Quick Review: Seeker by Veronica Rossi

seeker This was a fun book to read if a little uneven.  The sequel to  Riders, Seekers picks up a week after the first book ended.  Daryn has returned from Georgia after watching Marcus, Jode and Gideon reunite but too scared to face them.  She’s still blaming herself for abandoning Bas to the other realm with Samrael, the leader of the Kindred.  Gideon is still conflicted because he’s mad at Daryn for her role in Bas’ situation plus losing his hand but he’s also madly in love with her.  The trials of teenage love.  It’s been eight months and time is running out get Bas back so Daryn, Gideon and the other Riders of the Apocalypse must reunite to go into the Rift, face their demons and save Bas.  Now I say it was fun because mixed with all the teenage angst were some funny moments.  I truly appreciate Gideon’s snarkiness and sarcasm.  A little uneven because it didn’t feel the momentum of the first part of the book didn’t stay to the last part.  The book spends half of the book trying to find Bas and then we find him and find out that he was just the bait.  Samrael was only using him to get Daryn and the real conflict begins.  I sort felt that all the trials that happened before were kinda meaningless now.  It seemed like a long way to go to get to the payoff and we did it wasn’t as satisfying and felt rushed.  I wish we had spent less time on the Bas search and more on the Samrael/Daryn debate of forgiveness and who deserves it.  Other then that, it was a good book.

Quick Review: Believe Me by Eddie Izzard

eddie Phew!  I did it. I only had about 48 hours to read my DRC and I just barely made it under the deadline.  It helped that those last two days fell on my days off from work.  I’m very glad that I got a chance to read it.  Believe Me was a touching and honest memoir of man who struggled by persevered not just in his career but in his life.  Eddie Izzard is mostly known for his stand up but he is also an actor and transgender.  He talks openly about his sexuality and trying to identify who he is when there really wasn’t a word for it, the loss of his mother when he was six and breaking into the entertainment industry when you have no idea on how to find the door.  He goes step by step throughout his life that lead him to where he is now and those who are familiar with his stand up will notice how many of his chapters are written like his shows.  With a topic and then a short digression into a topic that’s related but not really related before coming back to the original thread.  It’s filled with humor and grief.  Hard times but good times too.  He didn’t have an easy road but it wasn’t all tragedy either.  He owns up to his privilege of growing up in a middle class household.  How the hard work of his father not only inspired him but allowed him to be able to follow his dreams and when he wasn’t able to pay the bills, his father was there to support him.  He talks about the fear of coming out and knowing that it could be the end of his career but how he had to do it.  I don’t think I have ever read a more clear and detailed experience of someone’s coming out.  I think most people see it as it as a one time thing. You Say I’m Gay! and that’s it but really it’s like multiple coming outs.  Once to themselves, then close friends and family and then coworkers and so forth.  To my LGBTQ+ friends, I hope that I have been supportive you and know that I believe that you are all brave for being you.  It’s also a good demonstration that if want something you have to be willing to work for it.  Eddie’s path to success had a lot of failures and a lot of unexpected detours but he used everyone of them to learn and grow and kept at it.  He’s still looking for new challenges like performing his stand up in different languages to connect more with people from different cultures.  Fans of Eddie will love it but I think people looking for inspiration will get a lot out of it too.

Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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**This Review May contain some Spoilers**

I read a lot of fantasy novels and lately many of them have been relevant to what’s currently going on in our world.  I would say that some of it is a reaction to today’s political and cultural climate but books and art have a history of being predictive.  The Handmaid’s Tale was written over two decades ago and is just if not more relevant today then it was then.  Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices might be her most political and timely series out of all her Shadowhunter series but it was years in the making first set in motion 10 years ago with the release of City of Bones.  One of the main threats in Lord of Shadows comes from within the Clave itself.  At the end of the The Mortal Instruments Series City of Heavenly Fire, the Clave started the Cold Peace.  A harsh punishment against Fairies for their involvement in the Dark War.  This has lead to anti-downworlder’s sentiment to spread among Shadowhunters.  Once again proving that people, even supernatural people do not learn from their own history.  Less then five years ago, they defeated Valentine, who’s group wanted to bring back the “golden age” of shadowhunters by ridden the world of downworlders and now the Cohort, a group of Shadowhunters are asking for downworlders to be registered and put into camps.  They movements should be marked and controlled.  Does that sound kinda familiar? It shouldn’t surprise any of you that the downworlders, particularly fairies are not happy and plan in invasion.  While all of this is happening, the Blackthorns and Emma are dealing with their own issues.  With each new book, they get more and more complicated with so many story lines that Clare is almost at George R.R. Martin level but not as many deaths.  I’m not sure all are necessary but it does make for interesting reading.  That being said to me the most interesting character is Julian.  Here’s a guy who at seventeen runs the LA institute. He takes care of his younger siblings and is utterly ruthless.  He will do anything for his family and his Parabati, Emma.  Who he is also madly in love with as she is with him but that’s forbidden and for good reason.  Parabati bond is pretty strong and only enhances strong romantic love to the point it drive them crazy.  Yikes.  As for the ending, I knew the character was going to die as soon as she admitted she was going to be friends with another character.  It sounds silly but the way it was written it sounded so final as her arc was over at that moment.  I was sorry to see that character go but boy there will be hell to pay now.  Too bad we have to wait 2 years to find out what happens next.

Quick Review: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

dark prophecy I keep waiting for Rick Riordan to write a bad book.  The Dark Prophecy is not that book.  He just keep coming up with fresh and different ideas of making these old stories relevant and fun.  Whoever is the God or Goddess of story telling, Rick Riordan is their son.  When we last left Apollo, he’s reeling from the betrayal of Meg, a new prophecy sending him to Indianapolis and the reappearance of Leo and Calypso. That’s a lot for a former God turned mortal teenage boy to handle but handle he must.  When Apollo, Leo and Calypso arrive they are greeted by some very polite monsters because of course the monsters that inhabit the Midwest would be polite.  they are rescued by two former Hunters of Artemis Emmie and Josephine who tells them that their daughter is missing.  She had gone to the dark oracle for help from the second Emperor who has made Indianapolis his home.  Of course this Emperor Apollo has personal history with making everything more awkward.  As the crew tries to figure out how to defeat Emperor Commodus and get the next prophecy without going crazy they experience the same mythic hi-jinks of the other books.  Yes, these book can at times feel be formulaic but it never feel feels like that.  They are just fun, witty and refreshing.  Rick doesn’t shy away for the more uncomfortable stories from Greek and Roman mythology or tries to wash them out either.  Many of these stories are not happy or fun but then again neither is life and yet Rick never lets it get to dark.  He is always able to find the absurdity in them.  Bring on the next one.

Quick Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

a court of wings and ruinThis is a story of how people deal with abuse.  No seriously.  Yes, they are mostly fairies and there is magic and takes place in a land full of both of those things but deep down it’s about the effects of abuse and how we deal with it.  Almost every character has suffered some kind of abuse one way or another.  In A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book of the series, I talked about Feyre’s recovery from not only what happened to her at the end of the first book but emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of Tamlin but Feyre’s not the only one.  Maybe one of the reasons why she and Rhys get along so well, besides that they are mates, is because he also has been abused.  Mor, Cassian, and Azriel all have suffered through emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  They all continue to deal the invisible scars left from it.  On the outside they seem okay but in private with each other, they can share their pain. It’s this reason that this series is important because it doesn’t shy away from these uncomfortable topics but faces them head on.  We struggle through them as the characters struggle with them.  I also think that is why I love Rhys so much.  This is a guy who would do anything for his family, his friends.  Submit himself to such tortures.  Allow the world to see him as a monster.  All to protect his people but he still came out of with hope for a better future.  He took Feyre in knowing she was his mate but never pushed her.  Never forced it on her because he knew what she was going through.  Knew the pain that she was feeling.  Knew how important choices are and never wanted to take that away from her or anyone.  The compassion he shows to Feyre, Mor, Cassian, Azriel and to his people is remarkable.

As for the book itself, it is possible to love a series and book but also not really like it. I experience that with the first book, A Court of Thorns and Roses. I originally felt it was too long and should have ended long before it did or at least be split in two books. It wasn’t until I read the sequel did I understand what I really didn’t like about it and why it was written the way that it was. A Court of Wings and Ruin, I thought it had the opposite problem.  It started off slowly for me and really didn’t pick up until more then halfway through.  I felt there was a lot of unnecessary maneuvering as they prepared for war with Hybern.  I will admit that in the end all of that turned out to be important to the finale of the book but it felt tedious at times.  However, when it got it groove back, it was unstoppable.  It one epic battle at the end and it also brought us more of Feyre’s sister, Nesta, who is the Ice Queen we have always wanted but didn’t know.  The ending felt more like a ending of a series then a transition to the next book.  It definitely tied up some loose ends but there are enough left for another book but I just not seeing how there could be a bigger threat then Hybern.  I guess I will have to read the next book to find out.

Quick Review: Legion by Julie Kagawa

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**I was granted a digital ARC of this book and read it a month ago.  Thank you Harlequin Teen for the advance**

Four books in and we finally learn what makes Ember so darn special and it’s creepy.  I won’t spoil it but let’s just say I look forward to seeing the leader of Talon being taken down.  She’s a real piece of work.  I also think she’s another argument as to why immortality or really Really long life spans are not a good idea.  It makes people do some really crazy insane things.  Anyways, fans of this series will be happy with this installment.  It picks up right where the cliffhanger ending of Soldier ended.  The stakes are higher now that the truth of the Order of St. George and Talon have been exposed.  The Order is complete disarray but Talon has a secret that we as readers know about but the characters don’t. So while, it was a good idea at the time to expose the leader of the Order, it also played right into Talon’s hands.  Talon has become the real big bad of the series.  The Order, while not at all innocent, has been played just as much as everyone else.  Their own prejudices and inability or willingness to try to think differently was their ultimate undoing.  As for our heroes.  They all do some growing up.  Constant near death experiences will do that to you.  The biggest lesson they have learned is if they are going to defeat Talon, they are going to have to work together and reach out to new allies, even if that means reaching out to old enemies too.  I believe there is only one more book left which is good because the ending really seems to have set up a potentially epic final battle between our heroes and Talon.  It’s been a fun ride.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Review: The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

the sun is also a star If you are not immediately charmed, heartbroken and uplifted after reading this then you should check your pulse. This is the perfect blend of romance, coming of age story and social commentary.  It centers around a day in the life of Natasha and Daniel, two teenagers on the cusp of major changes in their lives.  It also touches on the minor interactions that seem meaningless at the time but how that connection could and some times do change someone’s life.  Natasha and her family are illegal immigrants from Jamaica who are being deported at 10 o’clock that night.  She is trying to stop their deportation when she meets Daniel, a Korean-American boy who has the day off so he can prepare and meet for an interview for admission to Yale. From the moment they meet there is an immediate connection.  They both share the immigrant experience of being from two places at the same time.  Even, though Daniel was born in the US, he is often assumed to be from someplace else.  He’s never Korean enough or American enough.  Natasha was born in Jamaica but now has lived most of her life in the US.  Her friends are here, her future is here she doesn’t want to leave.  When they meet though, their futures couldn’t be different.  Daniel’s life has already been planned out for him while Natasha’s is now unsure.  Daniel’s parents are dead set on him and his brother to have a better life then they did, which means, Yale and becoming a doctor and marrying a Korean girl.  Natasha, was planning on going to college and was going to be a data scientist and now all of that is uncertain.  Anyway, they meet and while they don’t know anything about each other they know they have a special bond from the beginning.  Daniel is a poet and romantic.  He’s convinced that their meeting was fate.  That they are meant to be.  Natasha is a scientist and a realist.  She doesn’t believe in love is real or anything that can’t be scientifically proven.  As Natasha tries to kill time before she meets with an immigration lawyer Daniel convinces her to spend time with him to prove that love can be scientifically proven and so they go allover New York, getting to know each other and becoming first friends and then falling in love.  They meet each other’s parents and face each other demons.  While the story focuses on them, we get glimpses into the lives of the people around them.  From their own family but the random people that they briefly come in contact with.  The security guard that scans Natasha’s bag, the secretary of the lawyer.  They all paint a picture of how we all relate to each other and how our decisions big and small can change a complete strangers life.  It’s something to think about.  It was talks about how racism presents itself in other communities.  Daniel’s Korean parents own a black hair care store in Harlem but when his father and his brother meets Natasha they treat her in their shop.  They own a shop that caters to black shopper and yet they can’t even hide their own negative biases.  This was a beautiful novel that not only tells a perfect story of two kids struggling to figure out who they are while dealing with the forces outside of their control but also doesn’t shy from taking on tough issues of racism, immigration, depression and even family.  You need to read this book is all I’m saying.

