Book Review: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Book: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Published October 2019 by Delacorte Press|416 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Gravemaidens #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

I really liked Gravemaidens!  I was drawn in by the cover, which is really pretty.  And it sounded like something I’d like to read.

I loved how Kammani just wanted to save her sister.  I also loved that she sees the selection of her sister to be a death sentence.  Everyone- or most everyone- sees it as an honor but Kammani wasn’t one of them, and that was nice to see.  She really does everything she can to save the ruler of her country, though it seems to be to save her sister from dying, and not because he’s a good ruler or anything like that.

She’s definitely trying to figure things out, even though it ends up being pretty dangerous for her.  Things go in a completely different way than she expected, and things weren’t what they seemed.  The book stands on its own pretty well, though I’m curious to see how the second (and final) book goes.

Gravemaidens does have a lot of elements that I’ve seen in other fantasy books, so nothing was particularly surprising as far as characters or plot goes.  It didn’t get in the way of me enjoying the book at all, because I did like Kammani and how she was willing to figure things out.  You could tell she cared about her sister, and they do have a really great moment towards the end of the book.

Something about going into the afterlife made me think of Greek mythology.  Maybe it’s because Netherworld was mentioned frequently, and paying the Boatman coin came up several times.  I know the afterlife isn’t a concept solely related to Greek mythologies, because it comes up in a lot of religions.  But I did finish Outrun The Wind recently, and that’s a Greek mythology retelling, so maybe I just have Ancient Greece/Greek mythology on my mind.  Now, I’m curious to know if she was inspired by any kind of mythology.

Still, I wanted to know more about Kammani’s world.  You get an idea of what it’s like, and I hope we see more of it in the next book.

I liked Kammani but I didn’t love her.  I’m not sure why I didn’t love her but you could tell saving her sister was important.  I wasn’t a big fan of her sister, Nanaea, who came across as spoiled for most of the book.  She did make more sense and I understood her better by the end of the book, but I still haven’t warmed up to her.

Speaking of liking or not liking characters, I wasn’t a fan of Dagan.  Something about how much he wanted to be with Kammani was off-putting to me, and even though he said he didn’t want to push her, he also seemed much more interested in her than she was in him.  I wasn’t interested in anything romantic between Dagan and Kammani but I was intrigued by the possibility of Naru and Kammani.  I feel like anything romantic has been set up for Dagan and Kammani, but if it does, it’ll take a lot of convincing to get me on board.

4 stars.  I really liked Gravemaidens and considering that things seemed to be wrapped up pretty well, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Book Review: Outrun The Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Book: Outrun The Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Published November 2018 by Flux|302 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-Telling

The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.

To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.

She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.

I thought Outrun The Wind was just okay.  I wanted to like it more, but I had a really hard time getting into it.

I was bored the entire time I was reading the story.  If you’re looking for any action, this is not the book for you.  It moved at what felt like a snail’s pace, and I had a hard time staying interested in the book.  I wanted something more to happen, and it didn’t.

I liked the setting, though.  Kahina’s world is one where gods and goddesses roam the earth, and are living, breathing people.  It’s too bad we only got a glimpse of Artemis, but this book wasn’t about her- it was about Kahina and Atalanta.  I’ve heard of Atalanta, but I don’t know her story, so I can’t speak to this book as a re-telling of her story.  I felt like I was in Ancient Greece the entire time, and though the setting didn’t feel like an additional character, I think the world was still one I wanted to spend more time in.

I don’t know how I feel about Kahina or Atalanta.  I didn’t feel particularly interested in their stories or what happened to them, and I wish their backstories felt a little more clear.  Their pasts felt really muddled, and we get some tidbits about what happened, but it seemed a little fuzzy to me.  Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention.

It seemed like it was supposed to be a romance, but I didn’t pick up on that at all.  The description made it seem like there was going to be romance involved, but it felt like they went from enemies to friends and never quite made it beyond friends.  Unless I’m massively missing out on something, and I’m completely and utterly clueless.  Maybe I just need to be hit over the head with it, because any romantic connection that was in this book went over my head.

Kahina and Atalanta just didn’t feel completely fleshed out to me, though I felt like we knew Kahina a little bit better.  Atalanta felt a little more guarded and closed off, but I still feel like we didn’t get to know them as much as we could have.  Maybe that’s why I felt like they never moved past the friends stage.

2 stars.  Outrun The Wind was okay, and I wanted to like it more than I really did.  It wasn’t for me, but if you like Greek mythology, this might be worth checking out.

Book Review: Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

Book: Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

Published September 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|368 pages

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

Series: Market Of Monsters #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Dexter meets This Savage Song in this dark fantasy about a girl who sells magical body parts on the black market — until she’s betrayed.

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” But when her mom brings home a live specimen, Nita decides she wants out — dissecting living people is a step too far.

But when she tries to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold on the black market in his place — because Nita herself is a supernatural being. Now Nita is on the other side of the bars, and there is no line she won’t cross to escape and make sure no one can ever capture her again.

Nita did a good deed, and it cost her everything. Now she’s going to do a lot of bad deeds to get it all back.

I really liked Not Even Bones!  I was intrigued by the plot, and I went through this book pretty fast because I wanted to keep reading.

I thought Nita was interesting.  I don’t know if I like her- I haven’t quite decided on that yet- but her character was an interesting one.  I mean, she can heal herself, in a world that doesn’t look kindly upon people with unnatural abilities.  Yes, she helps her mother by dissecting magical creatures so her mother can sell them on the black market, and yes, she realizes that there is no line she won’t cross to get her life back to normal.

She had lines she wouldn’t cross, and ends up throwing all of that out the window once she ends up on the black market.  I don’t know if I like her but I really want to see what she’ll do to get her life back to where she wants it.

I really want to know more about Fabricio and her mom.  Fabricio pops up at the beginning and the end, so who knows what he’s doing for most of the book?  What’s he really up to?  Whatever it is, I hope we find out.

As for her mom, selling her to the black market seems like something she would do.  What happened to her mom, and will we ever find out if she’s dead or alive?  We definitely find out what happened to her dad, but her mom?  What’s she been doing since Nita got taken?  I have so many questions about her, and I hope at least some of them get answered.

I did like Kovit, though.  I wasn’t sure about him for a while, but he’s a pretty cool character.  I like that he won’t hurt friends or family, and I want him to be okay.  He definitely grew on me, and he and Nita have a pretty interesting but understandable agreement/relationship.

I’m hoping there isn’t a love triangle.  There isn’t one in this book, but I feel like this book is setting one up for the rest of the series.  At the beginning of the book, I thought that Nita and Fabricio might end up together, but knowing what I know now, I do not want them to end up together, should romance come up.  I don’t know what would change my mind about him, but at this point, it’s going to take a lot to get me to change my mind.

4 stars.  I really liked Not Even Bones, and I can’t wait to read the next one, if only to see what happens with Nita and Fabricio.

Book Review: Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Book: Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Published February 2015 by William Morrow|576 pages

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

Series: The Order Of The Sanguines #3

Genre: Adult Thriller

In a masterpiece of supernatural mystery and apocalyptic prophecy, New York Times bestselling authors James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell bring to a thunderous conclusion their epic trilogy of novels set between the worlds of shadow and light, between salvation and damnation, where the very gates of Hell must be shattered to discover the true fate of humankind in…

Blood Infernal

As an escalating scourge of grisly murders sweeps the globe, archaeologist Erin Granger must decipher the truth behind an immortal prophecy foretold in the Blood Gospel, a tome written by Christ and lost for centuries: The shackles of Lucifer have been loosened, and his Chalice remains lost. It will take the light of all three to forge the Chalice anew and banish him again to his eternal darkness. With the Apocalypse looming, Erin must again join forces with Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Rhun Korza to search for a treasure lost for millennia. But the prize has already fallen into the hands of their enemy, a demon named Legion, before whom even the walls of the Vatican will fall.

The search for the key to salvation will take Erin and the others across centuries and around the world, from the dusty shelves of the Vatican’s secret archives to lost medieval laboratories, where ancient alchemies were employed to horrific ends. All the while, they are hunted, besieged by creatures of uncanny skill and talent. As clues are dug free from ancient underground chapels and found frozen in icy mountain caverns, one that will destroy not only her, but all she loves. To protect the world, Erin must walk through the very gates of Hell and face the darkest of enemies: Lucifer himself.

