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.

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Rachel E. Bailey:
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– 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.

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Jim Butcher:
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– 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.

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Leah Bobet:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Book Review: Dumplin’ by Julie MurphyDumplin' by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer & Bray on September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
2 Stars
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Book Review:

DUMPLIN’ is a book with a lot of hype behind it. I tend to be disappointed by heavily hyped books, and unfortunately, DUMPLIN’ was another one of those disappointments.

Willowdean Dickson, self-proclaimed fat girl, is comfortable in her own skin. She’s not going to diet or try to lose weight to make her mother, a former pageant queen, happy. She’s not one of those girls who looks in the mirror and thinks about how to be better. So you’d think that DUMPLIN’ is about body positivity and accepting who you are and being comfortable with that person.

But I thought Willow was quite judgmental. Example: “Mille is that girl, the one I am ashamed to admit that I’ve spent my entire life looking at and thinking, Things could be worse (p. 5).” Or: “Maybe Priscilla’s life is an even bigger mess than mine and I’ll walk away feeling like I’ve at least got it better than this poor girl (p. 91).”

Willow is supposed to be some sort of rebel by entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant. In the summary, the pageant’s described as her attempt to take back her confidence. But for an event that’s such an important part of the book, it really has very little page time, which disappointed me. Willow looks down on the pageant a lot, and after she enters, it’s more of an afterthought than anything else. I wish more of the pageant had been detailed, rather than just getting a few pages at the end.

Because instead of seeing a lot of the pageant or pageant prep, Willow spends way too much time angsting about her boy troubles for me to like DUMPLIN’ very much. Her “relationship” with Bo is a big thing, because when he touches her, Willow’s loses the comfort she’s always had with her body. But I saw absolutely zero chemistry in that relationship — and I’m using that term loosely, because Bo keeps Willow a secret. She spends the school year angsting about their summer spent making out behind a fast food place. I looked through DUMPLIN’ a second time, trying to figure out why Bo liked Willow, and I got nothin. Their relationship seemed like pure wish fulfillment to me: yes, the fat girl can have a cute jock! Add in another sort of relationship that I didn’t like either because Willow used the guy, and I was more than finished with Willow.

I was bored by a lot of DUMPLIN’. Willow just didn’t grab me. She’s like so many other YA characters with the exception of her body. I was much more interested in her deceased Aunt Lucy, who was also overweight. Or Millie, who seemed much more comfortable with her body than Willow. I wish DUMPLIN’ had been written from Millie’s perspective, because she really was comfortable with herself, and because the pageant was actually important to her as a dream, not Willow’s random reasons.

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Julie Murphy:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Cleopatra’s Shadows by Emily Holleman

Book Review: Cleopatra’s Shadows by Emily HollemanCleopatra's Shadows by Emily Holleman
Published by Little Brown and Company on October 6, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Page-turning historical fiction that reimagines the beginnings of Cleopatra's epic saga through the eyes of her younger sister.

Before Caesar and the carpet, before Antony and Actium, before Octavian and the asp, there was Arsinoe.

Abandoned by her beloved Cleopatra and an indifferent father, young Arsinoe must fight for her survival in the bloodthirsty royal court when her half-sister Berenice seizes Egypt's throne. Even as the quick-witted girl wins Berenice's favor, a new specter haunts her days-dark dreams that have a habit of coming true.

To survive, she escapes the palace for the war-torn streets of Alexandria. Meanwhile, Berenice confronts her own demons as she fights to maintain power. When their deposed father Ptolemy marches on the city with a Roman army, both daughters must decide where their allegiances truly lie, and Arsinoe grapples with the truth, that the only way to survive her dynasty is to rule it.

Book Review:

I wanted to like CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS more than I did, because I thought the idea was a great one. The author intended to reimagine the beginning of Cleopatra’s saga by telling the story through her younger sister Arsinoe. Cleopatra barely appears this book, which I was more than okay with, as I tend to like historical fiction that centers on lesser known figures. Arsinoe, and Cleopatra’s older sister, Berenice, are both footnotes in history because of their more famous sibling, but both had important lives of their own.

CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS alternates chapters between Arsinoe and Berenice. Berenice takes the throne when King Ptolemy sails to Rome for aid. Arsinoe is left behind in the palace by her father and mother, a lost child. Berenice struggles to hold the throne, to find enough men to fight for her, and to deal with her vengeance hungry mother. Arsinoe longs for Cleopatra, in the way younger sisters long for older sisters, but must beg Berenice for her life.

I think my biggest problem with CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS is that … it just wasn’t very interesting. It wasn’t riveting or page-turning. It didn’t keep my attention. There were portions that were good, such as Berenice debating between her mother’s lust for vengeance against Ptolemy’s other daughters or mercy for Arsinoe. Berenice was much more interesting for me than Arsinoe, but even so, many of her chapters plodded along. Arsinoe’s chapters were even more boring — even though her life was in danger, I never felt like she would die, and I got tired of the many tutoring lessons. Other readers might find the inclusion of Roman histories and tragedies interesting, but I eventually had enough of being lectured. I also had a lot of unanswered questions, such as why Ganymedes left Arsinoe in the market. Based on the bonus material at the end of the book, I have a feeling CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS is the first in a series, so perhaps my questions will be answered in future books.

I’m a character-driven reader, and unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with either Berenice or Arsinoe. I didn’t like or hate either one of them. My feelings towards both, and the secondary characters, were very blah. The author didn’t bring them to life enough for me to care about what they did or what happened to them, and an hour after finishing CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS, I’ve already forgotten a fair bit of the book.

Socialize with the author:

Emily Holleman:
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– leeanna

Book Review: After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga

Book Review: After the Red Rain by Barry LygaAfter the Red Rain by Barry Lyga
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on August 4, 2015
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
A postapocalyptic novel with a cinematic twist from New York Times bestseller Barry Lyga, actor Peter Facinelli, and producer Robert DeFranco.

On the ruined planet Earth, where 50 billion people are confined to megacities and resources are scarce, Deedra has been handed a bleak and mundane existence by the Magistrate she works so hard for. But one day she comes across a beautiful boy named Rose struggling to cross the river--a boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet.

But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart after the Magistrate's son is murdered and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do Deedra and Rose know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet.

Book Review:

I haven’t read a Barry Lyga book before, but I’d heard good things about them. AFTER THE RED RAIN has an interesting summary — I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic books — so I gave it a go.

But after finishing, I’m honestly not sure what I read.

AFTER THE RED RAIN asks a lot of questions and introduces some cool ideas, but fails to follow through on answering those questions or developing those ideas. I don’t know if this book is a standalone, but if it is — I’d recommend not reading if you’re the type of reader that likes a complete ending. There’s quite a bit left unresolved at the end, which left me disappointed.

The setting of AFTER THE RED RAIN was my favorite thing about the book. There’s no explanation for how the world ended up in its current state, but the current state is well established. People live in Territories, go to work for their ration, and that’s about it. There’s nothing to hope for, because although I saw Ludo Territory as a miserable place, with dangerous air and rain, food recreated from the DNA of extinct animals and plants, and citizens tracked through their brands, Deedra and the others don’t know any better. They don’t know anything about the past, so they think their world is good, and getting better. That aspect of the book was well done.

But the rest of AFTER THE RED RAIN… I got the impression this is a book written to be a movie. There are some chapter long fight scenes that I could see recreated in an action flick. There’s Deedra the orphan, surviving on her own and doing okay, but then falling in love with the mysterious Rose. There’s a corrupt government magistrate and a mad scientist. There’s a shocking revelation about “the Red Rain.” There’s a scene where Deedra and Rose stare off into the scant sunlight and talk about making a difference.

I wanted more character development for Deedra and Rose. I wanted to know where the heck Rose came from, and what his purpose was. And so on. I wanted answers! I also think AFTER THE RED RAIN was too long, limping along at a slow pace to the vague ending.

– leeanna

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen ChoSorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Series: Sorcerer Royal #1
Published by Ace on September 1, 2015
Genres: Alternate Universe, Fantasy
Pages: 371
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Book Review:

From the summary, SORCERER TO THE CROWN sounds like an intriguing book. An England where there’s magic, but that magic is disappearing?

Yup, that was enough to hook me. But what I didn’t realize at first is that SORCERER TO THE CROWN is set in the Regency period, so there’s a lot of fuss about manners and gentlemen and the proper roles for women. That sort of thing. I don’t enjoy the Regency period at all, so that likely contributed to my lackluster feelings for this book. I think the author was trying to poke fun at the time period sometimes, but because I’m not familiar with it, those attempts went over my head and I didn’t find them humorous.

When I read fantasy, I want fantasy. Not a magical story bogged down by polite dialogue and manners and men going on and on about class and gender roles and the superiority of Britain. In particular, I got really tired of hearing how women were too frail and high class women shouldn’t be exposed to the horrors of magic. Maybe I’m sensitive on that, but I’m just sick of that sort of thing. I do know fantasy can be slow paced, but having to decipher what the characters were saying or thinking in SORCERER TO THE CROWN made the pace really slow for me. Plus, there wasn’t much action until I was a quarter of the way through the book.

I almost put SORCERER TO THE CROWN down several times, but I kept reading because I usually have to finish a book I start. In this case, it was somewhat worth it, as the end of the book was much better than the beginning for me. There was a good amount of action and some cool magical stuff. I also liked that Zacharias was a freed slave, with a different perspective than the other (white, upper class, male) sorcerers. One big part of the plot is how the other sorcerers want to replace Zacharias because he’s black, and therefore unsuitable and unqualified to be their leader, even if he was chosen by the staff of office. I liked how the author brought in that aspect, and how Zacharias thought about if it was right or not to take magic from other countries just because they aren’t Britain (which is what he’s expected to do, of course).

The Regency parts of SORCERER TO THE CROWN overshadowed everything else, for me. I have no idea how the magic really works, for example. I love to geek out over new magic systems, but I don’t know much about this one, even though Zacharias teaching Prunella magic is another important bit of the book. I also don’t feel like I really got to know Zacharias or Prunella, or any of the other characters. Foreign witch Mak Genggang was fascinating, and I really wish she’d had more development. Lastly, I was confused over some of the political maneuvering, both governmental and magical, but I suspect that’s due to me having trouble with the writing style and language used.

Overall, I’d recommend SORCERER TO THE CROWN if you like books set in the Regency period and want a bit of fantasy for a change. Otherwise, check out an excerpt if possible, to see if it’s for you.

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Zen Cho:
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– leeanna

Book Review: A Woman of Note by Carol M. Cram

Book Review: A Woman of Note by Carol M. CramA Woman of Note by Carol M. Cram
Published by Lake Union Publishing on September 8, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 358
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
Virtuoso pianist Isabette Grüber captivates audiences in the salons and concert halls of early nineteenth-century Vienna. Yet in a profession dominated by men, Isabette longs to compose and play her own music—a secret she keeps from both her lascivious manager and her resentful mother. She meets and loves Amelia Mason, a dazzling American singer with her own secrets, and Josef Hauser, an ambitious young composer. But even they cannot fully comprehend the depths of Isabette’s talent.

Her ambitions come with a price when Isabette embarks on a journey that delicately balances the line between duty and passion. Amid heartbreak and sacrifice, music remains her one constant. With cameos from classical music figures such as Chopin, Schubert, and Berlioz, A Woman of Note is an intricately crafted and fascinating tale about one woman’s struggle to find her soul’s song in a dissonant world.

Book Review:

I really wanted to like A WOMAN OF NOTE. Although I’m not into classical music, I do enjoy historical fiction about women artists of any type. I hoped this book would remind me of THE PASSION OF ARTEMISIA by Susan Vreeland, or COLOR SONG by Victoria Strauss, as Isabette Grüber faces the same struggle: succeeding in a male-dominated world.

Isabette has minor success as a virtuoso pianist. Most of her life has been devoted to practice and playing; after her father’s death and sister’s commitment to an asylum, she’s the only one who can support herself and her mother. Her real dream is to compose and play her own music, but that’s an impossibility in 1820s Vienna. Over the course of the book, Isabette’s relationships with Amelia and Josef steer her life. Amelia is a singer from America, who widens Isabette’s world, showing her there’s more to life than practicing the piano. Josef is an aspiring composer, and when Isabette improves his compositions, she wonders if they could be partners in life and music.

My main complaint with A WOMAN OF NOTE is that, well, it’s very one note. Isabette is the only developed character. Josef is such a dummkopf — my eyes rolled every time he shows because he’s a jerk. Why does he believe he’s so superior? Because he’s a guy? I don’t know, because the author never told me. Josef in particular impacted my enjoyment of the book. Amelia’s quite selfish, often hiding information from Isabette if it suits her desires. Why? Isabette’s mother is understandably downtrodden by a difficult life, but why doesn’t she ever believe her daughter?

I also wish the book was just a little longer, so that we could see Isabette’s presumably happy ending. She’s unhappy and has a raw deal for so much of A WOMAN OF NOTE that it would have been nice to see more of her making her own choices.

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Carol M. Cram:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

Book Review: The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de BodardThe House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Series: Dominion of the Fallen #1
Published by Roc on August 18, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 402
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Multi-award winning author Aliette de Bodard, brings her story of the War in Heaven to Paris, igniting the City of Light in a fantasy of divine power and deep conspiracy…

In the late Twentieth Century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

Book Review:

THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is one of those books I should have loved. Fallen angels, magic, and a Paris destroyed by war? That’s right up my alley.

Unfortunately, the author’s writing style just wasn’t for me. I struggled to get into this book, and I struggled to keep reading it due to the slow pacing and distant characters. I can see why some people are loving THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS, because there are some cool idea here. But I’m a character-driven reader, so I usually need to get behind at least one of the characters and get to know them to enjoy a book. In this book, all the characters were far away, and I felt as though I was just reading their actions, instead of knowing why many acted as they did.

Honestly, THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS just left me feeling confused. There’s a lot of description of House Silverspires and the city itself, which did really give me the sense of a Paris destroyed by normal war and then a magic war between the Fallen. On that aspect, the author did a fantastic job of making me feel like I was beside Philippe or Selene. But at the same time, there was a lot of description, and I just wanted some action to happen! When I finally did finish the book, I wasn’t sure what happened to some of the characters, because some of the really big moments happened in the blink of an eye. THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is the first in a series, but I’m not sure where the author will go from here — it felt very much like a one book deal to me.

This review doesn’t make a lot of sense, but really, that’s how I felt when reading THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS: very disjointed. I’d recommend checking out an excerpt if you’re interested in the book to get a feel for its style.

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Aliette de Bodard:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

Book Review: The Creeping by Alexandra SirowyThe Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on August 18, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Stella came back. Jeanie never did.

Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush—until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets.

Stella believes remembering what happened to Jeanie will save her. It won’t.

She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore.

Book Review:

THE CREEPING has an interesting premise. When they were six, Stella and Jeanie were in the woods. Only Stella came back. Jeanie disappeared, never to be seen again. Stella has no memories of that day or any before it, so she wasn’t able to help the police. Years later, Stella’s put all that behind her, and now she’s a popular girl, concerned with kissing hot boys and having a great senior year. But then she finds a dead little girl, a girl who reminds her of Jeanie.

THE CREEPING is one third creepy and two thirds boring. A huge part of the book is Stella and her monologuing on being popular and boys. For a book titled “THE CREEPING,” I expected more creepy stuff. I mean, there’s some there, but really, a lot of the focus is on Stella and guys and her friends. Stella’s somewhat of a bitch at first, but I didn’t really mind that. I found her attitude and the attitudes and behaviors of her friends to be realistic. It was just a bit much for me, especially all the “There’s no way he’ll help me. I was a jerk to him. Oh he’s cute. Why do I like him? He’s geeky.” etc. over and over.

He refers to Sam, Stella’s childhood friend. I quite liked Sam, as he’s sweeter and more helpful than a lot of the guys you find in YA books. He’s always there for Stella, even when she’s a complete bitch to him. I did wonder why he was so loyal.

Okay. The creepy part of THE CREEPING. I won’t spoil it, but the author did surprise me with the final reveal. I just wish that more of the book had been, well, creepy! By the middle of THE CREEPING, I wanted to skim the teenage angst bits and get to the creepy sections. I do think the book is too long — 400+ pages of teenage angst and only a bit of mystery was about 150 pages too much.

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Alexandra Sirowy:
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– leeanna