Book Review: The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

Book Review: The Safest Lies by Megan MirandaThe Safest Lies by Megan Miranda
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on May 24, 2016
Genres: Romance, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Can fear be inherited?

Kelsey was raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with Kelsey growing inside her.

Kelsey knows she’s supposed to keep a low profile for their own protection, but that plan is shattered when she drives off a cliff and is rescued by volunteer firefighter and classmate Ryan Baker.

A few days later, she arrives home to face her greatest fear: her mother is missing. She and her mother have drilled for all contingencies—except this one. Luckily, Ryan is as skilled at emergency rescues as Kelsey is at escape and evasion.

To have a chance at a future, Kelsey will have to face all her darkest fears. Because someone is coming for her.

And the truth about the past may end up being the most dangerous thing of all.

Book Review:

THE SAFEST LIES asks an interesting question. Can fear be inherited?

Kelsey grew up in a house of locks and fences, with a mother who hasn’t set foot outside in 17 years. Her mother was kidnapped as a teen but escaped… with Kelsey in her belly. Terrified they would be taken again, her mom has kept Kelsey on a short leash. Kelsey lives under rules and routines most teens wouldn’t tolerate for 5 seconds, but it’s a life that’s kept her safe.

Until she sneaks out for the first time in her life and returns to find her mother missing. And then men are trying to break into the house. It’s every nightmare Kelsey’s had, all at once.

THE SAFEST LIES kept me hooked for a while, but once Kelsey and possible love interest Ryan got trapped in her house, I started to lose interest. I didn’t realize the book would go so heavily into thriller territory; I thought it would be more about the effect of fear on genes. The subject comes up a lot, but I don’t feel like the author actually answered the question.

Ryan was a good part of the book. I don’t usually say that about guys in YA, but I liked him. He was nice and supportive and protective, and could realize when he was being a jerk. Ryan did do one big bad thing; I wish Kelsey hadn’t forgiven him so easily. But other than that, thumbs up for Ryan.

Otherwise, I was bored by THE SAFEST LIES. I’m not a huge thriller fan, so that might have contributed. I thought there was too much angst on Kelsey’s part and that the book dragged on for too long. I didn’t feel the danger because the characters were in lukewarm danger for so long that I just didn’t care anymore.

Socialize with the author:

Megan Miranda:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Riders by Veronica Rossi

Book Review: Riders by Veronica RossiRiders by Veronica Rossi
Series: Riders #1
Published by Tor Teen on February 16, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine, and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now—bound, bloodied, and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?

Book Review:

I really enjoyed Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky trilogy, so I was excited to check out the start to her new series, Riders. If you’ve read her first series, don’t expect RIDERS to be anything like it. They are 100% different, which was both good and bad for me.

RIDERS takes a new spin on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Here, the horsemen are four teenage boys, all of whom wake up with strange cuffs on their wrists after dying. But their attempts to return to normal life don’t work. Gideon, our narrator, realizes he can make others feel anger. Days after his death and awakening, he’s off on a roadtrip with Daryn, a mysterious young woman who insists she knows what’s going on, but can’t tell him anything yet. Oh, and can they drive around the U.S. and pick up the other horsemen? Because they have to be together to save the world.

Most of RIDERS is told in Gideon’s flashbacks. At the start of the book, he’s being interrogated by unknown parties after some unknown big stuff went down. I was very meh on the first 70% or so of the book. There didn’t seem to be much of a plot. It was somewhat boring, having Gideon recount the past few weeks, his painful attraction to Daryn, and so on. I wasn’t a fan of the blunt, disjointed writing style, although I did really like Gideon’s voice. He read and felt like a real guy, not wish fulfillment.

The last 30% of the book is where I liked RIDERS a whole lot more. I was tempted to put it down before I reached that point, but here is one time where continuing was actually a good thing. Finally there was action (and a lot of it). I liked seeing the guys and their horses interact, the guys bond, and also learning more about the Kindred and the big secret.

For me, RIDERS was just okay. I was hoping for more, given how much I enjoyed Under the Never Sky. I liked the end of RIDERS, but I shouldn’t have been meh on so much of the book to get to that end.

