The Backlist: Charlotte Holmes

This week I am doing a backlist review of the Charlotte Holmes books from Brittany Cavallaro. I am stoked to get my hands on the fourth and final book in the series, A Question of Holmes, which was released on March 5th. One of my dear friends is getting me a signed copy, so until she gets a chance to send it to me, I will satisfy myself with reliving these books through reviews. The synopsis for A Question of Holmes is at the very bottom of the page for you to check out!


A Study in Charlotte
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

Here’s the deal: I strongly dislike contemporary novels, especially YA contemporaries. But a Sherlock Holmes inspired YA contemporary? I couldn’t buy this book fast enough. The story is about the descendants of the original Holmes and Watson (yes, they are real in this universe), Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes. Jamie transfers to the same Connecticut private school that Charlotte attends and from there the games is afoot. Yes, I am also disappointed in myself for going there.

Jamie and Charlotte very obviously come together to solve a murder, one that they are being framed for. The whole mystery behind the murder is wild to say the very least. This book is far darker than I was expecting. Not only is there the whole murder thing, but drug addiction and rape. While these are very difficult topics, I felt they were handled respectfully. I am far from being a teen these days, but I think it’s important have YA stories that deal with harder topics.

I really enjoyed the way that Jamie and Charlotte were similar to the original Watson and Holmes (or at least what I can remember of the original stories. My brain also remembers the TV/movie version too well so I’m sure I’m leaning more towards those interpretations), but in a perfectly modern way. Charlotte is highly intelligent and though she can be abrasive at times, I felt she does care. From past traumas and her harsh upbringing (which you learn more about in later books), it is just hard for her to care for people in traditional ways. And then there is Jamie. The boy is kind of a doof sometimes, but he’s a teenage boy who has been brought up with stories of all the great Holmes and Watson’s before him. We can hardly blame him for diving head first into a not so healthy and fairly co-dependent friendship with Charlotte.

A Study in Charlotte is so vastly different from any YA contemporary that I’ve ever read, and I am so happy I picked it up. If you like Holmes/Watson, wildly dramatic murder mysteries, layers of secrets and betrayals, and high levels of snark, A Study of Charlotte is for you.

The Last of August
Release Date:
February 14, 2017
Rating: 3 stars

The tag line for this one is “Watson and Holmes: A match made in disaster.” This describes the relationship of these two characters so perfectly I cannot even. I thought A Study in Charlotte was twisty and turny, but The Last of August dials the chaos up to 11.

I loved that the story is based in England and Berlin this time around, so we get a nice scenery change. I loved the art forgery aspect to the case. We get more background on all the families, most importantly the Moriartys. The three families are endlessly fascinating and dysfunctional.

While I still enjoyed this one, I had two problems: the ending and the Charlotte/Jamie dynamic. The ending was chaotic, and I found myself not really following what was going on. It feels fast paced, but then you suddenly realize you are lost in the plot, but you are reading so fast you feel as though you can’t stop and go back. I felt like I needed a flow chart of how everything came together in that ending.

Then we have Charlotte/Jamie. Look, I love a good angsty romance, but this book took it to the point of me not enjoying it. Its been a while since I’ve read the book, but I just remember having an overwhelming sense that Jamie wanted to fix Charlotte and the PTSD she suffers from her rape. And this is NOT OKAY. The almost love triangle that goes on is not fun either. August Moriarty is probably one of the more sympathetic characters in this whole book and Jamie constantly needing him to be the villain was annoying.

While I still mostly enjoyed this when I read it, looking back I see a lot more problems with it. I originally rated this a 4 star but I’m going to knock it down to 3.

The Case for Jamie
Release Date:
March 6, 2018
Rating: 4 stars

Where The Last of August was kind of a mess for me at times, The Case for Jamie really drew me back in. None of the characters miraculously turn into better people, but the writing and plotting was better and I think having Charlotte and Jamie apart for a while was a good idea. Getting more of Charlotte’s POV really helped too. I still kinda want to smack Jamie through the whole book, but he is a teenage boy so that doesn’t really surprise me. Looking back on this book and the series as a whole, I feel like Charlotte and Jamie are my original trash children (current trash kids are Jude and Carden). Like, I love them, but also, they are so terrible. But the author isn’t going for a perfect, healthy relationship with these two. It’s hard because, I’m reading this as an adult, so I know that relationships like the one between Charlotte and Jamie are not great, but I can revel in the drama because the relationships in this book aren’t shaping my views on relationships. I like that the author shows the ugly sides of the relationship and how Charlotte and Jamie work through it. No person and no relationship is ever perfect, so I don’t want them written that way, but toxic relationships shouldn’t be glamorized to teens. I think these books walk that line, though sometimes they are a little too close to the edge. And I’m going to hop off this slippery slope rant I’ve sudden found myself in.

