Friday, June 30, 2017

Review - The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles, #1)
Series: The Kane Chronicles
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Age Group: Middle Grade
Hardcover - 516 pgs
Published - 2010 (Disney Hyperion) 
Add it // Buy it 

Rating: 4/5

Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. 

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives. 

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs. 

It has been a hot minute since I read a Rick Riordan book and I had a lot of fun reading this book. I listened to the audiobook and the narrators were absolutely fabulous. Overall this was exactly what I was looking for. It was filled with fun, adventure, and interesting mythology. Riordan writes young people and creates mythical gods like no other. He has a knack for writing compelling characters and plot lines that drag me into a story.

While the characters and the adventure style was much like Riordan's other books, there was a level of maturity I don't remember in Riordan's other series. Throughout the book there was more explanation of the Egyptian mythology which I appreciated since I am less familiar with it. The story is a straight up adventure that includes sibling rivalry that was hilarious.

My only issue with this story was it was a little predictable and had heavy foreshadowing that gave away a few plot points. Even so, since this is aimed at middle graders, I couldn't hold it against the book. The story is an emotional roller coaster and I'm anxious to get to the second audiobook.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

T5W - Hate to Love Ships

Happy Wednesday! Today's topic for Top Five Wednesday is relationships in books where the characters hated each other when they met and eventually end up together. At least I think that is what the topic meant. There wasn't a lot of description for this one! Let me know what you think are the best ships for this topic especially if they are different from mine. This is a favorite trope and I'd love to check more out!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3 (Finale) 
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: New Adult
Bloomsbury USA - May 2016
Hardcover -  706 pgs

Rating - 3/5

A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

I devoured the first 2/3 of this book. I like the interactions between the characters and thought the planning was complex and interesting. Even in this third book we learned a little bit more about the world. I enjoyed learning even more about Prythian and absorbing these details while the action continued. It wasn't always front and center but I liked that it was added.

However, the end felt like Maas tried to wrap up every loose end, redeem every character, and make it end perfectly. This kind of ending never feels realistic or satistfying to me so I was disappointed with where we left off. I wanted more answers about certain characters and clarification of some of the events. Everything was rushed from the half-way point and in the end most plot points were only addressed in overview.

Book two was very character focused, which I loved, and this book shifted the focus back to plot and action. While the overall arc of the story is important, I didn't care very much about this war. I was much more interested in the histories of the characters and their interactions with each other. (and if everyone survived what would happen next)The action parts of the book just didn't hold my attention as well. To put it simply: I wanted more banter, more friendship moments, and just more about everyone especially Rhy's Court of Dreams. They were the ones I wanted this book to be about. I was so devoted and attached to them after ACOMAF.

Overall Maas's writing doesn't impress me anymore. I've read much better writing since I started reading her books with more diversity, better character arcs and more interesting worlds. I do think this is the better series of the two she has going right now. ACOMAF remains my favorite book in the series and I will be interested to see what the "next" books in this series will be about.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Death at Rosings: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Renata McMann & Summer Hanford

A Death at Rosings: A Pride & Prejudice Variation

Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Published: November 2015
Ebook - 183 pgs

The world of Rosings is turned on its head with the sudden death of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Not yet up to the challenge of managing the estate on her own, Anne de Bourgh enlists the aid of Elizabeth Bennet, who is staying with her cousin Mr. Collins at the time. Elizabeth is capable, intelligent and quick thinking enough to help Anne manage Rosings, but is she ready for the challenge of Mr. Darcy’s return to Kent? With his rebuked proposal, his letter and her knowledge that she misjudged him between them, can Elizabeth set her own feelings aside to help save Anne de Bourgh’s estate? 

This would be the definition of inhale reading. Coming in just under 200 pages I sat down to read this story and didn't get up until I was done a couple of hours later. The story is fast paced and an easy engaging read. I really enjoyed it.

The concept may seem odd, but many of the characters balk at Anne's request just like I did. Through the story Anne's character blooms a little more, but many of the other characters remain the same. Darcy is still awkward and Elizabeth still witty. I really enjoyed seeing them in this different situation. The romance was cute and fun to read from both sides.

At times I did think Anne was actually enlisting Elizabeth's help to play matchmaker for her and Darcy. She seemed to enjoy that role for other characters and her character seemed very strong even without Elizabeth's guidance. Maybe I was reading between the lines too much, but I felt like that was an undercurrent to the story?? 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't

This topic is perfect for me right now! I have so many series I've been thinking about starting (and finishing for that matter) but I just haven't done it! So thank you to the Broke and the Bookish. I need to think about this more often! And if you are so inclined, please let me know which one of these is ESSENTIAL for me to start next.

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1) The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, #1) The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1) The Lost Sun (The United States of Asgard, #1) Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals, #1)

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1) A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2)
Series: The Queen of the Tearling
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Published: June 2016 (Harper)
Hardcover - 515 pages

Rating: 4/5 

Trigger Warnings: Abusive relationships (physical & sexual)

Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. Despite her youth, she has quickly asserted herself as a fair, just and powerful ruler.

However, power is a double-edged sword, and small actions can have grave consequences. In trying to do what is right - stopping a vile trade in humankind - Kelsea has crossed the Red Queen, a ruthless monarch whose rule is bound with dark magic and the spilling of blood. The Red Queen's armies are poised to invade the Tearling, and it seems nothing can stop them.

Though I've knocked a star off of my rating, I don't want it to appear as if I didn't enjoy this book. I still love this series. I adore the characters and I'm anxious to read the final book. However, I didn't wholeheartedly love this book the way I did book one. There were just a few issues I want to point out.

In the first book I thought Kelsea made some rash decisions, but none of them were outrageous and I believed them. In this second book a few of her decisions seemed wild even after Kelsea was established as a risk taker. It pulled me out of the story to question her actions and how daring (and sometimes stupid) I believed her to be.

Johansen took a really interesting approach to the history of this world and I really appreciated how we learned about the past. I was skeptical at first, but the new perspective that was introduced really grew on me. When I was reading Kelsea's chapters I was just as, if not more, anxious to get back to the other perspective because Johansen left on a lot of cliff-hangers in those chapters.  Also I found these sections especially chilling because of the recent political climate.

Overall I really enjoyed this installment. It was a strong second book and, though the plot moved forward slowly, it didn't suffer from second book syndrome. These was a lot of world building and essential plot points I had questioned in the first book. I am anxious to see how this will wrap up because I still feel like we have a long way to go.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Reading Everyday in May - Vlog

Throughout May I made an effort to read every day. I was really frustrated with my lack of reading and my inability to focus on books in April so I decided to challenge myself in May. Throughout the month I read at least a little bit all but two days. I did not quite meet the challenge, but overall it helped me a lot. I finished more books rather than abandoning them and I accomplished my goal of rereading a series so I could start the last book in that series.

After I finished the challenge, I realized how many of these books were still rereads, which I had hoped to avoid, but the books I've picked up since the beginning of June have all been new reads. In the end I think this challenge helped me conquer part of my reading funk and put me on the path to a better reading attitude. 

In June I'll be continuing this challenge by joining Misty's #30dayBookBinge

I've accidentally deleted this post twice now so I think I will sign off here and let you know about my progress again at the end of the month! 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Review: Stray by Rachel Vincent

Stray (Shifters, #1)
Series: Shifters #1
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group: Adult
Published: January 2007
Mass Market: 618 pgs

Rating: 2/5

Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault

There are only eight breeding female werecats left...And I'm one of them.

I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.

I'd been warned about Strays — werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.

This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back... for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I'm no meek kitty. I'll take on whatever — and whoever — I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays — 'cause I got claws, and I'm not afraid to use them...

The longer I think about this book the more issues I have with it. While reading I was interested and engaged in the story if still a bit skeptical and frustrated with the length of the novel. Now though, I have a whole host of issues with it.

The first issue I had with this book was about the female lead. Faythe is not as strong a character as she is made out to be. She is immature and selfish. I have very little patience for her after 600+ pages of her antics. While we constantly hear about her struggle for freedom, it feels surface level. Faythe walks the line of cliché the entire book and I was never taken by surprise by her actions or the story.

Another issue was the extreme length of this novel. It took 300 pages for this story to become interesting. It was too long! It dragged on forever. Trimming the beginning of the story down (excluding some of the weird sexual posturing) would have really helped keep me interested at the end. When the main plot of the story finally came into view I wasn't as invested as I could have been because I had already suffered 300 pages of nonsense. Also did every villain in this story need to be from Mexico or South America? 

Finally I was disappointed in the romance. Again the story fits a trope and we see Faythe involved in a love triangle. There isn't anything interesting about this triangle either. The witty banter I expect in paranormal romance was extremely lacking. Instead Faythe plays with both boys emotions and acts like a pouty teen rather than the twenty-four year old she is.

I'll continue on with this series since I already own them, but I sincerely hope there are some improvements in book two.

My Recommendation: Read this Instead

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn, #2)

Series: The Wrath and the Dawn 
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: April 2016
Hardcover - 416 pgs

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

Honestly I've made it my goal to reread a series before I finish it all because of this series. I didn't reread the first book before I picked up book two and I think my grasp of the plot suffered quite a bit because of that. Even so, I enjoyed this second installment and thought it was stronger than the first. 

In the first book we learned a lot about Shazi and Khalid, but we developed their individual personalities more in this book which I appreciated. There were more characters and more descriptions of the world, but many aspects still felt like they were only developed on a surface level. The magic especially felt like it was a background part of the story rather than a driving force. 

Overall I enjoyed the story and I'm happy with the wrap up to this duology, but I wanted more from it. More character development. More tension at the climax of the story. Less pouting from the boys and more action from Shaz. I liked just about everything about this book, but nothing in the series stood out as spectacular and I wanted to wholeheartedly love it.