Summary: Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire. The mysterious Domino Programme has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim – her former enemy – at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war. As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them – and could end with them . . .
Review: I just finished The Mask Falling and I feel like I need to write this review immediately (I’m writing this in the notes app on my phone because I should be going to sleep, but instead I’m going to lie here and think about the emotional harm that Samantha Shannon has just done to me with this book). Part of me wants to blurt all of my feelings into a mostly nonsensical review and another part of me has absolutely no words to explain the wild ride that I just went on while reading The Mask Falling. Okay so, The Mask Falling picks up immediately after the ending of The Song Rising, so I’m very glad I just reread the first three books before diving into this newest installment. If you haven’t read any of this series yet, you can find my non-spoiler review for The Bone Season and then come back to this review once you’ve read the first three books. Paige is in pretty dire shape as she is fleeing from London and heading to Paris for some rest and recovery. But that’s not all she will be doing in Paris. She’s been approached by a group that’s outside both the syndicate and Scion that wants her help to work against Scion. This mysterious group is present for the whole book and I’m incredibly excited to see where things with this group lead for the rest of the series. They keep Paige and the Warden (who has traveled at Paige’s side from London) in a safe house to recuperate for a few weeks before sending her on her first mission. Paige is genuinely a force of nature. She’s grown so much and come so far from the mollisher that we got to know in book one. She knows her own mind (mostly) and she’s always scheming. The way her brain works to turn any situation in her favor was so enjoyable to follow. She will reach her goals by sheer force of will if that’s what it takes. But she’s incredibly smart and clever, always thinking ten steps ahead of where she is at the moment. It was really interesting to see her struggle with the traumas that were inflicted upon her in book three and how she handled those feelings and the PTSD that she was definitely dealing with. I thought Shannon did an excellent job showing us the ways that Paige was struggling, but that she was still strong despite those struggles. Shannon didn’t just act like Paige was never tortured, she added to who Paige had become as a character and I really think she did Paige justice with the balance of showing us what Paige was struggling with and her strengths as a leader in spite of those struggles. Since the story is told from Paige’s point of view, we don’t get to see inside the side characters’ heads. But I think we really got to know the Warden better. Their relationship has been so up and down in the first three books. It’s absolutely a slow-burn romance and I’m living for it. I’ve always been on board for their relationship, but this one had so many good scenes of the two just spending time together. Also, how dare you rip my heart out the way you did Samantha Shannon, with the secrets and twists at the end of this book. As for the plot of the story, I think this one was more action-packed and productive with pushing the overall story forward than any of the other books. So many things happen, but not so much that it felt like too much. The story, despite being over 500 pages, was really well-paced with action and things that needed to get done for Paige to reach her goals. But there were also a few moments of calm and time to take a breath before the next big thing happened. I loved the backdrop of Paris and seeing more of the world that Scion rules. It was really interesting to see another Scion citadel and how it was similar and also different from London. I think the politics that Paige gets herself involved in were compelling and I cannot wait to see what’s going to happen because of the events in the final pages of this book. Overall, this was a huge book that I still felt like it was easy to fly through. Especially after binging the first three books in a reread, this one was all too easy to devour. There’s so much great character building and development with both individual characters and with character relationships. We get to meet new faces as well as see old friends (and enemies). I can’t wait to see what will happen next in this world.
Summary: Zhade’s power might be going to his head. He’s still getting used to wearing Maret’s face, but he can’t deny that the influence it affords him has its perks. But when the magic of Eerensed starts to turn deadly, Zhade must master the Crown if he’s going to save his people, and Tsurina’s destructive plans for Eerensed aren’t going to make that easy. Worse, he’s starting to see her point. Meanwhile, Andra is in hiding. Assumed dead by the people of Eerensed, she must stay underground if she’s going to live long enough to build the rocket that will finally save the colonists from this dying planet. But when Andra hears voices urging her to destroy everything, she starts to dig deeper into her subconcious. What she finds leads her to question whether she’s destined to be a savior after all. Battling the dangerous forces buried within their minds, can Andra and Zhade truly decide their own fates? They must find a way to work together before two power-hungry leaders and a deadly swarm of rogue technology destroy humanity for good.
