*I received a copy of Knight in Paper Armor courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Can't-Wait Wednesday: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard, The Upstairs House by Julia Fine, & The Girl from Shadow Springs by Ellie Cypher
This week's upcoming book spotlights are:
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blog meme now hosted by Jana over at The Artsy Reader Girl!
- The Obsidian Tower: I was so excited for this and pretty much read the ARC as soon as it showed up at my door. This was a no-brainer. I am forever indebted to Orbit for sending me so many brilliant books.
- The Shadow Saint: Another book from Orbit, plus I was so excited to read this sequel!
- The Golden Key: Honestly? I completely forgot this book existed, and I feel bad about that now. The reviews on Goodreads are very discouraging, though, which almost makes me more intrigued now?
- A Time of Courage: This was a super anticipated finale (and also from Orbit so I got it right away!) and I knew I'd be reading it.
- The Girl and the Stars: This was sent to me from the publisher and I was excited for new Mark Lawrence.
- The Unspoken Name: I also somehow received an ARC of this one and had heard a lot of hype about it!
- A Witch in Time: And once again, thanks, Orbit!
- Lady Hotspur: I still actively want to read this, I just haven't gotten around to it and my library doesn't have it. :(
- Seven Endless Forests: Just didn't get around to it, unfortunately.
- House of Dragons: I think I lost a little bit of interest in this, plus if I recall I think I saw some problems with Jessica Cluess on social media? I don't spend too much time there so I'm not sure the details, but I think I'd definitely look into that before picking this one up.
- A Peculiar Peril: This wasn't necessarily a super high priority book, so I think that's why I didn't get to it.
- Master Artificer: As I mentioned above, this release got pushed back and I didn't even have access to a copy until recently! So ha! I have an actual, legitimate excuse.
- The Devil and the Dark Water: I read this after many weeks on the library waiting list!
- Rhythm of War: The longest book on this list (1200 pages is no joke, friends) and I finished it at the beginning of this year! It took a while to come in from the library, also.
- The Left-Handed Booksellers of London: Okay, so technically I didn't even read this one and I"m a huge liar. But I did check it out from the library and when I read a few pages I just could not for the life of me focus or get interested in the story, so I opted to put it down. I did check it out, though!
- Piranesi: I've been on my library's waiting list since October and I'm still #22 in line I don't have to take responsibility for this one, right? I'm saying it's out of my hands. And I still have no idea when I'll actually get a chance to read it.
- The Constant Rabbit: I still really want to read this, but my library doesn't have it and I have been trying to save some money, so hopefully I'll someone get a chance soon!
- The Space Between Worlds: I feel bad about this one. I started it, was enjoying it, and then just.. stopped? Not sure what happened, I don't tend to do that much these days.
- The Death of Vivek Oji: My library doesn't have this one, either.
- Beowulf: I have no excuses, I just haven't gotten to it.
Monday, January 18, 2021
Amari and the Night Brothers is an adventurous and magical new middle grade fantasy that I truly had a blast reading. This books takes some fairly common tropes, such as magical schools, the protagonist having amazing powers they weren't aware of, etc., and really does some exciting things with them that allowed this book to feel fresh and enjoyable.
Amari struggles with fitting in at the private school that she has a scholarship to attend. She lives in the housing projects of Rosewood and is constantly reminded of that fact, not to mention the fact that her incredible older brother, Quentin, has disappeared and many people seem to act as if he simply went down the "wrong path" and chose to disappear rather than had something bad happen to him. Amari, however, doesn't buy that story and when given the opportunity to enter a world in which she could potentially find out what happened to her brother, she jumps at the chance and never lets up with trying to find out what happened.
This determination that Amari exudes is one of my favorite things about her and I think she is a fantastic example of what it means to follow what you know is right and to stand up when necessary. Amari isn't perfect, she disobeys her mom and authority figures at times, but she also has an incredible heart and strength about her that sets her apart. I specifically remember one scene in which she has a knee-jerk reaction to immediately refuses even considering learning something dark and dangerous, which I think says a lot about her character as a whole in her efforts to do good and focus on helping others. She has to put up with a lot of types of bullying and hatred and prejudice, and I love how she learns about herself and others while doing this.
The world-building of this book is so fun and is one of those that I can tell is just bursting at the seams and oozing with new details and depth. Because of this, there are times when it seemed as if Alston had so much he wanted to include that it ended up only being small snippets that never got fully developed and left me wanting more, but I do hope that more is explored and elaborated in subsequent books, as there is a lot of really great potential there.
This book tackles so many great topics, the most prominent of which is prejudice. I love how Alston tackles this topic in so many varying ways, all of which developed a different aspect of how prejudice can and does affect people in different ways, as well as all of this often hidden forms it takes and how many people don't even realize it's happening when it does.
