Throwback Thursday: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)

Hardcover, 358 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Company
 To be completely honest, Leigh Bardugo wasn’t on my radar until after the release of Six of Crows when I attended ALA for the first time through work.  I had heard really great things about it and that the sequel would be releasing soon, so I bought a used copy of Shadow and Bone to get signed and made up bookplates as well.  Just in case I fell in love with her writing 🙂
After meeting her briefly in the signing line and seeing her have lots of fun up on stage with Marissa Meyer, who I did love, I was convinced I would love Leigh’s books as well.  Unfortunately, I still didn’t get around to making time to read any of them until last week.  When I knew I was planning to meet her on tour tomorrow!  (I think it might have been that the original cover doesn’t appeal to me very much.)
The Gathering Dark (The Grisha, #1)
When I finally did start reading the first Grisha book, I was not at all surprised to find that I did like the story.  A lot!  I was compulsively reading it whenever possible and finished it quickly.  There are a lot of reviews out there that break the book down and talk about worldbuilding and characterization (both are great).  And plenty of fans that will tell you how amazing the author is (it’s true).  Plus several that will mention that the story isn’t new (because it’s not).  However, the only opinion that matters is how this story makes you feel.  That’s what reading is all about, right?
I liked this story a lot.  The characters were fun and the world was interesting (if a little confusing on some points).  But it made me remember why I like reading.  And that’s pretty awesome 🙂  So I definitely plan to finish this first trilogy and dive into Six of Crows with high expectations.  And hopefully, Leigh stills has some stories to tell in this world!
Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)

Summary:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1)

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: August 29th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
There are various reviews roaming the internet about this book.  I don’t think any had an issue with representation though, so I decided to give this book a try.  The first chapter was amazing!  Then it took a step back and did character introductions and a bit of world building, but then we were thrown right into the competition.  Non-stop action, revelations, and exploring genderfluid as an accepted form of identification.  While this story may not be new territory (think Hunger Games and Throne of Glass), I enjoyed the author’s writing style and the characters presented.

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Manic Monday: Heathen Vol. 1 by Natasha Alterici

Heathen

Paperback, 115 pages
Published August 8th 2017 by Vault Comics
First off, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I downloaded this title from NetGalley.  The cover art looked intriguing and it kept popping up all over the place.  So I decided to give it a shot.  And I’m very glad that I did because Heathen was a beautifully illustrated tale that weaves together Viking folklore, bisexuality, fighting for your dreams, and many other threads and themes in a way that appears seamless.

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Book Review: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Daughter of the Burning City

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 25th 2017 by Harlequin Teen

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand, I thought the concepts and characters were really interesting.  On the other, it took me almost three weeks to finish reading.  Not sure if that’s because of pacing in the book or because of real life issues I was dealing with, but I’m disappointed that it took me so long to finish.  As a debut, Daughter did a great job introducing characters and various levels of story threads.  I think it could have used a bit more world building though since this is a planned stand-alone.

Throughout the story, I felt myself questioning why certain things were happening and how Gomorrah fit into the rest of the world.  I also kept forgetting that our main character was only 16, but I always have that issue, and that she has no eyes.  I certainly liked this aspect, but we find out a little more about it while investigating things later in the story, but I’m not sure I quite understand the whole missing organ that still works just fine bit.

I will definitely be recommending this book to friends, family, and random internet folk like my readers here.  I never thought about giving up on the book, and it was definitely different and compelling.  The author is lovely human being, who I met at ALA Annual a couple months ago.  I even won a set of eyeshadow colors from promoting the release (I’ll share more on that in a different post soon!)  There’s a whole lot of awesome going on in this book that readers will for sure enjoy.  I just got a little hung up on miscellaneous stuff.

Have you read it yet?  What were your thoughts?

Summary:

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

Throwback Thursday: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Storm Siren (Storm Siren, #1)

Hardcover, 320 pages

Published August 19th 2014 by Thomas Nelson / HarperCollins

Here’s a book that’s been on my TBR for ages (well I guess only 3 years since that was when it was released), and I finally made time to read it.  To be honest, it happened because I find out that the author was coming to ALA, and I wanted to collect her signature 🙂  But I’m so glad that I did!

After reading Roar by Cora Carmack earlier this year, I was ready to read more weather magic stories.  Storm Siren did not disappoint, and, as a bonus, had some intriguing eccentric characters that I wasn’t expecting to see.  The world building was also intriguing, and I hope we get to explore more of that in the second and third books.  Overall, I basically ploughed threw this book to finish it as quickly as possible because it was so good!  Great pacing and characters do that for you though 🙂

One thing that killed me: it ends on a major cliffhanger!!  Normally, I hate that, but since the whole series is out, I can pick up the story where it left out at any time.  Also, I checked the beginning of book 2 and can tell you that it retells that last bit of this book and continues right where it left off.

Have you read this book/series?  What did you like or dislike?

Summary:

“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

 

Book Review: Roar by Cora Carmack #RoarDay

Roar (Stormheart, #1)

Hardcover, 380 pages
Expected publication: June 13th 2017 (TODAY!!) by Tor Teen
Happy book birthday!  When I was selected to participate on the street team for Roar, I was so excited and ecstatic!  This book was already one of my most anticipated of the year, but then I had the opportunity to share it in even cooler ways with even more people 🙂  Which is why my social media has been littered with references and reminders lately.
This book was everything I wanted and more ❤  I love weather-related magic, and the storm magic in Roar fulfilled this need perfectly.  Cora beautifully describes a vast variety of storms, how they form, and how they affect the landscape and people living there.  It was amazing how the magic blended with the world and the characters.   I want to tell you all the things, but I’m worried I’ll spill all the fun and spread too many spoilers, so I’m going to share a few of my favorite quotes.  (Warning: these come from the arc and may have changed in the final version, but I love them all the same!)
She felt as if she had stepped into the pages of one of her books.
People are not recipes to be carefully measured and mixed together. Life is imprecise and messy.
There were a couple of small things that felt off within the narrative.  They aren’t terrible in any way, just something I noticed that felt like sharing.  If you are unfamiliar with Cora Carmack, you should know that she has written mostly romance stories until Roar.  You can definitely tell that she’s more adept at romantic writing instead of fantasy by the emphasis of details throughout the book.
There are multiple POV used, and sometimes it was hard to keep track of which characters knew the other characters’ motivations and who hadn’t put together all the clues yet.  Otherwise, the pacing was pretty good and the characters and magic system were so much fun to read!  I hope you check out all the fun stuff happening on social media this week, and don’t forget to enter the giveaways!!
7stormydays

Summary:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Manic Monday: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)

Hardcover, 176 pages
Expected publication: June 13th 2017 by Tor.com
Last year, Seanan McGuire made a splash with Every Heart a Doorway, introducing a world that puzzles an answer to the questions, “What comes after a portal adventure for the children who go through the door?”  And I loved every page, the only downside was the length, since it was only a novella.  Much to my delight, a second and third book was announced, and I awaited with greedy, grabby hands.  I was so excited to get my hands on an early copy through a friend!
Just as short as the first book, this story packs a punch.  Although we were given a brief sketch of Jack and Jill’s back story in book one, this provides so, so much more.  All the emotional turmoil and parental “guidance”.  The longing and desire for companionship and expression of self.  Seanan truly knows how to create depth and characterization while being economical with words.  Did I mention this world is an interesting mash-up of horror monster tropes?  I truly cannot wait for Beneath the Sugar Sky, and look forward to what else the Tor.com lineup will bring my way.

Summary:

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

Book Review: The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

The Queen of Blood  (The Queens of Renthia, #1)

Hardcover, 353 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Harper Voyager
 I was consumed by this book!  I loved every second of it, and it was exactly what I needed in my life right now.  Unfortunately, it took me forever to write this review because I couldn’t sort out my feelings into coherent words.  Here’s my attempt at sharing what I felt while reading this amazing book!  Word of caution: there are probably small spoilers throughout.

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

Paperback, 300 pages
Expected publication: June 1st 2017 by Skyscape
Such a compelling read that I had to finish it in a day. I couldn’t get myself to put it down for very long!  It was also refreshing to visit a different culture than that of European origin or inspiration.  I love fantasy books that use knights and dragons and lush forests, but it’s also fun to visit the desert.  Drawing on Sumerian mythology and desert nation cultures, King did a great job of blending magic and intrigue into a maturation and finding-self tale.

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