Court circle). There is a TON of diversity as far as nationality, color, and sexuality. The diversity actually feels natural, too, not just “thrown in” for good measure the way it does in so many books published recently. I think part of this is because the author herself is of a mixed heritage and it gives her a unique viewpoint from which to write.
“You know how moths look at a fire and think, ‘Oooh! shiny!’ and then die in a burst of flames and regret?”
“Right. Just checking to be sure.”
I loved Severin and Tristan, the brothers-not-really (they're not, right? not actually?). Loved them so, so much. I really wish a little more of their back story had been explained, because while there are little tiny pieces of Severin’s story told through flashbacks (usually only a couple of paragraphs long), it really just wasn’t enough! Must. Have. More.
He wished he didn’t know what he had lost. Maybe then every day wouldn’t feel like this. As if he had once known how to fly, but the skies had shaken him loose and left him with nothing but the memory of wings.
Severin, the leader of this merry (or not) band, is a complex character. I’m a complete sucker for anti-heroes, so I was predisposed to like him, buuuuut at the end he is super super shitty to Laila. I understand WHY – he’s hurting, and either to keep himself from hurting or as an attempt to ease the pain he lashes out at her. Not to mention freezing everyone else out as well, but especially her. That was…completely uncalled for. Laila, being who she is, sees beyond his heartless words and actions to the pain underneath. Their relationship is far from resolved in this book, but I hope – I really hope – that Laila remains true to herself, regardless of her feelings for Severin. It could turn into a toxic relationship very quickly unless Severin actually allows himself to heal.
Laila, the magnificent baking queen with a mask of glitter and sensuality. She is amazing and so, so strong. Despite being very young she kind of gives off the mama bear vibe and I adored it. Her relationship with Severin is unique in YA in that they actually have history, it’s not insta-love or even lust. As I said above…it’s not resolved, at all, and I’m very interested to see how it goes in the following books.
^I feel like this would be Zofia’s face on the regular.
Then we have…my darling Zofia. Who is about the most awkward human being on the face of the planet, and I adore her for it. I feel like maybe she is on the spectrum, due to the way she immerses herself in projects and reacts to people? Also the ways she takes things literally. I love it so much.
“What on EARTH are you doing?”
“I am imitating patterns of flirtation.”
“Wait. You’re flirting. With…ME?”
“Maybe I have the methodology wrong.”
Oh, Zofia. She’s also a math whiz, and counts to keep herself calm. Also Zofia + Enrique would be awesome.
Oh yes, Enrique. I really feel that Enrique didn’t get enough screen time in this story and I’m hopeful that he gets more in the future books. He seems to have so many layers to him, and he just wants everyone to be happy and get along. Oh, and he’s a historian! Mad props.
Tristan, sweet, spider-loving Tristan (yes really). He reminded me of a little brother that everyone wants to protect and love on, which is essentially what he is to this entire group but especially to Severin. I loved his constant experiments and just his general vibe. Now I have to shut up because SPOILERS but dear god my heart!
I cannot WAIT to see what happens to this awesome squad in the next book! Also kind of terrified because like I already said…MY HEART.
Paris is dual-faced in this book – on one side, glittering and sparkly (hello, Laila), and on the other dark, dangerous, and hateful (oh, is that you, Severin?). In the shadowy places in between is everyone just trying to survive and find their place in a world that would cut them down and leave them bleeding on the street. The magic system was, to me, the weakest part of the story. I still don’t quite understand how forging works? Or how the ability is passed on or down or whatever? It was fascinating but I really need it spelled out in more detail.
“Nothing but a symbol? People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines. They’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”
The heist! I actually usually don’t like books involving heists, they give me a very Oceans 11 vibe and I get so nervous I literally can’t sit still. However, this one had so many puzzles and clues and different places to go I just HAD to keep reading. It was awesome. Even if I still don’t quite understand the magic behind the forged artifacts, it was enough for me that they were THE most valuable and coveted items on the planet and people would kill for them. How the squad got to them and the allies they had to make along the way was just…aaah! I WAS THERE FOR IT.
Overall, 4.5/5 stars. Half a star off for my confusion over the magic system. All the stars for the squad. This is truly a YA book, with young characters who act young (but not too young), and with sex being more innuendo than action. I loved it. Book 2 please hurry!
A Thousand Perfect Notes is for anyone who needs a story of hope in darkness, of relief from oppression, of~*Full review here on The Bent Bookworm!*~
A Thousand Perfect Notes is for anyone who needs a story of hope in darkness, of relief from oppression, of happiness out of pain and sorrow. Not being melodramatic, either.
