The Girl In The Tower

The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy.

After surviving a night of nightmares and putting her town back to rights the best she could, Vasya finds herself once again at the Frost Demon’s door. Vasya has been labeled a witch by her village, she doesn’t know what to do or where to go–she knows only that she wants to see the world and be more than the wife and mother she was expected to become.

When chance finds her in Moscow, masquerading as a boy, Vasya must learn to blend in or risk revealing herself. Now Vasya must guard her identity and navigate a society of rules, politics and drink or risk losing the freedom she has gained as a man. All the while, dark forces are at work and Vasya is at risk of losing a game she didn’t even know she was playing.

Will Vasya ever be able to face the reality of who or what she is? Will she ever understand this powerful connection she has with the Frost Demon and the world of the demovi? And what will she be willing to sacrifice to protect those she loves?

The first book in this series was so complete that I was actually very surprised to find that there was going to be a second book, let alone third. I absolutely adored the first book. The mixture of myth and folklore, Russian culture and scenery were just extremely well done. Now in The Girl In The Tower we get a little less magic and myth and a little more society and the political culture of the time. And I think it was because of this that I wasn’t as enamored with the book.

This book does, however, achieve second book status in my opinion. In a trilogy, you usual get introductions and backstory in the first book, build up and intrigue in the second, and action and resolution in the third. Vasya and the demovi world were laid out for us and we met our core characters in the first book; in this one we learn more about why this secret world is fading and we learn that there is much more at work behind the scenes.

The Girl In The Tower addresses a lot of themes as well. We get gender roles and inequality, political turmoil, family roles and reversals and more. There is also just a feeling a magic and fairy tale-esq qualities in this book that gives it a very authentic feel.

Overall, this was a book that I enjoyed and I can’t wait to get more Vasya and Morozko in the final book. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Before The Devil Breaks You

Before The Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray is the third book in The Diviners series.

It’s 1927 in New York City and the jazz age is in full swing. After facing sharp-tooth ghouls and a terrible sleeping sickness, the diviners are ready for the truth. Evie, Memphis, Ling, Sam, Isaiah, Theta and Henry and their non-diviner friends Jericho and Mable are more determined then ever to discover the truth behind their powers and the evil forces threatening their city.

As the diviners uncover clues and come into their powers, they find out that terrible forces are at work. A mysterious entity–The King of Crows–has power over the dead and is working to cause a breach between the world of the dead and the living. Together the diviners must work to reveal secrets that could endanger them all.

Will the diviners be able to uncover the truth before it is too late?

This wasn’t my favorite of the diviner series so far. I don’t know why, but I have a problem with series that get longer and longer with each book. Yes, I understand that the plots get more complicated as the story progresses but sometimes the also get more convoluted. We aren’t quite there yet with this series but I sort of feel like we might be heading in that direction. There were some plot lines that almost feel thrown in and some scenes that I just didn’t feel we needed.

I will say, I love the era the author has chosen to write in. The Jazz Age mixed with the supernatural is just wonderfully done. I love all the lingo and our characters have some really wonderful expressions and characteristics that wouldn’t work well in another time period. This book makes me want to go around using the lingo and of course get crazy looks from everyone!

On top of crafting an atmosphere that perfectly represents the 1920’s, Bray also doesn’t shy away from the political climate of the age. She addresses themes like racism, prohibition, eugenics, gender equality and more. Our cast of characters each face these themes in their own way.

Overall, this was an entertaining read and I will be interested to see how Bray wraps everything up. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

All The Crooked Saints

All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater is a new young adult fictional standalone novel.

The Soria family deals in miracles. People from all over find themselves drawn to the Soria’s because everyone wants a miracle right? But not everyone realizes what it takes to get one.

This generation of Soria’s revolve around three cousins: Beatriz, Daniel and Joaquin. Beatriz is eccentric and brilliant but emotionally stunted; Daniel is the Saint of Bicho Raro who performs most of the miracles; and Joaquin leads a double life as a pirated radio personality–Diablo Diablo. Along with Peter, an outsider who just wants to work, these three cousins will change the way the Soria’s do things forever.

What happens when saint’s need their own miracles? Will they be able to face the darkness and save their way of life? And what will they learn about themselves along the way?

Maggie Stiefvater is just such a diverse writer. She can do different types of narratives and her stories are just so unique. I really enjoyed All The Crooked Saints. First off, that title–stellar! Second, it was just a really interesting story with some really great takeaways.

The narrative was really interesting here. It actually reminded me of Anna-Marie McLemore’s style in a way, where a lot of the narrative is commentary and observatory. The language was also magical and whimsical. This was probably my favorite part of the novel. The dessert itself is often personified and this only adds to the magical feel of the story.

The characters were done in such a way, where you were given just enough information to build the character in your mind rather than being told entirely who they were. I don’t know if that makes sense but it worked.

For some reason I am finding it really hard to write this review but I thought All The Crooked Saints was a great read and I would definitely recommend it to others. This one gets 4 high stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Wild Beauty

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore is McLemore’s third young adult, magical realism novel.

For more than a hundred year the Nomeolvides women have worked the grounds of La Pradera, creating a lush wonderland of flowers. These gardens are lovely and enchanting and many a rich man will pay dearly for seeds in the hopes that their own gardens will one day bloom as beautifully. But the Nomeolvide women are more than they seem.

This family of females has been gifted with the ability to literally pull flowers out of the ground and if they don’t use their gifts, then their gifts will use them and bloom in sometimes destructive ways, often leaving them with the label: la bruja. But La Pradera has laid claim to them, giving them a home, a safe haven, but also taking from them their ability to leave without deathly consequences. On top of that, the Nomeolvides women are doomed to lose any they love too dearly–their men are taken from them, disappearing like smoke on a wind.

After generations of these vanishings, a strange boy appears out of no where and is a mystery to both the Nomeolvides women and to himself. What does this strange boys sudden arrival mean for the women? And when La Pradera itself is threatened, what will the women do, what will they risk, to learn the truth?

I really love this genre of magical realism; where we are living in this real world setting with real world problems but there is just a sprinkle of something magical thrown in. In the case of Wild Beauty a beautiful ability to grow flowers and a curse on love. It makes you wonder about the world around us and what might or might not be.

Now, I’ve read McLemore’s other magical realism books–The Weight of Feathers and When the Moon Was Ours. I just loved When the Moon Was Ours, it was magical in all the right places, touched on subjects many authors shy away from and was extremely well written. The Weight of Feathers on the other hand, just didn’t hold up. It lacked that pull and the characters weren’t my favorite. So, I figured Wild Beauty would probably lean one way or another and fortunately for me, toward the better.

Wild Beauty was just beautifully written. Much of the prose felt almost poetic, as lovely as the flowers the women grow. The book was romantic without smothering it’s reader. There was also this sense of mystery throughout the book that kept a good pace, where otherwise the story might have lagged.

Ultimately, this was a quick read that met my expectations. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

The Language of Thorns

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo is a collection of six short stories that takes place in the Grisha-verse. Paired with stunning artwork that transforms with each page, this book takes you inside the sometimes dark and fantastical world of folklore and myth.

I was actually a little hesitant to pick this one up. I kinda felt like I was done with the Grisha-verse and this being a standalone of short stories, I wasn’t overly interested. But I am glad I picked it up. One does not need to be familiar with Bardugo’s Grisha universe to enjoy these fairy tales, although if you are, you will be able to tell from which books these myths stem from.

If you are familiar with myths or folklore at all, then you will be able to spot some of the inspiration for these six tales. The little mermaid, beauty and the beast, the nutcracker and more. It was really neat to re-imagine some of these tales and I really enjoyed the dark, almost gritty spin Bardugo puts on the stories. Even the ones with a happy ending, have this edge to it that I kinda loved.

Ultimately, this book is worth picking up for the illustrations alone. If nothing else, check it out and flip through it. The book is just stunning and the fact that the images that surround the text change and grow as you read, is just another little treat for the reader. I had several people asking me what I was reading while I was flipping through the book at the library one day. Definitely a talking piece.

My one negative comment about this one is that it did take me a long time to read. I tend to find it easy to stop and start short stories; putting them down and picking up something else. This is probably just me though.

This one gets a very high 4 stars from me. Probably would have gotten 4.5 if I read it straight through.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Poison Dark and Drowning

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess is the second book in the Kingdom on Fire series.

At the end of book one we leave Henrietta pretending to be the sorcerers chosen one, when in fact she is only half sorcerer, half magician. Henrietta is supposed to be the savior of magic, the one meant to put down the Ancients and stop this brutal war. But Henrietta isn’t the chosen one and pretending to be so has put her and those she loves in terrible danger.

As Henrietta digs into the Ancients past, hoping for a way to defeat them, she stumbles upon terrible secrets and dark truths that upend her world and risk ruining everything she’s fought for. With her friends in tow, Henrietta will risk everything to make things right. Will Henrietta be able to wage a war built on a field of lies? And what will she do when the cards are stacked against her?

Sigh. I have this problem… If I start a series, I have to finish it no matter how lackluster I feel about it. Kingdom on Fire is a prime example of this. It’s not a bad series, I just wasn’t overly interested in the first book and, unfortunately, that feeling has carried into the second. I kind of like the politics of the magicians vs the sorcerers and their fight against the ancients but that’s about it. Again, in no way is this a bad read, I am just not into it.

There are a few things that could make this better for me… First and foremost, the Rook/Henrietta plot line. I hated this doomed relationship in the first book and it did not get better in the second book… at all. I kind of got annoyed every time Rook even showed up. Harsh, I know.

I also don’t know why every male character has to be in love with Henrietta. Even after they agree to be friends… wait! I still love you. And she like has separate, potential love, connections with each of them. If it were me, I’d be like can’t a girl just be friend! Just too much romance drama in this book for me.

And Blackwood! He was actually one of the characters I really liked and I was sort of rooting for him and Henrietta to get together because they were friends and have a bond and their wasn’t this wish-y wash-y-ness about their relationship. But his character does a complete 180 after about the first 50 pages or so. This almost irked me as much as Rook.

Sorry if it seems like I am bashing this series. It just isn’t my cup of tea. I gotta give it 2.5 stars. Better then the first book but not by much.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Last Magician

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell is a YA fantasy novel with magic, mayhem and more.

In a battle that has gone on for decades, Mageus, those with magical abilities, have had to hide in the shadows or risk being persecuted by the Order, a secret society that wants to exterminate all magic in favor of science. In the hopes of winning this fight, the Order created the Brink, a magical barrier that traps all Mageus on the island of Manhattan. Any who wish to cross the Brink, risk losing their magic or sub-coming to death entirely.

In modern day New York, magic is fading and a teenage girl is the only one who can help strengthen magic and destroy the Brink. Esta is a thief and has been training all her life for this one task, to travel back in time and collect an ancient book of magic before a man, known only as the Magician, destroys it and ruins any chance of saving magic.

But things and people aren’t what they seem and Esta becomes torn between doing what is right and doing what must be done. The past is a dangerous place and Esta must make even more dangerous allies in order for her plans to succeed. Can Esta complete her task? Will she be able to help save magic? And who can she trust when time doesn’t always stand still?

There is something about a ragtag group of misfits I just can’t get enough of. You just gotta love characters on the outskirts of society, who live in the shadows but still have a heart. We get quite a few of those in this book. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking about  Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows a few times when Dolph, Esta and the team were all working together, each with their own motives and secrets.

I wasn’t actually expecting to like this book, but it turned out to be a lot more dynamic then I thought it was going to be. The story is actually pretty straightforward until about 3/4 of the way through and then we learn a whole lot more. At first, I wasn’t sure how this book was going to be anything other than a standalone but the last few chapters gave us a lot of branches to go down for a sequel. I am sort of hoping this one will be a duology though and not a series because I just don’t know if there is enough there to keep it going at the same level.

Overall, this was an entertaining read and I am looking forward to the next one. This one gets a solid 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-