Book Review: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

The Stars Never Rise CoverBook: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

Published June 2015 by Delacorte Press|384 pages

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

Series: The Stars Never Rise #1

Genre: YA Dystopia/Paranormal

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she’s too busy trying to actually survive. Her town’s population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she’ll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie’s sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can’t survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really liked The Stars Never Rise!  I’ve only read her Soul Screamers series, which I really liked, and now I’m kicking myself for not picking up another one of her books.

This is a very interesting world- one where there was a war against demons, and now, the Church is in charge of everything, because they are the only ones who can do anything against the demons.  I assumed the Church to be the Catholic church, partially because some of it seemed either really similar or exactly the same, and partially because they’re the only ones with enough power to basically function as a government.

Some of the reveals aren’t surprising, but there were a couple that had me a little surprised.  The Stars Never Rise definitely made me want to keep reading.  It’s action-packed but there were some funny moments, and I really liked the relationship Nina and Mellie had.  I felt for Nina, who was the one looking out for Mellie and making sure Mellie was okay.  It’s a lot of responsibility, but it seemed liked Nina did the best she could.  She wasn’t perfect, of course, and I doubt she could have stopped Mellie, but it seemed liked she tried.

I’m not sure how I feel about the romance- it’s different, and I like Finn, but…I don’t know.  I haven’t completely warmed up to it.  Maybe in the next book?

Speaking of the next book…I like that things are pretty resolved in this book, and yet, you’re left with the sense that the story isn’t over, and there is more of this world that we need to see and explore.  I feel like the sequel is going to add to the world.  Or at least, I hope it does.

I am curious about how demons came to be in this world, and what led to the war and the Church coming into power.  I don’t recall it being explained, and I’m hoping it’s something we see in the sequel, mostly because I’m curious.  I’m fine with the fact that we know it happened, but I guess I want more specifics.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  The Stars Never Rise definitely kept me reading, but I do want to know more about the demons.

Book Review: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit COverBook: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Published August 1997 (originally published 1985) by Grove Press|176 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Winner of the Whitbread Prize for best first fiction, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming-out novel from Winterson, the acclaimed author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. The narrator, Jeanette, cuts her teeth on the knowledge that she is one of God’s elect, but as this budding evangelical comes of age, and comes to terms with her preference for her own sex, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household crumbles.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is definitely not the book for me.  It was a hard book to relate to, and I feel like there’s a lot that went over my head.

I definitely hard a hard time relating to Jeanette, and even though we see her over the span of several years, it was really easy to forget that it takes place over several years.  I really struggled with it, and the fairy tales and Bible stories didn’t work for me.  Those felt a little bit preachy to me, and some of the more Biblical stuff went over my head.  Maybe being more familiar with that would have helped.

Even though the book was short, it was really hard to keep going- it didn’t catch my interest at all, as much as I wanted it to.  The writing style was interesting, but not my cup of tea.  I did feel like the title went well with what the book is about, though.  Just like oranges aren’t the only fruit, there isn’t one way to live.

I can see why people really like it, even though I thought it was okay.  Something about Oranges seemed really old to me, but that might be due to the book originally being published in 1985, and it seems so far removed from anything I’ve ever known.  I think that might be part of why I had a hard time with it, because, for me, it did not age well, and seemed a little bit dated.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  I can sort of see why people like it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Book Review Round-Up: Burn Out, The Shadow Queen And This Savage Song

I’ve read quite a few books recently, so I thought I’d do some shorter reviews about some of them!

Burn Out CoverBook #1: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

Published April 2015 by EgmontUSA|288 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Burn Out #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Post-Apocalyptic

What It’s About: New in paperback! A science fiction tale of survival full of action, adventure, and intrigue. Perfect for fans of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe and Lenore Appelhans’s The Memory of After.

Some people want to save the world. Seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to stay alive long enough to escape it. Now that the sun’s become a “red giant,” burning out far faster than scientists could ever have predicted, Earth is barely habitable and almost everyone is gone.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora’s only comforts are her dreams of a planet with a plentiful water supply and the bio-energetic weapons her father lost his life for. The ones that only she can fire.

