Book Review: Likel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Book: Likel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Published May 2018 by Knopf Books For Young Readers|402 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Likelike #1

Genre: YA Sci Fi

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

I’m not sure what to think about Likelike.  I read this one because it was this month’s book club pick, and I get why people like Jay Kristoff.  I don’t know that I would have picked up Likelike if it were not for book club, but it’s different.

At first, I had a hard time getting into.  Partly because of the…terminology I guess.  It’s my least favorite thing about sci-fi, and I generally don’t read a lot of sci-fi focusing on robots.  Not only that, but I had a hard time keeping up with who was who, and I had to read the first few chapters a few times just to figure out who the characters were and what was going on, because I wasn’t getting it.  It could have been me, it could have been the book, but that is neither here nor there.

It also felt painfully slow, and the memories that Eve had were kind of disjarring.  I mean, you knew she was remembering things, and there are some secrets that should have stayed secret.  This is a dark book, and it is definitely not for everyone.  I don’t know if his books are ones I would like- there were things I really liked about this one, but I also don’t know what to think about it.  Between this one and Illuminae, which I couldn’t finish because the formatting drove me up a wall, I don’t think I’ll seek out one of his books.  I’d give it a try if it were for book club, maybe, but on my own?  Probably not.

I liked the plot twist (as obvious as it was), and I like the premise of the story.  I liked the world that Eve lived in, and it’s a futuristic wasteland.  I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it, and it is different than a lot of the other sci-fi I’ve read.  It stands out, and in a good way.  If you’re looking for something unique and that doesn’t shy away from the dark side, this is the book for you.  There is no happy ending, but I’m oddly fine with that.  I had the feeling it wouldn’t have a happy ending, and it seems like happy endings are not his thing.

Also, I don’t read a lot of sci-fi.  Well, something so strongly sci-fi.  Set in space, yes.  Dystopia, definitely yes.  Maybe sci-fi that’s not super-technical, but something like this?  Usually not.  Maybe it’s just not my thing.

Anyway, I did like the world he built.  It’s vivid, and I could picture things so clearly.  Honestly, while I’m not sure what to think about this book in book form, I’d probably watch the hell out of a movie or tv show based on Lifelike.  I’m pretty sure it would be interesting to watch, and all of a sudden, I’m thinking that this is one of those books that I’d like far better on screen than in print.  Or maybe, I’d like it better as an audio book, but I’m not sure if that’s something I’m interested in doing.

I feel like I’m making no sense at all with this review.  My thoughts are all over this place for this one, and I can’t seem to get them organized.  Or in a way that’s cohesive and makes sense.  I think it’s time to move on, because I have no idea where I’m going with this.

My Rating:  So, I’m not actually going to rate this one.  Well, not yet.  I have no idea what to rate it because I have no idea how I really feel about it.  So for now, Likelike gets no rating.

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Audio Book Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Narrated by Full Cast

Book: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Narrated by Full Cast

Published April 2016 by Random House Audio|Length: 8 hours, 28 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Themis Files #1

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth – and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery – and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

I really liked Sleeping Giants!  It was one of those books I tried reading ages ago, before realizing I’d like it a lot better as an audio book.  I’m glad I switched to the audio, because I really liked the audio book.

I think the comparison to World War Z and The Martian is actually a pretty good one.  The interviews and such we see in Sleeping Giant did make me think of World War Z and The Martian, and I think the fact that it’s told through interviews translated really well to audio.  And why I struggled with it when I tried reading it in print.

I really liked seeing all of the people involved in trying to figure out the giants.  It’s definitely a mystery, and I feel like you really get to know the characters.  Because of how the story is told, you don’t get the inner thoughts of the character, and you do see things from a distance, but even then, I still felt like I got to know the characters and what they wanted.  Even the interviewer, and he somehow seemed more anonymous, which meant I was more intrigued with him than with anyone else.

There is a lot of backstory that we don’t get.  There are all of these different files, but some are skipped over- we’ll go from, say, File #12 to File #23.  It means there’s a lot that we don’t get, and I’m wondering if we’ll get more in the books to come.

I also really liked the idea of the novel.  I mean, a giant hand is discovered and they’re trying to figure out what it means, and how it got buried on earth?  What’s not to like?  I just want to know what it all means.  I guess I’ll have to listen to book 2 to find out.

As for the narration, I really liked it!  World War Z is the only book I’ve listened to that had a full cast, and wasn’t narrated by 1 or 2 people.  I liked that it had multiple narrators, because it really made each person distinct.  I mean, I wasn’t completely paying attention to who was who, but I did like all of the narrators, and thought that they each had their own voice and personality.

