Adult summer reads | Mini-Reviews

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but ever since I started my job at the library last year I’ve been reading more adult books (rather than YA). Even though I had to leave my library job at the end of May, I’ve still been reading adult books! Here are a few that I’ve read since then (and I’m only just now noticing that all of these covers are red).

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

Going into this book, I knew it was about alternate timelines but nothing else about it. As the book starts, I felt like not much was happening and I was just waiting for Jason to figure out that he was in an alternate reality. With that being said, I did feel like the narrative picked up significantly when he and Amanda started traveling to different timelines. I liked the few chapters we got from Daniela’s perspective. It made me wonder what I would do if I started noticing small changes like that in my own husband. Without giving too much away, I thought the big discovery that happened 3/4 of the way through was mind blowing but also made perfect sense and really turned up the stress levels. One thing that didn’t make a ton of sense to me was the box itself. I didn’t really understand how it just…WAS in every reality. I feel like it should only exist in the realities in which it’s been built and you should only be able to travel between those realities? Like bus stops. I don’t know–maybe I’m just not understanding the science. Overall, I thought this book was pretty good and interesting, but it wasn’t AMAZING. 3.5/5

Purchase: Hardcover | eBook | Paperback

VengefulVengeful by V.E. Schwab

After the first book, my expectations for this one were HIGH. It didn’t quite live up to those expectations, but I still liked it. I thought the beginning was a lot slower and the time periods were harder for me to keep track of–I think there were maybe too many different Sydney time periods. As the story finally started to unfold, I wasn’t sure how all of the characters were going to fit together, but when I did start to see it, it was glorious. I thought Schwab did a great job of creating a new antagonist while also making room for Eli to continue being Eli. I wasn’t super invested in the mini-plotline of Sydney resurrecting Serena. I know they were sisters but…I just don’t see how Sydney could possibly think that would be a good idea–especially with her resurrection powers being less predictable on EOs. So yeah, in the end I didn’t think it was as good as the first book, but I liked it and I enjoyed how all the pieces fit together. Seems like there’s potential for a third book? I’d read it. 4.5/5

Purchase: Hardcover | eBook | Paperback (preorder)

Magic for LiarsMagic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

I like that Ivy isn’t stupid. That feels kind of weird to say, but sometimes main characters can be a little clueless? I like that we get to see her explanations for how and why she’s manipulating/evaluating people. She’s observant–other characters can’t easily pull one over on her. I liked this world that’s been created. It’s Harry Potter-esque (what magical world isn’t at this point?) but from a non-magical perspective. I thought Ivy’s musings while watching the teenagers doing flippant magic was really compelling. If I were in Ivy’s place I would also be frustrated at seeing kids do stupid magic. You could do so much more and you’re using your magic to change the color of your locker? Or something dumb like that. One issue I did have was that Ivy really didn’t want Rahul to know she wasn’t magical, but I feel like she said 1,001 dumb, non-thinking things to him that would have tipped him off. But overall, I thought this was a really great mystery (and one that I was actually able to solve myself before the end!) and I could maybe see this becoming a series? Like Ivy could go investigate other magical cases. We’ll see. 4/5

Purchase: Hardcover | eBook

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BLOG TOUR: The Beholder by Anna Bright

The BeholderThe Beholder
by Anna Bright
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Kobo

SYNOPSIS: Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

EXCERPT:

The Beholder: 1
Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.

Candles flickered in the trees that grew up through the marble floors of Arbor Hall, setting aglow the faces of the partygoers beneath them and the garlands of shattered glass sparkling in their intermingled branches. My heart beat like a hummingbird trapped between my breastbone and spine.

I ducked behind an old oak climbed over with ivy, hiding for a moment from the music and all the people, careful to avoid the gap carved around its trunk.

Tonight wasn’t truly a beginning. I’d loved Peter forever, even if I’d never told him so. Tonight was growth—a page turned. Tonight, I would reap from seeds I’d sown and tended half my life.

Tonight, I’d go to sleep with a ring on my finger and my future clear before me. Confident in the promise that tomorrow and the next day and the next would be happy days, always the same, always close to the ones I loved. Ready to do my duty by Potomac and take my place as its head someday, with someone strong and trustworthy at my side. Just as soon as Peter said yes.

I tugged an ivy vine loose with shaky fingers, looped it into a wreath, and pinned it over the loose ponytail I’d made of my curls.

Tonight, whispered my heart. You’re getting engaged tonight.

My breath came fast at the thought, my knees practically knocking together.

Momma had told me the story of my birthday a hundred times. On the night I was born, she paced here in Arbor Hall beneath the trees, pleading with me to leave the safety of her womb and enter the world.

It was a wild, wonderful, magical place, she said. Back aching, ankles swollen, she walked through the forest sheltered beneath the hall’s marble dome and whispered stories to where I waited in her belly, as if to prove it to me.

The tale of the Beauty and the Beast, of the girl who rode off into danger to save her father. The story of the girl so kind to a fairy in disguise that her voice rained flowers and pearls all around her.

Through the years, Momma would tell me those stories again and again. Those, and so many more, as we sat in the shade of the trees outside or in the cool of this very hall.

I only wished she were here to see what would happen tonight.

A hundred couples in wreaths like mine and their finest clothes danced under the great Arbor at the center of the room. Hundreds more wove between dogwoods veiled in bridal white and river birches sloughing off their bark like old paper. Here and there I spotted people I knew. The designer who’d made my gown was radiant in her own, its pale pink silk looking soft as a rose petal against her gleaming dark skin as she danced with her husband, a well-to-do farmer. Nearby, a group of boys and girls I knew from school were laughing, faces flushed as they kept up with the music. Dr. Gold and Dr. Pugh, my father’s physicians, stood beneath a willow to one side of the room, debating something I couldn’t hear.

I took a long breath, squeezed the rosary in my pocket, and stepped out to join them all.

So many people—but of course I bumped into him. Into Peter.

Finding him in a crowd was inevitable, like everything else about us.

Peter flashed a tight grin as he regained his balance, steadying the laurel crown in his tight black curls and straightening his jacket. “Hi, Selah. You look nice.”

He didn’t look nice. With his skin glowing smooth and soft brown in the candlelight beneath the oak, dressed in tweed and smelling like springtime, he was so handsome I could hardly meet his eyes. My nerves flared, and I fought the urge to hide from him like a child.

We hadn’t exactly talked before Daddy extended the proposal, and I’d acted bright and busy and distracted when I’d run into him in the fortnight since.

I could never have told Peter outright how I felt.

Peter Janesley. Six feet tall, black, with curly hair and a strong nose and full lips. Shoulders that tended to round when he was thinking, his father’s light brown eyes, his mother’s careful hands. Peter, the boy who was brilliant at math and at sports and didn’t feel compelled to pretend he was bad at either. Who could’ve been friends with anyone, but who never made anyone feel invisible. When I was fourteen, I’d learned how to graft roses from his mother just to spend time at his house. The day Sister Elizabeth scolded me till I cried over an algebra test, he’d helped me at their kitchen table until I understood everything I’d gotten wrong.

“Perfect!” he’d said. “I knew you could get this.” He’d tapped the problems with his finger, a smile stretching wide beneath his broad cheekbones. I’d tried not to blush.

Peter was smart, and earnest, and kind. After we’d finished studying, he’d cut us both a piece of cake and we’d sat for half an hour on his porch, cross-legged opposite from one another in the rising twilight. Cicadas hummed and buzzed as the light melted off the facade of the Janesleys’ home and the abelias and roses brushing the porch rail.

Once, I made him laugh. Peter had rocked back, lovely fingers clasping his knees, mouth open to show the perfect gap in his teeth, and I’d wanted to trap the moment in a jar like a firefly.

After that, we were friends, and I clung to the fact like a trophy. After I made a perfect score on my next algebra test, he hugged me in front of everyone and ruffled my hair. “Knew you could do it,” he’d said, pointing at me as he backed away, making for his next class.

My feelings built themselves from a hundred little moments like these, rising like a castle in the distance, every humble stone growing into something I could already imagine. Into something on the horizon I’d eventually reach.

And here he was. My past and my future, standing right in front of me.

“Peter!” I blurted. “Ah—thank you. You look nice, too,” I added, remembering his compliment. He huffed a laugh and put his hands in his back pockets. The jacket strained a little over his shoulders. “How are you?”

“Fine. Good.” He nodded. “You?”

“All right,” I said.

Maybe if I said it enough, I’d believe I wasn’t shaking like a leaf.

I wanted to come out with it all—to blurt out exactly what I was thinking and feeling, to explain why he’d heard it all first through our parents and not from me, to see easy confidence in his eyes again. But somehow, I couldn’t say any of it.

Later, I thought. Once we were alone, with the public spectacle over, we’d talk. There would be nothing but the truth between us, and the future ahead.

The music quieted, and Arbor Hall’s doors swung open. Peter dropped his voice. “I need to go find my parents before it starts.” He raised his eyebrows, as if asking for my approval. I sent him away with a nod and a smile.

Soon enough, we’d have all the time in the world.



Anna BrightABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
I believe in woods, mountains, highways, cobblestones, roller coasters, dancing, concerts, cherry Pop Tarts, books, and magic.

When I’m not reading or writing on my couch, I’m dragging my husband off on an adventure, communing with Salem (my kitten/spiritual familiar), or causing trouble at One More Page Books, where I work.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Tumblr|Instagram


Fantastic Flying Book Club 2

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Def thought this was the last book in the series (it’s not) | Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard [ARC]

Note: This is the third book in The Witchlands series and may contain spoilers for the first two books.

BloodwitchI’m not going to write a summary for this book. I tried and just couldn’t do it so I’ll just get into the review. To address the title, when I picked this book up, I was under the impression that the series was just a trilogy. It didn’t take long, however, for me to realize that there are actually going to be two more books AFTER this one. My plan to binge the entire series was frustrated, but I’m not too mad at it. I’ve really loved this series much more than I thought I would, so I’m happy.

Something I really love about this series is that it’s diverse without trying too hard or feeling like it’s trying to check every box. It does a good job of not being overly obvious and I think that’s the ultimate goal when people are asking for diverse characters and books. Referring to a character’s skin color or sexuality every other chapter almost creates this otherness about them. Specific traits for them are being singled out and consciously brought to our attention. I don’t want an author to tell me about how a character’s diverse, I want them to show me.

The characters in this series are all pretty much equally enjoyable for me. I’ve been surprised at how sympathetic a character Vivia has become. I really liked the sections from her POV and the struggle she’s having to be the leader that her father wants her to be while also reconciling who she actually is and her family’s history of mental illness. I knew from the beginning of this series that I would really enjoy Prince Leopold as a character, so I was THRILLED when he made a reappearance. It was really great to get to know Aeduan a little more in this book and I love him and Iseult together. Safi and Iseult continue to be utterly delightful and I absolutely love that their relationship continues to feel so strong when they haven’t even been together for two books. They’re constantly thinking about each other and ultimately, I think their goal throughout these books is just to get back with each other.

This book really moves the overall plot of the series forward. We’ve kind of thought that the plot was one thing this whole time, but later in the book, we start to realize that there is much more going on. Some hints have been dropped along the way throughout the series, but now we’re seeing bit and pieces of the larger plot start to form. Now, maybe I would know some of this stuff if I’d read Sightwitch? But as I’ve stated in an earlier post, I don’t believe in these supplemental short stories and novellas and prequels. So I’m just going to continue on and see where that takes me. One last minor plot point that I thought was interesting is how Safi and Iseult always seem to be in danger at the same time. Why is that? Because they’re the Cahr Awen? I just really hope that gets explained in a later book.

While I absolutely loved this book, I do have some questions:

  • Iseult says that animals don’t have threads, but mountain bats and sea foxes do. Why is that?
  • I wish we had some kind of background or explanation as to why everyone hates Nomatsis. Maybe in a future book?
  • I feel like deceit is an emotion or something that Iseult should be able to see in someone’s threads.
  • Why do some people have Threadsiblings and others don’t?

I have a couple other questions too, but they’re kind of spoilery, so I won’t ask them here.

Overall, this was a great third installment. I hear fans of the series had to wait a REALLY long time for the third book, so I’ll just be over hear hoping the fourth book gets here a little quicker than the third. If you haven’t already started this series, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

eBook | Hardcover

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: None

Note: An ARC of this book was sent to the library where I work.

Turns out, I don’t hate this series | Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch

Safiya fon Hasstrel is a Truthwitch which means she can sense when people are lying. But if anyone besides her closest friends knew that, then she would immediately become a political pawn or be assassinated. With a 20-year-truce between nations coming to a potentially bloody close, Safi finds that her secret has been discovered and that her ability is more sought-after than ever. With the help of her friend and Thread-sister Iseult and finding an unlikely ally in the Nubrevnan Prince Merik, Safi is on the run.

ebook | Paperback | Hardcover

TL;DR – Writing, worldbuilding, and plot are all good. Strong female friendship gets an A+. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

I was so prepared to hate this book and the entire series. There had just been so much hype around it and for some reason I had this belief that it was going to be poorly written with a myriad of plot holes, probably a love triangle, and abysmal world-building. I think I’ve just been disappointed one too many times on hyped books/series–I’ve become jaded. Regardless, I went into this book prepared to be disappointed and was completely blown away instead.

Now, the book isn’t perfect, but I was really impressed by the writing and the world/magic system that Dennard had created. Even though the world seemed complex, I didn’t feel completely lost in the beginning like I have in other books. The magic system is pretty reminiscent of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I’m willing to look past that.The switching POV was a good way to give the readers perspective and helped us to learn about the different nations and the political climate pretty quickly. However, not all of the POVs felt distinct. Safi and Iseult particularly felt like the same character was narrating.

I really, REALLY enjoyed that Dennard highlighted friendships in this book as well. The friendship between Safi and Iseult is so pure and it kills me that they both think that they’re holding the other person back. I wish that the friendship between Merik and Kullen had been explored more, though. It felt like we were more told about that friendship rather than shown. If that makes sense.

One last observation that I had was that the contract between Merik and Safi’s uncle stated that she couldn’t spill any blood, right? Well, what if Safi had been on her period??? Typical male-written contract…

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am excited to continue on with the series. So far, I’m not super convinced that Safi’s Truthwitchery is actually that valuable, but I’m hoping the next books prove me wrong.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

ebook | Paperback | Hardcover

 

 

Not Six of Crows level, but okay | The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi [ARC]

The Gilded WolvesWhen the Tower of Babel was destroyed, pieces of it were scattered throughout the world. These Babel fragments have given certain humans the power to “forge”. In Paris, four houses were given the responsibility of protecting their Babel fragment, but one of the houses fell and was lost while another house, House Vanth, died without an heir. This left House Kore and House Nox as the only two surviving houses to protect the fragment. Now the houses may be under attack and the only ones who can help them are Séverin (an orphan) and his group of misfit con-men.

Hardcover | ebook | Audio

TL;DR – An interesting cast, but overall, just not as good as Six of Crows.

I was so in for this book. I love heists. I LOVE heists. But this one just didn’t really do it for me. First, the book starts and it’s confusing. The world seems very complex and not much is explained at first. So the reader is trying to play catch-up, meanwhile, the characters are blazing on full steam ahead. It just made me feel like I was trying to catch up pretty much the whole book.

The overall plot was okay, though not the most original. Group has a history of pulling off elaborate heists, but oh no! this time it doesn’t quite go off as smoothly, now they must pull a heist for their original mark. That part was okay. What I had a REALLY hard time with, though, was the writing. At least four times throughout the book, something was happening and the author was describing it, but for the life of me I could not visualize what the heck was going on. I even reread passages. Several times! Whatever the author had in her head just did not translate to the page. At least, it didn’t for me. Another small thing was a bit of consistency. Sometimes characters acted surprised by information that I thought they already knew. Lastly, the title makes no sense. It literally mentions gilded wolves once in the last 5% of the book.

The thing I think most people will be excited by is the diverse cast. Yes, the cast is diverse ethnically and it seems like a couple characters are probably bi. Also, it seems like one of the characters has autism, though it’s not explicitly stated. With that being said, I didn’t feel like any of the characters were super genuine or dynamic. I can only compare it to Kaz Brekker’s crew in Six of Crows. I believe Kaz and the rest of his group. I don’t really believe Séverin and his group. Perhaps they didn’t seem quite as believably flawed? Or they were just a little too…much? I’m not really sure what it is, but I just had a hard time connecting to any of them.

Overall, I wanted to like this book so bad, but in the end I just felt kind of confused. There was SO MUCH talk about Goliath the spider and the dead birds, but then nothing really came of either of those things? I’ll probably read the next book, but if you’re looking for a really good fantasy heist book, I’d direct you to Six of Crows instead.

Overall Rating: 3 (really 3.5)
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

Journey with me into London Below | Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I absolutely LOVE the way he writes. I’d been meaning to read this book for a while and only got around to it when it was picked for my book club. I’m so happy I finally read it!

Our main character, Richard Mayhew, is so unspectacularly normal and all of these unbelievable things happen to him. I thought he was such a well-written character. Even though he’s super basic, he has a hidden depth to him and in the end, the reader really wants things to work out for him. Something about him being such a beige person made the colorful world of London Below that much more brilliant.

I loved the relationship between Richard, Door, Hunter, and the Marquis. When Richard, Door, and Hunter got to the Friars and found out that Richard had to do the third task, I literally laughed out loud and Door and Hunter’s reactions. While the Marquis was a pretty sketchy character, he was also delightful and was a wonderful Puck-ish contrast to Door. The Marquis is the embodiment of what London Below is. If you haven’t read the short story How the Marquis Got His Coat Back, I highly recommend it as it gives another perspective on who the Marquis is.

Another fun aspect of this book is that our protagonist is not the story’s “hero”. Door is clearly the hero in this story as she tries to avenge her family and Richard is a mildly doofy sidekick whose most important job proves to be getting Door curry at the market.

Circling back to Gaiman’s writing, I love how his humor is scattered throughout the book as it only serves to enhance the reading experience. I love the different locations that our group visits and how Gaiman takes each name literally. Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar are seriously creepy individuals, but with Gaiman’s writing, they almost seem harmless. It’s an interesting contrast because on paper, the reader knows how terrifying they are, but the humorous way in which they’re written waters them down a bit–but not in a bad way.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who already loves Neil Gaiman or anyone who wants a fantasy escape.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate