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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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-

Finale

Finale is the third and final book in the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber.

It’s been two months since Caraval and two months since the Fates have been freed from the deck of destiny. It’s been two months since Legend has claimed the thrown. And it has been two months since Tella discovered that the boy she thought she loved was really the immortal she isn’t even sure she likes.

Sisters, Tella and Scarlett, both have a part to play in the conflict to come. What will Scarlett do with a secret that could destroy everyone she holds dear? Will Tella decide to trust Legend or follow a former foe?

The Fates are free and chaos is spilling into the world. It is time to play the greatest game of all.

This series grew on me. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the first book because everyone kept comparing it to Night Circus, which I loved and they just weren’t comparable in my mind. But the second book hooked me a bit more and I think it is because I preferred Tella’s character and her interactions with Scarlett and Legend more than Scarlett’s narrative.

It did sort of bother me that the last book wasn’t more evenly split between the sisters though. Book one was Scarlett. Book two was Tella. So I expected the third book to be more of an equal mix. But the whole first half, maybe even first three quarters of the book was Tella, Tella, Tella. Scarlett only really gets a bigger part toward the end and it was only just not enough for me to get over.

As a series though, I think the books did their job. You have your introduction, your problem and building of chaos, and then you get the action and resolution. I liked Caraval and I missed it a little bit in the last book but I also really enjoyed the Fates and the Fated objects.

This one gets a solid 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Damsel

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold is a young adult “fairy tale” with a dark edge.

Upon the death of the King, his son must face a dragon alone and bring back a damsel. On then can he become the next King of the realm. This is the way things have been done as far back as anyone can remember… Until now.

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, she is unaware of the tradition. In fact, she is unaware of anything–who she was, where she came from. She has no recollection of her life prior to waking, naked, in the princes arms. Ama only knows what the prince has told her and when they return to his kingdom, she is celebrated as the damsel rescued from the terrible dragon.

As night falls in the kingdom, Ama has a feeling that not all is right. There is more to this story then she has been told. What is it that Ama doesn’t know and what cost will she pay to reveal it?

All I can really say about this one, was that it was not the book for me. I think it was meant to be this dark little tale about the subjection of women, with very overt metaphors about sexual dominance and abuse, but it just didn’t work for me.

I’ve never read anything by this author before, so maybe I am just not used to her writing style but I found the story awkward and at times forced. I was so surprised by this because I love a good twisty feminist tale and I thought this was going to be a good one, but, like I said, it was not the book for me.

When I started the book and was reading Emory’s narrative in the beginning, I just sat there wondering what on earth I was reading. Then Ama steps in as the protagonist and things did improve but not enough for me to really get into the story.

I feel like this is a love/hate sort of story. You are either going to love it or hate it and unfortunately, I lean toward the latter. This one gets a womp, womp 2 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Gilded Wolves

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is a new young adult series… fantasy meets steampunk.

Set in Paris, 1889–The world is on the brink of industry and the Exposition Universelle is about to open doors and reveal secrets. And no one knows more about secrets and “opening” doors than Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, treasure hunter and hotel owner. When a powerful society called the Order of Babel offers him the hunt of a lifetime, how could Séverin refuse.

With the help of his team of misfits–a socially awkward chemist, an outcast historian, a dancer with an unknown future, and a brother in all but blood–Séverin and his crew will have to keep their wits about them or risk being drawn into a game none of them intended to play.

Can this ragtag band of thieves put aside their personal dramas and save the day?

Someone told me that this book was Six of Crows meets Dan Brown, and it definitely is but there is also this steampunk quality to the story, which is interesting. I really got into The Gilded Wolves quickly. I liked the story and the characters. However, the book took a bit of a weird spin for me toward the end. I’m not sure if I just got a little lost but there was a moment where I was like, “Wait a minute… What’s happen?”

I actually think I could have use a little more background. I wanted to know more about these Babel rings and the inheritance process. Maybe just a smidgen more world building and I would have been OK.

I am really interested to find out where this story is heading though. Like I said, it got a little weird by the end, so I’m not really sure what is going to happen. So I will definitely stick with the series because I just want to know more.

This one gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand is a YA fictional take on a classic Christmas Story.

On Christmas Eve, Holly Chase was visited by three ghosts with the hopes of getting her to change her ways. They failed and she died. Now Holly is doomed to work for the very company that tried to save her–Project Scrooge.

Every year, Project Scrooge chooses a new “Scrooge” to try and save. And as the Ghost of Christmas Past, it is Holly’s job to get to know the Scrooge and find out which memories from their past would have the biggest impact in helping them to change their future.

For the past five years, Holly has done her job and helped to save the Scrooge. But this year something is different. The Scrooge is young, seventeen, the same age as Holly. There is just something about this Scrooge that Holly cannot resist. She feels drawn to him in a way she’s never connected to any other Scrooge before.

Can Holly put aside her selfish ways and help this Scrooge before it is too late?

This was a pretty neat take on A Christmas Carol. I wanted something Christmas-y for the holidays that would still be fun and this definitely succeeded. It was just really neat to see the blend of science and magic to make this story happen. I also liked that Holly was one of those characters you were rooting for but you also had to hate, just a little. And you could see begin to change as the story went on… but realistically so. It wasn’t a major 180, but you could see she definitely was going to try to be better.

One of the really great things about this one was, just when I thought I knew where it was heading, it’d go someplace else. That being said, there were some pretty predictable moments but the end was enough of a twist that I enjoyed it.

Overall, this was a neat little read that was unique and fun for the holiday. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-