Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blog meme now hosted by Jana over at The Artsy Reader Girl!

This week's topic is: Extraordinary Book Titles

This week's topic was actually a little tricky because I couldn't decide quite how I wanted to go about interpreting "extraordinary." Should it be something extraordinarily magical? Long titles? Confusing titles? Badass titles? I'm still not sure, so this list is basically just a mixture of titles that stood out to me for some reason or another when I came across them, whether it's because they're oddly long or they just roll off the tongue or sound particularly magical. I also went over just ten--what else is new? The 'ten' is really more like a guideline, right?

The Illumination of Ursula Flight
by Anna-Marie Crowshurst
I just love this title! There are so many titles that follow the "the x of [insert name]," but something about "illumination" is just so unique and really gives sets a great atmosphere.
About: "Born on the night of an ill-auguring comet just before Charles II's Restoration, Ursula Flight has a difficult future written in the stars. Against the custom of the age she begins an education with her father, who fosters in her a love of reading, writing and astrology. Following a surprise meeting with an actress, Ursula yearns for the theatre and thus begins her quest to become a playwright despite scoundrels, bounders, bad luck and heartbreak."

They Mostly Come out At Night 
by Benedict Patrick
Delightfully ominous and intriguing!
About: "He locked himself away from the dark, but in the Magpie King’s forest nowhere is safe… Lonan is an outcast, accused of letting the monsters that stalk the night into the homes of his fellow villagers. Now, he will not rest until he wins back the heart of his childhood love and reclaims the life that was stolen from him. However, locked safely in his cellar at night, in his dreams Lonan finds himself looking through the eyes of a young prince…"

The Heart's Invisible Furies
by John Boyne
It just sounds like a good title on first hearing, but the more you think about it the more it really stands out and questions about its meaning start to arise. 
About: "Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more."

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making 
by Catherynne M. Valente
How could I make a list about incredible titles and not include one of these? I just love them all!
About: "Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday."

The Crimson Petal and the White
by Michel Faber
About: "Sugar, 19, prostitute in Victorian London, yearns for a better life. From brutal brothel-keeper Mrs Castaway, she ascends in society. Affections of self-involved perfume magnate William Rackham soon smells like love. Her social rise attracts preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all kinds."

The Wolf in the Whale 
by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Not The Wolf and the Whale...The Wolf in the Whale.
About: "Born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, Omat is destined to follow in her grandfather's footsteps-invoking the spirits of the land, sea, and sky to protect her people. But the gods have stopped listening and Omat's family is starving. Alone at the edge of the world, hope is all they have left. Desperate to save them, Omat journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world...or save it."

The Book of Strange New Things
by Michel Faber
This one just brings to me mind so many possibilities!
About: "It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desire"

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
by C.A. Fletcher
About: "When a beloved family dog is stolen, her owner sets out on a life-changing journey through the ruins of our world to bring her back in this fiercely compelling tale of survival, courage, and hope. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and The Girl With All the Gifts."

The City in the Middle of the Night
by Charlie Jane Anders
I love how if you really break down this title, the plausibility starts to make no sense--does it mean the 'middle of the night' as a location? Or is it just referencing time? So it just leaves it to where you have to read it to find out. 
About: "Set on a planet that has fully definitive, never-changing zones of day and night, with ensuing extreme climates of endless, frigid darkness and blinding, relentless light, humankind has somehow continued apace -- though the perils outside the built cities are rife with danger as much as the streets below. But in a world where time means only what the ruling government proclaims, and the levels of light available are artificially imposed to great consequence, lost souls and disappeared bodies are shadow-bound and savage, and as common as grains of sand. And one such pariah, sacrificed to the night, but borne up by time and a mysterious bond with an enigmatic beast, will rise to take on the entire planet--before it can crumble beneath the weight of human existence."

The Book of Lost Things
by John Connolly
Of course one of my favorite books of all time has an 'extraordinary' title! I tend to really love titles that go along the lines of 'the book of x,' but this in particular just leaves so many possibilities open--I really love it!
About: "High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things."
Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling
by Michael Boccacino
About: "When the nanny to the young Darrow boys is found mysteriously murdered on the outskirts of the village of Blackfield, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to take over their care. During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, "the place for the Things Above Death," where Lily Darrow, the late mother of the children, has been waiting. She invites them into the House of Darkling, a wondrous place filled with enchantment, mystery, and strange creatures that appear to be, but are not quite, human."

