Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Last Of The Real Ones

Today's news title is brought to you by another Fall Out Boy song (they may be my favorite band or something (Whattttt?!?)): THE LAST OF THE REAL ONES. Enjoy!

You may have noticed I started blogging again in the last few months. Surprise? Surprise! I have returned. Well, I'm working on it. There are a lot of books I've read in the past few years that I just didn't blog about at the time for various reasons.

Which means, I'm running into a lot of situations where I'm reading book 4...but didn't blog about the first 3... yep. I've been making posts in the past to remedy this, which means some of my post dates are a little all over the place. I'm going to be slowly but surely filling in books from the past few years.

I'm concentrating on the book reviews for now, but I would like to do something more with all the comic books I read. I'm still trying to figure out what I want that to look like, or how I would want to go about formatting it.

I think that succinctly covers where I'm at right now. Feel free to leave comments/questions, I like reading them.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ash & Bramble

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

I have slowly started picking up books from my 'to read' pile, so there will be some blasts from the past happening. Get excited!

An amazon summary, "The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story. Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy-tale retelling, now available in paperback, is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.
Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.
Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy-tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.
As Pin tries to fight her arranged path, she finds that a sword is a much better fit for her than a glass slipper, and that the boy who she escaped with is still searching for her, and won’t stop until he rescues her—if Pin doesn’t rescue herself first." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

There are a few things I find problematic about this summary. You don't really know it's going to be a retelling of Cinderella until a bit later in the book. Not a lot later (unless you're quite slow on the uptake), but a bit later. Yes, Cinderella does have a prince who gives her a shoe at midnight, spinning into the path of the happily ever after, but if you're going to preface the book by saying it's a retelling, why would you assure the reader there's going to be a prince? I'm also a little terse that the book centers around Pin AND Shoe, but only Pin is mentioned in the summary. C'mon.

The book also starts out with a super creepy fortress where our main character is thrust into the role of a seamstress. She's kept on a very rigid schedule, is barely fed, and treated like a prisoner. All of the prisoners have no concept of before the prison, they only have the concept of Now. There is also no after. They can't remember anything about the Before. They spend most of their days sewing in harsh lights and have no recollection of a world before. There are also separate groups of people who make supplies for, reasons. One day, a shoemaker visits to clarify an order, and our main character makes eye contact with them across the way. The shoemaker summons our main character, and upon them meeting, they ask for each other's names. THEN, the main character reveals they don't remember their name and selects Pin to go by. The shoemaker ever so cleverly chooses shoe. Through a series of careful plotting, assembling of supplies, and meeting the other trapped groups of people; Pin & Shoe escape the fortress. Oh, and Pin has a magical thimble for unknown reasons (she doesn't remember anything).

Pin & Shoe go racing through the forest to escape the Godmother and her trackers, but during their escape Pin has a cut on her wrist from the bramble wall that refuses to stop bleeding. Realizing this will lead the trackers right to them, Pin runs towards their pursuers after convincing Shoe to keep running away from them.

Pin is captured, the Godmother removes her memories, and she is now Lady Penelope, but to what end? Perhaps she'll have a nickname soon enough... dun dun dunnnnn

Shoe escapes with the help of a Huntsman, and the plot only continues to pick up steam.

That's enough summary.

I really enjoyed the world building and character development. I think Pin/Lady Penelope serves as a strong-ish female character whose weak moments can be explained by other aspects of the story. I also liked Shoe a lot (but you're pretty much supposed to).

I didn't really care for how we got first person Pin/Lady Penelope, and third person Shoe perspectives. I think the book would have been fine/better off by sticking to one perspective. There was only a handful of times it seemed particularly useful to see both narrators, but overall, not so much.

I did like the different concepts introduced into the Cinderella, and well, fairy tale mythology as a whole. It was a little neat to see the whole genre become a little bit twisted.

Overall, I think there were some story elements that were revealed a little too late, and I think some of the late stage characters could have come forth a little earlier to make the story a tad more compelling. I did enjoy reading the book though, so props for that.

Happy reading!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sky in the Deep

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

I was hooked by the book seeming to be about a viking kind of setting, back in the day, based on the book description/title. Battles, war, traditions, lots of shouted things, I don't know, it looked liked a good time.

An amazon summary, where, I removed all the praise at the end because the length of the summary was out of control otherwise. Feel free to check out the full deal on the amazon website, "A 2018 Most Anticipated Young Adult book that is part Wonder Woman, part Vikings―and all heart.
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield―her brother, fighting with the enemy―the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE 
The amazon summary does a really good job of laying out the summary. A few things I have to add; honor is a BIG DEAL, there is a lot of emphasis on tradition, there is also a lot of emphasis on the gods of their world, and the fight scenes in this book have an intense realism about them.
I enjoyed how the reason of why the clans fight was slowly revealed after we already saw them engage in a battle.
I really liked the world building and how they established the tone of the book. There seemed to be a really good balance between the action of the book and the regular life stuff, like chores.
I know this book just released, but I want to dive into spoiler land just a little bit. Like stick my toe in it.
So don't read any further if you don't want any spoilers. Cool, cool.
...the story went a little Beauty & the Beast. Eelyn is captured and taken away from her people, but Fiske manages to save her by shooting an arrow in her shoulder (so she can't escape or be shot in a more damaging place). He also buys her to be his dyr (which is basically a slave) in order to save her from another member of the Riska clan. This also serves to reunite her with her brother Iri. Really, Fiske seems to be doing it all for Iri... but the story kind of spins into, Fiske did it because he loves her. It was kind of, I don't know, too played out? Kind of like a Carly Rae Jepson song, "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I totally captured you in battle, so love me maybe". ...I have no regrets.

