What I Read in February (2019)

Books Read in February:  14

Books Read for the Year: 32/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Beyond Blessed, by Robert Morris (spiritual).

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (classic). Obviously, this is a good book. But I did not enjoy it, because I don’t like what happened in it. A very accurate portrayal, and I so wish it wasn’t.

Butterfly Island, by Corinna Bomann and Alison Layland (cultural). I loved this so much! Not quite the ending I had hoped for, but an excellent read.

Killman Creek, by Rachel Morgan (TBR). Creepy and riveting.

I’d Rather be Reading, by Anne Bogel (nonfiction). This is a fantastic read…about reading. I related to so many of the pieces in this book.

For Review

the warrior maiden

The Warrior Maiden, by Melanie Dickerson. This is a re-telling of Mulan—my favorite Disney movie—so I was in. I found the story intriguing, but distant. I never felt like I was seeing things from a close perspective of the characters, and this detracted from my enjoyment a lot.

spectacle-red-final

Spectacle, by Jodie Lynn Zdrok. I loved the premise of this:  a 16-year-old girl in 1887 Paris works as the morgue reporter to feed Paris’s fascination with murder victims, and ends up with a link to a serial killer, able to see the murders from the perspective of the murderer. Interesting idea, but the execution was a little flat. The MC was being targeted by a serial killer, but chose to wander into the Paris catacombs…alone. Really? I have a problem with TSTL (too stupid to live) characters, and, while she wasn’t like this always, the few moments she was detracted greatly from my enjoyment of the story.

wow

Warrior of the Wild, by Tricia Levenseller. I highly recommend this Viking-ish tale of a girl banished from her village for failing a trial, who must kill a god to get her old life back.

immoral code
Image belongs to Knopf.

Immoral Code, by Lillian Clark. A genius group of friends work together to steal enough money to pay for MIT from the deadbeat dad of one of the group. This book asks:  does doing the wrong thing for the right reasons make everything okay? I loved the group of friends, even though I wasn’t on board with the ethical decision they made.

mist, metal, & ash

Mist, Metal, and Ash, by Gwendolyn Clare. I do love steampunk, but I should’ve read the first book in this duology first. Love the world, and the action is great.

the psychology of time travel

The Psychology of Time Travel, by Kate Mascarenhas. I’m unsure how I feel about this. It sounds like scifi, but it’s really lit fic about four women who discover time travel. It’s also about their descendants and their future and past selves. And murder.

a soldier and a liar

A Soldier and a Liar, by Caitlin Lochner. Dystopian read about a group of teenagers with super powers in a society where they are the minority, in the midst of rebellion. Excellent read.

The Boys Who Woke Up Early, by A.D. Hopkings (review forthcoming). Not my usual fare. Stylistically could use some work, but I definitely enjoyed the voice.

Just Because

Cast in Oblivion, by Michelle Sagara. As always, a solid, enjoyable read.

Stopped Reading/DNF

The Dysasters, by P.C. and Kristin Cast. So…I loved The House of Night series by this mother/daughter writing team, and I heard them speak years ago at a writer’s conference. I also enjoyed all of P.C. Cast’s book that I read. This book…Well. I was signed up to be part of the blog tour—giving me even more incentive to read it—but I just couldn’t do it. Starting with Dysasters—why does the spelling have to be weird (like the HON books)? I read about 35% of this—under duress—before giving up. The MC was completely unlikable (Frankly, only one word comes to mind.) and the male lead had almost no personality, except to call her names because of her personality. A lot of action, but it came across as melodrama, and was entirely predictable:  basically, the writing screamed We want a movie deal! Just not a good fit for me, despite my love of YA and these authors.

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Book Review: A Soldier and a Liar, by Caitlin Lochner

a soldier and a liar
Image belongs to Swoon Reads.

Title:  A Soldier and a Liar
Author:  Caitlin Lochner
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Lai is a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager with abilities that frighten the Etioles without abilities—but with numbers and power on their side. Lai is in prison:  by her own choice and for her own reasons. Going back to the military is not what she had in mind, but when a chance to join a special team of Nytes comes her way, she decides that it might suit her own agenda perfectly, if she keeps the truth of her power to herself.

She joins Jay, an uptight perfectionist haunted by his father’s expectations, Al, whose short temper keeps her own secret hidden, and Erik, a surly amnesiac desperate to find out who he really is. Their team has a chance to stop the rising rebellion between Nytes and Etioles, but will the secrets they’re hiding destroy their team before they can?

This is a dystopian story, but without the dystopian feel. The focus is on the two groups, Nytes and Etioles, and the conflict and rebellion between them. Each of these characters has secrets, big ones, and keeps everyone at a distance to keep their secret safe. This novel is about finding trust—for yourself and those closest to you—even in the face of danger. An enjoyable read not bogged down with romance and flirting (although there is a teensy bit).

Caitlin Lochner lives and teaches in Tokyo. A Soldier and a Liar is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Swoon Reads via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Psychology of Time Travel, by Kate Mascarenhas

the psychology of time travel
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:  The Psychology of Time Travel
Author:  Kate Mascarenhas
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

In the 1960s, four women discover time travel. After testing their machine out, one of them has a nervous breakdown on live TV, and her three friends dissociate themselves from her in order to save their own careers, blaming her episode on mental illness.

Fifty years later, her granddaughter knows Bee was involved with time travel, but they never speak of it. Until she receives a newspaper clipping from the future reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady. A year later, the death has happened, and no one knows how. Or why. But the girl who found the body is determined to do whatever it takes to find out.

I had a hard time keeping track of the various characters in their respective timelines/ages. If a character in 2018 can go back in time and speak with her now-deceased father (or herself in that earlier time) and not change anything…it seems like time travel is a concept with no repercussions or cost, and I just can’t make that work in my mind. (I’m aware of the irony that I can allow time travel…just not time travel with no repercussions.) Solid writing, but the concepts and time-jumping just didn’t work for me.

Kate Mascarenhas is a writer and psychologist. The Psychology of Time Travel is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 

Sundays are for Writing #8

I didn’t get a lot of writing done this week. Basically only Thursday, and somewhere a bit less than a thousand words. But still:  words.

Discovered something unexpected about my MC’s father.

I also didn’t get any work done on my HTWAN lessons. I’ve got to get that going again.

Book Review: Mist, Metal, and Ash, by Gwendolyn Clare

mist, metal, & ash
Image belongs to Imprint/Macmillan.

Title:  Mist, Metal, and Ash
Author:  Gwendolyn Clare
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

In an alternate Italy, Elsa can create new worlds by writing in books. Special writing. Special books. Special talent…and one that puts her in danger when political extremists steal a book that can change the very nature of the world itself.

In the wake of a horrific betrayal, Elsa has one goal:  track down the book before the extremists can use it to wreak havoc. Getting revenge on her betrayer will be just a bonus. But Elsa doesn’t realize the secrets she’ll encounter along the way, some of which she’s even kept from herself.

I love steampunk, but I don’t actively seek it out—I don’t know why. I have not read the first book in this duology, Ink, Iron, and Glass, but I highly recommend doing that, as I spent the first third of the book being highly confused. I ended up loving the world and its nuances:  differences from our own, but some similarities, too. There’s a lot of action here, and a bit of romance, but it’s all woven together seamlessly. I like the intrigue with Casa as well.

Gwendolyn Clare is a scientist and a writer. Mist, Metal, and Ash is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Imprint/Macmillan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Doing the wrong thing for the right reason in Lillian Clark’s “Immoral Code”

immoral code
Image belongs to Knopf.

 

Title: Immoral Code
Author:  Lillian Clark
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Five friends. An absentee father who’s a billionaire. One nefarious plot.

Nari is a genius digital hacker. Keagan is her sweet boyfriend who would follow her anywhere. Reese is a visual artist who dreams of traveling everywhere. San is headed to Stanford on a diving scholarship and wants to go to the Olympics. And Bellamy is a physics genius who gets into MIT—then finds out the father she’s never seen is a billionaire, destroying her hopes of financial aid.

Nari’s not going to let her best friend’s dreams be destroyed by some jerk who wants nothing to do with her, so she comes up with a plan:  hack into Bellamy’s dad’s computer empire and plant a code that skims enough money off millions of transactions to pay for Bellamy’s first year of college.

What could possibly go wrong?

This group of characters was fascinating. A group of individuals who form a fantastic team with an unbreakable friendship. I did not entirely care for Nari, who was very bossy and demanding (autocratic comes to mind), but I loved the rest—especially Reese and her vibrant hair. The relationships were complex and believable, and Keagan was my favorite character:  he’s the voice of reason, as well as being the lone “ordinary” soul in the group. Definitely a good read.

Lillian Clark grew up in Wyoming and now lives in Idaho. Immoral Code is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House Children’s/Knop Books for Young Readers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

#immoralcode #lillianclark #knopfteen #ireadthereforeiam #books #bookstagram #bookreview #reading #netgalley #netgalleyreads #contemporaryya #ireadya #yalit

Cover Reveal for “Whispers of Shadow and Flame” by L. Penelope

Look at this beautiful cover! I loved the first book in this series, and the follow-up novella that just came out. I can’t wait to read this!

Today we have the cover reveal tour for book 2 in L. Penelope’s Earthsinger Chronicles, Whispers of Shadow & Flame. 

The first book in the series, Song of Blood & Stone was named one of TIME Magazine’s top 10 fantasy books of 2018. Check out the cover reveal and giveaway below!

Title: Whispers of Shadow & Flame (Earthsinger Chronicles, Book 2)
Author: L. Penelope
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Fantasy

WhispersofShadowandFlame-PB

Book Description:
The cursed will face the gods. They have nothing to lose.

“A master class in fantasy world-building.” – TIME Magazine on Song of Blood & Stone

The Mantle that separates the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall. And life will drastically change for both kingdoms.

Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame in the kingdom of Lagrimar, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the legendary rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.

Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.

Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies—all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, they must beat the odds to save both kingdoms.

Pre-order the paperback today!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Shadow-Flame-Earthsinger-Penelope/dp/125014809X

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/whispers-of-shadow-flame-l-penelope/1130016254?ean=9781250148094

BAM: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Whispers-Shadow-Flame/L-Penelope/9781250148094?id=7469620796685

 

Book Review: Warrior of the Wild, by Tricia Levenseller

wow
Image belongs to Feiwel & Friends.

Title:  Warrior of the Wild
Author:  Tricia Levenseller
Genre:  Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Rasmira is her father’s heir and has trained her whole life to be a warrior. She’s nothing like all her sisters, and her mother hates her, so she spends her days honing her skills. To become a warrior, she must pass a trial in front of the entire village. When an unthinkable betrayal results in her failing the trial, the only way to redeem herself is to go into the wild and kill the god that has plagued her village for generations.

In the wild she meets Iric and Soren, banished from their own village for failing their trials; Iric because he was never meant to be a warrior and Soren so he could protect Iric. Rasmira has never trusted anyone in her life—except her betrayer and look how that turned out—so she tries to avoid the two, but soon finds herself working with them as all three seek to accomplish their impossible tasks.

But killing a god is no laughing matter, and Rasmira will need every trick at her disposal if she’s to win.

This was an excellent read! Rasmira was a character I connected with immediately, and I took her betrayal so personally. She’s tough and doesn’t want to trust anyone, but Iric and Soren slowly worm their way past her defenses. I loved the character growth of all three and enjoyed watching their different relationships mature and shift.

Tricia Levenseller is from Oregon. Warrior of the Wild is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays are for Writing #7

This week wasn’t a good writing week. I did get some writing done twice…but probably only about 500 words total. Stress seems to make writing nearly impossible for me, so I’m floundering. I’ll try to gain some focus next week.

The good news is my characters are talking to me, so yay!

Book Review: Spectacle, by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

spectacle-red-final
Image belongs to Tor Teen.

Title:  Spectacle
Author:  Jodie Lynn Zdrok
Genre:  YA, fantasy, historical
Rating:  3.7 out of 5

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column in 1887 Paris. It’s her job to tell about each day’s new arrivals to the morgue, which the citizens of Paris are fascinated with. It’s morbid, but it’s just a job, until the day Nathalie sees a vision of the murder of the body before her…from the perspective of the murderer.

When the body of another woman is found a few days later, all of Paris is talking about it—and speculating it won’t be the last. Nathalie’s visions may be the only way to help find the killer, but can she figure out who the murderer is before her own life is forfeit?

This wasn’t a bad read. The premise is unique, but I found it a little erratic. Sometimes, Nathalie seemed very childish and naïve—who wanders around a busy city alone when they are the target of a serial killer? And who would go into the Parisian Catacombs like that, especially? I liked the concept, but the execution could use a little bit of polishing.

Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MA degrees in European History, and an MBA. Spectacle is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Tor Teen via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

#spectacle #jodielynnzdrok #torteen #ireadthereforeiam #books #bookstagram #bookreview #reading #netgalley #netgalleyreads #ya #ireadya #historical #paris