Monday, October 26, 2015

The Wizard Heir

Guys, I met Marie Lu! And she was funny and insightful and AH. Okay, I've got that out of my system now. I'll talk about it more when I review The Rose Society. But today is about reviewing The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. This is the second book in The Heir Chronicles, so as usual beware mild spoilers if you haven't read the first one.

Retrieved from Goodreads
Seph has been bounced around schools for the last few years because of his unfortunate habit of accidentally blowing things up with his magic. With his foster mother dead, the family lawyer is his guardian, and he ships him off to a secluded school in Maine where there's no internet access, the alumni still live on campus, and the headmaster has a sinister interest in Seph. As Seph unravels the mysteries behind his school, he learns there is more to being a wizard than having powers. He's at the center of a community on the brink of war, where everyone wants him on their side.

I had a decent time reading the first book in this series. My problems with it lay in its summarization of events that I would have preferred to have read about. This would have given me more emotional attachment to the characters. But overall it was a pleasant read, so I figured I'd give The Wizard Heir a go. This book is significantly darker, though not crossing over into heart-pounding. The school Seph ends up at has a really creepy headmaster, who I disliked from page one. The torture he puts Seph through is horrific, and I felt so bad when all of Seph's plans failed. [spoiler] After he leaves the school, though, things really slow down, and there's the addition of a love interest that I found really unnecessary. I didn't get sparks from them at all. Is the character's power cool? Absolutely. Why did she have to be a love interest? No clue. The climax had some funny moments and some interesting reveals that I'd sort of guessed at already. Overall, not my favorite book but still nice enough to read the next book.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Six of Crows

Ahh Leigh Bardugo, one of the funniest authors I have ever met. I got the first book of her new series, Six of Crows, on the day it came out. But it was yesterday, while I was waiting for my cheese bread to bake, that I finished it off. It's been boiling hot recently, so it was quite stupid to bake, but I've never been the most logical when it comes to timing things like that. But anyway, this isn't a cooking blog. This is a book blog, and you'd rather hear my thoughts on Six of Crows.

Retrieved from Goodreads
The Ravkan civil war is over, but the repercussions are still causing waves throughout the world. In the city of Ketterdam, a new substance that dangerously enhances Grisha powers is being fought over. Some want to destroy it, others want to market it. Enter Kaz, a leader of the Dregs gang. When he's hired to break out the only man capable of replicating the formula from an impregnable fortress, he knows he's going to need a crew. And the one he assembles is as motley as they come. There's Nina, the Grisha working to repay a life debt. Matthias, a Fjerdan who despises Grisha and has spent the last year in prison. Inej, known as the Wraith, capable of passing silently anywhere, and the right hand of Kaz. Jesper, a sharpshooter who likes to gamble more than he should. And Wylan, son of a merchant with a talent for demolitions. They have to break the scientist out before someone else gets to him, and if they live, it'll be the payout of a lifetime.

I love the Ravkan world, and Bardugo's talent for making cultures distinct and layered. While I was bummed that Ravka didn't factor in much with this new series, I did enjoy the new lands we were exposed to: Fjerda and Katterdam. I loved how distinct each of the characters were and the side deals and Oceans Eleven-style plot. I will absolutely be reading the rest of this series. I did have one quibble, though. While I did enjoy the characters, I felt like, because there were so many POVs, I didn't get to know each of them as well as I wanted. When Matthias has a huge character turnaround, I didn't necessarily think the progress was shown enough. Kaz's undoing was more gradual, but I still wanted more. Overall, I felt like I had a really good introduction to these characters that I'll grow to love over two more books, but if there had been just 50 more pages or something, I would have felt better about the character development that occurred. Other than that, it was a fun story with some romantic interests and some political intrigue and two heartbreaking things that I'm interested to see play out.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

200th Review: Catalyst

I can't believe it, but this is my 200th review on this blog. Forgive me for patting myself on the back, but I'm quite proud that I've managed to keep this blog going for long enough to write 200 reviews. Over the years this blog has shifted from talking about writing to focusing on reviews with some writing interspersed. It's been a quiet last few days. I spent the weekend with an awesome friend, so I'm coming down off a very busy couple days. It's been a lot of Cheers and bingeing on the chocolate caramel tortes I made. Also, reading, of course!