At the end of the day, The Case for Jamie is a vast improvement on the second book. Each book in this series is like pulling back the layers on these families and seeing the flawed humans they are. But like I’ve said, no one is perfect. I really feel like the characters in these books are all too human in a way we try to pretend we aren’t. I cannot wait to read the final book in the series, A Question of Holmes.

A Question of Holmes
Release Date:
March 5, 2019
Synopsis: Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson think they’re finally in the clear. They’ve left Sherringford School—and the Moriartys—behind for a pre-college summer program at Oxford University. A chance to start from scratch and explore dating for the first time, while exploring a new city with all the freedom their program provides. But when they arrive, Charlotte is immediately drawn into a new case: a series of accidents have been befalling the members of the community theater troupe in Oxford, and now, on the eve of their production of Hamlet, they’re starting all over again. What once seemed like a comedy of errors is now a race to prevent the next tragedy—before Charlotte or Jamie is the next victim.

Book Review: Heartless

Heartless
Author:
Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Rating: 4 Stars
Synopsis: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.


FYI: while I try not to say spoilers out right, this review could be viewed as mildly spoilery.

Heartless is a beautifully written origin story for the Queen of Hearts. Knowing what we know of the Queen of Hearts, we can surmise that this doesn’t end well. While I was anticipating some good heartbreak, I found myself oddly unfeeling at the tragic plot twist. But that disappointment in not shedding a tear (I like it when books make me cry), did not overshadow the brilliant and often scrumptious writing.

Cath is a nobleman’s daughter with dreams of opening her own bakery with her maid and friend, Mary Ann. Cath is…not my favorite character. At least not until the end when she evolves into the Queen of Hearts (don’t @ me, that isn’t a spoiler). Cath is wishy-washy and reminds me of those rich girls whose lives are just so terrible, even though they have all the money and boys in the world. I don’t know what it says about me that I only liked her when she became a full on, hardcore B. I will say that she does have a lot of terrible people in her life *glares in the general direction of Cath’s parents*, but homegirl just needed to grow up, drop that toxicity, and do what she needed to do to make herself happy. Also, maybe heed creepy prophecies given by creepy little girls.

Just as Cath is about to get betrothed the wimpy King of Hearts, she meets Jest and suddenly she wants more than just a bakery in her life. Jest is mysterious and snarky and all things I love in a book boyfriend. His backstory is really interesting and I love what we find out about his life. And while I really liked him, I just didn’t feel much for him. His courtship with Cath was tortured, which I love, but Cath’s inability to make a damn decision for herself kinda killed it for me, so I was never able to get fully invested in their relationship.

I absolutely loved all the side characters. Heck, I was more emotionally impacted by a early death of a side character than I was for the big tragic twist. Hatta is sheer perfection. His descent into madness and the reveal of his hidden feelings were the hardest thing for me. I was endlessly fascinated by the different creatures and characters of Hearts, from the flamingo croquet mallets to the cards. Everything was so perfectly whimsical.

Even through all my disconnects with Cath and the tragic plot twists, I will say that the writing in this book was stellar. I am fully surprised that I didn’t gain weight while reading this because I constantly wanted to eat desserts every time Cath baked. I don’t know much about Lewis Carroll’s original story of Wonderland, but I’ve gathered from other readers that this novel was respective of, but built more on, the original Wonderland. Based on Meyer’s writing in Heartless, I am now even more excited about starting her Lunar Chronicles series.

Heartless is a damn fine book and I can see why so many of my friends recommended it to me when I asked for tragic book recommendations. But looking back, I was walking myself straight into the trap of hype. I think because I guessed how things would end, I never let myself get too invested in the romance, and that left me feeling…well, heartless.

I buddy read this with the awesome Sabreena @ Books and Prosecco, who also posted her review of Heartless today. Her reviews are always amazing and well written, so I recommend checking it out!

