Book Review: Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

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Rating:  ★★★1/2

I was very excited about Into the Crooked Place because the blurb was giving me strong Six of Crows vibes.  I guess they call this gangster fantasy these days?  While parts of it does feel like SoC, overall the book missed the mark a little for me.

The world building was pretty good.  Christo imbued the setting with seemingly sufficient grit.  There’s history.  There’s buskers peddling magic.  The magic itself I struggled with a lot.  It often felt like there weren’t any strict rules, some of it felt “hand wavey” if you will, which I occasionally struggled with.  Wesley “summons” charms from his skin?  There wasn’t a lot of explanation about where the charms come from or how they get their specific powers.

Another thing I struggled with, is it’s explained initially there is no new magic, so anything the buskers sell is somehow recycled or a trick.  But where was it recycled from?  Is there that much illicit magic laying around that 50-100 buskers in several different cities can afford to sell many of these charms and potions every night?  I felt like I was just supposed to take all this at face value.

The characters were all great and yet I often felt like I wasn’t connecting.  There was funny banter and wit and sass galore, a f/f relationship/romance that I actually did enjoy.  But often a chapter would devolve into the character’s inner monologue about their significant/desired other and that often took me out of the story a bit.  I think the story would have been sufficient with just Karam’s and Saxony’s romance, because that one felt relatively effortless, while Wesley and Tavia’s romance/flirtations, often felt shoehorned in.

The plot was okay.  It was high action, but a lot of the action could have been skipped without any detriment to the story.  There were several fist fights that felt like we were seeing them just to show how tough Wesley or Karam were.  There were a lot of training scenes.  It’s just not my favorite way to read action in a book.  I cared about the fights against the bad guys, not so much the fights and the training amongst themselves.

The other thing I want to note- I finished this on Saturday, less than a week ago.  And I am struggling to remember lots of the details.  It wasn’t an unenjoyable experience, but it simply wasn’t that memorable.

Into the Crooked Place released on October 8, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher for sending a copy in exchange for a review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Fall TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is books on my Fall 2019 TBR!  Although fall is not my favorite season, it does have a certain charm, pumpkins, farmer’s markets, arts festivals, and halloween!  So my plan, of course, is to cram as many scary, spooky and dark reads into fall as I can.

People of the Lake by Nick Scorza

People of the Lake by Nick Scorza – A girl named Clara receives a note written in a secret language she once shared with her dead twin sister Zoe, regarding the suspicious death of a local boy in a very strange and suspicious town.  I’ve never heard of this author before- but I have high hopes for the book, which should make a great October read!

I will make you pay by teresa driscoll

I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll – This was a NetGalley Read Now (not sure if it still is) that I picked up on impulse.  The title is pretty self explanatory.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a fast paced thrill ride with lots of twists and turns.

Sword of Kings by Bernard Corwnell

Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell – With the release of this looming on the horizon, I finally sucked up my fear of reading the last book.  I’m excited to read them back-to-back, but also scared, because we seem to be getting closer to the end of Uhtred’s life and I don’t think my heart could take it.

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Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo – I don’t often read YA anymore, but the description reminds me of a magical Six of Crows.  I’m trying not to be too hyped about it.

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski – This is my designated Halloween read.  Honestly I have no business adding backlist titles to my TBR right now, I am already behind and have way too much to catch up with, but I need at least one solid horror novel on the list.

 

The First Law Trilogy and A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie – I’m not being delusional about my ability to cram all three First Law books in before my planned buddy read of A Little Hatred on October 22.  Nope.  That’s not me.  This is all a totally reasonable plan.

The Menace From Farside by Ian McDonald

The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald – Another planned buddy read for when it releases on November 12.  This is a novella and it’s one of my favorite series and I’m pretty much dying to get my hands on it.

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Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia – Tuesday Mooney embarks on an epic treasure hunt left behind by an eccentric billionaire!  I’m not really sure where the ghosts come in to play, but with a title like Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, how could I turn it down?!

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – I requested this way back in summer when I thought I had plenty of time to read it.  I’m actually hoping to cram it in before the end of September, but who knows.  I’m excited to be getting more Historical Fiction on the list, since it was really kind of my first love in the reading world and the amount of it I’ve read this year is abysmal.

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Fortuna Sworn by K.J. Sutton – The author was kind enough to send this to me in exchange for a review, which is long overdue.  However- with a cover like that and a tale of the Fae I feel like it will make another great fall read and I’m really looking forward to it!

That’s it!  I’m seriously excited for absolutely every one of these books, but also terribly overwhelmed looking at them all.  What about you?  What’s on your list?

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January releases tomorrow!!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this. I was a little bit skeptical because I don’t always have the best track record with YA.  I do think the title is a little misleading.  I originally thought the blurb was misleading too, but looking back I see it’s pretty accurate.  However, if you are going into this expecting a portal fantasy and a girl who travels to a bunch of different fantasy lands… that’s not this book.  It doesn’t need to be that book.  It’s great as it is.

The beginning is fairly slow and requires a lot of patience.  As I said above, if you’re like me, and expecting January to find a door and begin adventuring.. it doesn’t happen for a very long time.  Initially, this is a lot of backstory, building the character of our protagonist and those around her, setting up little dominoes so Harrow can knock them all down brilliantly in the end.

However, once we finally reach the part where we start reading The Ten Thousand Doors (maybe starting at the second chapter) I was sucked into the story and could not put it down. In the middle of the book, this secondary story became compelling much more quickly than the first story, and at times I was frustrated with the direction January’s story was taking.  By the time we reach the end of The Ten Thousand Doors (the book within the book) I was completely hooked by January and Bad, and cared a lot about her as a fictional character.

You’ll likely see the twist coming from a mile away (I did) but that somehow didn’t make that twist any less perfect. It felt like it was where the story needed to go. Beyond that, there were plenty more surprises in store to keep the reader guessing and turning the page.

This is still a grand story, cleverly told.   Each little point in time, each character, has a neat little pin placed in it, no one and nothing forgotten. This book gave me something I feel like I’ve been missing all year, and that is closure. I don’t have any questions, I know what happened to all the characters. The ending is perfect.

The writing in this story beautiful, lyrical, magical. The tone can be very grim at times. January’s race (which is not white, at a time when persons of color in the US and elsewhere were widely unwelcome, to put it mildly) plays an important part in the story, and she is reminded of it constantly. Aside from her race, there are characters in the story who use and abuse her (mentally, verbally, and physically on occasion). To them, she is not a person, she is very much a thing.  It’s heartbreaking and at times I just wanted to scream at the page.  Thank goodness for Jane.

Even though the reader is only given glimpses of other worlds, worlds with leopard people and worlds filled with monsters, I loved how the magic was incorporated into the story. I think this particular magic will appeal to anyone who reads.  Adding to that, there are little trinkets from different worlds incorporated throughout the book, all with their own unique abilities and their parts to play.  It’s this level of detail in the book, the way items are mentioned and forgotten and pulled back in, purposes revealed that I loved so much.

I highly recommend this book to readers of any age.  Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January releases tomorrow, September 10! So add it to your GoodReads TBR or head on over to Amazon to check it out!

Book Review: The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden

Rating:  ★★★1/2

3.5 stars really from me. I enjoyed this much more than I usually enjoy my 3 star reads and I read the bulk of it in just two days. I never really considered quitting, and I do sometimes have that thought for my 3 star reads.

The Hive is a book about the dangers of social media taken to the extreme. Sometime in the not so distant future it is decided that people should be held accountable for absolutely everything they do online. When a person turns 13, they are given a social media identity that belongs only to them. Everything they say can be liked or condemned. If you receive enough condemn votes, you become subject to Hive justice.