The only real quibble I have with this book is that there were occasionally times where I felt as though some major revelations occurred or something momentous happened to the protagonist and everything was just accepted very quickly. There didn't always feel like there was enough questioning or confusion around things, which felt a little odd to me, but at the same time--if I may contradict myself--I sort of feel like doing this allowed the pacing and plot to keep moving quickly and will absolutely keep readers, especially young readers, engaged. It was something that stood out to me as a bit inconsistent and odd, but at the same time didn't really take away from my reading experience too much because I was still very much engaged with the story.
Overall, it's an easy 4.25 stars from me! I cannot wait to see where B.B. Alston takes Amari next and I would highly recommend this to anyone that is a fan of exciting middle grade fantasy.
*I received a copy of Amari and the Night Brothers courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*
About the author:
B.B. Alston started writing in middle school, entertaining his classmates with horror stories starring the whole class where not everyone survived! After several years of trying to break into publishing, he had just been accepted into a biomedical graduate program when a chance entry into a twitter pitch contest led to his signing with TBA, 20+ book deals worldwide, and even a film deal. When not writing, he can be found eating too many sweets and exploring country roads to see where they lead.
B.B. was inspired to write AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS because he couldn’t find any fantasy stories featuring Black kids when he was growing up. He hopes to show kids that though you might look different, or feeldifferent, whatever the reason, your uniqueness needn’t only be a source of fear and insecurity. There is great strength and joy to be found in simply accepting yourself for who you are. Because once you do so, you’ll be unstoppable.
Friday, January 15, 2021
Aerial Encounter - spaceships & explosions
What cover(s) do you like the most!?
Thursday, January 14, 2021
The Divines is an interesting and difficult book to review because I simultaneously felt uncertain about it while also enjoying it, as well as simultaneously found it both introduced some memorable discussions, while also felt a bit forgettable. I know that sentence is full of contradictions, so let's just dive into my thoughts around this book.
At a general level, The Divines is yet another all-girls boarding school story in which a group of elite girls, who calls themselves 'Divines' after the name of the school, are generally rebellious, problematic, and bullies as they navigate their formative years. However, it's also a story about what it's like to be both part of a clique or 'in-group' while also feeling ostracized from a group on another level. It's about decisions, mistakes, and learning how to deal with the past.
This is one of those books where you feel a constant low-level sense of anxiety and discomfort as we watch these privileged girls undergo their daily lives at boarding school. They are often cruel to others, especially 'social pariah' Gerry Lake, and this seemingly senseless bullying that our protagonist perpetuates makes for a compellingly flawed set of characters that make it hard to empathize with. Josephine, especially, is not an overly likable character, and although she may have good sentiments at heart, she lacks the courage to actually be kind or stand up for anything which in turn makes her at times frustrating to follow. There were so many opportunities for her to do something different, but she always reverted back to the habits she acquired as a Divine with the rest of her fellow Divines. This also relates to another character, Lauren, who is not a Divine but slowly and unexpectedly befriends Josephine. This was such a weird and magnetic relationship, and I liked seeing how Eaton developed it, but I do feel like there was something missing that never got quite resolved by the end.
The story follows only Josephine's perspective, but it switches between past and present, with more time spent on the the past in her days at boarding school. In the present, she is newly married and has her first child, and we get to spend some time observing how her past in anything but forgotten and has continued to affect her in unexpected and potentially detrimental ways. I really appreciated how Eaton crafted this in such a way that really captured how our past choices and decisions or mistakes can sometimes follow us, no matter how we attempt to ignore or erase them, and how real her struggle to make sense of everything is.
My main complaints are that I felt this book at times wasn't sure what sort of atmosphere or style it was going for. The story opens rather ominously and dramatically, and foreboding phrases pop up now and again throughout the story, but there is nothing overly dark or exceptionally melodramatic that occurs. This is certainly not what I would consider a 'light' story and it handles some very important topics and the overall mood is a bit listless and depressed, but it wasn't exactly ominous, which is what the narrative often seems to have been attempting to [promote]. The ending was one that I was satisfied with in how it really brought some things to light and showed the reality of life, but there were one or two storylines that still bothered me and weren't really mentioned again.
I also can't tell yet if this book is going to be entirely forgettable to me or if it's something that will stay with me. I read through this book quickly and wasn't ever really bored, but I also found myself feeling a little as though I'd read this story before, so I think only time will tell how it will age. For now, I've been hovering between 3.75-4 stars, and I think I'll settle on 3.75. If it's something that sticks with me, I can see it being bumped up to a 4. This is an interesting story and I don't think it will be for everyone, but if you enjoy all-girls' boarding school books with a whole slew of rather pretentious and somewhat unlikable characters, then you will probably want to check this one out. Or, if you're simply curious, I'd also say to give a shot.
*I received a copy of The Divines courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo, & The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance
This week's upcoming book spotlights are: