Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Of Scars and Stardust (review)

4/5 stars

Of Stars and Stardust (Goodreads | Amazon) is a bit of a perplexing read.  Don't get me wrong, it's wholly enjoyable and something where you'll keep turning the pages.  But even after finishing I'm a bit puzzled by a lot of things in the novel.

The main character Claire Graham is damaged and engaging. She's the perfect example of an unreliable narrator. After her young sister is attacked by wolves, Claire is sent to live with her aunt in New York City where she stays until her sister Ella mysteriously disappears.  That event forces Claire to return home, to return to the place and memories that left her mentally broken to investigate and bring home her sister.

The investigation leads her unexpected places, surprising Claire as much as they surprise the reader.  It's hard to say much more about what they discover because I want other readers go into the story without expectations.  Just know it's twisty and intriguing, which I hope isn't saying too much.

The writing has that simple beauty that I always appreciate.
"I looked at Grant, who just smiled his crooked grin back at me. It was funny because I had always thought that Ella was magic, and Grant thought that I was magic. But maybe Grant was magic too, and his magic was that his sincerity in everything he did made people do crazy things, like open up a box of construction paper stories and trust that he'd be able to find the answers hidden there." 
The book is atmospheric, filled with eery cornfields and the chill of winter snow that sets the tone perfect for a book that is both mysterious and chilling.  This is the type of book that makes you shiver, so I recommend reading it with a fuzzy blanket, cup of tea or even bed a warm fire to keep away cold.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Firebug (review)

3.5/5 stars

Firebug (Gooreads | Amazon) is what I expect from Lish McBride. It's a fun paranormal with a snarky protagonist who feels like someone you could actually know. If you like Hold Me Closer, Necromancer this book is in the same vein, though I didn't like Ava nearly as much as I like Sam. (And I can stay that with certainty since I also just read Necromancing the Stone).

You may ask why I didn't like Ava as much?  Well it's small grating things that are probably authentically teenage type jokes that rub me the wrong way as an adult.  For example, when a male friend wants to talk about Ava's feelings she makes a joke about him having a uterus.  Gendered humor just tends to strike me the wrong way.  Ava can be annoying and rude, just like a real teenager.

Overall this story is good though.  It builds on itself, leaving little clues and important details along the way.  Things that at first bugged me later made complete sense.  I liked the creation of a paranormal world that runs alongside ours without being noticed, especially the building of a criminal underbelly.

This is a fun snarky read that has a surprising amount of heart.  I definitely recommend despite that little moments that grated on me.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Salt and Sea (review)

3.5/5 stars

Overall I enjoyed The Witch of Salt and Storm (Goodreads | Amazon).  The atmospheric story takes place on Prince Island and you get a real sense of island life, the harbor full of boats and the scent of sale on the wind.

Avery Roe has always wanted to be the Prince Island witch.  She comes from a long line of Roe witches, starting generations ago, including her grandma the current witch and stopping with her mother who refuses to take the job.  Not only does she not want the job herself, but she takes Avery from her grandmother and refuses to let her train in the family craft.

Avery is at times frustrating character, only seeing what she wants to see.  In some ways that makes her very believable, a stubborn teenage girl who won't listen to anyone and is blinded by her own desires.  As the reader, you'll understand some things well before Avery does, but that's because an outside perspective is often clearer.

For me this story loses some ground with the love story.  The quickness the relationship develops just isn't quite believable for me.  However it's necessary to have the love story in there (a rarity) but it could be done a little better.  The love interest is too perfect, Avery is too grumpy at times and I have trouble believing in the depth of their feelings. But this is so common in YA books that it shouldn't bother most readers of the genres (unless you're curmudgeonly like me about these things).

Overall if you like stories of witchcraft, especially with interesting and meaningful settings like Prince Island, you'll enjoy this book.  The atmosphere and location are really what shines in this novel.  While the romance leaves a bit to be desired, the whaling world of Prince Island that the Roe Witches serve is a place I definitely want to visit, both in books and the real world.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Words and their Meanings (review)

4/5 stars

Initially I wasn't sure how I felt about Words and their Meanings (Goodreads | Amazon).  At first, I felt like the protagonist tried way too hard to be different. But as the book progressed things that seemed like flaws made sense as the story unveiled itself.

This story is a portrait of one girl's all consuming grief and guilt.  But more than that, it's little pictures of how those around her are dealing with the same grief.  It's different for everyone, no two grievers handle everything the same.

Still in the midst of her grief over the death of her young uncle, more of a brother, Anna discovers a secret note that makes her question who her uncle was.  The story really gets underway when Anna decides to investigate what the note means to find out the truth about her uncle.  It's easier to focus on that the the all-consuming grief.
"In the long run, you need to understand that people --even the best people people --are always more and less than we imagine."
The book is written very poetically, with a main character who's a gifted writer it needs to be.  Oddly enough I'm not sure how much the story actually matters, this is a book that's more driven by feelings and characters.  That's not a bad thing.  Sometimes that's how stories need to be told.  This is the story of pain, grief and hopefully understanding, not really the story of a mystery being solved. For this book, that's a good thing.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Seriously Saturday Series Catch-up #4

So we've made some real progress this month!  I've read Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter, Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride, started Scarlet by Marissa Meyers, read Unwholly by Neal Shusterman and finished the Fallen Worlds trilogy by Megan Crewe.  I even read the 3rd of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series because I thought I'd included it in this challenge.  It seems that once I started making momentum on series it was hard to stop. Right now that leaves five books left in this challenge, two of which aren't even published yet.

So where are we looking at my original list?

  1. Heist Society by Ally Carter (books 2 & 3) - Finished book 2 & 3
  2. Necromancer series by Lish McBride (book 2) - Finished book 2
  3. Cinder by Marissa Meyers (books 2 & 3) - Currently listening to Scarlet in my car
  4. Unwind by Neal Shusterman (books 2 & 3) - Finished book 2 & 3! I didn't realize there was a book 4
  5. Abhorsen series by Garth Nix (book 4 will be published in 2014)
  6. The Agency by Y.S. Lee (book 4 will be published in 2014) 
  7. Fallen World series by Megan Crewe (books 2 & 3) - Finished book 2 & 3
  8. Iron Druid by Kevin Hearne (read at least 1 book in)
  9. Bloody Jack by LA Meyer (book 11)
  10. His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers (In the name of honesty, I'll admit I've already read the second book in 2014 but I want to count it. Book 3 will be published in 2014)
Note: I know it's Sunday and not Saturday.  But one day late isn't bad!