Q&A Review: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Q&A

Written by: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 264, hardcover
Series: Rebel Belle, #3
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Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend—her world goes crazy all over again.

Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenage girls into Paladins—and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from.  Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town…which means her life is on the line yet again.

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings the fun once again in the finale of this pitch-perfect romantic paranormal comedy series.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The fact that a large portion of it was an all-female road-trip, with three very different girls fighting evil together! I love the role that Harper’s relationships with Bee and Blythe played in the series, and how much we got to learn about Blythe. The humor in the series is, as always, on point.

2) Favorite character?

Blythe plays a bigger role in the book than she did in the previous one, and I appreciated every moment of her–her practical, ruthless thought process, her sass, the parallels between her and Harper, and the relationship they developed.

3) Worst part of this book?

The ending fell really, really flat for me. Pretty much the second they walked into the cave, I knew exactly what was going to happen. It was forced, and predictable, and I have never ever read a book where the particular trope the author used actually worked.

4) Favorite Quote?

“What’s a pretty thing like you want with a sword anyway?”
“She’s going to use it to castrate guys who ask stupid questions,” Blythe answered for me, her voice flat.

5) Was it what’s expected?

Yeah, pretty much. It was predictably, but fun and lady-centric and generally a fitting end to the series.

 

Pickup

If you’ve read the first two books, you’ll probably read this one anyway. But yes, this series is worth finishing.

 

Sondra

Book Review: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

BookReview

Written by: Lucy Keating
Release Date: April 12th 2016
Pages: 336, hardcover
Series: Standalone
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Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC!

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Vibrantly offbeat and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel combines the unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han.

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

LetsTalk

That awkward moment when you’re the person who loves all the books and you become the black sheep…oops? I went to log this one into GoodReads only to realize that nearly all of my friends had rated this one 4 or 5 stars when for me this book was 3.5 maybe?

It’s an odd feeling to be on the outside, I’ll tell you that. But it also made me go back and wonder what was wrong with Dreamology, and I came up rather empty. I just didn’t ship it super hard? Was it because of the characters? Was it because of the way the story was played out? Was it because of my deep love of Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken and how similar the two were? I don’t know what it was about this book exactly but lets look at some exact details.

Didn'tWork

Here’s where we get to the root of it, I don’t think this book was what I expected. I expected some fantasy, excitement, some really cool connection between these two that leads to something magical, instead their dreams were explained as a scientific experiment gone awry. So we scratch the magical aspect for something more simplistic.

Then comes the couple, while they were adorably cute, there just seemed to be moments where they didn’t feel really…real to me. I had some issues with choices Alice and Max both made. I guess once again I was expecting more fantasy less realistic?

DidWork

I did enjoy the book overall! Like As a whole experience I didn’t DNF the book, I read the whole thing and almost binge read it took. It was a solid 3.5 star read. It wasn’t a new favorite, it wasn’t a book I was going to rush and buy instantly, but I did enjoy it.

I did enjoy some of the ways that the book dealt with the two going from these dreams to reality. Some of it felt a little weird, but overall it was nice seeing that Max had another life outside of the dreams. I enjoyed seeing the two of these characters grow together and learn how to deal with their medical problems together. (Although the fact that a large plot of the book was medical issues thanks to their dreams was something that was…weird.)

Pickup

Overall I’m glad to have read the book, but I don’t plan on purchasing it any time soon, nor do I plan on really ever rereading it. So if you’re curious about it I recommend checking it out from the library first.

Sondra

ARC Review: Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

Written by: Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson
Release Date: April 5th 2016
Pages: 345, Hardcover
Series: Standalone
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The story follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts.

Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.

LetsTalk

Gena/Finn. Boy where do I start. I’ve told many people if I was rating this books first half it would’ve been 5 stars, if I was rating the second half alone it would be 2. So I guess overall I’m giving it 3.5? I don’t know. This book started out so high. These two girls becoming friends, and falling in love, the story told through emails and texts, fandom being such a huge part of their lives…It was all just so amazing and wonderful, I was speeding through this book at record speeds, I was texting people saying you have to get this book.

Then at the midway point things went dark. Which I don’t mind! The moment the girls realize that it’s time to throw caution to the wind and be together! That climatic moment where they realize they love each other! That amazing cliché moment of contemporaries that I love………but it never came.

One of the elements of this book is that Gena writes “Fix it” fanfiction where she changes the ending of the episode to make everyone happy. Whelp. I need fix it fanfic for the end of Gena/Finn.

