Stepsister

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly is a YA novel that tells the story of what happens to her ugly stepsisters after Cinderella puts on the glass slipper and lives happily ever after.

When Isabella’s deception to cut off her toes to fit the glass slipper and win the prince is discovered, the shame she receives is no more than she deserves. Now she is ridiculed by the whole town; called ugly and mean. Wild and hot tempered, Isabella finds it impossible to fit in, in a world that wants her to be everything she isn’t.

Isabelle’s destiny is leading down a dark path but a chance may be all she needs to change her fate and just maybe… the fate of others too.

When I picked up this one, I wasn’t completely sold. I find with fairytale retellings/re-imaginings that they are either great or not and I really enjoyed this one. Isabella is strong and smart, she is impressively self aware about somethings and hopelessly naive about others.  She grows as a character and doesn’t depend on others to come and save her, she saves herself.

Fate and Chance’s interludes were fun and actually added to the story instead of taking away from it. The whole idea of Isabelle not just fighting her fate by taking a chance, but actually forging her own fate was great.

There were some very striking moments in the book; moments where the narrator is almost making an aside in order to help the reader along in getting the ideas across that the author wants you to make. I wasn’t sure if I liked being told what I was supposed to be “getting out” of the story but they were some really good lines.

This was a slightly dark, yet still hopeful retelling of the stepsister’s side of the story. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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The Vanishing Season

The Vanishing Season is the conclusion of The Collector series by Dot Hutchinson.

There are some cases that stick with you and there are others that you never stop working. For FBI agent Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison a recent child abduction case will test them in every way possible.

When eight-year old Brooklyn Mercer goes missing the hunt gets personal when the clues lead to a trail of abductions going back more than thirty years, including Brandon’s own sister, Faith, who was abducted decades earlier.

As the pain and trauma of the past plagues Eddison, Eliza is determined to solve the case at all costs but the closer she gets to an answer the higher the emotional toll on all the team.

It’s a race against time and for Eliza and the rest of the CAC team…. it’s more than personal.

I really enjoyed this entire series. How we start off with Inara and Vic and how the story was viewed more from the victims point of view, then how we shift to getting the cases from the perspective of the agents.

One of the things that struck me as unique about every book was the narrative. I loved how these stories were told; that something rang similar in each of them but the narrators brought their own personality/perspectives/traumas to the story. I thought this was really great and allowed the reader to witness these crimes from another perspective; to see how the personal and the professional overlap.

I also thought that The Vanishing Season was a fitting ending for the series as a whole. Faith is brought up from the very beginning of the series and finally, her case is being brought to the surface. The team has also come a long way since the beginning of the series, so it was nice to see that acknowledged here.

This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Ladder to the Sky

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne is an adult fiction novel.

Maurice Swift is ambitions. He’s handsome, a smooth talker and hungry for success. He is determined to become a prestigious author… at any cost. There is just one problem, he can’t think of anything good to write. But that isn’t a problem for Maurice because one can always find a story somewhere, right?

And so begins a decades long story of a man who is willing to do literally anything to get ahead. But will gaining fame be enough or will he do the unspeakable to stay on top?

This one made it on to my TBR list and I’d kept putting a hold on the e-audio book and then not checking it out. Well last week, I finally did. Andddd I’m not sure about it. At first, I wasn’t sure where the story was going or how we were going to have a whole book from a narrator whose story seemed to be over.

I was able to get into the story more, once I realized that these narrators were victims and then eventually Maurice himself. In a way, I liked seeing the edges of the story and working my way in to the man himself. The setup like this was beautifully done even if it took me a while to “get it.” And it was really interesting to see the character from other perspectives and then get Maurice’s personal accounting from the man himself.

And the story itself, shows the lengths people will go to for ambition, greed, power. And I am sure there are a lot of people who will love to dissect the intricacies of the story, but I’m just not one of them. Like I said, it took me a while to get into the book and then I was just racing to finish it before my loan expired. I wasn’t really invested in the book and found myself just wanting to get through it.

I can see the merit but it just wasn’t for me. This one gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

American Gods

American Gods is a classic adult fiction novel by Neil Gaiman.

Only a few days before his release from a three year prison sentence, Shadow learns that his wife and best friend were killed in a car crash and suddenly he doesn’t really have anything to go home to. As he makes his way home regardless, Shadow meets an older gentleman named, Mr. Wednesday, who claims to be a former god.

With nothing else to lose and unable to explain the strange things happening around him, Shadow decides to join the old man on a journey across the country. Together the  two, embark on a journey cross America to recruit people like Wednesday for the coming conflict.

Who are these American Gods and what role will Shadow have to play before the end?

American Gods was chosen by my bookclub as our next read and it’s one I’ve been interested in, so I was happy to pick it up. I actually had to place a hold on it and got the audio book first. And the version I got was the author’s preferred version, which is 12,000 words longer. So hours of happy listening for me!

When I first started this book, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. Honestly, I’m not sure I knew what was going on at times throughout the book, but it didn’t really bother me as much as it normally would.

I liked Shadow and his, go with the flow, attitude. He has maybe a moment of doubt and then just sort of accepts the weird and unexplainable and this was actually kind of refreshing in a character.

Once I understood what was happening, I also enjoyed this battle between the new and old gods. I’m sure we’ll have much to discuss in my book club about the technical gods and the classic ones.

There were parts that I thought were drawn out longer than they needed to be, but that could just be because I was reading the preferred version. It was also maybe a smidgen crass, although that might not be the word I am looking for. Let’s just say, I wasn’t comfortable listening to it out loud if little ones were around.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I’m not really sure what to rate it, so I am going to go with 3.5-4 stars for now, but this might change after a good round of discussion.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Summer Children

The Summer Children by Dot Hutchinson is the third book in The Collector series.

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused child on her porch, clutching a teddy bear and saying her name, she has no idea that the trouble is only beginning. This angel is killed the parents of abused children and she isn’t just killing them, she is slaughtering them and making the children watch.

Ramirez and the rest of her team must stop this angel before her murders turn into a spree. But one by one children keep appearing on her doorstep with the same story of an avenging angel with a teddy bear.

As the case opens old scars for Ramirez, spirals into her past and begins to question her actions. Can she and her team must catch this killer before it is too late for everyone?

I don’t know how I am a year behind on this series because I loved the first two books. The Butterfly Garden was dark and had an interesting narrative. Roses of May brought back a few of our characters with a whole new serial killer and this new one we really get to see the team at work. That was one of the things I really liked about this one, the team. It was really nice to get a closer look at the agents and see why each of them went into Crimes Against Children. And seeing how close they are and how they come together to get past the “bad days,” brings a light to a pretty dark theme.

I know I said this in my reviews of the first two books but one of the things I like most about this series is that the rape and abuse happens almost abstractly. We are being told it has happened, we don’t actually “watch” is happen and I appreciate that.

I do wish I wasn’t so lazy and that I looked up the Spanish that was spoken throughout. The one time I did, it totally added to the story. Sigh. Just didn’t want to take myself out of the moment to look the lines up.

Another high 4 stars for me. Annnnd because I waited so long, I get to read the last one right away!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Aurora Rising

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is a new science fiction teen series.

It is 2380 and the recruits of Aurora Academy are about to graduate and be assigned their first mission. Top of his class, Tyler Jones, is ready to draft his dream squad but his restlessness and stupidly ingrained heroism leaves him with all of the academy’s rejects.

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And this crew of misfits isn’t his biggest problem. His biggest problem is Aurora O’Malley, a 200 year old girl whose very existence could start an intergalactic war and it is up to Tyler and his team to keep her safe.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’m not a hundred percent sure how I came across this one, probably skimming Goodreads, but I am so glad I did. I haven’t picked up a serious science fiction read in such a long time and it was really refreshing. A review mentioned that Aurora Rising is a science fiction Six of Crows and I can totally see it!

I love this crew of sarcastic misfits. There’s just something about the banter and how these total opposites work together that is just a lot of fun. And of course, you can already see the sparks that are to come between the characters. It was also good to see that they aren’t always going to get out clean. Things are going to go wrong and they are going to have to work through it.

Finally, I really like where this story is going. It’s fast paced and you can tell it’s going to get interesting. Worlds are in danger, politics are afoot and it’s space–things are like ten times harder in space.

This one gets 5 stars from me. Now please don’t make me wait more than a year for the next one!

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman is a collection of short stories celebrating folklore and mythology from East and South Asia.

Ellen Oh along with We Need Diverse Books has brought together some of best Asian authors to reimagine tales or folklores, myths or legends, that they grew up with.

Star crossed lovers, robots who think their human, modern day celebrations and more–this collection of short stories crosses genres in so many ways. Fantasy and science fiction, realistic and contemporary fiction, even some romance thrown in there. This is a collection of stories with a little bit of everything.

In all honesty, I tend to shy away from short stories. There’s just not generally enough meat for me and although I am usually entertained, I’m not normally wowed. And unfortunately, I have to say the same thing here, though maybe for more than that reason alone.

First, there were a few tales here that I really liked. But I wanted them to continue. I wanted the background. I wanted the buildup. I wanted the full story, not just a taste. But that has nothing to do with the writing or the stories themselves; that is just my personal taste.

The stories themselves were fun and inventive and if I had more background in Asian culture, then maybe they might have meant more to me. Which leads me to my second issue… there were times where I just wasn’t sure what was going on or I didn’t really get where the myth collided with the story. Most likely due to my ignorance and the afterword of each story did help, but I think I would have liked to read the myth behind the story first.

As a collection, this was great and I am sure many, many people will be thrilled to have a collection of such diverse authors. I am glad I read it, even if it wasn’t completely the read for me.

This one gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-