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



HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

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!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK



THIS WEEK I READ

 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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


UPCOMING REVIEWS



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



HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

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!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

  


THIS WEEK I READ

 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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


UPCOMING REVIEWS



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!


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #272: YA Fantasy Ships


Today's Topic: 
Favorite YA Fantasy Ships

Happy Tuesday! It's Valentine's week! Although I don't read many romance books, I do LOVE a great romance in fantasy. This week I'm sharing ten of my favorite romantic relationships in YA Fantasy (that aren't ACOTAR or Folk of the Air, you're welcome)! 



Radu and Cyprius | The Conqueror's Saga by Kiersten White
Scarlett and Julian | Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Nyx and Ignifex | Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Lou and Reid | Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Alina and the Darkling | The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (don't @ me)



Elisabeth and Nathaniel | Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Lilac and Tarver | These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Alyssa and Morpheus | Splintered by A.G. Howard
Kestrel and Arin | The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski
Liesl and the Goblin King | Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones


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

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #271: 5 star predictions


Today's Topic: 
Books On My TBR I 
Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads

Happy Tuesday! This week we're talking about 5 star predictions! These are always a bit dangerous because sometimes I'm just sooooo far off. Most of these are by authors I've previous loved though, so I feel a little more confident about making a prediction. I am SO excited for every single one of these!



A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer
Bright Raven Skies by Kristina Perez
Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian
The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty
The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence



Master of Sorrows by Justin Call
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski
Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke
What Monstrous Gods by Rosamund Hodge


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

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Weekly Recap: 1/26 - 2/1



HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week has been one long stretch of anxiety because I'm finally getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow. I know I've been talking about it already for two weeks, but it's actually happening and I'm super nervous. I've spent the week being super overly dramatic and over prepared, getting everything I might possibly need for a full week of moping, although I doubt I'll have that long to mope. Haha! Aside from that, it's been a pretty chill week and I was able to get a bit of reading done! Hurray! I've been doing an absolutely awful job of preparing for my 10k at the end of the month, so... hopefully I don't pass out when that comes around. Send all the good vibes, please!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK



THIS WEEK I READ

  


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The topic was misleading covers for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I signed up for Pondathon
Thursday audiobook review of Sadie
On Friday I talked about reading with aphantasia
I watched horror and reality TV for Saturday Screen Time


UPCOMING REVIEWS



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, February 1, 2020

Saturday Screen Time #40: January horror and reality TV


Happy Saturday, everyone! Welcome back to Saturday Screen Time! This month I watched a few movies and shows, mostly horror and sci-fi/fantasy (who's shocked?). I am currently watching the last season of Schitt's Creek week by week and it's torture to wait! Sometimes I forget how awful it is not to be able to binge something! 


THIS MONTH IN MOVIES


Ghostland - Ghostland has popped up on multiple "must watch" lists and Shudder emails in the last few months so I finally decided to give it a shot. I went in not knowing anything about this movie and it was totally not what I expected! The movie begins with a brutal home invasion and quickly jumps ahead to the teenage daughters as adults. They end up back in the house and the nightmare continues. This movie is tough to watch at times and I wasn't expecting how uncomfortable it made me. The twist was pretty good, but I don't think I'd watch this again. (3/5 stars)

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum - I was Gonjiam recommended as one of the best found footage movies of the decade and I immediately hunted it down! The movie is about a group of people who want to livestream from a haunted asylum, which has never been done before. At first all the scares are setups but then things begin to spiral. As far as found footage goes, this one was pretty good! There were some decent scares, one that caught me totally by surprise. If you're a found footage horror fan and enjoy foreign films, give this one a try. (3.55/5 stars)

Joker - I took my sweet time getting around to watching this movie. Obviously there's some controversy around it and I can totally understand why. At the same time, it does have a lot to say about our mental healthcare system and it did make me think. This was a Joker origin story unlike any other and, while it was hard to watch at times, I did love that it really made me think on multiple occasions. I'm still not really sure how I feel about Joker, so I'm giving it a tentative 3.5 stars. Joaquin Phoenix's performance was incredible though, love or hate the movie. (3.5/5 stars)

I Am Mother - Again, this kept popping up. Most recently I saw it on Reddit as someone's favorite horror movie of the year. Well, it really isn't horror, but I guess it was decent. I Am Mother is about a robot programmed to raise humans in a facility after an extinction event. The girl it raises begins to question things after another human shows up outside. This definitely started really slow and took awhile to get interesting. There were some good twists, but overall I was a bit underwhelmed. (2.5/5 stars)



THIS MONTH IN TV


The Circle - I held off for a couple weeks before I gave in and started watching The Circle. I hated the first episode, but then I couldn't stop watching! The houseguests really pulled me in and had me rooting for them. I adored Sammie and Joey and would love to see them on my screen again! The one thing I really disliked about this was the latecomers who I never really had a chance to get to know. I'm so sad that it looks like this won't be getting a second season, but this one was great! (4/5 stars)

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Finally, I got to watch season four of Channel Zero! This season was about a woman who discovers a door in her basement that holds things from her past that were forgotten. There were some genuinely creepy moments this season! The second episode was particularly wild. In the second half things got less scary and honestly more endearing. I did enjoy this season but I was definitely hoping for a bit more horror. (3.5/5 stars)

Supernatural Season 14 - I'm catching up! I don't know why this season took me so long to watch but it was definitely a lot. I can't believe how much Jack grew on me and Rowena became one of my favorite characters. Nick and Michael were both incredible villains and that LAST villain of the season was totally unexpected! The finale really left me reeling and it definitely felt like it was leading up to the end. I can't wait to see how the show wraps up! (4.5/5 stars)



THIS MONTH'S DNF LIST

Nothing!


WATCHLIST




What show are you way behind on?
Do you like foreign films?
Let me know in the comments!



Friday, January 31, 2020

Reading without a mind's eye (aphantasia)


A couple days ago I learned something that has got me totally shook - most people can see images in their mind. Not like actual photographs, but they can imagine things visually. More importantly, I found out that I'm one of 2% of people who can't do this.

It would seem I have aphantasia, which means that I'm unable to create visual images in my mind's eye. I don't have daydreams, I can't visualize a picture Pennywise even though I've seen the movie multiple times. I've been doing guided meditation for years and always thought "picture yourself on a beach" was metaphorical so imagine how absolutely blown my mind has been!


Since I found out about this and have started bringing it up to people, I've been asked multiple times, "what do you see when you read?" This is a truly bizarre question for me and it made me realize how fundamentally different my reading experience is from what yours probably is. I've thought about it as much as I can in a couple days and here's my answer:

When I'm reading a book I do not visualize what I'm reading. I don't see the snowy landscape or the swoony love interest walking towards the MC. I don't see it like a movie playing in my mind like several people have told me they do. I can't literally picture the setting, although I've said that I could in some reviews, which really got me thinking.

For me, "picturing" a setting is more of a feeling rather than actually seeing it. When an author does a particularly good job of creating atmosphere I can feel it, I just can't see it. That's probably why I prefer fantasy books so much more than contemporary - the worlds are so much more incredible and easier to "feel!"

I also think this lack of being able to visualize explains a lot about why I don't like flowery descriptions. Although I like when a world is atmospheric, I can't visualize the details. So, when an author spends a full page detailing what a room or a dress looks like in flowery language, it adds nothing to the story. I do wonder if that is also the reason I prefer YA to fantasy - less flowery descriptions.

I don't necessarily feel like I'm missing out on anything because I don't have anything else to compare it to, but it's certainly got me questioning my entire life! (Okay, not really though.) It's so fascinating to me that we can all read the same book and have such different experiences.



Can you visualize images?
Do books play like movies in your head?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Audiobook Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 308
Add to Goodreads

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

If you know me then you know I love podcasts. In fact, sometimes it's hard to break away from my favorite podcasts long enough to listen to whatever audiobook I have checked out of the library! So when I heard that Sadie was partially in the form of a true crime podcast investigating a missing person, I knew I had to pick it up!

Sadie does indeed follow a podcast host, West McCray, but that was a smaller part of the book than I'd hoped. The majority of this book follows Sadie on her journey to find the man who she thinks is responsible for her sister's death. I did find Sadie to be a great character and admired her dedication to bringing her sister's murderer to justice. Her story was heartbreaking and hard to read at times, and I was constantly rooting for her to get what she wanted, although her methods were questionable.

Unfortunately, this part of the book really wasn't for me simply because I don't enjoy contemporary fiction. So much of the story was about Sadie going from place to place, meeting different people, and getting to her goal that very little time was about the mystery. It took awhile to get going and there was definitely a lot of repetition in her travels. I definitely hoped for more of the true crime feel and the podcast and investigative journalism portions of the book were the standout.

Sadie should definitely come with trigger warnings for pretty much everything you can imagine - this is a book some readers will need to approach with caution. Overall, I did enjoy Sadie and most of my issues with it were simply because I'm not much of a contemporary reader and expected more mystery. Still, it's worth picking up if you enjoy podcasts and can handle the gritty nature of this story.