Book Reviews

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones | Book Review

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

My copy: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Griffin), February 2017. Hardcover, 436 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Beauty and the Beast.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.


Liesl, a gifted composer, has always lived in the shadow of her younger siblings. Her brother, Josef, is a violin virtuoso. Her sister, Kathe, is an absolute beauty. However, the three siblings all care deeply about one another, and when Kathe is captured by the Goblin King, Liesl embarks on a journey to bring her sister back to the world of the living.

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Book Reviews

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte | Mini Review

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

My copy: Originally published 1847. Daily Lit, 194 email installments. (The book cover used in this review does not reflect the copy I read.)

Source: Daily Lit.

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Synopsis:

Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel describes the passionate love between the courageous orphan Jane Eyre and the brilliant, brooding, and domineering Rochester.

The loneliness and cruelty of Jane’s childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice. Ever since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman’s quest for self-respect.


Thoughts on Jane Eyre:

  • I went into Jane Eyre having seen the film adaptation, but I enjoyed the original story much more. I was especially struck by the incredible descriptions and vocabulary, and how beautiful and vivid the writing was.
  • Since this story is the full account of Jane’s life, there are parts where the story is not so much a story as it is, well, her day to day activities. While there are extremely slow and boring sections, the gorgeous writing made me continue reading. I barely even skimmed because I didn’t want to miss Charlotte Bronte’s flowery prose. And I normally don’t like flowery writing, but this was an exception.
  • As a heroine, Jane will not go on my list of favorite literary characters, but she was never boring. She was smart but quiet, and a strong woman in a socially acceptable way for that time period. She gets her happy ending, which is terrific for her, but it does feel very predictable and too perfect.
  • Mr. Rochester… I liked him, but I didn’t love him. At first I thought, This man talks A LOT, but he warmed up to me, just like he warmed up to Jane. It was difficult at first to see why Jane liked him and why he liked Jane, but they had a great rapport and balanced each other’s stark personalities well.
  • My least favorite thing about this book? The horrid excuse for a human being Mrs. Reed is. I utterly loathe adults who accuse and judge others so unfairly and with such malice.
  • I heartily enjoyed Jane Eyre. These days it’s rare for me to find a classic I really absorb and read almost word for word. ♦


Have you read Jane Eyre?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a book you read that had the most gorgeous writing?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

The Hidden Oracle and The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan | Mini Reviews

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. The Trials of Apollo, #1.

My copy: Disney Hyperion, May 2016. Hardcover, 361 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go… an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.


Thoughts on The Hidden Oracle:

  • We get an Apollo haiku every chapter. I can die happy, because Apollo haikus are so atrocious they’re brilliant.
  • Apollo is hilarious. He’s a mighty god stuck in the form of a flabby, pimply teenage boy. The stuff he spews out of his mouth is gold sometimes. He’s so gloriously full of himself, but not in a “want to smack you upside the head” kind of way.
  • I wish that Meg was a little bit older, 12 seemed kind of young, but she was a trip.
  • I loved all the references to characters and past events from Rick’s other two Greek and Roman series. Also there was a sweet reference to the Magnus Chase series.
  • I couldn’t keep up with all the Camp Half-Blood campers. Everyone had a name but I never really felt that attached to the minor characters when something happened, because there were just too many. (Also, how is everyone not dead?)
  • I appreciate the diversity in Rick’s books. People of all backgrounds are represented, and even Apollo is bisexual!
  • The story is still formulaic as ever, but it works, and I love seeing how Rick incorporates myths and gods he hasn’t written about yet.
  • But really, Camp Half-Blood seems to be located in the worst possible place EVER.
  • The return of Percy! I like how Percy is in The Trials of Apollo and Annabeth is in Magnus Chase.
  • Will + Nico = ❤
  • PEACHES! ♦


The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2.

My copy: Disney Hyperion, October 2016. Hardcover, 459 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of The Sword of Summer, book #1, here.

Synopsis:

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.


Thoughts on The Hammer of Thor:

  • Ah, I love how convoluted Norse mythology is. (I mean, all mythology is pretty convoluted, but Norse mythology can be pretty complicated.) It felt good to be back.
  • Jack the sword killed me. Talking weapons are my new favorite thing.
  • Hooray for more diversity! Not only do we have persons of color, but also an elf who is deaf, and Alex the gender-fluid child of Loki. The crew is pretty awesome.
  • Book 2 was kind of a chore at times. There was so just much side-tracking. I know this is Rick’s formula for quests and stuff (“we have to go to A to pick up this thing B needs in order to tell us how to get to C but our ultimate goal is like G”), but at times it did get pretty ridiculous.
  • The pop culture references are very funny, but in the future this book will be very dated.
  • Sam is one strong gal. Total bad-ass, but also very vulnerable. Respect. ♦


Have you read The Hidden Oracle?
How about The Hammer of Thor?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a world mythology you’d love to read a new series about?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

Zodiac by Sam Wilson | Book Review

Zodiac by Sam Wilson.

My copy: Pegasus Crime, February 7th, 2017. ARC (review copy), 446 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Pegasus Books!

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Synopsis:

A starting new thriller with one of the most original concepts in years, where the line between a life of luxury and an existence of poverty can be determined by the stroke of midnight.

