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.
I knew from the description of this book it would be one I would love. I don’t know why I waited so long to pick it up. Kell is an Antari, or a person who has special magic that allows him to go between different worlds. He travels from Red London to Grey London to White London and back. He is the official ambassador between the different Monarchs of the different but he also has a side business of fencing items between back and forth which is strictly forbidden after what happened to Black London. Black London was overrun by magic that it devoured itself. Red London shut it’s doors to the other London’s leaving White London to deal with Black London and Grey London without magic at all. Delilah (Lila) Bard is a thief in Grey London, stealing to get by. She has big dreams of being a pirate and leaving London behind. When one of Kell’s transactions goes bad he is forced to team up with Lila to save all the Londons. It’s a fun read that is full of twists and turns and has some great characters. Kell seemingly has nothing to be upset about being he is treated like a prince and is like family to the Royal family of Red London but he knows he is just one of their possessions. He may live with them and treated as a soon but he wouldn’t be if he wasn’t useful to them. Lila is a orphan who only has herself to rely on. Together they make one of a hell of team. Lila is one smart cookie. On more than one occasion it’s her wits and fast thinking that gets them out of trouble. Kell is not so bad himself. When he figures out what is going on, he knows whatever he has to do and it means sacrificing himself to save others. I can’t wait to read what happens next for Kell and Lila.
** Spoilers **
So I was all in this novel until the ending. I feel like it left things too wide open and was a bit rushed. The story is told in reverse chronological order as we piece together what happened with Jule and Imogen. Jule is a strong smart girl with the big ambitions and the ability to blend in anywhere. Imogen is a runaway heiress with the need to live life to the fullest. They form a close friendship but like things that burn to bright they tend to fade out too quickly too. When we meet Jule, she is clearly hiding out in Mexico from something or someone from Mexico, we go to London, San Francisco, Puerto Rico, Martha’s Vineyard to New York. As the story unfolds, one can not help but be impressed with how Jule was able to insinuate herself in this world of wealth and privilege with such ease. They don’t even question her story and just assume that she is exactly who she is until late in the game and even then, they never accuse her of being an outright fraud but something a little less genuine. She is able to pull off the greatest con with very little resistance. Jule is able to convince Imogen that she was childhood friends thanks to their connection as orphans. Jule reinvents herself with a superhero background that makes her more heroic then she actually is. Imogen is spoiled and see herself as a free spirit looking to live her life to the fullest. Renting a house in Martha’s Vineyard and sharing it with her boyfriend and friends. She is the kind of person that makes you feel like you are special, until she loses interest and moves on to the next person. She and Jule have an instant connection that borders on obsessive and can only end in one way. It becomes pretty clear what happened between Imogen and Jule that it doesn’t seem all that shocking when it finally happens. To me again it was the ease of how Jule is able to get in her good graces in the first place. When the novel finally circles back to where we began the story that’s where things get confusing. Again real big spoilers after the cut. Continue reading
This was a credibly well written and crafted novel. I was really taken in by this family and their struggles and triumphs. Pachinko follows one Korean family from 1910-1989 from their home in south of Korea to Japan. When Yangjin’s daughter sixteen year old daughter, Sunja gets pregnant and the father can’t marry her. a boarder at her boarding house agrees to Marry her and take her to Japan with him to spare her and her family any shame. Being a Korean living in Imperial Japan at the time was not easy. They were often discriminated against and limited in their movements thanks to racist policies. As the family tries to find ways to survive through poverty, war time and other personal tragedy it tears them apart and brings them together. If there is one thing that I got out of this novel is that no matter where women live, what their station in life is or what religion they practice. Their choices are pretty shit. Sunja finds herself pregnant from a secret affair with a wealthy businessman. When she finds out that he can’t marry her because he already has a wife and three daughters back in Japan she walks away. His offer of being his Korean wife and him buying her house and taken care of her is not enough. She will never be his true wife but also being an unwed mother will bring shame on her and her family. When a young pastor falls ill in her family’s boardinghouse, she and her mother help him get better. Isek is convinced he was sent to them on purpose to help them as they helped him so he agrees to marry her and take her with her to Osaka. This will spare the family of the shame. At 16, Sunja choices are to be destitute and shunned from society or marry a complete stranger and move to another country. Isek is a kind man and takes good care of her and their sons. He raises Noa as his own flesh and blood and does what he can to provide for his family and his brother and sister in law. They do grow to have mutual understanding and good marriage. It’s a shame that Isek dies early in the book due to unfairly imprisoned for political reasons but I wanted to know more about him. Their children Noa and Mozasu are two very different children. They both struggle to find their identity as Koreans born in Japan and lived their whole lives but still looked at as foreigners. I’m sure this is something many children of immigrants can relate too. Noa and Mozasu both represent the “good Korean” and the “bad Korean”. Noa was always the good student who believed that if was good, if he studied hard and was the best in his class who would be able to overcome prejudices and be accepted only to ultimately discover that years of hate is not easily overcome, particularly when the hate comes from within. Mozasu on the other hand understood early that you can’t change people’s mind. If people wanted to label him the “bad Korean” he would comply and ultimately was able to succeed.
