Quick Review: Welcome to Nightvale

Welcome to Nightvale! A friend made a reference to this and I did’t get it and she was very surprised that I had never listened to the podcast…well, now I’ve listened to this first book. And, it was fun! And, weird. Sooo weird. But, I’m into it. This was a little mystery, I think that’s how you would describe it, set in a town called Nightvale but might be Fox Mulder’s wet dream of a town. Time is weird, people disappear, not everyone seems to age, you have to be careful of lawn flamingos. This was a fun little book. I recommend it, if you also like weird books.

Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Ana is a Fanatasist. One of seven perfect princess in The Kingdom theme park. She and her sisters are hybrids. Perfectly engineered to be what every guests wants them to be and everything that they could ever need is taken care of. Ana loves what she does but she begins to question the Kingdom’s mission when one of her sisters starts to act different and she meets a new worker named Owen. Soon her life gets turned upside down when Owen is missing and presumed dead and Ana is accused of his murder and put on trial. The book’s narrative goes back and fourth between Ana’s first person perspective of her life leading up to the event and transcripts of her trial. Between the two narratives the mystery of what happened to Ana and Owen starts to take place and well things are not what they seem. Ana being partly artificial she only knows at first what she is programmed to know but she is curious in the world and notices when anything is a bit off. It starts when a few of the hybrid animals start to behave aggressively and it leads to public incidents at the park. Then one of her sisters, Nia does something so shocking it really rocks Ana to the core. She finds solace in her new friendship with Owen, a maintenance worker at the park but he is not who she think he is too. As she tries to put together what is going on in the park while also dealing with her new feelings for Owen. It really brings into question what it is to be human. Is Ana a person even though she was created in a lab? Is she capable of love or is she just mimicking emotions she has observed. It is also pretty scary at some of the shit they park does to their Princesses, it’s no wonder they take the drastic measures they do to get out. It’s great story and it has a really satisfying ending. It’s definitely open-ended so if there were to be a sequel there could be.

Quick Review: The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

This book was stressful from the beginning. I mean that in a good way. From the prologue to the epilogue it is none stop from beginning to end. The setting is a sort of old style wild west world. The girls of this world don’t have autonomy. It’s a rough world and for many families the best thing they can do for their daughters is sell them to the Welcome Houses where they will be feed and sheltered and that is why they are called Good Luck Girls because for many it seen as good luck to work in one of these houses and to be taken care of. In reality though they are being sold into sex slavery. It’s billed as a cross between West World and The Handmaid’s tale. I haven’t seen the former but I know the latter and yeah I can see some similarities. Clementine’s first night as a Sundown girl doesn’t go as planned when she kills her first brag. Her sister Aster leads her and her friends Tansy, Mallow and Violet on an escape but that is just as dangerous as the life they left. With the help from rangeman, Zee they fight their way through the wild terrain. They take some of the power back by robbing the kind of men that used to visit the Welcome Houses to get enough money to remove the favors from their bodies. It’s a powerful statement on how they work together. I thought this was a standalone book but it’s at least a duology as there is a planned sequel. To say I enjoyed it is probably the wrong thing to say because it’s not a pleasant read. What these women go through and have been through is horrifying but also gratifying to see them fight back. I look forward to see what happens next to these ladies as they continue to fight for their freedom and the freedom of others like them.

Quick Review: Children of Virtue of Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Wow. This was gripping from the very beginning. I really love how Tomi Adeyemi has built this world. It is full of such imagination but also so rooted in the the real world. Zelie and Amari completed the ritual to bring back magic but it kinda worked too well. Not only do the Maji have their magic back but Nobles with any Maji ancestries also have magic now. So their enemy is just as powerful and in some cases more powerful. This book really explores how deep the hurt that hatred and bigotry lies and not easy to get over and move on. Amari and Inan both try to get both sides to come together but there are just too many years of hurt and betrayal for either side to trust each other. In fact they are both so sure that the other side is wrong that the only way forward is to eliminate the other. Also the power of grief and how it can really paralyze you to move forward. Pretty much everyone in this book makes big mistakes that will hunt them. Except for Tzain, who is just maybe the best person ever. I really can’t believe it ended the way that it did. It is a much bigger cliff hanger then the first one and I’m not sure I’m okay after reading it. Obviously there is one more book and so the solution couldn’t have been as easy as they thought it should have but the ending was such a twist and confusing mess that it really messes up the reader as much as the characters. I really hope the next books comes out soon.

Quick Review: The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan

I think what I like about this series is how Rick Riordan really explores how messed up some of these myths are. The things that the Gods do are just really unjustifiable and forces Apollo to face them as a human. For the last four books, Apollo has been living as Lester and all of his fragile human failings. For the first time, he has really mourned the death of a human for the first time. Jason’s death still shocks me because in these type of books, the heroes never die. They always find some way to live, particularly in Rick’s world where he has found some pretty creative loop holes to keep his demigods alive. Kudos for him for bucking his own trend. It’s still sad nonetheless. Jason’s death hangs over all of them, particularly those at Camp Jupiter. Frank, Hazel and Reina are already reeling from the previous battle and now they have to move on without Jason and his leadership. Apollo is grieving and has to face his own mortality. Two of the three Emperor’s are planning on attacking Camp Jupiter, with the last king of Rome. To survive he must come to grips of with some of the worst things he did as a God and the people he hurt along the way. It’s truly touching to see Apollo face his humanity and learn from his mistakes. He knows he can’t change what happened but he’s learning he can be a better person and be better God. There is one book left and I can’t wait to see what is in store for him and Meg. Not to mention, with them going back to New York, means that I’m sure we are going to get another Percy cameo. Yes!

Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

What a way to end a series. Jude is not the same girl she was at the beginning and neither is Cardan. They both have grown up so much over the three books. I’m so proud of them. Jude is an exile after Cardan secretly marries her and then exiles her for killing his brother. She’s more then a little depressed because well she got out maneuvered by Cardan. She’s more then a little bit of a whiplash. One minute she’s getting married and the next she’s back in the human world, living with her sister and brother. How did this happen? How did she lose control so quickly. Things take a turn when Jude takes on a dangerous job for a fairy and learns Cardan’s reign is in trouble and then her twin sister, Taryn comes to pay a visit and drop some serious news. Jude must go back to Faerie and help her sister and in no time she’s back in the Game of Thrones. She’s kidnapped by her father, who’s making a play for the throne. She discovers his plan and does what she can to get back to Cardan. Cardan for his part is the same sarcastic king he was but he’s also matured into his role. We have known that he was in love with Jude and didn’t know how to deal with his feelings because 1. She’s human and 2. he never got much love as a kid himself. He knows that he was born under bad stars and people never expected much from him. He didn’t give them much in the last book by drinking for most of it but he’s been better. He plays a part in Jude’s rescue and really takes down his walls for her. This totally throws Jude off her game because its not the Cardan she knows and it’s almost too good to be true. When Madoc finally makes his pitch for why he should be king, Cardan does something so surprising for him that he little transforms the kingdom. Jude is tested like she’s never has been before. She has the power but it’s tenuous at best. To hold on to it will she follow the bloody past of her father? Will she make one more bad bargain? or she will use her one advantage over all of fairies and be human? I want say too much more because I don’t want to spoil it but it’s good. I will admit, I knew what Jude was going to do before Jude did but it wasn’t any less satisfying. I really love when Holly Black when she writes fairies because she no one understands them better. I also love how she seamlessly integrates her other fairy characters into the story without it being too obvious or forced. It’s clear that they all live in the same universe and opens up the story in so many ways. There is so many ways she can take it. This trilogy may be over but she definitely left it open for certain story lines to continue on in other stories and I’m here for it. I am so here for it.

Quick Review: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

At the end of the Raven Cycle, Blue and her Raven boys found what they were looking for. Gansey found he didn’t need a wish from a dead Welsh King. Blue is was not just an ordinary girl living among unordinary girls. Adam that he was more then just poor abused kid and Ronan that he could move on from his grief. Well, apparently there is more for Ronan and his brothers Declan and Matthew have more to work through. Call Down the Hawk starts the fall after the end of the Raven King. Gansey and Blue are off driving around the country during their gap year. Adam is off at Harvard and Ronan is home dreaming at the Barns. Ronan and Adam are still together but the distance is hard. Ronan thought he wanted nothing but to live at home but finds that he wants more than just dreaming. His older Brother Declan, wants to live a boring life where he goes on unnoticed. Matthew is just his happy self except for when he wonders for no reason. It turns out being a dreamer is more dangerous then one might think. It’s not just collectors like Colin Greenmantle that wants Ronan but a secret society of hunters that believe that dreamers like Ronan will bring the end of the world. The Brother’s Lynch soon meet Jordan Hennessy and her many dream selves and things start to unravel quickly. For fans of the Maggie Stiefvater and the Raven Cycle this is a must read. It has the same feel of mystical storytelling of it’s predecessor but moves at a much faster pace. The stakes are much higher as the body count is also higher. Ronan is still everyone’s favorite bastard. I love him. Adam is still wonderful and the best boyfriend. Declan is the real surprise. We really didn’t get to know him in the last series and what little we did was through the lense of Ronan, Gansey, Blue and Adam and well they are a little bias. Declan maybe the least magical person in the lynch family but he also the glue that keeps them together. He comes off cold and uncaring but really he cares almost too much about his brothers. I won’t say it’s better than the original series but it’s definitely close.

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.