Audio Book Review: The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink And Jeffrey Cranor, Narrated by Mara Wilson

Book: The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, Narrated by Mara Wilson

Published March 2020 by HarperAudio|Run Time: 9 hours, 13 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Welcome To Night Vale #3

Genre: Adult Fiction

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel Welcome to Night Vale and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name, comes a book that is part The Haunting of Hill House, part The Count of Monte Cristo, and 100% about a faceless old woman who secretly lives in your home.

The latest installment in the Welcome to Night Vale universe is the story of the familiar and terrifying Faceless Old Woman. Her story is told in eerie flashbacks that reveal her initially idyllic and then tragic childhood on a Mediterranean estate in the early 19th century, her rise in the criminal underworld of Europe, a nautical adventure with a mysterious organization of smugglers, her plot for revenge on the ones who have betrayed her, and ultimately the story that continues after her death as her spirit travels for decades through the world until settling in modern Night Vale.

Interspersed throughout the Woman’s history, readers follow a present day story in Night Vale, as the Faceless Old Woman haunts, guides, and sabotages a man called Craig. In the end, the story of her current day dealings with Craig and her swashbuckling life story in 19th century Europe will come together in the most unexpected and horrifying way.

Part The Haunting of Hill House, part The Count of Monte Cristo, and 100% about a faceless old woman who secretly lives in your home.

I loved The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home!  I knew it was going to be a great book, and I pre-ordered it the second I heard there was going to be another Night Vale book.

I was really excited about this book in particular because we get the amazing backstory of one of my favorite Night Vale characters.  I don’t want to ruin anything for people who haven’t read it yet, but I loved learning more about her, and how she came to Night Vale.  I loved the reason she ended up there, and I loved seeing how she became the faceless old woman.

Of course, I did the audio book, which I highly recommend!  Mara Wilson is a great narrator, and I’m glad I went with the audio book!  She also is the voice of the Faceless Old Woman on the podcast, so I’m really glad she narrated the audio book.

I had no doubt about listening to the audio book because I’ve been listening to the podcast for years.  It’s been the same way with the previous audio books, and I have no doubt that it will be the same way with any other books Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor write.  Their books just work really well on audio, and I can’t imagine trying to read them in print.

I also want to say that you don’t need to listen to the podcast to know what’s happening in the book.  As a huge fan of the podcast, I am going to say that listening to it is a great idea, but not at all necessary to know what’s happening in the book.  I love that the books can be read without listening to the podcast first.

I still think you should listen to the podcast.  It’s awesome.

But this review is not about the podcast, it’s the book about a really cool character from one of my favorite podcasts.  She has such a great story, and I loved seeing her as a child to a teen to an adult to the faceless old woman we all know and love.  I loved seeing her in Night Vale with Craig, and I loved seeing it all come together.

I was surprised by how it came together, though I figured out one piece of it.  That didn’t take away my enjoyment of the story, because I liked seeing the journey.  That’s what I was here for, to see how the faceless old woman became the faceless old woman.

She is a lot more than that now, and now she has a face.  She’s just as real as Cecil, Carlos, and Hiram McDaniels, and I can’t wait to see more of her in the podcast.

5 stars.  I loved this book a lot, and I think it’s a must read!

Book Review: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Book: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Published March 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books|240 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The world is not tame.

Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she’s alone – and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.

I am glad I picked up Be Not Far From Me!  I really liked Ashley’s story, and I really liked this book!

If you like survival stories, this is the book for you!  I’m amazed Ashley managed to stay alive, but if anyone could, I think it would be her.  She seemed pretty equipped to stay alive, and definitely spent enough time both hiking in the woods and being outdoors to know how to stay alive long enough to get find someone who could get her help.

I knew she’d survive- this is YA after all, but I really liked seeing how she survived, alone in the forest, with an infection creeping up her leg.  I’m pretty impressed she got out of the forest relatively okay.  She has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

The fact that she went through a lot trying to get out of there…I don’t know know that I would have been able to do what she did in order to save herself.  Her recovery isn’t going to be just a physical recovery, but an emotional/mental one as well.

The writing was beautiful and you could tell in the way Ashley thought about the forest.  It was clear she had a lot of respect for the forest and nature and the circle of life.  It was clear she understood nature does what it does, and that the world is not a tame place to live.

The great outdoors is her home away from home, but in her time trying to get back home, she does realize that home is a pretty important place to be.  She realizes a lot, because she has a lot of time to think and appreciate what she has back at home.  I’d probably feel the same way if I were her.

Ashley was pretty easy to relate to, and I thought she handled everything pretty well.  I’m not sure I would have handled it that well, but I’m also not the hiking in the woods type.  I did like that about her, though.  It seems to fit her pretty well, and I think it’s pretty cool she’s into hiking.

I also really admire that she wanted to go back and find her former camp counselor.  I’d like to think I’d go back and get him, just so his family has closure but I think it would also terrify me after going through what she went through.  Ashley is pretty awesome, and she is most definitely a survivor.

4 stars.  I really liked Be Not Far From Me, and I especially liked the moment the title made sense.  It really fits what Ashley went through to survive.

 

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Book: The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Published February 2020 by Bloomsbury UK|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In this smart, heart-warming YA debut perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two teens find love when their lives are uprooted for their parents’ involvement in a NASA mission to Mars.

Cal wants to be a journalist, and he’s already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.

With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the “perfect American family.”

And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels–and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

I really liked The Gravity Of Us!  I was intrigued, of course, but also not sure if I would like it.  I am so glad I picked this book up!

I really liked Cal, and what I felt for him.  Especially with everything that happened with Kiera, who seemed so cool at first.  But she ended up not being as cool as I thought she would be, and what she did was pretty horrible.  And his life changed because of his dad’s desire to be an astronaut.  Who didn’t want to be an astronaut as a kid, though?

Life definitely wasn’t perfect in Houston, and not how reality t.v. made it seem.  He made fast friends with Leo and Kat, and overall, I liked seeing how the whole community came together to make the Mars mission happen.  There were a lot of ups and downs, of course, and Star Watch really took things out of context.  That wasn’t surprising at all, and it felt very realistic.  I loved how Cal stood up for Mrs. Bannon, and that overall, he wanted people to see things how they really were.  I’d definitely follow Cal, if he were a real person.

I loved that it was about keeping NASA funded and getting to Mars!  I don’t pay attention to NASA enough, but with reading this book, I felt really excited that they got to see people travel to Mars!  I can’t help but wonder if that’s what it was like when we went to the moon decades ago.

I really liked seeing that Cal’s family wasn’t perfect.  Leo’s family wasn’t perfect either, but I felt like this book really highlighted that things aren’t what they seem, and that we put people on a pedestal only to tear them down.  It was sad that this mission almost lost funding because of some things that came out about this particular mission.

Cal worked so hard to make things right, and it really made me believe in this mission and what they were trying to do.  There were so many people involved in making this happen, and I didn’t want anyone to lose their dream or their job because of some pretty terrible people.

I thought the romance was really cute, and I like Leo and Cal together.  I really hope it works out for them and that Leo figures out what he wants to do.  I’m also hoping things work for Cal, and that he gets to be the journalist he wants to be.

4 stars.  I really liked The Gravity Of Us, and I really recommend it, especially if you like cute romances or space!

Book Review: Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez

Book: Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez

Published January 2020 by Page Street Kids|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Woven In Moonlight #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

I liked Woven In Moonlight!  The description and the cover caught my attention, and I’m glad I read it!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like arranged marriage is starting to become a thing in YA fantasy.  Granted, characters aren’t actually getting married.  I can definitely think of a few books where characters are sent to the court of someone they’re supposed to marry.  For the most part, it’s not being demanded that they come to court to get married or their people will be destroyed.  This book is not as subtle where that is concerned.

The decoy Condesa concept was interesting.  I don’t get how Ximena’s people don’t know that she’s not the real Condesa.  Was she hidden away her whole life and no one knew what she looked like?  That was a little strange to me, but there’s nothing I could do about it.

I did like seeing how Ximena went from wanting the real Condesa on the throne to Atoc’s sister being on the throne.  The real Condesa didn’t make a big impression on me, to the point that I can’t remember her name. I do get why she felt betrayed by Ximena but I also get why Ximena acted the way she did.  Things aren’t what Ximena thought, and what she grew up knowing and experiencing as an Illustrian were completely different than Atoc’s people experienced.  Though I didn’t like Atoc, or agree with how he did things, something about how his people were treated seemed very familiar.

I liked how Ximena’s weaving came to life, and how the moonlight changed things in her pieces.  I crochet, so I definitely appreciated the work Ximena put into her craft.  I loved seeing the different animals from her tapestries on the cover, which is really beautiful.  It makes me wish I could see the tapestries in person.  The cover is partly why I picked this book up- the colors are pretty and bold but also muted.

Things felt very resolved, but it also felt like there is the possibility of a sequel.  I’d be interested to see where a sequel would go and the story it would be.  I could definitely think of a few directions it could go and I’m curious to see what life is going to be like for all of the characters.

3 stars.  I liked Woven In Moonlight, though I couldn’t begin to tell you why I didn’t love it.  Still, I can’t wait to read what Ibanez writes next!

Book Review: Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Book: Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Published January 2020 by Crown Books For Young Readers|352 pages

Where I Got: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

One girl must make a name for herself–or die trying –in this royal fantasy where an unknown peasant becomes the ultimate ruler. But how long can she keep the crown if everyone wants her dead? Perfect for fans of Furyborn, Red Queen, and Everless.

Everyone expected the king’s daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.

It shouldn’t even be possible. I’m Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don’t even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.

But there’s no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don’t?

I thought Nameless Queen was okay.  I really wanted to like it more because I really liked the idea.  I definitely had my issues with it.

One of the things I didn’t like was how fast the book moved.  It looks like this is a stand-alone, and I felt like there was too much going on for it to be a stand-alone.  You definitely get an idea of the history and what Coin’s world is like but there’s so much that could be explored.  Like the divides between the Nameless, the Legals and the Royals.  There’s so much more that could have be described and focused on, and I really felt like we were getting the Cliff Notes version.

The book was just so short, and just when I really started to get into it, the book was over.  I really did assume it would be a series, because most fantasy series are in YA, and this book was too short for me.  I wish Nameless Queen was a little longer, just because there were things I wanted to know more about.

I am curious about Esther and why she didn’t say anything about her tattoo when her father died.  I know she knew a lot more than Coin, who didn’t get why or how she was chosen when she didn’t know her name.  And even though everything becomes clear later on in the book, it was still strange that she didn’t speak up about it.  I get why she didn’t but I still thought it was weird.

I did like Coin, but I especially liked her relationship with Hat.  I don’t know why, but it reminded me of Katniss and Rue.  I love what she represented, and how she was a voice for all of the Nameless- those on the outskirts of society, who didn’t have rights or say in things.  She was definitely aware of it too, and how much leverage she had.

I also wanted to know more about the magic in this world, and how it worked.  I could not tell you how it worked, or why it needed to be restrained.

Basically, the theme of this review is that I wanted more information than what we got.  It’s sad, because there are some really good ideas and something longer would have helped expand on those cool ideas.

2 stars.  Nameless Queen was okay and I really wanted more from it.

Book Review: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Book: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Published May 2019 by Balzer + Bray|480 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: A Forgery Of Magic #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

I liked Nocturna!  I’m definitely intrigued to see what will happen next but I have some mixed feelings about it.

The magic system seemed really interesting but I wanted to know more.  I definitely felt like it could have been explained a little more because it didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I got the general idea of how it worked but…I felt like we could have gotten a little bit more.  I always want to know more than what we’re given, though.

And I had a hard time getting into Nocturna.  I tried reading it once before, but I had to put it down, with the intention of coming back to it later.  Obviously, I did come back to it later, but I wasn’t in the mood for it when I first tried to read it, and I thought I was going to have to do it again.  I just really struggled with it, especially at the beginning.

I did like it, and the further I got into the book, the more I liked it.  I did get more interested, so if you’re having trouble getting into it, just keep with it.  It did get better, at least for me, but I know everyone has different stopping points, so what worked for me might not work for you.

Alfie and Finn were interesting, though I did like Finn’s chapters a little bit more.  Don’t get me wrong, I felt for Alfie and how insecure he felt about being the heir to the crown after the death of his brother.  But I really liked reading Finn’s chapters.

