Friday, January 27, 2017

Mini-reviews: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas; This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn


A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 4.5 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.74 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two."

ReviewThis one is hard to review without revealing spoilers. Suffice it to say, I was not expecting this story.  I'm surprised, and really, really happy. Way to take the unexpected route, Ms Maas, and way to rock it. The beginning of the book is a little slow, and the story arc doesn't conclude quite as strongly as the first book and that lack of resolution has me itching for the next one. But I really enjoyed the character development, the continued world building, and Fayre in particular. Well done, Maas, now GIVE ME THE NEXT ONE.

*Note: I've seen this series described as YA, but I strongly, strongly disagree. This is definitely an adult story.

Review in a GIF:
full house michelle tanner

Bottom Line: A passionate, intricate, and dazzling sequel to an intense series.  This is definitely a more HBO type series, however, so proceed with caution.



This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Rating: 2.75 stars
Goodreads Rating4.15 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives."

Review: This book got a lot of buzz when it first came out, largely due to its original premise and, supposedly, a really compelling plot.  To me, however, this book did not live up to the hype.  I don't want to give it a horrible review, though, because I recognize its originality and want to celebrate that.  It's unlike anything I've ever read before... And yet the story as a whole was so bland.  Generic.  It failed to get any sort of reaction out of me, either positive or negative.  I've seen Kate and August's characters in a million other books before, and therefore didn't really care about them the whole way through.  It's unfortunate, as there was a lot to get excited about at this book's onset.  Alas, it was not very compelling after all.

Review in a GIF:
meryl streep

Bottom Line: Despite its originality, this book did not sell me.  I'd skip it if I were you.



Unquiet Land (Elemental Blessings #4) by Sharon Shinn
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads Rating4.07 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Leah Frothen has returned home. But she can scarcely catch her breath before she is summoned by regent Darien Serlast, the man who made her a spy. Leah is reluctant to take on a new assignment, but Darien has dangled the perfect lure to draw her in…

Leah finds she enjoys the challenges of opening a shop catering to foreign visitors, especially since it affords her the opportunity to get to know Mally, the child she abandoned five years ago.

But when the regent asks her to spy on ambassadors from a visiting nation, Leah soon learns that everyone—her regent, her lover, and even her daughter—have secrets that could save the nation, but might very well break her heart."

Review: I really love this series, but this wasn't my favorite of them.  That being said, it was still a delight to read, and I compulsively absorbed every word.  It's a combination of a lot of things - a little mystery, a little romance, a little drama, and a little danger - but every element was handled well.  This story gets its rating partly because it fulfills my wishes.  The premise gives the story an undercut of menace, but on the whole it's comforting, warm, and fulfilling. I'm always happy when I finish a Shinn book.

Review in a GIF:
happy smile flirting marion cotillard bashful

Bottom Line: Sharon Shinn proves once again that she is a total goddess.  This series is recommended to anyone who likes character driven YA fantasy.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mini-reviews: Pottermore Presents #1, #2, and #3


Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies (Pottermore #1) by J.K. Rowling
Rating: 4.75 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.21 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "‘Minerva was the Roman goddess of warriors and wisdom. William McGonagall is celebrated as the worst poet in British history. There was something irresistible to me about his name, and the idea that such a brilliant woman might be a distant relative of the buffoonish McGonagall.’ – J.K. Rowling

Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing from the Pottermore archives: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com with some exclusive new additions. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.

These stories of heroism, hardship and dangerous hobbies profile two of the Harry Potter stories’ most courageous and iconic characters: Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. J.K. Rowling also gives us a peek behind the closed curtains of Sybill Trelawney’s life, and you’ll encounter the reckless, magical-beast-loving Silvanus Kettleburn along the way."

Review: The Potterverse is vast and rich, but only seldom are the moments when whole essays of knowledge come from The Queen herself.  I loved reading about the backstories of these beloved characters, each of whom contribute greatly to the series, but about whom we know very little outside how they impact Harry himself.  I was charmed.  It was so wonderful to get so much from Rowling, and it was a great way to get back into the wizarding world before seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Great, magical fun!

Review in a GIF:


Bottom Line: If you are a fan of the series, this will be a warm, enchanting walk through Potter nostalgia.  


Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists (Pottermore #2) by J.K. Rowling
Rating: 4.5 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.2 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "No Muggle Prime Minister has ever set foot in the Ministry of Magic, for reasons most succinctly summed up by ex-Minister Dugald McPhail (term of office 1858-1865): “their puir wee braines couldnae cope wi’ it.”’ – J.K. Rowling
Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com with some exclusive new additions. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.

These stories of power, politics and pesky poltergeists give you a glimpse into the darker side of the wizarding world, revealing the ruthless roots of Professor Umbridge, the lowdown on the Ministers for Magic and the history of the wizarding prison Azkaban. You will also delve deeper into Horace Slughorn’s early years as Potions master at Hogwarts - and his acquaintance with one Tom Marvolo Riddle."

Review: I loved every word.  These essays are a joy.  I knocked off half a star because I still have so many questions about Peeves that his chapter didn't answer, which was frustrating.  Nevertheless, I had such fun reading these.  If you're a fan, READ THEM.  It will delight you.

Review in a GIF:


Bottom Line: What more can I say?  This was such a delight to read.  If you're a big Potter fan, this will almost certainly make you fall in love with the Potterverse all over again.


Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Pottermore #3) by J.K. Rowling
Rating: 4.75 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.21 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "‘The Ministry of Magic felt strongly, however, that to construct an additional wizarding station in the middle of London would stretch even the Muggles’ notorious determination not to notice magic when it was exploding in front of their faces.’ – J.K. Rowling
Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.

Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide takes you on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll venture into the Hogwarts grounds, become better acquainted with its more permanent residents, learn more about lessons and discover secrets of the castle . . . all at the turn of a page."

Review: What can I say that I haven't already said... These booklets were just delightful.  They were enchanting and fun and magical and full of Jo's signature humor and insight.  I had such fun with these.  I feel a reread coming on!

Review in a GIF:
harry potter applause maggie smith

Bottom Line: In case you weren't aware from everything written above, I really loved these essays.  Highly recommended!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mini-Reviews: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson; The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson; The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh


Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.93 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "In LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos."

"Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'"

Jenny's first book, LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it's about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn't need a bit more of that?"


ReviewRaw, honest, brave, and so, so freaking funny. I love her dedication to live happily, smack in the face of her demons that are working so hard to crush her. Recommended* to anyone with a mental illness, and to anyone who knows someone with a mental illness. You will recognize so much of yourself/your loved ones in these pages. These stories will inspire you to live fearlessly, weirdly, and furiously, but most importantly, to just live.

(*Unless you are sensitive to language, in which case I'd definitely skip this one. I also give caution to those who, like me, have a bizarrely strong dislike for taxidermy. I liked it anyway, but all the dead animals made me majorly cringe.)


Review in a GIF

kangaroo scratching guitar hero funnys strumming

Bottom Line: I was so inspired by her commitment to be happy in spite of her mental illness (and maybe to spite her mental illness).  This book made me laugh and want to live more fully today.  To hell with mental illness.  That being said, I could have done without the taxidermy because gross.  And the level of crass was a bit much for my preference.




The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3 of 3) by Mary E. Pearson
Rating: 4.25 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.25 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance."

ReviewI was happy with the way this series ended, but thought this book alone could have used a bit more of an individual arc. That being said, I was impressed with Lia's fortitude and resilience, and really came to like some of the minor characters too. The Komizar is really a fantastic villain, though this book in the series focuses more on some of the other minor villains.  The use of stories and traditions are really well done here.  And I loved the role of the "gift" in the story. I kind of wished I had read these books back to back because they build heavily on each other and don't you leave with with much breathing space. So the fact that I had forgotten a few things since I read the last book (a year ago) was problematic. But once I regained my footing I had a great time with this novel. It was a compelling story with a heroine you can really root for.

Review in a GIF:
Playboy Fragrances happy excited nice clapping

Bottom Line: A really solid series with intriguing characters and a unique world.  I'm jealous of all of you who can now read the whole series back to back without waiting. Recommended!



The Rose & The Dagger (The Wrath & The Dawn #2 of 2) by Renee Ahdieh
Rating: 2.75 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.22 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again."

Review: Can I just take a moment to say how much I dislike the duology trend?  Seriously, book world, duologies are not a thing.  It's either a stand-alone, or a series.  And two books does not a series make.  It's one story, ripped in half, and sold in two parts in order to make more money.  It's irritating and unnecessary and stop please.

ANYWAY.  This book wasn't actually its own book, with a hook, rising action, climax, and denoument.  It was a continuation of its predecessor.  It failed to shine as much as the first in every way.  But it still managed to sparkle a bit in places.  It didn't get to be compulsively readable until the last 20%, which I enjoyed immensely, but the first 80% was a struggle.  An unnecessary struggle, since I would have enjoyed it much more had I just come off reading The Wrath & The Dawn, instead of waiting a year to get to the second half.  This could have been so much better if it were condensed and sold together with the first half as one book.  Its predecessor was so promising.  Sigh.

Review in a GIF:
game of thrones hbo annoyed ugh eye roll

Bottom Line: A disappointing conclusion, mostly because this story was obviously (poorly) cut in half in order to make money.  Also because the first one was so good.  This one was okay, but okay doesn't cut it with this series.