When family friend Markus arrives with mercenaries to take her weapons by force, Tora must decide if trading the guns for safe passage to a new livable planet is worth the price of betraying her father’s wishes. But when she discovers the government’s true motives, her bargaining chip may be nothing more than smoke.

Burn Out combines high-stakes action, adventure, and a hint of romance in a thrilling science fiction debut.

What I Thought: I liked Burn Out!  I thought the idea of an asteroid hitting the sun, causing the sun to burn out at some point in the future to be really interesting, and different, as far as post-apocalyptic novels go.

I thought Tora to be an interesting, but semi-unreliable character.  She has her suspicions about what happened to her father, but as a reader, I was never completely sure about what happened to him, or to Tora’s mother or sister. We only get glimpses of them and the Consulate that’s now in charge, plus there are some untrustworthy characters we meet along the way.  It’s hard to know who to trust, and what’s really going on because you’re never sure who’s telling the truth or who’s lying.  And she seems to be the only female on earth, but as it turns out, there is another survivor, which makes me wonder if there are other people still on Earth, or if everyone else really has left.

I really liked the characters, though, and Tora’s pretty tough.  I also have so many questions about the other characters, and they are a big mystery to me.  What they really up to?

I can’t speak to the accuracy of the science we see in the book, and as someone who doesn’t know, well, much of anything about science…I was going to say it seemed plausible enough, but now I’m not sure.  I do get the comparison to Across The Universe, but having never read The Memory Of After, I’m not sure how it compares to that book.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it enough to read the sequel, but I didn’t love it.  It did end a little abruptly, and I’m hoping the next one doesn’t end that way.

The Shadow Queen CoverBook #2: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Published February 2016 by Balzer+ Bray|387 pages

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

Series: Ravenspire #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

What It’s About: Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

What I Thought: The Shadow Queen seemed right up my alley- I do like fairy tale re-tellings, but this one was just okay.  I liked the idea of a dragon huntsman, and the use of magic to help out neighboring kingdoms.  And the magic that Irina used to make the kingdom hers, even though it clearly wasn’t.  I had a hard time getting into it, though, because I feel like I’ve read this story before.  It just wasn’t different enough to make it stand out against other books in the genre, and I’ve read my share of fantasy/fairy tale re-tellings.  I think people might like it, but it wasn’t for me.

I did like Kol, but not as a love interest for Lorelei.  I think they’re better off as allies, and they didn’t work as a couple for me.  I thought they had no chemistry, and I had a really hard time believing in their romance.  I didn’t care for Lorelei, and even though I felt for her, something about her character fell flat for me.

My Rating: 2 stars.  This one wasn’t for me, but I did like the idea of a dragon huntsman.

This Savage Song CoverBook #3: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Published July 2016 by Greenwillow Books|427 pages

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

Series: Monsters Of Verity #1

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Horror

What It’s About: There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

What I Thought: I’ve heard a lot of really good things about This Savage Song, and I know it’s received a lot of rave reviews, but unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me.

I thought the world-building was really confusing and not very clear.  I knew there were monsters and they were born from really horrible things, but for me, the book made that concept seem a lot more confusing than it really was.  And the differences between the different kinds of monsters was also really confusing.   I wasn’t sure what the differences between them were, and it seemed like they were different, but it wasn’t really explained how they came to be or how they were different.

And the city of Verity, and it being closed off also seemed really confusing.  Sometimes, it seemed like the things going on in Verity were happening elsewhere around the country.  Other times, it seemed like Verity was the only city affected.  I ended up feeling really confused about it, because the history and how Verity got to that point wasn’t explained very clearly.  Not that we get much, because we don’t.  It’s hard to tell how much backstory there is on Verity and the monsters, because I thought the things we do get were confusing and not explained well.

I didn’t like Kate at all, and she seemed to be intentionally horrible and destructive- she seems to act that way to get attention and prove she’s like her father.  She sets a school on fire because she didn’t want to be there, and I wouldn’t have minded it, except it seemed random and for no reason.  As much as I know that people do act that way for no apparent reason, I also wanted something more from her.

As for August, I didn’t really care for him either.  He’s very much a tortured soul that’s supposed to be poetic and romantic and swoon-worthy, but in his case, it was just unappealing and annoying.  They live in a bleak world, but I wanted something more from them.  Maybe some hope or something?  I’m not really sure, but something was missing from both of them.  Maybe it’s because of the world they live in, which is really dark and hopeless and not a world I’d want to live in.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s definitely not for me, but I can sort of see why people love the book.