In San Celeste, a series of uniquely brutal murders targets victims from totally different walks of life. In a society divided according to Zodiac signs, those differences are cast at birth and binding for life. All eyes are on detective Jerome Burton and astrological profiler Lindi Childs—divided in their beliefs over whether the answer is written in the stars, but united in their conviction that there is an ingenious serial killer executing a grand plan.

Together, they will unravel a dark tale of betrayal, lost love, broken promises and a devastating truth with the power to tear their world apart…


I haven’t read a good thriller in a while. I forgot how much I enjoy the tension, action, and fast pace. Zodiac sometimes meanders, but everything is there for a reason. The chapters are short and snappy, and the information given is all fascinating. It’s a mind game to find a murderer, and while the victims seem pretty random at first — they couldn’t be more darkly connected.

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Book Reviews

Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger | Book Review

Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger. Let the Sky Fall, #3.

My copy: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division), April 2016. Hardcover, 407 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of Let the Sky Fall, book #1, here.
Read my review of Let the Storm Break, book #2, here.

Synopsis:

The breathtaking action and whirlwind adventure build to a climax in this thrilling conclusion to the “remarkably unpredictable” (BCCB) Sky Fall trilogy from the bestselling author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

Vane Weston is ready for battle. Against Raiden’s army. Against the slowly corrupting Gale Force. Even against his own peaceful nature as a Westerly. He’ll do whatever it takes, including storming Raiden’s icy fortress with the three people he trusts the least. Anything to bring Audra home safely.

But Audra won’t wait for someone to rescue her. She has Gus—the guardian she was captured with. And she has a strange “guide” left behind by the one prisoner who managed to escape Raiden. The wind is also rising to her side, rallying against their common enemy. When the forces align, Audra makes her play—but Raiden is ready.

Freedom has never held such an impossible price, and both groups know the sacrifices will be great. But Vane and Audra started this fight together. They’ll end it the same way.


Let the Wind Rise is the fight to free Audra and Gus. It is the final showdown between our (mostly) good guys and the evil (slightly cardboard-y) villain Raiden. It’s a whirlwind (har har) of activity, so the pace is breakneck. I wasn’t blown away (har har har) by the conclusion to this underrated fantasy trilogy, but it was still very good and easy to jump right into despite not having read the previous books in a while.

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Book Reviews

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

My copy: Harlequin Teen, May 2016. Hardcover, 474 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.


At first glance, Mallory Dodge is literally me: her name is Mallory, she was adopted, she home schooled, and she completely overthinks what to say and how people will perceive her words. So the beginning of this book, whilst getting to know “Mouse”, was kind of strange, but after the story kicked in, it shaped up to be a great book about personal strength, moving on, and finding love and support from all sorts of people.

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Book Reviews

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig | Book Review

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The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. The Girl from Everywhere, #1.

My copy: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins Publishers), February 2016. Hardcover, 443 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.


After really enjoying Passenger, another time travel book involving ships and sailors (though less so than in The Girl from Everywhere), I went into The Girl from Everywhere wanting to love it. I’d seen some good reviews and was looking forward to reading about pirates and maps and time travel and Hawaii. (Bonus points for Nix being half-Chinese.) Well. I started it and… it just never clicked for me, sad to say.

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Book Reviews

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski | Book Review

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The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. The Winner’s Trilogy, #3.

My copy: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BFYR, March 2015. Hardcover, 484 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of The Winner’s Curse, book #1, here.

Read my review of The Winner’s Crime, book #2 here.

Synopsis:

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?


It’s been a while since I read The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime. I suppose I could have gone back to read my reviews of those books, but I didn’t. I just dived right into The Winner’s Kiss, not knowing what to expect besides (very likely) an epic conclusion to the war and the romance.

The book does a good job summing up what happened previously, and I overall loved this conclusion to the trilogy. However, the tropes were very trope-y (amnesia? Again?), and I got so frustrated at the whole “let’s not talk about our feelings” that practically every romance book has. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good romance, as well as nitty-gritty strategy and plotting (political fantasies are the bomb dot com for me). Everything felt believable here, but there was just something missing… I wanted to give The Winner’s Kiss five stars, I wanted to love it with my entire heart, and while I did love it, The Winner’s Kiss is, regrettably, not going to join the ranks of my favorite fantasies. I’ll get to why soon.

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Book Reviews

Review — Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. Passenger, #1.

My copy: Hyperion (Disney Book Group), January 2016. Hardcover, 486 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.


Time travel done right. Mostly. I really bought all the rules and mechanics of time travel in Passenger. I mean, I was still scratching my head at a few points, since time travel is such a hinky subject anyway, but I didn’t find that many loopholes or inconsistencies. I enjoyed all the “info dumps”, as some might call them, because learning about the travelers and their history was fascinating.

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Book Reviews

Review — The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Book title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, #1
Publisher: Scholastic Press (Scholastic)
Release date: September 2012
Format: Hardcover, 408 pages
Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

I read The Raven Boys back in September and right after finishing it I went into a reading slump. Why? Because this book was so amazing that I couldn’t believe any other book I’d read next would even live up to it. This isn’t so much a strict review as it is a jumbled gushing about the things I can remember from The Raven Boys. I just didn’t want to end 2015 without talking about this one incredible novel. I’ve reviewed every single other book I read this year (besides three stale classics I didn’t feel like writing about), so that’s so far 161 reviews. With this “review”, it’s 162 of the 165 books I read in 2015. (And if you add two DNF-reviews, that’s 164. Go me.) This year sure brought some awesome books to my attention.

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