I also don't think there's a sequel, I suspect this is just a stand alone book. I'm super cool with that.
Overall, I did really like the book. Despite my reservations about the romance, I liked this enough to make it a recommended book due to all of it's other fantastic features.
Plus, I really just want more viking like books in the young adult world. Never forget THE LOST SUN, which is more Norse mythology but has beserkers, and I don't care! Shameless plug for books I still love! WHOO!
Happy reading!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Ash Princess

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

I kind of agree with the amazon summary. If you like Victoria Aveyard's series beginning with Glass Sword, you'll probably liked this book. Heck, that's why I originally picked up the book. I was looking for my crazy kingdom strife oppressed people some magical elements kind of storyline fix. ...I'm not going to apologize for that sentence. HEH HEH HEHHHHHHH

Anywho, an amazon summary, ""Made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir" (Bustle), Ash Princess is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.
For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.
For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
"Sure to be one of the summer's most talked about YAs. . . . A darkly enchanting page-turner you won't be able to put down." -BustleAMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

The Kaiser overthrew the country, murdered her mother, imprisoned her people, and has now trapped her inside the castle she was born to be cruelly abused day in and day out. She is the example to her people of the Kaiser's unyielding will. Theodosia (from now on, I will refer to as Theo because what is that full first name) still maintains hope that someone from her mother's personal guard will save her someday, and clings to that hope. The Kaiser holds her accountable for any moves of the rebels, and makes an example of her by whipping her, or, well lots of humiliation in front of the court.

There's a pivotal moment in the beginning of the book, that I'm going to agree with the amazon summary and not go into detail about. It's a very emotional, kind of call to arms moment. It basically inspires Theo to take down the Kaiser once and for all, from the inside.

...that's enough summary.

At first I was reluctant to like Theo, but the more I read, the more I could see her resolve, the more I could see how she kept her wits about her (for the most part), and I ended up liking her a lot more in the end.

There was a lot to like about this book from the world building, character development, and kind of unfolding of the plot.

There was also a few things I hope get some more page time for the sequel; like more about how the magic functions. It's very fascinating, and I suspect the author withheld sharing all the mechanics of the magic to give some sort of surprise in the sequel.

But I also hope the (surprise, not surprise) love triangle gets less page time in the next book. I think these romances felt a little more realistic within the scope and environment of the book, but I would be SUPER OKAY with her just being like SCREW ROMANCE, I HAVE A KINGDOM TO SAVE. That's the kind of heroine I really want to see in books as much as possible. But I'll settle for everything else about the book being pretty stellar.

It was definitely a "can't stop until you finish reading" kind of book, which led to a late night...but it was worth it. I'm excited for the sequel.

I will admit, it's definitely the kind of story I've read before, it's just a different setting/environment, kind of. But I don't have any shame, still liked it, still going to read the sequel, no shame in my book game. :P

Happy reading!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Traitor's Game

The Traitor's Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I've previously read and reviewed books by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I'll only link one to put you on the right track: THE SHADOW THRONE. It's the third one in the series, but per usual, I link everything. You'll be fine to choose your own adventure.

Even though this is now a published book, I read an advanced reader's copy of this book. Undoubtedly there will be differences between the version I read and the published version.

ANYWAYS, the amazon summary, "Jennifer A. Nielsen's New York Times bestseller The Traitor's Game, which Entertainment Weekly called "the next big YA fantasy," is perfect for fans of the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard and the Throne Of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.

Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won't stop her from being drawn back into her father's palace politics. He's second-in-command to the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this -- and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.
The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her rebels has his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both have to decide what -- and who -- it is they're fighting for." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I've read other books by Jennifer A. Nielsen, so I was kind of excited to pick up another book by her! It also seems to be the start of the series too, bonus!

...except maybe not so much. This story is told from two narrators, alternating chapters, the usual in these situations. Not the issue. Kind of.

So Kestra is the daughter to the second-in-command of the cruel king who holds the kingdom in his very evil, yet magical, grasp. She's been ostracized to the Lava Fields (which are a little misleading of a name I felt), where she's supposed to work on her behavior and be less of a strong willed embarrassment to her father.

The rebels have other ideas.

In swoops Simon with rebels & co to kidnap Kestra and force her to help them find the Olden Blade. They take two of her servants captive and basically tell her to help us or we kill your servants. Kestra is pretty pissed, because if she helps the rebels and her father or the cruel king finds out, she's essentially toast. Kestra agrees to help them because she's strong-willed, not heartless.

So they start their journey of traveling through the country to her father's home, Kestra starts getting all aware of what the kingdom is really like, etc. Simon learns things, character growth. Riveting stuff.

Why am I being so bland and boring about this summary? Well, my book reading friends, the dual narrators talk about each other, wondering if the other person likes them, EVERY CHAPTER.

So here you are in the middle of this black mail, treason, magical story, and you're basically interrupted all the time by thoughts of, "His gaze lingered on me, do they like me? Do I like them?" (Not an actual quote from the book.) Which, should be endearing. It should feel like a reasonable romance is developing. It feels so force fed though. Like, DID YOU KNOW THEY'RE THINKING ABOUT EACH OTHER AGAIN. LOOK THEY ARE. CAN YOU FEEEEEEL THE MAYBE LOVE TONIGHTTTTTTTTT


Not quite the writing I was expecting from this author.

However, the overall book was mostly okay. ...if my 'to read' stack gets low, I might pick up the sequel. But there's currently like 40 books in it, so I doubt that'll happen in the next year and a half.

Don't get me wrong, all the other stuff that didn't involve the romance was pretty on point, great even.


Happy reading!