Book Review Round-Up: Saints And Dream Chaser

I’ve read quite a few books lately, and thought I’d do several short reviews of some of them!

Saints CoverBook #1: Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Published September 2013 by First Second|170 pages

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

Series: Boxers & Saints #2

Genre: YA Graphic Novel/Historical Fiction

What It’s About: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name by her family when she’s born. She finds friendship–and a name, Vibiana–in the most unlikely of places: Christianity.

But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie…and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

What I Thought: This is another one I’m not sure about.  I like the idea of history being told in the form of a graphic novel, because it’s definitely different, and it’s an interesting way to see what actually happened.

However, I was sort of confused about what was going on.  The Boxer Rebellion sounds really familiar, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.  It wasn’t until after I read the book that I realized it was the 2nd book in a series.  I think you can still understand what’s going on, and I don’t know that Boxers, the first one, will necessarily explain the events of the 2nd, but for now, I kind of wish that I had read it in order.

I did like Four-Girl, and I felt really bad for her, having no name.  I did like that she found friendship and a name in a very unlikely place, and that she realized she had a purpose in life.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I like the idea of history being told in a graphic novel, but I also wish I had read Boxers first, because I did feel a little confused about what was going on.

Dream Chaser CoverBook #2: Dream Chaser by Angie Stanton

Self-Published by Angie Stanton in December 2011|323 pages

Where I Got It: A copy of the paperback was given to me

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Willow Thomas has a bad habit of running away from things that scare her. And most recently, she quit her high school cheerleading squad after a terrifying fall. With time on her hands, she auditions for a musical production directed by a Broadway choreographer. Just as things are looking up, Willow discovers she will be performing opposite Eli McAvoy, the best friend she abandoned three years before. To make matters worse, the kids in the musical hate her, her singing sucks, and her dog is sick. Eli has grown up during their years apart and now possesses confidence and good looks, as well as a giant chip on his shoulder. He is in no hurry to play nice with Willow, but their entwined roles in the musical lead to entwined bodies in the backseat of his car. Just when Willow finally has her life under control, another surprise is delivered in the form of her greatest challenge yet. Will she run or finally stand and face her fears? And will Eli be there to help or turn his back on her for good?

What I Thought: Dream Chaser was really cute!  I needed some cute and fluffy and light, and this book was definitely what I was looking for.  I really liked Willow, and I don’t blame her for being scared after the cheerleading accident- I would be too, if I were her.  I felt like her best friend was really shallow, and while I get that she wanted Willow to at least think about going back to cheerleading, I also thought she could have been more understanding of what happened to Willow.

Willow does run away/quit things when she gets scared, and I think that made her really easy to relate to.  I like that she does face her fears in the end, and I think she grows a little bit throughout the book, because she finally realizes the consequences of not facing her fears.  I find her choice between dance and cheer interesting, and it seems like a lot of it had to do with fear and losing people, but I wonder if maybe there was something else too.  Eli and Willow are great together, and I wish there was a sequel, because I really want to know what lies ahead for both of them.

My Rating: 4 stars.  It’s cute and sweet, and I loved that it was about dance and theater…and why do I not read more books about the performing arts?  I always end up really liking them!  It was predictable, but I didn’t care, because I really liked Willow and seeing her change.

Book Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Yaqui Delgado CoverBook: Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Published March 2013 by Candlewick|272 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In Meg Medina’s compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school — and must discover resources she never knew she had.

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I’m not sure how I feel about Yaqui Delgado.  I really liked Piddy, and she’s such a great character. She has to deal with bullying- from a girl she doesn’t even know, and it’s hard for her to deal with it, to the point that she starts skipping school, and eventually has to change schools, because she has no other option.  Well, she does, but for Piddy, it’s her best option.  I did like that her mom and her mom’s best friend (Lila) were around a lot in the book, which is pretty rare in YA.  Still, we don’t see Piddy really hang out with anyone her own age- she spends a lot of time with Lila, and there is a guy for part of the book, but it seemed a little strange to me.

