Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher:  Random House Books For Young Readers
Source: ARC from Yallwest
Link to the author:
http://www.leighbardugo.com/m/

Goodreads
Book Depository
Amazon

RATING: 4 Stars

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“Sister in battle, I am shield and blade to you. As I breathe, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.” (Pg.180)

THOUGHTS:

Despite having a movie come out this year based on the same main character, Leigh Bardugo’s Diana stands on her own. Bardugo crafted a tale with all the parts of the Wonder Woman we know and love: a girl born to the island Themscrya, wielding a truth enforcing whip and looking incredible while she does it. While also breathing new life into the story, weaving in Greek mythology; Helena of Troy and characters like the Goddess Eris.

What I liked:

Holy feminism batman! So much girl power I couldn’t help walking around with my head held higher the entire time I read this beauty. I expected no less from Bardugo ❤

Greek mythology!! Seriously the easiest way to the heart of this bookworm is to include any kind of mythology. I haven’t read a lot of other Wonder Woman material but to my knowledge (please correct me if I am mistaken), this is the first time Helena of Troy has been included in Diana’s tale. Trust Bardugo to make an often retold story original as heck.

 

Incredible female friendships. Alia’s and Nim’s tightness is #goals. These girls are fierce and there is no question that they have each other’s backs, in the ballroom and on the battlefield. I also enjoyed the connection that grew between Diana and Alia, from mistrust to a sisterhood. Bardugo is the queen of writing inspiring females…

AND banter!

Seriously, how does Leigh keep writing such hilarious dialogue between her characters? The chemistry feels so organic between the group of five and Theo is such a cinnamon roll (not only because he shares a name with my son)

I should also mention this book is incredibly DIVERSE! (POC & LGBTQ)

What I Disliked:

Usually, I enjoy a twist that I don’t see coming but this one felt shocking because it didn’t feel right? Almost jarring or forced because everything leading up to this didn’t even hint at his deceitfulness? It just didn’t sit right with me.

I found the pace to be slow in a lot of places, and more description than I needed at times, usually when they were traveling.

While I enjoyed the diversity of the cast, the fantastic banter, and strong female friendships, sometimes it felt like these friends were trying too hard to be like another band of misfits we all love.

Thank you for reading this review of Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, I hope you enjoyed my insights and look forward to more reviews from me in the future.

 

Advertisements

Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach

Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach

Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017
Genre: YA Dystopian (?)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada
Link to the author:
http://www.tommywallach.com/

Goodreads
Book Depository
Amazon

RATING: 1 Star (DNF)

THOUGHTS:

I’m not sure that my label of dystopian as the genre for this book is correct. However, it has been suggested by other readers that these events could occur in a future after the events of We All Looked Up.

I read We All Looked Up last year and I enjoyed it (3 Stars), so I was intersted in reading more by Tommy Wallach. Sadly, I did not make it very far into Strange Fire before realizing it was not a book for me. I knew there was a chance that I wouldn’t enjoy it due to the use of “holy war” in the synopsis. But, there was also a comparison to Oregon Trail and Westworld, that had me intrigued. Knowing that you have to take  synopsis with a grain of salt because they can be misleading, I decided to give it a try.

I was just shy of fifty pages in when I chose to put the book down for good. The beginning seriosuly lacked momentum and I had no desire to continue. I didn’t like any of the characters and found the multiple points of view only disconnected me from them further. I’ve never been able to DNF a book so easily, thats how little of my attention was grabbed in those first pages. I had no questions I wanted answered or interest in how certain events turned out. Even the potential romance bored me.

Conclusion: I do not recommened

Thank you for reading this review of Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach, and thank you to Simon & Schuster for the opportunity.

 

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Link to the author:
http://www.linseymiller.com/

Goodreads
Book Depository
Amazon

RATING: 3 Stars

SYNOPSIS:

“Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge”

THOUGHTS:

I am feeling really torn.

Immediately after finishing Mask of Shadows I would have given it a 4-star rating, based on the fact that I flew through it even while in a reading slump. I appreciated that the assassin killed without much hesitation or emotion as an assassin is supposed to. As someone who hasn’t read many competition stories, I really enjoyed the competition based way of choosing a new assassin for the queen. The cover was also GORGEOUS. However, as I sit here to write this review I can think of very few individual things that I enjoyed and instead as time passes I am reminded of all the things I didn’t like. I won’t give it less than 3 stars though because while reading my general feeling was “I’m really enjoying this” and upon finishing it “I wonder what happens next” and I think that means there was quality in this story and the writing.

Moving on to what took a star away from my initial rating.

I didn’t feel like I really got to know Sal, our main character, beyond wanting to be an assassin and seeking revenge I know nothing about her. It seemed to me she wanted to become an assassin to change her life and then all of a sudden it was about getting close to the right people to inflict revenge. And there’s a scene where she’s plague by a shadow in her room that I later determined as some kind of PTSD? At the time I had no background on the main character and was really confused as to whether the shadow was real or not and what part it played.  I felt like an outsider in the story, seeing the actions of the main character and not getting a window into her motives. I also had a hard time believing she could be such a flawless and heartless killer when she herself said she had no talent for it. She made a very good assassin, I liked her as an assassin but I could not buy that she became so good so quickly.

If I had a hard time bonding with Sal I had no chance of bonding with any other characters except perhaps Maud. I did love her but I sort of wonder if that’s because she’s the only one I got to know. I got more of a backstory from her than from Sal. All the other characters are anonymous, referred to by their gemstone names of auditioners numbers. It was necessary to the story but at the cost of not being able to become invested in any of the characters.

From a technical standpoint, the pacing was ok, quickly switching from really fast paced to really slow, so I think it could have used more transition. Obviously, that didn’t stop me from flying through the pages but it could have been smoother. There was something about the style of writing though that constantly brought me out of the story. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was but it was as if the author changed the subject really abruptly. Sometimes it was the conversation between two characters or just the thoughts of the main character. They would change so abruptly from subject to subject that I would go back thinking I had missed something. The flow of talk and thought didn’t feel natural.

I feel like I can’t end this review without touching on the diversity, however, I also feel that I cannot comment on the authenticity of a gender fluid character when I myself and (to my knowledge) no one I know identifies as gender fluid.

To summarize, I did enjoy my reading experience of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller and this is a book I think everyone should read to form their own opinion. I went into it not knowing much more than “Assassin competition” and “gender fluid main character” so I was unaware of the comparisons to The Hunger Games, Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardugo. To that, I would like to say that a book should never be given such big shoes to fill, that sets it up for failure. Nothing is ever going to be as good as Six of Crows except for Six of Crows. Readers need to be given the opportunity to come to their own conclusions without comparison, especially when it’s an author debut novel. And while I see the similarity to The Hunger Games now that someone pointed it out, I didn’t make that connection myself while reading. I liked Mask of Shadows simply for Mask of Shadows and not how it compared to other books I’ve read.

Thank you for reading this review of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller curtsy of Sourcebooks, in return for my honest opinion. I hope you enjoyed my insights and look forward to more reviews from me in the future.

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Publication Date: August 1st 2017
Genre: Contemporary
Source: ARC from Swoon Reads
Link to the authorhttps://katyupperman.com/

Click Here For A Full Synopsis Or To Purchase

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

THOUGHTS:

Kissing Max Holden is not the kind of book I would pick up. The genre, the title, and even the cover would normally make me look right past it. I must have been in a very rare swoony mood when I requested it and yet, I’m really glad I did.

It isn’t often that I can even make it to the end of a high school contemporary romance let alone enjoy it as much as this book. No one is perfect here, everyone was flawed and made a bunch of awful choices, some owned them and others didn’t. I think I should mention that there is cheating involved and that can be a hot button issue for some. Many of characters are kind of awful actually, catty, bullying, lying, etc. Personally, I have experienced a lot of that in my life so it felt realistic to me, but let it be known I don’t condone that behavior at all.

I adored Jillian because she’s a chronic baker, whipping up delicious pastries for friends and family but also to deal with stress and anxiety. She wasn’t a fluffy girl though, she was strong and knew what she wanted in life. Until Max sort of turned it upside down. There were moments when he drove me crazy but I could also see why Jillian loved him. They were just perfect together and I ADORED his family. Again, I don’t condone his behaviors (his father was in a bad accident and he was not handling it gracefully) but I just loved the way the friends-to-more trope was done and that Jillian never gave up on Max. She didn’t condone his behavior and kept pushing him to get his act together. Max also encouraged Jillian to keep following her dream by any means possible and it was moments like those that made me feel he was worth all the trouble.

My favorite relationship though was between Jillian and her step mother. Despite feeling like they were very different from one another their bond grew throughout the story. It really hit home for me because I have a strong connection to a lot of people I consider my found family.

In contrast, the relationship between Jillian and her dad made me really angry. He was so condescending and controlling, I really couldn’t stand him. He blows up everything and expects Jillian to understand while telling her she can’t have an opinion because she’s a child. There ending leaves a lot open and I both liked that and wanted a little more from it. However, I acknowledge that again this is what life is like, sometimes there is never justice, some people never own up to their actions and relationships remain broken.

Overall I felt it was a well-written debut and I would pick up Upperman’s work in the future. I do feel that this book won’t be for everyone but I like books about people who are kind of a mess, I’m kind of a mess too.

Thank you for reading this review of Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman curtsy of Swoon Reads, in return for my honest opinion. I hope you enjoyed my insights and look forward to more reviews from me in the future.

 

 

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster
Link to the authorhttp://www.lisa-maxwell.com/

Click Here For A Full Synopsis Or To Purchase

RATING: 4 Stars

FAVOURITE QUOTE:
“Not that he was fooled into thinking she was harmless-even kittens had claws, after all. And he’d had enough experience with this one to know hers were sharper than most” 

THOUGHTS:

The Last Magician came as a really big surprise this year, I hadn’t even heard of it until Simon & Schuster offered it to me for review. I was also pretty skeptical when I read the words, ‘gangs’, ‘time travel’ and ‘magic’ in the synopsis. That’s a lot to pull off in one book! Then when I began reading I realized there are multiple points of view, another difficult feat! I’m happy to report to you that Lisa Maxwell did it, she brought all those elements together so well, I really liked the characters and even though this is a stand alone I would definitely pick up a sequel.

Right away the main character, Esta was giving me Lila Bard vibes, and the dark gritty atmosphere combined with the gangs was reminding me of Six of Crows. Now, if you read this book and say “Hey this was nothing like either of those books!” No, it isn’t, and that’s a good thing. However, if you like strong, independent, snarky women like Lila Bard I think you’ll love Esta and if you enjoyed the atmosphere and never knowing who can be trusted, like Six of Crows, I think you’ll enjoy reading The Last Magician.

I loved Esta. I wanted to give you my favorite quote from her but my son pulled out half of my page flags and do you think I can find it now? Sadly not. She was independent and stubborn but she had moments of self-doubt as well and that made her likable as well as realistic and relateable. The romance between her and another character was far from the spot light and they dance around one another for most of the story. I liked it, and the few ‘intense’ scenes were swoony in my opinion. It also didn’t feel like it lacked romance because both characters had goals that directly opposed the relationship. It was kind of nice to see a female lead who decided that her feelings had to be second to her ambition.
Viola was another great character, and while I wish there was more of her what I did get I loved. She was straight to the point, cunning and sharp. Literally! Esta and Viola clashed a lot but that just made me like them more.

There wasn’t a lot of time jumping throughout the story, Esta is in New York 1901 for the majority of the book but I loved it. I cannot testify to the authenticity of the era it but I felt like I was accurately transported back in time. I found that the author did a great job of making the past come alive and Esta’s reactions to it believeable.

The magic system was probably the weakest point for me, that and a few parts of the story that I found to be a bit slow. There simply wasn’t a lot of explanation as to how or why things worked the way they did. I never really understood the different kinds of magic other than I think some was learned while others were born with it? Everything about the Brink felt really vague as well. I understood the basics, you can’t cross it without losing your powers and losing them makes you crazy at best, dead at worst. (Don’t worry no spoilers here this is in one of the very first chapters) The origin and the way it works was never very clear though, and I like to know the how and why of things in books. I will say that Esta’s magic was amazing, I loved the way it was used and described and the author did a really great job with that. Everyone else’s abilities were again vague or under utilized.
As for the slow parts, there were some but I am the kind of reader who doesn’t mind a few slower parts if the author already has me hooked. If in the first few chapters I have all kinds of questions I’m dying to know the answers to, then that usually keeps me going. If you like back to back action then you might struggle to get through parts of the book.

Lastly, I want to touch on the ending because I didn’t see it coming AT ALL. That earns top marks from me because nothing is worse than predictability. There are a few smaller twists along the way but they were understated and nothing like the big reveal. I live, or should I say read, for that moment when the author drops the truth bomb and your mouth falls open and you have to put the book down for a second while you mentally go back and connect all the dots you missed. That was pretty much me in the final chapters. The end is left sort of open, and that’s why I thought there was going to be a sequel, but it also stands on its own quite well.

Conclusion: I gave The Last Magician 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you for reading this review of The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell curtsy of Simon & Schuster Canada, in return for my honest opinion. I hope you enjoyed my insights and look forward to more reviews from me in the future.