Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: Deviants of Giftborn (Etherya #1) by Zuri Amarcya

Deviants of Giftborn (Etherya #1) by Zuri Amarcya
Rating: 3.75 stars
Source: Copy provided by the author
Buy the Book: Amazon 
Summary: "Better deviant than dead. 

Raised among hostile, violent beggars, Nemma longs for the safety of her family and a better quality of life. She uses trickery and brute force to survive, but living among the desperate has its risks. When she inadvertently kills two powerful magiens, with a power she didn’t realize she had, she is forced to flee and seek help. This sets in motion a chase that will have a fatal end for her if she is unable to escape the all-powerful Sovereign Order. 

Ambitious merchant, Clisantha, manipulates others to work her way up the social hierarchy in Torak City. She uses her illegal powers to preserve her status, scrutinize her devious Lord stepfather and meddle with a mysterious magien. However, when hidden memories of her long-deceased father resurface, she becomes absorbed in the mystery surrounding his death, forcing her to put herself, her beliefs and everything she has strived for at risk. 

Nemma and Clisantha’s lives collide and revolve as they fall deeper into the secrets of their past, revealing a truth far more devastating than they could ever have imagined. 
Deviants of Giftborn is the first installment of The Etherya Series, a thrilling epic fantasy saga exploring the cost of consequence, justice and power. If you like compelling action, determined heroines, and magical societies, Zuri Amarcya’s adventurous and enchanting tale is perfect for you."

Review: First off, I want to thank the author for forwarding a copy of her novel to me.  Thank you!  I also want to reassure my readers that this has had no impact on my review.   On to the review!

The first thing that stood out to me is the world building.  This is a very imaginative world, complete with a competitive economy, class struggles, corruption, and misogyny, and with an original and interesting magic system.  It reminded me a little bit of Sanderson's Mistborn series, actually, and I think fans of that series would do well to look into this series as well.  Though I have to be honest, I can tell that this world was better defined in the author's mind than in mine.  I got the gist, but wished it was less fuzzy overall. And the misogynistic elements were frustrating.

About the characters, I noticed that the female characters covered a wide range in personality, morality, looks, habits, strengths, and weaknesses.  Brava!  I didn't know how to pronounce a lot of the names, but I appreciated the range in characterization. 

There are themes of friendship and choice and power, but they aren't explored too widely. Maybe in the next book.  I don't really take issue with this though.  It bothers me a lot more when books have an Agenda.  This book was just trying to tell a story.  Much more enjoyable than an Agenda Book.

Ms. Amarcya does a great job with her action scenes.  There were real moments of adventure and excitement.  The chapters between the action scenes were quite slow, alas.

This book tells this story through rotating perspectives from two very different people, and I never was confused as to which protagonist's head I was in. (Yay!)  The two stories don't connect or build on each other very well, however. I often felt like I was reading two different books.  

And while we're talking about the two protagonists' stories, I have another grievance.  The blurb mentions that the two protagonists lives "collide and revolve as they fall deeper into the secrets of their past," which is true, but I think is a little bit misleading.  I was expecting them two to connect much sooner than they did.  Truly, the amount of time Nemma and Clisantha spend in each others' presence is extremely small.  Perhaps it was a case of mismatched expectations, but from the blurb I thought they two would become a dynamic duo to overthrow the injustices around them.  In reality, their two lives rarely touched.  I liked both characters and enjoyed reading both stories, but I didn't think their respective stories flowed together the way they should have.

All in all, it's a fun new fantasy story, if not completely polished.  I'd give it a go if you like fantasy and are looking for a new series to entertain you.  It ends on a cliffhanger, though, so don't expect much closure!
Review in a GIF:
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Bottom Line: An entertaining new fantasy series, though it's got a few issues.  Still fun.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Mini-reviews: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. 

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. 

A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard."

ReviewThis one snuck up on me. I almost DNFed about twenty times, and then I found myself requesting its sequel from the library. It's a slow burn for sure, with the first 150 pages being exceptionally slow. And it ended rather abruptly without any real conclusion. But some of the scenes were real lessons in masterful writing. And Qvothe is such a likable rogue.  While I ended up liking much of the book by the end, I'm still torn on my feelings for it as a whole.

Review in a GIF:
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The Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.

My name is Kvothe.  I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trehon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.  You may have heard of me.

So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man's Fear, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King's Road.

All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived...until Kvothe.

In The Wise Man's Fear
, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time."

ReviewI really enjoyed this high fantasy. Qvothe is a really spectacular character. I was engrossed in his adventures, and enjoyed speculating about the mysteries. I am concerned about how past-Qvothe turns into present-Qvothe. I hope this isn't a tragedy in the end, but all the times present day Qvothe insists that this isn't a happy story has me worried. The thing I am the most concerned about, however, is that there is no release date for book three yet. This is a complex story with a large cast. Hurry up and release the last book before I forget anything!!