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?"
by Lemony Snickett
How many titles out there are written as if they are quotes? And really, who could it be?
About: "The adventure began in a fading town. Far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket started an apprenticeship for a secret organization shrouded in mystery and secrecy. He asked questions that shouldn't have been on his mind. Now he has written an account that should not be published that shouldn't be read. Not even by you. Seriously, we recommend that you do NOT ask your parents for this, the first book in his new ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS series. Lemony Snicket, in case you don't already know, grew up to be the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events series."

The Gutter Prayer
by Gareth Hanrahan
Something about this one just stands out to me so much--it's so unique! 'Gutter' and 'prayer' just seem like such dichotomies and I love it. 
About: "The city has always been. The city must finally end. When three thieves - an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man - are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born. Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know. Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city's underworld. Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh. Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon."

The Illumination of Ursula FlightThey Mostly Come Out at Night (Yarnsworld, #1)The Heart's Invisible FuriesThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)

The Crimson Petal and the WhiteThe Wolf in the WhaleThe Book of Strange New ThingsA Boy and His Dog at the End of the World

The City in the Middle of the NightThe Book of Lost ThingsCharlotte Markham and the House of DarklingWho Could That Be at This Hour? (All the Wrong Questions, #1)

What are some 'extraordinary book titles' you know of? Have you read any of these books?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: Salvaged by Madeleine Roux

Salvaged by Madeleine Roux
Publication Date: October 15th, 2019
Paperback. 352 pages

About Salvaged:

"In this dark science fiction thriller, a young woman must confront her past so the human race will have a future. 

Rosalyn Devar is on the run from her famous family, the bioengineering job she's come to hate, and her messed-up life. She's run all the way to outer space, where she's taken a position as a "space janitor," cleaning up ill-fated research expeditions. But no matter how far she goes, Rosalyn can't escape herself. After too many mistakes on the job, she's given one last chance: take care of salvaging the Brigantine, a research vessel that has gone dark, with all crew aboard thought dead. 

But the Brigantine's crew are very much alive--if not entirely human. Now Rosalyn is trapped on board, alone with a crew infected by a mysterious parasitic alien. The captain, Edison Aries, seems to still maintain some control over himself and the crew, but he won't be able to keep fighting much longer. Rosalyn and Edison must find a way to stop the parasite's onslaught...or it may take over the entire human race."

Salvaged is a sci-fi thriller that pulls no punches and drags you right into the thick of things. As I've mentioned in most of my other reviews for these sci-fi/space thrillers lately, I simply can't get enough of them because I'm always so curious to see how each new author will tackle the theme. Roux adds yet another fascinating new take on the idea of some unknown virus-like disturbance that is causing ships to go "dark"--that is, everyone on board dies.

There's a nice balance of mystery, action, and thriller components that help to make this a really well-rounded story. The pacing itself was a little off at times--sometimes it was fast-paced and highly compelling, other times things dragged a bit--but the story itself was consistent and provided for a really though-provoking situation that had me hooked.

The main protagonist is Rosalyn, a woman who has recently become a "space janitor" in an ongoing act to separate herself from her family for reasons that are slowly divulged over the course of the book. This is not exactly an enviable job by any stretch of the word and Rosalyn has also been using this job as a way to handle a past traumatic events while struggling with alcoholism as a result of said event. I had a bit of difficulty getting behind Rosalyn and some of her decisions throughout this story, but overall I did like getting to watch how she handled both the immediate and rather horrifying events of the present while juggling her own obstacle from her past personal life. She had a decent head on her shoulders and plenty of common sense that I always appreciate seeing in books like these.

One of the main struggles I had while reading Salvaged was with the way in which the POV jumped around among the other supporting characters. I mainly found myself feeling a little lost with some of the jumps, especially with how Roux would often then dive into the backstory of characters at random points. I love learning more about supporting characters, don't get me wrong, but the way in which she dove into backgrounds sometimes seemed to disrupt the flow and pacing of the story and I would have preferred if they had been either shorter or incorporated in a different manner. I also think part of the problem was simply how often the POVs started to jump around once the story got started. I distinctly remember thinking in the beginning how glad I was that there weren't a lot of unnecessary POV shifts...  and then once I got further it started doing just that a lot. It's not that I don't like switching POVs, but I do wish it had been used a bit more sparingly.

The alien components of this book were really well done as well, though I still have a few leftover questions about how it worked--though perhaps that's how Roux meant it to be. There was a very distinct sense of horror that accompanied the alien's influence on those "infected" by it that really added to the ominous, unpredictable atmosphere. I really never knew just what to expect from this story or what twist Roux would include next, so I appreciate that 'on the edge of your seat' feeling that I had as a result. However, there were also times when things that did happen were just a bit too far in the realm of unbelievable for me--particularly in reference to a specific extremely dramatic scene near the end--and this also took me out of the story slightly because of how it took away from the /authenticity of the rest of the book.

Overall, I've given Salvaged 3.5 stars. Despite some issues with POVs and pacing, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this new alien experience and the high-intensity atmosphere that kept me turning the pages.

*I received a copy of Salvaged courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: An Inn

Friday Face Off New
Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme at Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe. You can find a list of upcoming topics at Lynn's Books.

This week's topic is:
“And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.” – a cover featuring an Inn/Hotel

I thought this topic would be much easier than it was! I had a bunch of great ideas for this one, but most only had one or two covers. Fortunately, the delightful middle grade book Greenglass House by Kate Milford has a nice selection of covers, so I decided to go with that one! I also decided to feature the two covers for Winterhouse by Ben Guterson as well because it was just too perfect for this topic (and it's always a wonderful middle grade book/series!)

Greenglass House by Kate Milford:

  Greenglass House (Greenglass House #1)L'étrange hôtel de Secrets' HillGreenglass House
2014 US Hardcover| 2016 French | 2015 Indonesian

خانه‌ی سبزشیشه‌ای雪の夜は小さなホテルで謎解きを
Persian| 2017 Japanese

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson:

Winterhouse (Winterhouse, #1)Winterhuis Hotel (Winterhouse, #1)
2018 US Hardcover | 2018 Dutch

My choice(s):
Greenglass House (Greenglass House #1)雪の夜は小さなホテルで謎解きを
I love the original cover enormously, but I love the style of the Japanese one! It's so classic and whimsical, while also conveying a tiny bit of a cozy/ominous feel...if that makes any sense?

What cover(s) do you like the most!?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review: The Furies by Katie Lowe

The Furies
The Furies by Katie Lowe
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 8th, 2019
Hardcover. 368 pages

About The Furies:

"In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead. 

She’s posed on a swing on her boarding school’s property, dressed all in white, with no known cause of death. Whispers and rumors swirl, with no answers. But there are a few who know what happened; there is one girl who will never forget. 

One year earlier: a new student, Violet, steps on the campus of Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school on the outskirts of a sleepy coastal town. This is her fresh start, her chance to begin again in the wake of tragedy, leave her demons behind. Bright but a little strange, uncertain and desperate to fit in, she soon finds herself invited to an advanced study group, led by her alluring and mysterious art teacher, Annabel. 

There, with three other girls—Alex, Grace, and Robin—the five of them delve into the school’s long-buried grim history: of Greek and Celtic legends; of the school founder’s “academic” interest in the occult; of gruesome 17th century witch trials. Annabel does her best to convince the girls that her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, and that they are just history and mythology. But the more she tries to warn the girls off the topic, the more they are drawn to it, and the possibility that they can harness magic for themselves. Violet quickly finds herself wrapped up in this heady new world of lawless power—except she is needled by the disappearance of a former member of the group, one with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance. As her friends’ actions take a turn for the darker and spiral out of control, she begins to wonder who she can trust, all the while becoming more deeply entangled. How far will these young girls go to protect one another…or to destroy one another?"

So The Furies was extremely promising...and unfortunately it sort of petered out from there.

The Furies had all the elements to be my favorite sort of story filled with a dark school setting a story of a complex, mysterious friendship among some unique girls.  It's hard to tell you exactly where this book went wrong, but it's really just in how repetitive it felt. I've essentially read this story a hundred times already--there was hardly any innovation on any of the ideas and whenever I try to think about this story I already start to mix it up with other variations of this same plot and setup.

The biggest overarching problem within this book was the fact that everything felt so cliche'd. The 'enigmatic girl' trope is used, but not in any new or exciting way. We have the protagonist, someone who is suddenly and forcibly drawn into a tangled world she didn't expect, and then we have some local legends surrounding the school they all attend, which tends to be a classic trope in 'dark academia' types of books. All of these elements could have turned into something special, but instead remained simple and rather lacking in any passion or intrigue.

