Review: Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

My final rating for Rise of Fire is between a 3- and a 3.5.-stars which means I did like it. This book picks up immediately following the conclusion of Book 1, Reign of Shadows, which left off on quite a cliffhanger indeed! Although I did like it, I did not enjoy it as much as I did the first book. I think some of that had to do with the plot of this story and a bit of it had to do with me picking up on more flaws in the execution of writing a blind main character.

If you are onto this book, most likely you are already aware that our main female character, Luna, has been blind since birth. In Reign of Shadows, they are outside a lot of time, where due to a total eclipse of the sun that has shrouded the earth for the last 17-years they are in perpetual darkness. In this story, they are mainly inside a castle. It is a castle that she has never ever been to before yet she navigates it like she has echolocation capabilities or something. With the first book it was a little easier to forgive some of that because all the characters were pretty much struggling through the dark. Anyway, that aside, I still enjoyed the relationship between our two main characters – their romance was sweet and built up quite a bit in this one. Luna is still a great character in my mind who has had quite an unusual life up to this point.

Another reason I may not have enjoyed this one quite as much was the fact that the action was mainly held within a castle; it was pretty stationary. I had fun with the traveling aspect of the first book. I love a good quest or a road-trip in a book, so that plot was definitely something I enjoy more anyway; however, I understand that that is totally a personal preference and really has nothing to do with this specific book. Overall, I am pleased with this one, loved the ending and am very happy that I have completed this duology. It was dark and pretty fun and I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a darker retelling!

Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Publication Date: April 10, 2018

4-stars!! (a really good book)

Ace of Shades, by Amanda Foody, is the first book in her new series, The Shadow Game. I enjoyed reading this and being introduced to the city of New Reynes, a self-proclaimed city of sin; picture a magical, more dangerous version of Las Vegas. This story follows the point of view of two main characters, Enne Salta and Levi Glaisyer. Enne arrives in the city searching for her adoptive mother, Lourdes, with just Levi’s name as a clue. They quickly meet and the fun begins.

Enne upon her arrival is innocent, having been raised far from the city in a sheltered existence, she quickly feels in over her head. Despite her initial hesitation and the culture shock of being in the city, she finds New Reynes brings her to life; she views herself as really being ‘seen’ for the first time. I love Enne’s story arc from sweet little girl to certifiable badass.

Levi, quite Enne’s opposite is a street kid, a con-man, a card dealer and a Lord of one of the local street gangs; not unsurprisingly he has a heart of gold however and certainly a sweet spot for Enne. They work together to try to solve the mystery or who Lourdes actually is and where she has gone. There is an enjoyable cast of side characters in this that really helps the story along.

I did have two minor problems with the book, one was the made up curse words, I found to be a little silly and unnecessary. They were slightly distracting actually because it was so silly. The second problem was the magic system – I don’t feel it is every really explained; there are a lot of concepts that are given names but no explanation or definition. There was a lot of ambiguity with it. I read a lot of fantasy and do not expect to be spoon fed concepts but it shouldn’t be a mystery either as to how a world is functioning. I was at the very end of the book, in one of the final scenes, still not understanding what was happening with the magic. This issue is actually laced throughout the book which can make sections of it confusing. Perhaps in the second book some of these issues will be cleared up?

I am excited to move forward with the series and would definitely read the next book once it becomes available. I thought the ending was perfect and will definitely leave readers wanting more!

Overall, I feel this is a pretty solid start to a series that a lot of people will enjoy due to the action and sweet romance. Thank you so much to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with the opportunity to read this book early and provide my opinions. I am excited to see what other readers think about this one once it is released.

Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

5-fabulous stars!! It is finally time for me to struggle through writing a review for this book. I just don’t know how to adequately express the way I feel about this one. It was quite honestly one of, if not the most, moving story I have ever read in my life. It was just so amazingly well done and I feel like it should be required reading for young people.

The story follows the point of view of two characters, Julian and Adam. Julian, the younger of the two, lost his parents to an accident when he was just a child and due to lack of immediate family is forced into ‘the system’. Adam’s Mother, a social worker, takes Julian in as a foster and thus, the boys essentially become brothers for a time. Once a distant relation (by marriage) of Julian’s comes forward and claims him, Adam and Julian have no further contact until Julian enters high school. This is where our story picks up.

These characters are so well drawn. Julian, so sweet, innocent and trapped in his loss. Adam, fun, popular and extremely caring. I love the relationship of the two boys and how it evolves over the course of the book. I tabbed a lot of sections, passages, sentences during the course of reading this as there are a lot of very important ideas in here. I feel like Robin Roe’s real life experiences working with ‘at-risk’ teens really helped add to the reality of this novel. This will be a hard one to forget. It was heartbreaking. I was shattered after reading it but also filled with love and hope. I ended up feeling a strong connection to these boys, just such good eggs, the both of them.

This book teaches a message of kindness and empathy. Being kind is free – we should all try it – you never know what someone else is going through; what someone’s reality is. I will be recommending this book to everyone in the world from this day forward but definitely do not expect a light fluffy read here. There are definitely moments of humor, Adam’s character in particular is very funny, but this book deals with very serious issues of abuse, both mental and physical, death, grief, loss, self worth and self preservation. Absolutely brilliant! 

Review: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

Publication Date: November 4, 1997

5 of the most magical stars in the universe!!! Wizard and Glass. Wow, what do I even say about this book? This book is immense, epic and a beautifully told story of love and loss. If you are reading this, you most likely already know that Wizard and Glass is the 4th installment in Stephen King’s epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower. I have been reading this series back-to-back since last Fall and I was most concerned about this one.  At 700 pages it is not a small feat and I had heard that it was very different from the other books in the series.  It certainly was that but in a way that enhanced the storytelling of the series. It is mind-boggling to me that this entire world is the creation of one man’s brain!

In this book we hear an incredible tale of the early life of Roland of Gilead, our main protagonist throughout this series. We learn all about his life shortly after becoming a Gunslinger around age 14 or 15 (I can’t recall exactly what age he is stated to be at this point). He has been sent from home to travel to the Barony of Mejis with two of his closest companions and fellow future Gunslingers, Alain and Cuthbert, in order to keep him safe from the sinister Marten Broadcloak. The boys settle in Hambry under the guise of being ‘counters’ for the Affiliation; there they encounter a ruthless and shady cast of characters such as the Big Coffin Hunters, Mayor Thorin and my favorite witch, Rhea of Coos.

The main storyline involves Roland meeting his true love, Susan Delgado, and their budding and blossoming relationship. The intricacy within this story, within this world, is absolutely stunning. King is the master of character development and this story is no different. While reading this book I truly felt like I could see everything playing out before me like a movie. This book is completely different than the other books in the series, yes, but what a tale. I am absolutely in love with it. Spellbinding from beginning to end, in my opinion, and I feel more attached to Roland now than ever before. Excited to move on with my journey to the Tower!  In fact, I have already begun the 5th book of the series, The Wolves of Calla.

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Publication Date: July 14, 2016

3-Stars:  I will get this out of the way up front – I listened to the Audio version of this book. The narrator…let’s just say, her style wasn’t my favorite as far as narration goes. This being said, I’m not sure how much that ended up affecting my ultimate rating for the book but I wanted to be sure to point it out.

I went into this book completely blind, I had heard a little buzz about it through social media, but really had no idea what it was about. I was completely surprised by the fact that the action kicked off so quickly. There were quite a few twists and turns, places where I thought I had it figured out, moments of revelation, etc., but overall it was pretty bland for me. It was a good book but I really had no feelings for it after it was over. It was a thing that happened, it kept me occupied, told me a little tale and then…that’s it. I did not enjoy any of the characters at all – I actually believe one of my mid-book status update comments was, ‘every character in this book is an asshole’ – so yeah. Bottom line, it was good, it didn’t blow me away but it was good. Average.

In other, much more exciting news, I pre-ordered my copy of Stephen King’s newest novel, The Outsider, which will be released on May 22nd!!!  Raise the flag, I am so excited to add a new, gorgeous King hardback to my bookshelves.  Check out the cover below – very creepy and cool!

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Publication Date: May 13, 2014

Star Rating: 3.5-stars!

We Were Liars is a book that is going to be hard for me to review. I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to come up with something of substance to write about it. I think part of the difficulty for me lays in the fact that there was a disturbing situation in this book that really, really, really made me uncomfortable – basically bringing one of my worst nightmares out of my mind and onto the page; because of this, I felt like my mind kind of turned off to this book after that. I was enjoying it a lot but that one aspect of the story was really very hard for me to move past.

The bulk of the action takes place mostly on a private island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I live on Nantucket, so literally, this story hit very close to home for me. A large number of the population of my community consists of summer families very similar to the one in this story. I felt like I knew these people, like I had heard many of the gossips and complaints and recriminations that flow throughout the family drama. The book itself, is actually hard to classify in my opinion. Is it a Thriller, is it a YA Contemporary? It really had aspects of both but I am going to call it a YA Contemporary. There was one really big plot twist that I definitely did not see coming even though I thought I had it all figured out. However, even with this taken into account it isn’t really ‘thrillery’ enough to earn that classification in my opinion.

I listened to the audiobook and one of the main reasons that I did was because Ariadne Meyers was the narrator. She also voiced Lydia in The Serpent King and I absolutely adore her work. She is so fabulous. She definitely did not disappoint with this one. In fact, the end was bloody brilliant. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit but I definitely feel like it is a book that is only impactful your first time through.

Review: The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Star Rating: 2-lackluster stars

Phew. Well, I made it through. I am glad this was so short, otherwise I would have had to DNF it and I absolutely detest having to do that. I really struggled with this one. It was so all over the place for me, just not my style at all. It was nothing like what I expected and I’m not sure what exactly the author was trying to get across. I thought, going in, that I did but my thoughts of a modern, girl version of Lord of Flies was completely off base.

The writing itself was smart but lackluster, ultimately leaving me so that I just did not care one hoot about any of the characters. I would have preferred a more linear narrative, possibly with vignettes of how that shared experience affected the girls later lives, to this disjointed, completely chaotic story. I know many readers will enjoy this, however, it just was not the book for me.  Disappointing.

Review: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Publication Date: April 5, 2018

5-stars!!!! – A tour de force of brutality & ambition!!!

I was so excited when I discovered that the Hogarth Shakespeare series was adding Macbeth to its line up. It is my favorite of all the Shakespeare tragedies and I was looking forward to seeing how Nesbo would give it a modern twist. I have never read any of his books before but had heard very good things. He certainly did not disappoint – this soared above even my highest expectations.

The action takes place in a drug and crime-ridden city in the 1970s. Drug dealers and local crime lords hold as much power and sway over the people as do the police and politicians. The whole atmosphere is dark and visceral; you can smell and feel the dankness and despair. You are instantly dropped into this world and admittedly, at first, I was a bit confused as you are right in the action and all the players are already there. However, it didn’t take long (about 15% on an e-reader) before the tale truly starts to take shape and for me, I was so engrossed, I couldn’t put it down.

The characters are true to their roots as Shakespeare created them and I felt that the main premise of the action was extremely well planned and executed. The modern versions of the plot points were richly imagined and expertly woven into the final narrative. Macbeth, so strong and weak at the same time, so influenced by his Lady, easily steered, brutal yet kind, haunted and driven. Ughhh, it was soooo good! No one in this town was safe once Macbeth and Lady were set on their ultimate drive to power – aspirations and political intrigue, love for one another, plagued by their pasts – their relationship was just so spot on, there is no better way for me to describe it.

Slytherin book recommendation all day long – I absolutely adored this book! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review. I cannot wait for this one to hit the streets -everyone needs a dose of this! Shakespeare himself would be proud!

Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

5-stars!!! Luxury. Affordable. Industry standard. (inside joke, read the book!)

I received Foolish Hearts in one of my OwlCrate subscription boxes and I am so glad that they brought this book to us. This is a YA-Contemporary, which isn’t a genre that I would generally chose for myself, I tend to gravitate more towards YA-Fantasy or Science-Fiction. After completing Foolish Hearts however, I am all about the YA Contemporary and have been scooping them up left and right!
I was blown away by how smart, witty and downright hilarious the dialogue in this book was. The banter back and forth between the characters had me literally laughing out loud on multiple occasions. Our MC, Claudia, was such a good, sweet girl – not in a naive or annoying way but in a really good, goofy and endearing way. I found her to be absolutely relatable and loved her story arc of finding herself, releasing herself to be free to give and receive love….arghhhh, it was so good.
The relationships between so many of the side characters were amazing as well – the relationship between Gideon and his best friend – I loved that one – definitely a great male/male friendship; it played out so well. Also the relationship between Paige and Iris and eventually Claudia and Iris. The added bonus of having the story center around a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was just icing on the delicious YA-Contemporary cake. I would give this book ten stars if I could and will probably read it again someday. In short, I loved it!

Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Publication Date: August 20, 2013

4.5 STARS!!!

Okay, it’s best if I get this out of the way immediately: this book is a total mindf*ck. There, I said it. I know that may be an uncomfortable proclamation for some but there it is. This is the best way for me to describe this book.
It is really good…like, really, really good. So creative, dark, gripping, it wraps you up in this world of Cordova and has you second guessing even yourself. Who is Cordova? In this story Cordova is an uber-famous film director; mysterious and untouchable – he is the shadow that looms over this entire book.

Our protagonist, Scott McGrath, is a fallen from grace investigative reporter who becomes fixated on investigating the apparent suicide of Cordova’s daughter Ashley. Through the course of his investigation he becomes involved with two young people, Nora and Hopper, who aide him in his investigation. The story incorporates mixed media sources such as past magazine interviews and articles, online forum posts, etc., which makes you feel as though you too are part of the investigation.

The entire book blends the line between fantasy and reality and the idea of what your mind can come to accept as truth even without definitive proof. I don’t even know if I am making sense right now but this book will do that to you!

I listened to this book on audio and the narrator was absolutely perfect. His voice was Scott McGrath. The dialogue was so smart, I laughed out loud, I exclaimed curses when really scary stuff went down – I must have looked mad driving my car down the highway. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a dark story steeped in occultism and mystery. My rating of 4.5 versus 5-stars is because the ending didn’t quite work for me. I don’t want to say I was disappointed with the ending, I just wish certain elements of it had gone differently. Overall, this is a fabulous examination of the human psyche and a sick, spooky read!