Monday, April 24, 2017

One Blood Ruby by Melissa Marr Review

Title: One Blood Ruby
Author: Melissa Marr
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Seven Black Diamonds, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

Melissa Marr is one of my favorite authors, and I've made no secret of that. She won my heart way back in high school with her debut fantasy novel, Wicked Lovely. Ever since, I've been an unapologetic, die-hard Melissa Marr fan. Initially, I didn't even know that Seven Black Diamonds had a sequel, and I was so happy when I discovered that that was indeed the case. I was so happy when I realized that Seven Black Diamonds was a brand-new series in the same world. One Blood Ruby picks up where Seven Black Diamonds left off, and what a sequel it is! I always, always get nervous over sequels, but I shouldn't have worried. Marr packs character development, twists and turns, dangerous secrets, political intrigue, and heart-pounding action in her powerful sequel--I can't wait for more! I don't want to say too much about the plot, because I don't want to give anything away for my readers who haven't read it yet.

One Blood Ruby picks up where Seven Black Diamonds left off, leaving all of the members of the now defunct terrorist sleeper cell to deal with the violent, bloody aftermath of the events of the previous book. All of them reeling from their own choices and their leader's, the Diamonds must band together now more than ever, as more attacks on the humans continue. Unable to trust anyone but one another, they must find the culprit behind these secretive attacks, or risk destruction of both of their shared worlds...

I really, really enjoyed this sequel, so much so that I'm really hoping there's another! This sequel was pretty much perfect, and I loved it. I'm always worried that a sequel is going to be 'meh', in comparison to the original, but I shouldn't have worried in the first place. Melissa Marr hasn't disappointed me so far, and hopefully she never will! This book has everything you want in a sequel: twists and turns, hefty political intrigue and secret pacts, more character development, thrills and chills, and a killer ending! The bottom line: A meaty, satisfying sequel to Seven Black Diamonds, I loved One Blood Ruby, and I hope there's more to this fun, dark new series! Next on deck: A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle Review

Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

The Accident Season was the April pick for one of the book clubs I go to, but I've been interested in it since I heard about it. Magical realism has recently become my jam. I love the way the genre blends contemporary and unnatural elements, and Fowley-Doyle has done that with her debut novel, to varying effect. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed it. It was a beautifully written, enchanting tale of a seemingly cursed family in crisis, each member with their own host of secrets, some of which prove fatal. Cara, the youngest member of the family, begins to wonder if there is more to these gruesome family stories than she knows. When she begins to look deeper into her family's history, she discovers that no one seems to be who they say they are, and magical forces are gathering in the background...

I really liked this book! It had a dreamy, creepy, enchanting feel that I immediately took to. It was a bonus that I also really loved the setting; lovely, green, mysterious Ireland. But what really fascinated me was this family, loving and tight, but full of dark secrets and half-remembered tragedies. The book unwinds from beginning to end, jumping around in the narrative from past to present. That kind of confused me a little, because it made it hard to follow, but perhaps that was the point. Maybe to add to the mystery of it? It was a lovely, dark story that had me horrified and spellbound. The twists and turns had me dumbfounded and constantly wondering who to trust, to believe. What a fun, gothic story with dark secrets at its center. And that ending! Mind-blown. Add to all of this more than a few forbidden romances, and you've got a pretty potent mix for a good book! What a lovely addition to the magical realism genre! The bottom line: A darkly powerful and twisty mystery about a cursed family, The Accident Season was a darkly funny, beautifully written treat, and I loved it! Next on deck: One Blood Ruby by Melissa Marr!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Here We Are by Kelly Jensen Review

Title: Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak About Feminism for the Real World
Editor: Kelly Jensen
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Nonfiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

This book has been sitting in my library stack for a while now, and I've really been looking forward to it. To put it simply, there is a staunch, intense need for feminist literature of all kinds, nonfiction and otherwise. Here We Are is such an essential breath of fresh air. I really, really loved it, even as it made me feel the full spectrum of emotion; rage, sadness, fear, and most of all, sympathy. This book needs to be read by all, no matter your age or gender. I'm so, so happy with this book, and I can only hope that the authors and editors in this book have more to come in the future! What a great, well-written eye-opener of a book!

Here We Are is edited by Book Riot writer, Kelly Jensen, and she has brought together forty-three authors, women from all races, sexual orientations, and walks of life, to discuss the feminist issues that are important to them, including, but not limited to, Roxane Gay, Kody Keplinger, Laure Halsie Anderson, and Courtney Summers. I loved it. I loved the sheer volume of the contributors, the lush illustration, and the variety of the prose. This book is so necessary and exciting--this is what we need to get the ball rolling on the whole discussion of feminism. I won't name every piece I loved, as there are so many, but I'll write briefly about the standouts.

Bad Feminist, Take Two by Roxane Gay: I loved this essay, unapologetically feminist and unique. I loved the way the author explained that she is full of contradictions, but definitely a feminist, even if that makes her a 'bad' one in the other ones. It really opened my eyes on how personal feminism really is, even if the onslaught of information is overwhelming at times, even frightening.

I Have Always Eaten the Bread by Lily Myers: I loved this one! I loved the way Myers talked about her sometimes toxic relationship with food, and how she discovered that she can enjoy it and still be happy with herself, even if it means eating a little more bread at the dinner table. It was at times hard to read, but I really enjoyed it!

Don't Cash Crop on My Cornrows by Amandla Stenberg: This essay really opened my eyes about the growing racist trend that is called cultural appropriation, and black culture in general, It made me realize that black culture in America is loved, even in high-demand, but a lot of black people end up stigmatized or avoided in general, or associated with the darker side of sexuality. (Yay for education!)

I loved each and every story in this book, beautifully written and honest and raw. What an essential read, for everyone, of all ages! What a great book for the year of 2017! The bottom line: Forty-four authors write, draw, and speak about feminism, across all walks of life in an essential read on the importance of feminism in this day and age--one of my favorites of the year! Absolutely amazing! Next on deck: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle!

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle Review

Title: The Marriage Lie
Author: Kimberly Belle
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

I'd heard of The Marriage Lie through several reviews and, if I'm being totally honest, a few intriguing ads. So I ordered it from my local library. It's been sitting in my library stack for a little while, beckoning to me with its darkly thoughtful cover. I've grown to be a fan of mysteries, especially ones that take place in a fairly domestic setting. It makes the suspense and twists even more stark. This book was an interesting one, one that had me wondering: exactly how well do you know a loved one, one that is intertwined with your own life. It was a really enjoyable, meaty mystery, but I do wish that the villains had been more creative. Regardless, the ending more than made up for it--what a book!

Iris is a schoolteacher, happily married to the love and light of her life, Will. But her happy existence is shattered when the unthinkable happens: On a flight to Orlando, the plane goes down in a tragic accident. But things get even more confusing and frightening when she discovers that Will was in fact on a different plane altogether. Uncovering this clue leads Iris into a dangerous, taut web of deception and secrets, where she discovers that the truth may end up costing her everything, even her life...

I really liked this book. It wasn't perfect, there were some small issues. But nonetheless, I enjoyed it. It was a beautifully written, tightly wound mystery that had me turning pages frantically and suspecting everyone. I was even thinking about it when I wasn't reading it; I would get so distracted! The pacing was fantastic, breakneck; I couldn't put it down, and I was hypnotized by the lovely, tense prose. The characters, too, sold me on this book. I loved Iris and her family. I also enjoyed the other characters, though to a slightly lesser extent. This book was a lovely, thought-provoking examination of a marriage and a family, and it was just lovely. The bottom line: My first book by Kimberly Belle and definitely not my last, I loved The Marriage Lie! Highly recommended! Next on deck: Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston Review

Title: The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Series: The Valiant, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

I'm familiar with Lesley Livingston's work; she won my heart a few years ago with her first series, Darklight. So when I came across a recommendation of her newest book, The Valiant, I was all over it. And frankly, that was just the cover's effect on me. When I read that it featured female gladiators, I was well and truly sold. And man, did this book deliver, on every front! You like complex, developed female characters? Got them. Political intrigue? That too! Forbidden, heartbreaking romance? Yup. And that ending. I am so incredibly floored, and I'm so happy that this book is a series debut! Yay, there's more to come! This book has got to be one of the best of 2017, for me personally! This book was just a knockout!

Fallon is a Celtic princess, and she looks forward to the day when she can join the royal war band. She dearly loves her family, and mourns those she has lost in battle, longs for love. But her future is suddenly thrown into doubt when she is captured by Roman slavers. Forced into captivity, thrust far below her station, she becomes a reluctant gladiator. But she discovers far more than a new future lies in Rome, including answers about herself. She must decide if freedom is worth fighting with everything she has...

This book was just so perfect. It was fantastic, historical fiction given an exciting and mystical twist. Frankly, that is something that is pure Livingston, and I'm so happy that this book is a series debut. There's more, thank the book gods! I loved everything about this book: its characters, the setting, the lush, gorgeous prose, and the development! God, the character development! I also really enjoyed the time period that it was set in. I've read few books set in it, and to imagine both the fine culture and the brutish customs of the Romans was really fun. This book was an exciting, wonderful journey, full of surprises and lovable characters! I honestly cannot wait for the sequel! The bottom line: An excellently written series starter about a dynamic warrior princess in the apex of the Roman Empire's rule, I loved The Valiant! One of my favorite books of 2017! Next on deck: The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy Review

Title: Camp So-and-So
Author: Mary McCoy
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

Camp So-and-So has been sitting in my library stack for a while now, begging to be read, and when I realized that it was due today, I pushed it to the top of the stack and I got started on it right away. Frankly, until I'd come across this book in an article for recommendations, I'd never even heard of Mary McCoy. And this book; I'm really not sure how to explain it? It's definitely weird, and I just finished the book this morning, so I'm still trying to process my feelings. First, the recommendation was fantastic and intriguing, but the cover was what really sold me: a raven, crouched on a sign in a forest, staring into the camera, beautiful and foreboding all at the same time.

As I said before, this book is unusual in almost every single way. The format, the multiple points of view, the settings, the magical realism, the pacing. And it took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. It was a weird, wild, magical ride through Camp So-and-So, where nothing and no one is what it seems. A group of young women is summoned to the mysterious Camp-So-and-So, and they discover that this summer, up in the Appalachian mountains, will be unlike any other that they have experienced before...

This book was such a weird, wild ride. I really enjoyed it, once I got the hang of the unusual format and narration. This book was nothing less than magical realism at its very best. It wasn't perfect, though; at times, because of the unusual format and narration, and even though the characters were named through every act, it got a little bit confusing and hard to keep up with. But nonetheless, I really enjoyed this foray into magical realism. The pacing was breakneck, and I finished the book in a day and a half. I don't want to say too much about the plot, because it's so much better when you're caught by surprise! The bottom line: A fantastic, wild ride that transforms into a breakneck adventure, Camp So-and-So was a fun, thrilling book that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I can't wait to see what's next from Mary McCoy! Next on deck: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Novice by Taran Matharu Review

Title: The Novice
Author: Taran Matharu
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Summoner, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I won this book in a giveaway by the lovely folks at Book Riot--thank you so much, guys!

I won this book in a Book Riot giveaway a few months ago, and my husband came to me, looking for something to read. (And of course he does, because I'm bomb at that, lol.) He wanted something with magic and adventure, and I thought about it for a while. I suggested The Novice, and he devoured it in the space of a few days. Naturally, after he was finished with it, he asked that I read it, while he read the sequel. The Novice is a fantasy allegory that talks of important issues through a magical, dangerous new lens. It kind of rang a bit like The Lord of the Rings, for a younger audience. What a series debut! (And after reading the sequel just a little bit ago, I'm so excited for what happens in the final book, Battlemage!)

Fletcher lives in the village of Pelt, a young commoner living in a complex, brutal caste system. He is a normal boy, an orphan with no worth or origins, as far as the world itself is concerned. But that all changes when the boy accidentally summons a demon; he is soon whisked off to the prestigious Vocans Academy to learn the art of summoning for real. He is soon drawn into a war that could topple the entire world as he and his friends know it, and he must decide what is worth fighting for...

I loved this book. First of all, my husband really enjoyed it. That alone made me happy, but the experience of reading it together made it a different, more exciting way of reading. I really liked the allegory angle; normally, if it is too heavy-handed, I'm immediately turned off. But I really enjoyed the way Matharu talked about important issues through a fictional lens, like sexism and racism. It wasn't just that, though: the worldbuilding was excellent, and there was a great variety of characters that ranged the gamut from love to hate. The political intrigue really sold it for me, though: I'm such a sucker for an author that can do that well. This book has become the debut of one of my new favorite fantasy series--what a fun, brand new talent! I can't wait to see what's in store in the final book! The bottom line: A hard-hitting and promising fantasy series debut, The Novice was a fantastic book--Taran Matharu is now one of my new favorite authors! Next on deck: Camp So and So by Mary McCoy!