I didn't particularly care for any of the characters, either, and I was frustrated with how much vitriol existed among so many of the girls. I was also surprisingly frustrated with Violet, our protagonist, and her lack of any sort of backbone. Robin, the 'mysterious girl,' was a character I found difficult to tolerate as well, and the rest of the characters just never stood out to me. Any sort of development was pretty nonexistent, which is unfortunate because I feel like this story could have gone in some really interesting directions.

Another area that caused me to struggle was the writing style. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but something about Lowe's writing felt very...jumpy. I found myself repeatedly pausing and flipping back a few pages because I felt like I'd missed something. There's random time jumps that don't make sense and left me feeling jolted out of the story while I try to gain my bearings. I'm not sure if that was a stylistic choice or just an issue with the writing, but either way it didn't work for me and really infringed upon my reading experience.

To round this off on a positive note, let's touch on a few of the more positive aspects of this book. Despite its issues, I do still enjoy school settings that feature an exclusive secret society that explores some darker, deeper topics than what is discussed in class. We have a teacher as enigmatic as her student and I really enjoyed learning more about her, though I do wish her role had a bit more to it. I also enjoyed the creepy rituals that the girls tried to do and how Lowe managed to work those elements into the story. Plus, I love the actual Furies from Greek myth, so I liked exploring how Lowe used them as an influential plot device for the girls.

Overall, I've given The Furies 2.75 (rounded up to three on Goodreads/Amazon) stars. I really wanted to like this and the skeleton of this story was great! It was simply the execution that failed.

*I received a copy of The Furies courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern & Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson

Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.

This week's upcoming book spotlights are: 

The Starless Sea
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Publication: November 5th, 2019
Doubleday Books
Hardcover. 498 pages.

"Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues--a bee, a key, and a sword--that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth. 

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians--it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction. 

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose--in both the mysterious book and in his own life."
I'm pretty sure my excitement for this book doesn't need an explanation, but nonetheless I think everything about this synopsis sounds fantastic. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. I am such a sucker for mysterious books, this should be great!

Sisters of Shadow and Light (Sisters of Shadow and Light #1)
Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson
Publication: November 5th, 2019
Hardcover. 368 pages.

"The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes…. 

Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world—including their Paladin father the night Inara was born. 

On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father’s Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a “roar” that drowns everything else out—leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother. 

For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world…until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes."
I'm a really huge fan of this cover and it's honestly what first made me notice this book! That being said, I also find this concept of one to have a nice unique edge to it that stands out from others. I really can't wait to check it out!

What do you think about these upcoming releases? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Review: Onslaught of Madness by Jesse Teller

Onslaught of Madness (The Madness Wars, #1)
Onslaught of Madness (The Madness Wars #1) by Jesse Teller
Publication Date: October 5th, 2019
Ebook. 869 pages

About Onslaught of Madness:

"The Drine war machine needs to be constantly fed and has turned its sights on Tienne. Warlord Rextur devoted his life to planning this invasion, so how did he lose the element of surprise? And who is this emerging rival Peter Redfist? He can’t be much of a problem. The god of destruction has long favored Rextur. His faith is strong and his legions mighty. Who could withstand their onslaught?"

Over the past couple years, I've had the pleasure of reading quite a few books by Jesse Teller, from his Manhunters series to his most recent collection of stories Legend of the Exiles, and I've yet to meet one I didn't like. Onslaught of Madness is yet another winner for me: it's an ambitious new beginning to an epic fantasy series that I was, admittedly, slightly intimidated by. A book this size is no light commitment, but I'm glad I jumped in because it was a hell of a ride.

Onslaught of Madness is an expansive world with an equally expansive cast of characters that all have a unique storyline with an abundance of complexities that that together create a captivating, vibrant world and story. I love how talented Teller is at creating these complex and nuanced worlds that intersect and overlap in the best ways, while still remaining unexpected and full of interesting storylines.

Since this is such a large-scale story it covers  a lot of content--which makes sense since it's such a long book, coming in at over eight hundred pages--and I'm impressed by how well the author handled the pacing. It's so easy for large epic fantasy books to get bogged down in detail and minute plot points that may or may not end up being crucial to the story, but somehow this book read like a breeze and I found myself constantly engaged and following along. Over the course of all of Teller's writing, it's become apparent just how much his writing continues to flourish, especially with this new story.

What I really liked about Onslaught of Madness was its ability to show multiple sides of the same overarching conflict.There are multiple protagonists to follow in this book, the most notable being Rextur, Sai, Tera, Vianne, and Aaron the Marked. I won't go too detailed about them all because we'd be here all day. The characters are all so far from black and white and I'm impressed by just how complex and fascinating they really are and how much I enjoyed learning about just about all of them--seriously, it's rare when I find myself enjoying every single POV and like almost all of the characters, there's usually always at least one that I try to get through as fast as possible, but not so in this case!

Rextur was easily one of the most fascinating characters for me. He's a bit ruthless due to his current status in life and his working for what most people would probably consider the 'bad guys,' but he's also just so compelling and I loved how deeply Teller dove into his character. Vianne was also one I was particularly drawn to, perhaps because of how much I enjoyed watching her grow in so many different ways over the course of this book. Sai and Tera were equally compelling to watch throughout the events of the story and I found myself constantly looking forward to their storylines and seeing what would happen next.

In addition to everything I've already said, I have to say that this book had so much diversity and authentic aspects to it that I was so pleased to see. Just within the main protagonists alone we have a nice mix of different types of people, something that I'm so glad to see is finally starting to become (somewhat) more of a common occurrence in modern fantasy. I'm blown away by the sheer epic quality of this book and how much fun I had reading it.

Overall, I've given Onslaught of Madness 4.5 stars! Jesse Teller has done a magnificent job so far with this new series and I can't wait to see what's next. And if you're one of those that's hesitant to start an ongoing/new series, I can say that over the time I've read Teller's stuff, he's always been very reliable with his releases and I've never had ridiculous waits for books, so you can't use that as an excuse not to pick up this book! ;)

*I received a copy of Onslaught of Madness courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

Monday, October 7, 2019

Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

The Grace Year
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
Wednesday Books
Publication Date: October 8th, 2019
Hardcover. 416 pages

About The Grace Year:

"Survive the year. 

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. 

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive. Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other."

The Grace Year was intense and deliciously atmospheric and I loved every minute of it.

I was so enraptured by this book and had the hardest time putting it down whenever I was reading it. I read it back in June and it's one that I've continued to think about ever since. It's rather horrifying for a myriad of reasons, from the location of the area in which the Grace Year girls reside for a year to the general reality of what it's like to be a woman in this society--a reality that's only a slight exaggeration of our own realities at various times. I had hoped it would be dark based upon the eerie synopsis and I was surprised and pleased by how dark it actually was.

I refuse to give away anything that happens in this book, so once again details will be scarce in this review, which I apologize for--but really, it's for a reason! There are some incredibly difficult topics that are handled, so be aware of that going in, but don't let that stop you from taking in every moment of this book as we follow Tierney on her journey during the ominous Grace Year. This is a book that really dives deep into some dark topics and presents a raw, compelling look at different facets of humanity and survival, and it's utterly captivating. Liggett's prose is masterful and haunting and has such a beautiful, memorable quality to it that allows it to really get inside your head while reading it.

Tierney is such an interesting character to follow. I loved learning about her world through her experiences, both before the journey begins and afterwards when she comes to some new (and occasionally hopeful) realizations about the world around her. Tierney isn't some super outspoken girl who is constantly trying to change her surroundings; she's a normal girl trying to survive in this intense world while also trying to do what she thinks is right. Her desire to continue doing what is right is what ultimately becomes the catalyst that turns into her growth as a person and in her confidence in her abilities, which turns into a power is truly beautiful to watch.

The other characters in this book are all...ah, a little bit frightening at times. The mindset of the girls taking part in the Grace Year is truly shocking and goes in so many different directions. I'm always interested to see how group mentalities are established and what the general mood/outcome will be and in this case it turns about as wild as you might expect (or not, there were definitely still some surprises!).

I've a seen a few remarks here and there about this being 'just another scary feminine-heavy story" and I really can't disagree more. This is a book for everyone and that I think can offer insight and thought-provoking content for everyone. There is so much packed into these pages and even if you aren't going into this wanting to here some sort of message, the plot itself is incredibly well done and offers such an engaging story.

Although this book is full of horrible things and terrifying realities, it's also rather hopeful and fills me with this weird sense of pride towards women that I often get when I see how they can handle various situations and realities in life. Overall, it's five stars from me! If you like your books dark and page-turning with a haunting prose, this is the one for you!

*I received a copy of Onslaught of Madness courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*