With her ability to faceshift…I can’t  help but wonder what effect that had on her.  I mean, you’re always looking like someone else, and never like your true self.  I feel like it would be easy to lose yourself in your ability to look like someone else.  Sometimes, I think it would be a cool ability to have but everything has good and bad with it.

I don’t know how I feel about the ending.  I know there are more books, so I do want to know what will happen next, but the book felt pretty wrapped up.  There’s definitely more story you could do in this world, but with this story being pretty resolved, I’m not sure where the story will go.

3 stars.  I liked Nocturna, but I wanted to know more about the magic and how it worked.

Book Review: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Book: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Published January 2020 by Bloomsbury YA|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Start Of Me And You #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.

I loved The Map From Here To There!  Her books always get me emotionally, and this book was no exception.  I’m definitely glad I read this book!

I loved seeing Paige and Max deal with things.  And they deal with a lot of things in this book.  There’s a lot of ups and downs for them, and things did not go how I expected them to.  I really hope that things are okay for them, if not now, then in the future.

Paige had so many big choices to make- it’s her senior year, and college is looming over her.  Deciding which school she wants to go to, and which degree she wants to get.  Max is a pretty big factor in her decision, and I think it’s a big reason why there are so many ups and downs for them.

It really did bring me back to my senior year, and wondering what was going to happen.  There’s a lot going on for Paige- personally, with Max, with her friends…it felt very real, and me being me, I couldn’t help but cry my heart out, especially towards the end.  I really felt for Paige, and I loved being there for every part of her journey.  I could definitely relate to the anxiety she felt, and Emery Lord did a great job at showing what Paige was thinking and how she dealt with it.

Even though this book is a sequel, you can read it without reading The Start Of Me And You.  I hadn’t re-read it prior to reading this one, and I can honestly say that you know what happened before but you can still follow the story.  It’s a great book, and I do recommend reading it first.  I think Paige will make a lot more sense and have a greater impact if you read The Start Of Me And You first.

Part of me wishes I had re-read it first but I can’t do anything about that know.  Either way, I loved this book, and it’s worth reading, especially if you like contemporary!

5 stars.  I loved this book, and I can’t wait to see what Lord writes next!

It’s Tea Time: March 2020

I didn’t think I’d be writing this post so soon, but I’ve been drinking copious amounts of tea (and coffee, of course) the last couple of weeks.  So much has changed, and tea has been really soothing, especially right before I go to bed.  I just really need something to distract from everything going on right now.

Today, I have three boxes of tea I want to talk about, so let’s get started!

I’m going to start off by talking about my March 2020 Sips by Box. 

I’m actually impressed that I remembered to take a picture of it, which you can see below.

 

I also love that they include a sheet about each tea, complete with how to brew each one.  It makes it feel more personalized, like it’s just for me.  In a way, it is, but it’s a really nice touch.

Here’s what I thought of the teas:

Harney And Sons Paris: I liked this one.  It’s branded as a flavored black tea, but what the flavor is, I’m not completely sure.  As a plain black tea, it was great, but as a flavored black tea, it was not that great.  Personally, no flavor came through the whole cup.  Maybe I need to make another cup to see if any flavor does come through.  It could be just a fluke.

Love Some Tea’s Dark Coconut: I really liked it!  I was slightly disappointed I could smell the coconut but not taste it.  It still tasted really good, don’t get me wrong.  I just wish it tasted a little more like coconut.

Soul Mate Yerba Co’s Apple Organic Yerba Mate Blend: I liked this one but not as much as the mocha blend I tried in one of their Valentine’s day boxes.  I haven’t talked about those boxes, so I was excited to see their apple blend.  There are supposed to be hints of cinnamon and apple, but I couldn’t taste them.  The tea is good, and the best way to describe it is bright.  I like how this tea tastes, but I wish the apple cinnamon flavor came through.

Smith Teamaker’s Red Nectar: I really liked this tea.  It was a little sweet but not too sweet, and it was really pleasant.  It tasted a little bit like honey to me, but I can’t figure out why.

Overall Thoughts: I really liked this box.  In comparison to my first box, I liked all of the teas, and would consider purchasing all 4 teas on my own.  Since my first tea time post, I have rated all of the teas from all 3 themed boxes and my first subscription box…I don’t know if that had something to do with it, or I just got lucky, but hopefully, I’ll continue to get boxes like this one.

Speaking of themed boxes, I’m going to share what I thought of the two Valentine’s Day boxes I got.

First is the Galentine’s Tea Party Box.

Teeccino’s Chocolate Raspberry: This tea was okay.  It smelled really good, and I could taste the chocolate raspberry.  It just didn’t taste as good as it smelled.

Soul Mate Yerba Co’s Mocha Organic Yerba Mate Blend: I really liked it!  The taste reminded me of black tea, so if you like black tea, I think you’ll like this one.  This tea is why I was so excited to try their Apple blend.

Tealightful’s Chocolate Chai: I liked this tea.  There were hints of chocolate, but I couldn’t anything remotely like Chai.  I’m still not sure what I think about Chai, but as a regular tea, this was pretty good.

Loose Leaf Women Cupidtea’s Somebody Loves Me Tea: This tea was another okay tea.  It didn’t taste as good as it smelled- which seems to be a common theme for me- and I thought it would taste a lot fruitier than it actually did.

Overall Thoughts: This box was a mixed bag.  I didn’t hate anything, but I didn’t love anything either.

The other Valentine’s Day box is the Love Potions Tea Box.

Organic India Tulsi Ashuagandha: I’m not sure how I feel about this tea.  It was pleasant and comforting, but I’m not sure if I liked it.  At the very least, it was okay, but…I just don’t know what to think.

Mi Cacao’s Cacao Tea: I did not like this tea at all.  Honest to god, it tasted like water with dissolved cocoa powder in it.  This is the only cup of tea that I dumped out after a few sips.  It’s definitely not for me.

Aesthete’s Love Potion: Yet another okay tea.  I did finish the tea I had but I don’t think I’d buy it on my own.

Tea Drops Chocolate Earl Grey: I really liked this tea!  I was not sure about this tea at first, because the tea comes in a cube that dissolves in hot water.  You do end up with a lot of sediment at the bottom, but it was completely drinkable, and it eliminates the need for a tea bag/infuser.  The chocolate came through and it was a pretty balanced tea.

Overall Thoughts: I wasn’t in love with this box, but the Chocolate Early was worth it!

Here’s the thing, though.

I don’t know that I would buy one of their seasonal/themed boxes.  They have mostly been misses for me, though I’ve really liked one tea in the boxes I’ve tried.  For the most part, though, the teas have been okay (for me) or teas that I haven’t liked.  I’m curious to see what other seasonal boxes they have, though I’m definitely a lot more cautious when it comes to purchasing them.

It’s not to say that they’re bad, because they’re not.  I actually love the idea of boxes around a certain theme or time of year.  I, personally, haven’t like a lot of the teas included in said boxes, so I think it’s a preference thing.  And I have learned a little bit more about what I like or don’t like tea wise.

I’ll definitely be drinking a lot more tea in the days to come.  I have quite a bit of tea, so I’ll definitely be talking about what I’m drinking.

Stay safe out there,

Book Review: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer

Book: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer

Published January 2019 by Square Fish|336 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Wires And Nerve #2

Genre: YA Graphic Novel

The world of the Lunar Chronicles comes alive in this thrilling continuation of Wires and Nerve. Iko–an audacious android and best friend to the Lunar Queen Cinder–has been tasked with hunting down Alpha Lysander Steele, the leader of a rogue band of bioengineered wolf-soldiers who threaten to undo the tenuous peace agreement between Earth and Luna. Unless Cinder can reverse the mutations that were forced on them years before, Steele and his soldiers plan to satisfy their monstrous appetites with a massacre of the innocent people of Earth.

And to show he’s serious, Steele is taking hostages.

Cinder and Kai, Scarlet and Wolf, Cress and Thorne, and Winter and Jacin all feature in this epic new battle. But it is Iko who must face her deepest fears when she uncovers the truth about her own unusual programming. Questions of love, friendship, and mortality take Iko on an emotional journey that will satisfy and delight fans of this bestselling series.

I really liked Gone Rogue!  This series is a pretty good follow-up to the Cinder series, and I’m glad I read it!

Like Wires And Nerve, this was a pretty fast read because it’s a graphic novel.  I liked seeing what was going on, and the story worked pretty well for the format.  I liked seeing Iko and her friends deal with Lysander, and how they are family and really close.