I couldn’t quite connect with her fear of Yaqui, even after one really big moment with her.  I think part of it is that Piddy and Yaqui didn’t even know each other, and it’s hard for me to understand how Yaqui could decide that Piddy was her target, no matter how hard I tried to understand it.  I did get her anger with her mother, but I also understand why her mother kept things about her dad from her.  Unfortunately, it’s something I could relate to. I think I felt like I was told how Piddy felt, but I never completely FELT it, particularly where Yaqui was concerned.

The book definitely needed more where Yaqui was concerned, and I wish we had more of her story, because her wanting to kick Piddy’s ass was random and out of nowhere.  Even though the book is very much about the effect it has on Piddy, I think it focused a little too much on bullying, to the point that other things weren’t as developed as they could have been.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I did like the community that Piddy has, and I felt for her, because she had some things going on, but it wasn’t completely there for me.

Book Review: George by Alex Gino

George CoverBook: George by Alex Gino

Published August 2015 by Scholastic Press|195 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part…because she’s a boy.  

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I’ve heard really good things about George, and I randomly picked it up from the library one day, figuring it was time to see what everyone was talking about.  If you haven’t read George yet, it’s definitely worth checking out!

What I liked most is that George is that it introduces transgender as an identity in a middle grade book- I don’t know of any other middle grade books, and I feel like we see transgender characters in YA, but not middle grade.

I found myself getting really angry at Melissa’s teacher (by the way, Melissa is the name George wants to go by, so I’ll be calling her Melissa), for not giving the role to Melissa, even though she auditioned for it, and she really wanted it. Her reasoning was that there were too many girls who wanted the part, and that’s why it couldn’t go to Melissa, but part of me thinks that part of why she didn’t want to give it to Melissa is because Melissa is a girl, even though the world sees her as a boy.  Maybe the teacher worried about what others would think, but it seemed like Melissa was the perfect person to play Charlotte.  When Melissa’s best friend let Melissa play Charlotte, everyone thought she was great in the role, and no one seemed to have a problem with it except for the teacher.  It made me sad to see that and yet, it wasn’t surprising.

I really felt for Melissa, who struggled to come out to both her mother and her best friend Kelly.  I loved Kelly, who was really accepting when Melissa came out to Kelly.  And even though Melissa’s mom had a different reaction (she seemed to think Melissa was gay, and not a transgender girl at first, before Melissa told her), she does seem to love Melissa a lot, even if she doesn’t seem to understand that Melissa is a girl.  I also felt for her because of the bullying that she has to deal with.  I can’t imagine dealing with everything that Melissa has to deal with.

I really liked how Melissa’s story is told- it’s simple, and right from the start, Melissa is a girl in a world who sees her as a boy.  She is not stuck in the wrong body, and she is not a boy wanting to be a girl.  She’s a girl in a world that does not see her a girl, which I think is an important distinction to make, because we see that Melissa is a girl right from the start, and that Melissa has known for a long time who she is.

George is one of those books everyone should read, no matter who they are.  It’s a book about accepting who you are, and it’s hopeful and heartwarming and lets the other Melissa’s in the world that they are not alone and that they have options.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I really liked George, and it’s a book everyone should read.

Book Review: The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E Pearson

The Beauty Of Darkness CoverBook: The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Published August 2016 by Henry Holt & Co|688 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous – what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson’s combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

The Beauty Of Darkness  (BoD)was completely amazing!  This is a series that gets better with each book, and after The Heart Of Betrayal (HoB), which I thought was better than The Kiss Of Deception (KoD), I couldn’t wait to read BoD.

Seriously, this book is so good!  I’ve loved Lia since the beginning, and I didn’t care about the love triangle, at least in the sense that I was always Team Lia.  And the love triangle wasn’t annoying like it is in most books, because both Rafe and Kaden bring out different things in Lia.  I was slightly surprised by how things turned out in the romance department, especially for one of the characters, but they all have things they’re dealing with, and I’m glad that things worked out for all of the characters.  They all deserve peace and happiness, and I really felt like things were going to get so much better for Morrighan, Delbreck, and Venda.  Especially Venda, because they truly deserve good things.