TW: mental and physical abuse, parental neglect.
He wouldn’t be kissable. He’s piano keys and crumpled music trapped in his soul. Not kissable. Kickable.
Excuse me while I go bawl my eyes out. This book just tore open my soul. I haven’t wanted so badly to protect and take care of a fictional character in a long, LONG time. Let me try to put all these feelings into words.
Beck’s story is one of the harshest I’ve read in the YA genre, and the first I’ve felt it really necessary to post a Trigger Warning for. My heart was bleeding by the time I finished, and trust me – I tore through this book in about two and a half hours. I was just so desperate to see what happened to him!
Beck is not perfect. He sometimes acts in ways that perhaps are not the epitome of kindness and definitely not politeness. But he carries so much pain…mental, physical, emotional. And on top of all that he is ALWAYS HUNGRY. It kills me to think of anyone being really, truly hungry – not just the hangry we all like to joke about when our regular mealtime gets off kilter, but honest-to-god hungry because there isn’t enough food and nowhere except maybe the trash to get it. All my mama bear instincts just want to go on a rampage for the person who would do this to their children.
If people cut him open, they’d never accuse him of being empty. He’s not a shell of a pianist – he’s a composer. Cut his chest and see his heart beat with a song all his own.
Part of the conflict is that while Beck’s mother uses music to contribute to his abuse, Beck has his own musical talent inside him – one that she belittles and says is worthless, but that is desperate to break out of him.
Then there is Joey. Wild, free spirited, painful Joey, the little sister that Beck would do anything for – be anything for – if it meant being able to protect her. Regardless of the personal cost to himself. He sees himself as weak for being unable to stop his mother’s abuse.
The Maestro – Beck’s mother – is a loathsome, vile person. I had such a deep anger boiling in me towards her at the end of the book, I wanted to reach through the pages and physically rescue Beck and Joey myself. Perhaps tripping the Maestro down a very tall flight of stairs in the process. Sadly, while she may SEEM to be a bit over the top, there are far too many people just like her, and even more who are willing to inflict the kind of emotional and mental abuse she deals out to Beck, without necessarily the physical.
August is amazing. While I can see many of the typical “manic pixie girl” characteristics in her, she is still very much her own little quirky self. I loved the repartee between her and her parents, who are awesome in their own right. Yay for having a healthy, loving family to contrast Beck’s horrible mother with!
The ending was satisfying, but still heartbreaking. I am very upset that there is not a sequel planned. 🙁
This might be the most incoherent review I’ve written yet, I’m just so in my feelings about these characters.
“No wonder men did not want women to wear bloomers. What could women accomplish if they did not have to continually mind their skirts, keep them from dragging in the mud or getting trampled on the steps of an omnibus? If they had pockets! With pockets, women could conquer the world!”
This was a fabulous book to start out 2018! It was just the right parts dry, sarcastic humor, witty remarks, and references to the classics mixed with strong female characters. My inner book nerd did so many happy dances. I absolutely LOVED the characters and ideas pulled from the classics (Frankenstein, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I think maybe another that I’m missing). However, the reader does not have to have read those classics to enjoy this book. The characters are entirely fleshed out in this book alone. They have their own stories and the style of writing is completely entertaining. It starts out written in 3rd person, but within just a couple of pages it shifts – brilliantly – to a sidebar commentary of the various characters interjecting while the narrator is writing! It sounds complicated but it is amazing and brilliant and I laughed out loud so many times.
Based around the idea of a secret scientific society at the end of the 19th century, the story starts out with the main character, Mary Jekyll, burying her mother and in desperate financial straits. Then through a series of unusual discoveries in her mother’s papers, she stumbles across a strangest of characters – all of which seem linked to herself and her dead father in some way. Then they link up with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and between their ever-growing little menagerie of misfits they attempt to solve the mystery of this strange society.
There’s no real romance – there are hints of it, and some of the characters have obviously had past relationships or relations, as they are referred to at one point. I admit that I’m really looking forward to the sequel, not only to see what exactly was going on with the Society but because I am dying to know if Mary actually ends up with Dr. Watson (as in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson’s eventual wife was named Mary), or not! I feel like it will be a NOT but I just need to know. :P
Overall, 5/5 stars and a fantastic start to my reading year 2018! Highly recommend to YA readers who are fans of historical fiction in general, but especially classic literature.
