What I’m Reading: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Young Adult Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is a young adult fantasy (with a little bit of tech), about a girl who ends up embroiled in a plot to kill the four queens of the land.

From the start, this book was a bit different than the other young adult fantasy books out there because of the little bit of tech thrown in, which I found interesting. But for me, this book was an up and down read, I really liked the beginning, which was promising, felt a bit lost in the middle, and liked the near ending, and wasn’t sure quite what to think about the ending.

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Four Dead Queens certainly kept me on my toes. I’m pretty good at guessing plot twists, but I didn’t quite guess these ones correct, which is always a nice surprise. This is also a stand alone fantasy, which can be hard to find (and sometimes it’s so nice to read just one book, don’t you think?).

I loved the maps in the book, but wish that the main characters would have traveled a bit further a field. I mean why have elaborate maps in a fantasy book if the characters aren’t going to journey to these far off lands? Still, it was a worthwhile read for me, as it’s nice to find a fantasy with a bit of mystery.

3.5/5 stars.

JEH

What I’m Reading: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The final book in the Grisaverse Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, was everything I expected it to be—almost. Same great writing, same lovable characters, broken hearts and action and adventure. But there was on thing I didn’t get, and from what I’ve read of other reviews, other people seem to feel much the same way. If you want to know more, scroll past the picture, but if you don’t stop reading now.

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The one thing I felt this book didn’t deliver to me on was the ending. I was expecting much of what happened. But I was expecting/hoping for all of it to end much more tragically than it did. Maybe I’m just all dark and twisty inside, but sometimes a happy ending seems to me to be too happy, almost forced, and almost not realistic. But also, I was just hoping for a different pairing at the end than what I got.

Still, I love this magical world and all of the unique elements to Grishaverse. I’ll probably read the other Grishaverse books. I hear that the other books are even better. Maybe I’ll even start one this weekend.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Book Two of the GrishaVerse trilogy starts off pretty much where the first book ends. Now, this book begins with one of my pet peeves. If you haven’t read the book yet, or even finished the first book of the GrishaVerse, you may not want to read the rest of this review below, as I’m going to share this particular pet peeve of mine. But don’t worry, after the beginning, the book did get better.

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This book began with a pet peeve of mine. It’s a particularly common trope in fantasy: end book one with the hero/heroine breaking free, and begin book 2 with them instantly being recaptured. I find this a complete waste of plot, as often, absolutely nothing happens when the hero is free. Instead, it’s used a device to end book one in a ‘happy ever after’, just in case the publisher never releases book two. I really dislike this plot device. However, as I said above, the book does get better after the beginning.

Alina grows more as a character in this one, and the story moves from Alina having choices made for her (ie. capture and release), to her making choices. But the best part about this book was Nikolai. I love Nikolai. He is by far my favorite character in this series. I wish there could have been more of him. That’s all I’m going to say. Read this book for Nikolai. End of.

4.5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

GrishaVerse is one of those series that you can’t stop hearing about. I was able to borrow the original GrishaVerse trilogy from a friend a while back. The books are told by the perspective of Alina Starkov, a teen-aged orphan who, surprise, turns out to have magical powers. While this series starts like many a fantasy novel before it, Leigh Bardugo manages to create a fairly fresh fantasy landscape with strong, believable characters.

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The first novel of the trilogy sets up the world of the Grisha, the magic wielders  in this universe. Borrowing on Russian history, culture, and mythology, Shadow and Bone has a fresh appeal for those used to reading more ‘European’ type fantasy. What I liked best about Shadow and Bone, however, was the play between Alina and the Darkling. This book had twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, and Bardugo did a good job of keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Have you read Shadow and Bone? What did you think?

4.5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

I picked up Storm Glass, by Maria V. Snyder, from my local library after my daughter grabbed it off the shelf and suggested it to me (she’s three, so it was pretty cute). The blurb sounded okay so I dove in, and overall I enjoyed the books.

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There were a couple of weak spots in the writing, but overall, I enjoyed following Opal, the only glass magician, on her journey or self-exploration, romance, and adventure. The most enjoyable part of this book was the world-the world-building, the magic rules-but mostly the world of glass. How glass is made, what is it used for, what can it be used for, how can it be sabotaged. It actually made me want to go a glass factor and learn how to make glass myself!

This is the first book of three, and unfortunately the library does not have the second book, only the first and the third. I would like to continue reading this series, so I’ll have to figure out how to request a book from my library. I have a friend that does this a lot, so I’m hoping she can help me.

4/5 Stars

JEH

 

My Summer Reading List 2018

So, I actually started writing this post back in June, but then got swamped by travel and life and never got around to finishing it. So, here’s my best attempt at coming up with a list of planned reading for the remainder of summer (which is thankfully still a bit more than a month long).

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As I get ready to head off on my first fourth lakeside vacation of the summer, I’m going through my books to pick out the novels I want to read next. Lately, I’ve been into a mix of literary fiction, science fiction, and fantasy (which the science fiction and fantasy being either Young Adult or Adult—I’m not choosey). I’m hoping to get through eight books this summer, some of which have been on my bookshelf for a long time, and a few that are more or less new arrivals.

As it stands, my To Be Read shelf is over a hundred books deep (possibly even closer to 150), so I really want to get cracking on it, but there are also a couple books that I have on my reader that I would like to read as well, and let’s not forget, I still have Don Quixote to finish! *Note: some of these books I’ve already finished, since I’m late with this post, lol

  1. The Girl From Everywhere
  2. The Ship Beyond Time
  3. The Thousandth Floor
  4. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (finished)
  5. The Raven King
  6. Authority (Southern Reach #2) (finished last night)
  7. Champion (Lengend #3)
  8. Don Quixote (I’m still only halfway through this one)

So there it is, the list. Maybe I’ll even be able to read a few bonus books (I have a feeling Don Quixote might get brushed aside for A Shadow Bright and Burning, or Strange the Dreamer, which I’ve wanted to read forever).

I’ll let you know how I do. And I should have some book reviews up later this week. How is your summer reading going?

JEH

 

What I’m Reading: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Young Adult Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

When I first heard about this book, I was tempted to pick it up straight away, but it’s a good thing I didn’t since I received it in the OwlCrate box that month. Melissa Albert’s writing style was a bit different than I’m used too, with some sentences that took a couple reads to understand, but once I adjusted, I quickly fell into the pages of the story.

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Now, I enjoyed The Hazel Wood, but something about the ending didn’t quite jive with my expectations at the beginning of the book. I loved the beginning. I loved the promise of the mystery and the shadowed back story, but I felt the end took this twist that was unexpected but also not quite as full as I was expecting. It was fast and happened really quickly, when it probably could have had much more time devoted to it.

The main character Alice as fun and loveable, as were Finch and Audrey and most of the other characters. This book is very fairy tale, but modern, which I really like. Now, apparently, this is the first book in of two, or possibly a trilogy, I’m not sure. But according to GoodReads a second book is expected next year. However, The Hazel Wood ends well as a standalone, so I don’t really feel like I’d have to pick up the second book. I’m thinking that maybe the second book is about different characters in the Hazel Wood world, so it will be interesting to see how that ends up.

Here’s a quote I that I loved, from page 128 of The Hazel Wood:

“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.”

Overall, I’d give this book 4/5 Stars, but if there were room for decimals, it would probably be just a bit below a four. Have you read The Hazel Wood yet?

JEH