I loved Lia’s transformation the most, though.  She’s so different than the Lia we met in KoD.  She’s determined and driven and still caring and full of compassion, and it makes her so awesome that you can’t help but root for her. Even when she doesn’t have a lot of support, she is very determined to help all of the kingdoms and defeat the Komizar so that everyone can have a future.  She doesn’t back down, even when people doubted her, and thought she should do something different.

More than anything, Rafe, Lia and Kaden felt very real and very human.  They weren’t perfect (especially with one thing Rafe did regarding Lia), but I understood why they acted the way they did.  They were flawed, and that was really nice to see, just because sometimes, YA characters don’t come across that way.

I really liked that we saw Rafe, Lia and Kaden narrate the book, because with so many things going on, it meant we got to see what was going on with each character.  I really like Pauline as a character, but I’m not sure how I feel about her chapters.  We do get a perspective that we don’t get with the other characters, which I really like, but I didn’t particularly care about what was going on with Mikail.

I’ve really come to love this series, and even though I’m glad I read it (mostly because I needed to know so many things), I’m also sad, because it means there are no more books in this series, and I won’t get to read them for the first time.  There’s always re-reading, and I actually really want to re-read the series now, because I have the feeling that there’s a lot I’m going to pick up on now that the story has come to an end.

The one thing I loved the most in the trilogy was the histories that we see throughout the books, and that was one of my favorite things in BoD.  In this book, we see that the texts we see don’t always give the whole picture, and that some history is hidden away, because it doesn’t support the view or story that those in power want out there. And it’s a reminder that history can be lost in so many ways, whether it’s an oral tradition that no longer gets passed down, or a book that’s hidden or burned because someone doesn’t want it out there.

And she did such a wonderful job at tying all three books together that it’s really hard to pinpoint each thing I loved about the book.  Everything seems like an accurate word, but at the same time, it’s too vague to accurately encompass what I loved about the book.  It seemed more emotional than the previous books, and it was hard not to start crying at a couple of different points.  I loved the details from the first two books that we see in this book, so it’s definitely a good idea to read them first, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve read them.

I haven’t really touched on anything specific, because I don’t want to give anything away.  Just trust me when I say that you need to read this entire series.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

5 stars.  I think it may be the best in the trilogy, and I’m having a hard time deciding if The Beauty Of Darkness or The Heart Of Betrayal is my favorite, because each book was better than the last.

Book Review: Paper And Fire by Rachel Caine

Paper And Fire CoverBook: Paper And Fire by Rachel Caine

Published July 2016 by NAL|368 pages

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

Series: The Great Library #2

Genre: YA Alternate History/Steampunk

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

This was such a great book!  I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her, and this book was no exception.  You really can’t go wrong with a steampunk world where the Library Of Alexandria still exists, and is in control of, well, everything.

There’s a lot more to the library than I remembered from Ink And Bone, but it’s also been a while, so it’s a little hard to tell if it’s because I remember almost nothing from the first book, or if it’s because we learn more about the Library, or even a combination of both.

I did enjoy it, though, and it’s a lot more simple than I expected it to be.  I think it’s because this book is basically a rescue mission, with a lot of trouble along the way.  It’s definitely a 2nd book, and I’m wondering about certain things that have yet to be answered, and there’s some excitement and magic, but not the way Ink And Bone was exciting and magical.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a really interesting concept, and I like a lot of the ideas we see in the book.

The control of knowledge that we see in Paper And Fire, and how the Library hides so many advancements- it’s really scary and disturbing what lengths they’ll go to in order to control everything.  And what’s sad is that it’s something I can picture happening all too well.  And with the Black Archives, and seeing the Iron Tower and the little snippets of messages and letters before each chapter…the Library has a lot of power, and they may have started off with good intentions, but those in power have changed what the Library should be.

I liked seeing what was going on with Jess and the other characters, but there were a couple points where I found myself wishing that we had chapters narrated by someone other than Jess.  There’s a lot that happens off-the-page, and I think another narrator, even if it’s one or two chapters, would have given another perspective on what was happening.

