Tag Archives: book review

Half a War – Book Review

Published Date: July 16, 2015

Publishing Co.: Harper Voyager

Pages: 513

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This will be an overall review of the entire trilogy.

I read the first book, Half a King, eight years ago. I did not think it had been quite so long when I picked up the second book recently but according to Goodreads, it most certainly had been. I never take the time to reread anything, however, I somehow remembered a great deal of the first book. I think that speaks well of the author.

In the second book, Half a World, our petty crew of misfits is traveling the world, gathering support for the Iron King against the High King. Each book has some characters that you are familiar with and a couple new ones peppered in. In this edition, we’re introduced to Thorn, a young woman desperate to become a fabled warrior like her father, and Brand, a gentle giant doing his best to stand in the light, always. Both of them learn lessons the hard way on their journey making friends for an empire.

In the last book, Half a War, war breaks out. If you can imagine that based on the title. Half a war is fought with swords, the other half with words. Princess Skara’s kingdom has crumbled beneath the armored boot of the High King’s favorite general. She works desperately to keep together an alliance between the scraps of her kingdom, the Iron King and King Grom-gil-Gorm in their war against the rest of the land.

Most of this series feels much like a Viking tale of war however, toward the end, the elf magic is revealed to be something much more familiar to us. I won’t give it away, but it was a very interesting turn of events. Overall, I very much enjoyed my adventures with this motley crew and rated this a solid 4 out of 5 stars across the board.

In a Dark, Dark Wood – Book Review

Published Date: April 19, 2016

Publishing Co.: Gallery/Scout Press

Pages: 308

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Leonora, aka Lee, aka Nora, has been invited to the hen party (British version of a bachelorette party) of her best friend from school. Whom, she lost connect with ten years ago. She thinks to herself that it’s weird that she’s invited and she shouldn’t go, but when a common friend decides to go, Nora makes the decision to as well.

The hen party is in a literal glass house in the middle of nowhere, surrounding by forest. If you’ve ever stayed in the middle of nowhere, you know how creepy the woods can be at night. Add a bunch of city folks, and the atmosphere is scarier when they all begin to share their feelings. Not just feelings about where they’re staying but their actual feelings about things that have happened in the past and the complicated present.

Complicated feelings that lead to lies and murder.

I liked it. It wasn’t near as spooky as I had hoped but it’s a pretty solid murder mystery. I won’t say that I completely understand the hype around this one but, I would say to give it a try. The big secret that Nora won’t talk to anyone about was less exciting than I had anticipated it would be so that was a let down.

I’m not good at reviewing mysteries. I’m so afraid to ruin plot points or twists that I avoid saying much at all.

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling #1) – Book Review

Published Date: September 5, 2006

Publishing Co.: Berkley Sensation

Pages: 334

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I read Singh’s first book in her Guild Hunter series years ago and really enjoyed it at the time. Rarely am I in the mood to read romance so when I found this at a used bookshop for $0.50, I thought I’d give the series a try.

There were aspects of this that I really enjoyed. The emotionless race of Psy and the network they linked their conscious to for information was a pretty fascinating premise and I could read about it for hours. I will always remain a sucker for shapeshifters so combining the two races and the hierarchy of the world they live in was another reason I should love this series. I even enjoyed the burgeoning relationship between the two main characters, and many of the side characters as well.

BUT, the gratuitous sex scenes just interrupted the more interesting parts of the story. I wouldn’t have minded that in and of itself but I didn’t particularly like the sex. I think a lot of it had to due with the naivety of the female MC. I guess I like a female that knows what she wants and has no problem demanding it of a man.

Unfortunately, after taking a peak at the summary of the next book, this is one of those series that each book focuses on a new couple and that just isn’t something I dig. Once I get committed to characters, I like to stick with them. If the series continued with the characters we were introduced to in this series, I would at least give the second book a shot, but since it doesn’t, I don’t think I’ll be continuing.

Girls Burn Brighter – Book Review

Published Date: March 6, 2018

Publishing Co.: Flatiron Books

Pages: 309

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A story I won’t soon forget.