4 stars.  I really liked Sleeping Giants, and I especially liked it as an audio book.  I know certain files were skipped over, and I kind of wish that we knew what happened in those gaps, and that we knew more about the mysterious interviewer.  But overall, it’s a pretty interesting story.

Book Review: Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot

Book: Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot

Published February 2018 by Counterpoint|143 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Memoir

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.

This is one of those books that seem really popular, in the sense that everyone is reading it, so I figured I’d read it and see why people love it so much.

So, I wanted to love it, but it was just okay for me.

A big part of it is both the length and the writing style.  I wasn’t expecting it to be so short.  It’s not even 150 pages, and that’s including the Q & A at the end, plus a forward at the beginning.  It’s not long at all, and I think that’s why I finished it, because I really struggled with her writing style.

It felt like I was reading diary entries or her notebook, and her memoir felt really disjointed and all over the place.  Stream-of-consciousness is what comes to mind, and so Mailhot jumps around in time and place.  It is one of those books you really have to pay attention to, otherwise you’ll miss something.  Not only that, but it felt like I was reading a collection of essays.

It’s not completely Mailhot’s fault, since I went into this book expecting a more traditionally written memoir.  I also felt like I was reading the same thing over and over- it felt like each chapter involved Mailhot pining after someone, while lamenting over having one child, while her other child was taken away from her.  There didn’t seem to be any resolution or movement, and I think, what it comes down to, is that I was expecting something very different than what this memoir contained.  I also thought the usage of the word you throughout the book made me feel like I was watching things from a distance, and I had a hard time connecting with her.  I had a hard time keeping up with her thought process, since it does meander around quite a bit.

It’s a shame, since there were a few sentences that were absolutely beautiful and poetic.  I wanted to like it, I really did.  And I tried so hard to like it, but I just didn’t have it in me.  I can see why so many people love it, and I really do think that the reasons why people love it are the reasons I didn’t, but not every book is going to be for every person.  This clearly wasn’t the book for me, but I am glad that it is a book that works for so many other people.

2 stars.  Heart Berries was just okay, and I was definitely expecting a more traditional memoir.  Even though it wasn’t for me, I can see why so many people think it’s a great read.

Book Review: Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler

Book: Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler

Published by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|400 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Non-Fiction/Memoir

What happens when the person you’re becoming isn’t the one your family wants you to be? 

When Aaron Hartzler was little, he couldn’t wait for the The Rapture: that moment when Jesus would come down from the clouds to whisk him and his family up to heaven. But as he turns sixteen, Aaron grows more curious about all the things his family forsakes for the Lord. He begins to realize he doesn’t want Jesus to come back just yet—not before he has his first kiss, sees his first movie, or stars in the school play.

Whether he’s sneaking out, making out, or playing hymns with a hangover, Aaron learns a few lessons that can’t be found in the Bible. He discovers that the girl of your dreams can just as easily be the boy of your dreams, and the tricky part about believing is that no one can do it for you.

In this funny and heartfelt coming-of-age memoir, debut author Aaron Hartzler recalls his teenage journey from devoted to doubtful, and the search to find his own truth without losing the fundamentalist family who loves him.

I can’t remember how I first heard about Rapture Practice- which, now that I think about, describes probably 99% of the books I wanted to read- but I was in the mood for non-fiction and a memoir, and it seemed interesting enough.

I was surprised that it’s a YA memoir.  I wasn’t expecting it, but looking back, it makes sense, considering it focuses on Hartzler’s life in high school.  It’s pretty easy to read, and it goes by pretty fast.  It did feel like I reading little snippets of his life, and while it tells a pretty linear, cohesive story, I wish it had gone into a little more depth.  I feel like he has a lot more of his to share but his high school years did give the book a certain focus.

I will say that there were points where I didn’t want to finish the book, and it was because of his parents.  I felt so angry at them for not being more open, and for how they treated Aaron.  I mean, I know he did rebel, and did things they didn’t want him to, but they were really, insanely strict.  When I hear someone describe themselves as a Christian, his parents are what immediately pop into mind.  I know not all Christians are like Hartzler’s parents, but they are what I associate with Christian.

Still, as frustrating as it was to read his parents, I am glad I read Rapture Practice.  It is a perspective that I don’t pay a lot of attention to, and even though I disagree with a lot of his parents beliefs, I’m still glad I read Rapture Practice.  I don’t know that I came away with a better understanding of why they believe what they do, but I can definitely relate to Hartzler starting to question his beliefs and faith.  Questioning ourselves, our beliefs and what our families believe is something I think we can all relate to, regardless of our faith (or lack of it).

