Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray

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Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I have tried to read The Diviners two times before without much success so I decided to try the audio book this time. I think that this helped me to work my way through the book even though I didn't love the narrator. The narrator made many of the male characters sound the same so it was difficult to differentiate between all of them. This forced me to pay close attention to when characters were addressing each other so I knew who was speaking

The first issue that I came across with this book was Evie. I hated her and continued to hate her through this read through as well. She didn't appear to have any redeeming qualities until the end of the book. I felt like I was able to see some change in her which made me think that she was growing as a character but then she did something towards the very end of the book that made me go back to how I originally felt about her. She is a selfish person that seems to disregard the feelings and wants of others in favor of her own. I also found her childish and annoying. She is the main reason that I had so much trouble with this book and had to start and stop it the few times before. I'm okay with reading books with characters that are different from me and flawed. In fact, I love flawed characters but Evie was not my cup of tea. 

I also had some trouble with the historical piece of the book but that is just personal preference and one that I was able to enjoy once I ignored Evie's slang and annoying personality. I thought that the author did a fantastic job of world building to the point where I felt as if I was living in the 1920's. I loved the little things that the author was able to do to bring readers into the world including how each of the characters have a different view of it and where they fit. I thought that it was interesting to see the difference in experience between Memphis, a black teenager, and Evie, a well off white teenager within the world. 

My favorite part of the book was the actual plot of the story. It was creepy and gave me chills at different points while reading it. It was different from what I have read before in paranormal thrillers and I loved how the author didn't hold back from being gruesome or scary. I wish that the book would have focused more on that portion of the story rather than having the book from the different points of view and Evie's whining. I'm not sure if I will continue reading the series. I loved the story but I still have a difficult time dealing withe Evie. She doesn't seem like she is going to change so reading the book might be like trying to move through quicksand. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Foundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett

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Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle. 
But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic--the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience--have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims. 
Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them. 
To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

I guarantee that you have probably never read a book like Foundryside. I didn't know much information about the book before reading other than the main character was something of a thief. I'm glad that I went into the book basically blind and I think that it made the story so much more of an adventure. Since I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I want more people to read it, I will give a bit of a tease about the world the story takes place in. There are four main merchant houses that have control as a sort of council or ruling class. They have control over a kind of magic called scribing which entails using coded commands to change everyday objects with sentience. This makes for an extremely interesting world and interactions between characters from different parts of society. The main character, Sancia, steals something rare and valuable and now what seems like the entire world is chasing after her in order to have the object and the power it represents for themselves.

I thought that the stolen object in particular was a fascinating part of the story and something I had never seen in a book before. It was so new to me that it was disorienting. I felt like I had to change my mindset in order to continue reading because it was so strange. I thought that the story was thought provoking and a visual feast. I could picture all of the author's descriptions with vivid detail in my mind. I also thought that the pacing was well done. There were no moments in the book where I felt that the book was slow or drawn out. It wasn't too fast paced but just right in my mind. I thought that the characters were fleshed out well and were complex enough to give the story meaning that added to the plot. I can't wait to read the next installment. I'm just disappointed I have to wait until next year to get my hands on it. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

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Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. 

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. 

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for... 

I've been excited to read this debut from S.A. Chakraborty. I thought that the idea of a main character that is a con artist accidentally summoning a djinn was something that I hadn't heard of before. This book was an entirely new experience for me. I thought that the world building was interesting. The author introduces readers to the hierarchy of different types of djinn, their powers, and how their world came to be. I also haven't read a book that takes place in Egypt so it was fun for me to learn more about it and the culture.
I haven't been reading adult fantasy for long but I thought that City of Brass was excellent! I would recommend it if you are trying to transition from young adult to adult or if you just want to try reading adult fantasy. I think that some adult fantasy can read like it is trying too hard to be adult by being complicated or unnecessarily long. This is not the case with City of Brass. It was easy to read and to be drawn into the story. 
I loved the characters. They were clearly each products of their home lands and were shaped by the choices that they made as a result. They are each extremely flawed in ways that made me question if I even liked them at times while I was reading. This made me want to keep reading even more to see if they were able to be redeemed or would change as the book progressed. I decided that I enjoyed them by the end of the book and can't wait to see where the author will continue their development as the series continues. There are many layers to each of them already that can be explored in the next book. I'm also looking forward to learning more about side characters due to an intriguing ending to the first installment. 
The politics and social issues were interesting and I wasn't sure what side I fell on. I believe this was the author's  point. There is no right side. There should be equality between the races of djinn as well as freedom of choice. I'm not one for political intrigue and things in books but I found this topic to be particularly interesting. I also believe that it helped that there was so much action taking place periodically over the course of the story. I love battles especially if they involve magic and/or monsters!
There were portions of the book that were a bit slow for me but overall I thought that the book was excellent and executed extremely well. I'm excited to see where the author takes the series next. I thought that the ending was amazing and I cant wait to start reading the next book.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Hollow City by Dan Wells

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Dan Wells won instant acclaim for his three-novel debut about the adventures of John Wayne Cleaver, a heroic young man who is a potential serial killer. All who read the trilogy were struck by the distinctive and believable voice Wells created for John.

Now he returns with another innovative thriller told in a very different, equally unique voice. A voice that comes to us from the  realm of madness.

Michael Shipman is paranoid schizophrenic; he suffers from hallucinations, delusions, and complex fantasies of persecution and horror. That’s bad enough. But what can he do if some of the monsters he sees turn out to be real?

Who can you trust if you can't even trust yourself? The Hollow City is a mesmerizing journey into madness, where the greatest enemy of all is your own mind.

I went into The Hollow City expecting to like it so I had high expectations. They were met when I read this. I have no complaints to talk about. I think that The Hollow City was very well executed with each reaction, clue, and event flowing into the next. The pacing of the book was excellent. It was fast paced but still managed to be coherent.

As far as characters go, I liked John Wayne Cleaver [I Am Not A Serial Killer] more than Michael even though he wasn't any less interesting. I think that I enjoyed the darker, creepier side to John that Michael didn't have. Michael had a depth to him that I appreciated and it was interesting to experience everything in the book from his point of view. He was an unreliable point of view. It was difficult to tell fact from fiction which I found to be exciting and frustrating at the same time. 

I loved the twist in the book even though I guessed part of it. It was an interesting way to take the story. I think that the paranormal elements in this book were more fleshed out and better done than in some of the author's previous work. I honestly don't think that Dan Wells can write something that I won't enjoy. I have liked all of the books that I have read by him. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

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Two struggling teenagers find an unexpected connection just when they need it most.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

I loved this book so much! I thought that the author did a great job of portraying a character that is autistic. It wasn't romanticized but it was shown to be something difficult that can make relating to peers difficult. David was my favorite character in the story by far because he was so real. He had struggles but also successes. He is a great example of how just because someone is coping with an issue like autism, it doesn't mean that they are worth less than others. He is able to contribute through his honesty, heart, and intelligence. I loved seeing his growth throughout the story which the author also did well portraying. It is not a magical, quick fix but rather a very slow and realistic progression.

I also thought that Kit was a great example of grief and how it can take many forms for each individual. Everyone around her expects her to move on and to be her old self but to her losing her father feels like it just happened no matter the length of time. The author makes her feelings on the matter apparent in such a way that in reading it readers can feel the emotions as if they were their own. 

I think that it will be easy for readers to relate to each of these characters if they have ever felt that they were different or have lost someone close to them. The author handles both of the main characters issues delicately but also pushes readers to feel different emotions and understand the characters in a way that can be painful to read. I loved the author's writing and will continue to read her novels as she has no let me down yet with her books. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancΓ© is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I have been in a bit of a reading slump where I have started a few books but haven't been able to finish them because I just wasn't in the mood. I picked up The Unhoneymooners hoping that it would help me and it did. It was just the book that I needed. It was light, funny romance. Was it anything new? No. Was it a bit fantastical at times? Yes. I could see the flaws in the book but still thought that it was a fun and enjoyable read. I liked each of the main characters and found them even more realistic and relatable than the characters in the last Christina Lauren book I read, Josh and Hazel. They each had their issues but were good, solid people who needed to catch a break in different ways. Olive was unlucky in general and Ethan was unlucky in love. Put all of those factors together and I smell a romance....well except for the fact that they hate each other. I think that I may have a thing for Christina Lauren's writing and may need to read more of her books. If you enjoy fun, light romance then you will probably love The Unhoneymooners!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence

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I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

This book was insane! I should have expected it considering the summary talks about killer nuns but Red Sister still rocked my world! This is my first Mark Lawrence book and I will be reading more of his work after this. 
It wasn't quite as action-packed as I had expected but when there were action!!! I still really enjoyed Nona's journey even without much action. When the book begins she is a small child that is taken from her home to be sold. She is still naive in some ways, being a child, but understands some of the ways of the world. As she gets older, she is taken to Sweet Mercy as the summary implies and learns skills in the art of killing. I don't always enjoy the "special school" trope but I do love assassin schools because it makes the story more interesting. I thought that Nona was an interesting character. She was complex for so young a person. She grows a lot over the course of the book and really comes into herself and her skills. 
The glimpses of the present were interesting touches. Although, I thought that it was obvious who the person was. You'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about. I liked how the author stuck with story lines and didn't add too many elements to the plot that would distract or confuse readers. It was clear who the villains were and what their motives were. The author didn't focus too much on other characters but gave enough to enjoy the personalities and differences in them. The author is not afraid of bloodshed or harm to children or animals so you have been warned. If those types of things are bothersome to you then you probably shouldn't read this book. If, however, you enjoy strong female characters who kick some serious butt with magic abilities thrown into the mix then I would highly recommend Red Sister!