Once that happens, people are alerted to the perpetrator’s presence via phone notifications, along with a picture of the perpetrator and the level of justice the Hive is allowed to inflict (1-5). The people who endorse the Hive form a mob and hunt down the condemned. At level 1 the punishment is small, but surely humiliating, at level 5 punishment is more severe and the humiliation less likely to fade away quietly.

It’s an interesting concept, and the mobs we see in this book are pretty terrifying. Mobs quickly escalate out of control and even people who normally make sound choices can get sucked in.

There were some technical issues with The Hive that I was able to look past, but I can see being an issue for other readers. For starters – the protagonist, despite how smart she is (or how smart we are told she is), she makes a lot of dumb choices. The antagonists are all painfully obvious to the reader while Cassie remains totally oblivious. Some of the situations and their subsequent resolutions are just a little too convenient to be believable in terms of the plot, and a lot Cassie’s abilities as a hacker seem really far fetched.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it, and in fact, once Cassie finds herself in hot water, I was up late reading this book until I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. I just had to see where the book was going next, and it kept me pretty sucked in until the end.

The characters are all pretty fun, if a little flat. Although Cassie, the MC, is fairly unlikeable (and the thing she says that gets her in trouble is horrible– cringe inducing really). She spends a lot of the early pages disliking everyone and everything, generally being as tiresome as moody teenagers can be. I don’t know that she becomes any more likable as the book goes on, but she does at least become tolerable.

The book includes, at the end of some chapters, different posts (what I want to say here is Tweets, but technically in the book they’re from a platform called BLINQ) from some of the characters in the book as well as posts from non-characters.  I really enjoyed the addition of them and thought they added a lot to feeling what was going on in the wider world, as well as upping the ante for Cassie, who we know will be subject to their justice.

Aside from the earlier issues I mentioned, the ending seems a little anticlimactic. Throughout the book the action and the intrigue are building and building, and then the resolution is so mind boggling simple that it ended up feeling unbelievable.

Regardless, I did enjoy it and read through it all pretty quickly.  If you like the concept at all I think this book is well worth picking up.  Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.

The Hive released on September 3, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favorites

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Edit: I’ve just realized I once again jumped ahead a week. Please forgive me! I don’t know where my brain is at.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This was a hard post for me.  Not really because I didn’t read as a kid (I definitely did) but just remembering what exactly I was reading.  Also- a lot of childhood favorites I’d probably feel different about today.  For example, Charlotte’s Web, or the traumatizing end to Where the Red Fern Grows?  The horrible treatment of children by Roald Dahl… Sigh.  (Why are kids books so darn sad?)  Anyway- I probably missed a lot, but here are ones I remember that I don’t think I’d change my mind about as an adult.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – I loved everything about this story as a kid and I still love everything about it as an adult.  I love Charlie’s relationship with Grandpa Joe, I love the ending, I love the poetic justice all the other kids receive.  I also love the movie.  The Gene Wilder version (sorry Johnny).

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley – Like most young girls, I was horse obsessed.  I’m pretty sure this book does not have the happiest ending, but I loved everything that came before that.

Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain – Here they are.  The only wholesome books I’ve ever read.  (I kid.)  These were a staple in my house.  My mom used to read them to me and my sister before bed tonight.  I still have these books.  I read them to my daughter so they hold a lot of sentimental value.

The Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen – Can I count these as my first Science Fantasy books?  I loved Ms. Frizzle.  I loved all the kids and the illustrations, but especially our unfortunate friend Arthur.

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene – I spent the summers at my aunt’s house in Ohio, and she had like the first 40 books in the Nancy Drew series.  And I’m pretty sure I read most of them, and loved them all.  She’s like Scooby Doo, but you know, human.

Choose Your Own Adventure by Miscellaneous – I’m low key thrilled these are making a sort of comeback (well, I know I’ve seen a few new copies kicking around at B&N anyway).  I LOVED these books as a kid.  I loved you could read through them pretty quickly, I loved making a game of finding the longest story, I loved finding my way to new endings.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – I love this book so much I actually remember where I was when I bought it.  It was a book wholesaler somewhere in Virginia.  I didn’t include the other two books (The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) just because I didn’t read them until I was in my 20s.  I knew it was a series but it took Pullman a long time to put out the other books and I never could find them whenever I looked.  This was probably my first foray into Fantasy and started a life-long obsession with Polar Bears.  (It’s also one of those super grim children’s books I referred to earlier, and it would be hard for me to re-read them today.)  Side note- I still own the original copy I purchased way back when.  It’s mostly in tact and sits on my mother’s bookshelf.

Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar – These books are hysterical and bizarre.  I can’t wait to read them with my daughter when she graduates from picture books.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz – If you were a kid in the 90s you’ve probably read these at least once.  I probably read them way more times than is normal.  The illustrations freak me out and that one story about the hook in the car door still bothers me (and causes me serious paranoia about my back seat in the dark).

Goosebumps by R.L. Stine – Much like Scary Stories, if you were a kid in the 90s, you probably read Goosebumps too.  I gobbled these up faster than Stine could write them (and he wrote them pretty fast).  I especially looked forward to Scholastic book fairs because I knew it usually meant I could get a new Goosebumps.  I totally watched the new movie as an adult and mostly enjoyed it.  Also, here is a really funny post I found reimagining Goosebumps for adults based on their covers.

Ugh- feeling so nostalgic right now.  The 90s were a good time.  What’s on your Childhood Favorites list?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite books of the past decade

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

First- a belated Happy Memorial Day weekend to all my American friends!  I hope you enjoyed it!  I’m sorry to kick this week off with a T10T when I haven’t posted a single review in weeks, but it was a hectic weekend for my family, filled with grilling, guacamole, sunshine and sprinklers.  My huge library book haul seems to be doing the trick as I will have a couple reviews for you all later this week.

Anyway, I’m looking at this topic and relieved because it seems easier than some of the last topics we’ve had this month, but I’m also wondering if I have a favorite for each year of the past ten.  I guess we’ll find out!

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

2019: The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky.  I’ve read significantly less 2019 releases than probably most other book bloggers- but I don’t foresee this changing.  I read this all in mostly one sitting. Not bad for a 500+ page novel! Honorable mentions to: The Test by Sylvain Neuvel, and Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald.

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

2018: The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley.  I also haven’t read that many 2018 releases apparently.  In my review, I only gave this 4.5 stars because the ending disappointed me, but months later I find myself craving more fierce, unapologetic fiction like this book, and wishing for ANYTHING with a similar voice. It really does deserve five stars. Honorable mentions: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, and The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark.

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2017: The Moon and the Other by John Kessel.  I think this is another that I gave 4.5 stars to instead of 5.  My reason for including this and The Mere Wife (above), is that in the end, I’ve held these novels to a higher standard.  If we’re going by literary accomplishment, I have more respect for them than I do for some of my 5 star reads for 2017.  The Moon and the Other is beautifully written, metaphoric, entertaining, and manages to give lots of food for thought. Honorable mentions: The Will to Battle and Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer, and Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell.

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2016: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer.  This is a weird one for me.  I absolutely will not recommend it to anyone to read, but it remains as a favorite.  I think if you can read it with buddies who can help you understand the intricacies of the plot and the world building, you’ll get more out of it.  If you are patient, this is one of the most rewarding books I’ve ever read. Honorable Mentions: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo and The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

2015: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.  I suspect I’m not the only person to slot this for their 2015 favorite.  SoC is the reason I will still occasionally pick up a YA novel despite being disappointed with most other YA offerings (it’s not them, it’s me).  It’s dark and gritty with just the right touch of romance. Honorable mentions: The Just City by Jo Walton and Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell.