I really wish there was some sort of afterword or epilogue or something where we get a little about about what happened after he graduated high school.  Some sort of conclusion would have been nice, but it did wrap things up pretty nicely.  Overall, I liked it, even though there were some things I wasn’t thrilled with, which I already talked about.

I felt for Aaron, and I can’t imagine having to sneak around to see ANY movie, or to hide listening to music because they’re not Christian enough.  One of the things I liked about the book was seeing him figure things out, and realizing that what he wanted to do and what he believed didn’t match up with what his parents believed.  I didn’t always agree with Aaron’s choices, but I can understand why he did what he did.  I had a much harder time doing that with his parents, but Aaron was definitely trying to figure things out for himself, which is a part of life.

3 stars.  I had some reservations about Rapture Practice, but it was an interesting read.

Book Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Book: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Published July 2017 by Thomas & Mercer|300 pages

Where I Got I Got: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Stillhouse Lake #1

Genre: Adult Fiction/Mystery

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

I really liked Stillhouse Lake!  I’ve really enjoyed a lot of her books, and I knew I had to give this one a try.

I will say, I felt bad for Gwen and her kids- especially her kids.  I mean, I know a lot of people thought she was guilty, and didn’t like that she didn’t go to jail for something they thought she did.  She shouldn’t have had to live life on the run with her kids, but at the same time, I wasn’t surprised by how people treated her.  The kids really should have been left alone, but like with how people treated Gwen, I wasn’t surprised that people would go after the kids too.

It’s definitely creepy and suspenseful, and it’s started off in a very dramatic fashion.  I felt like, in following Gwen’s story, that you see how Mel was a different person than he appeared to be, and how little she actually knew about what he was doing.  I can see why people would believe she was in on it somehow, and it was something I thought myself a couple of times during the book.  Still, I really felt for her, and it was easy to see how she wouldn’t have known.

The setting is great for a story like this one.  It seems like a pretty isolated community, and the perfect setting for both murder and the family dealing with the aftermath of a serial killer.  I did like that take on it- I mean, how often do you see a novel about a serial killer’s family after it gets out that they are related to a serial killer?  I don’t know how unique it is, since I don’t read a lot of mystery/thriller/suspense novels.  But it’s unique to me, so I definitely intrigued to see what would happen next.  I am looking forward to reading the next book to see where things go.

4 stars.  I really liked Stillhouse Lake and it’s a creepy book.  If you like stories about serial killers, this is one to check out!

Book Review: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West

Book: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West

Published May 2018 by Point|336 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

I actually really liked Listen To Your Heart.  I’ve read quite a few of her books this year, and I went into it expecting an okay story.  I was surprised that I liked it so much.  I’ve noticed that her books tend to be pretty similar, with pretty similar characters, so it’s getting harder and harder to like her books.  And yet, I still keep reading them.

Anyway, back to Listen To Your Heart.  I think I liked it so much is because Kate is pretty cool.  She’s sarcastic, and scared to be a podcast host, and yet she continues to do and ends up liking it.  The lake is pretty important, but I’m glad to see her realize that there are other options out there, and that it’s okay to figure out what you want.

I know there are a few podcasts mentioned, primarily one about first dates.  I have no clue if they’re real or made up, but either way, I liked that her school had a podcasting class.  I myself am a podcast listener, so I think that’s another reason why I liked it so much.  You see the class pick a theme, and while it focuses on hosting the advice podcast, you do see elements of promoting it as well.

Is it weird that I kind of wish some podcasts been recommended at the end of the book?  I mean, I know some authors will mention songs or artists they listened to in the acknowledgements, and some authors (like Rachel Caine) have whole playlists at the end of the book, so I was half hoping there would be podcasts the author listened to or something.  I know this has nothing to do with the actual book…but still.

So, one of the things that kept from loving Listen To Your Heart is that it’s a typical Kasie West book.  It’s fun and sweet and there’s a romance, and it’s pretty predictable if you’ve read any YA contemporaries, but especially if you’ve read anything by West before.  I’m still not sure why I liked this one more than some of the other ones I’ve read this year, but I’m going to go with it.

4 stars.  I think I’ve said all I needed to say- it’s cute and fun, and I liked that Kate realized there’s more than the lake.

Book Review: Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Book: Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Published May 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books|240 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt. 

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Here is another really great middle grade contemporary!  I really enjoyed this one, and I actually felt really sad for Amal.  I can’t imagine a world where you have to work as a servant to pay off debt and because you said the wrong thing to the wrong person…especially at the age of 12.

Initially, I assumed that this book was historical fiction, and then I was horrified and sad when I realized it was more contemporary.  I feel terrible that I had assumed indentured servants were a thing of the past, but that the Khan family used children as servants made me feel sick to my stomach.

I loved Amal, and all she wanted was to go to school.  Things changed, and not surprisingly, things worked out for her in the end.  This book showed how important it is to speak out against injustice, and that everyone deserves an education.  I’m lucky that I have had chances that Amal didn’t have, and while I appreciated the author’s note at the end of the book, the part of me that wants to learn more wishes there were a list of books for further reading.  Maybe that’s just me though.

It was a little bit darker than what I would expect for middle grade, but it’s not too dark for younger readers.  I was dropped into Amal’s world, and she is a character that I enjoyed seeing.  I loved her relationship with her family and friends, and how she found new friends at the Khan estate.  Saeed did such a great job at showing Amal’s village and you really felt Amal’s need to get back to her family.

4 stars.  I would recommend Amal Unbound to everyone.  I loved Amal’s determination to do what was right, and her story is one everyone needs to read.

Book Review: Blackbird by Michael Fiegel

Book: Blackbird by Michael Fiegel

Published November 2017 by Skyhorse|312 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: Adult Thriller

A dark, biting literary debut for fans of Caroline Kepnes following the unlikely bond between two sociopaths―and the destruction left in their wake.

“When I was eight years old, I was abducted from a fast food restaurant by a man who took me, in all likelihood, because of a small splotch of mayonnaise on his hamburger. And so I believe in neither free will nor predetermination. I believe in condiments.”

A cold-blooded killer-for-hire, Edison North drifts across America from city to city, crime scene to crime scene, leaving behind a world in flames. But during a random bloodbath at a fast food restaurant, Edison meets Christian, a young girl who mirrors his own vacant stare and stink of “other.” Though it’s been a long time since he felt anything resembling a human connection, something about this desperately lonely child calls to him. Edison feels certain she deserves better. And while he is not convinced that he can give her that, he can make her stronger. So begin the chronicles of Edison North―and his protégé.

As Edison begins Christian’s strange apprenticeship, Christian looks back upon her fractured upbringing and the training that made her into the killer she’s become. What follows is a brilliant―and ultimately tender―character study of two outsiders whose improbably forged bond unleashes a new facet of the human experience between them―and a jagged slash of violence on the world around them.

I thought Blackbird was just okay.  I’ve had it for a while, and while it isn’t typically the sort of book I’d pick up, it was part of the PageHabit horror box (back when I was getting it before I ended up cancelling it).

Here’s the thing.  I don’t know that I would classify this book as horror.  It’s more of a thriller, and I tend to associate horror with authors like Stephen King or movies like The Exorcist and Halloween.  Not a novel about an assassin who takes an 8 year old as his apprentice after kidnapping her from a fast food place.

We get sections narrated by both Christian and Edison.  Christian’s chapters are in a slightly different font than Edisons, and there’s obviously a different voice, but it would randomly switch between the two, so it always took a while to get into the two very different perspectives.

It’s not an easy read, and I found that I could only read a little bit at a time before I had to put it down and read something else.  I liked it at the beginning, but by the end, I kind of lost interest in what was happening.  I also thought things were more muddled by the end, though this is the sort of book you need to pay close attention to, and I wasn’t really doing that.  It’s not my cup of tea, and it felt like things were painfully slow.

It also felt like I was getting snippets of their lives, and I think that’s because of the time jumps.  Which were fine, of course, and the story was pretty linear.  I just felt like I was getting little snippets, and even with the time jumps, I still felt like things moved slow.

I did get a conspiracy theory vibe from the book, which was interesting.  Edison has a handler, and people are watching both him and Christian (xtian as he calls her) and he travels around doing murder for hire by some shadow organization.  If that’s not some sort of conspiracy right there, I don’t know what is.

I also liked that Fiegel had no problem showing how terrible Edison was, and it is a pretty straightforward book.  You see his methods and beliefs, and yet it didn’t seem like he was intentionally trying to shock or scare the reader.  It was also more literary than I expected.  In the literary fiction sense.

I’m not sure what else to say about Blackbird.  It seems like a book a lot of people liked, but it wasn’t for me.

2 stars.  Blackbird was okay, and while I initially liked it, by the end I was bored.  I can see why people like it.

Book Review: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Book: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Published

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Conquerer’s Saga #3

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it? 

Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince. 

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants. 

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

I have loved this series since the beginning, and this book is no exception.  Also, it’s Kiersten White, and I love her, so of course I absolutely loved this book.

Look, Lada is not a likeable character, and that is what I love most about her.  I wanted a Wallachia ruled by Lada- it’s what she wanted more than anything, and I hated Mehmed and Radu for trying to take that away from her.  She will do anything to make sure that Wallachia is allowed to be the country it should be, even if it means destroying everything around her.

She’s bloodthirsty, on a murderous rampage, and pretty good at losing allies.  I can’t help but like Lada, even though she really pushes it and tests it.  But I think the limitations she has a woman trying to fight for her country rang true.  Lada is screwed up, and yet, there are times where I think we see the self-doubt and vulnerability.  It was those moments where we see a more humanity than what you’d expect from someone like Lada.  White has done such an amazing job at showing why Lada does what she does, and that she really does believe she’s doing the right thing, even if her methods are a bit…different.

Radu and Lada are such different people, and it’s amazing that they both grew up in the same environment, but turned out so different.  Radu could have been liked Lada, but he wasn’t.  He wanted love, and chose that, while Lada was hellbent on being prince of Wallachia.  They really balance each other, and while Lada veers towards blood and violence, Radu chooses love and people.  Radu and Lada had their paths- very different paths, I might add- and I am glad I went along for the ride.  I love that Radu was the softer character and that Lada was the more vicious character, and it was perfectly normal for them to be soft and vicious.

I won’t spoil the ending, and I wasn’t sure what to expect with it.  I loved the ending, and this really is a great ending for the series.  I’m sad it’s over, because I really have loved this series, but I couldn’t ask for a better ending.

5 stars.  I absolutely loved this book, and Lada, while on a vicious, bloodthirsty rampage, is also absolutely amazing.

Around The Internet #4

Well, it’s time for another round of Around The Internet, where I share some of the really cool things I’ve seen on the internet.

  • I could have sworn I had shared this list of space-saving bookshelves, but it’s something to consider.
  • It’s pretty easy to find good fish tacos here in San Diego, but this Fish Taco Bowl does sound really good right now.
  • It’s interesting to see why people don’t use star ratings on goodreads.
  • When it’s finally cool enough to use the oven and not die of heat, I plan on making this meatball parmesan casserole.
  • It would be interesting to see a lot of these books as some sort of tv show.
  • I don’t listen to audiobooks often enough, but I really need to start listening to the audio books I get from audible.  There are great things about print/e-books and audio, but at least there are different formats to fit what’s going on in my life.  I do like listening to audio books when I crochet and on my commute to work.
  • The library tends to be my default when I need to donate books, but it’s good to know there are other options.
  • I really love these pictures of bioluminescent plankton.
  • Airports are very interesting places indeed.
  • Lemon bars sound really good right now.
  • Speaking of food, unsalted tends to be my go-to because you can always add more salt, but you can’t take salt out.
  • I may have to try out some of these recipes– summer is when my crock-pot gets used the most, but I like the idea of recipes that require no cooking.
  • I want, like, all of these tote bags.
  • In general, I tend to be in the camp go with whatever scents you like, but it is interesting that I am both a Gemini, and a fan of lavender.  It’s an interesting idea, pairing scents with astrology.
  • I really like a lot of these book holders.  I’m pretty sure I’d only use a cookbook holder, but they’re still cool to look at!
  • I don’t know if I could keep my goodreads TBR shelf at 100 books, but I’m impressed with people who can.  I do go through it occasionally and get rid of books I no longer want to read.  And this year, I’ve been pretty good about actually reading books on it, so it feels like it’s getting smaller.
  • If you’re a Murderino, you’ll probably like this list of books recommended by the hosts of My Favorite Murder.  I love My Favorite Murder, and I totally recommend it if you like true crime and comedy.
  • I love my local library, and I’d be lost without it.  I completely agree with this blog post about how useful libraries are. I can’t say that I’m surprised that someone would write an article about how getting rid of libraries would save taxpayers money, but they always seem to be written by 1- someone who’s never worked in a library and 2- someone who’s privileged enough to not need the resources of the library.
  • I disagree with some of the frozen foods some of these editors won’t buy since it seems so much easier to buy frozen pizza and tv dinners for when I don’t want to cook and don’t have any leftovers to eat.  I think the only frozen bread I’ve seen is garlic bread…and I don’t get the obsession with Halo Top  that people seem to have.  Especially since they use the fact that it’s low-calorie to eat the whole container, which makes no sense at all.  But whatever floats your boat, I guess.
  • As a medical receptionist, I complete agree with #9 and #13.  Also #24.  I could do a whole post about those points specifically (as well as some other things I see often).  I mean, I won’t, but I could.  I think this list is something to think about.

Until next time, everyone!