Iron Gold

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown is the fourth book in the Red Rising series.

Iron Gold takes place 10 years later. Ten years of war has raged. Ten years of politics and planning. Ten years of integrating the colors and attempting to forge the world Darrow and his friends dreamed of. Ten years, it seems, wasn’t long enough.

Darrow is determined to finish this war once and for all, the republic be damned. But ending this war could lose him the very family he was fighting for in the first place. Will Darrow give up his wife, his son, and all those he loves to save everything else?

Entwined with Darrow’s story is three others…

A young red girl filled with tragedy and brimming with hate, who has become disillusioned with the republic and any hope for change.

A grey ex-soldier with a broken past that has lead him to a life of crime and the biggest, most dangerous heist of his life.

And an exiled heir, haunted by what might have been and what may still be.

Iron Gold expands upon the universe we know and begins a new saga and a new battle. But this time, we aren’t sure who the winner should be.

Sooo… I could have sworn this series was a trilogy. I was so, so happy and content with the way the the third book ended–questions and all–that I was thrown when I found out that there was a fourth book. Fine–I thought–it’s a book set in the same world but with different characters, I can deal with that. Nope. This was the same characters, plus new ones, only ten years older. Because of this, it took me forever to get into this story. I was so stuck with the idea that this was becoming another series that would drag on when it should have ended, that I almost ruined a book that I ended up actually liking.

I really liked the new storylines that were introduced. These were interesting and dynamic and I want to know where they were going. I was less enamored with Darrow’s continued saga, although I did like seeing the fatherly side of Sevro. Darrow’s internal struggles just didn’t make me feel anything like they did in the first three Red Rising books. He just doesn’t feel like the same Darrow to me.

I don’t really have much else to say about this one. Overall, it kept me entertained, even if it took me awhile to let that happen. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

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Traitor Born

Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol is the second book in the Secondborn series.

We pick up where we left off in book one. Roselle is torn between her duty as a second born, the gardeners who want to change the fates by instilling her as firstborn sword or the gates of dawn, a rebel group who wants to tear down the whole institution. Any move she makes could mean her life or the life of one of the people she cares about.

As factions scheme and plot for power, Roselle must pick a side but is she strong enough to do it? Will she cave under the pressure or will she rise up and play the role everyone seems to think she is destined for?

This was one of those audiobooks that I couldn’t stop listening to even though I kept telling myself what I didn’t like about the book. It’s in no way a bad book but it’s more of a guilty pleasure in that I can’t stop reading the series even though the merit isn’t quite there for me.

For one thing, I was so certain that Roselle was going to be in the Secondborn trial by the end of the book. I was so sure that was where this was going. There was such a focus on the trial that you knew something was going to happen and even though I didn’t mind what did happen, I was still disappointed.

My MAJOR problem with this series, but this book in particular, is that Roselle is described as this strong woman. She’s basically Xena Warrior Princess in her fighting skills and we are told that she will do what she wants, that she can change the world, that she’s brave and strong…I could go on. BUT she isn’t. She is surrounded by men who are constantly making decisions for her. She is manhandled more often then she kicks butt. And she basically goes weak in the knees for every male… Oh and ever male in the book is super hot and basically irresistible… sigh. That being said, I was sort of getting into the Raken / Roselle ship but I need her to give him a good beat down first, to really get on board.

I will say, there was a twist at the end that I didn’t expect but after it happened, I could actually remember the hints that Bartol gave throughout the book. This is something I really like and rocketed this one from a 2 to a 3 for me.

This one gets a grudging 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is the first book in a new West African inspired fantasy series.

Zélie Adebola was only a little girl when magic was taken from Orïsha. She was only a small child when her mother was taken away in chains and murdered for her maji blood. But she was old enough to remember the way the world was and what was lost.

Zélie and her people are treated like “maggots;” they are taxed just for breathing and when they can’t pay their taxes they are thrown in the stocks. More than ten years later Zélie and her family are still living with the consequences of “the raid” and under the thumb of a ruthless ruler.

