Book Review: Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak

Book Review: Black City Saint by Richard A. KnaakBlack City Saint by Richard A Knaak
Series: Black City Saint #1
Published by Pyr on March 1, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 390
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.

Book Review:

I’m a fan of Richard A. Knaak’s books in the World of Warcraft realm, so I was eager to try out some of his original work. BLACK CITY SAINT sounded quite intriguing, with its mashup of noir, fae, dragons, and 1920s Chicago.

Unfortunately, I was bored by 97% of the book. Every time I picked it up to read, I kept putting it back down and looking at Instagram or Twitter or any other diversion I could find. Part of the reason was the stilted, overly formal writing style, which I think the author used in an attempt to make the book feel more 1920s-ish. But I also know that Knaak can overwrite, so that was part of it as well. I hate when I have to reread sentences 2 or 3 times to figure out what they mean.

My second problem with BLACK CITY SAINT? Nick spends the first half of the book going all over Chicago for no real reason at all. The first few chapters were cool, because they introduced Nick, the dragon, and the author’s version of fae, but then nothing happens. Nick goes here, he goes there, he keeps secrets, he goes here, he goes there, he keeps more secrets.

Third, the author tried so hard to make Nick’s enemy the typical tricky fae lord that I was confused by all the double-crossing, lying, trickery, and secrets. Nick was continually surprised by the villain, which I found hard to believe considering they’d fought before, and he had more than a thousand years of experience. And because he kept getting tricked by Oberon, I found it even more hard to believe that he would eventually triumph.

Fourth, why was Claryce even in BLACK CITY SAINT? All she wanted to do was follow Nick into danger and Nick wanted her to stay behind and be safe. She never listened and he loved her even more for it? Claryce played practically no role in the book, other than a prop to be moved around until the very end. I thought it was lazy the author relied on her past incarnations to develop hints of a relationship between them, instead of just developing it in the here and now.

All of that said, I did like the dragon in BLACK CITY SAINT. Knaak is good with dragons.

Overall, I think BLACK CITY SAINT tried to combine too many things and genres, and tried too hard to be clever. There were some cool ideas, but the execution was off for me.

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Richard A. Knaak:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Book Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie JordanReign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Series: Reign of Shadows #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 9, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
1 Stars
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.

Book Review:

REIGN OF SHADOWS is the first in a new YA series by Sophie Jordan. It’s set in a world of darkness where an eclipse has reigned for 17 years. The rightful princess of the land lives in a tower hidden in the forest, waiting for daylight to come back to reclaim her kingdom.

I liked the idea behind REIGN OF SHADOWS — the world of darkness and the hidden princess. Unfortunately, the author didn’t deliver on anything, from worldbuilding to an actual story. Why’s the world dark? Because of an eclipse. That’s the entirety of the explanation. Where do the dwellers come from? Underground. How can a blind girl run through a forest like she’s Usain Bolt, without tripping or falling?

Yeah. Luna is blind, which could have been very cool, but the author turned her into Superwoman with no basis. I understand that one’s other senses do amp up, but Luna’s abilities are unbelievably superhuman.

Then there’s Fowler, the bad-boy love interest who is incredibly broken. He’s lost too much in life to care about anyone. But Luna’s love fixes him in a matter of days. Every single one of their kisses is good enough to cause a volcano to erupt.

Lastly, what the heck happened in REIGN OF SHADOWS? The book read more like a prequel to a series than a real first installment. I just finished the book, and I’m trying to remember what happened… not much.

I’ve read one of the author’s other books — UNINVITED — and had many of the same issues with that book. So, I’m thinking Sophie Jordan just isn’t an author for me. She has cool ideas, but the execution is off and there are just too many cliche tropes in her books for me to enjoy them.

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Sophie Jordan:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson

Book Review: The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh JohnsonThe Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson
Series:
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: World of Solace #2
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
From Jaleigh Johnson, the acclaimed author of The Mark of the Dragonfly, comes another thrilling adventure in the magical world of Solace.

Lina Winterbock lives in the mountain strongholds of Solace. She’s an apprentice to the archivists, the wise men and women whose lives are dedicated to cataloging, studying, and preserving the objects that mysteriously fall from the sky in the scrap towns.

