Monday, April 9, 2018

Whisper of the Tide

Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser

I read an advanced reader's copy of Whisper of the Tide. The published version will be available June 5, 2018.

This is the second book in a series. I reviewed the first book, Song of the Current, HERE. If you don't want any spoilers for Song of the Current, I would highly recommend NOT reading this review.

An amazon summary, "Caro and Markos have settled into a routine: Wake up, eat breakfast, and try to figure out who might attempt to assassinate Markos today . . . so the currents aren't exactly calm. Markos is in constant danger, and his claim to the throne is shaky without the support of an army. But then a powerful Archon offers Markos the military might he needs in exchange for marrying his daughter. Markos and Caro must decide which is more important: their love for each other or the fate of Akhaia.
With shipwrecks, lost treasure, old and new enemies, dark magic, and breathtaking romance, Sarah Tolcser weaves another epic story about chasing your fate and charting your own course." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

To recap. At the end of Song of the Current, Caro was claimed by the ocean god (not the river god like the rest of her father's family), she fell in love with Markos who is trying to take back his throne, and she got a boat through...uh questionable means. There was also a lot of magic & mischief running amok towards the end of the book (as with any good climatic ending).

The second book doesn't disappoint.

Caro & Markos are off, trying to rally support for his claim to the throne without a whole lot of success. They're also fending off multiple attempts on his life, and trying to figure out their next best move without putting more people in harm's way. When the powerful Archon offers Markos his daughter in marriage in exchange for military, it's a hard offer not to consider.

BUT, I'm going to stop right there. Since this book isn't published yet, I don't want to spend a lot of time on the summary.

I do want to talk about some book elements.

Caro's character growth felt so real in this book. Her struggles, her strength, her flaws; she just felt like much more of a real person to me than in the last book. It's like the last book was just winding up for the second book to really complete the pitch and sell it. Fantastic.

The shadow magic was present in the last book, but it was MORE prevalent in this book, well kind of, things happened that I won't speak of because spoilers, but IT'S COOL. Can you tell by that super run on sentence? It's cool. If it had a like button, I would like it.

The world building between ocean versus river was a little rocky for me (ha!). The descriptions of the rivers, and how they functioned, etc were VERY vivid in the last book. It makes sense because Caro was raised on the river. However, Caro is chosen by the ocean god. She hasn't really sailed on the ocean before, and it just seems to be some of the mesmerizing language/world descriptions are lost because of it. The ocean just feels a lot less interesting than the river did. There was just a different sense about the two settings. There are other things in the book that are REALLY well described, but no spoilers. However, the places they visited were SO WELL described, it felt like I was there, trying to dodge out of the way of a thrown bottle or two. 

There's also a slew of secondary characters introduced that I would love, love loveeeee to see more of. I'm super hoping there's going to be third book, because, I'm still 'hooked'. 


Happy reading!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

These Vengeful Souls

These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas

This is the third book in the series. I reviewed the first two books, THESE VICIOUS MASKS and THESE RUTHLESS DEEDS.

If you don't want any spoilers for the first two books, do not read this review.

An amazon summary so you can think about your decisions, or something, "Evelyn and her friends face ever greater dangers as they navigate tense battles, stunning revelations, and the limits of their own powers in this epic final novel in the These Vicious Masks trilogy.

England, 1883. On the run with the grieving Sebastian Braddock, Evelyn wants two things: to be reunited with her friends, and to get revenge on the evil Captain Goode. Not only has he misused his and Sebastian’s powers to rack up a terrible death toll, but he's also completely destroyed any hope of Evelyn or her friends regaining the life they once knew.
Evelyn is determined to make Captain Goode pay for what he's done, but is her revenge worth risking the lives of Sebastian and her friends? Or is it better to flee the city and focus on staying alive? And with the Captain spreading lies about Sebastian in an attempt to flush them out of hiding and turn the populace against them, does she even have a choice at all?
You won’t want to miss These Vengeful Souls, the thrilling conclusion to the These Vicious Masks trilogy by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas from Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
Sooooo, at the end of These Ruthless Deeds, Evelyn had to make a tough choice between saving her sister, or pretty much everyone else at the ball. Evelyn chose her sister. Sebastian's powers were amplified, causing the death of everyone at the ball. The survivors (so Evelyn & co) are under suspicion that they were the ones that killed everyone, when really it's mostly Captain Goode's doing.

Evelyn starts planning out ways to get revenge on Captain Goode...but the rest of the group would rather regroup and rest. Sort things out a bit before jumping into the next scheme. Evelyn is also staying close to Sebastian and trying to pull him out of his stupor. Sebastian is terribly beating himself over what Captain Goode made him do, and it's taken it's toll on him.

...that's enough summary.

So I really loved how this book wrapped up the trilogy. I loved how Mr. Tuffins came into play for this story, and I loved a lot of the character growth from Evelyn, Rose, Mr. Kent, Sebastian...and well just everyone. There was even more plucky sass prevalent and it almost took on a Scoody Doo esque quality at one point of like, "I hope we catch this bad guy!" ...and they just kind of kept running with it.

I pretty much loved everything about this series. It still took risks, made the characters authentic to their nature we've seen through all the books, and the action scenes felt even more intense.

Madly in love with this series. A must read.

Happy reading!!!

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Invasion

The Invasion by Peadar O'Guilin

This is the sequel to The Call which I previously reviewed HERE.

If you haven't read The Call, and would like it to remain unspoiled, do not read this review. It will undoubtedly contain spoilers for The Call. Like I may already be planning on spending a little explaining on where we left off in The Call so we can get into the nitty gritty of the The Invasion. Just saying.

An amazon summary, "After so much danger, Nessa and Anto can finally dream of a happy life. But the terrible attack on their school has created a witch-hunt for traitors -- boys and girls who survived the Call only by making deals with the enemy. To the authorities, Nessa's guilt is obvious. Her punishment is to be sent back to the nightmare of the Grey Land for the rest of her life. The SĂ­dhe are waiting, and they have a very special fate planned for her.

Meanwhile, with the help of a real traitor, the enemy come pouring into Ireland at the head of a terrifying army. Every human they capture becomes a weapon. Anto and the last students of his old school must find a way to strike a blow at the invaders before they lose their lives, or even worse, their minds. But with every moment Anto is confronted with more evidence of Nessa's guilt.
For Nessa, the thought of seeing Anto again is the only thing keeping her alive. But if she escapes, and if she can find him, surely he is duty-bound to kill her..." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

END OF THE CALL WRAP UP. Nessa is alive and fire proof, Anto is alive and has a giant, malformed arm that's super strong, Connor is dead, and their knowledge of the Grey Land has increased dramatically. They've known that the Sidhe want to reclaim Ireland, but they didn't know they needed a king to do it.

NOW, THE INVASION! At the beginning of the book, Nessa is being driven to see Anto, where they both dream of beginning their happily after nightmare, but Nessa is claimed by the government. She's taken off to jail as they're convinced she's a traitor. Anto is also taken by the government for a mission. He's assigned to a task force that takes down abnormalities that are caused by the Sidhe/Grey Land. While in prison, Nessa is thrown through a battery of tests with another prisoner who has reached the age of 25 without ever being called. Within the prison, they discover the government has been keeping a Sidhe on lockdown, which sets off a chain of events that makes the book a bit of a wild ride all through the end.

That's enough summary.

SO, I think I liked the second book even more then the first one because I was already in love with the first book. The characters continued to grow, the horrors kept mounting at a good place, each event, interaction, dialogue all served a purpose, and the world building only got better. It still laid bare the different traits of humanity in their weaker moments, and it still was fantastic to witness Nessa's sheer level of badassery. There was also more about the Nation in general which I found pretty fascinating.

THIS IS A SPOILER. The book does end in an epilogue, which is good on one hand because we kind of get some closure on what happens in the end to all the characters. It's also sad because it feels like there's not going to be any more books in this series. I SIGNIFICANTLY HOPE THERE ARE MORE BOOKS.

Like with most books I really, really loved, it gets a little harder for me to talk about because I don't want to accidentally ruin any bit of it.


Happy reading!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

This is going to be an odd blog post. I recently saw Jason Reynolds speak, and I'm going to talk about that as well as this book.

First, I'll talk about the book. I read the book before I saw Jason Reynolds speak, so it kind of makes sense I talk about the book first. The book is also written in poems.

A kind of long amazon summary (but it's worth it, just stick with it; the inside cover of the book is much more succinct), "An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.A piece. A biscuit.A burner. A heater.A chopper. A gat.A hammerA toolfor RULE
Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.
And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.
Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So, the book is written in poems, which I kind of loved. Normally, I don't leap towards books in that format, but this book came highly recommended. I think the poems really helped emphasize the story. It's a very tense situation, and I think the poems kind of drove the reader through it at an unrelenting pace, which matches the context of the story.

Before I get ahead of myself, the story is about Will. Will knows the 3 rules; no crying, no snitching, and revenge. Will's brother, Shawn, is shot when he was bringing skin ointment home to his mother. Shawn's girlfriend immediately tries to protect Shawn, but Will knows he's dead. He mourns, his mother mourns, his family and friends mourn, but Will is hell bent on revenge; the third rule.

He knows Shawn kept a gun in the middle drawer that didn't quite fit in the dresser right, he knows who killed Shawn, and he's going to follow the third rule, to get revenge. He enters the elevator, and as he starts descending from the 7th floor to the lobby, another ghost steps onto the elevator at each floor. 

That's enough summary. 

Something that stuck out to me a lot about this book, is the powerful imagery woven throughout the story. Even the middle drawer in the dresser that didn't quite fit, is kind of symbolic how violence shouldn't ever fit into a child's life. I also think the second ghost, Dani, is also symbolic of the moment Will lost his childhood innocence.

It's a powerful book because it establishes normals about Will's life that shouldn't be normal. He shouldn't know so many people lost to shoot outs in the street. He shouldn't have these three rules to operate by. He shouldn't have to live a life that is outfitted to survive, not to live.

NOW WE'RE GOING TO CHARGE FULL INTO SPOILER LAND. I'll make another big caps thing for when I talk about listening to Jason Reynolds speak, so you can skip ahead to that if you're curious.

At the end of the book, the last ghost Will sees is his brother Shawn.The last poem of the book is two words, "YOU COMING?" The pivotal moment of the book is asking if Will is going to follow through with rule 3 and actually seek revenge for his brother's death. Throughout the story we see how terrified Will is to shoot someone, he doesn't even really know how to use the gun. The ghosts kind of point out that if he kills the killer, he's only continuing the cycle of violence. Based on all of Will's other vivid emotions and kind of abject terror at killing someone, I'm going to argue that he chooses not to continue the cycle of violence, but it is choice that will haunt him for the rest of his life. I will say this book is definitely what I call a 'haunting' book. The story resonates on a deeper level, and I've been thinking about it even though I finished reading it three books or so ago. I suspect I'll think about it on and off for a while.


First, Jason Reynolds is a fantastic speaker. He had the audience actively engaged the entire time, and his speech was filled with passion. I kind of wish it was on Netflix. Anyways, he talked about his life and particular events that happened, but something really stuck out to me. Jason didn't read when he was going through school; it wasn't until college that he started reading. Then he went back and read everything. The biggest reason he chose not to read when he was younger, because none of those books were about him so to speak. He couldn't find a representation of himself within a story, so he didn't read the stories. It just really stuck with me. If you want to read more about Jason Reynolds, here's a link to the bio on his website:

Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Brightly Burning

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

I read an advance reader copy of this book. This book will be published on May 1, 2018. It is uncorrected proof.

And now, it is time, for a SPACE OPERAAAA!!! Are you excited? Get excited!

An amazon summary BUT skipping all the hype, "Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship. On the Rochester, there’s no water ration, more books than one person could devour in a lifetime, and an AI who seems more friend than robot.
But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet. Surrounded by mysteries, Stella finds her equal in the brooding but kind, nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo. When several attempts on his life spark more questions than answers, and the beautiful Bianca Ingram appears at Hugo’s request, his unpredictable behavior causes Stella’s suspicions to mount. Without knowing who to trust, Stella must decide whether to follow her head or her heart.Alexa Donne’s lush and enthralling reimagining of the classic Jane Eyre, set among the stars, will seduce and beguile you." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

FIRST OFF, everyone is up in spaceships because there's an ice age currently happening on Earth. The entire planet is frozen, so some people were able to escape into spaceships in space, but not everyone. The planet has been frozen for a few generations and they're in space just waiting for it to be on earth again. No, they never bring up any ideas of colonizing the Moon or Mars. I should say, it's a romantic space opera.

SECOND OFF, it is a reimagining of Jane Eyre. If you've read Jane Eyre, there will be a lot of similar plot points between the two stories, but just remember SPACEEEEE, right? Space makes everything more exciting, or something like that. Eh?

THIRD OFF, the main character is an engineer but also a teacher. Which means, when the ships has repairs, she is involved with the process. However, there's not a lot of hard science going on, just kind of a general layout of what systems need to be repaired, and what they're general function is.

I think that's enough offs, right?

So Stella is a engineer/teacher on board the Stalwart, but she's been desperately applying for jobs on other space ships as she really just wants to be a teacher. However, her skills as an engineer are too valuable on board the Stalwart in order for her to be a full time teacher. However, however, she's also originally from the Empire, and was part of an orphan relocation program. She wound up on the Stalwart and became BFFs with George. They refer to themselves as the Empire orphans.

Anyways, Stella manages to land a job as a teacher aboard the Rochester. She leaves the Stalwart to join the eccentric crew on board the Rochester. There's a huge difference between the Stalwart and the Empire; the Stalwart carries a lot of people, has farming on it, and is kind of falling apart slowly but surely. The Rochester has maybe 10-12 people at most, doesn't seem to accomplish a particular task in the survival of the human race (it's a rich private ship), and is fully functioning. Stella has gotten a serious upgrade, but there's something kind of creepy going on aboard the Rochester.

That's enough summary...

So, despite some of the problematic things about the book, I kind of loved it until there was a turning point. Then the pacing of the book went full throttle rather than the great character development, relationship portrayals, and world building that was happening until this point. It's almost like the author was in such a rush to reveal a lot of the kind of mysteries going on, that they couldn't be bothered to do the rest anymore.

I also found the lack of crime super problematic about the book, especially when there was a lot of distinctions about the wealthy versus the poor and how they were treated. There was a lot of thinly veiled like, "Haha they'll just shove them out of the air lock if they're badddd" which only asks for more questions that are never addressed.

So while I enjoyed the lead up for the most part, there was a lot more aspects about the world I expected to be addressed, especially because it's set in space. Especially because they were shoved up there because of the ice age. Like how did the governing body form? Was it a power struggle? How did they manage to not fight amongst themselves? I suspect it was set a few generations after the freeze so these questions wouldn't be answered........but the main character is a TEACHER. There was ample opportunity to use some lessons to cover some of these basic questions, but Stella would think like, "The kids love it when I teach art!" ...and that's kind of it. I just needed a few more critical elements about the world to make more sense.

Happy reading!