When chance–or fate–leads Zélie on a journey to restore magic, will she be strong enough to be the hope her people need? With her brother and rouge princess in tow, Zélie must trust in the gods and in her own abilities to save the maji from persecution and death.

Children of Blood and Bone is really unlike any other. I’ve been really interested in fantasy books that take place in different settings lately. Recently, I’ve read ones that take place in Russia, the Middle East, Japan and now West Africa. I just love the diverse settings and the different feel these settings give to the genre.

The world building here was well done, although I felt that some history was lacking. Lots of allusions to the past but not many “facts.” One of the things I like to know, when entering a new world, is hints to how that world came to be. Maybe we will get more of a backstory in book two.

The plot is action packed and racially charged. The pace feels quick to go along with the plot and the violence, persecution and more can relate to today’s society–which if you listen to the author’s notes, was the intent.

My only hesitation with this book was the romance. The story started out so great and then there was this all consuming romance that I was really scared would take over a stellar plot. Fortunately, it did take a back-burner but for some reason this is a series where I want the romance to be in the margins.

The narrator of this audiobook was great. I think she really helped to create this world of Orïsha in a way that just reading might not have done. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Grey Sister

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence is the second book in the Book of the Ancestor series.

Nona Grey entered Sweet Mercy a starving little girl, full of rage and secrets. Now she’s made friends, improved her body and mind, and has moved from red to grey class. The further Nona gets in her studies the closer her decision to choose a path comes. She must choose to “take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.”

All Nona wants is to complete her studies and make Sweet Mercy her home, but assassins, inquisitions, betrayal, revenge, rage… so much rage could shake her from the path and take away all she loves.

Will Nona be able to see through the anger and grief that threaten to destroy her? Or will she lose herself and risk those around her?

I just love this series. It fun, complex, brutal and captivating in all the right places. It is also SO hard to explain to people though! I swear the other day I told someone that this series take place in a world covered in ice, except for a shrinking area along the equator and that the story follows nuns and nuns in training–think Hogwarts meets Mortal Combat! HA!

I love the setting of this book–a world slowly being swallowed by ice and hints to a lost age that feels awfully familiar. The world building is just fantastic. I love Sweet Mercy and the factions of nuns. There’s also this mystery, a darkness hidden on the fringes that adds another layer to the story.

I gave the first book 5 stars and this one 4.5. The only reason this one loses a half star is because of a very long sequence of battles about 3/4 of the way through that felt a little dragged out to me–even though they were AWESOME! I just felt like the story stalled a little bit so that a little extra butt kicking could be added. But who doesn’t love a good butt kicking.

This is one of those series I just keep telling people about. Grey Sister gets 4.5 stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Thunderhead

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series.

In this book we pick up where we left off in book one. Rowan and Citra have each gone down their own paths in regards to the Scythedom, setting them against one another even as they long to be closer.

Citra has now become a junior scythe under Scythe Curie and sees the corruption of the Scythedom from the inside. The Scythe’s are split between the new order and the old guard and Citra has found herself in a political struggle to keep the Scythedom pure. But will it be enough? And how far will she be willing to go to fix a floundering institution.

Rowan has taken another path, going rouge and becoming both judge and jury in the damnation of corrupted Scythe’s. Now wearing the taboo black robe and going by the name “Scythe Lucifer,” Rowan is gleaning those power hungry Scythe’s whose thirst for violence and terror goes against the pure intentions of the founding Scythes.

And witnessing it all is the Thunderhead–the all power AI whose only rule is not to impose or influence the Scythedom… at least not directly.

What will become of this world on the precipice of disaster and who will be there to pick up the pieces when it falls?