Review: I am so glad that my library had this ebook so that I could devour this sequel. I really loved Goddess in the Machine but I think I liked Devil in the Device even more. Devil in the Device starts off after everything basically blows up at the end of the first book. This sequel picks up right where we left off. Zhade is thinking that everything is going according to his plan while Andra is trying to figure out what the hell she is supposed to do next. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything from the first book. Let’s just say that things go from “according to plan” to hell in a handbasket incredibly quickly. Because we’re already familiar with the world, this book felt like it had a way faster pace. I think maybe that’s why I liked it more. I wouldn’t say there was non-stop action, but there were twists and turns and all kinds of things that made it feel like these characters never really had a moment to catch their breaths. There were a few twists that I had suspected, but even more that had me totally shocked. I think the plot of the story was clearly well executed. I liked that the stakes were high and you could never quite tell how things were going to play out. As I said in my review for the first book, the characters were really what made the story. Zhade is slowly realizing that what he thought he wanted isn’t going to satisfy him because it’s not what he really needed. He’s realizing that his plan might not actually be working out how he thought it was. Andra was basically floundering (which isn’t all that different from the first book) but she’s doing the best she can and that’s what really matters. She truly learns and adapts to all the things that are thrown at her. I really enjoyed seeing her fight against the negative influences and choose the right side of the conflicts. The only thing that I didn’t like about this book was that for the first third of the book Zhade and Andra stay away from each other for literally made-up reasons. Zhade has ideas in his head about why Andra couldn’t possibly feel the same, romantically, about him as she did before he did certain things. While Andra is doing the same thing, making up ideas that Zhade couldn’t possibly still care about her now that he knows the secrets about her that we’re revealed in the first book. But if they had just talked to each other (which they ended up doing about a third of the way into the story) they would have realized they were both being dumb. And then, once they did finally talk and resolve this issue, everything was amazing for them again, for about a day. I was so frustrated when almost immediately after their reconciliation, another conflict was created to keep them apart. It took entirely too long for them to both get it together long enough to finally work things out. Overall, I loved this book. The world is absolutely fascinating and I loved learning more about how the planet ended up the way that it is. I think the way humanity grew and developed and changed was incredibly compelling. The characters were engaging and I couldn’t help but love them. I just wanted more of Andra and Zhade together. Also, did I see hints of a spin-off for Zhade’s brother in the epilogue, I’m absolutely all about that.
Summary: Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it–even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her. Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted–perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.
Review: Dustborn is another book that I read for the 12 Challenge from instagram, but also, I bought it impulsively at the Barnes and Nobel 50% off hardcovers sale. I have absolutely no regrets. Dustborn follows Delta of Dead River as she fucks shit up. That’s it, end of summary. Just kidding. The story starts with Delta rushing to save her sisters life. Things get messy and when she returns to where her people have settled, she learns that they’ve been attacked and kidnapped. While on her way to rescue them, things go from bad to worse when she’s kidnapped and brought to be sold as a slave. The issue is that Delta has a map of the Verdant branded onto her back that no one is supposed to know about. So, when instead of being sold as a slave, she’s brought to the General (who is the person that had her people kidnapped), and he already knows about her brand, things get complicated very quickly. I liked Delta. She’s just a girl that makes an incredible number of mistakes and missteps. But she’s trying her hardest to save the lives of the people she cares about. She was all heart and minimal brains. That’s mostly a joke. She just is impulsive and often reckless. But I think that’s why I liked her so much. She doesn’t always think things through, but that just made the story that much more interesting. The world was compelling and learning more about this mysterious Verdant really kept me interested in the story. I wanted to know if they were going to make it there and what the whole Verdant myth was really about. The politics of the world were easy to understand. Survival is everything and those that have the power determine how you survive, or don’t. I absolutely loved when we finally started to get some answers about this world and its history. I think the mythology (religion?) of the gods in the stars was super interesting, but even more so once we learned where it came from. Overall, this was an engaging story that was full of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. It’s set on a planet that’s not terribly easy to live on, which created some high stakes. And the characters were interesting and entertaining. I will absolutely be reading more books by this author.
Summary: New Liberty City, 2134. Two corporations have replaced the US, splitting the country’s remaining forty-five states (five have been submerged under the ocean) between them: Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf. There are nine supercities within the continental US, and New Liberty City is the only amalgamated city split between the two megacorps, and thus at a perpetual state of civil war as the feeds broadcast the atrocities committed by each side. Here, Mallory streams Stellaxis’s wargame SecOps on BestLife, spending more time jacked in than in the world just to eke out a hardscrabble living from tips. When a chance encounter with one of the game’s rare super-soldiers leads to a side job for Mal–looking to link an actual missing girl to one of the SecOps characters. Mal’s sudden burst in online fame rivals her deepening fear of what she is uncovering about BestLife’s developer, and puts her in the kind of danger she’s only experienced through her avatar.
Review: Firebreak follows Mal, who is a gaming streamer in a terrifyingly realistic dystopian future. It’s about 100 years or so in the future and two corporations have taken over the United States. One controls the water supply for the population and the other controls the agricultural supply for the population. Climate change has ravaged the coasts and the war between these two corporations has done its own damage. Mal lives in what was once a nice hotel in the city. She shares one room with like six other people. When she’s not working odd jobs (dog walking, babysitting, attempting to brew beer) she’s gaming and streaming with her best friend and roommate, Jessa. The two manage to spot one of the rarer special operatives in the game (read: the special operatives are essentially celebrities in this world) and talk to her for about a half a second before the power is cut for the day. This thrusts them into a minor spotlight, just enough to grab the attention of B. B is a mysterious sponsor who, after meeting with Jessa and Mal, shares a theory that she and others have about the special operatives. This is where the story really gets going. I really liked Mal. She sort of held herself apart from her other roommates, and kept to herself. But I really was a great moment when she realized what a mistake that had been. That she should have taken more time to get to know them all. I loved her loyalty and love for Jessa. The two of them were and excellent friendship dynamic with how they pushed and pulled each other when it was called for. I liked how they complimented one another. But I liked Mal outside of her relationship with Jessa too. We get to see her act selflessly, recklessly, and with her whole heart. She was a really well-developed character and one that I enjoyed following through this story. As for the story itself, oh man, what a wild ride. We get a brief summary of how the world ended up the way that it is in the story. Though I usually like more backstory and world building, I found that I liked learning how this future worked as the story went on. We see how society works as we follow Mal and we see what’s wrong with it as she does. I think that Mal questioning the status quo felt natural for her character. And everything after was really well done. The story starts with a slow build-up, showing us the world. Then starts to show what’s wrong with it, and once Mal’s eyes are opened to the theory that B shares, there’s just nonstop action. Also, I don’t know if this was on purpose, but I really thought the way the author took things from the game that Mal and Jessa play and started showing that same violence and action in the real world was absolutely fascinating. Overall, this book was a wild ride to say the least. It’s a book that shows characters fighting for their basic human rights, against corporations that are just trying to wring every dollar out of anyone they can. I absolutely enjoyed this one and I will definitely be looking into this author’s backlist.
Summary: To save the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, former librarian Claire and her allies may have to destroy it first. Claire, the rakish Hero, the angel Rami, and the muse turned librarian Brevity have accomplished the impossible by discovering the true nature of unwritten books. But now that the secret is out, Hell will be coming for every wing of the library in its quest for power. To protect the Unwritten Wing and stave off the insidious reach of Malphas, one of Hell’s most bloodthirsty generals, Claire and her friends will have to decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to keep their vulnerable corner of the afterlife. Succeeding would mean rewriting the nature of the library, but losing would mean obliteration. Their only chance at survival lies in outwitting Hell and writing a new chapter for the Library. Luckily, Claire and her friends know how the right story, told well, can become a revolution.
Review: I’m going to keep this review short because I waited entirely too long after finishing this book to write this review. The God of Lost Words follows the same cast of characters that we’ve come to know and love from the first two books in the series. In this finale, they’re thrust into another life or death mission to give all of the libraries their independence, or else Hell might actually win in their attempt to claim the Library of the Unwritten. I still love all of these characters. Claire was put in an interesting position in this story for her character. She’s always been the leader before, but she wasn’t the librarian anymore and it was interesting to see her do her best to let Brevity take charge of the library aspect of the story. But we still get to see Claire scheme and take charge of other aspects of the plot. Brevity really shows how she is absolutely a good fit to be Claire’s successor as Librarian of the Unwritten. I genuinely enjoyed seeing her flourish in the role, despite the library being in complete chaos for most of the story. Hero and Ramiel were both compelling perspectives as well. Hero was figuring out who he was without his book in the last book and I think we really got to see the results of that in this book. Ramiel was, as usual, the fierce defender. Overall, I was happy with how this series was concluded. I think there was enough action and adventure with high stakes to keep me engaged in the story. The characters were really what kept me invested. I absolutely loved getting to see all the other wings of the library. There was a lot more traveling in this book and I really liked that. The only thing I wasn’t sold on was the romance. I liked it in the previous books, but it felt like it wasn’t enough in this one. There was hints of romance, but not enough for me to truly care about them together.
Summary: Life in a small Appalachian town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his best friend, Delaney, is second nature. He’s been spending his summer mowing lawns while she works at Dairy Queen. But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his love for the grandparents who saved him and the town he would have to leave behind.
Review: In the Wild Light is an emotional story that follows Cash as he tries to find his place in the world. Cash and his best friend, Delaney, have been a dynamic duo for years. So, when Delaney makes a scientific discovery and she’s offered a spot at a prestigious school in Connecticut, she asks that Cash be considered for a place as well. They’re both accepted and Cash must make the difficult choice of whether to leave his sick grandfather and go off to school. Once at school, Cash faces obstacles that he’d never considered before. This was very much a slice of life story of a boy who is, for the most part, on his own for the very first time. I liked Cash most of the time. It was easy to empathize with his feelings about leaving his grandparents and his feelings of inadequacy. He’s a kind and caring human being that I liked. His friendship with Delaney dominated this story. I didn’t always like Delaney. I don’t think she always treated him very nicely. Sometimes she treated him poorly in an attempt to tell him to get his shit together, but I think she absolutely could have been nicer about it sometimes. I really enjoyed seeing Cash flourish at his new school and I especially enjoyed seeing his new love for reading and writing poetry. It was a little funny to me at times because we’re reading the story from Cash’s point of view, so it’s all supposed to be his thoughts and feelings. Some of the writing where he’s talking about the setting and the new places he’s seeing are incredibly poetically and lyrically described, but he really struggled writing his own poetry. It made me chuckle a few times that his inner thoughts were so beautiful and full of imagery but that wasn’t always translated into the poetry he was attempting to write. Overall, this was a beautiful story of a boy that’s doing new things, things that will be good for his future, and getting out of the small town he’s lived in his whole life. It’s a story of making new friendships and trying new things, even though those new things might be scary. Zentner has once again written a a beautiful and sad story that somehow leaves you feeling hopeful.
Summary: A strange darkness grows in Allward. Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea. She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions: A squire, forced to choose between home and honor. An immortal, avenging a broken promise. An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty. An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight. A forger with a secret past. A bounty hunter with a score to settle. Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.
Review: Despite my trouble with YA books (most specifically YA fantasy) lately, Realm Breaker really had the potential to blow me away. I really liked most of the characters right away. I thought the world was interesting and I was excited to learn more about its history Amanda how things were in the present day. But then the book went on for almost 600 pages and Perry much nothing happened until the final pages of the story. We follow a wide cast of characters. So many that for the first 200 pages I had trouble remembering who they all were. Things got easier once the whole group was together but the story is multi-perspective, so it took me a bit longer than I’d usually like. I thought the characters were interesting. They were absolutely the best part of this book. A ragtag group of people that have no business saving the world together makes for an interesting story. Except that they didn’t do anything. They traveled and found more people for almost the entire book. The world was the other thing I liked. I think it’s obvious that Aveyard spent ample time building this world and all its various kingdoms. The settings were interesting. Each kingdom they visited was unique and interesting. I’d love to learn more about the history of this world. I’d also love to know more about these other worlds that are mentioned as bad places. There are a few other worlds mentioned that have to do with the plot that I thought had the potential to be incredibly fascinating. Overall, this didn’t hit the mark for me. While I liked the characters and I thought the world was interesting, the plot leaves a lot to be desired. When I’m reading a story about an unlikely group of heroes saving the world, I’d like to actually see them do some world-saving.
Summary: When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better. That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.
Review: The Heart Principle is the third book in The Kiss Quotient series. I loved the first two books in this series, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this one too. We follow Quan (who we met in previous books) and Anna. Quan had cancer and he’s now in remission, but this former playboy hasn’t really tried to get back into the dating world. Anna is a musician that’s really struggling. She’s having trouble with her music, and then her long-term boyfriend tells her that they should start seeing other people to make sure that the pair should get married. Anna and Quan both download a dating app and that’s how they meet. Things go from there. I feel like the first two books in this series focused a lot more on the actual romance between the couples where The Heart Principle focused more on the emotional struggles of the two main characters. I liked that their romance was a slow burn and took its time. But the characters are what made the story. Quan was such a soft and sweet man. He’s dealing with his own issues and insecurities, but he always made a point to make sure Anna was comfortable. Anna was incredibly unsure, about everything. We see her visit with her therapist and we see her in the throes of depression. We also see her learn that she is on the autism spectrum. Anna’s journey learning things like this about herself was the biggest focus. Overall, I wanted more of the romance between Quan and Anna, but I loved what we got. I think I just wanted the book to be longer. Both characters are dealing with so much. I wanted more time to see them happily together. It’s a much heavier book than the first two, I think. I think this will absolutely be a hit, just like the first two.
Summary: Since the loss of her fiancé, Anna has spent the last year foundering on land, shipwrecked by her grief and inability to move on. But when a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take, she impulsively sets off in their sailboat, intending to complete the planned voyage around the Caribbean that Ben had mapped out for them. But after a treacherous night’s sail and a brush with an ocean tanker, she decides she can’t do it alone, and hires a professional sailor to help her get to Puerto Rico. Much like her, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned, and he can’t refuse her offer. Together they find a way to rebuild their lives and the possibility of new love.
Review: I didn’t really know much about Float Plan before going into it. I’d seen it a bunch online and assumed it was another romance novel, but it isn’t, not really. At the start of this story, we’re following Anna who is deep in her grief over the loss of her fiancé. He committed suicide about a year before this story starts. She’s really struggling and, in an attempt, to move forward, she takes his boat, now hers, on the trip that they had planned to take together. But she soon realized that she’s not at all qualified to take this trip on her own. After a short trip, she puts out an ad for someone to help sail with her. This brings Keane into her life. Keane is dealing with his own struggles. He’s lost a leg and he’s trying to get back into his career in the boating world, but people won’t hire him anymore. The two set sail together and mostly follow the path that Anna’s fiancé had planned. I enjoyed this book. Going into it, I quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be a romance like I’d thought it was. But it was still a beautiful story about moving forward and finding love after loss. I think the author did an excellent job of showing Anna’s grief but also showing her moving forward and slowly being able to take her happiness into her own hands. I loved the way that Anna and Keane’s relationship developed. I think their slow friendship that eventually turned romantic was really well done. They took their time and didn’t rush anything. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely be reading more from Doller in the future. She did such a great job of showing the characters’ emotions and showing them grow and move on from the struggles of their past. I can absolutely see why so many people loved this book.
Summary: Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same. The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart. The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Jade Legacy is the third and final book in the Green Bone Saga. I’m sad to say that I liked this series less and less with each installment. This final book spans a period of twenty years and that was just too much for me. I think if it had been done differently, I could have enjoyed it more, but there was no rhyme or reason to the jumps forward in time, so it completely took me out of the story every time it happened and I had to figure out how much time had passed since the previous chapter. I think a part of the reason I disliked these time jumps was that they led to a lot of telling instead of showing. There were so many instances where suddenly we’re reading about things happening a year or more later and the past year is being summarized before starting to share what’s going on in that moment. I felt like it could have been done differently with one big jump forward in time and maybe some flashbacks to share relevant things about the past rather than skipping forward five years every so often. This was something I didn’t like in Jade War as well and it bothered me even more in Jade Legacy. Now that I’ve ranted a little bit about that, I do was to say that I did still enjoy this book. I’m invested in the characters and their stories (though mostly just the Kaul family because there were so many new characters in this book that they were hard to keep straight in my head). I did really enjoy getting see Hilo and Wen’s children as adults, though I think they should just get their own series so we can actually get to know them. I think because there were so many new characters in this book, some of the characters (like Shea) suffered in the area of growth and development. It almost felt like each character got their own little bit of trauma and then growth before moving on to someone else. We just didn’t get to see the characters grow like we did in Jade City and I was a bit disappointed by that because I’ve grown to love them so much. The world and the politics and the scheming of the clans were fascinating. I loved seeing how things played out for the clans and I was pretty happy with the conclusion, even though I was absolutely heartbroken. I think it was really interesting to see the results of everything that Shea and Hilo had been working towards. I also loved being able to see Wen take more of a role in the clan because she’s just as clever and scheming as the rest of them. Overall, I did enjoy this book. The pacing really bothered me and I wish it had been done differently, but that isn’t really a surprise since it bothered me in the previous book too. I loved the characters. I loved the world and the magic of the Jade. I especially loved the politics between the clans, the plotting, and the outcome of said plotting. I think if you didn’t mind the pacing and the weird time jumps in Jade War then you will love this book.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To. We actually did a similar post for Blogmas that you can read here. I only had a few and didn’t get to any of them but I’ll add the books I got for Christmas as well.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten 2021 book releases that I didn’t manage to get to. We actually did this list for Blogmas, so you can find that here. I managed to buy quite a few new 2021 releases since we wrote that post. So, you’ll see some new additions since our Blogmas post.
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey The Unbroken by C.L. Clark It Had to be You by Georgia Clark The Messengers by Margaret Peterson Haddix Sistersong by Lucy Holland As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson Tarnished Empire by Danielle L. Jensen The World Gives Way by Marissa Levien The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter The House of Always by Jenn Lyons The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece Ariadne by Jennifer Saint The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
These are all the 2021 releases that I own and haven’t read yet. They’re all pretty high on my TBR list to read in 2022. What books are on your list this week?
Summary: For all of Emory’s life she’s been told who she is. In town she’s the rich one–the great-great-granddaughter of the mill’s founder. At school she’s hot Maddie Ward’s younger sister. And at home, she’s the good one, her stoner older brother Joey’s babysitter. Everything was turned on its head, though, when she and Joey were in the car accident that killed Candy MontClaire. The car accident that revealed just how bad Joey’s drug habit was. Four months later, Emmy’s junior year is starting, Joey is home from rehab, and the entire town of Mill Haven is still reeling from the accident. Everyone’s telling Emmy who she is, but so much has changed, how can she be the same person? Or was she ever that person at all? Mill Haven wants everyone to live one story, but Emmy’s beginning to see that people are more than they appear. Her brother, who might not be cured, the popular guy who lives next door, and most of all, many ghostie addicts who haunt the edges of the town. People spend so much time telling her who she is–it might be time to decide for herself. Inspired by the American classic Our Town, You’d Be Home Now is Kathleen Glasgow’s glorious modern story of a town and the secret lives people live there. And the story of a girl, figuring out life in all its pain and beauty and struggle and joy.
Review: You’d Be Home Now is following Emory, who is in a violent car crash after leaving a party. She injures her leg, but in the car with her was her brother, who was overdosing on drugs, his best friend, and a girl that Emory was trying to help get home. After the accident, Emory’s brother, Joey, is sent to rehab, the driver is sent to a juvenile hall, and the girl died. We follow Emory as she recovers over the summer and lives in a quieter than normal house, hooking up with the boy next door in the pool house. This is a very slow and steady story. It all takes place over the summer and the first few months of the next school year. We get to know Emory while she’s recovering over the summer and then we get to know how things are changing once the new school year starts. We’re told rather than shown these changes because we didn’t even get to see what Emory’s life was like before. But I think Glasgow did a good job of showing how all the changes feel for Emory. I liked seeing how she adapted to these changes and the things and people that encouraged Emory herself to grow and change. Overall, this was a really tough and hard-hitting story about a girl who loves her brother so much but can do nothing for him while he struggles with addiction and recovery. I could really sympathize with what Emory was feeling but also what Joey was going through. Teenagers can be really cruel and going back to high school after everything they’ve been through would be incredibly hard, but to add trying to stay sober on top of that? No thanks. I would absolutely recommend Glasgow’s newest release for any readers that like hard-hitting contemporary books.
Summary: The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor. Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the north-east of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force. Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace. But can she trust them?
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can read my review for the first book here. With the first book, it took me a little while to get into the story because there were a few different points of view that were all in different locations. So, we were learning characters and the world very quickly. I think that was definitely not an issue for this second book. I felt like I was immediately invested in the story since I was familiar with the world and its characters. The first book left all of the characters in pretty tumultuous places, most of them just having come into positions of power and now we’re getting to see what they’re doing with this power. Like the first book, we follow Lin, Jovis, Phalue, and sometimes Ranami. What I thought was really interesting was that Lin and Jovis’ parts of the story almost mirrored Phalue and Ranami’s parts of the story. Both Phalue and Lin have come into positions of power and seeing how they both deal with that was a really compelling part of the story. Lin faces so many challenges and obstacles. I really liked how Stewart didn’t shy away from showing us how Lin was upset and frustrated that things weren’t going her way. She has the best intentions, but the people of the Empire are resistant to accepting her and working with her. The development of all the characters was well done in my opinion. Their motivations were clear and understandable. I felt like it was easy for me to get invested in them. With the first book, I felt the world building was a little lacking because we only saw a small picture of a larger Empire. But in this one, we get to see more of the island between Lin’s travels and Nisong’s conquests. There were still some things that were left unanswered (hello! The islands are sinking!) but there were so many things going on that the top priority issue kept changing which I feel helped the story feel like it was more fast-paced than it actually was. I was happy to get to see more of the Empire. We also learned way more about the history of the world and of Lin’s father’s backstory. I really liked learning the history and the backstory because it definitely put some pieces together. Overall, I really liked this book. I liked it more than the first book, I think. Some of my questions from the first book were answered (we learn so much about the Algana which I totally loved and can’t wait to learn even more about) and new questions were raised. I cared about the characters and think their development was reasonable. I loved Phalue and Ranami’s romance. I liked Lin and Jovis’ but it didn’t blow me away. Jovis was honestly my biggest complaint with this book. He was so wishy-washy with whether or not he was going to spy on Lin and then he just kept making poor choices. It was incredibly frustrating. But I adored Memphi and Thrana. Their backstory is something I’m still very curious about and can’t wait to learn more about. This was a pretty good sequel and I can’t wait for book three.
Summary: Going toe-to-toe with a brooding Scotsman is rather bold for a respectable suffragist, but when he happens to be one’s unexpected husband, what else is an unwilling bride to do? London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted just three things in life: 2. A noble cause. 3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman. Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain’s peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions…. When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her. But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything–as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.
Review: Portrait of a Scotsman follows Hattie who is the daughter of a wealthy banker. She’s also an artist and a part of the newly allowed females attending Oxford. Hattie has always been the “lovely” sister because she had what we now know as dyslexia and perhaps some ADHD as well. But these aren’t names that exist yet in the regency romance time period, so Hattie is just thought of as not as smart as her siblings. Anyway, she ends up finding herself in a compromising position with Lucian Blackstone. Obviously, the pair must now get married. I really enjoyed this book. I liked the romance between Lucian and Hattie. I liked that we got to see a bit from Lucian side as well as Hattie’s. I thought it was really fun for Hattie to be taken out of town and to a place where life is different from what she is used to. I thought it really gave space to show how smart and kind Hattie is. But it also let us see some of her insecurities come to life too. I liked Lucian too. He’s explained to be this heartless man. But we learn that he does everything for a reason. It was a genuine joy to see him realize that he’d fallen in love with Hattie. I also thought this book did a really good thing with showing via these characters (mostly Hattie) how women of means were kept purposefully ignorant about sex and their bodies but also expected to completely overcome that on their wedding night. The taboo that women’s bodies have been made into is still relevant to today and I liked how that was shown in the story. Overall, another book in this series that I really enjoyed. I will absolutely be continuing any books that are to be published. I liked the romance. The sex scenes were pretty good. We got a main character with a disability that was still shown to be smart and strong and kind. I would definitely recommend this one.