You Asked for Perfect absolutely gutted me. Shattered my heart. All the feels.
I was not expecting this. In fact, I put off reading this book for a LONG time, because I was so much less excited about it than about Girl Out of Water, Laura Silverman’s first book (which is, um, apparently one of those books I meant to write a review for and never got around to…oops). However, since I’m trying to be a good little reviewer – and also, hello, academic stress, I can relate – I picked it up last week.
Ariel Stone is the classic, driven, overachiever student. Except he’s Jewish and bisexual. Also, he’s waaaaaaay stressed out, and despite the 10+ year age difference I can so relate.
I used to like studying. That burst of satisfaction when new material clicks. The competitive gratification of finishing a test first, knowing you got everything right.
YES! So true! But then there is the pressure we type-A people like to put on ourselves…and the expectations of our family/teachers/friends…and next thing you know, studying is about as fun as plucking your leg hair out with tweezers.
If I stay any longer, he’ll see what’s happening. He’ll see I don’t understand. I’m not smart enough. I’m an imposter. If I’m going to lose everything I’ve worked for, at least I don’t have to do it in front of an audience.
I really just wanted to wrap Ariel up in a big hug. Like, this kid put so much stress on himself, and he cares so much about his family – and, oh, let’s not forget Amir, because Amir is cool on his own and he and Ariel together is just adorable. Oh, and his FAMILY! Actually, both of their families…why did I not have relationships like this as a teenager? They are supportive – academically and emotionally. The sibling banter is fun and believable. I liked that the story included Ariel’s little sister Rachel, and showed just HOW YOUNG the academic pressure can and does start. It broke my heart, not just Rachel, but Ariel, and Isaac (another young savant that is a secondary character but also struggling).
“If it’s not important to you, why do you tell everyone I’m applying there? It’s all you guys talk about. Like it’s the only worthwhile thing about me.” My voice begins to shake. “If I don’t get in, that’s it. I’ll be Ariel, the one who didn’t get into Harvard. I’ll let everyone down. I’ll let you guys down. And I might not get in. I really might not, because I’m not perfect. They asked for perfect, and I’m not.”
Ariel really grows so much through this story, even though it takes place over only a few weeks. He realizes a lot of his pressure is internal, and he realizes that sometimes…people are more important than academics. Basically he came to the realization that I wish I had, years and years ago. Realizing that sometimes, a couple of extra points on a test aren’t worth missing quality time with family and friends. Oh, and he also got a cute boyfriend out of it, which is always a plus. 😉
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.
This book paralyzed me, because I didn't know how to write a review for something that moved me so deeply. I sat on my couch and cried every time I opThis book paralyzed me, because I didn't know how to write a review for something that moved me so deeply. I sat on my couch and cried every time I opened it. Cried not because I was sad, but because I saw myself in this book and Akemi Dawn Bowman wrote it EXACTLY HOW IT IS, to live this way, and she articulates it - something I've never been able to do clearly, even to people I trust and count my closest friends. I think I am lucky enough to have a few friends who understand me anyway, but to explain why I act the way I do or feel the way I feel...nope. Because of this book, I think I finally have something of an idea - or at least a better idea - of how HUGE of a deal representation is in books. Huge. HUGE. I've always SAID I believed it was important, but I didn't really know how it FELT.
Kiko is half-Japanese, half white. The biracial rep is actually why I picked this book up - not because I myself am biracial, but because I was trying to find another book to read for the January challenge! Kiko also has moderate-severe social anxiety, and lives with a psychologically and emotionally abusive, narcissistic mother.
Ding ding, on both of those.
At first I couldn't believe what I was reading. I kept telling my husband, "I swear, I think the author met my mother and decided to write her into a book!" And then I started to cry because someone understood not only having a mother like that, but having overwhelming panic at the thought of going places or meeting people.
Normal people don't need to prepare for social interactions. Normal people don't panic at the sight of strangers. Normal people don't want to cry because the plan they've processed in their head is suddenly not the plan that's going to happen.
SO MUCH THIS. So much. Also, Kiko sits outside of a party in her car for about 20 minutes before she can convince herself to go in - and in the end her friend comes outside to go back in with her anyway. Been there, done that. Social functions are HARD. They're terrifying, and exhausting. I have a very, very distinct memory of arranging to have dinner with a friend (myself and my husband), and showing up at the restaurant to discover he had invited about 5 other people. I nearly blacked out standing next to the table, and I fought tears for several minutes after my husband helped me sit down. I can only imagine what those other people must have thought of me - but Kiko knows exactly what that is like.