It also took a while for things to get going, but I’m willing to overlook that (at least a little) because we’re picking up a little bit after where things left off in Ink And Bone.  But once things got going, it got INTERESTING, and there were one or two things that took me by surprise.  Because THEY WEREN’T AT ALL EXPECTED.  At least for me.  Well, maybe one of them might be a little bit obvious, now that I think about it.  But it was hard to tell with this book, because sometimes, you had no idea who to trust.  And I didn’t think it was possible, but Paper And Fire seemed darker and a little more frightening than Ink And Bone, and I think it’s because we learn more about the Library, and how the characters react to some of the things they learn.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I really liked it, but I would also re-read the first one if it’s been a while, because the details from Ink And Bone will help a lot with Paper And Fire.

Book Review: Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare

Romancing The Duke CoverBook: Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare

Published May 2014 by Avon|370 pages

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

Series: Castles Ever After #1

Genre: Adult Romance/Historical Romance

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In the first in Tessa Dare’s captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love…

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and…Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I was randomly in the mood for romance, so I picked this one up from the library.  I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would, especially since the couple of romance blogs I read really seem to like Tessa Dare.

It did make me smile, though, and I was left wanting to believe that true love and fairy tales exist in real life. Which they do, for some people, and I liked the hopeful feeling that fairy tales are real.

I loved the historical fanboys/fangirls in the book.  That was fun and unexpected, but it’s a good fun and unexpected, and it made me laugh.  But I also liked that Izzy had to act a certain way because of it, and I liked that Ransom hated that she thought she had to live up to their expectations.  I felt for her, because life has not been easy for her, and yet, people want her to remain the sweet, innocent girl that they think she is.  She has fears but she deals with them, and she might not seem like she’s strong, but she is.

And I believed in her and Ransom, even though they are complete opposites, because Izzy is hopeful and romantic, where Ransom is more cynical and distrusting.  They really complement each other, and I loved watching them fall in love.  It’s sweet and adorable, and it builds over the course of the book.

And things haven’t been easy for Ransom either, with being engaged but the engagement being broken off, and with his vision not completely working…he’s nicer than he initially seems.  Izzy really brings out the best in him, even when he tries to fight it and pretend like he doesn’t have feelings for her.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I liked it!  It’s cute and sweet, but I didn’t love it.

Book Review: The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart CoverBook: The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart by Jenn Bennett

Published November 2015 by Feiwel & Friends|304 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I am so glad I read this book!  I wasn’t sure about it, but I’ve heard some good things about it, so I figured I’d give it a try.  I really liked it, and I wasn’t sure if I would at first.

I loved how the book was about art- I seem to be drawn to books about characters who are into art or music.  But not only that, it was about a girl who LIKES TO DRAW CADAVERS.  Which is really different and quirky, but also really cool, because it makes Bex stand out.  And I like that Jack is a grafitti artist, but I think that’s because of WHY he does it.  It doesn’t make it okay, of course, but I get why he was doing it, and I think it really shows the difference between their styles and how big art really is.

I really liked the relationship that Bex and Jack have.  They start out as friends, and it turns into a more romantic relationship as the book goes on.  It felt really natural, and I loved that it grew into something more, because that seems so rare in YA.  If you want romance, THAT ISN’T INSTA-LOVE, this is a book you want to read, because it couldn’t get any further.  I do think Bex has this manic pixie dream girl vibe going on, so keep that in mind if that’s not your thing.

There are so many other things that I liked about this book:

  • Like, he met her mom before they even kissed.
  • Her mom is around a lot, which is different, because parents tend to be absent.  Which is understandable, given it’s YA, but I liked that we saw her mom quite a bit.  I get why her mom acted the way she did in regards to Bex’s dad, but it also made me a little sad for Bex, who didn’t really get a choice on whether or not she got to have a relationship with her dad.
  • Her brother is really cool, and I love the relationship Bex has with him.  Also, his boyfriend seems cool, and I wish we saw more of him.
  • I felt for Jack, who has a sister with schizophrenia, and I thought how the family dealt with it was true to life, but also really sad.
  • I liked seeing Bex at work, and that she worked to help her family out.
  • There was this minor character we see, who may or may not have a mental illness.  I hope he gets the help he needs.
  •  I loved the humor in the book.  It was awesome!

I also liked that the book is short, but didn’t FEEL short.  There was a lot going on, but things were wrapped up really well, while also feeling like some things were left pretty open.  It was a really good balance.

Was it predictable?  Yes, but I didn’t care, because I just wanted to keep reading.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, but I did really like it.  I’m glad I gave it a chance!