Review in a GIF:
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Monday, September 5, 2016

Dream Cast List: Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

I recently finished Pierce Brown's Morning Star (review coming soon!) which means I've got the Red Rising Trilogy on the brain.  It's been a while since I've done a dream cast list, so how about it?  Have you read this series?  What did you think?  Tell me your thoughts about my picks!

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Darrow played by Liam Hemsworth
Character Info: Protagonist, conflicted rebellion leader, described post-transformation as being angular, strong, brave, secretive, over 7' tall with golden hair, skin, and eyes.
Comments: I'm not sure Liam would want to do another adaptation since he just finished Hunger Games not too long ago, but I think he fits the Darrow look, and he's appropriately teen-heart-throb-y, so ratings.

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Mustang played by Georgina Haig
Character Info: Brilliant Gold, very clever and calculating, an excellent strategist and diplomat.  Accused of being manipulative.  Described as slender with gold hair and eyes.
Comments: This one is hard to cast, since Mustang needs to have the right combination of clever, vulnerable, and deadly.  Who would you cast?

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Cassius played by Dylan O-Brien
Character Info: Arrogant and charming Gold, excellent fighter, believes in honor.  Described as being exceptionally handsome, having curly golden hair and a big smile.
Comments: Am I right or am I right?

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Sevro played by Richard Harmon
Character Info: Sneaky, witty, and crude Gold whose loyalty is hard to get, but once you have it he's yours for life.  Leader of the Howlers.
Comments: I'm not even going to take any other suggestions here.  It's Harmon as Sevro or else the entire production is getting shut down.

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The Jackal played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Character Info: A brilliant Gold psychopath, sister to Virginia, son to Nero, loyal to himself before all others.
Comments: I just want to see him as the bad guy.  Something tells me he'd be fantastic.

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Nero au Augustus played by Jason Lewis
Character Info: ArchGovernor of Mars, father to Mustang and the Jackal, cold, calculating, at war with House Bellona.
Comments: I like his combination of intrigue and sharpness.

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Octavia au Lune played by Robin Wright
Character Info: The Sovereign of Society, arrogant, ruthless, but not a hypocrite- she really believes in the Society.
Comments: I went back and forth between Wright and Cate Blanchette, and I think both would work fine.  But I think Wright has just a touch more grit.  Personal preference, I suppose.

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Victra played by Cara Delevingne
Character Info: A powerful Gold, ruthless and blunt with trust issues.  Described as having nearly white blonde hair. Half sister to Antonia.
Comments: Could be awesome, no?

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Ragnar Volaris played by Dave Bautista
Character Info: A Stained Obsidian, one of the strongest and most deadly fighters in the galaxy.  Loyal to the rebellion.  Wise, massive, and stoic.
Comments: Recognize him from Guardians of the Galaxy?  He was awesome there, and he'd be awesome here too.

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Pax au Telemanus played by Josh Herdman
Character Info: Large Gold who is a student at the Institute with Darrow.  Values loyalty and friendship.
Comments: I wouldn't say that Pax is a Slytherin.  But I do sometimes think we sort too early.

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Antonia played by Rachel Skarsten
Character Info: A fellow student at the Institute with Darrow.  Described as beautiful, scornful, and cruel.  Half-sister to Victra.
Comments: I think Rachel has Antonia's intensity.

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Tactus played by Rami Malek
Character Info: A somewhat lost Gold, prefers sex and drugs to real relationships, tries to believe in friendship but struggles with his demons.  A bit of a loose cannon.
Comments: Because every film is better with Rami.

Aja played by Danai Gurira
Character Info: The Sovereign's chief bodyguard, perhaps the most skilled fighter alive, fiercely loyal to the Sovereign's cause.  Described as tall with dark skin.
Comments: I love her strength and ferocity.  She would make a great Aja.

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Fitchner played by Mackenzie Crook
Character Info: Sevro's father, a gruff and crass Gold with many scars.  Praetor at the Institute in Book 1.  Called a "bronze" (offensive term among Golds).
Comments: There's something about him that screams Fitchner to me, even though he's probably not the obvious choice.
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Roque played by Ki Hong Lee 
Character Info: Quiet and pensive Gold with an affinity for literature and nature.  Unusually gentle for a Gold.  Brilliant strategic mind.  Often called "The Poet."
Comments: I'm just a big fan of his.

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Quinn played by Antonia Thomas
Character Info: A fellow Gold at the Institute with Darrow.  Loyal to the rebellion.
Comments: YES.

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Eo played by Anna Popplewell
Character Info: A Red, Darrow's wife, a dreamer with a strong spirit who left a huge impact on her society.
Comments: I like Popplewell's aura of wisdom and spirit.  It doesn't take much more than that to spark a rebellion.

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Lorn au Arcos played by Mickey Rourke
Character Info: Renown Gold warrior and blademaster.  Teacher of many of the younger skilled warriors.  Older and scarred, but still believed to be one of the best fighters alive.
Comments: I'm not sold on this one.  But I can't find anyone else who I like more.

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Evey played by Margot Robbie
Character Info: A Pink who had wings crafted onto her body by Mickey.  Passionate and beautiful with green eyes.
Comments: It's not a huge part, but Margot would do nicely.

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Mickey played by Johnny Depp
Character Info: A Violet and a Carver responsible for Darrow's transformation.  Eccentric.
Comments:  Well Depp certainly has eccentric down pat.

What do you think?  Do you agree with my choices?  Who would you cast?  Tell me your thoughts!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Mini-reviews: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert; Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Rating: 4.25 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy."

Mini-reviewMs. Gilbert and I are very different people. I appreciated hearing her thoughts on something we are both passionate about, as she thinks so differently from me. This book was interesting and often funny, and I liked how conversational it felt. That being said, I strongly disagreed with her on a few points. I approach creativity very differently. I do not think ideas are their own entities, floating around trying to find humans to plant themselves in. That whole idea was extremely woo woo, I thought, and had me giving this book the serious side eye. I also disliked her stance on higher education in the arts and disagreed with her on the importance of the arts in society. That being said, I liked how positive she was about the whole creative process and enjoyed hearing her stories. I liked how encouraging she was, regardless of your age, skills, talents, time, or any other factor. And, most importantly, by the end I was majorly inspired to go do something creative, even if for no other reason than because I like it.

Review in a GIF:
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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the "Atlantic" writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people--a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens--those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color."

Mini-review: I feel weird giving this book a rating.  It's not a story so much as a history, a personal experience, or a lesson.  There is a lot of stuff to digest here, and I'd definitely recommend taking your time with it.  It's important reading, and this book needs to be out there.  Happily it is pretty well known by now.  I only wish there were more conversation on how to break out of or change the "dream" to not be destructive and exclusive, or what that new society would look like. But maybe that's a topic for another book.

Review in a GIF:
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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mini-reviews: Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty; Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld; The Crown by Kiera Cass

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old triplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Together, laughter, drama, and mayhem seem to follow them. But apart, each is dealing with her own share of ups and downs. Lyn has organized her life into one big checklist, Cat has just learned a startling secret about her marriage, and Gemma, who bolts every time a relationship hits the six-month mark, holds out hope for lasting love. In this wise, witty, and hilarious novel, we follow the Kettle sisters through their tumultuous thirty-third year as they deal with sibling rivalry and secrets, revelations and relationships, unfaithful husbands and unthinkable decisions, and the fabulous, frustrating life of forever being part of a trio."

ReviewLots to like, with Moriarty's signature ability to get you to empathize with every character, flaws and all. But it's pretty clear that this is her first novel. Her later work is much more polished. And I lacked that ache I usually feel at the end of one of her novels, not wanting it to be over.  I'm still glad I read this one, but it's not anywhere near my favorites of hers.

Review in a GIF:
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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Rating: 2 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .  And yet, first impressions can be deceiving."

I'm still not wholly convinced that this book isn't so much a retelling of Pride & Prejudice as a parody. It removes all the endearing and lovable moments and character traits and leaves all the ugly. I hated everyone, and was frustrated that this novel tainted such a beloved story. Was the moral supposed to be that only Mary has life figured out, and everyone else is just stupid? That's what the epilogue seems to suggest. And that's absurd. Especially considering this version of Mary.

Angst aside,  I thought the portrayal of Kitty and Lydia as paleo/crossfit enthusiasts was dead perfect.  They're annoying and selfish in both versions, so I guess I wasn't so upset that I hated them in this version since I hate them in the original too.  And I did read it in about two days, so there's that.
Review in a GIF:
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The Crown by Kiera Cass
Rating: 2.5 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined."

ReviewI wish I knew this was a duology. I was expecting a trilogy and therefore was confused about the pacing in the second half of the novel. It's the same old cupcake you get with all the other Selection books, though this round of Selection has a less likable protagonist and less political unrest, therefore less tension. Still, I like cupcakes, though this one was sort of a forgettable flavor. Still tasty enough, though by tomorrow I doubt I'll remember I ate it.

Review in a GIF:
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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Mini-reviews: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future."

Mini-reviewHow did I never do a review for Cinder?  I actually read this book about 4 years ago, loved it, recommended it to everyone, and then never continued the series until a friend bought book 2 for me a few months ago.  The story was a bit predictable, but that didn't stop it from being awesome.  What a fun, unique spin on fairy tale retellings.  I especially like Cinder as a character.  I had a blast with this one, and am glad I was pushed to finish the series, because it was awesome.

Review in a GIF:
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Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Gifted
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner."

Mini-review: A lot of fun! Cinder and Thorne and Kai and Wolf were all so interesting, their stories crashing together and building into what's sure to be another suspenseful and wild ride in the next book. Scarlet herself felt like the weakest link in this book, and though her temper and her impulsivity sometimes grated, and though her romance felt a tad forced, it wasn't enough to stop my enjoyment of the story.

Review in a GIF:
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Cress by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "In this third book in Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she's just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she'd ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has."

Mini-reviewThis book is just a whole lot of fun. Cress is no Cinder, but I still just couldn't put this book down. I love compulsively readable books like this.  This book is so fantastically compelling that it merited 5 stars purely for the fun factor.

Review in a GIF:
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Winter by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series."

Mini-reviewI blew right through this one. Another compulsively readable book, which is certainly nothing to scoff at considering the length of this novel (800+ pages). There are a lot of pros to this book. Such as: I had a lot of fun! A lot, a lot of fun. This book was action packed, and certain moments had my heart racing because of Meyer's unpredictability. The plot was intricate and exciting and at times really breathtaking. The way the Snow White fairy tale was weaved into this story was very clever. I am satisfied with this conclusion, and feel closure with the story. I will miss these characters, especially Cinder and Thorne. (The moment with the high five was spectacular.) I loved that friendship was just as important in this story as romance. I appreciated how everyone felt distinct and individual. I think these stories would make a banging film series. Also, I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to visit Luna. That being said, there were a few things I didn't luuuurrrrve as much as I wanted to. Such as:
-The revolution felt way oversimplified. There was some commentary about sacrifice for the greater good, but every decision to be made in the book had a pretty clear right decision vs. wrong decision, whereas in reality things are much grayer and messy and complicated than that. 
-Relatedly, there is a pretty bad case of white horse/black horse syndrome going on. It felt like this world was split into good people and death eaters. Everyone was either totally heroic or else they were selfish, ignorant, and cruel. I would have preferred more variety on both sides, and for the characters' moral compasses to be less in sync. (I wanted for people with good intentions to disagree on the best course of action, for example. I don't know if I'm making sense here. It makes sense in my head.)
-I was a little confused about one of the characters in the end, and I didn't get quite as much resolution about another character, but on the whole I was satisfied with this series.  It was a whole lot of fun and I'm glad I read it.

Review in a GIF:
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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2016 First and Second Quarters Reading Report

Oh, hello.  Yes, I'm still here.  I had a bunch of holds come through at the library all at once and was busy trying to get through them all before they were due back.  On the bright side, I got a lot of reading done in July.  On the not-so-bright side, none of those books will be featured in this post because I'm only talking about the books I read between January and June.  :)

In the first two quarters of 2016 I read a total of 13 books.  This whole year is definitely a low-reading year, which I blame entirely on my adorable children and the fact that we moved this year.  But at least I got a few books in!  Here are the books I read:

  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (2.75 stars) - In concept, this book was brazen, imaginative, and gutsy.  In execution, however, this book was really, really bloody boring.
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (3.5 stars) - A gripping and disturbing mystery that I really should not have read.
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (4 stars) -  A slower political fantasy peppered with some pretty spectacular moments of excitement.
  • The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty (4.5 stars) - Charming, fun, witty, a little gritty, and everything else Moriarty is known for.  I was especially touched by the devastatingly accurate portrayal of PPD.
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (4 stars) - Not my favorite in the series, but still a fun read. (How do I not have reviews posted for this series yet?)
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer (5 stars) - Definitely my favorite in the series.  I could not put this book down.  Full review to come.
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer (4 stars) - I thought the revolutionary aspect of the story was way oversimplified, but I enjoyed the cast and had a fun time reading.
  • The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (4 stars) - An emotionally intelligent YA revolutionary novel, though I missed Kestrel's mind from the earlier books.
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (4 stars) - Exhilirating and original, with a LOT of violence and an unfortunate level of crass.  
  • The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (3.25 stars) - I give this series major props for originality, but wish it spent more time answering my questions than giving me new ones.  I'll definitely be reading book 3 when it comes out, though.
  • Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4.25 stars) - Short, funny, and thought-provoking.  This book raises a lot of questions in a mostly light and conversational way.  This would be a good book club choice.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (DNF) - This book has so many positive reviews, but I just couldn't do it.  Nothing I did could get me into this story.  Apologies to the fans.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (4.5 stars) - This book was not a happy story  and yet I left it feeling hopeful. Believing in beauty and truth and love. Believing that good can come from strange back doors. And believing that even if life is one giant game of Screw You, there's a way to play that game joyfully.
And here are some graphs:

It is becoming abundantly apparent that I am quite liberal with my 4-star rating.  What can I say, I read a lot of good books.  :)

How were your first two quarters?