At first, I thought this book was going to suffer from second book syndrome. Good but not great. But I was pleasantly surprised with how much this book added to the overall plot of this series. When starting out, I thought we were only going to get this struggle between Citra and Rowan, wannabe lovers who are doomed to fight. But we get so much more. This story isn’t just about these two Scythes. It is about the world as a whole–it’s corruption, the hope and despair, the fight for better. And we are left wanting so much more.

One of the things I like about this book was that every time I expected one thing, another thing happened… or at the very least things happen in ways I didn’t expect. I love be surprised in ways that make sense.

There is so much going on in this book and yet you are not overwhelmed or burdened by the extraneous. Schusterman does a really great job of building this world that feels real but isn’t bogged down with minutiae.

This one gets 4 stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Wild Robot Escapes

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown is the sequel to The Wild Robot, a middle school fictional novel for fourth or fifth graders.

After surviving and thriving on a wild island and making friends with the animal inhabitants, Roz the robot was taken by force from the only home she has ever known and wakes up in a robot factory. She is examined for fitness and shipped out to a farm, where she is supposed to work and care for a widower and his two kids.

But Roz isn’t a normal robot. She wants nothing more than to get back to her island and her son, a goose named Brightbill. Can Roz find her way home without getting caught and without hurting those she loves?

I really enjoyed the first book in this duology and the second didn’t disappoint. In this one we picked up right where we left off and we found out what happened to Roz after she was taken from the island.

One of the things I liked most about these books is that Roz doesn’t just go on physical journeys, she also is on a journey of self discovery. She becomes more and more self aware as the story progresses and she becomes more human, almost to the point that you forget she is a robot.

These books are also very realistic. The author doesn’t shy away from hard themes like pain and death. But he approaches them in a very accessible way for this audience. Even though Roz is a robot, you can see yourself in her shoes. Our main characters may be animals and robots but you can still learn something from each of them.

I did find this one a little slower paced then the first one. I also found myself wishing that Roz made more of an impact on society but I guess realistically it is the small steps that matter.

This will be a much requested sequel for those who have already read The Wild Robot and it is definitely one I would recommend to my 4th and 5th graders. This one gets 3.5 high stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Great Alone

The Great Alone is the latest book by best selling author Kristin Hannah.

In 1974 the Allbright family moves to Alaska looking for a fresh start. Leni, Cora and Ernt have been constantly on the move since Ernt returned from Vietnam, a POW with a drinking problem and a temper. With another lost job in the books, Ernt decides to take the family to Alaska–the final frontier–to start over.

Thirteen-year-old Leni doesn’t balk at the prospect of Alaska but she is also weary of what the long nights and seclusion will do to her already hot tempered dad. But what Leni longs for more than peace for her family is to find a place where she belongs and she hopes Alaska will be that place.

Totally unprepared and ignorant, the Allbrights’ must rely on hard work and the kindness of their neighbors to prepare for the long winter ahead. But as the weather begins to change, so does Ernt. The man who seemed to revive in Alaska begins to slip back into the darkness and Leni so begins to learn that a temper isn’t all her father has.

Will this family of three survive the wilds of Alaska or will the fractured pieces of them tear them apart and the town along with it?

This is the second book I’ve read by Hannah–the first being The Nightingale. I enjoyed the wild beautiful descriptions, the hardships of being homesteaders and the Call of the Wild of it all. Witnessing this family being both built up and torn down from both the inside and outside in this setting was enticing. It was definitely a read that kept me wanting to read.

I did sort of feel like I was reading two separate books about halfway though, however. Once we did that four year time jump, the narrative felt like it changed for me. We went from a damaged family, dealing with the elements to more of a Romeo and Juliet meets Call of the Wild. Although, the family was still a large focus of the book the larger focus became Leni and her forbidden relationship. At this point in the book, a new narrator was also introduced and Leni’s wasn’t the only voice we heard. I still enjoyed this part of the story and had to know what happened but I remember thinking that the tone of the book felt different from the first half.

Overall, I like this book and feel like it could have some real merit for a book club. Because of the shift in tone, I am giving it a high 3.5 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-