ARC Review: Last of Her Name

This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request. The decision to review this book was entirely my own. My review is in no way influenced and all opinions are my own.

Last of Her Name
Author:
Jessica Khoury
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis: Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the royal family was murdered–down to their youngest child, Princess Anya–and the Union government rose in its place. But Stacia doesn’t think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father’s vineyard with her closest friends, Clio and Pol.
That all changes the day a Union ship appears in town, carrying the leader of the Belt himself, the Direktor Eminent. The Direktor claims that Princess Anya is alive, and that Stacia’s sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists, intent on hiding her. When Stacia is identified as the lost princess, her provincial home explodes into a nightmare.
Pol smuggles her away to a hidden escape ship in the chaos, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission. She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail.


Last of Her Name is a solid YA science fiction inspired by the story of the Romanovs. The story follows Stacia Androva as she finds out the truth of her heritage and runs away from the revelation across her galaxy (wonderfully named the Belt of Jewels) with Pol, one of her best friends. But when Stacia realizes Clio, her other best friend, has been taken by the Union and its violent leader, Alexi Volkov, her only thought is to save Clio, no matter the cost.

All told, I liked this book, but it almost never evoked any strong emotions from me. I kept getting to the precipice of LOVING the story, but nothing ever pushed me over the edge. The story moves at a fairly fast pace, but the writing style is simple. Looking at all those “but”s, I realize there was just something missing from this book for me. I wanted to reach in and draw out more depths to the story.

I feel like Last of Her Name is a YA book truly meant for young adults. Stacia is seventeen, just found out she isn’t who she thought she was, her best friend is taken from her, and she’s running away with her other best friend who, thanks to a well-timed step into manhood, is suddenly very attractive. Stacia is driven by her emotions, as confused and illogical as they are, and I’ll be damned if that isn’t how many teens are. But with the exception of a few scenes, I never felt much emotion for any of the characters. While I tend to try and balance my YA character opinions by considering that I am not a young adult, I still was not able to bring myself to care much for anyone in the story.

However, I loved loved loved the world building! The idea of how the humans left earth and came to find the Belt of Jewels, the prisms and how they function, the different planets: LOVED IT! I want other stories told in this universe!! Just with slightly older characters. This story didn’t have the most in-depth world building I’ve ever read in SF, but the world I built from Khoury’s words was dazzling.

I cannot speak for any solid connections to the story of Anastasia because my knowledge of the Romanovs extends to that cartoon movie that wasn’t actually a Disney movie, but I always thought it was. I did find the history of the Leonovas very interesting and I liked the twists that we get when we learn more about them.

The big reveal was a surprise to me in some ways, but I know sleuth-y readers will probably figure it out. As far as I can tell, this is a stand-alone book, so take what you will from that about the ending. Some aspects of the ending were a little too easy for me, but I was happy with what I got.

I think that a lot of people will really like this book, but it never quite connected for me. I was talking to a friend about this book the other day and I described it as a good palate cleanser book between heavy fantasy novels. I hope that doesn’t come off in a negative way, but that’s just what this book was for me. The book was fun and it never took too much from me to read. Some books demand your soul, but Last of Her Name asks you to just relax and come along for the ride.

ARC Review: Enchantée

This ARC was sent to me by the publisher at my request. The decision to review the book was my own. All thoughts and opinions in the following review are my own.

Enchantée
Author: Gita Trelease
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron/Macmillan
Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…


Enchantée is an alluring debut novel from Gita Trelease that weaves its spell around the reader and transports them to the richly imagined magical Paris of 1792. From the small, run down family apartment on the poverty-stricken rue Charlot to the dangerously decadent parties and treacherous gambling tables at Versailles, we follow Camille Durbonne as she struggles to shed the weight of her misfortunes and create a better life for her sister and herself…at any cost.

Camille works la magie ordinaire to turn simple metal pieces into coins to support herself, her sister, and her drunkard brother. When her situation deteriorates, as tends to happen when you have a wasteral brother, Camille decides to work the darker magic of glamoire to transform herself into the Baroness de la Fontaine, thus gaining access to the gambling parties at Versailles. The more time Camille spends with the nobles at Versailles the harder it becomes to keep her two lives separate.

Some have said this book is predictable, and I will agree that at times it is. But this book reads so beautifully that it did not matter to me. I felt like I was walking through this novel with rose tinted glasses, everything was so deliciously described and exquisitely laid out that I didn’t notice any cracks in my path as I went along. One thing I’ve come to realize now that I’m done with the book is that there wasn’t a lot of character development in the side characters. Though I liked all the sides, they all lacked depth. Even the villain was pretty easy to spot and lacked the depth to make him truly villainous. But again, rose tinted glasses kept this from being bothersome to me.

I will say that the short chapters were the perfect fix for the pacing in this one. If the chapters had been 20 – 30 pages long like some books, I feel this novel would have felt like a slog. When I stepped back from the book after finishing it I realized that there was not much action in this book. But the quick chapter turnover gave the sense of urgency that kept me intrigued. There is also the slow build of revolution in the background of this story that pops in every now and then. And while I think it was well researched (I can’t say for sure how accurate the historical points were. I was stealthily reading paranormal romance books during my history classes in high school), the revolution honestly felt anticlimactic.

I think what surprised me most about Enchantée was the underlying current of addiction that ran throughout the story. Camille constantly has a running internal monologue about how much the glamoire takes from her and how she will stop once she has enough money. But as is usually the case with addiction, there is always another excuse to use again. (FYI: I have personal experience with addictions in various forms. I am not making this generalization lightly or without a base of knowledge.) Though there wasn’t a lesson learned about addiction and the resolution to the addiction in this novel was far too easy, it was still interesting to read Camille’s descent into the addiction of magic. I do wish that addiction could have been explored a little more in the story, but at the same time this is not the book to tackle the stark depths of addiction.

Enchantée is, at its core, a story about how hope and love can survive even through the darkest points in our lives. People make mistakes and hide truths and find themselves slowly draining away their souls to addictions, but there is still hope and love to be found.

I personally find Enchantée to be a strong debut novel from a promising author. Trelease weaves her words in such a way that one feels they are surrounded by the world they are reading. I thoroughly look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Book Review: The Armored Saint

The Armored Saint
Author:
Myke Cole
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Tor.com
Rating: 4.5 stars
Synopsis: In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

How does such a big story come in such a small book? The Armored Saint clocks in at just over 200 pages, but Myke Cole proves that you don’t need an epic length novel to pack a serious emotional punch and some stellar world building.

The Armored Saint is what I consider to be my first real foray into the grimdark realm. I didn’t much know what to expect. I certainly didn’t think I’d be crying over a mouse or gasping quite so loudly when a certain plot twist occured or having a sudden distaste for the word “knitting”. This little book dragged me through hell and I kinda liked it all the more for that. To steal a quote from the great Captain Hammer, “Not my usual, but nice.” (side note: if you do not know what Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog is go look it up NOW!)

Heloise is the heroine we need in books these days. She is isn’t perfect, but she, like so many of us, is trying to find their place in this crazy, messed up world. The world Heloise lives in is brutal in every sense of the word, but she has hope, even through all she suffers. She finds her strength to fight in the most badass yet tragic way. I’ve read books twice the length of The Armored Saint that didn’t have half as much character development for the main character.

Some may argue that the world building and characterization of the secondary cast was lacking. But I feel there was not a word wasted in this book. I called the world building stellar at the beginning of this review because in it’s simplicity, it is damn near perfect. Sure, I don’t know what the currency is in this world, but I can tell you that you certainly do not want to be a wizard and that the religion is super twisted. My imagination was able to weave quite the mind movie with the material it was given and that’s what matters to me.

My final thoughts are that this book is certainly not for the faint of heart, but I definitely recommend it to YA readers that are looking to maybe branch into something a little darker. I’ll definitely need a couple of fluffy books where there aren’t any horrific deaths before I start the second book in this series, Queen of Crows.

ARC Review: Warrior of the Wild

This book was sent to me by the publisher per my request. I chose to review it on my own and all views and opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced.

Warrior of the Wild
Author:
Tricia Levenseller
Release Date: February 26th, 2019
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: 1.5 stars
Synopsis: How do you kill a god? As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.

Warrior of the Wild really missed the mark for me and a lot of it had to do with the main character. And the world building. And the side characters. And the romance. I guess I just need to say it: I really did not like this book very much.