With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the Order of the Sanguines series, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell combined science, myth, and religion to introduce a breathtaking world where miracles hold new meaning and the fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we ever dreamed. And now, in this epic conclusion to the Sanguines trilogy, Blood Infernal, they take us to the very pit of Hell itself, making us peer into the abyss and face our greatest fears, to answer the ultimate question: What price will we pay for true salvation? 

I liked this one.  The series didn’t end how I thought it would, but it was a pretty interesting ride.

What I liked most was how different historical figures were involved.  I’ve really liked Elizabeth Of Bathory, and she’s been a pretty solid character this whole time.  I really liked how John Dee was included, and they did a great job at including his experiments into what was going on.  With what I know about John Dee as a person, I could see him trying what he did in this book.  He was mentioned more than anything else, but we did actually see him at the very beginning of the book.  We learned a lot about him in this book, and Cantrell and Rollins did a great job at weaving in history.

This book was a blur to me.  I waited a while to read and then I was scrambling to finish it before it was due, so even though I’m reviewing not too long after finishing it, I still feel like it’s going to be a struggle to actually review it.

I did want more action from this book.  There wasn’t as much as I thought there would be, and that was a little disappointing.  Considering they’re trying to stop the apocalypse from happening, you’d think there would more action and less talk.  But that wasn’t the case at all.

You do see what lengths they’ll go to stop evil, and how they’ll deal with it as they travel all over the world to do it.  They are alone for part of the book, but no matter how far apart they are from each other, they always end up working together as a group to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it from happening.  It makes me wonder if they’ll cross paths now that the book is over.  Jordan and Erin do, for sure, but I’d be curious to see if they ever cross paths with Rhun or Elizabeth.

I had the feeling Erin and Jordan will be just fine, but Rhun?  Of the three, he had the most earth-shattering revelations to deal with, and now he’s really going to have to deal with all of that.  Whether he does it on his own, or with Elizabeth, I’m not sure.  But he has a lot of soul-searching to do after learning what he does.

And I hope Elizabeth keeps in touch with Tommy for the rest of their lives.  They seem pretty important to each other, so hopefully they’re still a part of each others lives now that they don’t have to deal with this apocalyptic craziness.

3 stars.  I liked Blood Infernal, and while it wasn’t the action-packed ending I thought it would be, I did like the blending of suspense with history, religion and the supernatural.

Book Review: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Book: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Published May 2019 by Scholastic Press|320 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Kasie West, I Love You So Mochi is a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel from accomplished author Sarah Kuhn.

“As sweet and satisfying as actual mochi… a tender love story wrapped up in food, fashion, and family. I gobbled it up.” — Maurene Goo, author of The Way You Make Me Feel

Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.

She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival — and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.

I loved I Love You So Mochi! It’s cute and sweet and heart-warming, and I’m kicking myself for not reading it earlier!

It’s such a great read, and I didn’t know I needed to read it until I started reading it. I loved seeing Kimi connect with her grandparents, and I loved seeing her relationship change with both of them. It made me miss my grandparents, and my grandma in particular. It’s this time of year my grandma died, and I can’t believe it’s been almost two years. I did have to put the book down and take a little bit of a break because reading this book made me miss her a lot more than I usually do.

Going to Japan and getting to know her grandparents (and her mom) was such a good thing for her. It was a place where she found a lot of inspiration, and I loved seeing her learn so much about her mom and her grandparents. She really saw her mom in a different way, and you could see that in the emails Kimi wrote to her. You could also see it in the relationship she had with her mom at the beginning and the end of the book, and it changed SO much. I loved seeing that change, and I finished the book feeling like things were in a better place between them.

I also loved seeing Kimi go for a fashion design program instead of the art program. She really grew into being able to speak up and go for what she’s interested in, instead of doing something that she’s interested in, but not as a career or a passion. I don’t know what the future holds for her career-wise, but her clothes sound amazing, and I would love to see this as a movie just for the clothes. Plus, seeing her explore Japan would also be really cool.

The romance was really cute, and I liked Akira. For me, I was more interested in Kimi exploring Japan and her family history than I was in their romance, but I still liked it. They’re cute together, and I felt like he was a great tour guide. It seemed to help Kimi a lot, and everything between them felt natural. It didn’t feel forced or insta-lovey or anything, and that was refreshing.

I was not prepared for the waterworks that happened, which is a weird thing to happen when you’re reading at work. Usually, I can tell when I’m going to start crying, in which case I would put the book down and read at home. But I wanted to keep reading to see how things would work out with Kimi and her mom, and if her mom would ever work things out with her parents. It seems like things are well on their way to getting at least a little bit better, but there was some crying along the way.

My Rating: 5 stars. I loved Kimi and her time in Japan. She learned a lot about herself and her family, and I was glad that she was able to go to Japan. I’m glad I got to go on this journey with her, and I Love You So Mochi is a really special book!

Book Review: Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh

Book: Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh

Published September 2019 by Penguin Publishing Group/Berkley|477 pages

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

Series: Guild Hunter #12

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Wings of silver. Wings of blue. Mortal heart. Broken dreams. Shatter. Shatter. Shatter. A sundering. A grave. I see the end. I see. . .

The world is in chaos as the power surge of the Cascade rises to a devastating crescendo. In furiously resisting its attempts to turn Elena into a vessel for Raphael’s power, Elena and her archangel are irrevocably changed. . .far beyond the prophecy of a cursed Ancient.

At the same time, violent and eerie events around the world threaten to wipe out entire populations. And in the Archangel Lijuan’s former territory, an unnatural fog weaves through the land, leaving only a bone-chilling silence in its wake. Soon it becomes clear that even the archangels are not immune to this deadly evil. This time, even the combined power of the Cadre may not be enough. . .

This war could end them all. 

I really liked Archangel’s War!  I’ve been really into this series, and I caught up in time to read this book.

I loved seeing what was going on, and how everything went with Lijuan.  If there’s someone who won’t die, it’s the Goddess Of Death.  Her abilities were terrible but also amazing, and she went to great lengths to gain more power- enough to take over the world.  That was definitely her goal, and I was glad that it didn’t happen.

After finishing the last book, I was wondering what would happen to Elena and Raphael.  They’re okay, and all of our favorites are okay too.  I know there were some questions they had- and I had them too- but I’m glad they were answered, and were able to figure it out to defeat Lijuan.  She’s definitely the big bad in this series, and I was wondering not only what had happened to her, but how they’d take her down.

Back to Raphael and Elena- things were definitely different for both them, and for pretty much the entire book.  Everything that we saw happen to Elena were still very present in this book, but things did get righted at the end of the book.  I was glad to see that because being an angel was very much a part of Elena.  Especially with what happened to her wings.

I really liked seeing what was going on with the Ancients- and the ancients that are Calienne and Alexander, but those who were Ancient beyond words.  They didn’t realize how bad things were, and how hard it would be to defeat Lijuan, but they were all able to work together, even though they might now have wanted to.

This book was action-packed, and it was definitely hard to put down.  We follow several characters, and quite a few pop in and out.  It was great to see everyone again but I wished we had gotten to spend a little more time with all of them.  It felt like non-stop action from start to finish, and I think this series ended on a great note.  I wonder if there’s going to be a spin-off of some sort.  I know her Psy-Changeling series had another series, and I wonder if that’s in store for this one as well.  With how it ended, and with the world Singh built, I think there’s a lot more story she could tell in this world.

4 stars.  I really liked Archangel’s War, and it’s a great way to end a really cool and interesting series.

Book Review: Innocent Blood by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Book: Innocent Blood by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Published December 2013 by William Morrow|733 pages

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

Series: The Order Of The Sanguines #2

Genre: Adult Thriller

A vicious attack at a ranch in California thrusts archaeologist Erin Granger back into the folds of the Sanguines, an immortal order founded on the blood of Christ and tasked with protecting the world from the beasts haunting its shadows and waiting to break free into the sunlight. Following the prophetic words found in the Blood Gospel–a tome written by Christ and lost for centuries–Erin must join forces with Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and the dark mystery that is Father Rhun Korza to discover and protect a boy believed to be an angel given flesh.