Retrieved from Goodreads
Tom has made it to an Upper, something that shouldn't have been possible with his track record. But it's not everything it's cracked up to be. A new general has taken over the Pentagonal Spire, and is running the place like a military base. New neural processors are being tested, and might be given to the general public. Tom is keeping even more secrets than ever from his friends. And Medusa isn't talking to him after his stunt with the skyboards. But the worst is yet to come, and if Tom can't keep a clear head, he might unwittingly help bring down the entire planet.

I've adored these books from the first. I love how hotheaded Tom is, and the jokes with the coding actually make me chuckle. I'm friends with a lot of programmers, and apparently I've picked up some stuff! The story in this book experiences a drastic change, one which had extreme consequences. It was horrifying, and led to a plot line that left me very sad. I actually stayed up past two the day I read this book because I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep if I put it down. What I really enjoyed about this book was the development of Vengerov, who had been the shadowy villain without much substance. I also liked the development of Blackburn. Every book revealed more of his character and changed how I saw him. Overall, I just enjoyed this book. The last few chapters had me smiling sadly, which only my favorite books do. I would definitely recommend reading this series.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Summer Reading 2015

It's the end of summer, and you know what that means! A round-up of all the books I read over the last four months. It's hard to believe this is my fourth year doing this. Unfortunately, I didn't top my best summer, in which I read 34 books, but to be fair that did result in my getting glasses, so maybe that's a good thing. This summer saw a lot of big developments in my life. I walked in my graduation ceremonies, so I am in all respects no longer an undergrad. I got my first on-site publishing job (squee!). I celebrated my birthday with some amazing whitewater rafting. I moved to California. And in between, I read 28 books!

Here's the genre breakdown: 8 fantasy, 7 paranormal, 4 historical fiction, 4 dystopian, 4 sci-fi, and 1 romance. As usual, fantasy leads the charge as my most common genre.

Another interesting thing about the books I read this summer is that many of them closed out series I've been reading for at least the last three years. Actually, 8 of the 25 were the final books in their series. This makes it more difficult for me to recommend them, as you'd have to commit to the series instead of just trying out the first book. In those cases, I suppose I will recommend the entire series.

Highly Recommended: The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (historical-ish dystopianish romance), Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater (paranormal), The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (fantasy), and the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (fantasy)

Recommended: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (fantasy), the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen (historical romance), and the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black (urban fantasy)

All of these books I gave three stars or higher on Goodreads. The ones on the highly recommended list I tore through as fast as possible because I adored them. Also I just want a bunch of people to read these books so I can talk to them about these awesome characters and worlds! You can check out the full list of books and their accompanying reviews either by looking at the Summer Reading 2015 tab above, or by hitting the Reviews label to the right.

This year starts a new chapter for me. I'm no longer a college writer. I'm writer, I suppose. I'm not starting school this month, or any month soon. Instead I'm making my way in the world, looking for work, finding the place where I want to plant my roots, and dealing with super fun things like taxes and insurance. But for every crappy day to come, and for every great day, I will always have a book by my side.


Strange and Ever After

Here we go: yesterday was the last day of my summer reading project! It just struck me how five of the last seven books I've read have been final books in a series. And the book I'm currently reading is also the last book in a series! Anyway, I didn't finish off 2.5 books yesterday, like I knew I wouldn't. My eyes were far too tired for that, but I still managed to read quite a lot considering I worked for a majority of the summer. So without further ado, here is my last review for the summer:

Retrieved from Goodreads
Jie has been taken by Marcus, and they're heading to Marseille. The Spirit Hunters have to get there before him to stop Marcus from discovering how to find the Old Man and raise the Black Pullet which will give him wealth and immortality. But even this has not united them. Joseph and Daniel still don't like Eleanor's black magic, and Oliver hates that Eleanor uses him solely for magic. As they rush to save Jie and then the world, they have to figure out how to work together or fail in both their missions.

It's hard to say what I feel about this book. There were parts I loved and parts I honestly skimmed over. Any fight between Oliver and Eleanor was annoying because it seems like he's annoyed about something completely unrelated every time, and then it disappears. I wanted a stronger relationship between them, perhaps like parabatai in Cassandra Clare's books, or maybe like Kenji and Juliet in the Shatter Me trilogy. I just didn't buy their connection. Or hers with Daniel. Things I did like: influence of Egyptian mythology. I adore Egyptian mythology and was quite pleased to see it here. Also, the betrayal was nicely done. Overall, this was a fast read, and not just because I was trying to finish up one last book for my reading project. I wasn't heavily invested in the characters, so the ending didn't pack a huge punch, but it was a pleasant enough read.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Catalyst by S. J. Kincaid