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2014: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell. These books are fast paced and the characters and their banter are fabulous.  There’s not a lot of magic- but a little, and I’m more than okay with that.  Fun fact: the author is an actual fencer, and his dueling scenes are better for it. Honorable mentions: Revival and Mr. Mercedes both by Stephen King.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

2013: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill.  This is about a vampire from Christmasland.  I know that’s odd.  Don’t question it.  Just go with it.  Honorable mention: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn

2012: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I know Amy Dunne is a sociopath, but she’s a disciplined and brilliant sociopath.  For some reason- along the with The Mere Wife, I’ve been thinking a lot about Gone Girl and wishing there were more stories like this available.  Honorable Mention: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson and The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.

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2011: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Much like Amy Dunne, I find Jorg to be a very compelling as a character.  Also- this is just a delightfully wicked book. Honorable mention: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning and Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor.

Sh*t my dad says by Justin Halpern

2010: Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern.  So this is a weird place to end up.  Anyway- apparently I didn’t read much and definitely wasn’t tracking my reading in 2010.  Don’t let that stop you from checking out this hilarious book. Justin’s dad is definitely a guy I wouldn’t mind drinking a beer with.  Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“On [Justin’s] Response to Having [His] Tires Slashed ‘Oh, don’t go to the goddamned cops. They’re busy with real shit. I don’t want my tax dollars going to figuring out who thinks you’re an asshole.'”

And that’s it!  What about you?  What are your favorite books of the past ten years?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I pick up a book

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is reasons I pick up a book.  Pretty straightforward so I guess I’ll just hop right to it!

I know (and trust) the author.  I mean- this list consists of maybe five people.  Stephen King, Joe Hill, Bernard Cornwell, Sebastien de Castell, Ada Palmer (fictionally speaking) and Karen Marie Moning (okay that’s six).  (Yes I’m aware the Fever series has tanked, I’ll probably keep reading anyway.)  What’s interesting about this list is that at least four of these authors have books on my list that are 3 star reads or less.  The point is, even their worst books manage to entertain me.  Consistency means more to me than perfection.

Someone I trust, raved about or recommended it to me.  The operative word in both these instances being trust.  I get a lot of books recommended to me.  Usually it results in a smile and a nod and a polite thank you, because a lot of recommendations go something like this:

Random person: What are you reading?
Me: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
Random person: Oh you like vampire novels?  You should read Twilight!
Me:                                                                                Eye Roll

Sorry Twilight- it’s not you, it’s me!

FOMO.  Friends, the FOMO is real.  And the FOMO hurts.  This applies to pretty much every hyped book ever.  FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out, in case you haven’t heard it before.  (But I’m sure you’ve felt it at least once!)  I recently picked up The Priory of the Orange Tree.  Early reviews have led me to believe I won’t like it.  I want to read it anyway.  The only reason is FOMO. *shrugs*

Next in a series. I have no qualms about not finishing a series when I didn’t like the first book, or when the second book was just sort of meh.  But if I loved the previous book(s) it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to pick up the next.

It’s got diverse settings, characters and/or mythology. There are so many stories and mythologies and settings out there that haven’t been explored.  Can I get an adult LGBTQ+ Moana please?  Or something that explores ancient China or Japan?

It’s got Vikings in it.  I realize this is a relative contradiction of what I’ve stated above- but I would really love an Ivar the Boneless novel, or something that’s not strictly romance where they aren’t featured primarily as the bad guys.  What can I say, I’ve got a problem.

I gotta see (or have seen) the movie. A lot of the time the movie is a disappointment, but hey, it’s put a book or two on my radar before.  Conversely- there are some books I won’t read because I’m really worried it will ruin the movie for me (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games).

The cover. Sure I’m a little shallow.  There’s a reason I’m not up to date on the classics of SFF. Have you seen those covers?  Anyway- rest assured, covers might grab my attention but they can’t sell me on looks alone.

The book description.  If the cover gets me to pick it up- it’s the description that will make or break the deal.  I’m referring to the book’s summary here.  (What I am not referring to, is all those taglines claiming “XYZ book is the next Game of Thrones.”)

It was given to me. I’ve had pretty good luck with giveaways the past couple years.  My mother almost always gifts me a book or two for my birthday or Christmas.  And then there’s the gifts I buy myself… you know.  That sort of thing.

What about you?  What makes you pick up a book?

Book Review: Mahimata (Asiana #2) by Rati Mehrotra

Mahimata Asiana 2 Rati Mehrotra

Rating:  ★★★

Blurb from GoodReads:  “A young female assassin must confront the man who slaughtered her family, risk her heart, and come to terms with her identity as a warrior and as a woman in this thrilling fantasy from the author of Markswoman.”

This started stronger than it finished, and I don’t think it was as good as the first book, Markswoman. I think the big issue here is that a lot of those standardized YA Fantasy tropes Mehrotra managed to avoid in book one, had a full throttle, pedal to the medal presence here.

The romance was a huge focus this time around. For the record, I hate complaining that romance exists in a book- because I actually like romance. Claire and Jamie, Edward and Elizabeth, Elizabeth and Darcy, truly, it’s a favorite theme of mine. What I don’t like, is when we spend pages and pages straight up day dreaming of the significant other. That was how this romance often felt. There are barriers to Kyra’s relationship with Rustan, but none of them ever felt all that challenging.

Another one of the things that I loved in Markswoman, was that Kyra never felt like a special snowflake to me in the first book. She made mistakes, she became an outcast, etc. Here special snowflake syndrome is alive and swinging. I can’t say much without spoilers, but every single scene felt like it was dedicated to how special, how much better/braver/stronger/smarter she was then everyone else. I did a lot of eyerolling.

Finally- this novel requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. The relationships between these people were just not believable. Kyra upends centuries of fear and tradition regarding the wyr-wolves for no other reason than that she’s the Mahimata of the Order of Kali. All the elders and other clans just sort of accept her rule. She’s enlisted to lead a significant battle, where the odds are stacked heavily against her, despite never having been in one and only being like 18/19 years old.  It just didn’t feel believable.

Despite all this, there were still parts I enjoyed. The introduction of the wyr-wolves was wonderful and probably my favorite part. The overall plot wasn’t bad, even if it was wholly unbelievable and a little generic. There were a lot of great ideas at play, the hall of mirrors, the Sahirus, the hub and transport system. It was also a very quick read- and I tend to be more forgiving of those.

The ending was both abrupt and bizarre. Nothing was really explained. Kyra and Rustan got an ending but literally no one else. This book really needed a conclusion or an epilogue of some sort to make it feel complete. I reviewed an advance copy so it’s entirely possible my copy simply didn’t have it, but I was definitely left wanting more (and not really in a good way).

I know this review overall sounds very negative, but I am giving it three stars.  On my scale, three stars could probably be described as “Neither liked it nor didn’t like it” or “Not bad”.  If you enjoyed the first book, it’s probably worth reading the second just to see how it all ends. I’ll be curious to see what Mehrotra does now that this duology is complete. Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with an eARC to review.

Mahimata can be purchased on Amazon here.

My review of book one, Markswoman, can be found on GoodReads here, if you are interested.

Top Ten Tuesday: Upcoming releases that haven’t convinced me yet

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week topic is new releases that you aren’t sure you should add to your TBR.  I have a whole shelf of these books on GoodReads called “Read Me Maybe”.  It’s an exclusive shelf so they really don’t go onto my TBR, but I also have some I haven’t even bothered to add to that.  The thing is- although I’m a book blogger, I really don’t have the time or the patience to be a guinea pig.  I prefer to read stuff at least one of my GoodReads buddies has already read, so I can gauge whether or not a book is worth the time to invest.  I don’t want to go around DNFing every 3 star book that comes my way but I’d prefer to read 4 and 5 star books… so… yeah.

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Shadowblade by Anna Kashina – A fantasy about a sword wielding woman who must assume the identity of a lost princess because… reasons.  Here’s the thing- I love dark, gritty fantasy with kick-ass women.  But the lost princess/switch places trope has been done so many times.  Furthermore- I can’t list you a single book that used that trope that I’d read again (or even recommend).

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Dahlia Black by Keith Thomas – Described as “World War Z” meets “The Southern Reach”, this an oral history of the Pulse, the alien code that hacked human DNA.  First- I didn’t love the Southern Reach trilogy, but I have a lot of respect for VanderMeer as a writer. He writes really bizarre science fiction and finds a way to make it sound literary.  So if you’re going to compare yourself to him, you have some big shoes to fill.  Second, I didn’t really like World War Z.  I listened to the full cast audio, which was great.  But the celebrity appearances and only a handful of those chapters had me really excited.  Most of them were boring.  You already know the ending- if they are telling you how they survived the zombie apocalypse- they survived didn’t they?  I’m worried Dahlia Black will be the same way.

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The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson – This one I can tell you is probably most definitely not going on my TBR.  In 2017, long before I started this blog, I went through a really bad year of YA fantasy novels, and it sort of soured me on the genre (age group?).  Let me first say- that I don’t think all YA is bad.  Most of those novels were a solid three stars (please refer back to paragraph two). Sebastien de Castell writes the Shadowblack series which I love.  SJ Kincaid wrote The Diabolic and The Empress, and I will totally read book three when it is released.  I added The Storm Crow because the idea seemed pretty fresh, but I’m still pretty skeptical.

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The Farm by Joanne Ramos – Would you like to live in total luxury for nine months?  Would you like to get rich quick?  All you have to do, is agree to go to the Farm, which you cannot leave and know that everything you do is being monitored and watched while you produce the perfect baby for uber-rich clients.  It sounds like a modern twist on The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’m totally sold on the hook, but also concerned that the contemporary setting will totally bore me.

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Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse – This is the sequel to last year’s Trail of Lightning (review here). To sum it up- Trail of Lightning wasn’t bad, but it had some issues, plot threads that went nowhere, a romance with a quintessential bad boy… But- Roanhorse’s world was imaginative and new.  I’ve since read her short story, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” and was really impressed.  When I finished I remembered thinking, how in the hell did the same author write Trail of Lightning?  Now that I know she can do better, I’m leaning much closer to giving book two a shot.

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Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller – This is another YA novel that has me on the fence. Warrior-girl has her coming-of-age trial sabotaged and is exiled to the wild.  I kept seeing the term Vikings stamped everywhere in relation to this book so it was an instant add.  Then I saw something from the author making very clear that it was “Vikings inspired”.  Which to me is saying she took her characters, made them warlike and gave them axes (i.e. not vikings anything).  So I moved it from my TBR to Read-me-maybe.  Also- thank you to the author for clarifying.

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The Redemption of Time by Baoshu – This is a “fan-written” tie in to Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem.  Which is really sort of cool?  I loved The Three Body Problem.  I loved it’s weirdness, I loved it’s humor, I loved the suspense.  I didn’t love the next two entries in the series: The Dark Forest and Death’s End.  They were too long.  They were not humorous.  Death’s End in particular was incredibly sexist.  And in the end I felt like they didn’t have a point and I just sort of wanted the time I spent reading them back.  Needless to say- I’m a little skeptical here.  I am curious if this new author will manage to bring back some of the things I loved about The Three Body Problem.

I didn’t quite make it up to ten this week.  I haven’t done a great job keeping track of the up-and-coming beyond January/February.  Leave a link below with your list so I can come check it out!  Maybe you’ve got something on yours that I didn’t know I was dying to read.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Last ten books added to my TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Okay – so this post is going up super late tonight.  I didn’t have time to write it in advance this weekend, but I really wanted the chance to talk about something new because I feel like I do such a good job of beating everyone over the head with my favorite books.  These aren’t in order of favorites or anything- just the order they were added to my TBR.

The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick – Alison comes across an old painting in an antique shop.  She’s told it’s of Anne Boleyn, but Alison knows it’s Mary Seymour.  The daughter of Katherine Parr and Henry VIII who went missing in 1557…it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.  As soon as I read the description I was pretty much sold. It seems like it’s a little bit fantasy, a little bit mystery, a little historical fiction.  I love genre benders like this, and I love anything tied to Henry VIII’s reign.  The dude was bat shit crazy and 450 years later- crazy kings bring me crazy joy.

God’s Hammer (Hakon’s Saga #1) by Eric Schumacher – This is a viking saga set during the making of England.  The fact that it’s vikings was enough to sell me- throw in a 4.17 rating on GoodReads and the current 99 cent price point, and I guess I’m pretty well sold.

Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin – This is one I’m actually less sure about then the others.  I added it because I saw a rave review somewhere and because it sounds pretty fascinating in terms of what it does with language, but the truth is it’s a 30+ year old book and that makes me hesitate.  The gist of it is: women are property again (a la Atwood) and when they are past child bearing age without children they must retire to the barren house.  Linguists are necessary to keep the interstellar economy afloat and Nazareth is the most talented linguist of all, but all she wants to do is retire to the barren house.  When she gets there, she discovers a revolution is brewing using an entirely new language the barren women have created.

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – This is one a collection of short fiction nominated for the Phillip K. Dick award this year.  I’ve been enjoying shorter fiction ever since this terrible reading slump hit and with a title like Alien Virus Love Disaster how could I say no?

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – As embarrassing as this is to admit, I’ve never read a single book by Sanderson, and I know he’s one of giants of modern fantasy fiction. I picked this one mostly because I liked the cover and because it was YA so I figured it would be a little easier to digest.

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon – My first love is and always will be, horror.  Ghost stories, monster stories, supernatural anything- I love it.  This is a book about a couple who buys a house, and discovers it has a violent and tragic past.  As the wife sources materials for her new home, she becomes obsessed with the lives of the Breckenridge women who occupied the home before.  It’s due to release April 30th, 2019.

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan – This is a grim dark fantasy that I’ve seen getting rave reviews by book bloggers left and right.  From GoodReads: “When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy…”  A thieves guild and three thieves that are an orphan a ghoul and a cursed man?  I don’t even need to read the rest of the blurb.

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor – This is another book I’m not too sure about.  I added it on a whim after it was nominated for SciFi Fantasy’s Book Club monthly read.  “Historians” (read: time travelers) investigate major historical events in contemporary time from the Cretaceous period to World War I.  I’m not sure what the actual plot is but the hook seems interesting. (Please let there be dinosaurs.)

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell – I really enjoyed last year’s The Silence of the Girls and Circe.  And while I didn’t love The Lost Queen, I do love the idea of giving women a voice in time periods and stories that are usually otherwise voiced by men.  Shadow on the Crown is centered on Emma of Normandy, wife of King Athelred of England in 1002.  Courtly drama, romance, viking invasions, and (hopefully) historically accurate (as possible) events could make for a truly fantastic story.

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The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung – This book was the winner of Mark Lawrence’s first self published fantasy blog off in 2015.  I’ve only read one of his books- but I’m crazy in love with Mark Lawrence as an author, (for many reasons besides his wicked writing skills) so I added it for just that reason.  I’m told it contains plenty of gruesome violence, but between the spunky title and the purple watercolor cover, I’m getting more of a YA vibe.  Either way- I’m excited to read this and check out some of the other winners of Mark’s blog off.

What about you?  What have you recently added?  Link to your TTT below so I can check it out- I’m always looking to add more!