But an enigmatic enemy of immense power and terrifying ambition seeks the same child–not to save the world, but to hasten its destruction. For any hope of victory, Erin must discover the truth behind Christ’s early years and understand His first true miracle, an event wrapped in sin and destruction, an act that yet remains unfulfilled and holds the only hope for the world.

The search for the truth will take Erin and the others across centuries and around the world, from the dusty plains of the Holy Land to the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, from the catacombs of Rome to an iron fortress in the Mediterranean Sea, and at last to the very gates of Hell itself, where their destiny–and the fate of mankind–awaits.

With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the Order of the Sanguines series, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell breathtakingly combined science, myth, and religion and introduced a world where miracles hold new meaning and the fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we ever dreamed. In Innocent Blood they again take us to the edge of destruction . . . and into the deepest reaches of imagination.

I liked this one! I think I liked it a little bit more than the first one, and I’m curious to see how th next one goes.

I feel like we have a better grasp of the world in this book. Now that we’re past the first book, and past the introduction stage, we were actually able to get into everything a little bit faster. I liked seeing Rhun, Stone and Erin work together to find the First Angel. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I did like it, and seeing them work through made the book a pretty interesting read.

I really liked Judas and Elizabeth Bathory in this book. I really liked following them over the course of the book- much more than Rhun, Stone, and Erin. They both had a lot of things to explore and deal with, and they were a big part of why I kept reading.

I also liked seeing what was going on with Tommy. His relationship with Elizabeth was interesting, especially knowing what she had done hundreds of years earlier. Her protectiveness definitely got my attention, and it was one of the things I really liked seeing change during this book.

I didn’t love it, though, and I can’t place why. The concept is interesting, at least to me, and so far, I do think it’s a book to check out if you like anything by Dan Brown. That hasn’t changed since the first book. I did want to keep reading to see what would happen, and I’ll definitely be continuing the series. That also hasn’t changed. But I also feel like I don’t have anything else to say about the book.

3 stars. I liked Innocent Blood, and a couple of the characters were really interesting to follow. I still want to know what happens next!

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Published October 2019 by Flatiron Books|458 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Alex Stern #1

Genre: Adult Mystery

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

I liked Ninth House! I wasn’t sure what to expect, because it’s definitely different than any of her Grishaverse novels. I really liked those books, and I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while.

I really liked Alex. I’m really intrigued with what she can see, and how she’s able to do it when most people can’t. I wonder why she’s able to, but if it was mentioned why, then I must have missed it. But it was pretty normal for her to see the Gray’s and I liked that about her ability. Still, I was sad that it seemed like people knew and didn’t do anything about it. I think it would have made her feel a lot better, like she could do something about it.

I really like the idea of a ninth house keeping watch over all of the other houses. Which are the secret societies you always hear about. They all have a purpose for existing, and the whole time I was reading the book, I felt like there was a whole history we didn’t know about.

Honestly, I just loved the world and why all of the Ivy League schools came about. It was hard not to get pulled into that world, and what was going on. You could see the distinction between the students and the people who live there, and how…corrupt…things were.

It seemed like everyone had a role in the ninth house, but I didn’t really think that was explained enough. Maybe it was supposed to be obvious, and it went over my head. Honestly, I just wanted to know why the roles had certain names, and I feel like it’s supposed to mean something, but I could never figure out what.

It took me most of the book to figure out that it was jumping around in time, and wasn’t told linearly. That might have added to my confusion, and I couldn’t figure out why it seemed like we were in present time and randomly going back in time.

I didn’t love it, and there were things that didn’t make sense to me. I’m pretty sure you’ve picked up on that at this point, but I did want to know what happened next, and that’s a big reason why I kept reading. I’d definitely read the next to see what’s in store for Alex and to see what happens next. I see that as a pretty good sign that the book caught my interest.

3 stars. I liked Ninth House, especially the world Alex lives in. Yale is a great back-drop for everything that happens, and I do want to know what happens next.

Book Review: Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

Book: Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

Published September 2019 by Scholastic Press|416 pages

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

Series: Impostors #2

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia

When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Frey was raised to be Rafi’s double, and now she’s taken on the role…without anyone else knowing.

Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her.

But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. Paz is an easy place to get lost…and also an easy place to lose yourself.

As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare – because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father. 

 

I really liked Shatter City! It was an interesting read, and I was curious to see how things would work out after the way Impostors ended. It didn’t disappoint, and I definitely want to know what happens next.

It was interesting to follow both Frey and Rafi. It was pretty interesting to see how they did the good old twins pretending to be each other thing. Even though this series follows Frey, there is part of me that wonders what things are really like for Rafi, and I’d love to see a chapter or two from her perspective. I don’t think I need a whole book from her perspective, or even a good chunk of any book following her, but a chapter or two could be interesting.

We see more of the world that Frey lives in, which was really nice. It makes me wonder how much more of the world we’ll see in the rest of the series, and I can’t wait to see if we’ll stay pretty close to where we’ve been, or if there will be a lot more traveling involved. If she’s going to go after her father, she can’t go far, but she’ll also need allies, so I’m curious to see if anyone will help her, or if they’ll just go along with it.

It also makes me wonder about the geography of the world she lives in versus where the original Uglies trilogy took place. Is it close to where Tally’s from, or in a completely different area? I’d kill for a map of Frey’s world just so I know where things are in relation to each other.

I feel like Rafi and Frey really come into their own in this book. There’s definitely room for growth and change, of course, but Rafi does some things I would not have expected. And Frey…I felt for her. She has a lot to deal with, especially with the revelations about her brother.

I did not see that coming, and I so want more about him and how he got to that point. That’s a story I really want to know, even though I know we’d only get bits and pieces. And that’s assuming we get anything else during the rest of the series.

I really hope we see them in a world where they don’t have to deal with their father. It makes me wonder who they’ll become and how they’ll change if he’s someone they don’t have to deal with or worry about. I’m pretty sure we won’t see that but I can’t help but wonder what their world would be like if he wasn’t a factor.

I’m also curious to see if we’ll see Tally. She’s definitely mentioned, and her story was definitely finished. But part of me wonders how she is, what she’s up to and if she wants to help get rid of Frey’s dad. I want Frey and Rafi to deal with this on their own, but part of me does want Tally to randomly show up and help out.

4 stars. I really liked Shatter City, and I really liked seeing how big this world is.

Book Review: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Book: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Published September 2019 by Tu Books|352 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise

All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty

Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling–the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore–a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine. 

I was really excited about this one because it’s a re-telling of Mulan, but unfortunately, I didn’t like this one as much as I wanted to.  It ended up being an okay read for me.

There were some things I really liked about The Magnolia Sword.  I really liked that she was a twin, and that her family was at odds with the prince’s family.  I liked that each generation had to duel- it wasn’t what I expected, but I thought it worked really well.  Especially with how they came together during the book.

I also liked how detailed this book was.  You could tell that Thomas did her research while reading this book.  It really shone throughout the book, and while I know nothing about this time period or the original telling of Mulan, it felt like it was pretty true to the time period.  Please take that with a grain of salt, though, because I’m only familiar with the Disney movie.  And even then, it’s been ages and ages since I’ve watched it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the book thrilling or romantic, the way it was described.  I was bored, which made me sad, because I didn’t want to be bored.  The Magnolia Sword is more about the characters, which is fine, but I don’t think it was what I wanted.  I wanted more action and battles, and considering the fact that there seemed to be a lot going on at the time, I wanted to be more interested in the book.  Instead, I was really close to not finishing it, and I’m not sure how I did.

Mulan…was not memorable.  I wish I could tell you more about her, but she didn’t stand out to me.  Considering the book was more character driven, and she’s the main character, that was a little disappointing.  And the prince is even less memorable, considering I can’t even remember his name.  And the fact that he and Mulan end up dueling, and they spend a good amount of time together…it’s definitely not a good sign.  You’d think I’d be able to remember but the name didn’t stick.

2 stars.  The Magnolia Sword was just okay, and while there were some things I liked, overall, I was pretty bored.