Socialize with the author:

Veronica Rossi:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

Book Review: Ivory and Bone by Julie EshbaughIvory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Series: Ivory and Bone #1
Published by HarperTeen on June 7, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
2 Stars
A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

Book Review:

IVORY AND BONE originally caught my eye because, historical fiction set way, way, way in the past? With mammoths and saber cats and the Ice Age? Gimme. I’m always on the lookout for historical fiction set in different eras than the popular ones.

Author Julie Eshbaugh did a good job of making me feel like I had gone way, way, back in time. She described the camps, clothing, food, kayaks, setting, etc. The prehistoric setting of IVORY AND BONE was probably my favorite part of the book.

The biggest problem I had with IVORY AND BONE is the way it’s written. The author took a risk by having Kol narrate to Mya. On one hand, it makes sense, since there was such a big tradition of storytelling back then. But at the same time, Kol’s telling distanced me from the story and from the characters while slowing the pacing to a crawl.

I was bored for the majority of IVORY AND BONE, because I just didn’t care about anyone or what was happening. Halfway through the book, I was still waiting for something big to happen, something to keep my attention. I only kept reading because the author didn’t stick to traditional gender roles — a leader of one clan is a woman, other women hunt with the men, and so on. Historically improbable I’m sure, but I liked it.

Overall, I liked the idea of IVORY AND BONE, but the risk of Kol narrating the story to Mya (you speak, you disappear, you are rude) just didn’t work for me. The writing style kept me too distanced from everything, and I thought Kol sounded like a whiny girl for a lot of the book, making lover boy eyes at Mya. Maybe some of that is the Pride and Prejudice allusions, but I’m not a fan of that classic, so I can’t say for sure. IVORY AND BONE is the first in a trilogy, but I can’t imagine where the series will go from here.

Socialize with the author:

Julie Eshbaugh:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Book Review: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie BerryThe Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on April 12, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it.

Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.

Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with a secret lover and an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she’s on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire, and wants Dolssa executed, too.

Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town of Bajas.

When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Dolssa’s passion and Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village.

From the author of the award-winning All the Truth That’s in Me comes a spellbinding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page and make you wonder if miracles really are possible.

Book Review:

THE PASSION OF DOLSSA is a hard book to categorize. It’s labeled Young Adult, but I feel it’s slanted more to an older audience. I love historical fiction and always have, but my teenage self wouldn’t have gotten far past the religious aspects of the book. I guess I should have expected a focus on religion, as Dolssa’s a runaway heretic, but somehow my mind just didn’t make the connection.

THE PASSION OF DOLSSA is set mainly in 1241, in Provensa, just after the Crusades. A dangerous time to be alive if you went against the Church in any tiny way. Dolssa is a young woman accused of speaking heresy by preaching in her own home because non clerics don’t speak of God, especially not women. But Dolssa sees nothing wrong with spreading the word of her beloved — Jesus — and so she refuses to repent. When she’s sentenced to burn at the stake, she escapes, only to be hunted down by a very determined friar. Dolssa is rescued by Botille, one of a trio of sisters who run a tavern in Bajas. But sheltering Dolssa leads to danger for Botille and her family.

Some of the religious tension of the time is evident in the narrative, and the author provides a lengthy explanation at the end of the book. But I wish that material at the end had been at the beginning of the book, or better explained in the story itself. I might have enjoyed THE PASSION OF DOLSSA more had I known what I know now about the religious history of Provensa. There’s also a glossary of the Old Provencal words.

Here’s the thing. I’m not really sure of the intended audience for THE PASSION OF DOLSSA. As I said above, my younger self would have put this book down as soon as it got too deep into religion, heresy, and churchmen using their faith to kill innocents. It’s just not something I’m interested in. I’m know there are teens who want to read about religion, but the book doesn’t really feel like a YA book. It’s more… literary YA, if that makes any sense. It’s somewhat open-ended (especially the ending), and it’s a book you’re supposed to think about and draw your own conclusions.

I’m sure this book will be up for awards, and I did like some things, such as the strong female friendships, strong family relationships, and the strong characters of the sisters. But overall, I didn’t enjoy the reading experience. I didn’t get invested in the story or the characters or their dilemmas. This wasn’t a book I wanted to keep reading. I’m starting to think Julie Berry just isn’t an author for me, as I wasn’t a huge fan of her other YA, ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME.