Kiko's mother is psychologically and emotionally abusive. She is white, has bi-racial children (biological even), and yet she is incredibly racist. She constantly makes Kiko feel ugly and worthless. She lies to her about events in the past, she demeans her childrens' heritage. She must be the center of attention at all times, and she must look perfect to the world outside. And Kiko - as every child does - craves her mother's approval and support. Even when she knows it would be better to cut her mom out of her life, even when it would be healthier for her not to engage - she does. Because somewhere deep inside, there is still a tiny, tiny hope that one day her mom will be supportive and unconditionally loving.
Ding ding, again.
I was so happy to see Kiko finally get to embrace herself. Her ethnicity, her art, her personality. And to find friends who loved and accepted her for who she is, and who could celebrate ALL of her, with her. Also people who understood how poisonous her mother was.
"All that time growing up, I thought I was the only one who could see. I thought nobody understood the way he was. I thought I was the problem. But some people are just starfish - they need everyone to fill the roles that they assign. They need the world to sit around them, pointing at them and validating their feelings. But you can’t spend your life trying to make a starfish happy, because no matter what you do, it will never be enough."
Please go read this book. Whether you identify with Kiko somehow, or if you like art (Kiko is an amazing artist and the book has some beautiful descriptions of her paintings and drawings...also check out the fan art competition). Just please read. Even if you don't see yourself in it, I guarantee you someone in your life or acquaintance DOES.
because it means “wanderers,” and because planets don’t stay
in one fixed place
they’re constantly moving, wandering between the stars,
Calliope June has Tourette’s Syndrome. She also has either an extremely heartbroken or extremely immature mother, I can’t decide which. I waffled between feeling sorry for her mom, or being absolutely furious with her. Regardless, Cassie has lived in 10 different places in the past 9 years. Every time her mom breaks up with a guy, they move. With no warning. While Callie recognizes that her mom loves her, she also slowly comes to see that she is also wrong in some of the ways she “shows” her love. I was really happy when, towards the end, Cassie found the inner strength to confront her mother about some of those things.
Callie’s tics cause her a lot of embarrassment. She tries so hard to control them, but that only seems to make them worse. Her consciousness of them and yet the constant betrayal by her body were very eye-opening. I’ve never known anyone with TS and my only real media exposure is the bartender in The Boondocks Saints. It’s sad that there isn’t more education on this condition and that so much fun is made of it. The kids at Callie’s school never thought twice, and even her own mother is embarrassed by it. HER MOTHER! Callie is embarrassed enough, she certainly doesn’t need anyone telling her to try to stop, or hide her tics. Despite all that, she is such a huge-hearted person and continues to pick herself up and continue on. Sure, she has emotional moments – but we all do, and most of us don’t struggle with a health condition that has our own body backfiring on us every second of every day.
I loved the verse in this book – and I am so, SO far from being a poetry person. In fact, when I first saw that this book was written in verse I nearly didn’t look any further because of that. But I was intrigued by the concept, and I’ve never read anything that had a character with TS, so I read the excerpt on Amazon and I had to have the rest of the book RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. Turns out that there are two points of view in the story: Callie’s, the verse, and Jinsong’s, the prose. It works beautifully. The verse feels like a stream-of-consciousness narration.
The characters took me back to middle school. Callie and Jinsong are so very real. Jinsong made me angry for awhile, because even though he likes Callie at first he feels too embarrassed by her to stand up for her. It was really sickening…but he grows. He finds his backbone, and his heart, and it’s just the most adorable thing ever.
My heart broke for Callie the entire way through the book. The amount of resilience and tenacity she shows is incredible. Even when the very person who should help her and care for her the most barely gives her the time of day. Also, kids are so, so MEAN. I loved that as embarrassed and hurt as she would sometimes be though, Callie still found it in her to fight back.
“They all have friendship lockets. Every girl at Black Ridge has one, except you.”
I glance at Beatriz’s neck. “And you.”
BURN, baby, burn.
This was a phenomenal book. I really felt like the author put us right into Callie’s shoes. The writing was flawless – not once did I feel jolted out of the story by any sort of author intervention, and the ending…well. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. But it’s worth it! It fits. And there is hope, because Callie is not the sort of person to let her condition or her mother stop her.
There are a lot of quotes from the book that I would love to share. I bookmarked SO many. But I really think this is one you need to go read for yourself. So please, go buy a copy or request your library to buy one!