I’ll admit I know very little about Korean history or their relationship to Japan. Considering we could be at war with North Korea very soon this seems like a big oversight on our parts. The Koreans were overtaken by Japan and forced in to be second class citizens in their own country. When they moved to Japan things were not better. They were limited on what jobs they could get. They had to live in a ghetto. Even their chosen professions were looked down upon. Pachinko, a kind of gambling was seen as criminal activity and often thought of us gangsters. After World War Two when Japan lost their war their situation became even more precarious. They were not anymore welcomed in Japan then before but with uncertainty at home they couldn’t go back to Korea. If they did, do they go back to North or South Korea. In a way they became homeless, which seems even sadder since for characters like Noa, Mozasu, Yumi and Solomon who were all born and raised in Japan. This is the only home they ever knew and yet they never treated like they belonged. There is a pretty powerful scene of Solomon, the son of Mozasu so 2nd generation Korean Japanese, having to go to the home department and register so he can stay in the country he was born in. I would say that would be crazy but then I remember what’s going on in our country and it doesn’t seem so crazy that a country would do that to it’s people. There is also discussions on women’s role. Sunja from the very beginning is a hard worker and finds it hard to stay stagnant. When Isek is imprisoned and the family is desperate for money, she steps up and starts selling kimchi by the train station despite warnings from his brother in law that women must work. She is industries and does what she needs to do to keep her family fed and sheltered. It is her strength that keeps the family going. At one point, Koh Hansu, who got her pregnant at the beginning of the story, shows up and sends them to a farm out of the city to save them from the end of the war. I was angry that after what he did and could just show up and play hero. Like how dare he? Sunja rejects him over and over again but he always comes back. So infuriating.
I’m glad that we are doing our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives challenge because I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have this book otherwise and I would have missed out on a wonderful story.
This is the first book in the Shaw Confessions Trilogy, a companion trilogy to the Mara Dyer Trilogy. I would recommend going back to read the original trilogy before starting this one and if you haven’t read the Mara Dyer Trilogy then read it first because this book will not make sense if not. I did not re-read the last series and I found myself hitting up google looking for synopsis to remind myself what happened. The Retribution of Mara Dyer came out in 2014 and so much has happened in the last three years it’s easy to forget who Stella is and what happened between her and Mara. What I remember about the original series was how kind of creepy it was. Is Mara really seeing hallucination or can she really kill people with her mind? The first book was a mind trip. This was a little bit more straight forward mystery. It’s a few months after the ending of the last book and other carriers or gifted teens like Noah, Mara, Jaime and Stella are disappearing and then committing suicide. The problem is that they don’t want to and what do these disappearances and suicides have to do with Noah, Mara and what has done to them? Well we don’t get a lot of answers but then again we do still have two more books to go. What we do get is more incite into Noah. The complicated but loyal boyfriend Noah. He is a kid who has every privilege in the world but doesn’t see the point in living until he meets Mara. What happens when he doesn’t have that anymore? Also the question used to be is Mara crazy? Now it’s is Mara a psychotic killer? I’m really going to have to back and read the first trilogy again.
“By relegating the things we fear and don’t understand to religion, and the things we understand and control to science, we rob science of its artistry and religion of its mutability.”
I’m starting with this quote because I really love it and wanted to share. Maggie Stiefvater has a relationship with the English language that I can only marvel at. How she is to spin, twirl her words to create her worlds is truly magical and is why I look forward to reading all of her books. It’s hard to describe her books because they are unique. I mean, who would think about rich white boys looking for a dead Welsh King with the help of psychics would be be so good? And yet, The Raven Cycle is a gift of a series. All the Crooked Saints has many of the Stiefvater hallmarks we have grown to love but this time taking us to a new time a place. The Soria’s grant miracles to all those who seek them but like everything worth having you have work for it. Cousins Daniel, Beatriz and Joaquin are as close as you can get. They are the youngest of the Soria clan. Joaquin, 16 wants to be a DJ and wants more then just being a Soria. Beatriz, 18 is logical and pragmatic. Known to others as “the girl without feelings” she is more interested in figuring out puzzles then her families miracles. Daniel, 19 is the current “Saint of Bicho Raro”. When pilgrims come to Bicho Raro, Daniel helps them to their first miracle but he has a secret. When pilgrims come to Bicho Raro they come looking for miracles and rid themselves of their darkness. Those coming for an easy solution will be disappointed. The Saint provides the first miracle that makes their darkness into flesh and it manifest in many forms. It is then up to the pilgrim to figure out what they need to do rid themselves of their darkness and perform the second miracle. The Soria’s are not allowed to help the pilgrims after the first miracle because if they do it will bring on their own darkness that is far more dark then anything the pilgrims have. The story begins with the three cousins sitting in their truck listening to their pirated radio show they started. Joaquin is the host and Beatriz the engineer and Daniel, just a listener. They are interrupted by new arriving pilgrims, Tony and Pete. Well Pete isn’t a pilgrim. He is just there to work for the truck that is currently their radio station. The next day, it’s discovered that Daniel has gone out into the desert because he helped a pilgrim named Marisita, who’s darkness manifested in her walking in a constant rain storm wearing a wedding dress covered in butterflies. Beatriz and Joaquin try to figure out a way to help Daniel without bringing the darkness on themselves. The central question to this novel is what are you willing to do for a miracle because really what is more frightening than facing yourself? There is nothing harder then looking at yourself and seeing what is actually there and then doing something to change it. We all have this idealized versions of ourselves that makes it herd for us to hear the truth. I’ve been going through this lately. I was recently up for a promotion at work that I didn’t get. I felt I was ready for it but when I was told it was going to go to someone outside of the company and the reasons why it hurt but also was truthful. The reasons why I wasn’t promoted were all things about myself that I needed to work on but to have someone else voice them out loud was kind of painful to hear. I have been grappling with this knowledge for a couple weeks know and what to do with it because in truth I didn’t really want to the job. I’m looking to change careers but the promotion would have looked better on my resume if I stayed for another year. Now that I didn’t get it, how do I go about improving myself so the next time there is no doubt then I’m the one for the job. As for the novel, the Soria’s are all forced to face their own darkness in a way when Daniel leaves because just because they perform the miracles doesn’t mean they don’t need miracles too. It’s not easy but then again anything truly worth having shouldn’t be easy and the struggles they go through it proof of that. So readers, implore you to read this book and ask yourself what do you want and what are you most of afraid. I’ll go first. What do I want. I want to make a difference. What I am most afraid of. That I have reached as far as I’ll ever go and this is the best I’ll ever achieve. What about you?
Gods this is such a great series. I’m sorry that it’s only a trilogy but Rick being Rick did leave it open that if he wants to he can always return to Vahalla, Magnus Chase and his friends. I’ve gushed and praised Rick Riordan in so many other reviews and this is another one. His ability to mix mythology, humor and present day is truly a gift. Yes, his these books a little formulaic. His heroes must go on epic journeys, where they must face many dangers and trials before facing a near impossible task but never does it feel tired or old. It maybe because of his cast of characters are all are real and diverse. How many young reader novels has a Muslim and gender fluid characters in the same novel? and more important how many of them are both are shown to be brave, resourceful, loyal, smart, funny and happy. The answer not many. Both Samirah and Alex are all of those and more. Throughout the entirety of the book Sam is practicing Ramadan, which is probably the first time that many of readers have ever read about Ramadan. As I have stated before about Rick’s, he’s not afraid to tackle tough subjects in his books and he does it by showing positive scenes and connecting them with the stories of our past. That no matter what a child is going through, they are not the only ones. Kids of all race, gender identity and faith can see themselves in one of his many books and that’s amazing. So keep up the good work Rick!
Spoilers under the Cut. Continue reading
Those who do not know their own history are doomed to repeat it. It may sound cliche but it is true. Libba Bray has set The Diviner’s series in the twenties but in our current political climate it could easily be a contemporary novel. All she would have to do is change some of the slang and add some emoji’s. Themes of race, sexual orientation, patriotism, health, sexism and worker’s rights are very prevalent through out Before the Devil Breaks You and The Diviner’s series just as they are today. The Eugenic’s movement that was full swing in the 1920’s where white supremacist used pseudoscience to prove that the white race was superior to all others. It influenced government policy, immigration and mental health and would later inspire those in Nazi Party. The racist policy was dressed up as a way to make America better and stronger. If we can weed out all the undesirable elements of our a population we would be stronger. Their “Make America Great Again” so to say. Our Diviner’s, Evie, Sam, Memphis, Henry, Ling, Isiah, Theta, Jericho and Mabel have now faced two ghosts and are starting to understand the threat they are facing. They powers are growing but are strongest together. They start working with Will and Sister Walker to improve their powers but they all have secrets. Will and Sister Walker both are part of opening the gap between the living in the dead and creating the Diviners. Making them a little less trust worthy. Evie is clinging on to her fame as a radio host but also can’t decide between Sam and Jericho. Theta is afraid the other will find out about her powers and gets an even bigger surprised when her past comes back to haunt her. Mabel, the one without any kind of powers feels out of place because she can’t read objects or disappear or walk in dreams. She want’s to change the world but more then anything she was be noticed. They individual stories are heartbreaking and true and make a for a rich story and speaks to the diverse nature of our country. The King of Crows is throwing everything at them this time because it’s not just one ghost but many and it’s not just ghost they must fight against it’s prejudice and ignorance. It’s the balance between wanted to be safe vs. wanting to feel safe. Those are two different things. When people are scared they will agree to almost anything to feel safe again even if it doesn’t actually make them safer. I would point to the entire last election cycles of examples of that. The Diviner’s came together at the beginning of the book only be torn apart which I can only assume is the perfect set up for the last book. I’ll give Miss Bray credit, she knows how to tell a story and is not at all sentimental. The last 20-30 pages. Bray channels her inner George R.R. Martin and racks up a body count that only he could appreciate. We are living in scary times and anyone who picks this book up hoping to escape will be disappointed because America hasn’t learned from our own history and we are now repeating it.
This was a lot of fun to read and I really want to play Warcross. Marie Lu or someone make that happen! Emika Chen is a hacker and bounty hunter. Her father died when she was eleven and learned how to hack while in foster care. She admires Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross because he created Warcross when he was younger then she was and now at 21 owns his own company and a billionaire. Emika’s life is not going so well. She has less then $13 to her name and is facing eviction due to being 3 months behind in rent. In a moment of desperation she hacked in during the opening ceremony of the Warcross Championships. The next day she is on a plane to Tokyo and is hired by Hideo to track down a hacker named Zero. Emika goes under cover as a player in the games so she can track down Zero and figure out who he is and what he is trying to do. Emika is smart and quickly figures out that one of her own teammates is working with Zero. She tells her findings to Hideo and because this is a YA novel, sparks fly because again YA novel, Hideo is hot! I figured out who Zero was about halfway through the books but the beauty of it, it didn’t spoil the ending. There are secrets in the game of Warcross that no matter how much a character opens up, we still don’t know all the facts. This book was fast paced and full of twists and turns. I do hope that in the next book that we get to know more about Emika’s teammates Asher, Roshan, Hammy and Ren because I feel like we just scratched the surface of who they are. I’m really interested in seeing where Emika goes now that she knows the truth of what happened but is not really sure that it’s truly a bad thing. I don’t want to say too much because it will spoil the ending but it will start some conversations. So yes, go read it.
The Throne of Glass series has expanded way beyond the original books and has so many characters that Sarah J Maas basically had to pull a George R.R. Martin and split the characters up in to two books. Tower of Dawn takes place at the same time that Empire of Storms but this time in the Southern Continent. Chaol and Nesryn journey to meet the Khagan and his family in hopes of swaying them to join their cause but to also heal Chaol paralysis with their famed healers. Chaol meets the young healer Yrene, who readers first met in one of the prequel novella’s. Yrene and Chaol have the typical antagonizing relationship that turns into a romance but they have more chemistry in their first scene then Chaol and Nesryn ever did. Chaol is one of my favorite characters and I was total Celaenia/Chaol shipper and was sad when they broke off but it was inevitable since as we know Celaenia turned out to be Aelin the Queen of Terrasan. Chaol was in love with Celaenia not with Aelin and it’s not that I don’t like Nesryn but they just seemed off. I’m happy that Chaol found someone who is more his equal. Now back to the story. The Khagan and the southern Continent have powerful armies and Aelin and Dorian need all the help they need if they are going to defeat Erawen and the Valg but the Khagan are not easily persuaded. They have had peace in their lands for years and are not eager to rush into a war on another continent. They are also in mourning of their youngest daughter who supposedly killed herself but some in the family don’t believe it. After Chaol tells Yrene how he was really injured, strange things start to happen. Another healer is mysteriously murdered that not even the healers can figure out how. Are the Valg already here? Chaol, Nesryn and Yrene piece together who the Valg are and who they are really fighting. Let’s just say some holes are filled in. The nice thing about this book was that it only had 3 POV’s. As the series has grown and the world expanded and more and more characters were introduced, there were more and more storylines and subplots and POV that it was getting a little out of control. Again, think Game of Thrones. It was nice to have a much simpler storyline to follow. It was filled with the same intrigued and action as the previous books and it was nice breather before the finale comes out next year.