Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

5 stars

“You can’t walk away without also walking toward.”

Tess always been the “bad” child. The daughter who never did anything right. Her existence has consisted of one failure after another and her mother never lets her forget. After ruining her twin sister’s wedding night, she finds herself with the opportunity to run away. She can go on the road and live out the adventures she chased after as a child or she can enter a convent and appease her mother. Tess chooses the road (cloaking herself as a man for protection) and reunites with an old quitgul (a reptile-like creature) friend. Together they embark on the road together and encounters many adventures, but their greatest adventure is discovering the Great Serpent that calls to Pathka in ko’s (pronoun for the quitgul race) dreams. The serpent may be able to help Tess pull herself out of the darkness and if not, at least the road will. I will leave Tess of the Road with that simple and very confusing summary because I want readers to go into this novel without knowing much. This is a spinoff to Seraphina (which I haven’t read) and I honestly don’t believe that hindered my understanding. It spoiled Seraphina for me, but it didn’t lessen my excitement to go back and immerse myself in more of Hartman’s world. This novel is genius. I think my favorite thing about Tess of the Road is the world building. This world is vast. The creatures are countless. The religions are numerous and the quitgul’s have their own language. I’m pretty sure Hartman has some background in linguistics because she has put so much love into every little intricate detail about the creatures Tess encounters in different parts of her life. Hartman’s writing style is crisp, addictive, and emotionally captivating. I was so incredibly moved by Tess’s narrative. She has one of the most gut-wrenching stories I’ve come across in a YA fantasy. Hartman is an author to be watched and I can’t believe it has taken me so long to pick up one of her works (especially knowing how many people raved about Seraphina)!

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

“The road was possibility, the kind she’d thought her life would never hold again, and Tess herself was motion. Motion had no past, only future. Any direction you walked was forward, and that was as must be.”

The main female character is Tess. Tess is full of imagination, but her naivety has also caused her great pain and this has hardened her from a young age. Tess is full of trigger warnings. She’s an adolescent alcoholic who imbibes at the worst of times, but that alcoholism is rooted in the pain of her past. We learn early on that Tess had a baby out of wedlock. We don’t know where the baby is or what exactly happened and we also don’t know the story of how the baby came to be. It’s all hidden away into crevices within Tess and as she embarks on her journey on the road more and more becomes slowly revealed to the reader. I’m going to discuss put the major trigger warnings in spoiler tags because they are massive spoilers one of these warning does not come about until the last 87% of the novel.  Tess had a relationship with a man who groomed her and raped her when she was barley fourteen years old (not revealed until 87% of the way through). This results in her becoming pregnant and having a baby as a teen. She delivers the baby prematurely and it results in her son, Dozerius, dying within only a couple of days of living. Tess’s experiences have hardened her, but she is always so compassionate towards others (even those who don’t deserve it). She is one of my favorite heroines and I am so happy to have been privileged to know her story because it was one meant to be told.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 5

There are so many characters in this novel. Pathka is an integral character. She was once best friends with Tess, but now he (quitgul’s are able to change their gender) and Tess are basically family. Seeing their dynamic on the road was so emotionally gripping. I loved their relationship. The fights they had were real and not contrived, but they always understood one another. Kikiu is Pathka’s daughter and she also makes several appearances that slightly baffled me, but were also incredibly enduring. Pathka and Kikiu have a very odd relationship, but it was so amazing to see another species’ family dynamic. Seraphina also plays an important role in Tess’s journey starting and eventually changing course. There were so many characters and I want to talk about all of them, but it’s better to go on the road and discover them alongside Tess.

Character Scale: 5

The Villain- The interesting thing about this fantasy novel is that it doesn’t have a BIG BAD VILLAIN, which is a pleasant contrast to the usual political takedown plots that keep the fantasy genre afloat. Tess of the Road doesn’t need a villain because life is evil enough sometimes. Tess’s own mistakes and the mistakes of those around her affect the dynamic of her life and it, in turn, moves her onto different courses. It’s a contemporary novel set in a fantasy world and I loved that.

Villain Scale: 5 Life can suck LOL

I really want people to read Tess of the Road. This is the second YA fantasy novel I’ve come across this year that tackled teen pregnancy (Reign the Earth) and both of those novels were superb. I want people to go on an adventure with no dire plot or overall meaning. There is no failure in this novel when it comes to the adventure because for the longest time the reader isn’t sure of the adventure. This probably makes no sense, but it’s a philosophical novel that tackles interesting topics and if that’s your jam, then you definitely want to pick up this novel.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: This cover is stunning. When I started reading it made no sense, but now it holds all the meaning of the world within this novel.

Thank you, Netgalley and Random House Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Are you interested in Tess of the Road? What are some of your favorite heroines with a dark past? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Different Seasons by Stephen King Video Review

Hey, everyone! Here is my video review of Different Seasons by Stephen King! It's one of my favorite collections that he has written and I was incredibly impressed with it. I gave the collection in totality 4.75 stars! If I were to rank them from best to least favorite, here's my list:
Apt Pupil (5 stars)
The Breathing Method (4.75 stars)
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (4.75 stars)
The Body (4.5 stars)

Have you read Different Seasons or seen any of the famously acclaimed films that they inspired? Let me know down below in the comments!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Starlings by Jo Walton

35909363Starlings by Jo Walton

3 stars

This is Jo Walton’s first short story collection and she prefaces this collection with acknowledging that she isn’t very good at right short stories. I think that it is important to keep that in mind when embarking into this collection. Not all of these stories are good, in fact an awful lot of them are… well, awful. It is a horrible collection and I have read for worse, but this isn’t a particularly strong collection. Starlings is comprised of short stories, a play, and handful of poems. Walton writes in an array of genres within the science fiction and fantasy realm. Her ideas are very unique and outside of the box. I really enjoyed that aspect of this collection because it made the stories diverse in content, but all along the same vein of storytelling. I do think it is important to let readers know that Walton is fantastic at incorporating religious or God-like concepts into her writing and if you hate religious allegories, then this collection is not for you. But I love God and I love being challenged to think about God and know God in different ways and perspectives and I felt that Walton was incredibly strong in this area of storytelling. I love Walton’s prose in her fantasy stories. For me that is when she is at her strongest and I do plan on picking up other work by her, particularly Tooth and Claw, which I’m excited about getting my hands on.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3.5

Three Twilight Tales3 stars The writing for this fantasy is quite beautiful and I loved the ending, but the formatting did not fit and it wasn’t until the ending that I grew to care for this tale. My biggest problem was that this story had no real motivation until the very end.

Jane Austen to Cassandra2.25 stars The concept of Jane Austen writing a letter and it winding up in the hands of the wrong Cassandra who happens to be living during the Battle of Troy is cute. However, this has no real purpose as story and is too short to be substantial.

Undeniable Witness3.5 stars This is a nice story about an old woman who lives in a nursing home. She claims that she has been visited by aliens and is recording it in hopes of proving that she is not crazy.

On the Wall5 stars This story follows the creation of the Magic Mirror and it follows the conflict that the mirror feels as it begins to see how manipulative Bluebell is and the lengths she will go to ensure her own rise to power. This was unique and fantastic. It’s the type of story I gravitate towards, but I absolutely wasn’t expecting to love this one so much. If you only read one story in this collection, find a way to check this one out because it is AMAZING!

The Panda Coin1 star I didn’t like the concept of following a coin throughout a futuristic society. There wasn’t enough to time to build up this world extensively and it was too much. I really didn’t like this one.

Remember the Allo-Saur1 star Well, that was a waste of time. It’s letter to a famous dinosaur actor. Why?

Sleeper3.5 stars This feels very reminiscent of classic dystopians like 1984 and I think a lot of readers will really like this one, especially because the twist is rather impressive.

Relentlessly Mundane3.75 stars This follows three children who were once in a mythical world and are struggling as adults in this world. They know that they have to save the Earth, but they don’t know how. My biggest problem was that this story was too short and I wanted it to be a novella. I wanted to see how they were going to save the world and why it needed saving. I left the story with way too many questions and not enough answers.

Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction3.25 stars The concept of Nazi Germany become winners of the WWII has always been an interesting one to me and I really like Walton’s take on it, but I wish that it hadn’t been interrupted with newspaper articles. The idea of newspapers articles is cool, but they felt odd.

Joyful and Triumphant: St. Zenobius and the Aliens4 stars I loved how unique this take on God and aliens was and it made the story so entertaining.

Turnover3.5 stars I liked the world and the concept of people being born on a spaceship going to another planet. The debate that surrounds this novel is interesting, but it doesn’t hold up past that and it falls short.

At the Bottom of the Garden3 stars This was depressing, but I didn’t like the path it took and it was far too short.

Out of It4 stars This follows an angel trying to win the soul of a powerful man who has sold his soul and it is so good. A lot of these stories would be really interesting to debate and this is one that I would enjoy debating the content surrounding morality.

What a Piece of Work4.25 stars This follows a supercomputer who becomes aware that she is becoming the totalitarian computer that begins to censor humans, but the reason why it gains consciousness of this is so interesting. I would love to see this one as a full-length novel.

Parable Lost2 stars This story has no answers to give and it is frustrating.

What Would Sam Spade Do?3.75 stars There’s a talking do that is a cop! This also follows a futuristic world where cloning has been made possible and there are thousands of Jesi (the plural form of Jesus) walking around. It’s kind of amazing and the is also a mystery about why a Jesus would kill another Jesus.

Tradition2.5 stars The idea of following someone’s traditional background is sweet, but it wasn’t spectacular.

What Joseph Felt3.5 stars I wish this story had expanded more upon on Joseph’s thoughts on Jesus’s life and how he felt about his step-son being crucified.

The Need to Stay the Same2 stars A review of a novel is cool, but it’s a fictional novel and it’s being reviewed within a scifi universe so it is hard to follow.

A Burden Shared3.5 stars This follows a mother who takes the pain of her daughter through an app that shares pain and it tackles incredibly tough themes like motherhood, pain, and letting go.

Three Shouts on a Hill- 1.25 stars This play was a hot mess.

Poetry3 stars My favorite poem is “Hades and Persephone” because I’m basic and stick to my roots when it comes to my obsessions.

Overall, I think this collection has a lot of strengths, but it also has a ton of weaknesses. I’m interested in checking out Walton’s future short story collections to see her progress because this a comprehensive collection of all her short stories. Walton acknowledges that this collection has some bad stories in it which I think takes a lot of balls to admit and for that alone I see more as a portfolio than as a novel.

Cover Thoughts: I LOVE this cover so much. The illustrations are wonderful.

Thank you, Netgalley and Tachyon Publishers, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Are you a fan of short stories or anthologies? What are some of your favorites? Let me know down below in the comments!  

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Books I've Read in 2017 #67-76

Hey, everyone! I feel like it has been forever since I've posted on my blog because I was incredibly busy doing missions work during Mardi Gras break and now I'm swimming in tests, essays, and projects. I also had a winter guard competition yesterday and it was an hour  and a half commute their and back. So driving took up the majority of my Saturday. Hopefully I'll be able to post a little bit more the next couple of days, but school work is my priority. I do have a review that I need to write for the publishers that is a couple of days late, but I will try to get to it when I can. Enough rambling, here are the books that I talked about in this video.

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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - 4 stars I almost gave this a three star rating, but I really loved the ending and it was a well-done mystery. However, the writing style was not impressive.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - 5 stars This is an impressive satire on two demons, one in the higher chain of command who offers advice to his nephew, the other (the nephew) is trying to steal his patient's soul (a human). Some people may love this and others will be bored by the writing because Lewis writes incredibly long paragraphs that can be a little overwhelming at times.
The Easter Parade by Richard Yates - 4.25 stars I was impressed with Yates once again, but the ending for this one left much to be desired. I wanted more than was offered in this little tiny book that spans decades.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 5 stars This is one of my all-time favorite novels and this was my fourth read of Gatsby. Check out my review here.
Collected Stories by Raymond Carver - 3 stars I only read a handful of the Carver stories in this collection, but I'm pretty satisfied with leaving Carver behind. Some of his stories are really good and others are incredibly lackluster and far too minimalist for my tastes. Check out my review here
Angel Fever by L.A. Weatherly - 2.25 stars I finally finished this trilogy and I wasn't a huge fan of it. I'd equate this series to Divergent on its decline. The first book is good, the second book is decent, and the last book is lackluster (although Allegiant was horrible). Check out my review here.
Branded by Keary Taylor - DNF @ page 48 2 stars I was not a fan of this one. Check out my thoughts here
Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin - 4.5 stars This is a poetry collection that everyone has to read! It tackles important themes within the black experience and it is an emotionally gripping collection. Check out my review here
Great Tales of Horror / Shadow Out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft- I give Shadow Out of Time 3 stars (maybe) and it was a sour way to end the collection because it was boring as all get out. However, I'm happy about finally finishing the Great Tales of Horror collection and I'd give it collectively 3.83 stars.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - 4 stars I read my first Dickens!!! So exciting to finally have read one of the most referenced novels of all time, but it was also a lot of fun. The drama was intriguing and it was as dense as I had expected it to be. Definitely recommend it!

Recommend the Most:
The Great Gatsby because it's an all-time favorite and everyone needs to read it at least once (although I do think one may not fully appreciate until a second reading because I only liked it on my first read). The Screwtape Letters because it's witty, philosophical, and helpful for Christians who may struggling with certain aspects of Christianity. Of Poetry & Protest because it's an incredibly important collection that everyone needs to read. 

Books Reviewed: 5
Books Rated Over 4 stars: 6
New Favorites: 2
Books That Changed My Life: 2
Owned: 8 physical 1 ebook

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on them? Any favorites? I know most of these are famous classics and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the novel or any adaptations you may have seen!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Bunch of Graphic Novel Reviews!

Limbo by Dan Watters & Caspar Wijngaard

Complete Limbo series

4 stars

This is a very interesting graphic novel. It’s hard for me to describe what this is about because I don’t want to give away the ending and since this is only six issues I feel like it is very easy to spoil the story. Just know that this is one of the best graphic novel endings I’ve come across. Everything is tied together in the end and while you feel jarred and confused throughout the majority of the story, the ending is worth it. The ending blew me away and really cemented how awesome this graphic novel is. I loved the bright color pattern and I was a huge fan of the incorporation of Dia de Los Muertos skeletons. It really enhanced the art and was stunning to look at. Limbo is dark, twisted, and incredibly imaginative. I highly recommend it. Plus this series is only one graphic novel, so if you hate it, you get to know the ending and don't feel obligated to read anymore.

Art Scale: 5

Character Scale: 3

Plotastic Scale: 4.25

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. It’s what drew me in and made me interested in picking this one up.

Thank you, Netgalley and Image Comics, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
28204545I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

First in the I Hate Fairyland series

5 stars

This graphic novel follows Gertrude. Gertrude was once a young girl who stumbled into Fairyland, but while other kids are able find the way out and leave within a day, she has been trapped and is still six-years-old, but is forty on mentally. She’s the villain of Fairyland and she doesn’t care how many lives she has to take before she gets out of this hellhole. I love the concept so much! I first came across this book on BookTube and Elena Reads Books raved about it so much that I knew I had to pick this one up. I’m glad that I did because this is one of my all-time favorite graphic novels and if I wasn’t so broke, I would have bought all of them by now. I will one day, own them all! The humor is dark and violent, but I have a weird love for them. The art is childish, monstrous, and fantastic. It’s one of the most unique styles I’ve come across in a graphic novel series and I love it!

Art Scale: 5

Character Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover so much. It embodies the vibe of the story and it is awesome. I love the colors so much. It's fun and gruesome all at the same time.

Thank you, Netgalley and Image Comics, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Golem by Lorenzo Ceccotti

3 stars

I would compare this graphic novel to 1984, but it’s set in Italy and this offers a very different setting to the usual American atmosphere that most dystopian stories focus on. This is also very nature oriented and focuses on the concept that a device with the ability to recycle matter into anything. This device becomes a threat to capitalism and this in turn causes political problems within the society. I really enjoyed the symbolism Ceccotti focuses on and the art and the concepts are solid, but my biggest problem lies with the characters. They were hard to keep track of, which is not a good thing in a graphic novel because I should have an easier time of knowing who is who since I’m visually seeing the content. The problem is that this doesn’t really blow me away or strike me in any way. It’s very simple in structure, content, and it didn’t feel like anything new.

Art Scale: 3.5

Character Scale: 2

Plotastic Scale: 3

Cover Thoughts: Not a big fan of it.

Thank you, Netgalley and Magnetic Press, for providing me with this novel in exchange for an honest review.
27753928The Beauty Volume 1 by Jeremy Haun & Jason A. Hurley

First in The Beauty series

4.25 stars

The Beauty focuses on an STD that turns the inflicted person beautiful, but comes with dire consequences. No one is safe from infection, especially becomes everyone craves beauty and wants to be a beautiful person. The Beauty eventually kills its host with implosion after 800. It’s gruesome and a brilliant concept. The concept is horrifying and I love the metaphor so much. It’s a brilliant graphic novel and there is a scene that is one of the most graphic images, but one of the most beautifully conceptually drawn scenes I’ve ever come across in a graphic novel. This is a horror graphic novel that I think will appeal to a lot of readers. If you are looking for something scarier, but grounded in reality then this is the graphic novel for you.

Art Scale: 5

Character Scale: 3.75

Plotastic Scale: 4.25

Cover Thoughts: It’s scary, gruesome, and I love it.

Thank you, Netgalley and Image Comics, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read any of these graphic novels? Are you interested in checking any of these out? Let me know down below in the comments!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates Video Review

Hi, everyone! Today I'm reviewing one of my favorite books of 2017, Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. It's a mind-blowing, emotional tale and it stole my heart. I hope you consider adding it to your TBR or at least watching the movie. 

Are you a fan of Revolutionary Road? What are some of your favorite modern classics? Let me know down below in the comments!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

January Reading Wrap-Up

Hi, everyone! I've been really enjoying doing my wrap-ups again and I'm a couple of days late with writing this post because I've been reading and writing a lot of reviews recently, which is great. I rarely write a ton of reviews and the last couple of weeks all I have wanted to do is write reviews. So, I'm trying to just let myself write as many as possible while I have the time and energy to do so. I read a lot more in January than I was expecting to and I'm really proud of how much I read. I also have been reading the ARCs for 2018, which was a goal of mine and I'm happy with myself.

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Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh - 3 stars This follows a bisexual necromancer who has to travel to the Deadlands to bring the dead back, but is Shades (zombie-like monsters) are hunting and escaping the Deadlands at a rate they never have before. I really wanted to love this one, but I wasn't able to connect to any of the characters so their actions and the events that occurred had no real consequence for me, but I know this will be a fan favorite with many. Check out my review here. (First to Read ARC)
The Long Walk by Richard Bachman aka Stephen King - 5 stars This was so intense. It follows a dystopian America where boys enter The Long Walk, an annual event that is televised. The boys must walk. They have three warnings and then they are shot. The last one standing gets everything or anything he desires. It's gruesome, horrifying, and hands down one of the best King novels. I loved it so much.
Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge - 3 stars This follows a witch who has always wanted to open a bakery, but society still aren't fans of witches. Unless it's to watch them like they are animals in a zoo. It's fun and cute, but it isn't one of those novels that sticks with the reader. It's pure fluff. Check out my review here. (Netgalley ARC)
The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles edited by Gregory Bassham - 3 stars This is much better than the other philosophy collection I read in December, but it wasn't amazing. Do I recommend these? If you really love Harry Potter or philosophy, then yes. But it is a skippable novel. Check out my review here.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - 4 stars This follows Nyx who lives in a world without the sound and is tormented by demons. She has been promised to Ignifex, the Prince of Demons, due to the deal her father struck years ago. She knows she must killed him, but he makes her feel alive. I listened to the audiobook of this one and it wasn't a favorite, but I did enjoy listening to it. However, this was a solid 4 star-read. It didn't blow me away, but I really liked reading it and the story was incredibly well-done.
A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch - 4.5 stars This is one of the best historical romances that I've read in years. I absolutely loved this one. I can't recommend it enough. It has a Scottish hero who throws people through windows and has a pet wolf, a heroine who isn't completely incompetent, and the cutest daughter/niece. She totally stole the show. Check out my review here. (Netgalley ARC)
The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn - DNF 1.5 stars This follows witches in New Orleans and it should've been something I enjoyed, but I did not like the writing or the storyline and the characters were just bleh. I felt like I was forcing myself to keep reading, so I stopped. Check out my review here. (Netgalley ARC)

2018 GOALS
 -I want to finish at least three series (five doesn't seem doable). NOPE (Read all series starters or random books in series.)
-I want to read five sequels (I don't have to finish the series). NOPE (Currently reading two sequels.)
-I also want to read four short story collections. 1/4 An essay collection counts.
-I want to read three classics that are not Stephen King novels. NOPE
-I want to read five Stephen King novels (I've already read one in 2018). 1/5  The Long Walk (5 stars)
Read 2018 ARCs. Read 4/5!
Books I Posted on End of the Year Survey. NOPE
Currently Reading / Hoping to Finish in February

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Netgalley ARCs: Manga Classics: The Jungle Book, Reign the Earth, A Darker Shade of Magic, Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Starlings
Eldeweiss ARCs: Amity
I have already finished the Manga Classics: The Jungle Book, Anne Frank Remembered, and Reign of the Fallen! I'm still reading A Darker Shade of Magic, Amity, East of Eden (rereading), Helter Skelter, Wilderness Station. I have started Flawless, Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, and Starlings in February.

What books did you read in January? Have you read any of these books? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

First in The Elementae series


“Show them what the heart of the desert truly is.”

Shalia is a daughter of the desert. She has always felt at home under the vast skies and living a nomadic life with her brood of brothers, sister, and parents. She is also used to her best friend, Kata, an Elementae who can wield water coming in out of her life as she embarks on a mission to restore the Elementae to their full power. As Kata returns, Shalia finds herself being uprooted from the desert as she is forced to marry the king of the Trifectate, Calix. Calix’s family abhor the Elementae and will stop at nothing to exterminate them from the world. Kata is convinced Shalia has the same power within her that she does, but to have it would be dangerous and will put her life on the line. I almost didn’t read this book. I almost passed up on reading one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. I saw this book on Goodreads and overlooked it because I was getting tired of seeing the typical desert plot, but this is SO MUCH MORE than just the desert with magic. Gaughen establishes an intense world that revolves around a Three-Faced God and this in turn, is the basis for Calix ruling the Trifectate. His brother and sister represent the other faces of the god and have roles to fulfill. This world is complex and mature. It tackles religion, death, an abusive marriage, genocide, war, rebellion, sex, greed, corruption, and it is all interwoven with a simple, but refreshing magic system. I’M OBSESSED. I think this book reads very much like the Old Testament in the drama department (if you read Genesis, then you should because it is crazy). It’s even more captivating that there is a religious system introduced that heavily decrees all rules the kingdom has enacted. For instance, unless the Three-Faced God decrees that women can work at the mills, then they cannot work at the mills. (This is a chapter in the novel and I loved that and it’s so awesome to see Shalia reign as queen.) I’ve never read Gaughen before, but I will go and read her other trilogy because I loved her writing style, characterization, and worldbuilding. Did I mention I’m obsessed? GO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

“True power does not force others to make themselves smaller,” I told him (Calix).

The main female character is Shalia. At first, I wasn’t a fan. She started out by whining about how she couldn’t be an Elementae to her best friend. Hello, if my bestie had magical powers, then I ‘d want them to. Alas, she is far from whiny. She is strong, resilient, and steadfast. She wants women to work for their mills, she doesn’t want to spend her life being protected, and she is inclusive and doesn’t bat an eye when her sister-in-law confesses she’s a lesbian. I loved her. She was everything I want my heroines to be. She represents the woman I want my children to look up to. My heart wept for in this novel towards the end. This novel gets gritty and dark. It tackles topics that may be off-putting to many readers and I would consider Shalia’s journey to be one for the mature reader. In case you do want to know possible trigger warnings, I will have them in this spoiler tag. (view spoiler)

Kick-Butt Heroine: 5

“I want to learn to fight with you. I won’t accept you as a protector. But I will accept you as something else. Something greater. Because with whatever scraps of my heart are left, I love you too, Galen.”

The main male character is Galen. Y’ALL, the moment he lifted her veil I knew. I wasn’t disappointed by this subtle romance. Galen is the Commander of the Trifectate guards and is Calix’s brother. He is a sweetheart and I love him so much. I don’t want to spoil anything, so that’s all I say because I don’t want to slip, but OMG be still my beating heart.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 5

“War is never so simple as a single person’s greed.”

The Villain- Calix is no joke. People rant about Tamlin, but they haven’t met the Anti-Christ, Calix. This man is absolutely horrible. I would equate him to Hitler. He is obsessed with eradicating a race he thinks poses a threat to him because of a prophecy and he experiments on them in inhumane ways. For example, he created something that drains the blood from Elementae and transports it into something else. Absolutely disgusting. Also, he’s abusive not only to his wife, but to everyone around him. He has got to go.

Villain Scale: 5

“When there is a rebellion, no party comes out unscathed. The whole country bears a scar so deep that no one in that generation comes out the victor, not truly.”

I loved, loved the characters in this book. There’s Kata, Shalia’s best friend, and I can’t wait to see more of their relationship dynamic in the sequel. Kailos and Rian, two of Shalia’s brothers who are at the center of this story. Kailos has a hawk that protects the family and keeps them in constant contact. He’s so sweet, loyal, and calculating in the best of ways. Rian is a part of the Resistance and this poses a huge threat to Shalia’s life, but once we got to meet him I loved him. Shalia’s guards are also my favorite and my heart is breaking over them. Danae is Shalia’s sister-in-law and I feel so sorry for her, but I’m going to need her to get it together before she does something to make me hate her.

Character Scale: 5

Everyone should read this book because it’s AMAZING. I love it so much and it is one of the darkest novels in the YA genre I’ve come across. I think it leads more towards NA, but I don’t care. It’s wonderful and regardless of its genre, you all need to read it because you want be disappointed.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: It’s not a favorite, but it is growing on me.

Thank you, Netgalley and Bloomsbury, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Seriously, thank you. I almost missed reading one of my all-time favorite novels.

Are you going to read Reign the Earth? What are some of your favorite fantasy novels? Let me know down below in the comments!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter

28536276A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter

3.75 stars

This is a short story collection that is dark, gritty, and slightly unsettling at times. Slatter tackles many simple and famous stories and puts her own spin on them. It was incredibly fun and entertaining to read new tales that have connection to the past. I do enjoy a good retelling and Slatter is capable of creating new worlds and building upon old ones and expanding on them. This makes her a strong short story writer and since finishing this collection in 2016, I believe she is one of the stronger modern short story writers I’ve come across. In fact, I still think about this collection and it’s February 2018. I think that says something about these small and simple tales. They stuck with me in a way that some novels struggle to do.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.25

Sourdough4 stars This story follows a woman who kneads bread dough and falls madly in love with a witch’s soon-to-be husband. I loved the twist Slatter took and I was immediately impressed with her writing style. It’s a strong starting story, but it isn’t an absolute favorite.

Dresses, Three4.25 stars This story is absolutely immersive. The descriptions of the dresses are amazing- peacock feathers, butterfly wings, and words. I loved the ending and it definitely won me over.
“I live, now, in one room. The rest of the huge house is quiet around me; nothing runs along its artery- like corridors. No life.”

Bluebeards Daughter5 stars A stepmother plots to get rid of all of the daughters through fairy tales one-by-one. This is one of my favorite short stories EVER! I think about this one often and how the rug was completely pulled out from under me. I don’t want to say too much about this one, but if you read only one short story out of this collection, make it this one!
“We’re all bad witches at some point.”

The Jacaranda Wife4.5 stars This story follows a woman born from a jacaranda tree. It greatly reminded me of The Brides of Rollrock Islands and the selkie myth. I loved it and thought it was stunningly beautiful.

Light as Mist, Heavy as Hope3.25 stars An interesting take on Rumpelstiltskin! The problem is that I’ve never been a fan of this story and it has its moments to set itself a part from the tale, but it’s not a favorite.

The Coffin Maker’s Daughter3.5 stars (I originally gave this 2 stars, but no longer agree with that rating) I changed my rating because this is a story that has stayed with me. I thought the writing wasn’t as lyrical as the previous stories and found it to be disjointed. However, the plot and overall theme of this story has stuck with me and I’m glad that my opinion has changed on it. Plus, this story Is about a lesbian coffin maker who has supernatural powers. What more you could want?

By the Weeping Gate3 stars Prostitutes and young girls are being murdered by a man obsessed with immortality. Voldemort is that you? Mediocre plot and meh feelings towards this one.

St. Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls3 stars Interesting tale about an assassin academy and the man trapped to the earth who is tied the schoolgrounds. There’s a reoccurring character in this one and that was super fun, but I think this is one of my least favorites of the collection because it’s choppy and far too long.

By My Voice I Shall Be Known4 stars A young woman loses her tongue after a horrible attack. This is a story of revenge – a lover’s revenge. It sounds cliché, but this story was wild. Slatter has a way of making cliché stories slowly progress away from the direction you are expecting them to go.

Sister, Sister4.75 stars A former queen now finds herself living as a whore after her sister steals the palace. One, Theodora is a badass. Two, this story has trolls and changelings. How awesome is that?!?!!

The Badger Bride3.25 stars A copier of books is given a dangerous book and finds a badger. This book could destroy her, but the badger could save her. Cheesy, but it’s a cute story and I really did enjoy the ending.

The Tallow Wife2.75 stars Incredibly long story about a woman and her family. Yeah, I have nothing to say about this one. It was underwhelming and it didn’t stick with me at all.

What Shines Brightest Burns Most Fiercely3 stars This is a continuation of The Tallow Wife from the PoV of Theodora’s (from Sister, Sister) grandson. I loved the deep connections between the stories, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, but it was better than The Tallow Wife.

Bearskin3 stars Cordelia’s (The Tallow Wife) son, Torden, is forced to be a hunter and it is a sweet story. I don’t think it was the best way to end the collection, but it was nice. I really want more stories set in the world because I need to know if Cordelia gets her children back and exacts revenge.

Overall, Slatter’s short story collection, A Feast of Sorrows, is a strong set of stories that stand out individually and compliment each other. I recommend this to fans of dark retellings and someone who is looking for something along the lines of Tor Shorts. I’m definitely looking forward to more from Slatter.

Cover Thoughts: I don’t like this cover, but I knew immediately when I saw that it had something to do with fairytales. I also think it may be a little hint to the Bluebeard’s Daughter and the “Have an apple” line.

Thank you, Netgalley and Prime Books, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
What are some of your favorite fairy tales? Are you a fan of retellings? Are you interested in A Feast of Sorrows? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Two Manga Classics: The Jungle Book and Great Expectations

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Crystal S. Chan, & Julien Choy

2.75 stars

The Jungle Book is a famous classic about young Mowgli who is raised in the jungle. There is a famous Disney film based off of Kipling’s tale and it has kept this story relevant and one that many kids love watching.

I have never read anything by Kipling and I didn’t know what to expect when it came to this manga adapted version of the tale. I’m a big fan of the Manga Classics series and I highly recommend them because they have made me excited to pick up the original source material. This on the other hand didn’t do that. I was not a huge fan of Kipling’s storyline(s) with Mowgli and while the stories did have cute moments, they were not what I expected. Also Baloo isn't loving at all. He was horrifying. I would give the two Jungle Book, or Mowgli centered stories, 2 stars and 3 stars.

The White Seal is an absolutely adorable tale about a young seal who has a white coat. He discovers one day that humans kill seals and he makes it his mission to find an island away from the monsters, so his fellow seals can live in peace. I really loved this one and it was my favorite in the collection. 4.5 stars

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is a widely popular story about a family who takes in a mongoose and he must protect the family from Nag and Nagiana, two cobras who have made their home in the family’s garden. I absolutely loved this story growing up and it was fun to see a new illustration style to accompany a story that I have not been exposed to since elementary school. 4 stars

Toomai of the Elephants in contrast to the previous two stories falls more along the lines of The Jungle Book for me. It was boring, too short, and enjoyable. It wasn’t horrible though, which is why I am only giving it 2 stars.

Her Majesty’s Servants, on the other hand, was horrendous. The art saved this from being unbearable, but I hated it with a passion. 1 star

Overall, I would recommend this edition purely because Julien Choy’s illustrations are absolutely wonderful and there is such love and detail in every panel. His artwork is magnificent.

Art Scale: 4

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover; it’s fierce.

Thank you, Netgalley and Udon Entertainment for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 
Manga Classics: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Stacy King, & Nokman Poon

3.25 stars

The tale of Great Expectations is a famous one, but most people only hear it and passing and don’t realize that it is a Dickens novel. It follows the story of Pip, a young man living in poverty and destined to follow his sister’s husband’s footsteps as a blacksmith. He stumbles upon a convict and is scared that this will lead to his arrest and shame. He stumbles into the great rooms of Miss Havisham’s mansion and the lovely Estella. Miss Havisham has been secluded into her house for more than twenty years and still wears the wedding dress she was abandoned in. Estella is her revenge against men for the wrong she faced. Pip loves Estella with all his heart, but is a poor boy. That is, until Pip comes into his Great Expectations and an anonymous donor funds his ability to rise into London’s high society as a young man. It’s a simple story and it is wonderfully adapted in this edition. I liked this adaptation so much that I picked up the audiobook of it and bought myself a personal copy. Since then, I have read Great Expectations and I think that is what is so wonderful about this series. It introduced me to a story that I knew was famous, but didn’t necessarily want to read. However, this story is vast and it struggles as a manga. There was a lot cut and this is a very abridged version of the story. This is particularly due to Dickens’ writing style. It is simple, but it doesn’t feel complete without seeing the words on the page. The art is quite nice, but it isn’t the strongest of the manga classics and for that reason it didn’t hold a special place in my heart.

Art Scale: 2.5

My biggest problem with Great Expectations is Pip. He is a rather boring character in this adaptation and notions are silly and quite frivolous. However, after reading the source material, I think this intentional as the story is told by a much older Pip who is reflecting on this time in his life as a silly young boy and man.

Estella is a real piece of work. She isn’t redeemable by any means, but she was nurtured to be cruel, unforgiving, and cold. It makes an interesting nature versus nurture debate. The majority of Great Expectations characters are detestable. That’s what makes them so memorable! Ah, Mrs. Havisham is one of my favorites in classical literature.

Character Scale: 4

Overall, this adaptation made me interested in picking up the original work and I think that it did its purpose. It was also nice to finally be introduced to Dickens outside of A Christmas Carol. I would recommend this if you are unsure about whether you would like Dickens or if classics intimidate you, but you want to know what people in literary discussions are referencing. You could be pretentious without a lot of effort (or just pick up the actual novel because I preferred it more).

Plotastic Scale: 3.75

Cover Thoughts: It’s interesting, but not a favorite.

Thank you, Netgalley and Udon Entertainment for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Are you a fan of Manga Classics? Do you love classics or do you like to read adaptations of them instead? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Books I've Read in 2017 #57-66

Hey, everyone! I hope you are doing well. I had my first test this week for this semester and I'm still anxiously awaiting to see my score. I'm taking a lot of more challenging classes this semester, particularly grammar and linguistics, those two classes are kicking my butt. I thought it would be nice to finally upload a video and finally have some of my thoughts posted on some of the books I read in 2017.

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The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe- 4.75 stars This was my first time reading this massively famous tale and I really enjoyed it. Check out my thoughts here.
The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe- 5 stars This is my personal favorite Poe story. Out of all the Poe I've read I always recommend this one the most and it was fun to reread. Check out my review here.
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe- 4.5 stars This is another Poe that was a first time read and it wasn't what I was expecting at all. Check out my thoughts here.
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe- 5 stars I've read this way too many times to even count. Check out my brief thoughts here.
Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl- 5 stars This was a pleasant (probably not the right word for this content) surprise. One of my personal favorite short stories. Check out my thoughts here.
The Haunter of the Dark by H.P. Lovecraft  - 4.25 stars One of the better Lovecraft stories I've read recently. The ending was a strong one, so it sealed the deal for me.
My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly - 2 stars DNF I wanted to love this, but I wasn't invested and I couldn't care less. This is the first HR that I've ever DNFed and I don't regret it. Check out my full review here.
Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics - 4.25 stars This was a huge surprise. A YA horror novel that is actually horrifying. I was surprised and scared. I can't remember the last time I flew through a novel so rapidly. I had to know how the story ended and I wasn't disappointed. Check out my full review here.
Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle - 4.5 stars More horror, but this is horror romance. The fun thing about this novel is that it is about the Donner Party and zombies. If you don't know, what you don't know is a lot (living for Peter Monn aka Peter Likes Books). The Donner Party was a group of settlers hoping to make it across the early US to the west during the rise of the Gold Rush. Things didn't go so well, mainly because they chose the worst time of the year to leave for this trek. They had to resort to cannibalism and this novel takes an interesting look into that and expands on it with Native American mythology. Check out my review here.
The Crime Book - 2 stars This was a huge disappointment for me. The layout really dragged the novel down and what at first, was fun and entertaining, became boring and hard to slog through. Check out my review here.

Recommend the Most:
Short Stories: Lamb of the Slaughter and The Cask of Amontillado are amazing and don't take a whole lot of time to read.
Novel wise, I would recommend Donners of the Dead the most. It was fun, heart stopping, and horrifying. I love Halle's horror novels and this one didn't disappoint.

Books Reviewed: 9
Books Rated Over 4 stars: 8
New Favorites: 5
Books That Changed My Life: 0
Owned: 1 physical 1 ebook

I have reviewed nine out of these ten books. I'm so shook by that.

Have you read any of these books? I read this during October, so I was obviously on a horror kick. Let me know down below in the comments!

Short Stories That I Enjoyed in the Last Two Weeks

Hey, everyone! I've been away for a while. I moved into my apartment, started my intern teaching tenth graders at a local high school, d...