Quick Review: SuperNova by Marissa Meyer

So I mentioned in my Review for Rebel that what makes a good villain is one that you don’t necessarily disagree with. Nova has been playing the villain role. She’s been a double agent. Working along her enemies, the Renegades while undermining them working for the Anarchist. All because she believed that the system needed to change. The rules the Renegades have put into place were too ridged and anyone who didn’t want to conform to what they thought was right was thought of as a criminal. She and her fellow anarchist felt that all prodigies should have the freedom to live they want to live without fear of persecution. You can’t really fault her or them for that. Things get murkier, when the Renegades introduce Agent N. A biological weapon that take away prodigies powers. If any villain steps out of line, they would be neutralized. The problem with this is who decides who is truly a villain? What process will the go through to decide? When word comes down that patrols will be outfitted with Agent N and given permission to use as deemed necessary to protect themselves. Now we come to a situation where prodigies would be neutralized on site without any due process. The whole shot first and ask questions later routine. I’m sure many people can draw comparisons of this in our society. There is a lot of back and forth that goes on this book. Nova is discovered but Adrian and his team look for any reason to not to believe she is Nightmare, that they are so easily duped into releasing her. I mean, yes a lot of the evidence was circumstantial but also pretty obvious. Nova for her part, sees another way to get what she wants,thanks to her time with the Renegades but also time in prison. She soon discovers that past prejudices are hard to overcome and what you thought was true is not always the case. The epic battle comes down to Nova, Adrian, Oscar, Danna and others to put aside their differences and learn to trust each other so they can work with each other. I enjoyed the series as a whole but I do think they council needs to be disbanded and another form a government needs to put in place because as good as they are superheros, they are bad policy makers and considering that the door has been left open for more books, I hope that this will be explored more.

Review: Rebel by Marie Lu

**POSSIBLE SPOILERS** Fans of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy knows that it ended on a bittersweet note. Our heroes June and Day save the Republic and live to tell the tale but don’t end up together. The illness that Day suffers gave him amnesia and he doesn’t he remember who June is. June for her part, promises that if Day pulls through she will let him live in peace. So Day takes his brother, Eden, to the technological advanced country of Antarctica to get away from the Republic and give his brother best education. June stays to help the new Elector reshape and rebuild the Republic. The Epilogue of Champion left readers with hope that one day June and Day will one day end up together and Rebel answers that questions. As well as to what happened with the Republic and Eden. Rebel picks up about a month after the Epilogue, which took place 10 years after the events of the Legend trilogy. Eden is a top student at Antarctica’s top university and is about to graduate with his Masters and will soon return to the Republic for a prestigious internship. Thanks to Day’s heroics, Eden and Day are afforded to live in the luxury and all the benefits that go with it. Day, who now goes by his real name of Daniel works for the AIS, Antarctic Intelligence Service. Daniel has been investigating the mob boss Dominic Hann in the Undercity. Ross City the capital city of Antarctica is split in to two parts, the Undercity and the Sky floors. Citizens are live in a kind of gamified society, in which every action they do are given points. The more points citizens earn the higher level they are the higher level they are the more opportunities they have. The levels determined where they can live, where they can work and even what food and medicine they access too. The system is supposed to inspire people to make the right decisions and work hard. The better and harder they work they more points they earn and the more opportunities they earn but in reality it hard for those with low levels to move up. If you are limited in what food you can buy and because of that left hungry. How are you going to have the energy to work harder? If you are sick but your level doesn’t allow you to see certain doctors or get the right medicine, how can you expect to get better? Eden and Day see the Undercity and it’s unfairness as reminders of how they lived in the Republic but react to it different. Eden is drawn to it, while Day tries to avoid it even though his job requires him to work down there. It’s no surprise that Eden gets caught up with Dominic Hann, the same man that Daniel has been investigating and that’s really where the story picks up. This also coincidentally is when June, the Elector and the Republic delegation visit Ross City. Daniel has slowly been recovering his memories of June since their chance meeting with her in the Epilogue. He remembers how much he was in love with her and even though the last decade he didn’t remember her he never took off the paper clip ring she gave him. So really deep down he never stop loving her but does she still love him? It’s been 10 years and they have both grown up and changed and had other relationships. Can they just pick up where they left off? Well, not really because chaos once again strikes and they are retreating back to the Republic.

While we still don’t know what happened that split the US into pieces and how or when people settled in Antarctica, we do know that change is slow and really there isn’t a perfect form of government. We learn from June that while the Republic has improved and is rebuilding but that costs money and you will always have those who will want to go back to what they are familiar with. Meanwhile, the gamified society of Ross City seems like a fair solution, that we are all rewarded and penalized for our actions because we don’t all start at the same point it makes it hard for people to move up. More importantly when you treat half of your population with contempt and just assume that they are lazy and that is why they stay at such low levels, well you’re going to have trouble. What makes a good villain is that you might agree with them. There is a reason after all why Eric Killmonger is the best Marvel Villain because he wasn’t wrong. He was absolutely right that Wakanda was wrong for their continuous isolationist policy. It’s how he went about it that was wrong. Nakia argued the same thing but proposed a different method of going about it and that is what T’Challa ultimately went with. Hann is also not wrong that the system that Antarctica wasn’t the fair system it was presented as but he’s solution wasn’t the way to go about it either. Eden, Daniel and June once again come to the rescue and save another nation from ruin. For us readers, it gives us the ending that we truly wanted for our characters and gave closure to a fantastic series. I’m glad that Marie Lu decided to write it because it was a fun read. For me it hit all the right notes of the original trilogy and gave a satisfied ending. There are still many questions left open as to how Antarctica and the Republic will move forward but you do have to hope that they both took lessons in what each nation has gone through and learn from it.

Quick Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Alex Stern is the only survivor of a brutal attack but that’s the beginning of our story. Out of the blue she gets an offer to join a secret society that monitors other secret society and a full ride to Yale. It’s an opportunity to start over and put her past as a teenage runaway, drug attic and victim behind her. Of course it won’t be easy. Alex has a unique ability that makes her valuable to Lethe, the society that monitors the most powerful Secret societies in the world, She can see ghosts or the dead. Lethe is charged to make sure that the rituals of the societies don’t go to far. When you play with magic anything can happen. Alex is mentored by Darlington. While Alex may not be suited for Yale Darlington was born to it. He grew up in Yale and is in love with New Haven. He’s one of those guys that is just too good for his own good. There are a couple of mysteries that are weaved together to make this such an interesting story. Darlington goes missing and no one knows where he went. Why did Alex survive when everyone else in the house died? How does the murder on Campus have to do with societies. All of these mysteries work together to complete a compelling story of magic, wealth, privilege and class social structure. Sexual abuse and assault also plays a part in the narrative and at times is described in graphic detail so be aware. Alex, herself a victim or sexual assault as well as other abuse. It’s heartbreaking but also unfortunately all too realistic in today’s society. So, yes read at your own risk but for mystery lovers, for ghost story lovers or those fascinating by magic this book is worth the read. .

Review: Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

This was a satisfying series. Mirabella, Arsinoe, Katherine, Jules and Emilia have gone through a lot in the last four books and for the most part, I’m okay with how it ends The ruthlessness of how Kendare Blake wrote her story really brought up the tension. I think I always knew that some of the girls would not make it to the end. After all from the beginning two of the three sisters were supposed to do die to allow one sister to ascend to the crown. So it wasn’t a surprised that two of our queens did not make it to the end. At least one of them, I was really said about, almost as sad as the characters themselves and a little annoyed that another succeeded but that’s life I guess. Katherine and Arsinoe both had the biggest character growths of all the characters. Katherine went for a weak Queen who was nothing more then a puppet to the Arron’s who raised her. Thanks to the Dead Queens that saved her life and possessed her helped her grow into a fearsome Queen who was to be feared but also confident in her own decisions. There was some kind of peace in her as she understood her role in how it was all going to end. In a way, as the book progressed she was only one who knew it. Arisone, started out also weak and wanting nothing to do with being a Queen. Her original plan was just run away but she eventual learned you can’t escape your issues and excepted her role. She may never want to take a role of leadership but she is also no longer shying away from who she is and what she had to do to get there. Mirabella pretty much stayed the same and it was kind of her downfall. She always believed that her love for her sisters and their love for her would be enough to get them through. If they were going to defeat the mist and the Dead Queens, they needed to do it together. In a way she was right, just not as she imagined. Jules is still not my favorite character but she was better in this one. Maybe because the story focused more on Katherine, Arisone and Mirabella then her and because of the events of past books, she was a little more subdued. All in all, it was a very interesting and engrossing story. A feminist fantasy about a Matriarchy society filled with all the social and political intrigue of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. The book is populated with strong women, who are complicated and nuanced. None of them are perfect and all do questionable things but most importantly that were allowed too be. They were the damsels in distress and the villainess. They were the heroes and the bad guys. Yes, there were romances but they were subplots and not central to the narratives. In the end the sisters prevailed because of their own skills and strengths and the skills of strengths on their friends. They controlled the story and their destiny. They saved themselves. We need more books and series like this.

Quick Review: Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker

I really love this series. It just gets better. Caeldonia and her crew have been separated because Cala couldn’t help herself and tried to take on Lir at the end of Seafire. Fortunately for her she was saved by the Blades, a group of former bullets. They heal her and she convinces them to help her get her crew back, even though it would mean for them to go back to some old bullet homesteads and put them in danger. The great thing about this book is that we truly get to see why Cala is the captain and why people are so willing to follow her. She had strength in the Seafire but we had met her after she had assembled her crew. In Steel Tide, we get a glimpse of her she was able to assemble her crew in the first place and earn such loyalty from them. Cala is a little rough behind the edges but she is so smart and brave that it’s hard to believe she can do everything. She has the ability to see every aspect of the situation and come up with the plan and execute no matter how impossible it may seem. Her belief that she is right and able to make the impossible possible make people follow her. Cala confidence also grows, she is still unsure why she is the leader and doubts her own skills but she knows something has to be done and is willing to do it. She has given people hope so the next book is going to be epic. I can’t wait to read it.

Reviews of The Crown of Embers and Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

I really enjoyed this series. Elisa has to be considered among the best YA heroines. She is smart, caring and strong. She never stops fighting for her people and love ones and is able to make the impossible possible. The Crown of Embers begins with Elisa as Queen but because she is a teenage girl and an outsider, the first thing that she is asked to do is find a husband. The people will be more willing to except her rule if she has a husband by her side to guide her. Never mind that she just single handily saved the whole country on her own. All women need a husband. If that wasn’t enough, the Inveirno threat isn’t over. Elisa has threats coming at her from the outside and the inside so what does she do. She looks for the source of her Godstone to make her more powerful and will go through many perils to do so. Bitter Kingdom finds her facing a civil war as well having to rescue her Guard and love Hector from the Invierno. It may at first seem a little selfish to go off the grid to go rescue Hector but Elisa knows that having him at her side is a strength not to mention it gives her a opportunity to learn more about her enemy. She is nothing but practical.

What I like about Elisa is that she is not loyal to her friends but she is incredibly smart. She is able to size up a situation and come up with a solution in moments. This is truly her special power and she becomes to learn this. The Godstone gave her an advantage but it’s her ability to understand her enemies and how she can take advantage. She is able to talk her way out of a fight with her Inviernos and takes back her Palace without having to start a war. Her ability to inspire loyalty and friendship from those around her is also a power. She is a good person and people see that and want to follow her and help her. She couldn’t accomplish everything with out Hector, Mara, Belen, Ximena and the many others. I think this is way she is such a strong heroine. Yes, she has a special power that helped her out but all the power in the world wouldn’t help if she didn’t have the intelligence and friendships to plan and execute. So read those books ladies and be kind to your friends. I’m selling this trilogy short. It was a thrilling ride and I’m happy that we are getting another book in the world next year. There is so much more to explore and Elisa and her kingdom have more work to do .

Quick Review: The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jen Gunter

This is embarrassing to admit but there is some comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who thought this but *sigh* I didn’t realize there was a difference between the Vulva and the Vagina. I kinda thought they were the same thing. The words were interchangeable. It really is sad how little we know about women’s body and how for centuries the medical profession didn’t really feel it necessary to study women’s bodies and health the same way they study men’s. That’s where Dr. Jen Gunter comes in. Twitter’s doctor as she is known spells out the fact from the fiction. What we know to be true and what isn’t and really what works for her. She lays everything out in a very straightforward way. Her explanations are easy to understand and makes perfect sense to me. She has set it up in a way that you can jump around and read on what you want to know. Sure you can read from front to back and I’m sure it’s beneficial. I started it that way but then skipped forward to later chapters as they pertained more to my own personal questions. I did go back to the chapters I missed but I didn’t bother me that I didn’t read it order. I like to think of it as my own choose your own adventure book. The real strength is that as I have more questions as time goes on, I can always go back to reference. So ladies, I do recommend adding this book to your library. All of our lives, we have been told misleading or even out right lies about our anatomy that continue to do us harm. It’s time to take that knowledge back.

Quick Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Shout out to all the Smart, Fat girls out there. Elisa is here for you. Elisa is a Princess who marries a King and is a bearer of the Godstone so much is expected of her. She’s also not the conventional beauty aka skinny. If you are not stick thin you can identify with Elisa. For most people it’s hard for them to look beyond our weight and see us to be anything more than just fat and lazy. Over and over again, Eliza is overlooked and underestimated. She’s dismissed, not just because she is fat but also because she is a teenage girl. She is able to assert her authority thanks to her intelligence and quick thinking. Her years of devout study and her growing belief in herself allows her to defeat her enemies but for some it doesn’t matter how strong, smart or capable she becomes she will always be her weight. At one point in the novel, she loses some weight thanks to traipsing across the desert. When she returns to her husband, the King he doesn’t recognize. He only found her to be desirable once she reached a “desirable weight” while others like Humberto and even Hector saw her for who she really was no matter her size. Again so many of us can identify with that. Elisa is a great character for girls and woman to look up too. I looking forward to seeing where Elisa goes from her and proud of myself for finding this series after it has been completed. I’ve also made progress. haha

Quick Review: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

So for a book that is about Witches, their familiars and the Pendle Hill Witch trial all of those things don’t really play much a roll in the main narrative. Yes, the witch trails plays in the background of the story as woman are starting to be rounded up and arrested but it’s a minor plot point that doesn’t really come into place into the very end of the book. It’s really about the limited roles that women have. Fleetwood may be the mistress of her house but if she can’t produce an heir she could see herself without a home and husband. She is the money and privilege but is very limited in her choices. When she finds a letter from her doctor to her husband that says that 1 more pregnancy will most likely kill her she is devastated because she is pregnant and had lost her previous 3 pregnancies. She goes for a ride and runs into Alice in the woods she is convinced she is the only midwife that can save her. Alice is a poor single woman who works as a midwife and a barmaid to support herself and her father. When Alice helps Fleetwood after she fell off her horse she is convinced that Alice is the only midwife that can help her deliver a healthy child and keep her alive. Things get complicated when Alice is named as part of the Pendle Hill witches and Fleetwood must try to save her. Now Fleetwood Shuttleworth and Alice Grey are real people. Fleetwood was indeed the mistress of a noble house in Lancanster. Alice Grey was accused of witchcraft but was the only one acquitted. This I don’t think is a spoiler since anyone with google could have found that out. There is no historical document that links them to each other so the story is entirely fiction. Anyway, over the course of the book the two women bond and find that even though they come from different backgrounds, they really aren’t that different. They lives are completely controlled by their circumstances and they are pretty much powerless to do anything about it. Which is definitely frustrating. It is never fully explicit that Alice is a witch though she does seem to have a familiar as a fox. Again, that really doesn’t play much in the story. While the book is interesting and has some important things to say about the limited roles of women in our society I feel like it’s a missed opportunity. I wish the story would have been from Alice’s point of view instead of Fleetwood. So we could have gotten more with the witches and witch hunt. Also I didn’t really think Fleetwood was all that interesting. Sure, I felt sorry for her. She was married at 14 and at 19 and living with the pressure of producing an heir. Something that she had a failed to do for 5 years. Her husband at first seems supportive but well, I’m not sure how we are supposed to feel about Richard Shuttleworth. He dotes on Fleetwood but is constantly travels. We find out later she has a mistress who is also pregnant. Fleetwood tries to get him to help her with Richard and he only really does it when her life on the line. In the end, they seem to live happily ever after as if nothing in the book mattered at all. It’s weird. I feel like this book could have been better.

So that ends my Pop Culture homework assignment. It was interesting to read different interpretations on the witch myth. While witchcraft probably exists but for the most part witches are not evil. Most of those who were accused of witchcraft were not witches but women who dared to want or live above their stations. All the novels dealt with idea that witches needed to hide who they were because discovery would be dangerous for us. As a woman, I identify with that. I think all women do. We all have been taught how to act in public to not draw attention to ourselves or to draw attention to ourselves when need be. Who we are at work, with friends and at home are often different because we have to be different for the environment we are in. In that way we are all witches. Welcome to the coven ladies.

Review: Firebug by Lish McBride

I have completed a book from my pop culture homework assignment! Firebug is the tale of Ava, a teenager who can start fires with her mind. She is the main assassin for the Coterie, which is like a mafia for magical people. This is not something she wants to do with her life. For one, the head of the Coterie, Venus, killed her mother. For another, she’s a member for life and can’t ever get out of her contract. It’s not awesome. She’s met some good people in her time in the Coterie, though. Ezra, a shape shifter who turns into a fox and Lock, whose mother is a dryad, so he is part dryad, are her team and help her when she goes out on assassin missions. They’re both amazing and I really enjoyed the dynamic between the three of them. The main thrust of the story is that Ava is asked to assassinate someone and she doesn’t want to. This kicks off all kinds of shenanigans. I was riveted. Couldn’t stop listening to this audio book.

This book was excellent. I devoured it. I can’t wait to dig into book two (after I finish my challenge, of course). Beth did a really great job picking this for me. I liked it so much.