Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas Review

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, book three
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

Sarah J. Maas won my heart with A Court of Thorns and Roses, so I reserved the last book in the trilogy as soon as I possibly could. I finished the book on Thursday, and with my life's current craziness right now, I couldn't review it immediately. Plus, there were just so many feels to process. It's been almost a week, and I'm still reeling. Sequels make me so nervous, especially when they come out to mixed acclaim. I was half scared that I would hate it, based on everyone else's reviews, but I find that that isn't the case. I enjoyed it, but there were just a few kinks that kept it from being totally perfect. I don't want to say much about the plot, because I don't want to spoil anything! Despite my mixed feelings and apprehension, I really liked this book; it was a strong end to the series, even if there were a few things that could've been ironed out more.

A Court of Wings and Ruin picks up where the last book left off, with Feyre at the center of a war that could rip the entire world as she knows it to shreds. Forced to come to terms with her past, her family's checkered reputations, and what the more the conflict will cost her, she realizes that now more than ever, she must fight to save those she loves, even if it means sacrificing herself in the process. This story had a few little qualms that could've been fixed, but overall, I think the trilogy ended really strongly, and I'm really excited to see more of what Prythian and its inhabitants have to offer.

Sequels scare the crap out of me. Occupational hazard, I suppose. Often, they are lauded with praise, but they fall short. As far as A Court of Wings and Ruin go, it could've been a lot worse. It had almost everything: rich character development, good flow, heaps of political intrigue, characters old and new, all of whom I really grew to love. And I also really loved the way things were tied up. For the most part, all of my questions were answered, though not without a significant amount of bawling and screaming. (This series will make you feel everything. You have been officially warned!) And the ending--it was good! I wasn't entirely satisfied, because there were a few things I was still left wondering about, but I'm happy with the way things turned out, and I'm excited for more! The bottom line: The third and last book in the bestselling smash hit series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Wings and Ruin was not perfect, but it was a wonderful journey nonetheless! I really had fun! Next on deck: The Battlemage by Taran Matharu!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud Review

Title: The Golem's Eye
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Bartimaeus Sequence, book two
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

My husband and I have been doing this series as a couple read, and part of the reason I've enjoyed it so much was because we got to kind of experience together. Plus, Jonathan Stroud has become one of my favorite British authors of recent times. The sequel to the quirky, hilarious debut The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye takes place two or so years after the events of the first novel, with Nathaniel climbing his way up the British governmental ladder, and Bartimaeus returning in all of his beloved flash, style, and sly humor. I won't say too much about the plot, so as not to give things away, but I loved this sequel! Rife with humor, political intrigue, fantastic world-building, exciting characters, with twists and turns aplenty!

This book took me a while to get through, as with personal engagements and work schedule, I didn't have as much free time as I would've liked. Nonetheless, this sequel was really strong and enjoyable. I've stated time and time again that sequels scare me, but this was wonderful. I loved Bartimaeus, as well as his sly, out-there sense of humor. Nathaniel was kind of hit and miss for me; I didn't know whether his character development was good or bad. I also really liked the way Kitty and the British commoners came to the spotlight more; the world-building made a lot more sense. And that ending! Gah! I'm so excited to read Ptolemy's Gate, and as I read further through the series, I find myself itching to read the prequel--I really want to see how old Barty got his start in ancient Egypt! The bottom line: A really exciting, meaty sequel that had me salivating for more, I loved The Golem's Eye, and I'm both scared and excited for the last book! Next on deck: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

By Your Side by Kasie West Review

Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

I've heard of Kasie West and her cute, contemporary romances, as well as her successful science fiction duology. I've been curious about her ever since I knew of her, and when I heard about By Your Side, I knew I just had to read it! I mean, a shy good girl and a mysterious, brooding bad boy stuck in a library with each other for an entire weekend? It literally sounds like the perfect plot for a romance, and when I saw the recommendation for it, I was so excited. It sounded so perfect, and to be honest I needed something kind of light. Not to say that this book is shallow; quite the opposite, in fact. The characters were well-developed, and I really liked the way the romance progressed. A love story with two lovable characters at its center, just starting to find themselves? Part of the reason I don't much like contemporary fiction is that often, it seems forced, but that wasn't the case here. I loved this book, and Kasie West has won my heart completely!

Autumn Collins has the perfect weekend ahead of her, and she has plans to make the most of it. Plans to make her longtime crush, Jeff, into something more than a crush. But those plans go wildly awry when she finds herself locked inside the local library with the resident bad boy, Dax Miller. Forced to work together against their will, they grudgingly begin to open up to one another, and their relationship blooms into a real friendship, and maybe something more. But will Autumn go with what makes her feel safe, or will she gain the courage to be true to herself, even if it means risking the ultimate price?

As I said, I really loved this book! At first, it seemed like a sweet, light romance, and a good part of the book was focused on the relationship. But it also focused on important issues: love in all of its forms, the stigma and misunderstanding that often comes with mental illness, and what it really means to be true to yourself, and live your life for yourself. I enjoyed Autumn, and the way she grows from an anxious, frightened girl into a beautiful, brave young woman. I also really loved her aodrable, loving family, and Dax, the unlikely object of her affections. Plus, I just loved the premise. Being locked away in a library with a cute boy? Sigh, so cute! I really enjoyed By Your Side! The bottom line: A sweet love story that talks about mental illness and how to be yourself, By Your Side was like one of my childhood fantasies come true! One of my favorite books of 2017! Next on deck: The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud!

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud Review

Title: The Amulet of Samarkand
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Bartimaeus Sequence, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

My husband got this book as a recommendation from the lovely, helpful readers on Reddit. (Thanks so much, guys!) And, in true form, he asked me to read it with him, so how could I say no? I watched as he laughed and cringed its way through it, before it made its way into my hands, but that was an experience all its own, and I was really excited when I finally got around to reading it. I'd read it before, way back when it first came out, in eighth grade, but I didn't remember much. What resulted was a rip-roaring, breakneck adventure, full of magic, political intrigue, action, and beautiful, descriptive writing that totally immersed me in Nathaniel's dangerous world. What a series debut! I can't wait for The Golem's Eye and Ptolemy's Gate!

Nathaniel is a young magician, eager to prove his prowess and serve his country. Bartimaeus is an ancient, powerful djinn whose history dates back to the Egyptian ancients. These reluctant allies' worlds collide in an explosion of animosity and half-hatched revenge schemes. Begrudging partners at best, the two work to take revenge on one of Nathaniel's enemies. But what the boy doesn't realize is that his actions cause irrevocable collateral damage, and that his desires may cost him more than he ever imagined, and for Bartimaeus, cooperation, however reluctant, is the only way to gain the freedom he craves again...

This book was wonderful.  I was laughing and crying, sometimes in tandem, throughout the story. As far as series starters go, this book was more than solid. I loved the world-building, and the way that magical Britain was reinterpreted. But I think, most of all, what I loved was the characters. Nathaniel, the small human boy who wants greatness, to satisfy his ambitions and rise above mediocrity, and his unwilling partner, the ancient, powerful djinn, Bartimaeus, wily, sly, and full of slightly arrogant humor. I was captivated, especially once the ball really got rolling! I was left longing for more, though, and there were a few questions that were unanswered, but I'm sure that I'll get my fill in the two huge sequels waiting for me! The bottom line: A seductive, magical series debut, I loved The Amulet of Samarkand! What a wonderful book! Thanks Cody, for asking me to read it! Next on deck: By Your Side by Kasie West!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber Review

Title: The Heartbeats of Wing Jones
Author: Katherine Webber
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Magical Realism
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

I'd heard of The Heartbeats of Wing Jones the usual way I discover new books that I might like; it was recommended as one of the best books of March 2017, and as if that wasn't enough, it had a main character that was biracial! I was so excited. Plus, that cover, so colorful and pretty! Okay, okay, I'll get to the actual book now. Lol. Simply put, I loved The Heartbeats of Wing Jones! Easily one of my favorite books of 2017, hands down. Wing Jones, as well as her quirky, lovable family, has forced her way into my heart, and I will never forget her story! What a poignant, wonderful coming of age story, with elements of magical realism and romance! I cannot wait for more from the talented and promising Katherine Webber!

Wing Jones is used to being called different, and she's used to blending in to the background. Besides, it's her older brother, Marcus, that shines in the spotlight. He's the perfect boyfriend, the perfect brother; to Wing, and the key to a better future for her and her quirky, unique family. But all of those dreams are shattered when Marcus injures himself and several others driving drunk, resulting in a young woman's death. Bereft and un-moored after the tragedy, she begins to run, finding joy even in her sorrow. When that leads to a first love and a new opportunity, she must decide if she has what it takes to seize her dreams, or let her grief swallow her whole...

I loved this book. It hurt my heart and shone bright spots on my soul. It was so beautiful and inspiring, and I loved the way that the main character was biracial! I'm so, so happy that 2017 seems, so far, to be the year of diversity! Yes! (Excuse me for a moment while I leap up and down at this small but giant step...) Wing stole my heart, and I cried for her, laughed with her. I feel like I made a good friend. The best books are always like that. I also really adored her family, and the bond that they shared. But more than that, what really shone the most in this book was Wing, and her evolution from an insecure, uncertain girl into a fully realized, powerful young woman. I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, and I finished the book smiling. I also really adored the way the magical realism elements blended in with everything else, but were still very real and exciting. What a great debut! I honestly cannot wait for more from Katherine Jones! The bottom line: A beautiful, inspiring coming of age novel, The Heartbeats of Wing Jones was lovely, slipping its way into my heart when I wasn't looking--I can't wait for more from this promising debut author! Next on deck: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud!