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-

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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-

Archenemies

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer is the second book in the Renegades series.

We pick this one up where we left off in book one. Nova is still impersonating a Renegade, Adrian is still living a double life as The Sentinel, and both are fighting a losing battle against their feelings. But both still have their mission.

For Adrian, Nightmare’s death was a dead-end in his investigation to track down his mother’s murderer. And things are getting dicey with his alter ego, The Sentinel. Although, Adrian believes he is doing good, the Council wants The Sentinel stopped at all costs and that cost could be Adrian.

For Nova, bringing the Renegades down is still her priority, especially when they introduce the new submission tool — Agent-N. But not all of the Renegades seem bad and Nova seems conflicted.

Who will win when it comes down to a war between the Renegades and the Anarchists? And what side will Adrian and Nova ultimately be on.

Is it weird to write that I found myself muttering to myself, “Oh, God” and rolling my eyes at some of the awkward teen moments? Ha! That being said, this was an entertaining read. I didn’t have to listen to it non-stop like I wanted to do with the first one, so take that for what it is. I just had a hard time believing certain parts of the story this time. It just baffles me that Nova and Adrian haven’t been found out and their conflicting emotions seem just a tad overdone.

Nova, just seems so naïve to me sometimes, especially when it comes to her uncle and the other Anarchists. She “bad” and “powerful” when she’s Nightmare and she didn’t have a problem killing Detonator but she has too much of a conscious… without meaning to. Things “bother” her and she wishes things were different but I think the real thing is, is that she doesn’t realize that her goals don’t actually align with the Anarchists and this is going to cause a whole world of hurt in book three.

I think at this point, I’m mostly in it to see what happens. Entertaining, kept me going but I could go one way or the other. Hopefully, the conclusion will floor me! This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Blanca & Roja

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Maria McLemore is a magical-realism novel targeted toward young adults.

In the del Cisne family, every generation births two girls–one of which is destined to become a swan. Blanca, sweet and graceful, and Roja, feisty and wild, are as close as two sisters can be but they’ve also grown up as rivals. Together, they have kept the swans at bay longer than an of the del Cisne’s before them. But the swans will not wait forever and the game is about to begin.

When two boys, with troubles of their own, are drawn into the game, the rules change and the stakes are higher than ever. With four fates on the line, instead of two, will Blanca and Roja finally give in to their fate or will the fight a battle that no del Cisne has ever won before?

McLemore’s writing has always been magical and yet believable; this is why her body of work is such a great example of magical-realism. You see the magic, you feel it, and yet the world is still grounded in fiction, in reality. The genre makes the ordinary, extraordinary, which is why I love it so much.

This wasn’t my favorite book my McLemore but I liked it better than some of her others. A lot of what McLemore writes has the same themes and many of the characters have the same problems and personalities, with a few changes here. Sometimes it feels like only the “magical” element changes from book to book. So if you are looking for the familiar, then McLemore’s books are for you.

There’s a familiar fairy-tale aspect to this book. A combination of Snow White, Rose Red, Swan Lake and the Ugly Duckling. But there is also more to this book. We look at different stereotypes and the assumptions people make. Ultimately, this book is about finding the truth–the truth about oneself and understanding, accepting, other peoples the truths.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Dry

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman is a YA fictional novel about what would happen is California literally ran out of water.

All the signs were there–rising prices, restrictions like being unable to water the lawn, take long showers or even throw water balloons–and yet no one could believe it when the State of California’s water ran dry. The “Tap-Out” wasn’t like other natural disasters, which get lots of new and media coverage, this was a slow, quiet beast that no one was prepared to handle.

When Alyssa and her family first noticed that their pipes had run dry, they did what most families did, they planned on stocking up and riding it out. Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street turns into a warzone. Neighbor against neighbor. Friends against friends. No one is safe when on the hunt for water.

As the situation escalates and help is no where in sight, Alyssa must make impossible choices to save herself and her brother before they too, turn into water zombies or worse.

This was such a crazy read. It was baffling for me to think that an entire state could run out of water and no one really knew about it. Were the politicians that successful in hiding the issue that things could get this bad. That being said, I loved how we glimpsed the one reporter who made the connection that no one would take the tap-out seriously until the bodies started adding up and because the destruction isn’t immediate and in your face, it isn’t “hot” news. It’s scary to think of how true this is.

The narration was a little weird for me at times but not necessarily in a bad way. Although this was Alyssa and her groups story, we did get side narratives that were connected in the grand scheme of things. Some of them were dark and awful and some of them were never resolved. But, I think this was purposely done to show how bad things could get and the narrative that weren’t finished, weren’t finished for a reason.

Again, what a crazy read when you really think about it. I bet a lot of people are going to buy an extra case of water when they finish this one. This book gets a high 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Iron Flower

The Iron Flower is the second book in the Black Witch Chronicles by Laurie Forest.

Elloren Gardner and her friends were only trying to do what was right but what’s right has brought them head to head with the Gardnerian’s. The Gardnerian’s are quickly gaining power and every day it seems like a new law or rule is being enforced to pure the world of the “evil one”–non Gardnerian’s.

Elloren has found herself caught in the middle of a world on the brink of war. Her heritage as a Gardnerian and granddaughter to the Black Witch, may have bought her a certain amount of safety. But at what cost? Her friends are in danger, her family is being torn apart and her heart is weighed down by her powerlessness.

Will Elloren find the will to fight for what her heart tells her is right? Or will the brutal weight of her peoples might, suppress any hope she may have?

Wow this one was hard to summarize… with or without spoilers. Phew!

I’ve been sucked into this series. Despite the controversial reviews, I have to know what happens. So, I am here for the long haul. And I will admit, The Iron Flower sucked me in just as much as The Black Witch. I love the relationships that have been built or are building and I like that they are not easy–that there are major conflicts and hesitations. And not just the relationships between “lovers” but also the relationships between friends, enemies, allies, etc.

I’m still a little mehhh that this is a teen book. The characters feel very teen-y but boy, does a lot go down in this book. It is harsh in some respects. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, prejudices, arranged and forced marriages… those are just a few of the triggers this book will hit. But it also feels realistic to me, which is also very, very sad.

It’ll be interesting to see where this one is going. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Kingdom of Ash

Kingdom of Ash is the 7th and final book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.

In this final book, we pick up where we left off. Our allies have been thrown to the four corners of this world, all working in their own ways, toward defeating Erawan and bringing about a better world. But with Aelin Maeve’s prisoner, the missing third key and an army sweeping the land, will there be anything left to save?

And we did it! We reached the end of this massive fantasy series. That in itself is an accomplishment. Way to go Maas! And double kudos for keeping to a deadline and not leaving us hanging forever.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book. It wrapped up everything that I wanted to see and there were no glaring threads left hanging. The first 3-4 books will still be my favorite but I was impressed that these last books were able to keep everything straight and actually address each plotline, especially with so many characters. Because goodness, there were so many characters!

**Potentially spoiler-esq but not really** So many pairings and I didn’t know how Maas was going to be able to end this series with any, let along all of them intact. I swear, after the ending of the last ACOTAR book, which, lets be honest, was a magical ending where everyone lives happily ever after… I really, really thought we were in for a hell of a lot more heartbreak here. I also enjoyed the nod to ACOTAR toward the end there.

Did anyone else feel like the writing in this one, read a little different? Maybe it was just me but something read a little differently then the other books in the series. I can’t put my finger on it right now.

Many will be sad to see Aelin and her snarky spark go but I think Maas did a good job of ending this series and satisfying fans who stuck with it until the end. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-