What we are listening to now: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer

Read by Carrie and her daughter Billie Lourd.

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Quick Review: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

the body electric So this book wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either.  It was more meh.  I wanted to get into it but I just couldn’t.  The pacing felt a little off to me.  It started fast a little too fast for me.  Ella’s mother has invented technology that allows people to relive their best memories and Ella has the ability to go into people’s minds and memories and look around their minds.  She does this once and all of a sudden she’s an expert.  She all of a sudden knows how to manipulate minds and search around strangers memories to find what she needs.  Then pacing slows as we try to find out why she can’t remember the hot rebel, Jack and if he’s the terrorist or is it the government?  After it moved too fast and then moved to slowly and then we finally got to the climax and was dragged out and then it was over.  I was a little disappointed because I really loved Beth Revis’ Across the Universe series.  This had so much potential to be a cool book that just never really got going.

Quick Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

truly devious Stevie Bell is starting at a new school.  The mysterious and illustrious Ellingham Academy.  Started by the infamous and rich Albert Ellingham the for the brightest students.  Ellingham opened his school because he believed education was a game, a game that should be open to everyone so he made it tuition free.  However, the history of Ellingham is tragic.  Albert’s wife and Daughter are kidnapped and another student goes missing. While there was a confession and trial many things about the case have been left unsolved.  Stevie is determined to solve the case. What Stevie didn’t count on was another student dying and a new mystery develops.  Maureen does an excellent job setting up the past mystery with flashbacks and FBI transcripts and interweaving it with the present.  At first it seemed that they cases were related and then they didn’t and then it did again.  She always able to keep you on your toes.  Stevie is ambitious.  She knows that her interest are a bit unusual and it makes it hard for her to make friends.  An issue that makes her anxious. As she tries to solve the mysterious before her she also must contend with school work, friendships and other relationships and forging your own path and not necessarily the path expected of you.  I don’t think I have read a book depict anxiety in such a realistic way before.  It really gets to the heart of how anxiety can paralyze a person but also shows how one can overcome those thoughts.  Stevie is a great role model in that respect.  The cast of characters around Stevie are interesting and I’m sure we will get more of them as the series progresses but I have to give a shout out to my boy Nate.  He is the friend that everyone needs because he was willing to put himself in uncomfortable position because he saw Stevie was in a bad place and it was the push that Stevie needed.  That’s a true friendship.

Quick Review: A Cruel Prince by Holly Black

cruel prince I feel like singing “Hello Dolly” except it is “Hello Holly” because she is back to where she belongs.  No one writes about Fairies the way that Holly does. From the Spiderwick Chronicles to  Modern Faerie Tales to Darkest Part of the Forest, her stories are a mixture of faerie lore with modern twists and not one is the same.  The Cruel Prince is a new spin on the changeling story.  Instead of a fairy leaving one of their off spring with humans to replace their own babies, we have twins Jude and Taryn who are stolen from their home after Madoc kills their parents.  You see, Madoc is the general to the High King in Faerie and has an odd sense of honor.  He married their mother and well she escaped, taking their baby, Vivi, with her to the Human world. Ten years later he finds her married to another and in a fit of rage kills both of them and then out of duty he takes all the kids back to Faerie and raises them as his own.  Jude and Taryn were seven when they come to live and Faerie and have come to think about it as home despite living with their parents murderer.  There are only two ways humans can join the court.  They can either marry their way in or earn their way by becoming a knight.  Taryn wants to the former and Jude the latter.  In Jude’s quest to become a Knight she battles against the cruel and spoiled Prince Cardan and his viscous friends.  Like any kid who has ever been bullied, you come to a point where you can no longer just sit by and let things happen and start fighting back.  Jude is given the opportunity to prove herself to Cardan’s brother, Dain, who is expected to be named King by becoming one of his spies but this is Faerie and things don’t go the way you expect.  The coronation didn’t go as planned, people revealed themselves to be not to who she thought them to be.  Despite all the betrayals and double crosses, Jude takes the opportunity to make her own power play.  I love Jude.  She is smart and brave.  Being a human growing up in Faerie is fraught with challenges but she has found ways to turn those disadvantages to her advantage and outsmarts them all.  That being said, the real conflict as the series is going to be if she able to deliver on all the the promises she’s made.  Will her allies continue to support her? And will Cardan and her ever hook up? Fans of Black’s Modern Faerie Tales trilogy will love the surprise cameos from Roiben and Kaye.  This is a great start to another classic Holly black faerie tale.

Review: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

conjuring of light The Shades of Magic trilogy is quite a ride and A Conjuring of Light is no exception.  For a book that has to do with multiple Londons, magic and power this is book isn’t really about any of those things.  It’s about where do people really belong.  Kell is an Antari, a very powerful magician that can travel between worlds. He is raised as a Prince, treated as the brother and son of the Royal family in Red London but never truly feeling that he is one of them because he knows he can’t leave.  Rhy is the crown prince of Arnes in Red London and for all his privilege and charm he has no magic. There are no rules or reason as to why some people have magic and while others don’t.  Rhy is the heir to the throne but feels unworthy because he doesn’t have any magic and in this world is seen as a weakness.  Lila is talented thief from Grey London struggling to get by.  She ran away from home when she was young and has been running ever since.  She had no friends as she sees any kind of attachments as a weakness she cannot afford because she has big dreams of seeing the world. Holland grew up an White London, a hard world that Magic has been slowly going away thanks to it’s nearness to Black London. In his London magic is a gift and curse those who have it have power and those who don’t will do anything to get it.  Holland is an Antari like Kell and for that reason he is both feared and targeted.  He grew up with stories of a King that will bring back magic to his world and he dreams of being that King but he suffers greatly from those who loved and cared for. Alucard was born to the aristocracy but was cast out of his family because of who he loved and now travels the seas a Privateer for the Crown. All of them are powerful in their own rights and all of them are searching for their place in their world or worlds.  Their stories is what makes this series so compelling.  As they all struggle to overcome a power far greater then them individually it was their discovering of themselves and overcoming their own fears that allowed them to overcome the darkness and save their world and themselves.  One of the themes throughout the book is that magic needs a balance.  Just like the Force for there to be peace the Light must balance the Dark.  Magic needs to be balanced with non-magic because even Magic has it’s limits. Black London was destroyed before the action of the trilogy because Magic had no counterbalance and burned it down.  For Kell, Lila, Rhy, Holland and Alucard, they are all looking for that counterbalance in their lives and until they found it they couldn’t defeat Osaron who was pure magic.  I feel like I’m getting real deep here but I think this is true in all of our lives.   The Shades of Magic is truly entertaining series.  It did have few bumps along the way.  I said of the second book about how it started off slow and a little harder to get into and this book I felt had a little unnecessary side trip to a mysterious black market, in the end these are minor missteps to a enjoyable trilogy.  A trilogy that I wonder if may become more one day because I think she left things open to a return to Grey London in the future.  I kinda hope so because I would love to visit Kell, Rhy, Lila and Alucard again.

Quick Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows Final I’ll admit that I had a little trouble getting into this one.  I get the feeling that V.E. didn’t plan on this being a trilogy originally because while there were a few loose ends it was wrapped up pretty nicely and could have ended where it did.  That meant that she sort of had to start all over again setting up the world and the characters.  Lila had left Red London to seek adventures and find herself on a privateer’s boat.  Kell and Rhy are left dealing with the new bond between them and the knowledge that their lives are tied to each other.  If one dies so does the other.  All three are restless in their new realities so of course it’s a good time to put on an international tournament of magic.  The Essen Tasch, a competition with neighboring nations Faron and Vesk.  A good way to expand the universe but it also meant it took a lot of pages building up the games that by the time we finally do and we get all of characters in one place again, the book is more then two thirds over and you blink and the games are over.  I just felt it needed a little less setup and more action.  Especially since the real story was going on in White London and we only get a glimpse of.   The one saving grace is it has one hell of cliffhanger, with not just one or two but at least three characters lives in peril at the final page.  It’s a good thing, I went ahead and bought the last book because I have to know what happens next.