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!



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.


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


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

Sword Quest by Nancy Yi Fan | Book Review


Sword Quest by Nancy Yi Fan, illustrations by Jo-Anne Rioux. Swordbird, #2.

My copy: HarperTrophy (Harper Collins Publishers), January 2009. Paperback, 262 pages.

Source: Own.


Read my review of Swordbird, book #1, here.


One magical sword. Two rivals.

Wind-voice the half-dove, formerly enslaved, is now free, and Maldeor, the one-winged archaeopteryx, hungers for supreme power. The adversaries will both embark on their own epic quest to find the sword that will determine the future of birdkind. An exciting prequel to the New York Times bestseller Swordbird.

Sword Quest is the prequel to Swordbird, and tells the life of the dove Wind-voice before he became the legendary Swordbird. Nancy Yi Fan was about 14 when she penned Sword Quest, and, in a nutshell, Sword Quest is about, wait for it — bird-Jesus. It’s a stronger story than Swordbird by far, but still very cliche and juvenile, sorry to say.

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Book Reviews

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski | Book Review


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.


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

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


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

DNF Review — Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley


Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley.

My copy: Amulet Books (ABRAMS Kids), January 2016. Egalley, 356 pages.

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



Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been close. After all, nothing can unite four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict, spartan upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

This richly conceived, haunting fantasy draws on the early writings of this most famous literary family to explore the deathless bonds between sisters and brothers, between writers and their creations.

This is a DNF review. I quit at 49%.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow is an historical fantasy about the four Bronte siblings: Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell. I’ll be totally honest and say, 1) I haven’t read Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, and 2) I didn’t know there were two more Bronte siblings. Don’t hate on me, I’m just terrible at reading classics.

I was initially super excited (like, you cannot BELIEVE how excited I was) when I found out Lena Coakley was coming out with a new book, and one that sounded awesome at that. I read Lena’s Witchlanders a number of years ago, and it remains one of the most beautiful and seriously underrated fantasy novels I have ever read, and I pimp the heck out of it on the blog whenever I can. (*Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.* Guys, go read Witchlanders. It’s amazing.) So I was ecstatic when I was approved for an egalley on NetGalley.

During a night of babysitting back at the end of January, I read literally half of the book. And… let’s just say it wasn’t what I was expecting.

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Book Reviews

Review — Starflight by Melissa Landers


Starflight by Melissa Landers. Starflight, #1.

My copy: Hyperion (Disney Book Group), February 2016. Hardcover, 359 pages.

Source: Library.



Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

Some thoughts on Starflight:

+ Read that synopsis and tell me you don’t love it. And add the fact that the Banshee crew also have some serious baggage. Solara and Doran are not the only ones running from the law…

+ I got a lot of Firefly vibes, which was a good thing. I am ashamed to say I haven’t watched all of Firefly, but the good six or so episodes I did watch were awesome. Starflight struck me as somewhat influenced by the cult classic TV show, though it isn’t too similar that it’s a rip-off. Me thinks Melissa Landers is also a Firefly fan.

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Book Reviews

Review — Passenger by Alexandra Bracken


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. Passenger, #1.

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

Source: Library.



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.



“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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Book Reviews

(Reread) Review — City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Book title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments, #1
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)
Release date: September 2015 (originally published January 2007)
Format: Paperback, 485 pages
Source: Library.



Discover the world of the Shadowhunters in the first installment of the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and “prepare to be hooked” (Entertainment Weekly)—now with a gorgeous new cover, a map, a new foreword, and exclusive bonus content! City of Bones is a Shadowhunters novel.

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. And she’s more than a little startled when the body disappears into thin air. Soon Clary is introduced to the world of the Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of warriors dedicated to driving demons out of our world and back to their own. And Clary is introduced with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque monster. How could a mere human survive such an attack and kill a demon? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

I’m almost 9 years behind the times. Oy. Well. There’s not much to be said about City of Bones at this point. This was a reread, actually — I read the book for the first time a number of years ago. Back then, I wasn’t very impressed with it so I didn’t continue with the series. However, now that The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices have become such mega-popular series with giant fandoms, I figured it was about time to finally jump on the bandwagon. I reread City of Bones — and really enjoyed it this time!

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Book Reviews

Review — Explorer: The Mystery Boxes edited by Kazu Kibuishi

Book title: Explorer: The Mystery Boxes
Authors, illustrators, editor: Kazu Kibuishi, Emily Carroll, Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Jason Caffoe, Rad Sechrist, Stuart Livingston, Stephanie Ramirez, Johane Matte, Saymone Phanekham
Series: Explorer, #1
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams Books)
Release date: March 2012
Format: Paperback, 128 pages
Source: Library.


About the book:


Find out in these seven clever stories by eight incredible comics creators!

Under the Floorboards by Emily Carroll
A box, a doll…but it’s no ordinary plaything!

Spring Cleaning by Dave Roman & Raina Telgemeier
There really is mystery in the back of a messy closet!

The Keeper’s Treasure by Jason Caffoe
A treasure inside a labyrinth inside a temple which way to turn now?

The Butter Thief by Rad Sechrist
There’s more than one way to trap a house spirit!

The Soldier’s Daughter by Stuart Livingston
There are mysteries of life and death–and beyond.

Whatzit by Johane Matte
Oh no, not that box! Watch out, little alien!

The Escape Option by Kazu Kibuishi
A strange, meteoric box and an otherworldly choice.

Open the book! Let the adventure begin!

Banner - The Review

Overall rating: 3 stars ♣
Plot: 3 | Pacing: 5 | Characters: 3.5 | Writing: 4 | World building: 3 | Illustrations: 5

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes is a really cool graphic anthology that features seven different stories revolving around a box of some kind. Kazu Kibuishi of the Amulet series edited this collection as well as contributed to it, and this anthology additionally features the works of Emily Carroll, Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Jason Caffoe, Rad Sechrist, Stuart Livingston, Stephanie Ramirez, Johane Matte, and Saymone Phanekham. Let’s talk about the individual graphic stories in here.

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