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.

Review: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

So what happens after the hero vanquishes the villain and wins the heart of the fair maiden? They live happily ever after right? Well do they really? Anyone who has ever seen the Musical Into the Woods knows that yea, fairy tales don’t always live happily ever after. A better comparison might be the Play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, that doesn’t exactly portrays Harry in the best light. I mean seriously, no Harry kinda grows up to be a dick but I digress. Simon Snow didn’t really believe he would survive the HumDrum but he did and to so he gave up his powers and has wings and a tail. He moved into a flat with Baz and Penelope and went to college. Baz and Simon are together and Penelope is still her best friend. Agatha is off living the good life in California. Everything should be good. They won! So, why is everyone unhappy. Penelope’s solution is a road trip. She thinks that Agatha is in trouble and what better way to get everyone out of their funk then go on a mission to save her and drive across the Great US of A. The problem is they have no idea how big the US really is or how things work here. It seems the US is kinda like the wild west of the Magical world. Anything goes and no real formal organization. Our heroes found themselves in so funny situations thanks to cultural clashes and well underestimating how weird the US really is. One of the funniest scenes is when they stumbled on a Ren Faire in Omaha and our flabbergasted to see people dressed up in Medieval garb as it’s regular wear. I guess they don’t have Renaissance faire’s in Britain? Along the way, they meet my new favorite character, Shepherd who is just too nice and too curious for his own good. I love him and I can’t wait to read more of them. In a way Penelope is right, they needed this road trip. Baz discovered that there is more to being a vampire then he knew. Simon still had fight left in him. Penelope is still a clever but maybe not as clever as she thinks and needs to learn to trust others and Agatha was in trouble but she also was the damsel in distress this time. She ultimately found a way out and helped save them all. When I started it, I didn’t realize that there was going to be another book. Rainbow Rowell doesn’t right series. This is actually her first sequel but when the book ended on a pretty big cliffhanger, I screamed there better be another one! Thank goodness their is. I can’t wait to read what happens next. This series is just too much fun to let go.

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: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

You know how often the book is so much better than the movie? Well this was exception to the rule because I have to say I like the movie better. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the movie multiple times and am fans of Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. I don’t know but the book was kind of blah. A lot of descriptions with not a lot happening. No wonder they made so many changes to the movie. They both follow sisters, Sally and Gillian Owens who both have had some bad luck in love. Sally is widowed early on in the book just like in the movie. She is also focused on being normal even though everyone else in her family are okay with being themselves. Gillian is still the wild spirit that runs away from home and ends up in an abusive relationship with Jimmy who ends up dead but that’s kinda of where the the similarities end. The book takes place primarily in Long Island then in their Aunt’s house in Massachusetts. Maybe that’s what I didn’t like it as much because the Aunt’s were not in it as much as they are in the book. Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing are kinda the best part of the movie and without them the book is kind of lacking. The urgency that is felt with the dealing the spirit of Jimmy isn’t there. There is no build up of the romance between Sally and Gary Hallet. He doesn’t even appear until the last 50 pages of the book. As for a book about witches there really isn’t much witchcraft going on. I was a little disappointed in it but at least I can always watch the movie.

Review: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

This was truly everything that I wanted it to be. It was a space action adventure. It introduced me to Korean folklore and was just plain fun. Min is a 13 years old and is a fox. Not a real fox but can turn into one or really shapeshift to anything. Her family must hide their heritage since foxes are thought to be untrustworthy. Unlike other supernaturals, like Dragons, Goblins and Tigers who are able to work freely. Many think Foxes are extinct. No, just in hiding. Min’s brother goes missing from his Space Cadet mission and thought to have deserted to look for the Dragon Pearl. A mystical object that can transform worlds and make them more inhabitable. She knows her brother Jun would never do something like that so she goes off and looks for him. While she is away she discovers that there is more then meet the eye. The mystery of what happened to Jun gets mixed with with Ghosts, politics and who can get the the pearl first. Min is sassy and smart. You could say she is clever as a fox. Sorry, I had to. It is interesting how the fox myth differs from Korean and Japanese folklore. In Julie Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox, Yumeko is seen as being a trickster because of her fox heritage but not exactly an outcast the way Min and her family would be if they were discovered. It’s fun to learn how different cultures tell similar stories. Anyway, back to Min. She keeps finding herself in impossible situations but uses her intelligence and fox powers to get herself out. She is brave. There are many reasons that she should give up and just say this is too much for me but she knows what is at stake. Not just for her and her family but for everyone. If the pearl falls into the wrong hand it could be used as a weapon instead of a tool for the better. This books has a lot of twists and turns. Betrayals are all around and friendships questioned. So far it is my favorite of the Rick Riordan presents imprints. Its a shame that at the moment, it is only planned as a standalone because there is so much potential. Obviously it has been left open that if Yoon Ha Lee wanted to come back and right another and I hope he does. It definitely makes me want to check out his other books now.

Quick Review: Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard

Fans of the Red Queen series should devour this short story collection. Even if they have already read the two previously released short stories, it is still worth the read. Broken Throne is gives more insight into the world building that author Victoria Aveyard did to create her series. Historical notes by Julian is the perfect way to go deep into how Norta, Montefort, Lakelands, Piedmont and neighboring countries came to be and gives perspective on where they are now. In between the history lessons are short stories, new and old, set in this world that focuses on supporting characters or backstory. The story that fans will probably be the most interested in reading is Fire Light. Fans who were left a little disappointed on how Mare left thing with Cal at the end of War Storm will get some closure in this story. Mare and Cal have been through a lot. They have both done things to others and to each other that they can’t take back. They both needed time to heal from everything that has happened and accessed who they are now and not who they were before they meant. Can they forgive each other? Can they forgive themselves? It was a sweet story that wraps up their story nicely. While I think this was a wrap of the series but I think there is a lot here for more book set in this universe. The Nortan states push towards a representative government is rocky and the epilogue mentions further drama that could easily be turned into a series. There are a few countries that were mentioned but we haven’t been that could be explored. Not to mention, as more and more Reds turn out to be New bloods, there could be so many more stories about them and how that plays out in the world. So what I’m saying, I don’t think we have seen the last of Norta or the Lakelands or Montefort or the last of Mare, Cal, Evageline, Iris, Farley and the other characters either. Whenever Victoria is ready to come back she should know I’ll be waiting.