Let’s start with Rasmira, the main character. I was expecting a fierce, feminist female main character because that’s what the hype around this book was saying. What I got was a girl who by page two of this book was obsessing about a boy kissing her. And sure, fierce warriors can want romance, but it grated on me because there was nothing about Rasmira that seemed fierce to me at all. Rasmira, to me, is the equivalent of a rich white girl who excels at a school sport and receives nothing but praise because her parents are donors to her private school. I got so annoyed whenever she was thinking her “poor me” thoughts. I never connected with her and found her to be whiny, immature, and unlikable.

And then there was the world building. The whole premise of this book is how Rasmira is banished to *The Wild* and must survive to win back her honor. The Wild…isn’t that scary. It’s basically a forest with some wild creatures in it (creatures that never attack unless it is important to the plot, which is basically never). Color me unimpressed. Like, how have so many of the “warriors” from villages been banished to the Wild and then died? Sure, if you go poking around the dwelling of the Peruxolo, the “villain” of the book, you might find yourself at the wrong end of a knife, but by and large the Wild seems like a place where you could take your family camping as long as you have some mild campsite fortifications. And outside of the very not scary Wild, there wasn’t much to be learned about this world. There are a couple villages, we get their names…and that’s about it.

I’m going to mash my issues of side characters and romance into the next paragraph but first a spoiler warning because the next paragraph definitely has some spoilers:

Okay, I will admit that I like romance in my books. At bare minimum I need one longing glance between two characters to enjoy a book. But never, in all my reading, have I been more annoyed and put off by a romance than I was in this book. When Rasmira is banished to the wild she find two boys who have been living in the wild for the last year. Which I thought was cool at first. And then I got to know the boys. Iric and Soren are from the same village and were basically brothers (by choice, not blood). But Soren is basically a selfish pretty boy and manipulated Iric to go out for the warrior trial, which he failed and was subsequently banished, and Soren decided to get himself banished as well because he felt guilty. The friendship and animosity between the two boys felt wooden at the best of times. Then we come to one of my big issues: the “romance” between Rasmira and Soren. The whole basis of their relationship is the fact that they are the only two hetero characters in the wild and the author even writes this observation into the story. It kinda disgusts me that Rasmira learned to trust again by falling in love with another dumb boy, but I guess we can’t all learn our personal strength outside of relationships with men [insert sarcastic eye roll here].

End spoilers.

So all that being said, I did like certain parts of this book. I thought the revelations about Peruxolo were interesting. I liked that this book went in a direction I was not anticipating. While the writing style wasn’t perfect, I was a least consistently drawn into the story, even though I never connected with it. And…I think that’s about it. This book just missed the mark so hard for me. For a book that has been so hyped as a fierce, feminist story, I felt incredibly let down.

Book Review: Shadow of the Fox

Shadow of the Fox
Author: Julie Kagawa
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating: 4.25 stars
Synopsis: One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.


Shadow of the Fox is one of those books that I could never quite pin down my feelings on. From the time I started it to right now as I write this review, my rating has fluctuated from 3 stars, to 5 stars, to finally landing on 4.25 stars. I went into this book with fairly high expectations because I have been a fan of Julie Kagawa since I devoured her Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series many years ago. I am happy to say that my exceptions were met.

I think the issue most people will have with Shadow of the Fox is the pacing. And so did I…until I had an epiphany. This book reads like an anime series. I think it was at the scene with the bear and the cave that something just clicked in my head and screamed “This is like an anime!!” From there, I loved the journey we were being taken on. I’m not even a huge anime fan (with the exception of Cowboy Bebop and Shokugeki No Soma), so it wasn’t the fact that it’s like an anime that made me like it. My epiphany just made me understand the pacing more. I think if people who aren’t familiar with anime go into this book with the knowledge that it isn’t paced like your average YA fantasy novel, they will enjoy it more.