Lina should be spending her days with books, but the Iron War has changed everything. The strongholds are now a refuge, and the people Lina once counted on no longer have time for her, so she spends her days exploring the hidden tunnels and passages of her home. The strongholds are vast and old, with twisting paths, forgotten rooms, and collapsed chambers, some of them containing objects that have been lost and forgotten even by the archivists.

And in one of the forgotten chambers, Lina discovers a secret.
Hidden deep in a cavern is a half-buried airship like nothing she has ever seen before. She’s determined to dig it out and restore it. But Lina needs help, and she doesn’t know anyone she can trust with her secret.

Then she meets Ozben, a mysterious boy who has a secret of his own—a secret that’s so dangerous it could change the course of the Iron War and the world of Solace forever.

Book Review:

I enjoyed Jaleigh Johnson’s first book set in the word of Solace, THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY. THE SECRETS OF SOLACE is a standalone also set in Solace, but with two new characters: Lina and Ozben.

Lina is an apprentice archivist, studying the mysterious artifacts from the meteor fields. Ozben is a refugee boy with a huge secret. When they meet, Lina gets the first friend she’s ever had, and Ozben might have a way to go home, thanks to Lina’s own secret. The friendship between Lina and Ozben was quite nice to read; it was probably one of my favorite parts of the book.

Otherwise… I’m struggling a bit with reviewing THE SECRETS OF SOLACE. I can’t help but compare it to THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY, and it just doesn’t have the same magic. The first half of the book was quite slow, leaving me wanting more action and more from Lina, other than her repeating the same mistakes. I feel like the author spent too much time setting up Lina’s pre-teen angst, and then rushed to wrap up all the storylines in the last quarter of the book.

The end of the book was good, and I liked what we learned about the Merlin… I just wish there had been more of the ship in the book. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the Merlin was very cool, and I hope that if Johnson writes another Solace book, we’ll see more of that type of thing.

Socialize with the author:

Jaleigh Johnson:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn HamiltonRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Book Review:

I was looking forward to REBEL OF THE SANDS — I love me a heroine that can shoot and a setting other than Medieval European fantasy– but the book fell flat for me. I’m a black sheep on this one; from reading other reviews, I can see that most people are loving it.

Amani’s a smart-mouthed girl desperate to escape her small town. She’s always had dreams of life in the big city, but now she has to get out before her uncle forces her into marriage. The only problem? She has no money, and when she tries to win money in a shooting competition, she and a foreigner end up setting the place on fire. Naturally, foreign boy Jin is handsome and full of secrets, with “the sort of smile that would turn over whole empires to the enemy (p. 132).”*

REBEL OF THE SANDS didn’t have anything special to keep my attention. The first few pages were good, and then the book meandered around. I wasn’t sure exactly what the plot was — Amani and Jin spent a lot of time traveling, getting in each other’s way and then dealing with obstacles that kept getting in the way. The middle of the book dragged. The end was better, and at least there wasn’t a cliffhanger, but I’m not sure this is a series I’d continue.

There were some interesting fantasy bits, but they were at the end of the book, and by then I was kind of over it. I was very meh on the romance and the action. I think the author needs to choreograph her action scenes better in the future — they were hard to imagine and some were unrealistic and/or too short.

For me, REBEL OF THE SANDS = smart-mouthed heroine + boy full of secrets + generic desert setting + no real plot until the end of the book.

*Quote from uncorrected review copy

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Alwyn Hamilton:
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– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

waiting on wednesday

nevernight by jay kristoffNevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff
Release Date: August 9, 2016

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she wanders a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and its thugs. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the hearth of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

Revenge.

Jay Kristoff is a writing machine! I greatly enjoyed his Lotus War series, and then ILLUMINAE with Amie Kaufman, and now he has a new series coming out? And I see now he has another new series coming in 2018! Hot damn.

Anywho, I’m excited for NEVERNIGHT because assassins, assassins, ASSASSINS! And is it just me, or does Mia’s last name remind you of corvids (crows?) I swear those are some bird wings on that cover. As usual, I’m sure Jay will crush my heart in NEVERNIGHT, and I can’t wait.