Socialize with the author:

Julie Berry:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Published by Ballantine Books on April 5, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

In Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages.

Book Review:

LILAC GIRLS has one good and one bad thing about it: Caroline Ferriday.

The book is written from the perspectives of three very different women: Caroline Ferriday, New York socialite and charity worker; Kasia Kuzmerick, Polish teenager, resistance member, and Ravensbrück rabbit; and Herta Oberheuser, the sole female German doctor at Ravensbrück.

Now, why do I say Caroline is good and bad? Because for the majority of LILAC GIRLS, I couldn’t stand her chapters. We go from Kasia suffering at Ravensbrück to Caroline being miserable because her married beau disappears after Germany takes France. I wanted to skip Caroline’s chapters, because I just did not care about her and Paul, and her whinging over him got old. I’m always picky about romances; Caroline and Paul had no chemistry for me and I winced whenever he showed up. Caroline’s war year chapters dragged down LILAC GIRLS for me.

I was much more interested in Kasia’s story, because I haven’t seen the Rabbits mentioned in a lot of WWII historical fiction*. Even Herta’s chapters were intriguing, although I wish the author had spent more time on her moral transformation, going from reluctant to kill to eager to practice surgery on unwilling test subjects.

But at the end of the book, I learned Caroline was a real person. And that was the best part of LILAC GIRLS for me: the book brought to light an incredibly important person. With all the reading I’ve done on WWII, Caroline Ferriday is someone I should’ve heard about, but she’s been forgotten to history.

The other part of LILAC GIRLS I appreciated is that the author continued the book after the war years. A lot of WWII historical fiction is set in 1939-1945, and that’s it. Story over after the end of the war. But here, we stayed with the characters for a lot longer. By continuing Kasia’s story, the author showed how the war didn’t really end for many of the victims.

*ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein was my first introduction to the plight of the Rabbits, and I highly recommend it.

Socialize with the author:

Martha Hall Kelly:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– 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

Socialize with the author:

Alwyn Hamilton:
Website
Twitter

– 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:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: By Moon’s Light by Rachel E. Bailey

Book Review: By Moon’s Light by Rachel E. BaileyBy Moon's Light by Rachel E Bailey
Series: Dyre #1
Published by Bold Strokes Books on January 19, 2016
Genres: LGBT, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
In a modern world where Packs of werewolves exist side by side with a none-the-wiser humanity, what if one person stood between a lasting peace among the werewolf Packs and all-out civil war? A young female werewolf called Des is bound by a blood oath with the guarding of this person, the aging leader of all the Packs: the Dyre. But when the Dyre is murdered on Des’s watch, she’s sworn to protect the new Dyre, a young woman named Ruby. Des must deal with her emerging feelings for her stubborn new charge while they both try to uncover who’s behind the continuing murders of powerful werewolves. It’s stable employment—nice work, if you can get it…at least until the silver bullets start to fly.

Book Review:

BY MOON’S LIGHT is the first in a series called Dyre, a LGBTQ paranormal romance series about werewolves. I really wanted to like this book, because hey, queer werewolves! is something I’ve wanted for a while, but there were a few faults that kept me from really enjoying it.

The beginning of BY MOON’S LIGHT is a tad confusing. I had to read the first chapters a few times, because there were a lot of new terms — Loup, Hume, Dyre — thrown around without any real explanation. I could figure out that Loup meant werewolf, but I still felt like I had missed something important. While we’re on the topic of wolves, I wish that more had been explained about Des’s wolf, because I got the feeling Des wasn’t like other Loups, but because I didn’t know about other Loups, I don’t know if I’m right or wrong.

I also wish BY MOON’S LIGHT had more action to keep me interested. There were some big scenes, but then also a lot of … nothing. Events that didn’t really seem connected to what was going on. Maybe all those events will be important in the next book, but I wanted to see more page time on important stuff, like Ruby’s first full moon, instead of multiple pages of baby feeding. I guess what I’m trying to say is the author never really hooked me — I didn’t care much about Ruby or Des, or what was going on. I wanted to care and to be interested in them, but I didn’t know enough.

Even though I didn’t like the first book of the Dyre series as much as I wanted to, I would check out the next one. Based on the ending of BY MOON’S LIGHT, I think there will be more action, and hopefully some Ruby/Des without some Alpha wolf blocking.

Socialize with the author:

Rachel E. Bailey:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim ButcherThe Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Series: The Cinder Spires #1
Published by Roc on September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Pages: 630
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

Book Review:

THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS is my first Jim Butcher book. I own many of his Dresden Files and Codex Alera books, but somehow just haven’t gotten to them. But when I read a sampler from the publisher which contained the first chapter of this one, I knew I had to read it right away. Gwendolyn Lancaster captured my attention, and I had to know what kind of world she lived in.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn a ton about that world, which saddened me. It seemed like a fascinating place, but there wasn’t much substance to it. There wasn’t a lot of worldbuilding; for the longest time, I didn’t realize Habble Morning was a place. I sorely needed an explanation of how the spire was set up. I assume later books will explain why humans live in the spires, but please, tell me what their world is like now.

The characters blended together as well. THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS didn’t feel like an adult fantasy book, but some mix between YA and adult. Which is fine, but give me characters with personalities! Rowl had the most personality, and he was a cat. On the talking cats — they were okay at first, but I’m not sure why they’re in the book. Another later-in-the-series explanation? They felt very kiddie to me. However, I’m not a cat person, so I might be biased there. But Gwen, Benedict, Bridget, and the others felt more like stereotypes than developed characters. Miss Manners Gwen, Benedict the super warrior, Bridget who talks to cats, etc.

My favorite part of THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS were the airship battles. They were the highlight of the book for me. I could clearly picture them in my mind. I could tell the author had thought those out. I really liked the image of the Predator singing as she went into battle; it was a neat touch, one I would have liked more of in the book.

I struggled a bit to get through THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS, because for long portions of the book, there just wasn’t much going on. I longed for more worldbuilding and memorable characters. However, after saying all of that, I think I would give this series another chance. I’m curious enough to want to see what happens next in the story, and maybe get answers to some of my questions about worldbuilding.

Socialize with the author:

Jim Butcher:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet

Book Review: An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah BobetAn Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
Published by Clarion Books on October 6, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.

When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.

Book Review:

You know how most books end when the good guys defeat the bad guys? But what happens when the war is over? What happens when family doesn’t come back? How do you go back to normal? What does normal even mean?

AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES tries to answer some of those questions. Hallie and her older sister Marthe stubbornly work their family farm, hoping Marthe’s husband will come back from the war. But instead of Thomas, a strange veteran shows up, looking to work for room and board for the winter. Heron’s help is sorely needed on the farm — 50 acres is too much for Hallie to handle herself — but the war might have followed him.

I quite liked the idea of AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES. Very rarely do YA books look at the aftermath of the big fight, so I was excited to see a book that promised to do just that.

But the book didn’t deliver for me. Because the war is over already, and because the men who fought don’t want to talk about it, I was super confused about its events and the Twisted Things. I liked the idea of the Twisted Things — they’re creepy and dangerous — but I felt like I was missing half the necessary information to understand them, the war, and the Wicked God. When the big revelation came, I didn’t understand it at all.

I felt like that for a lot of the book, actually — that I was missing vital information. Like I was plopped into the second book of a series. Hallie and her sister have a strained relationship, one that Hallie gets in the way of fixing with her own stubbornness. I could understand that stubbornness, and Hallie’s pride, but I didn’t know where it came from. Why didn’t Hallie ever open her mouth and ask the questions she had for Marthe, instead of brooding and being snippy when they did talk? The sibling troubles took up too much of AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES for me; I wish some of that page time had been spent explaining other things since it was just the same scene between them over and over.

Now, one thing I did like in the book was the burgeoning relationship between Hallie and Tyler. They’ve known each other all their lives, and I thought their stumbling steps towards a romantic relationship were quite realistic. It’s rare that I like romance, especially in YA, but I liked this one because it didn’t overshadow the rest of the book, was well done, and realistic. There’s no insta-love, love triangle, or any of that nonsense.

I wanted to like AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES way more than I did. When I finally finished the book, which seemed to take forever because of the slow pacing, I was disappointed. I felt like I had to read between the lines to make sense of everything, and I don’t enjoy that kind of reading experience.

Socialize with the author:

Leah Bobet:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna