Overdue Reviews: Nevernight

I have 22 books on my Goodreads shelf that I still intend to review.  Oops.  Here’s my first try with a book that I devoured last year.  

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Published August 9, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley 

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Let me just say Nevernight was bad ass.  I loved it so much I’m rereading it right now to get ready for the sequel.  I am not going to minimize things,  Nevernight was violent and it was vulgar but it was fabulous.  Kristoff himself sums the book up on twitter as #stabstabstab.  That’s accurate.   As I am remembering what’s coming in the book I’m cringing a bit waiting for the blood to start flowing. 

Mia is on a mission for revenge over her the deaths of her parents which takes her to assassin school out in the desert.  This is no Hogwarts – the teachers will kill the students as soon as help them in some cases.  Mia is also a darken – which brings powers she doesn’t fully understand herself – but one thing Mia can do is to manipulate shadows.  She can seemingly manufacture the dark and pull off some scary things.  She has her own shadow companion with the misleading name of Mr. Kindly.  I didn’t know I could like a cat so much!   Mr. Kindly lives off Mia’s fear which enables her to be both extra brave and extra stupid at times.  She needs to be brave while living among assassins but I did question her judgement quite a few times as well… 

So in a brief summary Nevernight has a young woman learning mad murder skills, friendships and kissing, backstabbing and gore, all in a world with three suns and fabulous new magic.  I was obsessed while reading and I loved it!  I cannot wait to see what Mia goes on to do and who she goes on to kill in the future.

I thought about trying to be clever and footnoting this – but that just seemed silly.  I’ll simply say that the footnotes made me snort laughing on a few occasions.  It seems snarky footnotes are a way to my heart – see also Jen Lancaster, Kevin Kwan.  

#stabstabstab

Thank you NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for this review copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Review: The Girl from Everywhere

The Girl From Everywhere, Heidi Heilig

Hardcover, 464 pages

Expected publication: February 16th 2016 by Greenwillow Books

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

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It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

Time travelling pirates?!  Could a book sound any cooler than this?  Nix sails on her father’s ship, The Temptation, and as long as he has a map the captain can sail to any place – and any time.  The past?  Then to the future? Mythical ports?  All doable!  Oh and partly set in Hawaii?  Give me more!  

Nix helps her father find the maps required for their time traveling sails, but the one map he desperately wants might wipe Nix off page entirely.  Nix and Captain Slate don’t sail the Temptation alone – they have a unique and hilarious crew to help – including ghosts and tiny dragons.  So poor Nix loves her father, but to help him find happiness she risks her own life.  And as much as the story is about Nix and her father, there’s so much more; love, addiction, treason and adventure on the high seas!  

I loved Nix, I loved Kashmir and I loved the mythology that Heilig wove into their journeys.  I knew I was head over heels for this book when the Chinese Terracotta warriors came up…

…‹http://www.chinatour.com/xian/xian-attractions/terracotta-warriors.htm

…‹http://www.chinatour.com/xian/xian-attractions/terracotta-warriors.htm

If you’re looking for an adventure I highly recommend this fast and fun read.  I am dying to get my hands on a finished copy of The Girl from Everywhere so I can see the maps!  This was such an awesome concept and I cannot wait to see where the series goes.  

5 stars!

Thank you Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Fast YA Reviews

I’ve decided I am going to end 2015 with no reviews left undone.  So to kick off that pledge here are a few fast YA reviews – one contemporary and two fantasy.  

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Finding Paris, Joy Preble

Hardcover, 272 pages

Published April 21st 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can’t trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who’s moved them all to Las Vegas. It’s just the two of them: Paris, who’s always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind—going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love. But Leo isn’t going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.

Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared? When Leo reluctantly accepts Max’s offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside.

What kind of sister just takes off and leaves her only sibling with no money and no keys?  In the middle of the night!  I’m pretty sure Holly would beat me up if I tried – like that time she punched me at Marshall Field’s back in the mid-80’s – but I digress.  I really was disposed not to like Paris after she took off on Leo, even though I liked that she pushed her to talk to cute Max.  I came around a bit when the scavenger hunt seemed like a fun romantic plot and then back to not liking her as well when things got serious.  

While this hit some standard YA issues – sucky mom, series of step-dads, teens managing multi-state drives without issues, overall I thought it was still well done.  I was definitely caught up until the end to see what happened to Paris.  I was half right on my prediction of the ending, so I was glad I didn’t have it all figured out.  I probably would have loved this when I was a teen and I did like Paris and Leo both in the end.

3 stars!

Silver in the Blood, Jessica Day George (Silver in the Blood #1)

Hardcover, 358 pages

Published July 7th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Source- Galley from ALA Midwinter Meeting

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

So, Romania – you’d think it has to be Dracula yes?  Why didn’t I think of that before I started reading?  Oh well, while Vlad certainly is not without mention but not the focus of this new series.  I enjoyed the culture shock for Dacia and Lou as they traveled from New York to their maternal homeland of Romania.  Unfortunately I felt like I knew what was coming for Dacia and her cousin way too often in this book.  It got a little frustrating constantly be predicting the story correctly.  

What I really appreciated about this book was the friendship between Dacia and Lou.  Their relationship was what made this work for me.  I hope that loyalty doesn’t suffer due to the romances as the series continues.  Actually this book was made up of a lot of strong women – even if I didn’t like them all – which was pretty great.  I hope the series gets stronger because this was a concept with a lot of potential.

2.5 stars

Sweet Unrest, Lisa Maxwell

Paperback, 336 pages

Published October 8th 2014 by Flux

Source: Galley from ALA Midwinter Meeting

Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But try as she might, she can’t come up with a logical explanation for the recurring dreams that have always haunted her. Dark dreams. Dreams of a long-ago place filled with people she shouldn’t know…but does.

When her family moves to a New Orleans plantation, Lucy’s dreams become more intense, and her search for answers draws her reluctantly into the old city’s world of Voodoo and mysticism. There, Lucy finds Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they’ve known each other forever. Lucy knows Alex is hiding something, and her rational side doesn’t want to be drawn to him. But she is.

As she tries to uncover Alex’s secrets, a killer strikes close to home, and Lucy finds herself ensnared in a century-old vendetta. With the lives of everyone she loves in danger, Lucy will have to unravel the mystery of her dreams before it all comes to a deadly finish.

Is it just me that find voodoo totally fascinating?  Sweet Unrest had a lot of potential – voodoo, ghosts, multi-generational feuds!  I really liked the historic romance despite the sad story, but the modern love didn’t hook me in.  The instalove was a bit much for me. On her own I liked Lucy, but Alex was almost more creepy than romantic for me.  The mystery intrigued me and I loved the voodoo aspect.  Definitely worth checking out if you like ghost stories or New Orleans based books!

3 stars

Thank you Balzer & Bray, Bloomsbury Childrens and Flux for these advance copies in exchange for an honest opinion!

Review: The Witch Hunter

The Witch Hunter, Virginia Boecker

Published June 2nd 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Hardcover, 368 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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From Goodreads

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Witches, ghosts, pirates, and handsome young men?  Sign me up for this book!  Elizabeth Grey is an orphan.  She’s found her family in her best friend Caleb and in the Witch Hunters who took her in and gave her a purpose in life.  She searches out witches in this alternate England and turns them in for punishment by the crown.  When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself her whole world is shattered.  She’s rescued from imminent death at the stake by an infamous magician and she feels even more lost about what is happening to her.  She only wants to get back to the Witch Hunters and is willing to make any deal and take anyone down to make that happen.  The more time she spends with these magicians, pirates and ghosts Elizabeth begins to wonder if the truth she’s always known is the only truth out there.  

This book kept me totally entertained when I sat in a hospital waiting room for 18 hours of a day and I think says a lot.  It was a fast and engrossing read.  Elizabeth opened her mind and I liked how she developed as the book went on, the friendships had great potential and the romance was cute.  Maybe some things were a bit predictable, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the book.  I really liked the world that Boecker created out of historic England and I will look forward to seeing where Boecker goes with the series.  I hope there’s more magic!

3.5 stars

Thank you Little Brown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

We’re Reading Mortal Heart

It’s time to revisit everyone’s favorite teenage assassin nuns! By that, we mean the characters of Robin LeFevers’ His Fair Assassins  trilogy. We have already read and reviewed Grave Mercy (here, here, and here) and Dark Triumph (here, here, and here). In a nutshell, we’re in 15th century Brittany, following the stories of three novitiates at the convent of Saint Mortain, a.k.a. the god of death.

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Yeah, it’s bizarre. Just go with it.

The third book of the series follows Annith, who has grown up at the convent after being dropped there as an infant. She is bright, deceptive, and deadly – and she’s determined to find out why her two less skilled friends Ismae and Sybella have already been sent out on missions to save the Duchy of Brittany while she remains on a tight leash at the convent.

Until she sneaks out to find some answers.  

Amanda: Did you start Mortal Heart?

Holly: Yes! While I was slow to warm up to the first book, I’m totally hooked by now. I want to know what Annith is going to find out! And, I love her. She is smarter than Ismae and has much better people skills than Sybella. Game on.

Amanda: I tried to explain this book to J, and he was not happen with my description. There is no Catholicism, right?

Holly: No. There is something about “the 9” which reminds me of Game of Thrones because they have “the old gods” and “the seven” But anyway, I found this handy explanation on the author’s site.

Amanda: Cool. How far are you? [Trying to see if my sister has already gotten to where Annith has snuck out of the convent and is running around with the hellequin.]

Holly: I wish I could remember some details about the first two books since there’s some overlapping. I am trying to remember if we should know these hellequin.

Amanda: Check out these awesome recaps. [Thank you @Recaptains! and @ChristinaJuneYA for telling me about them]

Holly: [Has not read these yet. Don’t tell my sister.] I am worried about the hellequin. I think they might be dead guys.

[Reads furthers and googles]

(Thanks Wikipedia)

The name Harlequin is taken from that of a mischievous “devil” or “demon” character in popular French passion plays. It originates with an Old French term herlequin, hellequin, first attested in the 11th century, by the chronicler Orderic Vitalis, who recounts a story of a monk who was pursued by a troop of demons when wandering on the coast of Normandy at night. These demons were led by a masked, club-wielding giant and they were known as familia herlequin (var. familia herlethingi). This medieval French version of the Germanic Wild Hunt, Mesnée d’Hellequin, has been connected to the English figure of Herla cyning (“host-king”; German Erlkönig) Hellequin was depicted a black-faced emissary of the devil, roaming the countryside with a group of demons chasing the damned souls of evil people to Hell.

Yes, these are definitely dead guys.

Amanda: Well I’m a bit more nervous about the hellequin I have to say.  I think Annith is awesome and I can’t wait to see her get a chance to kick some ass!

Now I really don’t want to talk anymore – I really need to get back to reading this. (Alternating with Dumplin’ and I’m doubly in love!)

Review: The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins

Published June 16th 2015 by Crown

Hardcover, 388 pages

Source: Blogging for Books

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From Goodreads…

Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.

After all, she was a normal American herself, once.

That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.

Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.

But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

I’ll be honest, if you give me a book and compare it to a Neil Gaiman book then I am most likely going to take a chance on it. So when I heard Gaiman comparisons and read that this was about a creepy library I couldn’t pass up a chance to read The Library at Mount Char.  I think this is the strangest book I have ever read – stranger than a Gaiman book for sure!  I mean, we have a male murderer who wears a tutu all the time – and that is no where near the strangest thing in this book.   I don’t know that I agree with the comparisons to Gaiman, it wasn’t on that level for me, but it was a really entertaining read.  

To go back to the beginning – the Library is inhabited by 12 librarians – each of whom has a separate catalog- and their Father. To name a few of the librarians: David’s catalog is war and fighting, Jennifer’s is healing, Michael speaks with animals of all kinds, Margaret can talk to the dead, and Carolyn’s catalog is all of the languages on Earth ever spoken.  No one is allowed to delve into a subject that is not in their catalog, if you do the punishment is terrible.  The books in the Library are even color coded by subject so there can be no innocent mistakes – though I’m not sure there are any innocents in the Library.  

When we meet Carolyn she is “blood-drenched and barefoot” and she’s smiling about it.  Her Father is missing and the Library has locked everyone out.  Carolyn has to work with her siblings to figure out who might be acting against their Father and how to find their way home.  This is not a book for the squeamish.  Once you get past the gore and the violence (and the tutu) though there’s humor and hope, bravery and kindness, and a library that sounds kind of amazing despite the scariness.  

I’ve realized the best comparison I can think of – The Usual Suspects, a movie I completely love.  

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Something about the feeling of “WHAT THE EFF just happened” that you have at the end of the movie combined with the realization that every piece of the plot was nearly perfectly orchestrated – that’s kind of how I felt at the end of The Library at Mount Char.  No one realizes they’re being manipulated until it’s too late.  I have to say I loved the revelation of where the title came from – loved how it came about!  I was really impressed at how Hawkins wrapped all his threads of the story around in the end – I’m very curious to see where he’d go if there is a sequel in the works.  I would love to know more about the catalogs- not David’s though. I’m done with him and his tutu.  

Shania at Shania Reads was one of the bloggers that had me curious to read this book and had a fun Q&A with Hawkins.  If you want more about this book you should definitely check it out here!

Basically to sum this up- this book was crazy, it was magical, it was violent, it was funny, it was smart.  You should read it!  I’m going to need to read it again soon so you should talk to me about it!

4 stars!

Thank you Blogging for Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review!

OMG The Invasion of the Tearling

So, we’ve finished – one of us more slowly than the other – The Invasion of the Tearling.

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Catch up on our first two posts here and here.

As we resumed reading, our texting returned to the previous pattern.

Amanda: I am scared for the choices Kelsea is making!  But some of them I think I love.

Really glad there is a third book coming!

10% left. I am glad we didn’t stop at each 30% because I wouldn’t have waited for you sister.

Holly: This book is crazy. I am at 65%.

Amanda: [expectantly] Crazy good?

Holly: Crazy crazy. And icky.

[Many many days later]

Amanda: Please tell me you are off today pal.

[This because working has seriously interfered with Holly’s ability to blog/read/be-a-good-sister-pal/enjoy life]

Holly: Yessss! And I finished the Tearling in bed this morning. That is a weird book.

Amanda: But did you like it?

Holly: [Avoiding] You first. Did you?

Amanda: Not as much as #1, but totally. The [removed spoiler] was genius.

Holly: I do not understand why [removed spoiler]. I am so full of confusion.

Amanda: In the end, I really like how much we got about the pre-Crossing world – just wasn’t expecting it to come through flashbacks. [Or fugues]

Holly: [borrowing my niece’s go-to expression] It’s not my favorite.

Amanda: What I like is that Kelsea isn’t all pure bravery and goodness.  She’s clearly really got a dark side. I’m scared at how dark she’s going to go and whether she’ll be able to pull herself back.

Holly: What I didn’t like was the weird cutting phenomenon, the focus on Kelsea’s level of attractiveness and how that changes her, the combination of fantasy/magic and future/dystopia, and any and all romantic impulses and relationships among these people.

Amanda: Yes, clearly the cutting creeped me out. It breaks my heart whenever I read on that topic.  I didn’t like the physical changes at all – until we understand why.  Even then, I got it, but that certainly didn’t do a lot to further the story for me.  I wonder if Kelsea could have made the decisions she did for her personal life without those changes though?  I really hope there is some mutual love in the 3rd book! No loving anyone unattainable! I’m over that.

Amanda’s bottom line: I loved this, though not quite as much as the Queen of the Tearling.  I am kind of dying to see how it ends.  How does Kelsea pull it off?  WILL she pull it off?  She has to right?

Holly’s bottom line: WTF?

Have you read The Invasion of the Tearling?  Tell us what you think!  I know I’m going to be rereading both of these books before the end of the year – and buying the Australian editions because the covers are WAY better – anyone else?