Sunday, 30 October 2016

A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

Sabaa Tahir's A Torch Against the Night is the second book of An Ember in the Ashes series.

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

The Breakdown:
1. I thought that I loved An Ember in the Ashes, but this book really stole my heart. Tahir's sophomore book is even more amazing than her debut. This book is filled with surprising twist and amazing characters. I could hardly put it down.

2.  Tahir does the split characters chapters so well.  Laia, Elias, and Helene all have a unique voice that I never feel like that it is hard to tell their chapters apart.  I especially liked the addition of Helene's perspective in this book. With her new position as Marcus's Blood Shrike and her being torn between duty to the Empire and her love both of Elias and her family.

3. Tahir introduces some wonderful new characters in this book.  The Soul Catcher is fascinating to me. A being that guides the dead to their eternity, and her interesting relationship with Elias as the book progresses.  So I thought I would hate Harper when he is first introduced, but as the book progresses, I find myself liking him more and more.  That Mask is an interesting puzzle, and the things that he reveals at the end, not going to lie, blew my mind a little.

4. Oh, and the Commandant is just a character I love to hate. Just when you think she can't be any worse, she goes and does something truly horrible. I really hoping she gets her due soon. Then there is Cook.  She is knows so much, there is got to be some secret to her that I am dying to know.

4. Have a tissue nearby for this book.  Tahir gets me right in the feels several times. The things revealed in the last third of the book has me pining for the next book already.

To Read or Not to Read:
Must Read

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Reader

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold, #1)

The Reader is by debut author Tracie Chee and is the first book in her Sea of Ink and Gold series.

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

The Breakdown:
1. Chee's debut novel has a slightly horrifying concept to me, a world where no one reads.  There are not books of stories.  Histories are passed by word of mouth. There is one book, and to know how to read is powerful and magic. She weaves interesting characters into a complicated story.

2.  I think one of my favorite things about this book was the crew of the Current of Faith. I loved reading about Captain Reed and his crew. They were definitely interesting characters.  The way they took in Sefia and Archer was awesome and I hope to see more of them in future books.

3. Although, I liked Sefia well enough, I never really felt connected to her as the main character.  Her character fell a little flat sometimes. It just felt like that Chee did not do enough to flesh out her character.  I felt she did a better job of making Archer and even the crew of the Current into more dynamic characters than her main heroine.

4. My biggest complaint with this book is the choppiness of it, especially in the first half.  Bounce between Sefia, Captain Reed, and Lon's characters made it hard to get fully engaged in the story.

To Read or Not to Read:
I am going to give this a Read, because I think this series can be good depending on how Chee proceeds in future books.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

My Unscripted Life

My Unscripted Life

My Unscripted Life is by Lauren Morrill.

Sometimes love stories go off script.

Another sultry Georgia summer is about to get a lot hotter. Dee Wilkie is still licking her wounds after getting rejected by the precollege fine arts program of her dreams. But if she'd gone away, she wouldn't have been around to say yes to an unbelievable opportunity: working on the set of a movie filming in her small Southern town that just happens to be starring Milo Ritter, the famous pop star Dee (along with the rest of the world) has had a crush since eighth grade.

It's not like Dee will be sharing any screen time with Milo—she's just a lowly PA. And Milo is so disappointingly rude that Dee is eager to stay far away from him. Except after a few chance meetings, she begins to wonder if just maybe there's a reason for his offensive attitude, and if there's more to Milo than his good looks and above-it-all Hollywood pedigree. Can a relationship with a guy like Milo ever work out for a girl like Dee? Never say never. . .

The Breakdown:
1. I loved this book.  I read it in 4 hours on a flight from Atlanta to LA, which left with no book to read on the flight back. (Thank goodness for autobooks.) The story was fun and engaging.  The characters were all fantastic. Plus the setting was just perfect.  Morrill captures small town life in the south so wonderfully.  At one point, Milo talks about how nice a small town must be where you can be unknown, and Dee has the perfect response.  There is no anonymity in a small town, everyone knows everyone and they never forget any antics that happen.

2.   Dee was such a wonderful character, easy to relate to.  What person has not had the disappointment of rejection, but she overcame it so beautifully, and found a new passion.  And I think that everyone as a teenager had that one crush that they got a little crazy about like her best friend Naz described her doing.

3. I liked that Milo had layers to him, and that he was not sweeping Dee off her feet at the first meeting.  In fact, he was a bit of a jerk.  I enjoyed getting to see Dee get him to let his guard down and give her private smiles and laughs.

4. Morrill has a fantastic cast of supporting characters.  From Dee's best friend Naz, who tells it like it is. Dee's parents are fantastic, too.  Then the other members of the production crew, like Benny trying to make the color war a thing to Carly acting as the older sister. Plus loved that a. Naz's family had two old bassets that were mentioned, and b. that Dee has a dog adapted from the shelter.

To Read or Not to Read:

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo is second book of the Six of Crows duology.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

The Breakdown:
1. If you loved Ocean's 11, which I did, and YA fantasy, which I do, this is the book for you. Bardugo has so many twist and turns and cons being run that I was constantly surprised by events in the story. This story, like Six of Crows, definitely kept me guess and wanting more.

2. I absolutely love all of Bardugo's characters.  They are wonderful, flaws and all.  They have all developed such wonderful relationships between them that they have really become a family. Bardugo does a wonderful job of both keeping the flow of the story while giving background stories on the characters.

3. My biggest problem with this book is I don't know which couple to ship the hardest. Nina and Matthais coming from very different countries but have found they are just what the other needs. Jesper and Wylan and how they are skirting around their attraction to each other.  Then there is Kaz and Inej both so broken, but finding themselves drawn to each other.

4. I love that Bardugo brings some of my favorite characters from The Grisha Trilogy into play in this book with Zoya and Genya. As much as I love this book, and I loved it so much, Bardugo does manage to stab me right in the feels a few times, so be warned about a few heartbreaking moments.

To Read or Not to Read:
Must Read

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

And I Darken

And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)

And I Darken is the first book of Kiersten White's The Conquerors Saga.

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

The Breakdown:
1.  I loved this alternate history of Vlad Dracul, as in what is he was really a she. White's book is filled so much intrigue and action that it is hard to put down. Plus, she does something unexpected with the love triangle trope with Lada and Radu both having feelings for Mehmed.

2. One of the best things about this book is how very different Lada and Radu are and how they navigate their world. Lada is strong, stubborn and cunning in battle.  She refuses to lose her love of her home.  Radu, on the other hand, is kind, smart, and cunning in courts. He adapts to life in the Ottoman courts, and flourishes there like he never did at home. Their difference complement each other so well, and both aid Mehmed in his rise to power.

3. Mehmed presents an interesting character. He is charismatic, and zealot for his religious beliefs. He inspired both loyalty and love in Lada and Radu. I can't wait to see what White does with character as the saga progress knowing the history of the actual Mehmed.

4. Funny aside, every time Constantinople was mentioned in the book, I started singing They Might Be Giants song, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" which was on Tiny Toon Adventures. In case you're wondering here is a link to the video:

To Read or Not to Read:

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is by Jaye Robin Brown.

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

The Breakdown:
1. This was not a book that I probably picked up on my own, but it was my book club's pick for the month.  I am so glad that it was, because I really enjoyed this book. I thought that Brown did a great job of portraying life both in Atlanta and in Rome for teens. Plus, I loved most of her characters.  She does a great job of making them well rounded, even the supporting characters.

2.  I really liked Joanna's character.  She is smart and outgoing, and her flaws are something I think that most can relate to. One of my favorites things about her is her belief that being gay and a Christian are not mutually exclusive things.  Plus the struggle of pleasing her father and being true to herself is something that most of us have dealt with at one time or another.

3. Probably my least favorite thing about this book was Dana, Joanna's best friend.  She comes off as abrasive and insure at times.  While she is the one to tell Joanna to man up to Mary Carlson, which I thought was a great moment.  Overall, she does not come off as a great friend.

4. I thought the book had a good flow to it, and loved the relationships developed in it. I liked that it dealt with things that people struggle with all the time.

To Read or Not to Read: