Fangirl Friday: Nevernight series by Jay Kristoff

Today, I want to gush and nerd out about one of my favorite series, which also happens to be one of the best written trilogies I’ve ever read.

NEVERNIGHT

There are many reasons that my love of this series has grown into obsession, but mainly I think it’s because of the fabulous fanart I’ve been inspired to make.  Recently, in a pottery class, I crafted 2 versions of the ever-present crow dagger.  The first one had some promise but ultimately didn’t match my vision.

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Throwback Thursday: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up

Hardcover, 428 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow Books

The prologue of this book really captured me, so I decided to read something outside of my usual fantasy/science fiction realm.  Which I don’t do often, especially not for straight contemporary.  I guess an argument could be made that there are elements of fantasy sprinkled throughout this story since our main character has schizophrenia and isn’t capable of separating reality all the time.  I don’t know if the author is portraying this particular mental illness authentically, having no experience with it myself, but I did appreciate having the different point of view.

That said, this book did remind me why I don’t generally seek out contemporary.  I definitely prefer my rambling day-to-day scenes to include magical creatures or exotic plant life to make it more interesting.  I also couldn’t get behind the romance or the parents’ reactions.  I spent a large chunk of the book frustrated!  But I did finish it, so there was something that held my attention.  Just can’t quite identify what that something was.

I would recommend this book to people who like contemporaries, or want to see high school through a much different point of view.

 

Summary:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Book Review: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

Silver in the Wood

Paperback, 112 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Tor.com

Many thanks to Tor.com for sending me a review copy (in exchange for an honest review)!  I’ve been loving their novellas with all their nuance and different takes on storytelling.

This one had a lyrical quality to the writing and felt like a fairy tale or a bit of folklore.  It does include a bit of M/M romance, which usually makes me uncomfortable.  But the author handled it well and I thought it was rather tastefully executed.

The first part of the story did seem to meander quite a bit, but rather than detracting from the story, I felt like it added another layer to help the reader fall into the world easier.  Since it is such a short book, you almost needed that to pull you in.

I’m not as familiar with the Green Man mythology, but I believe that people who like it will find a sprinkling in our main character.  All of the characters felt realistic and down to earth, and I liked how they blended into the setting seamlessly.

Definitely take the time to pick this one up and check it out soon!  I mean, it’ll only take like an hour to read 🙂

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Book Review: Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines

Terminal Uprising  (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, #2)

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by DAW Books

This was a great sequel to Terminal Alliance!  The author continued to portray an unlikely cast of misfits on their journey to save the world nay galaxy from its own ignorance and suppressed history.  The compilation cast has a wonderful mix of witty, intelligent, clever, and indignant individuals that help the story progress and provide comic relief from the heavy subject matter that is lying and its consequences.

Many of the questions from the end of book 1 found satisfactory answers while simultaneously opening new trails of thoughts, which I can only assume will be addressed in book 3.  Jim knows how to grab your attention and tell a compelling story, so I have no doubt that he will continue this trend.  I can’t wait to see where these characters travel to next!

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Spotlight Tour + Book Review: Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer, #1)

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: June 25th 2019 by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Today I’m participating in the blog spotlight tour for Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau, which releases in just 5 days from Sourcebooks Casablanca!  I was drawn in by the cover, which isn’t unusual for me.  Those swirly cool colors and mesmerizing tiger eyes really got my attention.  But also, Sourcebooks Casablanca published a recent favorite series from Amanda Bouchet and I was ready to dive into their newest fantasy romance.  And I’m so glad that I did!

Comparing this to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Assassin’s Creed is pretty accurate.  Other spot-on comparisons would be Pokemon or even Throne of Glass.  Assassins and magical animals are some of my favorite tropes and together they work surprisingly well.

The beginning of this debut is a bit slow and muddled.  I don’t think the author was able to define the world’s rules early on to establish whether this was a pure fantasy setting, urban fantasy, or historical fantasy.  I did occasionally find myself questioning what was going on based on my assumptions about what kind of setting it was.  Luckily, that didn’t deter me from becoming engrossed in the characters and the beasts as they stole the show.  There was enough mystery and promise of information that I finished this book in just a few days.  I think if you can get past the bumpy world building, you’ll find a fun, fast-paced read that will leave you begging for the next book.

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Throwback Thursday: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Hardcover, 407 pages
Published January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books

I finally had a chance to listen to this as an audiobook.  And can understand why the series has become such a large fandom.  Unfortunately for me, I did not love this one.  I did like the concept and the intrigue.  The world and world building.  But I am all about characters and story logic, and that’s where this one fell short.  It might be because this was a debut and the author’s writing style isn’t as cohesive, but I spent a large chunk of the story either yelling at the main character for being so obtuse or questioning her logic jumps.  I don’t want to give away the mystery of the story, so no spoilers here, but I was hoping for Scarlett to grow as the story went on and didn’t get that.

Overall, I liked the concept and the game of Caraval itself.  More than likely I will read the second book, Legendary.  

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Book Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

The Kingdom

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

 

What an intriguing look into the mind of an android developing feelings and working against her programming. I loved the touch of sci-fi futurism coupled with varying formats throughout the text, which worked to keep the story moving while simultaneously providing the reader with important information (that didn’t feel like exposition dumps). You should definitely pick this one up if you have any interest in mysteries, crime dramas, theme parks like Disney, a desire to strangle know-it-all doctor types, or just want a fun new read from a debut author.

I’m will soon be sharing my recent book haul, and you’ll find that I picked up a signed finished copy of this lovely hardcover at a recent Fierce Reads tour.  Jess was rather nice and I had a great time even though the drive made for a very long day!  If you haven’t seen the hardcover in person, you’re missing out on the glittering robot insides that really make the cover shine!

Summary:

Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule. 

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.

Quick Reviews: Graphic Novel Stack #1

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Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on working my way through a huge stack of graphic novels that I’ve collected and either read and forgot or just haven’t read yet.  Today, I want to share my thoughts on the first ten that I made it through last week.  This may turn into a series of posts if I can continue to work diligently on this project.

For now, I leave a comment or two about the art, the story, and whether I plan to keep reading the series (if available).

Mera: Tidebreaker

This one wasn’t from my personal collection but from the library.  I loved how the art was a blend of muted blues and greens to convey the water aspect while Mera’s bright red hair stood out brilliantly.  The story was interesting in that it showed how Mera found Arthur/Aquaman and why and was well done.  Overall, this one was great, and I would definitely recommend it.

Charmed: Season 9, Volume 1

I actually read this one shortly after its release in 2011, which was around the time that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 was released as a graphic novel.  I didn’t remember it well at all, and on reread I understood that this was because it wasn’t particularly memorable.  The art stayed true to the original actresses, which was nice.  But the story didn’t cover any new ground.  I probably won’t go looking for any more of this series.

Night's Dominion, Vol. 1 (Night's Dominion, #1-6)

It felt like reading a complex Dungeons & Dragons campaign with classic character classes, a cult to defeat, undead running rampant, and other iconic bits.  However, it managed to feel original, and the characters were fun to see develop.  Sometimes the art style wasn’t my favorite with angles that felt too sharp and muted colors, but overall, it worked for the story.  I think I will look into volume 2!

reMIND: Volume 1

OK.  This one… This one was a little weird.  But in a good way.  The story was compelling and I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished.  The art was less complex, but that just emphasized the story rather than detracting from it.  It looks like there is a second volume, but I’m on the fence about trying to track it down.  Certainly, it is worth reading.

Valiant High

Perhaps I would have liked this one better if I was more familiar with these characters.  The premise of favorite superheroes being put back into high school and following their antics is pretty ubiquitous now, so the story itself was fine.  I do like the art style and the diversity of the characters.  I don’t know that I will follow this title at the moment, but I’m tempted to go find the regular series for some of these characters.

Athena Voltaire & the Volcano Goddess

With this one, I was expecting more of a fantasy theme to go with the volcano goddess in the title.  That wasn’t what I got.  The detailed art was rather nice, but the story didn’t work for me at all.  I won’t be pursuing this one.

Shadow of the Queen (Once Upon a Time, #2)

As a big fan of Once Upon a Time, I was thrilled that a graphic novel was being released.  I remember reading it, and not caring?  So I did a reread.  And was disappointed.  My biggest complaint is that for the four “issues” they used a different artist for each, which didn’t help convey that the story was supposed to be cohesive and not an anthology.  Secondly, the Hunter wasn’t one of my favorite characters to begin with, but this backstory only reinforced what we knew from the show.  I don’t think it added any new characterization.

Eclipse, Vol. 1

I’m always looking for new post-apocalyptic concepts, and this one was definitely interesting.  The art did a good job of showing us the stark horror that these humans face while world building without the need for a lot of exposition.  I could have used a bit more explanation for what had actually happened to Earth, but I enjoyed this one.

The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

Having not read the book that this is based on, I can’t comment on whether it’s a faithful adaptation.  But the art added a youthful edge to this harsh story depicting the trials of another culture.  This isn’t the type of story that I like to read in my downtime, but I would recommend it to people wanting a glimpse into the life of a Middle Eastern family.

Courtney Crumrin 1: The Night Things

This one didn’t grab me like I thought it would.  The premise was intriguing, and I liked the mystery.  Sometimes the art was more angular than rounded, which through me off.  Maybe the pacing it was killed it for me, but I won’t be following up on this one either.

 

What do you think?  Have you read any of these?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or disagreements with my assessments.