Yumeko, who I consider the main character, is sixteen-year-old half human and half kitsune who has been raised by the monks at the Silent Winds Temple. After her home is destroyed, she sets out on the journey the head monk of the Silent Winds Temple gave her before he died: take the temple’s portion of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers to safety. On her journey she meets Kage Tatsumi, demon slayer of the Shadow Clan, and strikes a precarious bargain for him to travel with her as protection. Both are keeping secrets from the other and any slip of truth could destroy the tenuous alliance they have. Both Yumeko and Tatsumi have POV chapters and my BIGGEST issue with this book is the lack of indication that a POV has changed from chapter to chapter. Because the book is written in the first person it can take a minute to figure out whose POV we are reading at the beginning of each chapter. I got more used to it by the book’s end, but in the beginning, it really bothered me. I read this book with a book club and the POV switches were a problem for a lot of people in the group. Beyond Yumeko and Tatsumi, we are introduced to a host of secondary characters that bring mystery, danger, and whimsy to this story. My favorite of the secondary characters is definitely Okame and if any harm befalls this lovable ronin I WILL RIOT!

The thing that initially kicked my rating up to 5 stars for a while was the ending. It was SO GOOD! A certain part of it was predictable but the way it played out was not. There was action and betrayal and the promise for more story. AND THAT EPILOGUE OMG! I’m not sure how I’m expected to live while I wait for the next book, Soul of the Sword. All I can say, is I definitely have a pre-order already in.

At the end of the day, I settled into a 4.25 star rating because the POV issue and weird pacing. Even though I came to appreciate the pacing after a time, it still was rough in the beginning and can be a real make or break situation for a lot of people (there were a few people in my book club who DNFed this book because of pacing). I think this book would be good for fantasy lovers who are looking for a story that is structured a little differently from the typical YA fantasy.

ARC Review: The Kingdom of Copper

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher per my request. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Any quotes included in this review come from an advance reader copy
and are subject to change in the final release.

The Kingdom of Copper
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Rating: 5 Stars (I’d give it more if it was possible)
Synopsis and Pre-Order links can be found at the
Publisher’s webiste: [here]

Chakraborty has done it again! I’m not gonna lie, I’ve tried for the last two days to think of something more eloquent to write besides “I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH!” But, the fact of the matter is I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH!

If you’ve read The City of Brass (and if you haven’t, GO READ IT RIGHT NOW! And then check out my review of it here) you know that Chakraborty excels in rich world building and creating characters that you love (even if you should hate them). The Kingdom of Copper takes everything that happens in The City of Brass, plus Chakraborty’s growing talent, and ratchets up the tension and mystery and action so much that I could barely put the book down.

One of the great things about Chakraborty’s writing is the realness she brings to her characters. They are all strong, weak, flawed, and perfect in their own ways. Just like real people. There were characters whose deaths I was wishing for at the beginning of the book, but by the end I was screaming when I thought they had been cut down. The abject cruelty of Ghassan is a frightening thing to read, especially in our current political situation. Nahri is so much stronger in this book and to see her growth is a wonderful thing to behold. By far, the best quote in the book is from Nahri: “I’ve had enough of men hurting me because they were upset.” If that isn’t a mood for 2019, I don’t know what is.

There truly is not a single thing I would change about this book. From a purely entertainment side of things, this book gives us adventure, drama, intrigue, and lushly described settings. But there is so much more to take from this story. The violent tensions between the shafit and djinn reflect many things happening in our society these days. Reading the ways in which Daevabad tears itself apart over prejudices is disheartening but it makes you think about our world. I want people to read this book to see the world through different eyes. We don’t have enough books like this and that needs to change.

I basically said this in my review for The City of Brass, but it rings even more true now that I’ve finished The Kingdom of Copper: When people ask me for fantasy book recommendations, The Daevabad Trilogy is what I’ll be telling them to read for years to come.

Book Review: The Thief

The Thief
Author:
Megan Whalen Turner
Release Date: October 1, 1996
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis: The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities. What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.


Have you ever read a book that you just don’t know how you really feel about when you finish it? Welcome to my problem with reviewing the The Thief. It’s not that I didn’t like it, it just felt…less than I expected somehow. I guess I’m going to start with the good and work my way down.

I loved the ending! Like, hot damn, those were some plot twists. In a book that honestly had me kinda bored most of the way through, the ending saved this one for me. Of all the revelations, I only guessed 1.5 of them. I felt the author was pretty good at keeping us in the dark. Though, as my reading buddy and I learned, if you have a copy of this book with the character index in the back DON’T READ IT! It contains spoilers for this book and the rest in the series.

The writing was very straight forward. No flowery prose here. Even so, the world building was pretty decent and the story flowed. I loved the interludes where we get stories of the gods. My problem fell in the fact that there was horrifically little dialogue. And one thing I hate even more than a lack of dialogue is when the dialogue is described in a paragraph. JUST BREAK IT OUT INTO DIALOGUE DAMNIT! Reading paragraph after paragraph of description and exposition starts to feel like reading an essay and I certainly don’t like doing that.

My other problem was the very slow progress to what I’d consider the action of the book. The first half of the book, literally down to the page, is spent journeying. That’s 140 pages of walking about and getting to know each other (again, with very little dialogue). And while I mostly enjoyed getting to know the characters, I got kinda of bored with it after a while. What drove me on was the knowledge that something good would happen, because many of my friends have said they love this book so I knew action had to be on the horizon.

Going back and reading this review, it sounds like I don’t like the book. But that’s not really the case. I felt like this was just part one of a larger story and I am very intrigued by this larger story. I’m hoping that maybe as the story goes on we get some good female characters because The Thief was sorely lacking in that. I got just a hint of what seems like a good set up of political/court intrigue and I do love me some good intrigue. I guess what I’m trying to say is I will definitely be continuing with this series because I see the path of where it is going and I want to take that journey. Assuming I get some damn dialogue.


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The Backlist: Six of Crows Duology

Before I get into the meat of this backlist review, I want to get something off my chest: Six of Crows is the ONLY reason I ever finished reading the Grisha Trilogy. I read Shadow and Bone a while back and it never did anything for me and I decided the trilogy wasn’t for me. Then Six of Crows came out and based on the synopsis I KNEW I had to read it. I loved Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom so much that I decided to finish the Grisha Trilogy. This is my long way of saying, you don’t HAVE to read the Grisha trilogy before Six of Crows. In fact, I am stalwart in my convictions that Six of Crows should be the introduction to Leigh Bardugo. Yes, there are spoilers for the Grisha Trilogy in SoC/CK, but…well, it’s complicated and I can’t explain without spoiling things and honestly the “spoilers” didn’t ruin anything for me when I finally finished the Grisha trilogy. I guess what I’m trying to get to in this long rambling opener is that Six of Crows is a god damned triumph and I hate to think of others like me who almost missed out on the beauty of Bardugo’s writing because the Grisha Trilogy didn’t work for them. Okay, getting off my soap box and starting what I came here to do: review Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Read: May 13 – May 20, 2016
Rating: 5 stars

Where do I even start with this one? I love this book. Every single word was beautifully woven into a dark heist story that consistently surprised me with its character depth and whiplash plot twists. Considering my “meh” feelings on the first Bardugo book I read, Shadow and Bone, I went into this one with trepidation. However, Bardugo’s writing had evolved into so much more than it was for the Grisha Trilogy and I found myself devouring this book at every possible moment (Please see my favorite Instagram photo ever because Bardugo called me a goof for reading Six of Crows while in a Starbucks drive through line). Some complain that the pacing is off in this book and I completely disagree. Yes, the background stories of characters are slower, but damn are they important and interesting and they add such depth. I feel like I know the characters in Six of Crows better than any other book characters I have ever read.

When people ask for a YA fantasy recommendation, this is the book I give them. This is a book I wish I had written. This book, as stated earlier, is a god damned triumph.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Read: September 27 – October 4, 2016
Rating: 5 stars

Dear Crooked Kingdom, I’d like my heart back, thank you very much.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to love my Dregs any more than I already did, but Crooked Kingdom stormed through and not only stole my heart but broke it into a thousand icy shards. Bardugo dives even deeper into her characters, giving us some truly heart wrenching backstories and introducing us to new characters that bring more complexity to Ketterdam and the Dregs. I cannot express enough how much I love the introduction of Colm (I’m only giving first name to avoid any potential spoilers). Straight up, my favorite character.

At the end of the day, this was such a good ending to this duology (potential trilogy if what Bardugo’s has said is true). It gave me satisfying, and sometimes emotionally traumatic, endings for each of the characters. I often have issues with endings to series but this one worked for me in so many ways.

So there we have it. My short little love letters to Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. If you want a book that is full of snark, high stakes, beautifully built worlds, broken and brilliant characters, and some of the most wonderfully woven words ever written, then I highly recommend you pick up Six of Crows immediately.