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna

Book Review: Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki

Book Review: Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison PatakiSisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki
Published by The Dial Press on March 8, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
For readers of Philippa Gregory, Paula McLain, and Daisy Goodwin comes a sweeping and powerful novel by New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki. Sisi tells the little-known story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary, the Princess Diana of her time, in an enthralling work of historical fiction that is also a gripping page-turner.

Married to Emperor Franz Joseph, Elisabeth—fondly known as Sisi—captures the hearts of her people as their “fairy queen,” but beneath that dazzling persona lives a far more complex figure. In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna, the halls of the Hofburg Palace buzz not only with imperial waltzes and champagne but with temptations, rivals, and cutthroat intrigue. Feeling stifled by strict protocols and a turbulent marriage, Sisi grows restless. A free-spirited wanderer, she finds solace at her estate outside Budapest. There she rides her beloved horses and enjoys visits from the Hungarian statesman Count Andrássy, the man with whom she’s unwittingly fallen in love. But tragic news brings Sisi out of her fragile seclusion, forcing her to return to her capital and a world of gossip, envy, and sorrow where a dangerous fate lurks in the shadows.

Through love affairs and loss, dedication and defiance, Sisi struggles against conflicting desires: to keep her family together, or to flee amid the collapse of her suffocating marriage and the gathering tumult of the First World War. In an age of crumbling monarchies, Sisi fights to assert her right to the throne beside her husband, to win the love of her people and the world, and to save an empire. But in the end, can she save herself?

Featuring larger-than-life historic figures such as Bavaria’s “Mad King Ludwig” and the tragic Crown Prince Rudolf, and set against many of Europe’s grandest sites—from Germany’s storied Neuschwanstein Castle to England’s lush shires—Sisi brings to life an extraordinary woman and the romantic, volatile era over which she presided.

Book Review:

I didn’t know that SISI: EMPRESS ON HER OWN is actually a follow-up to THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS. I learned that only after I went to Goodreads and searched for the author. The summary for SISI gives no clue that it’s a sequel, which is an unfortunate omission.

Because if I’d read THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS first, I might have enjoyed SISI more. SISI starts in 1868, with the empress reflecting how much more she enjoys life in Hungary than Vienna. I thought it was an odd place to start her story, as I wanted to know just how she influenced the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, since she didn’t seem to care much about government. I realize now that the events of her early years were covered in THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS.

But even if I had read the first book about Sisi’s life, I might not have liked SISI anymore. I wasn’t a fan of the author’s writing style or her uninspiring attempts to bring Sisi to life. I thought the Wikipedia entry was more exciting and educational. I like my historical fiction to educate me, or at least stimulate an interest in a new-to-me figure or time period. If I went off Pataki’s Sisi, I’d think she was a vapid, selfish, irresponsible woman who preferred to fantasize about horses and unavailable men. And yes, Sisi might have been all of that to some extent, but bring something new to her story? Or why not delve into her psyche, really dig into her mental state rather than staying on the surface? At least tell her story in an interesting way, instead of stringing me along for some 460 boring pages of riding and etiquette and stiff, flat characters.

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Allison Pataki:
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– leeanna

Book Review: America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

Book Review: America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura KamoieAmerica's First Daughter by Laura Kamoie, Stephanie Dray
Published by William Morrow on March 1, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 624
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

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america's first daughter by stephanie dray and laura kaomie blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. Having enjoyed Stephanie’s work in the past, I was interested in seeing her tackle early American history. The tour is hosted by Inkslinger PR and you can visit all the stops here. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.

Book Review:

As much as I like historical fiction — which is a lot — I rarely read about American events. I’m much more interested in ancient times and lands, but when I saw Stephanie Dray as one of the authors of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER, I knew I had to look at the book. I enjoyed Dray’s stories in the collaborative historical fiction books A DAY OF FIRE and A YEAR OF RAVENS, so I was sure that if anyone could get me interested in America’s early days, it would be her.

AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER is the story of Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, or Patsy, as she was called before her marriage. I knew absolutely nothing about her, and not much about Jefferson other than common facts. Now that I’ve finished AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER, I’m blown away by how much I’ve learned. Not just about Jefferson and Patsy, but about America’s early political troubles, plantation life, slavery, and the role and expectations of women in Colonial America. The authors obviously did an immense amount of research, and they imparted that knowledge without letting it overwhelm the narrative.

The book starts off just after Jefferson’s death, with Patsy taking up what might be the most important task of her life: editing her father’s letters to preserve his image forevermore. In the process of sanitizing his words, she looks back at her entire life, detailing the incidents written of in the letters she burns. One example: the authors do believe Jefferson had a long affair with his slave, Sally Hemings, and that relationship threads through Patsy’s life, her views on it changing as she journeys from teenager to wife to mother. Sally’s predicament, and that of her children with Jefferson, also affect Patsy’s views on slavery.

The book is Patsy’s, but it’s also the story of Jefferson through the eyes of his devoted daughter. Patsy spends her entire life trying to protect and care for her father, sometimes at the expense of her own happiness. Because AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER spans so many years, it’s a great way to see Patsy eventually come into her own, trying to embody her father’s ideals about independence in time where women were essentially the property of their husbands or fathers. It’s also interesting to see Jefferson as a father and man; I could see why Patsy idolized him, but I also wanted to shake some sense into her at times.

AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER is quite long. But I appreciated the length, as it’s the epic saga of a famous family. The authors covered so many episodes of Patsy’s life that I can’t believe they left anything out. But they did, as they explain in the Author’s Note. I do think the beginning of the book, covering Patsy’s childhood, was a bit slow. But once the book got going, the authors hooked my attention, and I devoured the rest of it. I particularly liked the writing style: very readable, but with just enough old fashioned style to help set the historical period. There are a few difficult passages about domestic abuse, but the authors do present an argument for its historical accuracy. Lastly, it’s impossible to know that two people wrote this book, which is always a good thing with co-authored works.

In AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER, the authors breathe life into a little known but very important historical figure. Martha Jefferson Randolph literally was America’s first daughter as she filled the role of first lady for her father. I can’t believe I didn’t know more about her before this book, so I’m grateful to the authors for writing such an engrossing character and interesting me in the history of America’s earliest days.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the authors:

author stephanie draySTEPHANIE DRAY is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW’s Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women’s fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.
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Newsletter | America’s First Daughter Website

author laura kamoieLAURA KAMOIE has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America’s First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den by Aimee Carter

Book Review: Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den by Aimee CarterSimon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter
Series: Simon Thorn #1
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on February 2, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
A thrilling debut in the tradition of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull about a boy who discovers a secret race of animal shape shifters.

Twelve-year-old Simon Thorn’s life has never been easy or normal, but things like being bullied at school and living in a cramped Manhattan apartment with his Uncle Darrell are nothing compared to his biggest secret: He can talk to animals.

But when his mom is suddenly kidnapped by a herd of rats, Simon finds out that he, his mom, and his uncle are all Animalgams—people born with the ability to change into an animal at will.

In search of his mom, Simon discovers the Animalgam Academy based at the Central Park Zoo. There he learns about the fractured five kingdoms that make up this secret world . . . and realizes he may be the only one who can save it.

This action-packed page-turner is perfect for fans of the Spirit Animals and The School of Good and Evil series.

Book Review:

SIMON THORN AND THE WOLF’S DEN is the first in a new middle grade fantasy series about a boy who can talk to animals. At first Simon thinks he’s crazy because he can talk to animals. He’s been bullied before for talking to animals in public, and when the first day of seventh grade starts off with more of the same, Simon’s sure things can’t get any worse.

Of course, things get worse. Simon’s stalked by an eagle, attacked by rats, finds out his uncle can turn into a wolf, and the mom he sees once a year? She’s captured by rats. Simon’s plunged into a world he never knew about, with five kingdoms of people who can shift into animals at will.

Middle grade is hit or miss with me, and unfortunately, SIMON THORN AND THE WOLF’S DEN is mostly a miss. The publisher compared the book to Rick Riordan, but I didn’t find any of the spark, humor, or sheer fun of Riordan books. The dialogue didn’t read like twelve-year-olds talking; I often thought Simon was older than twelve. I also got frustrated when he continually dived into danger, over and over, because he always knew better than the people around him. I know kids are impulsive, but I’m sick of that showing up all the time.

The Animalgam concept was cool, and was the main reason I read the book. Who wouldn’t want to shift into an animal at will? I think the author tried to take a Harry Potter house-esque approach to the different kingdoms, which was okay, but I didn’t get why all the different kingdoms had rivalries. And all of Simon’s family drama? I originally thought it would be fun, but I ended up wanting to know more about the Alpha’s motives, Orion’s motives, etc. The story was fairly straightforward, just with lots of detours thanks to Simon knowing better than everyone else.

I did like that Simon placed a high value on family and friendship. A minor thing — he annoyed me when he’d jump in for a girl, trying to protect her or saying she didn’t mean what she said, especially after a girl asked him not to do that. But otherwise, I liked the friendships in this book. Jam was probably my favorite; everyone loves a dolphin who reads and has a cheerful personality.

Maybe I’m analyzing too deep for the intended age range, but I know my middle grade self would have had the same issues with SIMON THORN AND THE WOLF’S DEN.

Socialize with the author:

Aimee Carter:
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– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: My Lady Jane

waiting on wednesday

my lady jane by cynthia hand, brodi ashton, and jodi meadowsMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 7, 2016

For fans of The Princess Bride comes the comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger—and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

Of the three authors of MY LADY JANE, I’ve only read Jodi Meadows’ books, but I’m a big fan. I’ve also read a lot of fiction and non-fiction on Lady Jane Grey, but this book sounds like nothing else I’ve read. And I’m excited! MY LADY JANE sounds like it will be hilarious and fresh. Give it to me now :D

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna

Book Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Book Review: Firstlife by Gena ShowalterFirstlife by Gena Showalter
Published by Harlequin Teen on February 23, 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 480
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
ONE CHOICE.
TWO REALMS.
NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

Book Review:

Oh, FIRSTLIFE. I wanted to like you, but I should have put you down after the first few chapters instead of forcing myself to finish you. You have such a pretty cover and a good-sounding idea, but we just weren’t meant to be.

I just finished FIRSTLIFE about twenty minutes ago, and this is one of those books where all I can think is, “WTF did I just read and why did I waste my time?” Originally, I thought the idea of your first life on Earth being a sort of dress rehearsal for life after death was cool. So were the two different realms, Troika and Myriad, each with their different view of that Secondlife. And the beginning of FIRSTLIFE? With Ten in the asylum, being tortured into picking a side? That was good.

But then the 400+ pages of the book turned into one thing: Ten’s inability to pick a side. There was just one small problem: I had NO clue as to why Ten wouldn’t pick Troika or Myriad. The author never offered a compelling reason as to why she would endure over a year of daily torture to stay Undecided. Then when Ten escaped, she continued to waffle in the midst of multiple attempts on her life, and oh yeah, two super hot boys trying to get her to pick their respective side. Why? Because Ten is a special snowflake.

By page 100, I was extremely bored and annoyed with FIRSTLIFE. At first, I liked Ten’s prickly “I won’t submit” personality. But when she kept putting herself into danger over and over, as well as constantly getting into fights and never having injuries impede her, I had enough. Based on all the torture and losing fights, Ten should have died early on, not whined for 400+ pages. I forced myself to keep going, hoping FIRSTLIFE would get better, but here’s something telling: when I had only 20 pages left, I almost didn’t bother finishing because I had completely checked out. I just didn’t care any longer.

Part of that is because the author’s worldbuilding is super complex yet confusing. I appreciate her trying to do a different spin on Good vs. Evil, but I’m just so confused! Where are the realms physically located? In what year does FIRSTLIFE take place? Why in the world does anyone think torturing undecided teens into picking a side would have any effect? Do the sides control humans on earth? Why must all the spirits be super gorgeous, with special golden eyes and sexy accents and glittery diamond lifeblood? Why are Troika and Myriad at war, anyway? And so on to the hundredth power.

I’m not even going to get into the romance, other than to say it’s an obvious one-sided love triangle, with the alpha bad boy who falls instantly for Ten because she’s special, not like any of the hundreds of girls he’s recruited. And of course, Ten thinks she’s the only girl who can fix him because he opened his big bad boy heart to her.

I’d rather have spent hours in the purgatory of Many Ends than plodding through FIRSTLIFE.

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– leeanna