Didn'tWork

The entire end. Like actually the final page I was trying to get my Kindle to move forward because the book was FINALLY getting back on its feet and yet… that was the end of the story? I was left confused and wholly unsatisfied.

The romance, UGH. There’s no way for me to not talk about this without spoilers so SPOILER WARNING. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS TO FOLLOW. This book was set up and even pitched as this great romance between these two girls. Yet by the end of the book one of the girls has practically completely agreed to be with her boyfriend again, and the other girl is being set up with another guy. This wonderful homosexual romance has been shattered for heterosexual romances on both ends. m/m romances are so well represented in books that I was so excited for a f/f romance! Finally the representation! For the two girls to be bisexual was even better! But then it was shattered on the ground. Leaving me feeling so upset and really angry truthfully. OKAY END SPOILERS END SPOILERS AND END RANT.

DidWork

As let down as I was by the ending of this book I was as thrilled with the first half of the book. Honestly the first half had me grinning and squealing and laughing so brightly. I fell in love with these two girls, which stayed true even as I felt the authors betrayed them in the end. Gena and Finn reminded me of so many online friendships I’ve had (Even if all of those relationships have stayed strictly platonic). I loved this look at fangirls, the way that we act and feel was so accurately represented here.

I also loved the formatting. The way we got to read the entire story was so great and riveting. I loved the emails and texts and even journal entries. I really am thrilled with this way of YA that is showing a new and different way to write. I would love to see so much more of it.

Pickup

I’m… so torn I guess. I won’t be buying this book. I was that let down from the book. But I will never tell you to not read a book.    But I will honestly suggest getting this one from the library, or borrowing from a friend before rushing to the store and buying it.

Sondra

ARC Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Written by: Sarah Rees Brennan
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 368, Hardcover
Series: Standalone
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Thank you to HMH Kids and Edelweiss for the ARC!

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Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…

LetsTalk

In freshman year Modern World, I was assigned a book called A Tale of Two Cities, and it ruined my life. (No, seriously. I remember sitting in the bathtub crying about Sydney Carton.)

Five years later, I picked up a book called Unspoken at the library, mostly because it had a cool cover, and it ruined my life. (I’ve already talked about this multiple times. I love Sarah Rees Brennan, but she makes no secret of how much she enjoys our pain).

Soon after finishing the Lynburn Legacy, I went through Sarah Rees Brennan’s tumblr and found, to my delight, that she was writing a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, with magic rings and doppelgangers and a heroine with a dark secret. For obvious reasons, I immediately began counting down the days until the book’s release. As it turned out, I didn’t have to count as long as I expected, because I got approved for an ARC on Edelweiss.

Predictably, I loved Tell the Wind and Fire. It didn’t attach itself to my heart quite as much as her other series, which I’m chalking it up to being a standalone, but it still made me laugh and cry so much. The combination of the original story and Sarah Rees Brennan’s characters and world was just perfect–there was enough of the original to make me feel like I was revisiting the story that I love, and enough new stuff for it to feel like its own thing. As always, Sarah Rees Brennan’s greatest strengths are her characters and dialogue–Lucie is up there with Kami Glass and Sin Davies for me, and Carwyn’s snarky comments are just a delight–and then the end of the book happens and he hits me in the feelings.

Which reminds me–I cried harder over the end of this book than I have over almost any other book this year, which is particularly impressive since I pretty much already knew how it was going to end.

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ARC Review: The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

Written by: Jodi Meadows
Release Date: April 5th 2016
Pages: 544, hardcover
Series: The Orphan Queen, #2
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Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC!

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Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.

LetsTalk

So if y’all read my review of The Orphan Queen (Here) you’ll have noticed that it was a really interesting reading experience for me. And we won’t talk about that ending, so help me. So when I got an ARC of The Mirror King I dove in months early(I’m writing this review all the way back in October of 2015 you guys) just because I couldn’t resist the siren call.

This book was so much better than The Orphan Queen.

The Orphan Queen had a lot of bumps in the road as we tried to get the hang of the characters, and the world building info dump, and let’s not forget how predictable certain aspects were. But The Mirror King has none of those problems. We’re able to hit the ground running and move forward into something that was absolutely fantastic.

The Mirror King wraps up the duology, while this is a new trend in YA it’s one I really love. It gives us a chance to get more than a standalone, but we don’t have to wait years between books to get our hands on that final chapter. While I was worried for a bit about how in the world The Mirror King would tie up every single loose end(Especially when I was reaching the 75% mark and nothing was going right) I’m happy to say that I am so thrilled with how this book left me feeling.

Didn'tWork

My biggest didn’t work is unfortunately a spoiler, and not just a small spoiler but a large spoiler. I can’t even figure out a way to word this in a way that doesn’t give away something. So I guess I’m just going to have to say there’s a thing at the end that got on my nerves. If you want to know send me a message on twitter or something because I’m just not comfortable posting something that big here on the blog. Sorry guys…

I also wasn’t overly thrilled with the pacing at the end of the book. I’m always the one who wants more happiness, always, but The Mirror King seemed especially short changed on that front.

DidWork

I might be the freak of nature here, but the deaths. I won’t name names, but honestly if you’ve read a high fantasy you know there’s always deaths coming. But this time I just, I was happy with choices made and the way things played out.

Character arcs in this book were absolutely fantastic. Some characters grew into these amazing people that I just loved, and some characters came into their own to be able to control their lives and surroundings.

The Big Finale! In this book I really wasn’t sure how it was going to be a duology, I mentioned this before, but we have such a big problem in the Wraith, and the world as a whole crumbling. But I adored the big ending battle. I adored the way it played out.

Romance I love books where the romance is important, but it’s not the end all be all of the book. Not every chapter is dedicated to feelings and longing for the guy. Yes it’s mentioned, yes it’s there clearly, but it’s not overwhelming the story. Those romances are the absolute best, because they feel real. This is the kind of romance found in The Mirror King. It makes me so happy to see and to read, I just really ship it hard okay?

Pickup

Well I’m pretty sure after the cliffhanger that was The Orphan Queen you’ll be dying to read this one. But if you were waiting to hear if the second one would be good before picking up the series I can totally say yes. This series is really wonderful, and a really great high fantasy with some different takes on some great old tropes.

Sondra

Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Written by: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Pages: 1008, hardcover
Series: The Stormlight Archive #1
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Speak again the ancient oaths,
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.

Roshar is a world of stone swept by tempests that shape ecology and civilization. Animals and plants retract; cities are built in shelter. In centuries since ten orders of Knights fell, their Shardblade swords and Shardplate armor still transform men into near-invincible warriors. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.

In one such war on ruined Shattered Plains, slave Kaladin struggles to save his men and fathom leaders who deem them expendable, in senseless wars where ten armies fight separately against one foe.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Fascinated by ancient text The Way of Kings, troubled by visions of ancient times, he doubts his sanity.

Across the ocean, Shallan trains under eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece Jasnah. Though Shallan genuinely loves learning, she plans a daring theft. Her research hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

LetsTalk

Brandon Sanderson. Wow. I… wow. 2015 appears to be the year of Polina Refuses to Shut Up About Brandon Sanderson.

(I talk about the second book as well as the first here, but there are no spoilers!)

Part of me wonders if it’s pointless to write this review, since I’ll basically be reiterating what I said in my review of the Mistborn trilogy. Worldbuilding? Complex, original, and fascinating, with a lot of room left for questions to be answered in future books. The action? As usual, Brandon Sanderson is the only author to write action sequences I care about. The characters? All real and well developed. This is definitely Brandon Sanderson’s most character driven work, and (with the possible exception of Mistborn) the one where I connected with the characters most strongly. Each book in the series focuses on a different character’s backstory, and the two we’ve had so far have made me very emotional.

But as mindblowingly awesome as everything else I’ve read from Sanderson has been so far, the Stormlight Archive is on another level. I don’t know how much of it I can explain, and how much it was just a case of The Right Book at the Right Time, but I clicked with the story much more intensely than I’d expected.

My biggest complaint about Mistborn was how few female characters there were aside from Vin, and I just love how much more of a female presence there is in Brandon Sanderson’s later series, including this one. (There are still more male prominent characters than female, so I don’t want to give him too much credit, but he’s still grown a lot in that regard since his earlier books). The characters we spend the most time with have a really interesting gender role system where the male domain is essentially fighting and leadership, and the female domain is scholarship. While the system has its own problems, it’s so different from what I would usually expect in high fantasy that I really enjoyed it.

Some things to note: the books are LONG. There is a lot going on, and a lot of characters, and a lot of questions left to explore, which is just how I like it. This is the series with the most connections back to the other Cosmere books, and characters from other worlds sometimes show up.

I just can’t wait to see what Brandon Sanderson does with the series. Even with his usual fast writing, I’ll probably be in my thirties by the time it’s over, which means I’ll always have something to look forward to.

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