Review: Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

places Waverly is perfect except so can’t sleep so she spends her nights running.  Marshall is loser burn out, who spends his nights drinking and smoking pot.  They have nothing in common and since they don’t run in the same social circles they have no reason to interact, until Waverly decides to try an experiment to help her sleep and ends up in Marshall’s room.  I’m wrong they do have one thing in common.  They both have terrible coping habits.  Waverly has created this kind of ice princess persona. She is the perfect student, the perfect social butterfly, the perfect daughter and the perfect citizen.  Since junior high, she has planned her and her best friend’s ascent up the social hierarchy.  Now that she is there, she is trapped in this persona she has created and doesn’t know what to do with herself.  Her own fears of people seeing through her carefully crafted facade keeps her up all night.  She runs, she does homework, she watches horror movies late at night.  Marshall is the opposite, he’s almost too open.  He cares too much.  His home life is a mess.  He’s parents were going to get divorce but then his dad gets sick so they decide to stay together even though it makes them unhappy and everyone else unhappy.  To deal with it he does everything to know the pain.  He drinks until he gets sick.  He smokes until his stoned. He makes out with a girl that he knows he doesn’t like but that she likes him.  He rarely goes to class because what’s the point? He’s not going to college. Things start to change when Waverly magically appears in Marshall’s room.  It’s weird and uncomfortable and awkward as neither of them know what’s going on and Marshall is the only one who can see her.  To Waverly it’ a dream that helps her sleep but when she wakes up their remnants of the dream remain.  She has leaves on her feet from walking outside or a gigantic hickey from last night’s make out session.  At night they can be open and honest with each other but in the bright of day they can barely acknowledge each other existence.   Marshall wouldn’t fit in Waverly’s world.  However, they are just want each other needs.  Waverly shows Marshall that he matters, that he could be so much more then what he is right now.  And Marshall shows Waverly that she doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.  I was really drawn into these characters and I wanted them to find a way to each other.  It was satisfying when they both stood finally stood up for themselves to their various bullies.  For them to both realize what was truly making them feel unhappy and finally doing something about it.  At times I found myself identifying with both Waverly and Marshall.  There are times in my life that I felt I had a certain ways to fit in with my friends, especially in high school.  You say and do things that you know the other person wants to hear and do because it’s just easier to go along. I also know the feeling of just trying to numb the pain instead of dealing with it.  I like to think that I have good coping mechanisms but not always.  This book is just a reminder that sometimes the biggest obstacles to being happy is ourselves.  Literature is great like that. It’s entertaining and full of life lessons.

Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

carve the mark 2 So let’s talk the controversy.  I was excited about reading this book because I thought it sounded interesting and was curious how Veronica Roth would follow up her Divergent series.  That was until reviews started to come in and people began talking about the racism surrounding the plot.  Now, I don’t necessarily think it is intentionally racist but it is definitely problematic.  So the plot revolves around two different races of people who share the same planet.  The fair-skinned, peaceful Thuve people and the dark-skinned warrior race Shotet.  Right there raised flags for me.  That the more violent people are described as being dark in skin, eyes and curly hair versus the more light skinned, blue eyed, straight hair peaceful neighbors.  Everything about the Shotet’s is described violently from their language to their tradition of marking their arms with every kill.  It brings up images in our society about we are programmed to think that those with darker skinned are more dangerous then those of us who have lighter skin tones.  That the lighter skinned people are somehow inherently just better people.  And that is why at first I felt a little uncomfortable reading it.  However, it didn’t turn me off either.  As the story continued, I became more invested in the characters Akos and Cyra.  I don’t think ever really got past the uncomfortableness of it but I did want Cyra to best her abusive brother and Akos to rescue his.  They compliment each other really well.  Cyra has a gift for pain. Pain that she inflicts on others but also lives in her while Akos gift is that he nullifies the current.  In this world, everyone has a gift granted by the current.  Each gift is different depending on the person.  Cyra brother is the ruler of the Shotet people and has been using her as his own personal torturer.  She has gained the reputation of being cruel when she is only doing what she is told to do but deep down she knows that she deserves the pain she feels thanks to her painful history.  Akos is kidnapped by the Shotet with his brother when their fates clash with the Shotet ruler.  Both Cyra and Akos really grow throughout the novel. They both see in each other that they don’t have to be what they raised to be.  That they can choose their own paths.  The ending was a little meh but it did pose one interesting question that makes me at least interested in the sequel.  It might be too late for Veronica to fix the unfortunate world building choices in the sequel but I do hope that in the future she takes more time to ask herself, why she is making these choices in her writing.  Is it because this is who the character really is or something that has been internalized in herself coming out on the page.

Review: Pyromantic by Lish McBride

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**Spoilers I was lucky enough to receive a Advance Copy back in September.  There will be Spoilers**

It was worth the wait. I really love Lish McBride’s writing. It’s fast paced and full of humor and just so wonderful.  Pyromantic begins a month or two after Firebug ended.  Ava and Cade are trying to figure out their relationship now that they know they are daughter and father.  Ava is still smarting from turning down Lock for a date.  Ava is still coterie but she can’t quite figure out her new boss, Alistair.  Like, when is he going to start killing people for no reason because that’s what Coterie does, right?  Let’s just say there is a lot to get used to.  That’s when this strange and unpredictable things start happening that Ava, Lock, Ezra, Sid and Bianca now must investigate.

I love Ava.  She’s funny, sarcastic and a little cynical.  She is full of insecurities and considering everything that she has been through it’s not surprising.  She lost her Mom after years of being on the run.  She is forced to work for Venus and the Coterie like an indentured servant.  She doesn’t have many friends outside of her team Lock and Ezra and Sylvie, who works at Cade’s bookstore.  When Lock asks Ava out it throws her off.  What if they break up?  How will that effect that their friendship?  So she avoids them both Lock and Ezra. When the strange a disease ravages the area they are forced to work together.  After all the twists turn it makes for a great book.  It’s so different. I mean who doesn’t love Kelpies who wear sweaters?  Or Werehares who knit and in a biker gang?  I love it all.  But most of all I love the friendship between Lock, Ezra and Ava.  They is a true sense of family with them.  They love each other and they are there for each other.  They tolerate each other faults and support each other when they are down.  I’m also loving the friendship of Ava and Sylvie.  They are both polar opposites.  Sylvie is all sunshine and rainbows and Ava is just fire but it works.  I’m know vague on the plot points but this was a wonderful sequel to a great book.  I really hope you all go out and support Lish because she really writes some amazing stories that are weird and funny.  I’m not sure what else to say but go read!