I really felt for Iko and what she learned about her programming.  You can definitely see how it affected her, but Iko is one of the most caring, enthusiastic characters I’ve ever seen.  I’ve always liked Iko, but this graphic novel series made me love her even more.

I did have an easier time getting into this one than I did the previous book.  I think it’s because we were more into this particular story, and we were past the setting up point.  I loved seeing how they solved things, used technology that was available to them, and worked together.  They all make a really good team, and even though they’ve all gone their separate ways, I also have the feeling they’ll all come together when the chance comes up.

As much as I really liked this book, I just don’t love it.  I want to, because I love Cinder.  But I think the reason why I don’t love this series is that the Lunar Chronicles ended with Winter.  I love seeing how things worked out for everyone a few months later, and I do love seeing the ever after, but I feel like things were resolved pretty well in the original series.

4 stars.  I really liked Gone Rogue, and I liked where things ended for the characters, but I didn’t love Gone Rogue.

Book Review: A House Of Rage And Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna

Book: A House Of Rage And Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna

Published September 2019 by Sky Pony Press|336 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Celestial Trilogy #2

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy

One kingdom. One crown. One family.

“Maybe it’s time the great House of Rey came to an end. After all, what are we now? Just a house of rage and sorrow.”

Esmae once wanted nothing more than to help her golden brother win the crown of Kali but that dream died with her best friend. Alexi broke her heart, and she vowed to destroy him for it. And with her sentient warship Titania beside her, how can she possibly fail?

As gods, beasts, and kingdoms choose sides, Alexi seeks out a weapon more devastating than even Titania. Past lives threaten the present. Old enemies claim their due. And Esmae cannot outrun the ghosts and the questions that haunt her. What really happened to her father? What was the third boon her mother asked of Amba? For in the shadows, lurking in wait, are secrets that will swallow her whole.

The House of Rey is at war. And the entire galaxy will bleed before the end.

I LOVED this book so much!  This was the book I didn’t know I was in the mood for but was glad I read it.  I definitely read it at the right time.

Esmae was so easy to relate to, and the grief and rage she felt the entire book was so easy to relate to.  It’s been a couple of year since my grandma died, but I’ve been missing her a lot lately, and this book really hit home right now.  How Esmae felt was so really, and I was a sobbing mess by the end of the book.  I feel like it happens so rarely now, but the rage and grief was there throughout the whole book.  The events of the last book really changed things for Esmae, and she is no longer the person she was in the first book.

I actually loved that we see if throughout the book.  It would have been very easy for it to not be included, but the author didn’t shy away from it.  It was really refreshing to see how present and visible it was.  There were so many different paragraphs and sentences that really resonated with me, and this book is so much better than the first book.

I really liked the first book, but this one really blew me away.  I felt like we really got into the story, and there are so many lies and so much betrayal that I didn’t know what to expect.  You think you know what’s going on, but the more time you spend in this world, the more you realize that you don’t know what’s real and what’s not.  This series is definitely under-rated, and I really wish it got more attention.

I loved that we got a few chapters from Titania’s POV!  I really like the relationship Titania and Esmae have, and Titania is a great character.  I know she’s a sentient ship, but Titania is pretty awesome, and I loved seeing things through her eyes.  That aspect of it made me think of the Binti novellas by Nnedi Okorafor.  Those are great reads, so I definitely recommend them if you haven’t read them.

As much as I loved this book, there are a couple of things I didn’t like.

For one thing, I kept forgetting that the book was set in space, and all of the places mentioned were individual planets, and not neighboring countries or territories.

And two, I couldn’t picture the different planets.  At all.  There’s not a lot of description, and because you’re seeing roughly one place on each planet, there’s a lot that you’re not seeing on the planets.  I think that’s why it felt like the places were neighboring countries instead of planets.

This story is definitely more about the characters and what they’re fighting for, but I would have liked a little more description of the places we see.  Still, it will be interesting to see how things play out in the last book.  There’s a lot going on, but I’m glad we have a list of characters at the beginning, because there are a lot of people to keep track of.  It was easier in this book, and I think it’s because of that cast of characters at the beginning.

5 stars.  I loved A House Of Rage And Sorrow, and this series is worth reading.