Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

I’ve been hearing good things about this book, and the sequel, for quite a while now. I typically love all things pirates and badass female protagonists, so this one seems like a good fit for me. I really haven’t gotten too far into the story yet, but Alosa has the potential to be an interesting protagonist. That being said, however, I do see some potential turn offs already. The interaction between Alosa and Riden hints at a complicated romance situation on the horizon. This is not entirely surprising, given what the blurb on the back cover reveals, but still, it feels like it might be going in an overly cheesy direction. As someone who tries not to overdo it on dairy products, I’ll skip the cheese, please.

I don’t think I’ve read quite enough of the story to make any plot predictions yet, but I’m hoping for a lot of sword fighting, swashbuckling, and pirate booty.

ARRRRRRRE you guys ready for the weekend? I sure am! 🙂

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Last week I was telling Boyfriend about Neverwhere because he’s never read it before. When telling him about it I realized that I was a little fuzzy on the details, probably because it’s been so long since I read it. I’m really glad I decided to re-read this one, because it was even better than I remembered.

The world beneath London is just as you’d expect an underground city to be: dark, dirty, and crawling with unsavory beings, both human and non-human. But, London Below is more than just that, it’s a city full of life, trade, and the unique sorts of people that don’t quite fit in up in “normal” London. I absolutely love the world that Gaiman has created. In some ways, it’s my ideal type of fantasy setting, not because it’s an entirely new world or one laden with magic, but because it’s more like an alternate version of our world. One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of Neil’s is because of the way he takes the modern world and stretches it just enough that it becomes fantastical, but is never too over the top. Realistic people, situations, and feelings remain present in his stories, making them easy to read and relate to.

There are some fantastic characters in this story. Richard Mayhew, the protagonist, is just an average guy who was just at the wrong place, wrong time. His life is turned upside down as he gets dragged to the streets below London, while his entire life above suddenly gets erased. Among his companions are the Lady Door (a girl trying to understand her parents’ death and avenge her family), the marquis de Carabas (who is as over the top as his name suggests), Anasthaesia (a rat-speaking girl), and Hunter (the best bodyguard in the underground). They cross paths with the likes of angels, friars, and earls, all while trying to steer clear of the two hit-men who have their eyes on Door.

This was actually one of the first fantasy books I had ever given a chance. (Can you believe that there was a time when I didn’t read fantasy!?) After re-reading this I realize why I got sucked in and captured by the genre.

Supposedly, Neil has a sequel to Neverwhere in the works. I don’t know much about it, but I sure hope we don’t have to wait too long for it to come out.

 

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Adult · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Non-Fiction · Young Adult

Top Ten Tues: Best Books I’ve Read in 2018

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday again! (TTT is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’d like to participate, a list of the weekly themes can be found here.) This week’s topic is “Best Books I’ve Read in 2018.” Sounds like an easy one, right? WRONG. I’ve read so many good books in the past six months that I don’t even know where to begin.

I actually did a post on my favorites of 2018 (so far) about a month ago, but I’ve read several other great books since then, so here’s the updated list:

The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

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Robots vs. Fairies (Anthology)

The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Reviews: The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (for each book)

The Wayward Children books by Seanan McGuire are a series of novellas about the children of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Each of the children at the school have stumbled upon, fallen through, or sucked into a doorway to another world. Worlds of nonsense, logic, the dead, and everywhere in between.

Every Heart a Doorway focuses on Nancy, a newcomer to the Home for Wayward Children. Like the others who live there, Nancy is having a hard time coping with life back in the real world and wants nothing more than to find the doorway back home to the Halls of the Dead. At her new school Nancy meets Kade (from the land of the Goblin King), Sumi (from the land of Confection), and twins Jack and Jill (from the dark Moors). Tragedy strikes shortly after Nancy’s arrival and it’s up to her and her new friends to get to the bottom of things.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the story of Jaqueline (Jack) and Jillian (Jill). Brought up  by parents who wanted them to be a certain way (Jack a lady and Jill a tomboy), neither of them are particularly close. When they stumble on the door to the Moors, however, everything changes. Both go their separate ways, one to become a mad scientist’s apprentice, the other the plaything of a vampire. In the Moors they are finally allowed to figure out who they are.

Beneath the Sugar Sky brings us back to the school, where Sumi’s daughter Rini falls from the sky. She’s disappearing and her home, the land of Confection (all Nonsense and sugar), is in danger. There’s just one problem: Sumi has been dead for years. Rini enlists the help of some of the other students to help save her mother. The unlikely group, including a boy who can resurrect skeletons and an ex mermaid, travel to the Halls of the Dead and Confection to try and save Rini before she disappears for good.

To put it plain and simple: This series is freaking fantastic. The different worlds that the author has created are full of vivid and beautiful imagery. Each character and the worlds they came from are unique and full of rich backstory. The way they’re all brought together into the present, trying to figure out how to cope with their loss and lean on each other, is rather touching. I hope to learn of some of the other worlds in future books, because they’re all so fascinating that I just can’t get enough.

The reason I didn’t write separate reviews for each of these books was because I was too busy devouring them in quick succession to even stop and take the time.

The next book, In an Absent Dream, will be out in January of 2019! I can’t wait.

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Recently Added to the TBR Pile

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Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

via Goodreads

I’ve been wanting to read this one since hearing Zoraida speak on the panel I attended at BookCon. She talked about the recently released sequel Bruja Born and the history behind it. I was somewhat intrigued by her talk of brujas (witches), superstition, and keeping true to the folklore than inspired her story.

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The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost…

via Goodreads

To be honest, I’d never even heard of this book until everyone started posting reviews of the sequel, Ravencry, recently. Both books sound fantastic (and a bit dark) and I look forward to reading them.

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Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

via Goodreads

This doesn’t sound like one of my usual reads, but it sounds like it could have some potential. I’m hoping J is really a Dalek or The Master in disguise. 😉

Adult · Books · Fantasy

First Impression Friday: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

This is the second book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. I cheated a little bit though and read the third book before starting this one. Truthfully, I don’t think it really mattered. Given that I already read the first book, I was clued in enough that there wasn’t any confusion about what was happening.

I already expect to enjoy this one, given how much I enjoyed the other two. Jack and Jill were really interesting characters in the first book. I am excited to learn more about their backstory and the weird things that happened to them in the Moors.

I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I can predict with certainty that the world the girls travel to is going to be very different than some of the other worlds mentioned in the first book. Less Nonsense, more logic, and definitely some dark stuff.

 

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Hello! I have returned from vacation, a year older and slightly tanner. Despite all my trepidation about turning thirty, my birthday was pretty good. A huge thank you to those of you who wished me a happy birthday. I really do appreciate it. 🙂 I promise I will be posting pictures and details from my trip soon, but for now you’ll just have to settle for this book review.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Despite the trepidation I shared during my FIF post about this book, I enjoyed this one. It was definitely not the YA-dystopian-romancey read that I was anticipating. I guess it was kinda silly of me to think that go begin with, given that Victoria Schwab doesn’t exactly stick to stereotypical characters/plots.

Kate and August were great protagonists – flawed, broken, and wanting nothing more than to find peace in a world of chaos. Kate was a difficult character to like at times. She was a bit reckless and naive, which got on my nerves. I suppose this made her more human and more relatable though, so it’s not really a bad thing. Of the two, August felt like the more well-rounded and level-headed one, which was ironic, given that he’d been pretty sheltered for most of his existence.

The way that music was used (as a way to lure victims), was interesting. I do find this tactic slightly impractical though. How are you expected to carry around a musical instrument all the time? Seems like it would be an inconvenience, if you ask me.

One of the main premises of this book is that violence breeds violence. The monsters in the story were all born from acts of violence, only to go forward and cause more violence in the world. It’s such an intriguing and haunting concept, and quite different than the usual monster backstory. There were a lot of villain-type characters in this book, not all of them actual monsters, so you never knew who to trust. I even found myself questioning the main characters a few times.

The horror and bleakness of the world Schwab created definitely made this a unique read. It gets two thumbs up from me.