Poornima and Savitha are two girls born into a poor village in India. Everyday is a struggle to survive. To have enough food, not to fill their bellies, but just enough to keep them alive. To make enough money to buy the bare essentials. Living in shacks with no doors, dirt floors and sleeping on mats. Poornima’s father is desperate to marry her off, but her skin is too dark for most men’s taste. The dowry their families demand, too high for him to pay so he grows to despise her even more. Why did she have to be a girl?

Savitha’s father is an alcoholic who begs at the temple for hand outs. Her mother works as a servant, which is considered low class. She has several sisters and she’s determined to earn their dowry money before her own so that they may have better lives.

The two girls find each other and become best friends. Savitha brings a light to Poornima’s life that she didn’t know existed after the death of Poornima’s mother. Life begins to have a kind of hope.

Then, life promptly crushes that hope. Stomps on it and spits on it’s ashes, for both girls.

A cruel act forces Savitha to run away, and Poornima is married off to an evil family. Despite their desperate situations, they are both determined to find one another again. This begins a journey across countries, that takes darker and darker twists, with no promises that they’ll ever make it back to each other.

At times, this story tore my heart out of my chest. It is beautifully written, moderately paced and achingly real. A testament to the light that burns inside every human being, and that some torches refuse to be snuffed out no matter how dark life gets.

Wanderers – Book Review

Published Date: July 9, 2019

Publishing Co.: Del Rey

Pages: 800

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

What if the world began to end today? That is the essential premise behind Chuck Wendig’s new apocalyptic novel Wanderers.

Set in today’s political atmosphere, with the twist that the opposite team won the election. The losing political side is having a hard time accepting those terms and when the world starts to go to Hell in a hand basket due to a mysterious sleepwalking sickness, they stoke the fires of rebellion. Of course, they don’t call it rebellion, they call it revolution. (It’s always considered revolution if you’re on the “right” side.)

Shana’s sister Nessie is the first person to begin wandering the land, blank faced, and unresponsive. She’s shortly followed by other random people in town. Every few hours the herd grows. People try to stop their loved ones, but the results are deadly. The only thing Shana can do is follow her sister into whatever awaits, as her shepherd. Her guardian. Who else is going to do it?

Shana and her wandering sister are joined by an eclectic cast of characters during their journey. Benji, a CDC doctor desperate to crack the mystery. Pete, an aging rock star clinging to any notoriety he can find even if that includes joining up with a disease no one understands. Sadie, the brains behind a computer program that is trying to save the human race. Marcy, a former cop injured in the line of duty who finds relief from the pain only by being near the flock of sleepwalkers. All act as shepherds along with dozens of other friends and family members who refuse to leave their loved ones to wanderer the countryside without protection.

On the opposite side of this mysterious malady, are the people calling for the extermination of the walkers. Stoking the fires of dissent and promising to take matters into their own hands if the government won’t stop these “terrorist agents.” Preacher Matthew Bird is gaining fame with his sermons calling these people “the Devil’s pilgrims” at the behest of a man he barely knows. A man he has been warned is dangerous, but popularity is an addicting thing. He’s looking toward the wrong evil and there will be hell to pay.

At 800 pages this is a whopper of an apocalyptic book. It took me about a month to wander my way through but it wasn’t boring. I could give it a break for a day or two and then pick it up and binge read for hours. This is an original tale and if you like reading about the end of the world, you should give this a try.

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) – Book Review

Published Date: November 14, 2017

Publishing Co.: Harper Voyager

Pages: 533

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Distinct and enchanting.

Ozzy approved.

As with many epic fantasies that I end up binge reading, I wish I had slowed down for a minute and wrote down a quote so that you may sample the lyrical wine. But, I have no djinn to grant my wish.

Turns out that’s a double edged sword anyway. You get all your wishes but you’ll likely be murdered in the end. Djinn slaves are not to be trifled with.

Nahri is a pick pocket from the streets of Cairo during the French occupation. She swindles to survive, using her unusual healing abilities to help birth children and run cons against the wealthy. She speaks a language she’s never heard another human speak before and learns languages as easily as riding a camel. She smiles at everyone she plans to rob. That’s sweet really. If you’re going to take something someone has, at least do it with a smile on your face so the mark feels good for a minute.

While hosting a fake ritual to heal a mentally broken girl, Nahri accidentally summons a djinn warrior and an ifrit, with a host of ghouls they summon to hunt her down. Not exactly the scam ending she had been hoping for. The surprised-to-be-summoned warrior saves her and they run from Cairo.

What follows is a countries crossed trek through the desert via flying carpet and stolen horses, battles with mythical creatures and the arrival to a secret city inhabited by beings Nahri has never heard of before but apparently, shares as least some small amount of blood with. She’s the last blood of a tribe that was massacred and the people are desperate for both what she represents and her healing abilities. It’s a city of wealth unlike anything Nahri has every seen and a life there is almost unimaginable, until the king offers her virtually everything she could ever want.

Nahri recognizes another con man when she sees one. She decides to take the offer and believes she can hold her own against him but she’s not well versed in politics and it’s games. The youngest prince appears to hate her, the princess tries to humiliate her and the king expects her to fail. She tries to learn to navigate this new world with the help of people from her tribe and her personal warrior, but everyone has their own agendas for her life and Nahri is too independent to be lead by the nose.

Everyone is running their own scheme in Daevabad, and every scheme is interrupted or spun into a new scheme is this politically unstable city filled with various tribes of magical people who cannot seem to get along for long.

Will Nahri survive the city or will she become the victim of a long con?

The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Ketty Jay #2) – Book Review

Published Date: July 29, 2010

Publishing Co.: Gollancz

Pages: 442

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I wish I could say that it took so long for me to read this book because life got in the way. Once, I did leave it at work over the weekend but honestly, I felt pretty unimpressed most of the way through.

The biggest problem? Captain Darian Frey. It took me almost ALL of the first book before I even began to like Frey, and then in this one, he just blew it all to shit. He is by far my least favorite character, which was unfortunate for me because he had the most point of view chapters. Why do I not like the down on his luck, rag tag captain? Well, long story short, he’s a misogynistic asshole.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking; “Cupcakes, this is supposed to be light-hearted fun! I think you’re reading WAY too into this.” And you know, you are probably right. But here’s the thing, I am SO fucking over male protagonists that are womanizers and use women to get off, characterizing them as basically useless otherwise. It’s especially offensive with a loser captain such as Frey. Sure he’s good looking but he’s pretty bottom of the food chain when it comes to males. Yet he has deep thoughts such as;

There weren’t many women Frey respected, but Jez was one of them.”

Of course, he must go on to explain that this is largely because he barely thinks of Jez as a woman. He’s not sexually attracted to her therefore, she’s worthy of his respect.

Do not even get me started on his fucked relationship with Trinica. You know, the woman he knocked up and left at the alter, which led to her killing their unborn child and ultimately ending up as a concubine until she became the pirate queen. Yet, he thinks she should go back to being the way she was before he and the world broke her, so HE can be happy.

Other than all THAT shit, I enjoyed it. The world building is always cool and the rest of the crew are much better characters that I would love to read about until the cows come home. However, if I had to read another book mostly from Frey’s point of view and he doesn’t grow as a character, I might just chuck the book at the wall and quit the series.

Educated: A Memoir – Book Review

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Published Date: February 20, 2018

Publishing Co.: Random House

Pages: 334

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Raised in a small Mormon town, child to a mentally ill father, forced to work in a junkyard pulling scrap or making essential oils and homeopathy in the kitchen with her mother, Tara Westover never had an actual education. In fact, she didn’t even have a birth certificate for nine years or an actual birth date. Everyone had a different account of the day she was born and even when that date was.

Her life was preset before her. Help her parents make money and prepare for the End of Days, then one day become a wife and mother. Those were the foundations of a good Mormon believer according to her father.

As she grew, she began to realize that this was not the life she wanted. However, she felt guilty, almost blasphemous for feeling this way. First, she had to survive her family. An older brother who was extremely physically and mentally abusive. A father, who wanted to live off the grid, believed the government would come for them one day, and did not believe in the Medical Establishment. Meaning, serious injuries caused in the junkyard were treated by their mother with oils and homeopathy.

Tara grew bolder when a different older brother encouraged her to teach herself and pass the ACT so that she could escape the life laid out before her. A large portion of the story is about her education, learning about historical events she never knew had taken place, like the Holocaust. Her struggle to maintain her grades and earn grants to continue school and even placing into study abroad programs, learning about a world she never knew existed. All this while struggling with the drama and control of her family.

You could not have had a more polar opposite upbringing than my own. I was raised in an agnostic/atheist household with a strong stance on the importance of education. Therefore, it absolutely amazes me that this woman was not only able to survive a brutal childhood, but to go on and graduate from a school like Cambridge. She is only a year older than me and has accomplished so much more than I can imagine but I wouldn’t trade my childhood or my family for it.

It’s such a weird life and way of believing that at times I thought this story was something set before I was born but no, these people are out there today, doing these same things they’ve been doing since before I was born. It’s so bizarre to think about.

I liked the author’s honesty about how hard and how long it took to detach herself from the toxic portion of her family, even if it wasn’t fully her choice.

If you’re looking for an inspirational read, you’ve found it right here.

Beyond Redemption (Manifest Delusions #1) – Book Review

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Published Date: June 16, 2015

Publishing Co.: Harper Voyager

Pages: 512

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out 5 stars

My dark little heart is filled with glee.

What if you believed something enough that it became reality? You could change your life and the lives of those around you by simply believing something to be real. You could control those around you, their fate steadily in your hands. You could elevate them to do important things or throw away their lives as needed for your own purpose. Ultimately, what if you could make all those people believe in a new god? A new god that you created and controlled. Delusional, yes?

Add to that aspect, the belief that when you die, the people you’ve slain will be there to do your bidding. Combine these two beliefs and you have our protagonist, Konig. He’s creating a man-made god to slay so that he may have a god obey him in the Afterdeath and to save him from his own delusions. The problem is, no matter how strong your delusions, they cannot rule everyone in the world and there are quite a few people who would love to have a god doing their bidding when their death comes.

Make no mistakes, there are no heroes in this tale. Only bad people using others to gain advantages in this life or the next.

I cannot decide which perspective I enjoyed more, Konig’s decline into insanity, Gehirn’s yearning for affection from literally anyone, Morgen’s confusion about the purpose of his Ascension to godhood or Bedeckt, Stehlin and Wichtig’s faulty attempt at getting rich. Each character brings their own darkness and delusions to the table and a story lacking any of them would have been a much poorer tale.

The imagination it took to create this is astounding. The forms of torture (both self inflicted and inflicted onto victims) were a masterpiece of grimdark. Make no mistake, let no one tell you any differently, this is grimdark at it’s finest.

I am so glad that I bought this book instead just borrowing it from the library, despite being by an author I’ve never read before, because it deserves it’s spot upon my bookshelves.

Golden Son – Book Review

For seven hundred years, my people have been enslaved without voice, without hope. Now I am their sword. And I do not forgive. I do not forget.”

That’s page one. Page one.

If I was a boy, I would have had a boner right there.

So. Much. Excite.

This book is a spectacular continuation of both Darrow’s growth as a character and the growth of the rebellion. Darrow makes mistakes, manages to fix and learn from them. This is a huge part of why he’s such a great main character. He isn’t perfect but he isn’t stupid, he doesn’t get stuck in repeat like so many other MCs in other novels. He takes beating after beating but always gets back up swinging. Sure he second guesses himself a lot, but you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. He wouldn’t be a connectable character if he never once doubted his path.

The characters around him are all flavors of their own. They are all richly developed and bring something important to the story. Each bring out something different in Darrow.

Many people don’t enjoy stories filled with twists and turns. I am not one of those people. I don’t understand those people. If you read as much as I do, you find that stories across genres can be predictable more often than not. I like a book that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I like not knowing what is just around the river bend. I love knowing that my favorite characters are not safe from a gorey demise. I think I might be a sadist…

As with the first novel in the series, I could not believe how much had taken place in just one book. I feel like I’ve spent six hours on a roller coaster than stopped on another planet.

I don’t know where I am but I don’t care, because I just had the best ride of my life.

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