Monday, February 24, 2020

ARC Review: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Title: The Shadow Between Us
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 336
Add to Goodreads

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen? 

Last year I read and loved Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller! When I read the description of this book, it sounded like something I would love and I felt that this author could definitely do it well! Unfortunately, I think I set my expectations a bit too high because this didn't turn out to be quite as good as I'd anticipated.

First thing's first, Alessandra was just not a character I loved or could even really enjoy. Her "Slytherin" side was a bit too over the top in the beginning for me to enjoy. The Big Bad things she'd done, while shocking, were overlooked too easily and I really couldn't forgive them. I love a good antihero and morally gray characters are my thing, but I just could not connect with Alessandra at all. Her initial plan was fun, but that's the only positive thing I really have to say about her and even that fell apart pretty quickly.

The Shadow King was a bit more tolerable, although I didn't quite love him either. His shadow abilities were fascinating and unique. I definitely liked that his shadows created an obstacle for the romance and added a little bit of extra (not too ridiculous) angst. Speaking of romance, this one wasn't bad. Although I couldn't stand Alessandra, the relationship between her and Kallias was mostly enjoyable, if a bit quick.

One thing I would have liked more of in this story is world building. The shadow abilities Kallias had were so interesting! I would have enjoyed knowing more about that and what else could exist in this world we saw and heard so little about.

Much of The Shadows Between Us was, predictably, about Alessandra inserting herself into the Shadow King's world. Some of this was interesting, but a lot of the first half of the book was a bit repetitive and I did find myself getting a bit bored. So many parties and dresses and dances and meals. There were, at least, some fun plot twists that made the second half of the book more fun.

I just found this book to be really disappointing and I know it's one of those "it's not you, it's me" situations. It seems that the vast majority of readers have loved this story, so chances are you probably will too! I will probably give Tricia Levenseller another chance since I loved the last book I read by her, but this just wasn't it.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Weekly Recap: 2/16 - 2/22


Hi everyone! I did the thing! I ran the 10K at Disney World! I was (sadly) awake at 2:45am yesterday, on the bus at 3:30am, and at the event at 4:00. Literally what even is 4am? It was also absolutely FREEZING! My corral wasn't let out until 6:10, so it was quite a long morning, but once we took off I started to warm up a tiny bit and the race was magical! (Now I'm exhausted.) I always do so much better than I think I'm going to. I can't wait for the Star Wars event in April!

In puppy news, my dog's hearing has mostly come back! The steroids have been making him behave strangely, but at least he can hear and the steroids are over halfway done. He did have a bit of a fever yesterday but that seems to have resolved also. He turned three this weekend, so here's hoping he makes it to four!





The topic was book hangovers for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday book review of The Kingdom of Copper


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Book Review: The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

Title: The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy#2)
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 621
Add to Goodreads

Review for book 1

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad's towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve. 

The City of Brass was one of my most unexpected favorites of 2019! I waited for YEARS to read this series because, honestly, I was a little intimidated by it. I finally did though, and I absolutely loved it. I couldn't wait to get back into the world of Daevabad and see what had become of the characters!

The Kingdom of Copper is set quite a few years after the end of book one, which was quite jarring at first. It took me awhile to settle into Nahri, Ali, and Dara in their new, separate lives. Although I loved the characters interacting and was a little worried a book where they're mostly apart wouldn't be as good, I really enjoyed getting to know them in their individual storylines.

Nahri especially was wonderful and strong, especially considering what she had to work with! Much of the story is about Nahri coming into her own as a healer and learning about her heritage. I loved how motivated she was and how hard she worked to do what she thought was right for her people. I did wish she had more time with Dara, but I'm eager to see what happens next between them.

Although I did love it, this book definitely does suffer a bit from middle book syndrome. There's a lot of focus on everyday life and politics, getting from book one to book three. I will admit that this one took me longer to read, just because I did find myself zoning out from time to time. It felt like The Kingdom of Copper replaced much of the magic with even more political intrigue. Don't get me wrong - there was still a lot of action! But this book was over 600 pages and not much of it was terribly exciting.

So yes, there were things that weren't perfect, but I still cannot wait to read The Empire of Gold! The Kingdom of Copper set up so much and I am so excited to see what happens!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #273: Book hangovers

Today's Topic: 
The Last Ten Books That
Gave Me a Book Hangover

Happy Tuesday! This week's topic is book hangovers. For me that means that I feel completely unable to pick up another book for awhile. I may pick a book up, read three pages, switch to something else, repeat. I don't know what causes it exactly, but it's definitely A Thing. 

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Perez
Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Weekly Recap: 2/8 - 2/15


Hi everyone! Well, the last two weeks have been a mess. I had my wisdom teeth out on February 3rd and I guess it was fine? I didn't have any complications, it just really sucked. One of the teeth was a lot more impacted so the recovery was a bit more difficult, but I'm mostly healed! The real WTF of the last two weeks is (shockingly) related to my dog. He went to the vet Thursday and we found out out had a double ear infection. He was given a 30 day medication at the office since we can't give him ear drops. Yesterday I took him back because he was acting really strange, even for him. Apparently he had a reaction to the drops and literally cannot hear now. So yay. His hearing isn't 100% gone and the vet says there's a good chance he will recover it, but I am mentally preparing myself in case he doesn't. *sigh* I'm supposed to run a 10k on Saturday and I just. I'm stressed. So all of that is why I've been a bit MIA lately - I just haven't had the motivation or energy to be particularly active on the blog. I'm trying my best!






The topic was YA fantasy ships for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday ARC review of Girls With Razor Hearts


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, February 13, 2020

ARC Review: Girls With Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young

Title: Girls With Razor Hearts (Girls With Sharp Sticks #2)
Author: Suzanne Young
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 400
Add to Goodreads

Review for book 1

It’s time to fight back in this second novel in a thrilling, subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be.

Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

Last year, Girls With Sharp Sticks became one of my unanticipated favorite reads! The mystery and dystopian aspects were enough to keep me constantly on the edge of my seat. I was so excited when I found out there would be a sequel that I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and I jumped right in!

Girls With Razor Hearts picks up immediately after the events of the first book. Mena and the other girls have escaped the school and have plans to bring down the corporation. This book was set entirely away from the school and, since the big mystery has already been found out, it had an entirely different feel.

Where Girls With Sharp Sticks kept me constantly engaged, this one was a bit less my speed. A big reason for this is the setting. Most of the book takes place in an average public school with two of the girls attending high school and navigating every day life. Mena doesn't understand why sexism is so prevalent in the school and immediately goes to work trying to change it.

On the one hand I really enjoyed this and probably would have even more as a teen. On the other, it was extremely on the nose. Nearly every man the characters come in contact with is essentially evil and it quickly became exhausting. As a woman who worked in a male dominated field for several years and, you know, exists in the world, I have encountered my fair share of misogyny and harassment. However, it was coming from literally every angle in Mena's world and it was a bit much.

While two of the girls are in school, the rest spend their time researching ways to bring down Innovations Academy. Although the huge reveal of the girls being AI has already come out, there are still a couple enjoyable twists and turns in this book. I do wish that a bit more was learned and more progress was made, but this was by no means a bad read.

If you enjoyed Girls With Sharp Sticks, you'll probably enjoy this one too. You'll enjoy it even more if contemporary YA is your genre! I'm excited to see what happens in the final book!